If you're an entrepreneur, chances are you already know the value of personal branding. You know that when people know your personal brand, they are more likely to hire you ... and you can charge more for your time too. But besides being able to get more clients and increase your sales, having a respected personal brand opens doors for opportunities like speaking, book deals, media attention, and more.
And to be fair, many entrepreneurs are certainly experts in their own right. But being an expert is often a different story from being seen as an expert. Consequently, you might be losing would-be clients to someone who has great personal branding but doesn't do as good of a job.
It's unfortunate, but it does happen. After all, in an economy where time is money, prospects who haven't worked with you before see great personal branding as the first (and quickest) indicator of trust.
What that means, though, is if you start taking your personal branding more seriously, it can be exponentially easier to win opportunities.
But great personal branding doesn't happen overnight. It takes the right strategies and intention to make it happen.
Fortunately, you don't have to have sold multiple companies to build a great personal brand. In fact, we believe anyone can build a great personal brand with the right strategies in place, as long as you're an expert in one way or another.
Today, we'll go over the themes that define strong personal branding and also introduce four things you can do right away to strengthen your brand.
Most people tend to think about personal branding as a function of being in the news cycle or speaking on as many stages as possible. We think those can definitely help, but aren't truly ideas foundational to personal branding.
That's because personal branding shouldn't be about you — it should be about your audience. After all, you don't get to decide if you're an authority. That's your audience's job.
That's why we think these underlying themes are important for every entrepreneur to consider:
This one's pretty simple. If you get in front of people a lot of times and are reputable each time, you'll be deemed reputable.
When you hear publicists talk about how important it is to be active in the media and contribute insights, most entrepreneurs think press equals authority. What we think is, in general, press only gives an impression of authority.
The right kind of press is what brings you genuine authority.
That's because people will want to follow you if you have interesting ideas to bring to the table. And if you do, then communicating those ideas can be powerful.
Personal branding has a lot to do with how much of an expert you are, how good you are with working with clients, and how well you retain your business. It's not just about the press — far from it.
Keeping in mind those three themes, here are our top four personal branding recommendations.
Though entrepreneurs typically look to PR, guest posting, and more to improve their personal branding, they often forget about one of the only digital assets they truly own: their own website!
Sure, it can be awesome to have a Forbes feature of your work appear as the first link on Google when someone searches your name, but what can be a lot better is a link to your page with all of your press features, services, work, testimonials, and more.
By having a personal site, you can turn your digital presence into more than just eye candy; you're giving people a chance to actually work with you.
Not to mention, if you don't already write for a business publication, you can set up a blog right on your personal site! With tools like WordPress readily-available, you can set it all up in no-time.
With the right kind of blog content and content strategy, you can do a number of things:
It definitely takes time to make a personal site work in your favor (especially if you've got a common name!), but we promise it pays dividends over time if used correctly.
Don't have time to set it all up and write? Totally understandable. You can hire our team to help take care of all of that for you.
Though it's true that journalists and contributors receive hundreds of pitch emails from publicists and founders, they certainly take the time to read every interesting pitch. And if you have a working relationship with a writer, that's even better!
Here's how we recommend going about it.
First, note that you don't have unlimited opportunities to pitch — so make every one count. But at the same time, writers love working with the same folks over and over again, meaning if you suggested a great story once or connected the writer to a source she needed, then that can help you time and time again.
Email certainly works as a channel for pitching, but we recommend getting on Twitter and following the writers who cover your space. Often, writers put out source requests which are calls to chat with people who fit the stories they're looking to write.
Assuming you've been interacting with their posts, this is a great way to get your story in front of writers.
And even if your story isn't a fit, asking if making an introduction to someone you know who might be a better fit can help the journalist save valuable time.
Provide value first and it'll all come back to you when you need something.
Though it is important to leverage assets you truly own (like personal sites and email lists), it can often be even more helpful to leverage others'. One great example of that is contributing to business publications like Forbes, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Inc, or Fast Company — publications that have millions of readers every month.
You might think that you have to run an exceptionally successful company to even be considered to write for these publications. That's actually not the case.
It all comes down to storytelling; if you have an interesting and value-packed story to tell, chances are, you have a shot at writing for these publications.
The main benefit that comes along with guest blogging is the additional exposure. Sure, some publications pay contributors, but your time is more valuable than what these publications pay.
Instead, think of contributor opportunities as ways to communicate what you know well and reach a much broader audience with insights they otherwise wouldn't have.
That is, your personal blog might not already have millions of subscribers, but these publications certainly do.
Naturally, people who enjoy your writing will be more likely to do additional research into who you are or hire you to help them with a topic you've written about.
If you need help with identifying and writing up a story that publications would be excited to publish, we can help. Just reach out and a member of our team will get back to you ASAP.
When you think about personal branding, you're trying to spread the message that you're trustworthy ... at scale. But before you do anything at scale, you need to be able to do it well in moderation.
Too many entrepreneurs ignore their own client base in search of acquiring new customers. That's no way to do business.
Not to mention, your existing customers are an awesome source of testimonials and referrals to new clients. That's why it's no surprise that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers, according to Gartner.
Altogether, maintaining focus on customer retention will help build a strong reputation for you and your company. By doing so, you'll be known as a credible service provider as opposed to an opportunist.
If you are ready to take your personal brand to the next level, we can help! Just fill out our short form and a member of our team will get back to you ASAP. It'll only take a minute!
Note: This article is a refactored version of what our founder Steven originally wrote for Entrepreneur.com.