Most entrepreneurs think that the business or product they represent is the most important aspect of their business and that the face of the business is of no importance. This, however, isn’t necessarily true. While it might not be the primary reason for going into business, entrepreneurs have to realize that they are as important to their business as their product or service is.
In my years working with many entrepreneurs, I’ve often found that they prefer to play a supporting role when it comes to selling and promoting their business or product. They’d rather send a staff member to industry or networking events and avoid press altogether — they’re not interested in the limelight.
However, entrepreneurs who shy away from building their own personal brand stand to lose great opportunities to build brand awareness and important business connections. Here are three ways entrepreneurs can use personal branding to promote their business.
1. Live and breathe your brand.
If you expect others to believe in your brand or product, you have to be the first to stand behind your product or business 100 percent. That may mean wearing the clothing you design, eating the food you sell, using the technology you license, or simply living the lifestyle your brand endorses. Expecting others to become brand promoters without you being your biggest brand cheerleader is as effective as teenagers asking their parents for the car keys without making a case for how good a driver they are. It doesn’t work very well. Passionate entrepreneurs believe in their product and can sell it like no one else can. Make every opportunity you get an opportunity to let others know about your brand simply by upholding your brand’s promise.
2. Network boldly (with everyone you meet).
A network of connections is critical for an entrepreneur just starting out. Building a personal brand begins with making and building relationships. Every opportunity you get to network, you should aim to make some meaningful connections. After all, you never know who you’ll meet. Whether it’s growing your LinkedIn profile or attending local networking events, entrepreneurs have to network boldly.
Although I never used to be a real networker, I soon realized that the people I met at industry events could be critical to my business. I’ve often found partners and vendors at networking events that I would have never met had I not been bold enough to strike up a conversation.
3. Become a thought leader.
In today’s hyper-connected world, it’s not enough to simply say you know your stuff. People will want social proof that you indeed are the real deal. That’s when becoming a thought leader in your community or industry is key. Sharing your knowledge with the rest of the world is just a way to show that you are relevant and have something important to say. Whether you start a blog or share opinions on industry forums or sites, it’s important that you develop thought leadership.
While becoming a thought leader is no easy task, I’ve found it to be rewarding in more than one way. You get industry recognition for staying on top of your industry, as well as great opportunities to promote your business or product. I’ve been able to get the word out about our company by simply speaking at a conference or even publishing an article in the local press. No matter where you start, demonstrating thought leadership in your space is important for building awareness about your brand or business.
If you’re an entrepreneur who would rather stay away from the spotlight, it’s time to reconsider. Young entrepreneurs can gain a lot by building a strong personal brand. Not only are you able to promote your business or product, you have an opportunity to make a human connection for your brand. So next time, don’t be shy. Think about your business and what you stand to gain by building your brand.