What does your personal brand say about you?
Don’t be fooled into thinking you don’t have one, everyone does – and even an absence of any information that would build into being a personal brand can speak volumes.
Your personal brand is more than just a custom logo design! and If you’re launching a startup there’s every possibility that customers, influencers, and investors are going to be looking a little deeper into who you are, so if you want them to see the right kind of information, you should consider how your current online persona lines up next to these questions:
Who are you trying to appeal to?
We might be talking about your ‘personal brand’ here but don’t be confused, what we’re really looking at is a nuanced piece of the process in which you sell your product or service to people.
Your personal brand is the context that you put around that sales process – essentially pre-empting an important customer question:
“Can I trust this person?”
Now, talk to any old-school sales person and they’ll tell you that a person makes a judgement about whether or not they’re going to do business with you in the first 10 seconds of meeting you – but times are changing – now, a potential customer is likely to know whether or not they’d do business with you 2 weeks before they meet you.
And the answer to that question will be significantly different depending on the person who’s looking – so it’s important to understand that you can’t appeal to everyone.
Hence, you’re going to want to think about who you’re trying to appeal to. Define your audience and understand what makes them tick. You’re not fundamentally changing yourself by adapting to what they want to see, you’re just putting an appropriate context around your sales message.
What do you stand for?
Now you’ve identified the audience you’re looking to appeal to and understand what they’re looking for you need to work on the underlying principles that are going to give you reference points to work from.
A good way to get some understanding of what these should be is to look at other people who are successful in your field. What are they doing? Does it sit well with what you think you should be doing? How do they communicate their values?
Is this person hardworking? Are they successful? Do they support their customers? Whatever it is that gives you the indication that they’re ticking mental boxes for the potential customers that are looking at them note it down – and be very aware that you don’t know anything solidly about them, what you’re noting is just the front line image that they’re portraying.
When you see how easily an image is created, think about what activity you can do to establish yourself in the same light. Start with the principles you want to communicate then consider how a customer will come to the conclusion that you embody those traits.
Are you an authority in your area?
It’s unlikely that anybody expects you to have conducted PhD level research into your chosen business area – but they will expect you to have your finger on the pulse of your industry and what’s happening – and the very best way you can do this is to share knowledge.
There are a variety of ways you can this, so consider the following:
- How are you going to transmit knowledge? Which platforms do the people you want to engage with use. Think about email marketing, social media sharing and personal blogging.
- Where is your knowledge going to come from? Do you have enough information stored in your brain to keep audiences happy – or do you need to be sharing information that’s up to moment and from external sources?
- Do you have any inroads into knowledge that’s otherwise inaccessible for the masses?
- Is looking for and sharing knowledge a part of your day?
You may or may not have a way with words – and it’s fine either way, if you struggle getting your thoughts down into clear and concise manner you might want to talk to someone about managing your output on your behalf.
Does your social media reflect appropriately?
All this talk of values, principles can leave you social media looking a little contrived if you’re not careful.
If you’re only sharing information that signals you’re the most virtuous person on the planet then people might question whether or not you’re a real person behind the image. With this in mind you should endeavour to make your social media your own.
Got friends and family you care about – associate with them. Been on a great holiday? Share the pictures – no one’s even going to mind pictures of your food or your cat.
The most important thing to remember when you’re using your social media personally is whether or not what you’re doing collides with the principles that you want to underpin your personal brand. Ask yourself the question each time you post and you won’t go far wrong.
Are you a person as well as a brand?
Be wary of using your online presence as just nothing more than an advertisement for who you want to be. If it’s going to stand up to scrutiny then you’ll need to communicate like a real human-being!
What that means to you will depend on how you’re transmitting value. Are people liking, sharing or commenting on what you’re posting? If so you might want to take some time to thank them, reply to their comments or follow what they’re doing in return.
The influencers that are out there making the biggest impact are the ones who occupy a position of authority in their chosen subject but remain accessible. You won’t go far wrong to consider social media a traditional ‘social gathering’ – mingle, chat, show interest, make connections, listen to people’s opinions. It’s this kind of engagement that has people coming back for more and valuing what you have to say.
No one wants to engage with the person who’s standing there doing nothing but talking about themselves.