The impression you make both on and offline can make or break crucial relationships when starting or running a business.
According to Nielsen, 15 percent of people trust brand messages but 90 percent will believe a recommendation from a peer, family member or friend. How you show up on social media and in person is as important as your business branding and the two together can make a powerful combination.
Before you perfect your personal brand, here are four questions to ask:
1. What’s my professional purpose?
Why you do what you do is as important as your output. Most of us have to work to pay the bills, but what is it, other than money, that gets you out of bed in the morning?
It might be the thrill of building a business and watching it and your employees grow and flourish. It might be dedicating your career to non-profit causes or a particular industry such as healthcare or animal welfare.
Whatever it is, being able to articulate a purpose higher than earning cash will help motivate you through hard times and give your personal brand some depth and tenacity.
2. Where do I want to be in three years?
We’ve all heard of the five-year plan, but I suggest that’s too long a timeframe given how fast business and technology is moving in the 21st century. Three years is plenty of time to start, grow and even exit a business, but having a personal as well as a business plan will help give you something positive to look back on and provide a solid foundation for any future entrepreneurial endeavors.
When people come to me for our personal branding services, they think we can magically transform them into thought leaders pretty much over night. It doesn’t work like that. Having a truly approachable personal brand that smacks of experience and success can take years to achieve, and it needs a proper plan.
3. What don’t I want to be known for?
For your personal brand to have any equity, it needs to be clear what you stand for, but what about what you don’t want to be known for? Entrepreneurs are becoming increasingly time starved, so how do you filter out accidental time-wasters?
Through your social media profiles and what you share online you need to be clear what you’re not about so your brand becomes more targeted and you see a better return on your time and effort.
4. Who are my business heroes?
Digital and social media now gives us closer access to the great minds in our industries who can inspire us on a daily basis. So if you’re following Richard Branson or Mark Cuban on LinkedIn, Barbara Corcoran or Oprah Winfrey on Twitter or Seth Godin or Avinash Kaushik’s blog, try and picture yourself in their position. What could you write about and how would you inspire others with your experience and smarts?
Building your personal brand isn’t all about you. Those people in your niche who are most successful are probably great listeners who sow as much as they reap. Figure out what makes these people your business heroes and try and inject some of the way they make you feel into your daily interactions with people.
Building the perfect personal brand isn’t an overnight affair that will bring you instant rewards. It’s about finding and nurturing the building blocks of your brand that over time leave more of a positive and lasting impression on your target audience.
Having the answers to these questions will undoubtedly kick-start that process and set you on the road to success.