Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. Although it’s obviously important to build your business’s brand, as an entrepreneur personal branding can be just as important.
Consumers have a tendency to trust people more than they do corporations or businesses. People are used to being bombarded with advertising everywhere they turn and it’s easy to block out and ignore the noise. Standing out as a business has become even harder than ever before, especially as a business without a huge marketing budget. That’s why personal branding can help give your business a relatable face behind your brand that people can build a more authentic relationship with.
What happens when people feel more emotionally invested in your business? They are more likely to become brand loyal which will ultimately not only attract more customers but loyal customers to your business. But where do you start with your personal brand?
Building a brand around a “fake” version of yourself isn’t going to get you anywhere and it’s going to be really tough trying to be someone you’re not all the time. Instead, having a good understanding of yourself, your beliefs, what you care about and why you started your business will help you put your best foot forward in your personal branding efforts. Your personal brand should reflect who you are because at the end of the day, people connect with other people and if you don’t seem like a real person then why would they trust you? Why would they trust your business? Why should they listen to you?
I love the way Entrepreneur.com put it in their article on personal branding: “Building a personal brand is first and foremost developing an understanding of your true self and then sharing that with the world. Take your masks off and don’t be afraid of being vulnerable.”
As an entrepreneur it’s natural that you want to put everything into your business. You want the flashiest marketing and sales tactics to help attract new people to your brand. However, one of the most valuable marketing tools can be sitting right in front of you—yourself. Never underestimate the importance of taking yourself out from behind your business and putting yourself out there. Attend conferences and networking events, apply to be a speaker at events or workshops. Speak authentically and don’t just talk about your product or services, instead be yourself and show people that you are an expert and thought leader within your sector. This will help build your personal brand, humanize your business’s brand and build trust.
You may be thinking that you’re not a writer so there’s no way that you can start writing and publishing content anywhere. However, anyone can be a writer in this day-in-age and blogging has made publishing content even more attainable to people. By writing about your area of expertise for either your own blog or different blogs that are in line with your brand, you’ll start to become more known in your sector and to your consumers. For example, as an entrepreneur who owns a restaurant, you can reach out to see if you can contribute to food magazines and blogs and you can reach out to influential foodie bloggers who may be interested in interviewing you or something similar for their blog. Since you’re also an entrepreneur, you can reach out to business blogs to offer your insights and expertise around entrepreneurship and starting a business. The opportunities are endless.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as an entrepreneur is only building social media profiles for your business and not for you. Alternatively, using your business’s social accounts for your personal use. It’s important to remember that when an outsider sees your business’s profile on social media, they see your business and only your business. If you start talking in first-person it gets very confusing. For example if Coca Cola tweeted out: “I can’t wait to head to a business conference today in Toronto” we would all be super confused. Instead, build a personal profile(s) for yourself too. Follow people in your industry that are interesting or that you admire, follow brands that you love to stay in touch with what they’re doing, engage in conversations and with people and you’ll find you begin to build more relationships and connections in a more authentic way.
Personal branding can be such a valuable component for yourself and your business. So ignoring it completely and only focusing on your business’s brand can be a missed opportunity. Follow these steps to start thinking about how you can start building your personal brand.
Written by: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Specialist, Futurpreneur Canada