Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lesson #92: Building Your Personal Brand


As a startup executive, your personal brand is as important to you as your business brand, to instill trust with prospective partners.  Today's lesson provides a few suggestions on how best to increase your personal brand.

Strong Track Record.  The more you can prove your historical success, the better odds people will bet on your future success.  Did you graduate a name brand school?  Did you get good grades there?   Did you work for name brand companies in your past?  Did you have a quantifiable level of success there?  Have you done a startup in the past, and if so, what was the outcome for its investors?  Have you won any relevant awards?  The answers to these questions can help build your credibility.

Visibility as an Expert in Your Industry.  Where you can, you want to be perceived as a trusted authority in your space.  Are you getting quoted by major trade magazines?  Are you speaking at any trade events?  Are you writing a blog with high quality content?  Do you have a large following on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn?  What level of connections do you have in LinkedIn (e.g., thought leading CEOs or entry-level staff)?  What is your Klout score?  The answers to these questions further emphasize your expertise in the space.

Strong References. It is less important what you have to say about yourself. It is much more important what other people have to say about you, especially mutual colleagues that a prospective partner already trusts. Are your references publicly published on LinkedIn? Do you share any colleagues with the partner on LinkedIn that can sing your praises? If so, great. If not, do you have a list of credible references that can sing your praises, understanding your former CEO boss is much more credible as a reference than a secretary in that business or one of your unknown friends.

Clean Social Media Footprint.   Make sure you clean up all your public facing profiles in the social media world.  You want to make sure your persona is professional and trustable at all times.  So, no crazy party pictures, swearing or liking/publishing offensive content.  Potential partners will do their home work on you, and you do not want to leave them with any excuse not to trust you.

Clean Search Results.  Same as keeping your social media footprint clean, you want to make sure partners will not stumble on anything offensive when they do a Google search using your name or company.  So, do a Google search on yourself, and make sure nothing published out there you don't want prospective partners stumbling on.  If you can, reach out to such sites to take down such pages.  If you can't, make sure you have clear explanations to such topics if the question comes up.

Clean History. Having a free and clear criminal history and a good credit score (personally and professionally) are a must for when a prospective partner does their background checks on you and your business.  This should be pretty self explanatory.

The Way You Carry Yourself.  How you dress, how you talk, your personality style, your listening skills, your professionalism, your smarts all impact your personal brand.  So, play the part required of you in order to get the trusted attention of your prospective partners.

Hopefully, you will follow these words of wisdom, and your personal brand will sparkle.

For future posts, please follow me at:  www.twitter.com/georgedeeb

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