What’s your brand? No. This isn’t about your company’s brand or your favorite list of go-to, must-have products you’re loyal to. This is about you. You, whether you realize it or not, have a brand. More importantly, when you are aware of your personal brand and work to cultivate it, it can benefit you and your business.
What Is It?
Branding – whether it’s about you or your business – isn’t about your logo, the colors you use, or the templates you rely on. Yes, when you’re marketing your business, you need those things. Those elements are expressions of your brand. Brand is defined by your values and purpose. It’s about how people perceive you and what you offer. Good branding allows you to influence those perceptions.
As Dr. Sean Gresh, a professor from Northeastern, explains, “Personal branding is one’s story.” Your brand should highlight your strengths. It should convey the type of leader and team member you are. It should be in line with your values.
Who Are You?
Above everything else, your brand needs to be authentic. Don’t create a persona you think people are searching for. Be you. (This is also great advice for your business, by the way!) To do that, you’ve got to invest a little time into some soul-searching. Understand your strengths. Identify what motivates you. If someone said your name in a room full of executives, what should come to mind? What do you want to be known for?
Be Something, Not Everything
You are talented. You are amazing. You are a partner that businesses should want to work with. All of that is true. You are not, however, great at everything. Don’t try to brand yourself as the all-around GOAT. Focus your brand on the things you excel at. Identify the skills that compliment your business and that show up over and over again as strengths on your resume. Have focus.
Know Your Target Audience
Imagine you’re launching a new business. As a finance guru, you want to come alongside growing businesses who aren’t ready to hire their own finance executives. They can outsource those tasks to you. Who are you targeting? If you said small business and start-ups, yes. That’s a great start. Is it a geographic region though or are you ready to take on clients on a national basis? Do you specialize in a specific industry? When you can identify your target, focus on how your experience and skills can benefit and support that specific audience. In other words, your brand may be, “Finance pro with a proven track record of helping women-owned tech start-ups manage their finance and funding needs.”
Your personal brand needs to be seen. If you’re not already on social media with a professional presence, what are you waiting for? Identify which platforms your audience is on and go there. You’ve got to do more than just upload your profile picture and your elevator pitch. You need to be active on the platforms you elect to use. Share articles (yours or someone else’s!) that will resonate with your audience, just be sure to add a few sentences to the post to highlight your brand. Going back to the example above, you may want to share an article on LinkedIn about the different kinds of start-up funding a business might consider using. You might type, “There is no one-sized fits answer for entrepreneurs seeking to fund their start-ups. Before you partner with an investor or sign on the dotted line for a loan, [insert a few key bits of advice here.]”
Remember, your personal brand is your reputation. It doesn’t work well when you keep it to yourself. Beyond your social media use, take advantage of in-person and virtual networking opportunities. As you build your brand, look for opportunities to speak at industry events or to offer expert input for publications writing on topics within your wheelhouse. Get yourself out there!