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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Build a Strong Company by Creating a Strong Personal Brand 05-23


Build a Strong Company by Creating a Strong Personal Brand

Before founding Influence & Co., I had no personal brand. I didn’t blog, I didn’t tweet — I didn’t even have a LinkedIn account. Outside of my small personal network, I was unknown.
Looking back, it’s no surprise that I had trouble gaining traction when I started in this industry. People didn’t take me seriously. At conferences, I was elbowed out of key events. Potential partners wouldn’t even respond to my emails. The frustration pushed me to become one of Influence & Co.’s first clients.
We began working on my personal brand, and it wasn’t long before things started to shift. As my reputation grew, so did my business. Nothing had changed internally: I was still the same guy running the same company. Soon, however, I was receiving invitations to speak at industry summits. Potential partners were knocking at our door. I was amazed.
That’s the power of a strong personal brand. By presenting yourself as a thoughtful, credible founder or leader, you can establish an authentic connection with the people who need to hear what you have to say. This connection allows you to shape public perception in a way that public relations and advertising cannot.
With patience and consistency, you can eventually leverage your personal brand into thought leadership. And thought leaders have access to opportunities that the rest of the industry does not.
Take, for example, the LinkedIn Influencers program. “When I write on my personal blog, an article will get roughly 5,000 to 10,000 views,” says Dharmesh Shah, founder and CTO at HubSpot. “But let’s compare that to how my content performs on the LinkedIn platform. I’ve posted 30 articles as an Influencer. The average number of views across those articles? 123,000!
This kind of visibility can transform your company. But how do you get there in the first place? How do you build a personal brand that propels both you and your business forward?
Here are a few simple tactics:
1. Share critical updates with the industry.
Recently, Matt Cutts wrote an article declaring guest blogging as an SEO strategy to be dead. “Stick a fork in it,” wrote Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team. “Guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy.”
Cutts’ words reflected an imminent change in Google policy. This was a huge announcement, one that could reshape the digital content landscape.
The day after Cutts posted his article, I published a response that both informed my readers — and clients — about the upcoming changes and offered strategies for adapting to this new reality.
When you offer insight into the trends that are driving your industry forward, you’re helping readers manage change. They’ll reward you with their trust; they’ll share your content with their networks. Let people know that you’re looking out for them.
2. Write about those who deserve credit.
Who in your industry is doing things right? Who is driving innovation? Who is raising the bar?
Sure, you could ignore the fact that people outside of your company are doing great things, but you’d be missing a major opportunity to strengthen your brand. When you celebrate others, you create meaningful relationships, ones that could evolve into partnerships, creative collaborations, or recruitment wins.
Practice being gracious and humble — it’s not something we see much online. This will humanize you in the eyes of your reader and endear you to your followers.
Don’t be afraid to acknowledge greatness. In the long run, you benefit, too.
3. Avoid self-promotion.
Earlier in this article, I wrote about my journey to becoming a thought leader. There was no self-congratulations. My intention was simply to acknowledge the power of personal branding.
Nobody is interested in self-promotion; it ruins credibility. Readers want insight, honesty, and transparency.
Though the concept of “personal branding” may sound inherently narcissistic, it’s more about serving your followers. Your fundamental goal is to provide readers with content that will enrich their lives.
Branding Yourself and Your Business
Even if you’re uncomfortable with the attention, the spotlight is no longer optional. People are going to talk about you and your business, whether you want them to or not. Therefore, it’s critical that you actively manage your reputation.
Surround your name with high-quality, valuable content. Build a platform, and make it easy for followers to connect with you. Strive to improve the lives of your readers.
Dedicate time and energy to nurturing a vibrant personal brand. It will open a world of opportunity, both for you and for your business.