7 easy steps for rookie entrepreneurs to build strong personal brand
With social media making it easy for people to follow influential business leaders, technocrats, and startup founders, the likes of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Sundar Pichai have garnered cult-like online followerships.
For instance, Elon Musk’s Twitter following is double that of SpaceX and Tesla combined. As an entrepreneur, this is a privileged position to be in as you have an audience receptive to your values, ideas, and ambitions.
It's also relatively easier to amplify a personal brand as we identify with human stories, and a strong personal brand does just that — projects your personal experiences in an entrepreneurial context.
Each of us has our innate personal brands based on how others perceive us — a personal branding strategy will simply leverage these experiences, success stories, failures, future plans, and make it a bit more intentional. This can help you land better gigs, promote your products and services, and open doors.
Whether you are an eager first-time founder or a personal branding sceptic, spare some time and try these seven simple steps to lay the foundation for a strong and authentic personal brand.
Get a professional headshot and profile
Get a haircut, shave, grab a blazer, and drop by your nearest photo studio for a quick professional photoshoot. Most photographers will happily edit your headshots for a few extra bucks.
Within minutes you’ll have a far superior high-resolution profile photo in your hands than most badly cropped ones from office gatherings and house parties.
After your face, a profile bio is often the first impression an audience, that is, media, industry colleagues, or investors would have of you. Resist oversharing about every medal and every promotion. Mention crucial details such as your education, career, and entrepreneurial ambitions, and limit it to 250-300 words.
Answer the who, what, and why
It's important to define brand guidelines and tone of voice for your brand by reflecting on your personality, values, and purpose.
Try and define your natural personality — reflect on your beliefs, philosophies, the things you stand for, what kind of promises can you make about the way you act, and run your business?
Unlike the goals, which are primarily about you, your purpose must be based on what you can promise and help others achieve their goals. You can always ask friends to share words they’d use to define you. Distil and refine these keywords to come up with your final draft.
Start writing as a habit
Content is the atomic particle of influence. Creating and distributing free content is one of the most effective ways to build your brand and earn the trust of your target audience.
Drop persistent emails to industry-specific publications or blogs with guest posts, use LinkedIn articles/blog posts to refer people to your company website and your posts on other websites.
When you share your viewpoints and demonstrate your knowledge through guest posts, you demonstrate that you’re smart enough to offer a valuable product or service. This builds trust and helps to position you as an expert and an authority in your industry.
Remember that people access your blog primarily via Google and social media, and it takes time to build a following on these channels, so be patient and persevere.
Fix your Google search results
A favourable Google search is often the strongest personal branding footprint for most of us. While you can’t ‘fix’ search results, you can try and push unfavourable results to the bottom of the stack by claiming your profiles across all social media platforms.
Paid services like BrandYourself can also help remove objectionable content from existing social media channels.
Having a personal website is an important component of building a personal brand. This is a piece of online real estate that you own and control, and in some cases, visiting your website will be one of the steps your target audience takes towards becoming a client.
Engage with micro-influencers
While major influencers can help you get noticed quicker, they might charge a hefty sum. As a rookie, you may not be able to draw the attention of big influencers. This is where micro-influencers come in. These influencers don’t have a large following, but the following they do have is loyal.
Recognising and connecting with micro-influencers to showcase your expertise and talents often feel more authentic than celebrity endorsements that look and feel like paid advertising.
Build a community of enthusiasts
Use your website, blog, social media, and other industry engagements to build a community and an email list. Instead of building a large and broad audience, shift your focus to becoming a leader of a community in a specific niche.
Once you define your target audience, try to build an online community for them to interact with each other, share ideas, support each other, and reach out to you directly.
You can always send out newsletters, host live events or create Facebook or WhatsApp groups, so your audience or clients can spend time with you. Casual meetups, private dinners, workshops, retreats, and mastermind groups are all great ways to solidify long-term relationships with your audience.
Be organically social
Social media is an open door space. It’s a sign of your accessibility, transparency, and commitment. Since you may be pressed for time, and you don’t have scores of PR specialists offering you a helping hand, focus on a single channel such as LinkedIn and try to remain relevant by posting useful content or comments regularly.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)