Personal Branding for startup founders
Table of Contents
Nowadays, it is no longer the brand that communicates, but it is the entrepreneurs who play the role of testimonial of their project.
A startup is not made by a single person or a single founder, but it is always the result of the team’s work, that’s why we don’t like talking about CEO or “one man show” when we talk about personal branding for the startup founder, but we always talk about personal branding referring to each of the co-founders. A good personal branding for each team member ensures that 1+1 does not give 2 but a greater number because the personal branding for each co-founder works together with that of the others and works for a better result, a stronger image also for the startup and its corporate branding. Let’s always remember that “Together Each Achieves More”.
The theme of founders’ personal branding is closely linked to the theme of awareness, reputation, and credibility, not only for the members of the founder team but also for the startup. Knowing how to stand out from the crowd is important for both founders and startups. Doing personal branding, for a startup founder, means creating an interesting image that is able to attract the target audience, and this is also done by telling your own story.
In this article, therefore, we will talk about the importance of personal branding, referring to all the strategies put in place to promote oneself, highlighting the points of application and making sure you have a well-curated LinkedIn profile that matches your image.
What is personal branding?
The term Personal Branding sees one of its first appearances in an article by Tom Peters, dating back to 1997:
«You’re branded, branded, branded, branded. […] Everyone has a chance to learn, improve, and build up their skills. Everyone has a chance to be a brand worthy of remark».
It is, therefore, a form of “marketing of oneself”, aimed at “selling oneself”, through which it is possible to define some fundamental traits that distinguish one’s image from others, including: Knowledge, Skills, Strengths, Style, Character, Goals.
This creates a real personal brand that, by taking possession of the techniques used in traditional marketing to sell products for commercial purposes, adapts this type of promotion to the identity of a single person.
The importance of personal branding consists above all in learning to communicate in the best possible way, taking advantage of your own distinctive points to stand out and possibly obtaining returns in terms of recognizability and also economic.
In addition, one of the most commonly used metaphors to refer to personal branding activities is that of “packaging”, since we work in order to create a convincing, tempting and attractive packaging, which captures the attention of those who look at us.
One of the main objectives of personal branding activities, finally, is brand positioning, which aims to imprint in the memory of those who look at us the characteristics and peculiarities of an individual, traits that distinguish him from any competitor.
Why should a startup founder focus on his personal branding?
The startup founder cannot neglect his own personal branding because it is essential to stand out with an original image and create a good reputation within the professional network.
The potential of social networks is also fundamental for new entrepreneurs, eager to make themselves known both by actual and potential customers and also by investors. In fact, a well-orchestrated social branding work can contribute to the knowledge of the startup founder face in the eyes of the general public, and in particular for the reference niche and, moreover, it can serve to attract investors.
For the startup founder, transmitting a positive and reassuring image is certainly very much appreciated. Emphasizing your communication skills and using the right language is certainly an excellent starting point. In addition to communication, the care of the image, the refined or easy look, the happiness that shines through in everyday moments constitute a whole series of details that can make the difference in personal branding.
Early on, the startup founder must dedicate time to personal branding to make himself known and make his initiative known. Participation in offline and online industry events, in any role, from speaker to industry expert, is key to this purpose.
How to do it: Build a Self-marketing Plan
The various steps to build a personal branding strategy generally correspond to traditional branding operations. In the course of this process, it is good not to underestimate some important factors like:
- Objectives to be defined in order to build an effective personal branding strategy, in line with what you want to communicate later to those who follow you.
- Target audience to be defined and given the importance of personal branding to increase your visibility.
To build winning personal branding strategies, it is advisable to structure and plan each action that is part of what you want to communicate. It is therefore advantageous to build a self-marketing plan with a focus on:
- contents to be published and,
- channels, to be chosen strategically, for the publishing of contents.
LinkedIn, the best personal branding opportunity for a startup founder
To do personal branding in an optimal way, LinkedIn has been confirmed for years as the best platform ever. In fact, it is still the social network par excellence in the business world and the ideal showcase to present your person at 360 degrees.
How to create an effective personal branding and storytelling strategy on LinkedIn?
First, start identifying your target. On LinkedIn, the audience does not only correspond to your target, but also to other entrepreneurs and investors.
Afterwards, you need to focus on profile optimization, networking, content publishing and audience interaction. On LinkedIn, it pays a lot to create a community, which can be built by giving life to conversations and posting quality and noteworthy content, to the point of attracting users who are subscribed.
