This is a guest post from Dan Schawbel, founder, Millennial Branding
We currently live in a branded world, from the Apple logo on our iPads to the Nike symbol on our shoes. Consumers purchase brands, companies hire brands, and personal brands build companies.
I always say that in today’s social business environment, companies have to act more like people and people have to manage their careers like companies. In order for an organization to reach customers online, they have to put on a human face in the form of senior leaders. In today’s world, executives at small businesses need to focus on their personal brands because consumers now want to interact with them.
In fact, they demand it.
Consumers today are interested in the executive’s story, from why they started the company to industry trends and big ideas. But they also care about them personally. Companies of all kinds need a fan base these days, and with social networks you can grow that fan base one interaction at a time.
What is personal branding?
Personal branding is the process by which we unearth what makes us special and then communicate it to the right audience. A senior leader needs to become an expert at something related to his or her company. For example, if you run a security software business, then you’ll want to become the security software expert. This way, when the senior leader is interviewed by the media, the company’s name is mentioned every single time. In other words, the senior leader builds his or her own brand while simultaneously helping the company gain more visibility.
Senior leaders can also attract awareness to their companies by speaking at events, blogging weekly, writing for trade magazines and taking leadership positions in industry associations. In each instance, the senior leader is getting out there, becoming more established and giving value to an audience — all while receiving free promotion in return.
NOTE: It’s also important not to forget that all employees can be brand evangelists. If younger workers in an organization see an executive getting out there they will be more inclined to support them!
Another reason why senior leaders have to focus on personal branding is because if other companies know them, like them and trust them, they will do business with them. By getting into a position where more people know who they are, senior leaders can make networking and lead generation much easier and less stressful.
Of course, branding takes time, and executives shouldn’t expect results overnight. I recommend that senior leaders start their own blogs, write about industry news and trends every week, and get on social networks to interact with customers whenever possible. This way, they are adding to the conversation, building stronger relationships with their customers and creating a strong online presence. Then when someone searches for their names online, they will be aware of what comes up and feel proud of it.
Senior leaders have to brand themselves before they are branded by other people, especially competitors. The sooner they understand what their brand is and tie it to the company’s mission, the more control they will have over how they’re perceived in the public and their industry.
Take the leap right now to focus on personal branding for the good of your company, and over time you’ll see real business results!
Dan Schawbel is the Founder of Millennial Branding, a full-service personal branding firm based in Boston. He is the author of Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future, and blogs at Personal Branding Blog.