The Apprentice guest judge Charly Lester shares her secrets to personal branding

Get Your Personal Branding Right With These 6 Easy Steps - The Apprentice guest judge Charly Lester shares her secrets to personal branding 

In recent years, Personal Branding and your ‘Brand Story’ have become key topics for business.  Why? Because of social media.  We now have access to the inner workings of brands.  And we have so much choice when it comes to products and services, that these add-ons are actually vital parts of our decision making process.  Think about the biggest brands in the world.  The likelihood is that you not only know their founders’ names, you can also picture them.

PR is also an increasingly large influence on consumer-buying, and one of the best ways to get good PR for your company, is to have an interesting brand story.  If you’ve done your personal branding right, and managed to position yourself in the space as an expert on a topic, you will also get additional PR opportunities in the form of expert quotes and talking head appearances.

So where should you start when it comes to Personal Branding? 

Get Your Brand Story Straight

What made you create your company? What problem are you trying to fix?  Is that problem personal to you in some way? Pick out the most interesting parts of your business story, and refine them into a story that you can tell over and over again.  Consumers like to understand what inspired you to set up the business.

Pay for Good Headshots 

If you are building a personal brand, then your photo is going to start appearing places – in the press, in conference booklets, and on social media.  Get professional-looking photos that make you look approachable.  You don’t have a to spend a fortune on the photos and they are a really useful investment because having photos you’re happy with allows you to control your own brand.   I can’t count how many times I have been sent low resolution, unprofessional pictures by business owners.

Be Consistent Across Social Media 

Use the same handle across all the social media you want potential customers to see, and update your accounts regularly.  Don’t just put the same stuff on every feed.  Think carefully about what you want to address on each feed, so there is something different on each form of media, but still be YOU across all the feeds.  Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not – people will see through it.

Create an Online Portfolio 

In addition to your business website, register the domain ‘yourname.com’ or as close to it as you can get – for example, 'co.uk' or 'your.name.com'.  Use this website as a personal portfolio, outlining all your best bits.  And regularly update those best bits.  Make it really easy for journalists to find you and contact you.

Share Your ‘Best Bits’

What qualifies you as an expert in your area of business?  What are your biggest achievements?  Take the top three and make sure they are showcased on your websites, LinkedIn profile, and Twitter bio.  Use these best bits as stepping stones to your next career milestones, and when you achieve the next level, make sure you update all the bios.

Sell Yourself 

I run a podcast where I interview female entrepreneurs, and I regularly tweet for people to pitch their business bio and brand story to me.  I can’t tell you how varied the emails I get are – in terms of effort, and ability to sell a story.  Some people sent over reams of copied and pasted press releases, with no ‘Dear Charly’ to start the email.  Others send me a one liner telling me to check out their website.  Unsurprisingly, neither of those two approaches works, when I’m comparing their pitches to hundreds of other volunteers.  Stand out from the crowd, and know how to sell yourself.  Know and understand how to make your business interesting and appealing to strangers.

About the author 

Charly Lester is the co-founder of A League of Her Own, an online-learning platform for early-stage female entrepreneurs.  She is the author of the book ‘The Female Entrepreneur’ and hosts a podcast by the same name.  Charly is a Masterclass tutor for the Guardian and was a guest judge on the final of The Apprentice.

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