There is a lot to be said for image when it comes to entrepreneurs. How you run your business will always be the key determining factor of how successful you actually are. However, branding, the impression you give off, and the reputation that you are able to create for yourself can be a very powerful force, indeed. Your personal brand can help you build connections that help your business and your business can even get attached to your image and benefit from it. Steve Jobs and Apple are probably the single best enduring example of this.
Here, we’re going to look at some of the tips you can follow to make sure that you are presenting yourself to the world in the way that you want to be seen and, as a result, getting closer to the success that you manifest.
Ensure that your brand doesn’t clash with your business’s
You might have an image for yourself that you want to fulfill as a professional, but you should also be looking closely at your business’s brand when you’re planning it out. It’s easier than you might think to cross some wires and undermine your own business. When looking at your brand strategy, make sure there are no values that directly clash or ways you present yourself that might seem to run contrary to your business. For instance, if your business presents an environmentally friendly face, you don’t want to be presenting as someone driving a gas guzzler and using only the most endangered species in your fashion.
Be a problem solver
The niche that you fill and the appeal that your image is designed to give off can fit a few different categories. However, there is one role that you should always look to play in the public eye: that of the problem solver. Looking like someone who has the solutions is going to make you play as a much more confident and helpful character in the public eye. Of course, this helps if you are directly responsible for a product or service that solves a specific problem, as well.
Dress the part
Your physical appearance is going to play a big role in the impression that you make and the image that you cast, of course. For people at the entrepreneurial and the C-suite level, this typically means the same kind of things. Women might have a little more flexibility when it comes to choosing their business wear, but men typically are relegated to the classic business suit. Take the care to invest in not only the good quality of the materials used in your outfit but the fit, as well. You want to make sure that every part of your appearance looks bespoke and fit to your needs, rather than looking like you’re wearing your dad’s suit.
Pay attention to the little details
How you dress and present yourself will obviously have a good impact on the first impression that you make with others. But how do you turn that into a lasting impression? Leaving the people you meet with a little reminder can do wonders and one of the easiest and most common ways to do that is with the business card. Rather than the standard, cheap-feeling cardboard fair, however, you can get a little more elaborate with options like metallic business cards. It’s worth investing that little extra in making sure that you leave a lingering mark on those you meet.
Posture is important, too
Just as much as making sure that you look the part, you have to make sure that you physically represent the role that you want to play, as well. If you spend entire meetings slouched over, then you’re not going to give off the most confident image. Consider using body language apps to develop the straight but natural posture that makes you look more confident and authoritative without looking overly stiff. Give a firm handshake, as well. It might seem like relatively old-fashioned advice, but it works so pay some attention to it.
Write your pitch and rehearse it
Whether you are walking into a sales meeting with a potential client or you’re stepping up to a podium to deliver a press conference or speech, never underestimate the importance of practising a speech. There are even public speaking groups dedicated to helping professionals master these skills. It’s very easy to trip up on your words, where a little practice could help you deliver perfectly and sound much more confident while doing so.
Do your research when you go to a meeting
Presenting as an entrepreneur isn’t just about looking flash. It’s also about showing some smarts and ability. If you’re thinking about how to make a good impression for a meeting, then you should make sure to, for instance, research those who will be in the meeting for you. Get a good idea of who they are, accolades they have earned, and, most importantly, what perspective or motivations they are likely to bring into the meeting. Don’t make assumptions but do be ready to anticipate their needs. Anticipate them correctly and you will show off an impressive acumen and sharpness.
Know what your image is trying to convey
It’s important to make sure that your professional image has a focus to it. Rather than just trying to look like the consummate professional in every angle, you should make sure that you are building a public image that plays to your strength. Find your own professional niche, whether it is the visionary, the technical mastermind, the charismatic center of your team, or something else. Keep your persona branding message consistent and don’t try to be everything to everyone. You can wear different hats at times, but not being consistent is going to make you seem ingenuine.
Make sure your personal brand appeals to your audience
Being genuine is important but whether or not that genuine self appeals to your audience is worth taking into account. Take your time to get an idea of who your audience is and what they are looking for with some target market research. Then consider the image that you are attempting to project and ask yourself whether or not that really matches with what they’re looking for. You might find yourself considering toning down certain aspects of your presentation or perhaps even focusing on a different facet of your personality and brand.
Put yourself in your PR
Your business is going to find opportunities to get into the press, and you should make sure that you’re writing press releases to take good advantage of these. This could be a launch, an award announcement, some charitable initiative your business is getting involved with, or otherwise. Regardless, you should make sure that you, as the business owner, are part of the story. Whether it’s simply delivering a quote or taking part in an interview if you get some news coverage, make sure that your business gets associated directly with you as the business owner. It will help build that personal brand.
Become a thought leader
If you want to truly stand at the top of your industry or field, then it’s not enough to look the part. You should also be able to demonstrate that you do, indeed, know what you’re talking about. As such, think about taking the time to write some content on your work that shows insights that you might be able to provide that others cannot. Whether you make it a blog post, share your thoughts on social media, or finding speaking opportunities, you should take the time to really hone down valuable content.
Get in front of a mic
Indeed, those speaking opportunities can be vital for raising your profile and helping you become much better known as an expert in your industry. There are plenty of ways to do it nowadays, whether it’s finding speaking opportunities in front of crowds, taking part in webinars, or even finding business podcasts to attend as a guest. Typically, your ability to get these kind of engagements snowballs as you go on, so the more that you start taking on, the more offers that you are likely to get.
Have a positive impact
It’s important that you make sure that you are not solely in it for yourself or your business. People love aspirational entrepreneurs who make it, but they also love those who are self-aware of their place in society and, more importantly, what they can to justify it. It’s not enough to be successful, to be philanthropic can help you create an excellent public image, as well. It’s about more than just publicly supporting a charitable cause, you need to live your brand and get involved with them as well if you want people to believe you really do have the virtues that you’re displaying.
Again, image is important, but it’s not the only thing. You need to be able to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. But maintaining this image can do a lot more good for your business than you might think.