At some point in your career, someone has probably talked to you about how to brand yourself; how personal branding is this incredibly important thing that everyone is doing these days; how, if you’ve built a business and are trying to grow, it’s not something you can ignore.
Or is it? Personal branding, just like regular branding, is something that’s often completely out of your control. If you’re trying to brand yourself as something you’re not, it’s very difficult, if not impossible. And, when you’re already running a business and busy with the day-to-day grind, it can seem like a waste of time to focus on personal branding.
But personal branding isn’t just about getting a cool logo, a fancy business card, and a professional email header. It’s really about who you are, what you do, how you do it, and the business that you run. Furthermore, it can be a valuable tool to generate new leads and to close sales.
Your brand is “What people say about you when you’re not in the room,” as Jeff Bezos famously said. This means that, no matter what your intentions and how much work and effort you put into trying to brand yourself as a particular thing, what ends up mattering most is what people think about you. And what people think about you is based largely on your actions, accomplishments, and communications. No matter how hard you try, you cannot brand yourself as something different from what you are.
Now, you certainly can build a personal brand that is true to who you are, and that’s generally what most entrepreneurs and business owners try to do.
But what many fail to realize is that the personal brand is necessary in the first place. They often think that, because they own a business and have spent a great deal of time and money building it into a brand, they don’t have to worry about branding themselves. And that’s not the case.
One major reason you need to brand yourself is to help grow your business. If your business is not well known, it doesn’t mean a whole lot to introduce yourself as the CEO of XYZ Corp.
One of the greatest ways to get in front of new clients and introduce them to you and your business is through speaking events and live workshops or presentations, but your 5 years as CEO of XYZ Corp might not be enough to get your foot in the door.
However, if you position yourself as, for example, a talented WordPress developer, designer, and writer who has been in the WordPress world since day one and who has worked in web design and development for 20 years, and who also happens to be the founder and CEO of XYZ Corp, then you might be more likely to get a gig.
Having a personal brand also matters when large potential clients are researching you, and the way you brand yourself can play a large role in closing a sale. They don’t care that you’re just the CEO of XYZ Corp, which they may or may not know very well, but they care more that you, personally, know what you’re doing, have experience, and can handle the project for them.
The same is true in B2C. As companies grow and begin to make strategic partnerships, along with larger and larger deals with larger and larger clients, they will naturally look to their CEOs and ask “Can you handle what we need? Who are you? What is your background?” You need to have an answer to these questions.
Setting aside the business you’ve built and its success or failure, people are interested in your skills, and those skills need to be articulated clearly and effectively to potential business partners, investors, and clients, regardless of your current standing as president or CEO.
To brand yourself effectively, you have to do the same things you would do for a business brand. You need a great logo, a recognizable color scheme, an easy-to-use website, and professional social media profiles to outwardly display a brand. You’ll also need a memorable tagline that describes who you are and what you do.
If you’re not sure exactly how to position yourself and how to separate yourself from your business, then lead with your personality and pull out who you are, what you stand for, and how that translates into the personal brand that you present to the world. Simply asking your friends and co-workers to describe your personality can be a great way to start.