A couple of days ago I presented at TBEX, the worlds largest Travel Blogging Conference, in Toronto, on the subject of working with virtual assistants to make the transition from ‘blogger to business owner’ as easy and productive as possible.
One of the talking points was the importance of building a personal brand.
Building a personal brand online with the help of a virtual assistant is a start way to add value to your online presence. In fact, it’s needed into today’s business landscape, more than ever in the history of business and entrepreneurship.
A ‘personal brand’ is synonymous with your reputation, and refers to the way other people see you. Ask yourself what you want people to say about you when you’re not around – the answer is directly related to your personal brand.
It takes time to build up a reputation and become a trusted authority, or expert in your field – which is necessary when building any type of successful brand. However, there are certainly a few simple first steps to building a personable image, creating rapport and gaining trust as an online entrepreneur that you can have virtual staff handle for you.
Every online brand should be easily recognizable. Having a professional logo and photo is very important for personal brand recognition. You should feature the same high-quality, recognizable profile photo (and logo, if applicable) across your website, social media profiles, your author bio, email signatures, and “About Me” page on your business website, so your customers and visitors start to see a consistent image and recognize who you are.
There are many brands who are easily distinguished by there logos. Take time and care in developing this, as it will be a very important aspect of your business.
- So the question is, who are you?
- What do you stand for?
- What comes into people’s minds when they hear your name?
When someone hears the name Chris Ducker, they associate it with my expertise on hiring virtual assistants and building virtual teams in the Philippines, as well as my company, Virtual Staff Finder. They might also couple it together with the fact that I blog and podcast on the subject of new media marketing strategies for small businesses.
Once you’ve been around for a while online, you should have already started to develop a personal brand. People will start to recognize your name, what you’re working on, what you offer, and what you’re about.
As time is of the essence for every entrepreneur on the planet, it pays to delegate as often as possible. I’ve talked about the different tasks you can outsource to a virtual assistant before. However, I’ve never focused in on this topic before. So, below I’ve listed a few tips to help you build your personal brand with a virtual assistant.
Remember, having a ‘personal brand’ means that you never start from scratch again – regardless of whether you have failed business ventures. You’re brand is always around.
Treat your Virtual Assistant as an Investment
First and foremost – this is an investment. It is an investment of your time and money. Take into consideration that your brand may live on longer than you!
Think of strong personal brands in business. Names like Richard Branson and Donald Trump often come up, as does that of Steve Jobs. Even though he’s already gone, Jobs’ reputation, for example, will live on for a long time, as I’m sure Branson’s (along wth the Virgin name) will outlive him too. Both of these leaders oozed personality, originality, and you know what they stand for.
Hiring a virtual assistant to help with building your personal brand is essentially an investment on behalf of your business. You will need to spend time on training and developing them over a period of time, so that they produce a return on your investment.
The brand of ‘Chris Ducker’ is me, my life and my business. Virtual Staff Finder is a project by the Chris Ducker brand, as is the co-working space I own here in Cebu, Philippines – Location63.
As I have become somewhat of an expert in the field of virtual assistants, I have created a trusted personal brand and invest time and money on utilizing virtual staff in many ways to ensure you see a consistent image, business quality, design sense and positioning no matter where you come across my brand, or one of my businesses.
As direct examples of the types of tasks my VA’s handle for me, that have a direct effective on my brand are things such as video and podcast editing, SEO and web marketing, social media management, and a variety of other tasks.
By taking the time to educate and invest in my assistants, I can rest assured that they know what they are doing, so my personal brand is growing and expanding all the time.
Have your Virtual Assistant to Manage your Social Media
The more you give to your readers, the more they will give back. And it’s important to reply to tweets, Facebook comments, and blog comments. This is where you can have your virtual assistant shine. Get them to be highly active on your social networks and have a business strategy for them to grow your online fan base.
Your readers want to interact. They will want to question, challenge, ‘Like’ and add their own comments and experiences. If you have a blog, you must allow comments.
Interactivity plays a major role in online business and brand building.
Above you’ll see one of my slides from my TBEX presentation. Look at what just ONE type of VA can do for you! Imagine having a full team of people working for you virtually?!!
Sure, most small business websites are half decent looking nowadays. But what can you do, in a creative way, which makes you stand out from the crowd? A good thing to do here is to be available as much as possible. This works well with a virtual assistant as they can reply to emails and comments on your behalf.
Making time to use social media to interact with people and find potential clients is tough in an already hectic world. However, by doing so, you’ll get to build trust by networking with other people and ‘being there’ for when they need help – helping you to be seen as an expert in your chosen field.
Everything from answering simple questions, to researching, drafting and publishing new status updates for your Facebook page. Your VA can handle the very large amount of your social media activity – putting it, to a certain degree, on autopilot for you.
Get your Virtual Assistant to Market your Quality Content
Remember that content is king in the online world. Fresh, interesting and informative posts are what will get you noticed. People look for answers to their problems and it’s your job to educate them. You will add value to their lives if you solve their problems.
However, remember – outsourcing your personal content is not an option.
This is YOU. It has to come from you, from your expertise. People like it, WANT it that way.
Once that content is created, regardless of whether its a blog post, a podcast episode of an online video of some kind, your virtual assistant(s) can get to work, making it more discoverable, memorable and about all, sharable.
It’s best to try and make sure that your VA has a good grasp on your personality and style, so they know how to market the content (and where) properly.
Going back to investing and educating your VA’s, spending some time with your virtual staff on the latest SEO updates, as well as topics such as how to promote certain pieces of content – for example, getting a list of infographic directories put together, to help promote your infographics – is also a great idea.
Another example is researching what times are best to tweet certain types of content. Blog posts tend to be more consumable in the morning, I’ve found – where as, podcasts are better in the evening.
Have your Virtual Assistants help grow Your Professional Network
I’m not talking LinkedIn here!
Building relationships with as many quality, like-minded people in your industry is paramount to success in today’s market. The people you know best and who feel most connected to you will talk about you to others.
We want other people to talk about us to their friends, followers, fans, etc. It enables us to super-charge the growth of our own personal brand.
As well as helping you develop relationships that are already in place, with simple birthday reminders, or perhaps helping in setting up regular Skype conversations, you can have your virtual assistant look for more of these potential connections, and get in contact with them, on your behalf, to get the ball rolling.
You can even have your VA email them via YOUR email address, with a pre-written message. There is nothing wrong in doing this, as long as they spend a little time personalizing it. This type of action is smart, and time productive. That’s the whole point here, right? To leverage your time, and utilize your virtual team in the most positive, effective manner.
Following the tips above, you’ll start putting your foot down on the branding process gas pedal, one connection at a time. Your VA will engage with your network and converse with the influential people within your industry, while you focus on creating more high quality, actionable content to help as many other people as possible.
In turn, your brand is born, remembered, talked about and respected.
Have you started building your personal brand online yet? If not, why not – I’d love to know! If you have, whats worked for you? Please share with the rest of the ‘New Business’ tribe!