As a small business owner, you’re always working. Whether you’re dealing with surprise orders, personnel shifts or exciting new partnerships – your time is precious. So the idea of spending time building your own personal brand online may seem impossible. However, a strong personal brand is an efficient way to grow your business. Below we’ve gathered 6 of our favorite tips to help small business owners accomplish this without getting overwhelmed.
1. Create your personal brand statement
You’ve already done this with your business, now it’s time to do it for yourself. It may be tempting to jump right in and build your website and profiles, but that’s a mistake. Don’t put the cart before the horse, instead take some time to reflect on the core of your personal brand now to help yourself later. Your personal brand statement is a one-sentence catchphrase that describes who you are and what you do. This succinct description of you should explain your mission and encourage people to ask more questions.
An example for an interior decorator who also runs her own business might be something like, “I help you turn your house into a home”. You’re not sharing every detail about yourself here. Your personal brand statement is a snapshot of you that captures your audience’s attention.
2. Establish channels to connect with customers and clients online
Now that you’ve created your own personal brand statement, it’s time to really get your hands dirty with personal branding. Start by creating (or optimizing) your profiles on major networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. And if you don’t have one already, build your personal website.
Make sure that:
- Your name is consistent throughout (ie “Jane Smith” is your name across all platforms not “Janie Smith” on LinkedIn, “JSmith” on Facebook and “janesmth” on Twitter)
- You include a version of your personal brand statement
- The profiles are optimized for search engines
By building these profiles and a website, you create hubs of information about yourself while showing customers that a real person runs your business. This also shows that you’re accessible. Establishing platforms to connect with customers and clients online shows that you want to engage with them and helps establish a sense of trust. This is one of the most fundamental things you can do when it comes to growing a small business with your personal brand. According to research from Rare Consulting, 83% of consumers say trust drives brand loyalty. That means that your clients not only need to trust your company – but you! Your customers and clients need to trust that what you are selling them is safe and effective, that they will receive your product or services when you say they will, that your employment practices are honest, and that this exchange is secure. By cultivating your presence on social media and building an active website, you establish trust via transparency with customers.
3. Engage with them directly
After you’ve created the foundation of your personal brand online, take some time to engage (with the right people).
- Listen to your customers and clients
By connecting with your customers and clients via social media, you can get a better sense of your existing customer profile. Find out what matters to them and what interests them. Look for mentions of their experience with your small business. If they discuss experiences with other small businesses, what can you learn?
- Let your employees know that you’re willing to listen
While some argue that employers should not connect with their employees online, the truth is, employees view executives with an active social media presence more favorably than those without it. According to a recent study, 76% of executives prefer to work for a social CEO. An engaging personal brand online makes you seem more approachable and communicative.
- Listen to potential customers
By building a personal brand, you can directly observe/interact with your target customer base. If you want to grow your business, at some point you’ll need to expand your customer base. Smart personal branding efforts give you an easy way to gather information about your target customers. Trying to reach stay-at-home-moms, but not having any luck? Find and join their online communities and listen to what they have to say. Listening can provide valuable insights for your business.
4. Share your insights with people who care
As we’ve said before, establishing trust is key when it comes to attracting and maintaining customers. By talking about your own experiences on social media or on your website, you instill trust in customers in 4 ways – you demonstrate that you’re competent in your field, engaged in your industry, approachable, and helpful. If you’re not sure what to write about, start here:
- Mistakes you’ve made and what you learned from them
- Things you wish you’d known
- Resources that helped you
- Thoughts on current industry trends
5. Keep your personal brand in the loop
Whenever your business is mentioned online, you should be a part of that conversation – or at least be aware that the conversation is happening. Responding to a customer on social media as yourself (as opposed to your business) may help in certain situations. If someone tweets about a negative or positive experience they had with your business, respond under your own name to show that you (the individual) care.
6. Personal and professional branding – a two-way street
As someone focused on using your personal brand to grow your small business, it’s easy to fall into the trap of only sharing content directly related to your business. But remember, the whole point of developing your personal brand is to emphasize the person behind the business. And this should be a two-way street, so your business’ online brand can help your personal brand grow too. There should be a natural synergy between these two. Make sure that your business’s online brand promotes your relevant content.
As small business owners, we know things can get hectic. When it does, simply stick to these fundamentals on how to leverage your personal brand. You will save time, grow your business, and stay headache-free.
You may also like: 10 Simple Steps for Mastering Social Media
About the Author
Sabrina Clark is a proud Marist College alum with degrees specializing in public relations, business administration, and Spanish. While at Marist, she co-founded the Marist Student Entrepreneur Network to support students with entrepreneurial aspirations. Upon graduation, she accepted a marketing position with a tech startup focused on the home improvement industry where she managed integrated marketing, sales, and strategic partnership initiatives. She is excited to now be a part of the BrandYourself team and help sculpt the future of the online reputation management industry.