If you’re running a small to medium sized enterprise, chances are that much of the business revolves around you, the founder. You’re the one who had the vision to put your money where your mouth is and who got something new off the ground.
And as the famous quote puts it, “with power comes great responsibility”. You have a responsibility to your employees (without you they won’t pay their mortgages), to your customers and to yourself. Building a personal brand is one management idea that can help you grasp that responsibility and mark you out as an individual worthy of note in a world of noise and traffic.
The concept was originally mooted by guru Tom Peters as long as ten years ago, but the internet age and social technologies have created a level playing field which makes a personal brand far more attainable for everyone. Companies, organisations and products have brands which represent their values and unique attributes. Individuals can create brand equity in the same way – and most importantly, just as with major brands, creating your own personal brand invites emotional attachment from your clients and influences their purchasing decisions positively.
Firstly, remember your brand is the external view you present. How are you relevant to the outside world? What are your particular strengths and values? How would you like to be seen? You need to set some goals and objectives for a personal brand that you believe in and that are attainable. Unless your brand is authentic and something that you can live and breathe, people won’t believe in it – and nor will you.
Then use the tools easily available online to check out your online profile. When you Google yourself, what shows up? If someone who didn’t know you Googled you - what would they think?
Are you on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin? Do your entries there reflect your personal brand values? Look at the language you use and what you do and don’t talk about online. Social networks are dangerous for letting your guard down inadvertently – if clients have access to such sites then think about whether the messages you are communicating are consistent with your personal brand ambitions.
Once you’re comfortable with the brand you want to embody, then think about how to get out there and network it. Blogs on your company website are a great way of raising a personal profile. Should you write guest posts for a specific industry site to position yourself as an expert? Should you speak at industry conferences? Write guest articles in industry newspapers? Just concentrate on where you want to invest time to get the most benefits for your personal brand and ultimately your business.
Once you’ve done the groundwork, you need to live your brand. If you feel as though you’re playing a role rather than enjoying it, revisit your brand values to check they really do represent what you want to achieve. It should be authentic. Stick at it, be consistent and try to be the best of yourself whenever you can. Who’s to say where your personal brand may take you?
The Big Idea Building a Personal Brand
February 26 2010