A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about how the clients of small businesses aren’t just buying the products or services of that business, they’re buying the owner of that business, too.
If you believe in that premise, then, as a small business owner (or senior leader), you need to understand that your ‘reputation’ is a critical component in the success of your firm.
In this post, we’ll outline several different ways to help build your reputation and position yourself as someone that potential buyers will want to do business with.
What’s your reputation?
But before you begin implementing those things that will build and enhance your reputation, you must first decide what you want your reputation to be. Here are a few questions that will help you to think through that…
- “What am I really good at?”
- “What do I like to do?”
- “What do I want to be known for?”
- “What do my clients think of me now?”
- “What can I do that will help me stand out from my competitors?”
- “What kinds of clients do I want to work with?”
- “What kinds of people do I want to work with?”
- “Where do I see myself in 5 years?”
Building your reputation
Once you’ve answered those questions – and others like them – and have begun to hone in on what you want your reputation to be, it’s time to start thinking about how you will build, maintain and enhance it over time. Here are some ideas…
- Write… like crazy! Write in your firm’s blog. Create downloadable content like eBooks. Write for industry publications. Write guest posts for other’s blogs. Nothing will impact your reputation more than writing… so do it wherever and whenever you can!
- Promote your writing. Your writing has no value if no one reads it, so make sure to actively promote your content on social media, through email, etc.
- Speak in public. Develop your own webinars. Speak at industry conferences. Speak at conferences in the verticals/markets you serve. Get interviewed on a podcast.
- Make sure there’s a complete and compelling bio of yourself on your firm’s website.
- LinkedIn Profile. Make sure you fill this in completely. And don’t use just your title, use an interesting description of yourself that supports your reputation. (see mine, for example) The same thing applies to your email signature.
- Get involved. Are there associations or other groups that could use some help from volunteers? Of course, all associations can use help, so get involved with one or two.
- Get social. Post consistently and frequently on your social sites and in the appropriate LinkedIn groups. Link to your content (20% of the time) and to others’ content (80% of the time)… with all of it supporting your reputation.
Fine-tune your reputation.
One of the keys to building a reputation is ‘focus.’ The more focused/specific/detailed you can be with your reputation, the clearer it will become on where and how to build it. And easier for others to understand it and buy into it. Here are two examples for comparison:
Reputation 1: “I want to be known as a great market researcher.” Fine. But with a broad goal like that, the options for supporting it – what topics you would write about, where you might speak, which LinkedIn groups you would join, etc. – can be overwhelming. And with so many options, your message could become spread out and diluted.
Reputation 2: “I want to be known as an online qualitative research expert for CPG companies.” With focus like that… the topics you’ll write about, the conferences where you might speak, the LI groups you’ll join, etc. become a lot clearer. As does the market’s perception of your reputation.
The Bottom Line…
As a small business owner or leader, having a defined, personal reputation and working to develop it over time is not really any different than building a clearly defined brand for your firm. Both are critical for the success of your business!