As an entrepreneur, creating and promoting your personal brand is critical to business success. Your potential customers, clients, and associates need to know who you are, what your values are, and the worth that you can offer to them. It’s not enough to assume that your work speaks for itself, or that who you are as an individual doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of your business.

Personal branding is vital. More than ever, people are looking for brands and companies that they can relate to, believe in, and support–not only with their dollars but with their time and their families. The age of making indifferent or unemotional transactions are over, especially now that social media plays such an important role in influencing consumers. People are searching for authentic, genuine businesses.

The value of a good personal brand cannot be over-emphasized, and it is important to include this personal side in your professional endeavors. However, the personal brand is not always easy to identify or share. Let’s find out why.

Don’t assume you know what your personal brand is.

Before you can share your personal brand with others, first you need to identify who you are.

It’s easy to think that we automatically know what our personal brand is. It’s basically our own personal snapshot of who we are, right? But no, personal branding is not who we are on the surface, or how we perceive ourselves. Rather, our personal brand is how others think of us.

What do people say of you when aren’t around? How do others perceive or describe you as a person?

A good way to identify some main characters about yourself is to ask friends and family to name the first three descriptive words that come to mind. Perhaps you are considered generous, friendly, by-the-rules, professional, a workaholic, or any combination of such qualities. Knowing this will give you a more accurate picture on the qualities you should highlight in your brand and the less-than-favorable characteristics that you would work on in your personal life.

As you are build your brand, be authentic. Don’t try to be something you’re not; that will only backfire in the end. So if your public image isn’t perfect (after all, who’s is? we’re all human), build upon the honesty and authenticity that you can offer and use it to propel you forward.

Write a clear story for people to read. 

Too many entrepreneurs and business people figure that everyone will just “get it” when it comes to their brand. Sure, your website and products may point to the important qualities of your brand, but it isn’t enough to assume that it is clear.

You must take the time to share what makes you stand out from the crowd. If the way that you would do things is different than your competitor’s and that would increase your value for a customer or client, point that out. Once you really understand what your personal brand is (how other people see you) and incorporate that with the characteristics and values you want to highlight, include that in your story.

You could start out with the brief narrative of why you started in business in the first place, what personal reasons drove you as an entrepreneur, or the reasons you continue to do what you do. Don’t be afraid to share the etching of personal qualities and values that drive you as an entrepreneur.

Live out your brand. 

Finally, now that you’ve identified what your personal brand it and shared it with your world, live it out. The progression of your brand is the culmination of your website and your products or services, what people discover about you on Google, how you interact with people, your activity on social media, the content you produce, and the messages you share. If you realize this, you can take all these platforms to create consistency and authenticity across the board.

Utilize your web presence to continually share the essence of your brand. Your website is a great place to share your story. Continue that story by sharing on social media platforms. Be real, be genuine, be consistent. Use your personal brand to further the image of your professional brand. Make it a tangible and noticeable part of your business.

While your professional and personal brands can–and should–differ at least a little bit (because who you are a person is not exactly what you represent as a company), who you are as an individual will impact the way people perceive your company.

Use that to your advantage and live out your brand in 2015.

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