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In the Footsteps of Musk and Jobs: How to Build a Personal Brand

Thursday, September 30, 2021

How about getting started with a personal brand and becoming the Elon Musk of your field. Read on to find out what a personal brand is and how to start building it.

Startup Jedi

We talk to startups and investors, you get the value.

A rare startup does not dream of the fame of Elon Musk or Steve Jobs. But just dreaming doesn’t help much, you need to take action. How about getting started with a personal brand and becoming the Elon Musk of your field, while boosting sales of your startup's product! Read on to find out what a personal brand is and how to start building it.

Personal brand

A personal brand is how well people recognize us and what sets us apart from other people in the professional / personal field. Having a personal brand allows you to become a well-known figure in your professional circles, and to establish trusting relationships with potential partners, investors, and clients.

Personal brand is the result of how we promote ourselves. This is a unique combination of knowledge, experience, character, which we would like those around us to see in us, telling our story. At the same time, a personal brand is how other people perceive us.

Of course, you can ignore your personal brand and let it shape spontaneously. However, it is much more effective to manage this process.

A well-developed personal brand allows us to make people think that they know us well and trust us even if we have actually never met. With the right approach, a personal brand will influence loyalty to not just us, but also to the company we represent.

What does your personal brand have to do with business development?

In many cases, the two are directly related. The founder's personal brand will help startups and small businesses raise investment, find partners, get the first customers and promote their product. Moreover, in many cases, a startup develops solely thanks to the personality of the founder. Most people outside the IT / innovation / entrepreneurship field will not just buy and try new products because they simply do not know anything about them. But if they know the founder, it makes them at least curious about the project and even if they do not buy anything, they will simply know you exist and might mention your startup and how its going in a conversation. Such word of mouth is still a pretty effective tool to promote your business. 

For established businesses, the founder's personal brand helps build a good product reputation and make it more competitive.

A personal brand helps you both develop your business and boost sales. Thus, back in 2015, it turned out that 84% of the millennials (people born around the early 80s to the mid-90s of the last century - Startup Jedi) surveyed neither trust advertising nor the brands that create it. At the same time, they trust people they "supposedly" know, namely bloggers and businessmen who are active on social media. Accordingly, launching a startup involves the development of not only the product itself, but also your personal brand.

Building your personal brand: getting started

Developing and promoting a personal brand is a lot like promoting a company's brand. You talk about who you are, what makes your experience unique, what values you share and how you communicate them. Just  like a company brand helps convey product value to potential customers and stand out from competitors, a personal brand helps convey your personality and accomplishments to potential partners, customers, and investors.

Below are tips for developing a personal brand from scratch based on lectures by Dr. San Gresh, a scientist and professor at the US Northeastern University who specializes in developing a personal brand. So, what should you do before you start promoting your business? 

  1. Find out who you are. To build your  personal brand, you need to understand who you are now and how other people see you.
Task №1: take some time to make a list of your strengths and weaknesses

Ask yourself:

  • What professional areas am I good at?

  • What motivates me?

  • What do other people compliment me on?

  • In what projects have I helped others?

  • What roles do I find emotionally draining? 

  • What tasks can I spend hours on without feeling overwhelmed and tired?

If you find it difficult to answer some of the questions above, ask family, friends or colleagues how they would describe you. Once they do, you can decide how best to use your personality traits to help develop your personal brand.

  1. Decide what you want to be famous for. A personal brand strategy is a roadmap to the image you want to match.
Task №2: make a list of characteristics and achievements that would describe you in 5 years

Write down or imagine what kind of person you would like to become in the medium term. Highlight a few characteristics that you want to be associated with. This will help determine what steps need to be taken to achieve this. 

  1. Define your audience. Before you start building your personal brand, you need to understand whose attention you are interested in.
Task №3: make a list of people whose attention matters

This can be your professional community, a specific person from a specific company or investors in your area. Depending on the characteristics of your audience, you will need to choose the tools that will help you reach them and, most importantly, define the message and story you are going to tell. 

