The Importance of Your Personal Branding

If you are the owner or founder of an SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) or are the person responsible for sales or business development in any size organization then your reputation – your personal branding is paramount in your personal success and the success of your organization.

‘Brands are like people’ is an analogy often used to describe the companies they represent. Virgin is the brand built by Richard Branson and the two are hard to separate. Consumers buy into the personality of the founder and what it represents and promises.

In many cases however ‘brands are people’ – every celebrity is a brand, from Oprah to Dr.Phil, to rock stars and actors to sports people like Beckham.

Business brands take on or communicate the values of their founders. This is especially true for start-ups and new businesses, professional services firms where the names of the founding partners make up the brand names. Although this is not the best way to brand your services business this is still the dominant reality for many.

So the brands are designed and communicated by people. People, especially in services industry is who we all buy from! So it makes sense that ‘these people’ have an optimal representation of who they are and what makes them special in the place where it matters most, the place where positive perceptions are formed – online!

Your online identity and representation is made of your online assets:

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Blog / Website
  • YouTube Channel, etc

The most important of these in the SME (B2B & Professional Services) is LinkedIn, and we’ll cover this next.

Linked In: The Rules Of Engagement for Successfully Building Your Professional Network.

Success on Linked In and in fact in all Social Media channels relies on the principle of leveraging and building your reputation with your existing professional (and personal) connections as well as building new connections that will also hold you in high regard. Yet many Linked In users fail to do this effectively and damage their reputations because they forget the simple rules of engagement when it comes to interacting with their existing and prospective audience online.

This blog entry was prompted by two Linked In invitations in as many weeks, from individuals that indicated they were friends and gave no specific reason as to why they wanted to connect with me and used standard “templated” invites. In fact, having searched my electronic databases as well as my “super computer” called the human brain, I could not remember how or where I MAY have met these two people. These two invites were great examples of what not to do on Linked In. This doesn’t mean that these individuals can’t add value to my network or I to theirs. It does mean that I will wait to accept their invitation until such time that they can illustrate the value in connecting with them. I am confident and hopeful they can do so after reading this.

Below are 5 great articles by Linked In “power users” that discuss the strategies of building your professional network on Linked In as well as the specific do’s and don’ts of Linked In Invitations.

I define Power Users as those that use Linked In to develop and grow their network (and consequently personal brand & business) in a strategic manner – they have objectives, systems and processes. They are thought leaders who have a deep understanding of the medium and the technology and use it to their fullest advantage. This is personal branding.

Here is my long held view and summary of the below articles:

1.     DO NOT write anything that you wouldn’t otherwise say in person, on the telephone or in an email. You wouldn’t call up anyone, regardless of your relationship to him or her and utter the standard Linked In template words “join my network” as your opening remark! Then why do so many people do so in the medium of Linked In?

2.     Remember that everyone listens to radio W.I.I.F.M – What’s In It For Me? Have a compelling reason for connecting / sending an invitation (in marketing terms – your offer and call to action) or use one or multiple principles of persuasion. As you read the below you will see that appealing to one’s ego in the form of flattery works as well!

Prevalent attitude to accepting and refusing Linked In invitations as well as some great tips on social media networking etiquette:

The official Linked In view and procedure on “how and who to connect to” can be found here:

Perception is Reality. Make sure perceptions of who you are positive and profitable!

Gene Stark