Most of the people in my networking circles are solo-preneurs, small business owners. Realizing that a strong online presence will benefit their business, they often ask which social media and networking platforms would be the most benefit to their goals. Although they have just used those exact words, “Social Media Networking”, many remain hesitant, almost adverse, to actually putting themselves out there to be “Social” in order to “Network” on the “Media”. Often I hear these words: “I don’t want any of my personal stuff out there” or “I don’t think what I have to say matters online”. As a small business owner, your personal brand and business brand overlap on social media, whether you want them to or not.
For a small business owner, the single most important part of building a personal brand is to be exactly who you are. Be authentic. Be genuine. (But Better!)
I say “But Better” because the online persona that you will build for your professional self gets to benefit from planning. It gives you time to edit your thoughts and offerings.
Many of the small business owners that I work with are not trying to build a national brand. Often, they won’t even need to market their products and services outside of their own geographical area. But, of course, they would like to have their message reach more potential clients. Face-to-face networking is always key to building a small business. Getting to know people as individuals, learn about their work, their hobbies, their passions, builds a foundation for a casual relationship. Every interpersonal interaction essentially is networking. Experiencing someone’s personality gives you a tool to use when you are deciding whether or not this is someone you would refer a friend to for their service or product.
Social media networking is an extremely useful tool for establishing and building new business relationships. Just as in face-to-face networking, you would begin by listening. Find out what the folks in your circles are talking about, what their interests and challenges are.
To help fine-tune your social media conversations outside of your personal sphere, it may be helpful to search out others with similar or related businesses or interests and find the ones that resonate with your own personal style or views. Once you do find these folks, you can follow them on their own platforms, listen, learn and engage with them when appropriate. Find folks who are using their personal brand well, and learn from them.e something valuable to add to the conversation, do so in a positive and helpful manner. This establishes you as a thoughtful contributor
Use the Power of You!
You own your business because it involves something that interests you. You are well-informed, skilled and ready to offer the best service to your clients or customers. But you are also an interesting person in other areas as well. Let people know that through the helpful information that you share, through the advice you give to friends and colleagues, through the conversations in which you engage. Personal Branding is about identifying and then communicating what makes you unique and relevant and allows you to differentiate yourself to your target audience. Develop your online persona to incorporate your hobbies, passions and whatever other personal tidbits feel right to you. Developing trust and a sense of comfortable connection is a powerful tool towards developing your personal brand. You will be working towards sending a clear and consistent message – “This is who I am” “This is what I have to offer”