You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
Truer words were never spoken, and they apply to both you and your business.
If you’re a store owner, for example, you know that if someone has a negative interaction the first time they visit, they’re going to walk right out, and likely never come back. They might even tell a few friends.
But if they have the time of their life on their first visit to your store, you’ve got a loyal customer for life. And again, they might even tell a few friends.
But what about if you’re someone who works with clients? Someone who hopes to be a leader, a speaker, an author, an entertainer, a consultant?
Perhaps you’ve done the hard work of building your business brand, with a logo and professional website to match.
But your business brand is only half the battle. Because if you want to stand out and reach your ideal clients, then you need to spend just as much effort on understanding, developing and maintaining your personal brand.
While personal branding is critical for all business people of all genders, the reality is that women are so often conditioned to be meek and mild. So while anyone can benefit from the tips I’m about to share, I highly recommend that women, in particular, listen up (so they can get the confidence to speak up and stand out!).
Women often ask me, ‘how does a personal brand contribute to my business?’
Branding takes work and effort, and business leaders are tuned in to ROI. So they often want to know how a personal brand can benefit their business, before putting in all the effort.
In short, your personal brand is a representation of your business, and people will judge you accordingly.
The reality is that people do judge a book by its cover.
So creating a personal brand is like the cover for your business. You want that cover to not only stand out, but also to be a true reflection of who you are, and what your business is all about.
And whether intuitively or directly, most people believe that how you do one thing is how you do everything. If your personal brand is haphazard, lazy or nonexistent, that will reflect on your business whether you want it to or not.
On the other hand, when you align your personal brand with your business brand, you’re much more likely to not only connect with the right people but also turn them into raving fans.
So that’s the ‘why’ of developing a personal branding strategy.
Now let’s get into the ‘how.’
If every journey begins with a single step, then the first step on this journey is toembrace your personal brand.
That means being confident in who you are. This calls for authenticity. Honesty is important over all else in personal branding – being genuine builds trust, and trust builds customers.
This can be difficult for women who are often raised to be people-pleasers and all-things-to-all-people.
That’s why you need to keep your target audience in mind.
When building up your personal and business brands you need to define your ideal client.
And then realize that only your ideal client matters.
Not everyone has to like you, and that’s ok. Remember that the people who don’t embrace your personal brand were never likely to be customers, anyway.
So be confident in who you are. Own it! Own your personality and don’t be afraid to share it with the world. Embrace what makes you unique, and share it with the world.
In my role at eVision Media, I wear lots of hats. Our Canadian-based agency provides just about every service you could require for digital marketing: logo and graphic design, custom website design and development, SEO and SEM marketing, social media marketing, content writing, copywriting, newsletters, and strategy consulting.
And while I love all my hats, I think what I love most is working one-on-one with small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them define both their personal and professional brands and use them both effectively.
It’s so powerful to help women have their ‘aha’ moment of getting crystal clear on who they are and what they have to offer.
For example, our good friend and (now retired) client Dana Smithers is a woman who lives, eats and breathes her personal brand. Always the ‘lady in red,’ Dana is a shining example of integrating her personal brand with her business and her whole life.
Our client Katherine Hartvickson ofQuantum Ascendance is another shining example of creating solid and consistent personal and professional brands.
This is an example of ourGold Logo and Branding Design– a complete, professional branding and marketing package designed to position you as an expert in your industry.
Katherine is a high performance leadership and HR Consultant, as well as speaker and best-selling author.
She is also a powerhouse personal brander, infusing professionalism and grace into everything she does. This includes regular insightful blog posts and a longstanding social media presence that establishes her as a go-to expert.
Our client Yvonne Duoma loves sharing her playful side on social media
And like we’ve covered, it’s important to fully embrace who you are.
For example, our client Yvonne Douma isn’t afraid to show her playful side! While her company Douma Leadership offers serious services to entrepreneurs looking to improve their communication skills, Yvonne brings an infectious lightheartedness to her work that her clients love.
So instead of forcing herself into the ‘somber businesswomen’ role, Yvonne embraces who she is, with a social media presence that reflects the fun, family-oriented person she is.
Don’t get us wrong: Yvonne is a super serious entrepreneur and consummate professional who also shares incredibly insightful tips and strategies to establish herself as an expert in her field (for example, see our talk on communication skills here).
But that doesn’t mean she needs to shoehorn her personal brand into something that just isn’t her.
So once you’ve got a little clarity on your personal brand, what comes next?
Here’s are some tried-and-tested ways to build your personal brand:
The best way to effectively use social media in your marketing is to be consistent and create authentic engagement.
Social media is not a tool to sell your business. Instead, it offers a wonderful opportunity to share your personal brand. Keep your social media presence consistent in order to build and enhance your personal brand awareness and develop a “know, like and trust” factor with your followers.
A good content strategy is important for so many reasons, one of which is establishing your personal and professional brands. We’re all familiar with the phrase ‘content is king,’ so it should be no surprise that well-written content is one of the most important elements of your website and marketing materials.
Now, the right content strategy will look different for different companies. It can include:
Ultimately, the goal of all content should be to showcase your brand, appeal to more clients, gain conversions and, ultimately, increase business.
This is a personal fault of my own, and I suspect it’s something many women struggle with. It’s sometimes tough to respond to a compliment, but I highly recommend you take a moment and accept it. Part of owning who you are is being grateful when people recognize it.
So instead of shrinking back and deflecting compliments, accept praise with grace
And don’t shy away from your accomplishments, either! It’s not bragging if you simply list your accomplishments and let them stand for themselves.
Surround yourself with your target market. That way, you’re more likely to be spending time with people who are more likely to respond to your personal brand.
Not everyone appeals to everyone, so put yourself in places where your ideal clients will be present. Mixing water with oil will just cause you unnecessary problems.
By placing yourself in the right setting and letting yourself shine with a strong personal brand, you will lead yourself to your ideal clients. The opposite – trying to be all things to all people – just leads to hurdles that are best avoided.
You can connect with your community at networking and community events, and never underestimate the importance of a great Facebook group!
If you’re an entrepreneur, then I have no doubt you are good at what you do. But what you do may not be branding and marketing.
Remember, personal and professional branding takes a lot of time and effort. It can also be a little intimidating.
You’d outsource your accounting if numbers make you cross-eyed, and you’d outsource your building management if you were swamped for time. Similarly, it’s often a great idea to outsource your branding and marketing if you feel like you’re in over your head, or if you just don’t have the time to dedicate to this important work.