Entrepreneurs are well-aware that brand-building is a powerful tool and one of the key aspects to marketing. Without a strong brand, your company may get lost in the noise.
Branding is the process of establishing a voice for your company and standing out from your competition. With a solid branding foundation, even the smallest businesses can have a powerful voice and build a community of loyal customers.
As an entrepreneur you’re wholly invested in a branding strategy for your company, but when was the last time that you built a branding plan for yourself? Yes, your personal brand. How robust is your social media following or blog readership? Is your sphere of influence as vast as you’d like it to be? When you say something, is anyone listening?
Authority is the cornerstone of personal brand-building online. So wield your secret weapon — marketing smarts — to craft your professional image as an expert. The more that your community likes what they see and read, the more that they’ll share your thoughts, link to your website, blog, and social media profiles.
As a entrepreneur building your own brand, remember that personality and thought leadership are your strongest assets. Here are five practical techniques for building authority online:
1. Blogging & Guest Blogging
Online content is undergoing a profound shift with one key consequence — anybody and everybody can be a writer. If you have something meaningful to say (and you should), a blog may be the perfect place to share your value. By launching your own blog, you can publish your thoughts in minutes — and over time, you can focus on building your audience.
You can also position yourself as an expert in your field by writing for widely read blogs in your industry. Guest blogging spreads your thought leadership to new audiences and enhances SEO for your own blog.
2. Social Media
You don’t need thousands of fans and followers to be a true influencer on platforms like Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. Start with building an audience of friends, clients and colleagues. Find opportunities to connect with potential customers and industry leaders.
It is never about the quantity of fans/followers/friends, it is all about quality. If you are connected to and have built a relationship with the 10 most influential people in your industry, that can be far more powerful than thousands of other connections.
Be strategic with your social activities. Think about some of your most powerful offline networking strategies — the concepts that underscore social media are very much the same. Be authentic and focus on providing value and the rest will take care of itself.
3. In-Person Meetups, Classes, and Conferences
Do yourself a favor, and take some time away from the screen. Face time (not to be confused with iPhone's Facetime) with your community is more crucial than ever — nothing can ever be a substitute for the bonds that you form in person.
Make an effort to attend industry events — both to teach and to learn. Actively seek out opportunities to be a speaker, sponsor, or host group discussions. Remember that your online and offline identities are connected. People you meet in person may become your Twitter followers, and people you meet online might one day become your real-life customers or business partners.
4. Online Classes
Find opportunities to teach online classes in your area of expertise. Platforms like Lynda Learning, Udemy, and SkillShare help connect subject matter experts with communities of learners. Anyone can be a teacher, and you can set your own price for your lectures, workshops, and learning materials.
Becoming "the professor" can help build your credibility. If you're the person that wrote the course on "Subject X", it can help you to land other opportunities (e.g. speaking engagements) in your area of expertise.
5. Webinars & Whitepapers
Multimedia is an absolute magnet — if you have the inspiration to host a webinar or publish an e-book or whitepaper, you should definitely give it a try. Your personal audience is hungry for learning opportunities. They want to learn from people they trust. They also want to trust the people they work or associate with. By creating valuable content for your audience to consume, they will follow you, share your content with their circles, hire you, and refer work to you.
Final Thoughts: Walk the Talk
If you want to be an authority in your industry, the most effective strategy is to be an authority. Be confident in your skills, and focus on inspiring and educating others. Be humble and selfless, step outside of your comfort zone, and put yourself out there. And let your personality shine.