Ask the Expert: How to leverage your personal brand strategyBy KRISTEN CRAWFORD
Special to the Union Leader
April 01. 2018 9:43PM
There has been a lot of hype around personal brand strategy the past few years, especially aimed at entrepreneurs. The more information that has been put out, the more people have questioned the necessity of it and whether it is a fad.
Why does this matter? It matters because perception is reality, and taking control of your personal brand allows you to leverage it on your terms. We all have the ability to manage our brand in a way that represents all that we’re capable of. We all have unique gifts to bring to the table, and by taking stock of your brand you can leverage your gifts to demonstrate your value and what makes you stand out.
Entrepreneurs with strong personal brands have an opportunity to strengthen their visibility as they are creating and growing their business. A lot of early growth in organizations comes from relationship building and building trust in the people behind the business. Entrepreneurs can increase visibility and stand out by getting more actively engaged with new relationships, potential customers, and valuable partners by providing value online and in person. Getting out and sharing your expertise at speaking engagements or educational panels, sharing valuable content online and actively engaging with followers all helps to solidify your personal brand as an expert in your field.
Strong personal brands are rooted in authenticity. By sharing your knowledge and expertise, and connecting with others, people begin to recognize your thought leadership and think of you when they need solutions they know you can provide.
Thought leadership is not just veiled self-promotion. By sharing valuable content, providing actionable guidance and what lessons you’ve learned along the way as an entrepreneur, people will get to know you and your story, and feel an authentic connection to you and what you have to offer.
Don’t get caught up in self-doubt about whether what you have to say is “good enough.” Get out there and write articles on LinkedIn, provide mentorship, start blogging about your experiences and share your story with others.
As an entrepreneur, there are multiple ways you can continue to grow your personal brand. By doing this, you are not only improving your personal brand, but are improving the brand of your business as the face of the company.
Make sure that your social media accounts portray a credible image of you. You can still be yourself online; just be mindful of the content you are posting, and remember that if you wouldn’t say something in person, you shouldn’t say it online.
Understand your competition so you know how to differentiate yourself and what you have to offer that is unique.
Develop a brand image and style. One example is utilizing a particular color that helps attract your ideal customers. This can be incorporated through what you wear as a signature color, through a personal logo, or other visuals.
Working on growing a side business? Develop personal business cards to hand out that reflect this rather than handing out your corporate cards from your full-time position.
Get professional headshots taken. Working with a photographer, particularly a branding or headshot photographer, will help elevate your relatability on social media and online. It is also particularly important when submitting your bio for speaking engagements to event organizers.
Practice what to say if someone asks you about your business or what you are working on. By having clear talking points you’ll be better able to articulate what you do and what value you provide.
Personal branding is not going to go away; it is something that entrepreneurs should embrace. Take the time to find clarity in your personal brand message and visuals, and then stand up with confidence to communicate this. You know you’re awesome, now go out there and show everyone!
Kristen Crawford is the director of development and entrepreneurship networks at Alpha Loft, a nonprofit that incubates and accelerates startup and early-stage companies in New Hampshire, creating an entrepreneurial culture of growing companies. She is also a personal brand strategist focused on helping people create confidence in their brand voice and visuals and leveraging their personal brand. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.