Personal Branding for Investors and Founders
The term “personal branding” was first used and discussed in a 1997 article “A Brand Called You” by Tom Peters in Fast Magazine. This article states,
“Regardless of age, regardless of position and regardless of the industry in which we operate, we all need to understand the importance of branding. We are the CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc.“
Social media, guest-blogging and many other platforms help people build their personal brands online. Personal branding is not limited to online presence, however. To be speaker at an event, meeting people “offline,” writing books and publishing professional articles all serve to position an expert’s professional “point of view” and themselves in the public eye.
THE BRAND: ME
The best funds and business angels have access to the best deals and get attractive terms on them. They have a competitive advantage because they bring great added value (including additional reach) to start-ups not only with capital – but precisely with their brand.
“If a founder knows exactly how they are benefitting from you, through your “brand,” it is easier for them to decide if you’re a good fit for them,” says Akash Bajwa, VC analyst at Cass Entrepreneurship Fund, a British venture capital fund that invests in high-growth, early-stage companies.
TOP FOUNDERS HAVE THE CHOICE
Nowadays it is important to develop and live a personal brand. This is true for both founders and investors. In our experience, personal branding is even more important for business angels – as they are individual fighters that do not get into the media as easily as funds do. Especially in early stages, up to Series A, strongly positioned angels benefit from their personal brands. Visibility leads to better dealflow, but also helps attract top co-investors.
With more than 1,000 pre-seed and seed funds and about 100 Series A, VC funds that can be considered top tier (vgl. Midas List), founders have a wide range of investors to choose from to talk to.
4 DEGREES OF EFFECTIVENESS OF PERSONAL BRANDING
Personal branding is a marathon – not a sprint. It requires years of hard work and patience. You cannot “reinvent” yourself overnight. You must live the brand and be authentic.
Four “levels of impact” of personal branding, are particularly significant:
- Reputation: Personal branding boosts your reputation because people notice you for your expertise and respect you for helping them with your suggestions. Every interaction with a start-up, every interaction with potential (co-)investors has an impact.
- Industry Awareness: Gaining notoriety in your industry and region is the best thing that can ever happen to you. Awareness does not equal visibility, or accessibility. Many of the absolute top investors are very difficult to contact directly. You must receive referrals through your network which can also acts as a filter built on purpose.
- Competitive Advantage: Personal branding gives you a competitive advantage over others and helps you “win” the best deals, as most people tend to attribute more trust (and likelihood of success) to you than towards others.
- You are authentic: Personal branding helps you be transparent about your values, your strategy, and most importantly your intended impact. If you stand for a picture, this will automatically increase the quality of your contacts since people can better assess you in advance and whether they identify with you or not.
Becoming a brand that people also recognise is not that easy.
GUIDELINE TO BUILDING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
There are important aspects you should be aware of when creating the “ME” brand:
Connect with influential people in your industry whose passions align with yours and follow them.
- Carefully observe what they do and how they do it.
- Get to know brilliant minds in your field of interest and engage in conversation.
- Actively ask for feedback and get tips proactively.
Join vibrant and relevant groups on social media platforms and share your thoughts whenever you get the chance.
- Be active on all possible social media platforms that are relevant to your industry and start sharing your valuable thoughts.
- The goal is to build a strong following that really values your content that is beneficial to them.
Create your own professional website and start writing original articles that people like to read and share. Promote these articles online.
Be consistent and publish as a guest author or speaker (video) in various formats.
Let journalists know where your absolute expertise is and be constantly available for contributions or comments around your topics.