By Briar Prestidge
Executives in leadership positions need to take charge and craft their own image. And while there is no substitute to hiring a strategist, there are ways to get started says Deals in High Heels Founder, Briar Prestidge
Relationship building and cultivating a presence (whether online or offline) is crucial to your success. The UAE market especially relies heavily on recommendations and we can either chose to ignore this, or cultivate and guide our brand to make it work to our advantage.
I have seen the results first hand; building my own personal brand through a targeted and integrated strategy resulted in the creation of a personal branding agency I founded. Where I once used to squeamishly cold-call clients, now I can safely say that over 80 percent of my clients are those whom I was approached by first. Despite being in Dubai for less than two years, my engaged online and offline community numbering in the tens of thousands has many, some of whom have been here for over a decade, keen to know how I did it.
The fact is that these results can be replicated with entrepreneurs, investors, executives, authors as well as motivational speakers. When you proactively develop your brand and market presence, you too will be amazed at the opportunities that present themselves. Seeking consultation ensures you are well-positioned as a leader and stay above the social media noise rather than contributing to it. However. there is a lot that you can do to start.
First things first – understand yourself. As a leader, your brand is the spine of your business and it needs to be authentically expressed in everything that you do. People buy from people, so it’s important that they understand your values.
Ask yourself: What is my story? Or as author, motivational speaker and organisational consultant Simon Sinek says, “Why do you do what you do?”
Next, ask what are some challenges you overcame? Think of Sir Richard Branson, who struggled with dyslexia and dropped out of school at 16, or Oprah Winfrey’s troubled childhood in rural poverty. Stories like these make you inspirational, personable, memorable and, most importantly, relatable.
What is your long-term vision? If you’ve already been on panels at events, and want larger speaking engagements then it doesn’t hurt to add ‘speaker’ to your website, social channels and mention it in when introduce yourself. Demonstrate it on video on social media. Planting seeds of opportunity they can proactively drive your career.
Leaders need to build and establish goodwill with the public. Communicate to your target audience in a way that makes sense and appeals to them. Don’t strive to be perfect, it’s bland. Instead, really understand what makes them tick.
What are some challenges that they face that you can solve? When you, as a leader, add value to their lives, through information, education, inspiration or content that entertains them, it instills trust, and with time, your audience will become an advocate for you.
Build digital partnerships with brands and people that share your values – this can be a great way to get your brand seen. It shouldn’t be surprising to understand that how we perceive the quality of content forms our opinion on how good a product or service is.
In today’s digital world, social channels often form first impressions. It shouldn’t be surprising to understandthat how we perceive the quality of content (the quality of a picture or copy) forms our impression of how good a product or service is.
How do you work this to your advantage? Invest in yourself by working with a brand strategist; have a styled, professional photoshoot and update your social media displays, ideally with a picture where you’re holding a book or giving a talk. Get a logo made, with consistent fonts and colours. Have an opinion on current events. Social media algorithms are built to share content that gets comments. So to get engagement you need to evoke emotion, which is why inspirational posts do so well.
If you have a the resources, start a personal initiative that is aligned with your values. It requires having the courage to step out of your comfort zone, but it’s not impossible to do. For instance, being part of a community and providing a platform for women to share and access knowledge are all things I value, which is how our popular Deals in High Heels event started.
You are a business so think like one! Have an integrated approach – include your social channels at the end of your newsletters, email signatures, and presentations. To increase the ROI of your time and money investments, use a ‘calls to action” at every networking event, speaking engagement and on every post by telling people what they should do – think “tell me your thoughts,” “visit my website” or “read my latest article” to drive traffic and conversation.
Contributing to the noise prevalent and growing across social media can do your brand more harm than good. But each time before you click post, ask yourself: Will this add value? Is this quality content? Will I be perceived in a good light?
There are no short cuts – creating a strong personal brand will take time. But, by persistently adding value and showcasing your knowledge and industry expertise, combined with your values, story, and vision, you can craft a name and global reputation for yourself.