What do Neil Patel, Seth Godin, and Gary Vaynerchuk have in common? They’ve all created amazing personal brands around their ideas and expertise, that not only power their businesses but have also established them as thought leaders in their industry.
Many small business owners underestimate the power of brand building. Personal branding allows you to stand apart from the crowd, and even use it to grow your business.
And here’s the best part about it: You can use your personal brand to grow multiple businesses at the same time, or even transfer it from one business to the next, in case your current venture doesn’t work out.
With the widespread adoption of social media and mobile internet, it has become easier and cheaper than ever to develop your own brand and leverage it to increase the visibility of your business, gain customer trust, and forge new partnerships.
Here are four ways you can cultivate your personal brand:
Define your personal brand
How do you want people to perceive you? What do you want them to think about when they think about you? Do you want to be known for any specific skill or expertise? Are you a marketing guru or a small business expert?
Write down the words and phrases that describe you the best, especially the ones that are related to your business, industry, and skills. Include how your colleagues would describe you. How do people benefit from your presence in their team or workplace?
Also, include your credentials, goals, values, special abilities, and appearance. Think about what kind of roles you’re comfortable with. Are you an entrepreneur? A manager, team leader, or a business owner? It’s just like developing a character for a movie or a novel.
Be as detailed as possible. This will help you get a clear idea of how to present yourself to your target audience.
Create a platform
Create your own website under your own domain name (www.yourfullname.com) so that when people search your name, it will be the first result. Most well-known marketers like Neil Patel (neilpatel.com), Gary Vaynerchuk (garyvaynurchuk.com), Jeff Bullas (jeffbullas.com), and Seth Godin (sethgodin.com) have their own website with their domain name. Otherwise, you won’t have any control over what people see, when they search you online. For example, they might come across bad press about you and be turned-off.
Also, don’t rely on social media to build your personal brand. Social media is a great channel to promote your content and grow your audience, but you don’t own anything on it; it’s just a borrowed real estate. So if they change any of the social media algorithms, it can adversely affect your brand reputation.
For example, Facebook has reduced the organic reach of your posts by 52 percent, to promote its paid advertising platform. So you must own a website that you can use as a platform to build your own brand.
The good news is that you don’t need to hire a web development firm to build your website. You can simply use a website creator like Squarespace or WiseIntro to quickly build a professional looking website using beautifully designed templates.
You want people to connect with you, get to know you better. So display your name, a professional photo, and short bio (about who you are, what you do and how you can be helpful) prominently on your website. Ensure that you mention your skills and accomplishments in your bio, and portray yourself as an expert at what you do.
Add links to your external website (or business website) and social media profiles. Also, link to any external articles or blogs that you’ve contributed to. In fact, most of the website builders will ask you for this information even before creating your home page.
Also, Google yourself to understand what others see when they search for you online. If you find any images or websites that you consider negative or incompatible with your desired personal brand, delete the ones you can, and push down the rest by creating other results (using content marketing) with higher search rankings.
Tell your story
The most memorable personal brands are the ones that have mastered the art of storytelling.
People are always interested in knowing the story behind your journey. What brought you here? What challenges did you face on the way? What did you learn? Who do you look up to? What do you believe in?
Here’s a great example of how Sir Richard Branson shares his experience while running The Virgin Group.
Also, don’t be afraid to share behind-the-scenes stories about yourself. Do you love Game of Thrones? Are you learning how to play the saxophone? Share it. Your audience will be happy to know that you’re a human, just like them.
Write about your entrepreneurial experiences and publish them on your website/blog, as well as promote them on your social media profiles. However, while doing so, it’s important that you don’t appear to be all over the place. This brings me to my next point:
Provide a consistent experience to everyone, no matter how you interact with them (via social media, email, office, networking events, phone, etc). When they repeatedly come across the same personality, it will become easier for them to recognize and recall you.
Use the same name (spelling and case), profile photo, and bio everywhere, whether it is your own site, blog, external sites, social media platforms, business directories, or online listings.
Position yourself consistently. For example, if you describe yourself as a small business expert, do so on all websites and forums. Similarly, in one of your posts or interviews, if you’ve said that “Twitter is dead for marketers,” then maintain your stand everywhere. Don’t contradict yourself, otherwise, you’ll lose credibility.
It takes time and effort to build a personal brand—the trick is to be useful and consistent. As you develop your brand, you’ll discover new opportunities and realize that you’re able to grow your business by simply being yourself.
For more than eight years, Sreeram Sreenivasan has worked with various Fortune 500 Companies in areas of business intelligence and sales and marketing strategy. He regularly writes at Fedingo about a wide range of business growth and marketing topics. He's also the founder and CEO of Ubiq BI, a cloud-based BI Platform for SMBs and enterprises.