If you’re thinking about striking off into the unknown as an independent consultant for businesses or individuals, a strong brand is vital to your success. What does a personal brand entail? Essentially, it includes the associations and expectations that a consumer might have when they picture your business. This includes graphic elements like colours, logo, and the look of your website, but it also includes your reputation and the feelings of loyalty you inspire in a potential client. As a consultant, you can take concrete steps to control this narrative and ensure that you create a memorable, positive personal brand. Here’s how.
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Define your brand.
To get started, you’ll need to define what exactly it is that you stand for. Take your business goals, personality, and preferred work situations into account. What do you want to stand for as a consultant? What three words best define you? Spend a bit of time pondering questions like these to define your core values.
Identify potential weaknesses – and turn them into strengths.
The next step is to take a long, hard look at your current brand. Run a Google search on yourself and audit your social networking presence. Set up alerts for your name so that you understand who is talking about you and why. If nothing shows up, this is a good and a bad thing. It means that no one’s talking about you – yet. You have the chance to start from scratch and create a positive online presence, including a personal website and searchable social media profiles. If there’s a negative online presence, try to clean it up by deleting old comments or embarrassing photos. Ideally, there shouldn’t be anything out there that doesn’t fall in line with your brand.
Consistency is key when creating a strong brand. Your personal brand should be consistent in a number of ways, from the tone of your writing style to the look of your logo. Think not only about your online profiles, but also about your professional affiliations and the way that you interact with potential clients. Be sure that your appearance both online and in real life makes the impression you want it to.
Align yourself with brands you admire.
Start forging connections with other consultants or professionals whom you admire. This association will help build up your own brand. Look at alumni groups for your university, local professional organizations, and networking events as opportunities to start forging these relationships. Become a member of online communities in your industry and submit guest posts to other consulting blogs in your area of specialty. This all helps build up your network.
Once you’ve spent a great deal of time and effort building up your personal brand from scratch, you probably want a break! But you should keep growing and changing to keep your image fresh and on-point. Take courses to sharpen your skills, whether that’s earning a part time diploma of counselling or an accounting degree. As you grow as a professional entity, it’s natural that your focus might change. Just be sure that any updates to your personal brand are applied across the board to remain consistent.
Viewing yourself from a branding standpoint may seem odd at first, but it can pay off when you’re able to cultivate the professional image that nets you more business as a consultant. This can all lead to a more fulfilling professional pathway.