Ben Paul helps professionals create and grow their personal brand. He says who you are, what you do and what you stand for is essential for any successful consultant. We sat down and talked to Ben who is the owner of BD Ladder about building a personal brand.
Why is it so essential to create a personal brand?
As a consultant, your credibility and reputation help you to develop and grow a sustainable network of clients. With increased economic uncertainty due to COVID-19 it has become even more critical to create a strong and growing personal brand.
As the market tightens, people who can clearly articulate the way they can help clients will stand out.
So what is personal branding?
Most people are familiar with the concept of a company brand - it can help open doors and get meetings. But notice I used the phrase "it can help." It won't guarantee it.
People are the currency of consulting. Clients want to meet with and understand the person they'll be engaging to do the work. It means who you are, how you work, what you deliver, and what you stand for is important to them.
In short, your clients are interested in your personal brand.
When developing your brand, ask yourself "what do I want my clients to know me for?" You need to understand why you do what you do and the benefits it brings to those you do it for. Simon Sinek says it really well in his TED Talk Start with why
Where do I start?
Every market-facing activity and every client interaction helps to develop and build your personal brand. These are the times when people will form an opinion of you. As well as these, there are two different ways of building and developing your personal brand – offline and online.
Offline is anything which is in-person, as opposed to digitally. An example of this is how you build your personal brand when public speaking.
Online is anything digital such as your LinkedIn profile or your bio on your company's website. LinkedIn has a high search ranking in Google, so you need to ensure you have a profile, and it's up to date. If you haven't looked at or updated your LinkedIn personal profile recently then this article will give you basic steps on how to do so.
Online tactics to develop your personal brand include publishing online articles or blogs, posting comments or participating in online conversations, e.g. comments on LinkedIn posts, producing video content, and increasingly, running webinars. The reach and popularity of webinars increased dramatically during the lockdown, and in most cases, recordings are made available after the event, so the audience reach is significant
Why is your personal brand important for clients?
Firstly, it helps them to understand who you are. It gives you a point of differentiation. It's essential for clients and potential clients for many of the same reasons that traditional branding is necessary. For example, if you're in a store looking for a new toaster, as you look down the aisle, you may see two brands you recognize and then one you may have never heard of. The chances of you buying that one are probably slim, even if it's the cheapest. In fact, if it is the cheapest it may be that you are even less likely to buy it!
Clients want to work with people who they know are credible and are experts in what they do. The development and increased meaningful exposure of your personal brand will help them believe you are a reliable expert. You'll still, of course, have to back that up with the work you deliver!
How can it help you win more work?
People will most likely always do their own research before making a purchase. Increasingly, they'll search online, and if you aren't in-the-mix or top of mind, you've lost a potential opportunity.
The other aspect is that as your profile grows, more people will talk to you outside of the work you do for them.
One aspect many consulting engineers struggle with is maintaining client contact when not actively employed. An active personal brand helps you to do this. Through providing informative and educational content to the market, it is more likely the market will engage with you.
We're running a free one-hour webinar for ACE members 12pm, Wednesday 29 July. "How to develop a client-centric personal brand."
The session will help you to:
- Understand what your personal brand is
- Decide what offline activities you should do
- Understand the importance of engaging content and how to deliver it
- LinkedIn 101 for consultants