We talk about personal branding all the time. It's one of my favorite things to talk about. In much the same way that a corporate company will build a corporate brand, small business owners should build a personal brand.
When you build a personal brand, you give people a reason to do business with you. Of all the hundreds or even thousands of small business owners out there offering the same products or services you are, a personal brand will help you establish your tribe, your community, and give you a way to stand out to make it easier for people to find you.
Because let's face it — consumers prefer to do business with people they know, like, and trust over doing business with someone a computer algorithm came up with based on a zip code.
Here are five things you can do to build an awesome personal brand to help propel your small business to the next level:
1. Start thinking of yourself as your personal brand.
There's a lot that goes into building a personal brand besides just logos.
Your personal brand carries with it a personal association: how do people feel about you? How do they think of you? What sorts of things remind them of you? When you start building your brand, start by drawing out a map of these associations. This will help you develop a content strategy that will help emphasize and affirm the associations you want people to make with you and repress any negative associations that you want to keep away from your branding.
2. Run a personal branding audit.
Establishing a personal brand will help you control how people perceive you — but what about the people who already have an opinion about you, your products, or your company? Personal branding is as much about how you respond to consumer reaction as it is about establishing your brand identity. Get proactive and start looking for those people who are already talking about you and your small business. Has someone tweeted recently about a problem with one of your products? If so, help them out by responding and giving them an answer. Set up Google Alerts so you can monitor for mentions of you out on the web, and respond to them quickly.
You can also take this a step further and search to see what people are saying about your niche, industry, and competitors. This will help you figure out what types of preconceived notions people might have before they even meet you.
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3. Be intentional with what you share.
Earlier, we mentioned that your personal brand is going to carry with it a personal association. This is going to show through on nearly every social channel you choose to set up a presence on, whether you mean for that channel to be a part of your business or just a part of your social life. Every photograph, status update, meme, joke, and political statement you share will become a part of your personal branding simply because it will help your audience establish an association with you. Make sure everything you post is what you mean to post.
4. Write your story.
This is related to defining and understanding your why, but it goes much deeper than that. Rather than just “why did you start your business” think about why your business exists.
Why do you get up and go to work every day? What is your mission? What do you hope to accomplish with your business in the next year? Two years? Five years? Every good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Just because your ending hasn't been written yet doesn't mean you can't start plotting it out. This will help give your personal brand a vision, and your customers will be happy to share that vision with their friends.
5. Find ways to give your audience value.
By value, of course, I don't mean run specials and promotions and giveaway free products or services.
I mean give them a reason to have you in their life.
Give them a reason to go and check your group, your page, your website or blog. Don't just share link after link after link — talk to people. Inspiring conversations on social media is the only surefire way to build an engaging audience on any channel. And your time is the most valuable asset you have. Use it to your advantage to provide your audience with a reason to connect with you.
Getting started with personal branding may feel overwhelming to some — sometimes even just picking out a business name can feel daunting. But it doesn't have to be complicated. And you can start with these five steps whenever you're ready. It's never too early or too late to think about personal branding for your direct sales business.