Your experience must be told to give everyone the opportunity to know it. In fact, through storytelling and showing the behind the scenes and the day by day of the startup, you end up creating empathy with your audience. And why not making live video with other interesting people? Isn’t this a way to do personal branding and make yourself known? All this can be a good way to expand your fan base.
Let’s see below some guidelines to follow according to the LinkedIn SSI.
Best practices on LinkedIn
It is certainly essential to monitor the success of your profile through a tool made available to LinkedIn called “Your Social Selling Index”. This KPI consists of 4 components:
- Establish your professional brand – Complete your profile with the customer in mind. Become a thought-leader by publishing meaningful posts.
- Find the right people – Identify better prospects in less time using efficient search and research tools.
- Engage with insight – Discover and share conversation-worthy updates to create and grow relationships.
- Build Relationship – Strengthen your network by connecting and establishing trust with decision makers.
At this link you can calculate your SSI.
If you want to deepen the topic, then read: LinkedIn Social Selling Index score: how to improve it
Make your profile optimization
It is important that your LinkedIn profile is well structured. Every detail is essential, starting with the profile picture, which must be professional and preferably in line with what you do. Other elements to take care of are the cover image, always in line with your identity, and the summary.
It is also essential to include keywords in the profile, to highlight your skills and to obtain confirmations of skills and references from your network.
If you want to know more on profile optimization on LinkedIn, read also the article Personal Branding on LinkedIn: how to impress your audience
Expand your network
To expand your network of contacts on LinkedIn, it is good to turn to profiles with which you have common affinities and professional interests, who do the same job, who belong to the same sector or who can represent a source of enrichment. It is also important to interact with your contacts, for example by commenting on posts, participating constructively in discussions or writing a private message in chat. An active profile, in fact, is rewarded more by LinkedIn, and also remains more easily imprinted in the memory of your contacts.
Create your content marketing strategy
Having a Content marketing strategy and regularly publishing interesting content for your target is one of the best techniques to make your profile stand out from others. A content is considered interesting and valuable when it provides useful information for those who read it and therefore creates engagement.
To make sure that your Content marketing strategy works, it is good to structure an editorial plan you can rely on, deciding in advance what will be the publication dates and the topics covered.
Not only Linkedin but also other actions to improve your personal branding and make yourself known
To improve your personal branding, you can also think about opening a personal blog. If you are an expert on a topic and have something to say, then a blog could represent a decisive step to make yourself better known by users. Relating to a multitude of users is certainly a good choice to increase the level of notoriety for those who occupy leading positions, such as startup founder.
You also need to consider that, nowadays, most users search for information through Google. For this reason, the SEO is one of those aspects to take care of at best for a startup founder eager to see his notoriety increase through a blog.
Digital PR helps a lot to make the startup founder known: the release of interviews on current and particularly debated issues, the presentation of innovative points of view, high resolution videos and excellent quality images are confirmed as useful to the cause.
The construction of the set of strategies aimed at improving your positioning is a long process that requires perseverance and time, and therefore leads us to reflect on the importance of personal branding.
Developing personal branding activities, as we have seen in this article, also helps the startup founder to advertise his startup. Any action taken affects your personal image and, for this reason, it is particularly important to follow guidelines for the creation of strategies aimed at selling yourself at your best.
If the personal branding project of the startup founder is successful, at some point it will generate what is identified as FOMO, an acronym for Fear of Missing Out, that is to say the sort of concern that many feel when missing contents posted by those who follow with greater pleasure. To create this reaction among fans, eye-catching photos, high-resolution videos and unique content make all the difference. Taking advantage of Digital PR, LinkedIn, Instagram, having a personal blog and being constant in the publication phase allow the startup founder to build and consolidate relationships and, at the same time, give a boost to the business.
For an excellent personal branding job, the startup founder must attract the attention of other entrepreneurs and investors of his target. Personal branding helps the startup founder to be actively sought. By telling his own story, expressing his own ideas, the new entrepreneur does nothing but create an empathic relationship with others. Nowadays, people want to know what lies behind the story of a newborn brand. Among the many factors, the face of the startup founder who acts as a testimonial also stands out.
If you are interested in Personal branding for startup founders, find out more on Startup School page. You will discover more interesting content and videos to watch!
Please also read the following articles on our blog: Team and startup success: how to build it, ATS to optimize your CV: review of Vmock tool and Optimize your Resume: Vmock for candidates and Resume Builders: over 30 tools and the best 10 for us