Who are you? Your future customers want to know. Your style and personal brand are statements about your values. Potential customers will associate you with your business, and if they feel a connection with your values and excitement about your personality, they will want your products.
In 2012, Mel Carson, founder of Delightful Communications and author of “Introduction to Personal Branding: 10 Steps Toward a New Professional You,” was laid off from his job with Microsoft. He wrote a blog post to let people know he was in the job market. His post went viral. In “Introduction to Personal Branding,” Carson writes how his post was viewed by ten thousand people, and also mentioned in major news publications, “The phone began ringing off the hook with companies wanting to interview me.” That’s when Carson realized the strength of the personal brand he had built during his years with Microsoft. In the digital marketing industry, he was known and liked. He leveraged this popularity to successfully launch his own PR firm.
As you draw up your business plan, give some attention to your personal brand. You don’t need to be flashy or daring to attract attention. If you are a financial adviser, this type of brand might actually drive away business. When handling other people’s money, you may want your personal brand to be trustworthy, honest and reliable. Other personality traits you may wish to highlight include uniqueness, innovativeness and the ability to deliver high quality products and services. Once you have developed the image you wish to portray, you need to get it out there for public consumption.
In a post for Entrepreneur, Carson outlines what is involved in building a personal brand. Social media will be a major component of your effort. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have become the go-to places for people seeking information about products, services and people. Make sure your social profiles are all up to date and contain fresh posts. Hire a professional photographer for your headshot. A selfie might be fine for your friends and family, but you don’t want you face presented at weird angles for your public image.
Your name and business name should be included in all your online content along with appropriate keywords. You want the search engines to find you. Create a webpage that serves as a home base for all your profiles, and make sure all your social profiles, as well as business cards, letterhead, etc., directs contacts back to that page. People will know you for the content you publish. “You have to be authentic, useful, relevant and actionable,” writes Carson. “The other tip I give people is that they need to be delightful.” Who you are is a marketing tool. “Wholesale success takes time though,” Carson cautions, “sometimes months or years. Your professional profile needs to evolve, take shape and tell a story.”
This article was written by Gillian Burdett for CBS Small Business Pulse.