A strong personal brand is essential to any business endeavor. This is doubly so for first-time entrepreneurs, whose identities are often tightly bound up in their enterprises and whose reputations rarely precede them.
Establishing credibility takes time. Start with any of these six strategies, all of which are possible to pursue in parallel with your 9-to-5 duties.
- Create Profiles on Entrepreneur-Friendly Directories and Social Platforms
Set up basic personal profiles on popular directory sites and social platforms for entrepreneurs. If you’re not already listed as a founder on Crunchbase, for instance, take the time to turn up your listing this week. It shouldn’t take longer than 10 or 15 minutes.
Don’t neglect niche sites. If you’re a member of a professional guild, make sure you have an up-to-date listing on the guild’s local and national site too. You’re already paying dues, after all.
- Open Up on the Record
Seek out on-the-record interviews with friendly media and platforms. Depending on the size of your local market, you’ll have at least a few business-focused publications to choose from. Lay out your areas of expertise and make it clear that you’re willing to share what you know; reporters love chatty sources. You don’t necessarily have to retain a PR firm for help, though that may be more efficient than working the media yourself.
- Create a Stellar Personal Website
Build out a robust, professional-looking personal website that showcases your achievements and puts forth a coherent public-facing image. Use it to share professional news and original content that underscores your expertise.
- Perfect Your LinkedIn Presence
Complement your personal website with a stellar LinkedIn presence. Once your profile is fully fleshed out, block off 10 or 15 minutes each day to maintain it. It’s particularly important to engage with fellow entrepreneurs and thought leaders in your industry. “Like” and share their posts, tag them in your original posts, endorse them for relevant skills, and message them directly for advice and counsel.
- Establish a Publishing Rhythm
Set out a reasonable publishing schedule and stick to it. For maximum visibility, re-post original blog content on your Medium and LinkedIn pages. Vary post types and lengths, with short news items and announcements breaking up deep dives and case studies.
- Broach Mutually Beneficial Content Partnerships
Not all partnerships require financial exchange. Some bear fruit without a dollar ever changing hands.
Influencer content partnerships exemplify the latter. Set aside 20 to 30 minutes each week to research the professional state of play in your field, surveying industry publications, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other platforms likely to carry relevant content. When you come across fellow entrepreneurs or experts whose interests align with yours and whose platforms hold promise, approach them about cross-posting arrangements that expose their audiences to your ideas and vice versa.
Your Brand Is What You Make It
For better or worse, your reputation bears on your company’s worth. Anything you can do to strengthen your personal brand and raise your profile among your peers is likely to benefit your business, directly or otherwise.
That’s a lot of responsibility for a first-time entrepreneur to carry. Fortunately, as we’ve seen, there’s much you can do to burnish your personal and professional brand without taking time away from your executive duties or diverting growth capital from your business account. Try one idea on this list, then another, until you’ve attempted all six. By then, who knows where you’ll be?