Personal branding can open up new doors and help you fulfill your dreams. By focusing on branding yourself properly, you’ll ensure that your reputation precedes you -- and you’ll be one step closer to the proverbial advice, “Work until you no longer need to introduce yourself.”
But, what can you do if you’re trying to promote your company’s brand at the same time?
Focusing on yourself can be a real challenge as an entrepreneur -- especially when your company is still young. The metaphorical blood, sweat and tears required to accomplish your goals may have resulted in your company’s success, and you couldn’t be more proud: The brand is your baby, and you’re seeing it grow up.
However, in much the same way as happens with child-rearing, you may lose yourself as you focus on the betterment of that which you care for.
When you’re a parent, this means leaving aside hobbies and personal time; when you’re an entrepreneur, you'll likely lose track of your personal brand. But what you may not realize is that by developing your personal brand, you’ll open doors for your company as well.
After all, what is a company but a group of people? And who wouldn’t want to meet a famous CEO?
Building a personal brand, just like a company brand, is not something you can do overnight, or over a weekend (unless you’re very, very lucky and make news). However, with dedication and consistency, you too will be on your way to having the cachet of a Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg or Tony Robbins. Here’s how you start:
Related: 5 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand
Understand your current digital presence.
If you haven’t recently, Google your name. This is most effectively done in an Incognito tab or equivalent (every browser has an option to search without cookies), so you can see what the true results are.
Take note of what pops up. If you haven’t invested in much or any personal branding, it’s likely that you’re going to get a mixed bag of people who have the same name as you, and your social media accounts. Depending on how your company page is structured, that should be near the top as well.
I cannot emphasize this enough: Check all of the links on the front page. Make sure there’s nothing embarrassing or questionable: embarrassing images, angry social updates and the like can be a deciding factor for investor interest.
Enhance your personal and company sites.
An easy step to take that has a big impact is to enhance the About page on your company. Make sure that the description of your site is clear, easy to read and engaging. Put into a prominent position on the page your headshot (which will show in image searches), including an appropriate alt-tag, along with your name, title and social media links.
If you have a personal website -- which I suggest you create, if you haven't already -- ensure it’s simple and easy to read and includes your headshot, title, a link to your company and your social links, as well. This is a great place to host a personal blog, which will do wonders for your personal branding, and which we’ll talk about more in a minute.
Engage on social media.
Make sure you talk frequently to others in your industry, your potential customers and the communities you’re a part of. Posting to social media accounts often and thoughtfully is one of the best ways to get noticed quickly by thousands of people.
“Social media is the best place to show your personality, in a way that also advocates for your brand and mission,” says Vick Tipnes, CEO of Blackstone Medical Services and, arguably, a master of Facebook personal branding. “The persona that you put out on to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms will be easily viewed by thousands of people, but in a casual way," Tipnes has written. "You can -- and should -- be funny, but you can also speak more genuinely from the heart than you could in a professional setting.
"Social media," Tipnes continues, "is essentially where your audience will come to get to know the real you; and by being entertaining, thoughtful and, at times, provocative, you’ll be able to gain attention organically.”
Participating in the community means more than just engaging others in conversation. It’s also important that you put yourself into the center of events. Start by physically going to networking events and summits for your industry. Once you’re comfortable, volunteer to help out with a few. Then it’s time to start your own!
I’m not advising that you rent out a space and host a conference -- if you have the bandwidth and funds for that, more power to you. But do make a point of organizing excuses for those in your industry to get to know one other.
For most, this means webinars, TweetChats and networking events (both on and offline), which can all be incredible ways to get to know new people, and even get you mentioned in publications.
If you’d like to up the ante further, consider hosting a virtual summit, something that an increasing number of entrepreneurs are doing, to great success.
Become a thought leader.
Another incredibly effective step you can take toward great personal branding is to become a thought leader. This means writing articles, developing content of all kinds and eventually booking speaking engagements to discuss happenings in your industry.
By putting out high-quality, thought-provoking content that relates to your industry, you’ll develop your personal brand into a trusted source. If this is done correctly, you’ll eventually be asked your opinion by journalists and other entrepreneurs, and be sourced in articles as an expert. At that point, you’ll look back and be amazed that it all started with writing an effective blog.
Personal branding can be difficult, but know that it’s an important step not only in your own success, but the success of your company. The way it’s done really does come down to participating -- in person and on social media, and by adding to conversations.
Become an expert in your field, care about your industry’s success as a whole (not just your own and your brand’s), and help lift up those around you. Provide real value to your community, and you’ll have them clamoring to you for more every day.