The small business owner's guide to building a personal brand

Sylvia Pennington

Building a brand that’s recognised, liked and trusted is an essential part of doing business for every company with a product or service to sell.

For entrepreneurs and small business people, developing a positive profile for themselves in the marketplace can be every bit as important.

So what are the secrets to creating your own personal brand?

Before you begin, it’s vital to define your unique value proposition – what you have to offer potential clients and the light in which you wish to be seen.

Before you begin, it’s vital to define your unique value proposition – what you have to offer potential clients and the light in which you wish to be seen.

The process should be a natural evolution, says former head hunter turned career coach Sally-Anne Blanshard, who’s built a reputation as a go-to girl for career-related commentary since hanging up a shingle in 2011.

As well as frequent radio and television appearances, Blanshard is an in-demand speaker, blogger and Telstra Business Women Award nominee.

“I was already known as a trusted adviser in the recruitment space and people spoke highly of the advice I offered,” she says.

Referrals she received in the early days were logged and tracked using a customer relationship management system and LinkedIn – as well as cultivated in the old fashioned way.

“I would keep up to date with people on the phone or by email or through coffee catch-ups.”

Spruiking for speaking gigs at seminars, conferences and business meet-ups was the obvious next step. Related publicity and feedback was shared with her growing circle via a slick LinkedIn profile and personal website – both de rigueur in the digital age.

Knowing your target audience [...] is crucial to the way your personal brand should be positioned.

“This would cement people’s assumption of what I could offer even before speaking to me,” Blanshard says.

“I have a couple of key messages that I use in social media and marketing and my colours of business are consistent. People get used to seeing what I put out there and now even have an expectation.”

Knowing your target audience – in Blanshard’s case, individuals looking for greater success in their business or career – is crucial to the way your personal brand should be positioned.

If your typical customer is a style-conscious twenty-something female, then a carefully curated Instagram presence and live broadcasts via Periscope may hit the spot. For Baby Boomers entering their golden years, maybe not so much.

Like exercise, brand building is best done regularly, in manageable bursts. Setting aside an hour or two a week to blog, work on social media postings or attend industry events will net better results than irregular flurries of activity.

Sylvia Pennington

Sylvia Pennington is a Brisbane-based freelance journalist who writes about small business, information technology and personal finance.

Image: Geoffrey FranklinFlickr Creative Commons license

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