Wednesday, 15 December 2021
Think of the businessperson you most admire and the three words that sum them up will most likely come easily. That’s because they’ve invested time defining and promoting their personal brands.
As an entrepreneur, your personal brand will also influence the way people feel about your business, so getting it right is crucial. These tips from worldwide talent management experts will take you to the next level.
One of the mistakes a career newbie or first time entrepreneur can make is believing that they need years of experiences before they can start branding themselves or their businesses. This simply isn’t the case, says the Founder of New York-based personal branding consultancy S2 Groupe, Selena Soo.
“The truth is that you can get known and stand out as a high-end brand from day one of launching your business [or career].
“The number one way to do this is through having endorsements from influencers in your industry prominently displayed on your website [or LinkedIn company or profile page]. This immediately puts you in a category with those influencers.
“The next question of course is: how do you get these testimonials? The secret comes down to consistently adding value to those you respect and admire. Get proactive, stay on the lookout for ways you can help them solve their problems, and offer your services pro-bono. When you find great ways to make a busy, influential person’s life easier, they’ll naturally thank you. With their permission, that “thank you” can become a testimonial. Even if you can’t start with the superstars in your industry, start building that relationship with anyone more credible than you.”
Elevator pitches aren’t just about those clichéd moments where you find yourself riding an elevator with the CEO. As your network grows, you’ll inevitably be asked who you are and what you do many times over and you’re not going to project that personal brand you’ve spent so long working on if your stock answer is centred around job descriptions and company names (even if you’re the founder), says New York brand specialist Catherine Kaputa.
“I was at a networking event recently where job seekers and people in transition each had an opportunity to give a one-minute elevator speech. Must people flub their audition? There’s no branding in a laundry list of job titles. You’ve got to know what you stand for and be able to articulate your value – the benefit that you bring to a professional situation – in a clear, crisp, compelling sentence. After all, if you can’t define what’s special about yourself, how can you expect others to figure it out?”
“My best personal branding tip is to have a clear idea of who your ideal client/reader/audience is and position yourself as the expert in that niche. The more specific you can position yourself, the clearer your message will be and the more likely you are to attract your ideal client,” says Founder of Launch Grow Joy, Andreea Ayres, a serial entrepreneur who coaches others to better brand their businesses.
“Many entrepreneurs think that if they go broad they’ll reach a wider audience, but that actually doesn’t work. For me, for example, I decided to create products and services specifically for entrepreneurs who have a consumer product line and all of my messaging is cantered around that. This helps me stay focused and put out messages that speak directly to my audience.”
This advice applies equally to the elevator pitch. Rather than have a tried and tested patter you roll out at each new introduction, concoct different versions, depending on the type of person you’re speaking to and what will be of most interest to them.
If you don’t write your own LinkedIn headline – the line that appears directly under your name in search results – then it will state your current job title by default. “That’s a wasted opportunity to promote your brand,” writes everywoman’s personal brand expert, Jennifer Holloway in her blog. “It also sends out the message you’re not as canny on LinkedIn as others whose headlines say more.
“There are 120 characters at your disposal to create a headline that delivers – so use them. Think about not just what you do, but what are the benefits of that? There’s a great formula: Say WHAT you are; say WHO you help; say HOW you make their life better; give PROOF that you are credible.
“Nobody can say for sure how those algorithms work (LinkedIn changes them so people can’t play the system) but what is sure it what you write in your headline will play a part in where you appear in the search rankings.
“Developing your brand is an on-going enterprise, not a one-off event where you can prepare a few documents, set up some social media accounts and describe how you see yourself to all and sundry,” says Irene McConnell, Managing Director of Sydney based personal branding boutique, Arielle Careers.
“Personal brand development is about gaining 360 feedback, developing clear, concise and consistent messages about you, walking the walk and delivering results to back up the ‘talk.’
If you’ve spent time working on your brand, diarise regular check-ins with yourself to ensure it’s still working for you, generating feedback from trusted sources in your network wherever possible. If you make any tweaks, invest the time in updating all those places where you’ve stamped your brand, for example, your LinkedIn summary, Twitter bio or the elevator pitch you’re using at networking events.
Sources: navidmoazzez.com; You Are a Brand: In Person and Online, How Smart People Brand Themselves for Success by Catherine Kaputa; jennifer-holloway.co.uk; arielle.com.au.