As an entrepreneur, it is important that you create and manage your own personal brand. You may be selling a product, providing a service, pitching a financial plan, etc. to your investors, division heads, partners or employees which are an essential part of your business. But it is really all about you, because you are the driving force of all activities your business contain and people invest in people. Every action you take helps others define you. Personal branding goes a long way in building your customer base.
Here are five steps to take control of your own personal brand:
1. Identify your goal.
The first thing you need to do is get very clear about what you want to achieve. Do you want to release a new product that extends your company’s footprint in the marketplace? Do you want to close financing for a big project? Do you want to create an excellent team to help transform your local business into a global franchise? Who do you need to be to achieve that goal? What image do you need to project to bring others along with you?
2. Understand where you are now.
Where are you today relative to where you need to be? What is the gap, and what changes do you need to make to fill that gap?
To answer this question, go to the people you spend the most time with and ask them to describe your brand. Then extend to others with whom you’ve had fewer interactions; more distant acquaintances may offer even more valuable information because it is based on more immediate first impressions. By getting a handle on how others see you, you’ll learn what needs to be changed. If they say you’re distant and unfriendly, when you think of yourself as shy, this is an area of your self-presentation you need to work on. Such knowledge alone can be curative.
3. Recognize what your daily habits say about you.
Daily habits can have a major impact on how people brand you. Your attire, manners and degree of organization tell people about you and the right presentation communicates that you’re prepared and have pride in who you are and what you do. For example, when someone is physically fit and really takes care of herself, she presents as disciplined, committed, and apt to follow through. People can see and hear an energy in her physical presence immediately. Little things make a big difference, and you can take control of them.
4. Leverage technology to define and reinforce your brand.
Most people will first be introduced to you online. When they type your name in a Google search box or visit your LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Twitter profile, they’ll see the pictures and videos you distribute of yourself and what interests you. Use these tools to your advantage: Have a professional picture taken, include a link to your website, and make sure your copy is brief and to the point.
5. Be yourself.
When developing a personal brand, authenticity is key. If you try to pass yourself off as someone you’re not, people will find out, and that will undercut your credibility. Be original and be creative. Present a sincere and accurate version of yourself. Don’t try to be what you think other people want you to be. When investors and customers meet you, you want them to think, “this is a person I want to do business with.”