If you’re an entrepreneur, executive or a CEO, establishing a personal brand has never been more important. We live in a world where exposure is everything and putting yourself out there for people to see and connect with can make all the difference to the success of your business. Establishing a personal brand will help to differentiate you from your competitors but more importantly, consumers are 45% more likely to use a product or service if it’s posted about by someone relatable over a business account. The simple fact is that people connect with people. As the face of your business, it makes complete sense that you would establish a personal brand to become that relatable person for your audience to connect with on a more personal level.

There are three elements to a great brand, let’s use Apple as an example: there’s your product brand—you have the iPhone, then you have your business or company brand—‘Apple’ and then you have the personal brand—‘Steve Jobs’. Each one of these segments needs attention.

Building a personal brand that grows alongside your business brand helps to build trust and authority for your consumers and will expand your network. If you establish yourself as an expert, you’ll also find it’s easier to pitch to and be found by the media who are always on the lookout for people who have the expertise to share insights in their stories.

But what if you don’t have a business yet and you are your business? Maybe you’re an Instagram personality and you want to turn your hobby into a legitimate business. If so, then you need to look professional. Most of the keynote speakers out there invest in their personal brand and create an identity around this, having a logo and website (even if you just do it yourself) is quite simple but so important. If you want to be taken seriously, take your branding seriously.

So how do you establish a personal brand? It’s not all that different to building a business brand to be honest—although sometimes it can feel more daunting since it means putting yourself into the spotlight and not everyone is comfortable with this. Like anything, proper planning and practise can make all the difference. Here are our top five tips to get you started with your personal brand.

1. Brand yourself

This is the foundation of any great personal brand so it pays to do this right. Create your profile on all of the social media platforms, try to get all of your social handles matching for consistency as it makes it easier for your audience to find you. Create a brand identity, even if you just do this cheaply to start off with, the goal here is to create a brand that people will remember. Finally get some professional photos and videos created. Video will be the key to connecting to your audience and telling your story while the professional photos will be paramount across all of you profile pictures on social media. You want people to take you seriously.

Pro tip — don’t use your iPhone and don’t do it yourself!

2. Keep your social media activity consistent

Social media is the easiest way to build an audience; your consistent presence is a key aspect of establishing your personal brand. You can use your personal brand to leverage your business brand but it does take a slightly different approach and you may need to set yourself up on different platforms than you do your business. Ideally you should be using every social media platform but depending on your business it pays to do a bit of research, find out who your main target audience is and which platform they use the most. You might want to spend a little more attention and effort on this platform to capitalise on this audience and get the most out of your content.

3. Establish yourself as an expert in your field

Through your social media presence you should focus on setting yourself up as an expert. This will not only build authority for your personal brand, it will transmute to your business and help to build trust in your audience. The best example of this is offering free information on the product or service you offer. For example you can do story videos, tip videos, how to videos and testimonial or case study videos as a way of offering free content to your audience and getting them interested in what you have to say. This is one of the best ways to establish authority and is great for social proof.

4. Think about what you’re adding to the conversation

Creating thought-provoking and engaging content is such an integral aspect of establishing your personal brand. Remember that your content needs to be connection driven—what can you share that your audience might connect with? You don’t have to get super personal but being honest and sharing your struggles (as well as your wins) is often the most relatable approach.

5. Be authentic and vulnerable

If you’re establishing a personal brand, probably the most important point to keep in mind is to remain authentic and vulnerable. Again, this doesn’t mean you have to get personal or share things you’d rather keep to yourself, but recognise that it’s your humanity your audience will resonate with. And know your strengths – if, for example when working with video content, you know you’re not that great at being candid and talking to the camera in a casual way, opt for more expert-oriented videos instead. Ones where you can just rabbit on about a topic you’re passionate about. Be authentic and be yourself, remember you are the prize, there is only one of you in the whole world. Coming from a space of giving and not selling is vital.

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It can be a scary, extremely confronting and way, way out of your comfort zone, but try to frame this as helping people, not focusing on yourself. It much easier to do things for others. After all, we are here to solve peoples problems and make the world a better place. Thank you for your contribution and putting yourself out there, you’ve got this!