Building your company’s brand is vital, but so is your own personal brand. How you come across to other people, whether in meetings or at networking events matters more than most people think. The average entrepreneur doesn’t worry about building their personal brand and establishing themselves as a thought leader in their industry, and their online presence is virtually non-existent. A personal brand is beneficial for job searching, meeting potential clients for your business, getting recognised in your industry and much more! In this guide we’re going to talk about how you can enhance your personal brand.
Social Media For Your Personal Brand
If a potential customer tries to search for you personally online, what do they see? A link to your private Facebook or Twitter with images of you out last Saturday night? If this is the case, I recommend putting your personal profiles onto private and creating Social Media accounts specifically for work. You could also change your personal account to your first name and middle name instead of your full name as then it won’t come up when prospects search for you. Social Media is crucial for others getting to know you as a person, people love to work with a person and not a web page! Make sure you interact with your connections and share relevant content that your audience would love, don’t just focus on sharing your own.
Make sure you pad out your profiles (in the relevant sections) with details of your experience, expertise and your interests. Show everybody how great you are but do not be egotistic. LinkedIn has a great skills section where you can literally list what you can do, even though often many people abuse this feature. It also has a great section to describe in detail your previous roles. We have some do’s and don’ts of networking on Linked here.
Tip: Get a professional headshot done and use it on all of your professional social media accounts. This makes it easy for others to spot that it’s you, and keeps a consistent image across the board.
Get A Website
If you don’t have a website for your professional self just yet, you should! A website allows you to be searched easily as well showcasing your work, it’s kind of like an online CV, just longer. A website gives you the opportunity to tell your story and show the world who you are. When choosing your domain, you should try and use your name where possible and buy the .co.uk and .com version, even more if you really want to. If your name is unavailable, GoDaddy gives you the option to buy from the owner of the domain – if they want to sell it of course. If it’s not available, not to worry, get as close as possible to your name and use .com as it has a higher authority than .co.uk.
On your website, you can create a blog where again, you can showcase what you know and give your thoughts and opinions on current events. Your blog should be used to provide fresh and relevant content to your prospects and should also have a lead capture form. If you are providing useful and valuable content, you will be able to build up a mailing list just for your personal stuff – not your business! A blog provides content for you to share on social media and can be used as a tool for reaching out to other professionals in your industry, ie guest blogging! You must always make sure to reply to comments on your blog and also to delete the spam.
Tip: Where possible, add some case studies or client testimonials.
See What Others Are Saying About You
Set up Google Alerts for any name you go under, your full name and your twitter handle. This allows you to monitor what others are saying about you and gives you the opportunity to reply to them and receive feedback. Building your brand is not just about showing yourself in the best possible light, but also monitoring what others saying about you and responding to them. Even if somebody really doesn’t like you and has written a 1,000 word blog post about how much they dislike your work (I’m sure it’s awesome really), by sending them an email you have an opportunity to turn their negative opinion into a positive one.
Entrepreneur’s that have a strong personal brand have done so through a lot of hard work, often using their me-time to connect with new people online and engage them in conversation. Social Media is called SOCIAL Media for a reason, you’re supposed to be social! Comment on other people’s posts, like their pictures, send them a private message, just don’t be scared! The worst that can happen is they don’t reply. Reach out to other thought leaders in your industry by sending them a quick email or Facebook message, try to provide value where you can. Once you have built a connection with said thought-leader, if they have a podcast or vlog – ask if you can be on it! Again, the worst they can say is no.
You should never use Social Media to just blast what’s going on in your business or your life, other people matter too – which is why I mentioned not just sharing your own content.
Although public speaking isn’t an activity for everyone, it is something that every entrepreneur should attempt. Public speaking can get your message across to many more people compared to Social Media alone, and will also help establish you as a thought leader. Have a look online for local events or conferences that have spots available for speaking and apply! Develop your own speaking manner and don’t try to copy others, being authentic (AKA yourself) is key at speaking engagements (and everywhere really). Show off your knowledge and expertise and provide value to your audience in every sentence that you speak. You may get criticised or get asked difficult questions afterwards, but this is all good as you can receive valuable feedback.
Tip: Make sure you prepare as far in advance as possible, plus write and learn a script! Although you may not use the script on the day, the basis of it will still be on your mind so it’s less likely you will forget anything. Once you have written your script, shorten it into bullet points and keep a printout of these nearby.
Video is set to be huge for 2016, it was in 2015 and it only seems to be getting more popular. Why not repurpose some of your blogs (if you have any) into vlogs? Vlogs are fantastic for getting your personal brand out there and showing your personality. You can share useful snippets of information, plus the audio file from the Vlog can make a podcast (with a little editing of course). A vlog or podcast can broaden your audience by a mile, yet so many don’t realise their true power.
Make sure you are approachable and make eye contact with the camera, as this will get people more drawn in to what you are saying.
HARO is a free service (with paid options) that connects journalists with sources or experts in a certain niche. You can use HARO to pretty much get free press. Journalists ask questions and you answer them with your pitch (and any other details they want) and boom, you’re done. You get three emails a day, and unless you pay for the filtering option is can be pretty hard to find a publication that needs your expertise, but for those operating with low overheads it’s ideal! The quicker you respond, the more likely you are to get chosen. You can also head over to ProfNet.
Networking when you’re trying to build your personal brand is crucial as nothing beats meeting people face-to-face. Once they have met you, others make their first impression of you within the first 7 seconds of meeting! That’s quite scary and can be a lot of pressure, but it’s not hard to ace first impressions (see our tips here). When meeting anyone, you should be polite, professional and if you’re unsure of their personality – follow their lead! Always be prepared to talk about a vast variety of subjects, not including yourself and your business. Be sure to always ask other people about them, what makes them tick. You are not the important one in this conversation, they are!
Networking can make a huge impact to your business as it’s not always who’s in the room, but who they know.
Unique Business Cards
Get some unique business cards made (if you don’t already have some for your business) that reflect your personality. Get a funky design made with the pattern of your tie that you always wear, or your signature color. Some business card companies like Moo can print your business cards on cool textured card, or even have an NFC (Near Field Communication) chip in them to direct people straight to your website or to connect with you on Linkedn, how awesome! Even business cards are going digital.
Constantly Aim To Improve
Business is changing constantly and no matter what industry you’re in, you cannot hide from that. You should always be aiming to improve your knowledge and skillset. Keep yourself up to date with the latest trends and what’s going on in your industry, and read relevant thought leaders blogs – you will probably learn something. I recommend spending at least a few hours a week on self-improvement.