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Personal Branding and Its Importance for B2B Professionals
Chances are if you follow social media and use LinkedIn to connect with professionals in your industry, you’ve likely come across the term Personal Branding. The practice of Personal Branding has been around for years, (in fact, the phrase was coined back in 1997) yet there is still some confusion on what Personal Branding is versus your organization’s branding.
As defined by Wikipedia, Personal branding is the conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual by positioning them as an authority in their industry, elevating their credibility, and differentiating themselves from the competition, to ultimately advance their career, increase their circle of influence, and have a larger impact. The process of personal branding involves finding your uniqueness, building a reputation on the things you want to be known for, and then allowing yourself to be known for them. Ultimately, the goal is to create something that conveys a message and that can be monetized.
In my opinion, Personal Branding is more important than organizational branding, and new business is won/lost based on the relationship built on the brand of the individual versus the brand of the organization. In collaboration with your organization’s branding, you can create a powerful 1-2 punch when impacting your ideal clients, and your personal brand can stand alone as one of your most effective sales tools.
Here’s why personal branding is so important for B2B professionals:
- People trust people, not things, in business – In the same way that Nike recruits athletes to sell their merchandise, so does the meetings and events industry rely on the strengths of its individuals versus the merits of the organization to sell. People want to get to know people, and through the individuals, they will learn about the organization.
- Rely on your brand for your next career opportunity – In a sea of job candidates, it’s those who have created a brand (and created an audience) that may win out in the next round of interviews. By using your personal brand for good, you have created an asset that cannot be added to a resume through coursework or experience.
- Opens doors for other opportunities – By creating a consistent and reputable brand, other interesting opportunities may come your way including invitations to volunteer, speak, train, advise and mentor. These opportunities can also happen internally at your organization, so whether you have your eye on a promotion or a special project, your brand could set you apart from your colleagues and internal competitors in the workplace.
- In-person events are not the only way to get to know someone – Whether your industry has reduced in-person interactions, or you feel more comfortable building relationships in other ways, your brand can provide opportunities for us to “present” ourselves to the industry and mix and mingle with real people.
- Our organizations will change, and you will move on, but your brand can go with you wherever you go. Your own brand will change and flex over time, but your base is yours to keep and build upon as you go from opportunity to opportunity.
How can you build a personal brand?
When you set out to create your personal brand, there are several decisions you need to make, and activities you need to undertake to ensure you’re creating impact with your brand. Here are some of the things to take into consideration:
- Decide what you’d like to amplify – By taking inventory of your strengths, skills and what makes you unique, you can start to project parts of yourself to your target audience. The things you choose to amplify and share with your brand will help you build that “know like and trust” factor with your ideal community…… Speaking of….
- Get crystal-clear on who you want to impact – Your brand will exist in a silo if you’re not intentional about who you want to impact and influence. Define your ideal audience member, and the rest of your branding decisions will fall into place very quickly.
- Choose your platform – Regardless of your platform of choice, any platform serves as your TV Station/Magazine as part of your personal brand. While most people include a social media platform into their brand mix, there are other platforms to consider including your in-person service, your blog, podcast, video series, email newsletters and volunteering.
- Create content – By providing valuable content, free of charge and with no expectations, your audience begins to “know like and trust” you. Content can take the form of storytelling, tips and tricks, industry conversations and discussions and motivating messages.
- Share content from others – By connecting and developing online relationships with other personal brands (and elevating the content of others) you position yourself as a like-minded thought leader in your space. Growing your brand network in this way and rapidly increasing your ability to impact, influence and attract other opportunities.
- Show up consistently – Whether it’s once a week or once a day, by creating a subconscious expectation of your content and then delivering on your promise, you create a level of trust with your audience. They start to “expect” your presence in their lives and begin to trust that you’ll be there for them.
- Be consistent in messaging – By having a unified message across platforms and over time helps people identify you with your brand. For example, Seth Godin’s personal brand is “marketing guru, humble, sharing, relatable”. If his messaging all of a sudden changed to reflect a hard-nosed sales attitude, it would come into conflict with the rest of his messaging and you would lose trust in him as an industry leader.
- Be authentic – People will trust your brand and services more as they get to know you better; show the human side of your brand and create connections that leave an impression beyond the keyboard
By creating and living out your personal brand, you will open doors for business opportunities, personal opportunities and great growth in the industry.
If you’re interested in being notified for the next launch of Brand Plan Academy, the A to Z Toolkit for B2B Professionals who want to create and amplify their personal brands, register here!
“If you show up regularly with generosity, everything else is gonna take care of itself.” ~ Seth Godin
“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” ~ Tom Peters