  1. Explore the field where you want to be known as a professional and follow the experts. 
Task №4: make a list of influencers in your industry

Subscribe to their blogs, analyze how they present information, content, and position themselves. When building a personal brand, the goal is to stand out, but the easiest way to do this is by studying someone else's successful experience.

Ask experts questions to learn as much as possible about the pitfalls in your field. Do not be afraid to ask questions that may seem silly. Invite a person who, in your opinion, has good expertise, for a cup of coffee and conduct a short interview with them, find out how they got into this area, what problems they faced, what they did for career development, how they monitor the development of the industry, whom they communicate  and cooperate with, how they found partners. 

  1. Learn to present yourself. The ability to talk about yourself briefly, interestingly and without boasting is an art that anyone who cares about the opinions of others must master. Especially if it can affect business development.
Task №5: prepare and rehearse your Elevator pitch

Prepare a short oral presentation of yourself, the so-called Elevator pitch when you need to convey important information to a person so briefly that it doesn’t take longer than an elevator ride. This is a 30-60 second story about who you are and what you want. Highlight a few key points and accomplishments that you would like to mention that show in a way  that benefits your brand. 

  1. Use the power of networking. Networking is part of your personal brand strategy, so try to make new professional connections and maintain them on a regular basis. Communicate with colleagues, professionals from your and related fields, attend offline and online events, communicate in professional chats. The more connections you make, the more value you can demonstrate to your colleagues and the more recognizable you will become.

Task №6: make a list of events you could participate in as a speaker

Ideally, try to get the opportunity to speak. If it doesn't work out, don’t get discouraged and come or connect to the event anyway. Follow the speeches, ask questions, try to remember and get to know as many people as possible, and don’t forget to keep in touch with them afterwards.

One of the basics of networking is recommendations. Having your current and former colleagues support you makes it much easier to develop your brand. Through recommendations, you can reach the person you are interested in directly, and find a partner or investor.

  1. Make use of every opportunity on the Internet. Be visible. Be active on social media. If you have a great portfolio, create and keep your website up to date. Depending on the platform, what and how you post may differ, but your story and overall message should be the same across all platforms. Once you know where people are most interested in you and where your efforts are producing the most results, you can concentrate on this one platform.

Task №7: complete / update your LinkedIn profile

It is the most famous social networking site. Be sure to include key professional skills. Add a list of successes - whether it's the number of projects completed, investments raised, languages learned, marketing research, articles written or deals made. The best way to use it is to participate in groups, get to know the people you are interested in and ask for and give recommendations.

Handy online tools when working on a personal brand

Wordpress — one of the most popular builders of websites of varying complexity, as well as web and mobile applications. Using this software, you can create a one-page business card site, a portfolio site, a blog and a full-fledged business website.

Tilda — a website builder with an intuitive interface. You will figure out how to use the program and make and publish your website in a day. The free plan allows you to create one website.

Canva — an online image design and publishing tool that has already created over 5 billion designs by users in 190 countries. With this program, you can edit photos for social networks, add text to them, create illustrations based on templates, and much more.

Easelly — a program for creating infographics with simple design tools, free images and templates, access to webinars and training programs, as well as the ability to order the services of a designer.

Google Analytics и Яндекс.Metrika — tools for tracking the number of views and site visitors, which, among other things, allow you to see the portrait of the audience, traffic sources, duration and depth of sessions.

Sprout — social media analytics tool. 

Mention — mention tracking software.

One is always greater than zero!

Working on a personal brand may seem tedious at first, but remember that one is greater than zero. This means that one step towards working on your brand makes you a little more recognizable. Get inspired by people who admire you - they may not even be entrepreneurs, but writers, artists or musicians. The main thing is that you want to be somewhat similar to them. Learn from good examples and implement your hypotheses, just make sure they all work towards a common goal and lead you to success.

30 Sep 2021

 

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