By Sam Geller, brand consultant, entrepreneur and founder of Geller Law, a law firm in San Francisco focusing on criminal defense
What do the 10 or so people you met at the last networking happy hour you attended have in common? You probably exchanged business cards, never followed up and have since forgotten where you even put their contact information. Most people don’t have a Rolodex and ultimately don’t put your contact information into their phones. So, that happy hour where you dreaded making small talk likely went to waste.
Now, imagine your business card had your Instagram, Facebook or YouTube handle on it. How easy would it be for someone to simply follow you and stay connected until your paths cross again for the purposes of doing business together? Imagine being able to connect with anyone anywhere in the world via a DM. The possibilities are endless.
Just as people go to networking events to sell themselves and make connections, business leaders today must do the same thing online. This is when the importance of personal branding comes into play. Whether you’re an attorney, realtor, doctor, nutritionist or fitness coach, the people you are connecting with want to know who you are beyond your profession.
When people see that they have something in common with you, they may better understand your vulnerabilities and immediately feel more comfortable with you. Yet, every day we go online and see professionals from all walks of life promoting their businesses instead of promoting themselves. People want to work with real people, not just a business name. That’s why it’s important to build your personal brand. But what does this really mean?
1. Be more than your profession.
Outside of being an entrepreneur, a leader and a business owner, you may be a father, mother, avid basketball player or card collector. Not everyone you come across on social media will be interested in what you have to offer in your business, but they may find you interesting because of your personal life.
It’s important to pick a few things that you regularly post about that may interest others. The more people feel they have something in common with you, the more likely they are to connect with you. This true and genuine connection may ultimately lead to something more than just a like or comment on your posts.
2. Be an authority in your field.
While it’s important to show the world that you are more than your profession, it’s equally important to show your connections that you are an authority in your field. This means documenting your knowledge and educating people. Most people don’t like to be offered deals or sales pitches constantly. That’s why it’s important to stay away from constant sales pitches; instead, focus on providing your connections with access to information, education and your knowledge.
3. Invest in your personal brand.
Why would someone pay an extra fee to use thicker-stock business cards? To stand out. Standing out is even more important when it comes to building your personal brand. Whether this means hiring a photographer or buying a DSLR camera for your photos and videos, your personal brand must stand out. Having a strong brand builds loyalty.
Beyond building loyalty, you can further stand out by engaging with your connections. Respond to their messages and like and comment on their posts. This interaction keeps you on top of people’s minds and shows that there is a real person behind your brand. With loyalty and credibility comes an increase in business because consumers want to work with people they trust and like.
4. Create synergy for your brand.
With constant advancement in technology, while social media platforms aren’t changing daily, there are new platforms being designed all the time. Just as you try to build loyalty to your brand, people have loyalty to the platforms they use most. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or TikTok, each of these platforms is powerful in its own ways.
If you want to reach the largest number of people possible, create a presence and a personal brand that is consistent across all your platforms. You want people to recognize your brand no matter what social media platform they are using.
5. Stay ahead of the game.
If you are already investing time and money into your personal brand, become a forward thinker. Whether this means posting about the latest trending topics or using the latest social media platform, be sure to stay relevant — or risk remaining stagnant. That’s the difference between a failed brand and the successful brand you continually see grow before your eyes. Stay up to date on world events and developments specific to your business. Being able to tie it all together will allow you to grow stronger connections because people will find you relevant.
At the end of the day, personal branding is all about building relationships. What will separate your brand from your competitors is your ability and desire to foster those relationships. Once again, this comes down to separating yourself from the pack.