Whatever your line of business, it’s always a good idea to develop your own personal brand. You might be building your own startup and concentrating of building the brand of the business, but just think for a second.
What happens if, for whatever reason, that business weren’t there tomorrow?
If you wanted to create another business in future, you’d have to start completely from scratch. However, if you’ve invested in building your own personal brand, whatever you launch – people are going to be interested.
Now this is a worst case scenario – but it happens. Businesses fail all the time – only 10% of startups actually go onto be successful, but if you’ve spent that time developing your own personal brand at the same time as branding the business, you’ve given yourself a major head start for your next venture.
This is just one of the many reasons it’s essential to develop your own personal brand. People also prefer to buy into other people – not businesses. If they feel they’re being spoken to by an actual person then they’ll more readily buy into the advice being offered.
Something to keep in mind and don’t worry if you haven’t started yet; sometimes it’s useful to build a presence online and produce content before focussing on attaching your personal brand to it. In this way you can see what audiences respond to and see where you’re really seen as a subject matter expert.
When you start is up to you, however it is essential to invest in your own personal brand at some stage – sooner is better than later. For when you do decide to start, these are 5 steps that will help you get off to a great start.
Audit your online presence
The first thing you’ll need to do is to Google yourself, and see what’s coming up. This is to make sure that everything that comes up on the first few pages looks professional, and highlights your message.
The first things that are going to come up, more than likely, are your social media profiles. Now it is a good idea to separate your personal profiles from your professional ones. On my personal social media profiles I go by my nickname. My friends know me and I get to use the social profiles personally without anyone really associating me with my personal brand. Not that there’s anything major you need to hide, but if someone is searching for you in relation to the expertise you offer, they’re probably not going to be interested in posts about your nan’s 90th birthday party.
This is completely up to you, but you need to make sure that the profile you have relating to your personal brand, stays on topic.
One final point. If your name is quite a common one and lots of other people are coming up before you in the search results, consider adding a middle initial, title or some other way of differentiating you from the crowd.
Secure a personal website
Purchase the domain name for your name. You might not do anything with it just yet, but it’s much better to own the domain name now than have someone else snap it up just as your brand is growing.
When you have the time, set up an information website with a brief bio, resume (if applicable), portfolio, contact page and links to your social sites.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett
The reputation of your personal brand is essential to maintain. After all it’s always going to be tied to your name, so you need to ensure that everything you produce and endorse, is of very high quality.
Never back something you wouldn’t be super excited to use yourself. You need to be associated as a thought leader, subject matter expert and most importantly, a person to trust. Gambling all that on a dodgy product or service just to make a quick buck, means people aren’t going to trust what you say the next time.
Associate with other strong brands
If you’re seen writing for or working with other strong brands, people will automatically associate you as being of that calibre. It’s not hard to find great brands to write for, however it is difficult to write to a standard that they’ll be interested in.
What you need to do is create a list of strong brands in your sector. See what works well on their sites, think of an interesting topic in your area and write an article in the style of the publication you’re hoping to feature it on. for example, if the website publishes a lot of lists – write in that format. If they’re highly visual – provide that.
Speaking of visual, a format that still works really well is to create informative and well designed articles. The best way to do that is to base the information on a survey you’ve conducted on a topic that hasn’t really been covered before.
When you’re done this, contact strong brands and let them know you’ve created the infographic and you think it would be a great article on their site. A lot of websites are constantly looking for great content and will jump at the chance to use it providing it’s designed well.
Best of all, these methods provide you with authors credits and backlinks, allowing you to be seen working with market leaders.
Evolve & Reward
Take your followers on a journey and allow them to see you evolve. Nobody knows everything from the onset and it’s perfectly fine to admit your mistakes. In fact people respect you more for it. What comes across as ridiculous is someone who stubbornly sticks their guns when they’re clearly in the wrong.
Create a personal connection with your audience and they’ll want you to succeed. Most importantly, always make sure to thank your followers for their continued support. It is afterall, them who will drive your success and you should never forget that.
Give as much as you can. If you come across a great free resource, let people know about it. You don’t have to make money on every action. It’s about establishing trust and providing a lot of value. This is what will make you remembered. On top of this, people remember when they’ve been given something for free and will want to do something in return. This means more shares, engagement and gratitude.