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How to build your brand

Building your brand from the ground up is complicated. Your main goal is to make people smile when they think about or interact with your company. I
know, I may have exaggerated a little bit, but that is the main idea.

Some business owners think that branding is important only for big corporations. Nothing could be further away from truth! This is your small business'
chance to fight and win the war with the big names. Everyone has fair chances when it comes to fighting for recognition online.
So, how do you build a strong brand for your small business?

Start by defining the market segment that you want to interact with. What is the purpose of your business? How can you connect with your potential
customers, and what makes you different? What values drive your company in its day-to-day operations? These are the key questions that need very
specific answers.

Everything begins with being authentic. Some entrepreneurs have tried to build fake brands, and it didn't end up pretty. So be yourself, and if that isn't
good enough, learn to transform yourself into an industry voice that attracts people.

It helps to start speaking at various engagements. Sure, your first talks may not be great, but they will help you build up your communication skills. Show
others that YOU are industry expert, that you really, deeply, fully know what you are talking about. Show them that you know what they need, and
explain to them how your company fulfills their needs.

Some people will criticize you - that's a given fact. But it's important to cultivate an open mind, one that also welcomes criticism. If you can't answer
specific questions because they catch you off-guard, thank the audience for them and promise to be better prepared next time.

Strive to be the #1 source of industry news. That's as easy as setting up a few Google alerts for the top industry related keywords. There are other tools
that help you discover online places (forums, social media sites, etc.) where people are asking industry-related questions. With a tool like this, you can
become the voice that knows it all, and is present everywhere on the web.

Then, try to get your articles published on credible websites. It's a difficult process, because the top sites receive hundreds of high-quality submissions
each day. The secret is to start with sites that have less aggressive gatekeepers, and then use that experience and recognition to open bigger doors.
You want to show people that you are present everywhere, that the top media sites reach out to you when they need a qualified opinion about your
industry.

Be easily accessible. Get out there and attend as many industry conferences as you can. Keep updated and respond to messages on your social media
channels. You can even host live video Q&A sessions on YouTube for free.

It is crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest industry news and changes. Technology has evolved a lot, so you can't afford the luxury of missing on what's
happened in your sector during the last few months.

Once that your brand starts to be recognized online, it's time to monitor what's being said about you and your company. Yes, you will have to create a
new set of Google alerts, but this time make them monitor your name and company name.

It takes time to build your personal brand. It's a lot of work! But it's also a deeply rewarding process, because it will also help you develop new skills and
expand your knowledge.
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