While a great product or service is important to business success, there is another important element you may be missing.

Building a personal brand gives you and your company a personality and differentiates you from others in the same industry. It engages your customers and helps build loyalty. For a small business or startup, getting the personal brand right can be the difference between failure and success. That’s why it is essential to choose and clearly communicate the personality that will represent your business.

You can use the same approach to build your company’s brand. Learning how to effectively brand yourself – particularly online – will make you that much better at building your company’s brand as well.

Step 1: Decide who should represent your business

Be clear on which individual or individuals in your company will be spotlighted. Some executives prefer to stay in the background, so a willingness to be in the public eye is crucial. It’s also important to gain the support of all key personnel in making spotlighted personalities shine in your marketplace.

Tip: Some people just do not have the appropriate personality to interact with customers. Be firm when making this decision.

Step 2: Determine what makes you unique

Just as with a product, your personal brand should have a unique selling proposition (USP). Map out the qualities you want to be known for. Write one summary sentence describing your USP, and then a 100 word bio that can be used to introduce you. This process is effective for determining the essence of your brand, and is also important for sharing with the press, speaking engagement organizers, and your customers. Be sure to include well-known publications that have mentioned you. Your website should feature an About Us section that includes a page highlighting key personal bios and photos.

Tip: As an aid in writing your bio, collect bios of notable personalities that impress you.

Step 3: You must have public social media accounts that display your name

The most important social media platforms for building your personal brand are LinkedIn and your personal GooglePlus Account. They should be filled out fully and kept up to date.

Using a Facebook personal profile for business depends on your target market. You can easily use Facebook settings that keep family matters for family only. In certain fields, such as interior design and wedding planning, Pinterest is a good platform for building personal brands.

A particularly powerful tool is owning a domain with your name such as myname.com or myname.me. Build a website with this domain to display your personal brand and social media profiles. You can link to your personal brand website from your company website’s About Us section.

Tip: It is possible to combine your company brand with your personal brand for some social media platforms. For instance, on Twitter, you can put in the bio “tweets by…”

Step 4: Do Not Underestimate the Importance of Google Plus

GooglePlus allows you to establish “Google Authorship” for as many websites as you contribute to. This boosts your credibility when you write about topics related to your business. GooglePlus adds a network of potential customers for your business that you won’t find elsewhere.

Tip: You can build relationships with your personal GooglePlus contacts, making it easier to introduce them to your company’s GooglePlus business page.

Step 5: Learn the basics of using social media

The time has passed when you can pretend that you don’t need to know how to use Social Media yourself. Even choosing who should handle social media for your company – and evaluating if they are doing it properly – requires knowing enough to be able to make those decisions. You should learn enough about social media to be able to post as yourself on a few select platforms to build your personal brand. You can get someone to help set up your social profiles and coach you through getting started.

Entrusting the voice of your company’s brand to someone else is an important decision. The answer is not simply finding a young “digital native.” They need to thoroughly understand your business to represent it.

Tip: No one can effectively pretend to be you and post on social platforms for you. There is however, a ghost-writing method that could work. You can dictate your thoughts to someone who spends time with you. It is their responsibility to capture the essence and personality of what you are saying. It is your responsibility to deliver sufficient content to them and regularly check what they are saying in your name.

Step 6: Show your face

Get out and meet potential customers as well as online influencers. Do public speaking to relevant audiences when the opportunity arises. This is the age of video, so add a video of yourself to your personal profiles as well as your company website.

Tip: Join ToastMasters in your area as an inexpensive way to improve your speaking skills. You can gain valuable feedback by having someone capture you speaking on video.

About the Author

FLinda Sherman, co-founder, The Courage Group, is an international, multicultural marketing pro, bringing a distinguished background of international subsidiary CEO/CMO to her Social Marketing expertise, including CEO Club Med Japan, Barilla Japan and CMO Wal-Mart Japan. Linda Sherman has been featured and quoted in Forbes, The New York Times, Christian Monitor and has an influential on-line presence. You can find her at LindaSherman.meTwitter, Facebook and GooglePlus. Her company provides WordPress websites, digital film, personal and company branding coaching, and social marketing strategy and training.


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