Personal Branding for Business Growth: Key take-aways from Quantum TX workshop

by | Apr 20, 2021 | Brand Expression, Business branding, Founders & Entrepreneurs, Networking, Personal Brand

Why is developing your Founder, CEO or Product Leader personal brand important for business growth? 
How do you develop and lead the business brand, expressed powerfully through your team?
How do you develop an influential network to help achieve your business growth goals?

These were the questions we tackled last week during a half-day workshop for Quantum Technology Exchange’s Accelerator Workshop Series. The workshop was held at the Centre for Entrepreneurial Research & Innovation (CERI), overseen by Atomic Sky and in conjunction with Fast Forward WA and AgriStart. Participants ranged from start-ups to corporate scale-ups across a variety of industries, featuring some exciting technology and ideas. 

I started by posing the core problems I see as a consultant walking into organisations, asking staff about the brand they represent.

What I see:

  • Asking a staff member about the company brand gets me a blank look or a memorised, meaningless response.
  • The overarching business objective is unclear to the individual employee… who really does want to help.
  • Individuals know they need to have a professional online presence but often lack the how-to.
  • Marketing teams and others responsible for communicating the brand in formal ways often lack knowledge of tools, and strategies for using those tools.
  • Individuals fail to present as confident professionals at introductions or first impressions.

It was refreshing to work with a group of business leaders who, despite coming from a broad range of industries and experience, intrinsically understood the need for a brand to go beyond the logo and corporate colours, to clarify core value messaging and what it means to the staff members who express it in their work every day.

Read on below for key take-aways on personal branding, business branding and networking for business leaders…

Breaking down Personal Branding for Business Leaders

Our look at Brand Strategy began with the Personal Brand, and specifically, the requirements of a Leadership Personal Brand. As I’ve described before, the leader’s personal brand must go beyond basic skills, personality and experience to include messaging on:

  • Your personal leadership style
  • Your core values in business and how this plays out in your work
  • Themes or causes you care about creating positive change in
  • Areas in which you’ve led and the impact this has made
  • What qualifies you to lead in future contexts

Our group tested how well they know their personal brands and finished with a reflection on their leader personal brand development using NWC’s Personal Brand Planning Wheel. Among the 12 sectors considered in the Wheel, participants were invited to think about where they are at with Communication Skills, Confidence Levels and even Boundaries… and create action points to develop in their priority sectors. I loved how collaborative this session was, with leaders of different businesses using their experience to help each other to brainstorm action plans!

What your Business Brand Profile should look like

After a break, we moved on to a consideration of the business brand, including a breakdown of what a Business Brand Profile (a document outlining the Brand Strategy, that sits in your business plan) should look like.

As mentioned, this is not about the ‘outward’ communications of the brand, such as brand colours or website design – it’s about the key messages explaining your brand’s positioning – what it stands for, who it serves, the difference (value) the business creates. Participants were shown a template for creating a robust brand profile that can be used with anyone formally communicating the brand, and even more importantly, as a discussion tool with team members engaging with the brand. We then worked together to review or build brand messages around stakeholder value, as well as considering brand communication platforms and guidelines to empower marketing teams.

A Strategy to Networking for business growth

This started with a reflection on what is and isn’t working in networking in 2021, in a Covid-Recovery, post- or semi-lockdown environment with unique global and economic challenges, as well as opportunities.

Despite the unusual times, there are also typical challenges that remain: How to choose the right networking activities to create opportunities, how to structure and deliver the types of conversations that move the needle, and how to get in front of decision-makers and key influencers to promote business growth.

I demonstrated the need for a network-building strategy that centres on introductions to and conversations with key stakeholders, built on an understanding of these stakeholders – where they play, what they talk about, what matters to them. We completed an exercise to get clear on these starting points.

While it may seem obvious to start where your targets are, I see the mistake of ‘hit and miss’ networking just about every day… attending the wrong networking events or only focusing on events as a way of networking, for example. Other common hit-and-misses include confusion about how to take a casual contact to a business conversation, and failing to leverage existing promotions or communications to support networking (such as what to do after holding a webinar or writing an article).

“While it may seem obvious to start where your targets are, I see the mistake of ‘hit and miss’ networking just about every day…”

I touched on other tools such as the 3 Platforms of strong LinkedIn strategic plan to support personal brand positioning, thought leadership, visibility and networking. I also provided proven templates for strong emails requesting introductions and coffee meetings, along with a flow chart exercise to help participants work through their networking plan step-by-step.

Throughout the morning I emphasised the potential to take these activities into your organisation and run with them to empower your team. As with many of NWC’s workshops, participants will shortly receive a summary video reviewing some of the key exercises to help them to implement them internally.

I look forward to keeping in touch with the business leaders I met during the workshop and seeing their business ideas progress! It was a great pleasure to be part of a high-calibre business accelerator and enjoyed working with the Quantum TX team.