According to an IBM CEO study, 71 percent of CEOs cite human capital as the leading source of economic value. This indicates that people are what drives economic value and business growth and not a logo or elevator speech. In today’s competitive market, it’s crucial to be more than just a job title. Consider how the names Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Warren Buffet are as recognizable as their businesses.
Although you may not be running the next Virgin or Apple, even the smallest business owners can create a name for themselves online. Step out from behind your business and put a face to your work by creating a personal brand. This helps you stand out from the crowd in the job market, builds a stronger network and commands industry recognition as an expert in your field. Here’s how to get started:
What type of audience and customer do you want to attract? Sharing your values online helps identify what you and your company stand for and gives people a reason to support you. For example, CD Baby founder Derek Sivers’ personal brand values include minimalism and sharing what he learns. As he develops new projects and businesses, his followers already know they will also encompass his personal values.
If your personal values include being environmentally-conscious with a focus on reducing your carbon footprint, share how that translates into your work. Tell your audience about the green packaging and shipping you use. Or share how your jewelry store purchases diamonds only from ethical sources. Include a selfie of your own ethically-sourced engagement ring.
Remember to think through the full scope of what you’re sharing. If you’re deeply committed to a specific cause, remember not everyone feels the same way. Share this information if you want to attract like-minded clients, but keep it on the quiet side if you’re looking to attract a more diverse business base.
Remember the word “personal” in personal branding. Simply talking about yourself, your business and your products isn’t really the point. Be vulnerable and talk about your trials and tribulations, such as the mistakes you made while building your business or a personal struggle you had that lead to a new direction. Showing you’re a normal human being who is susceptible to hardships helps form trust. But there is a line. Oversharing on every detail of your life or complaining turns off customers and stalls your business.
Building trust and staying transparent also develops a more vested client and customer base. Take the time to ask for feedback on your products and services to get a better idea of what your clients need and want. Then, share some of that information online to keep your customers in the loop and illustrate your commitment to their patronage.
The Harvard Business Review recommends turning weaknesses into a compelling narrative by focusing on value. For example, if your business struggled selling hand-blown glass and you lost interest in the art, focus on how your experience informed your next step. Talk about how your knowledge of the industry and polling customers made you realize selling glassblowing supplies, unique artisan gifts and coffee table books created a more cohesive experience for your customers. Whatever your narrative is, focus on how its value trickles down to the benefit of your customers instead of making it all about you.