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Column: You are your brand. Build it.

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In today’s digital age, like it or not, everyone has a personal brand. What are you doing about yours?

I work with CEOs, entrepreneurs and business professionals to build their personal brands, and I’d like to share three tips that can help you.

Tip No. 1: Google yourself

Yep. When someone wants to find out more about you, they’re most likely to start with the world’s most popular search engine. What are they going to see about you? It’s important to pay the most attention to the top three results, though don’t ignore any of the top 10, which usually constitute the first page with Google. If you’re like me and on LinkedIn, there’s a good chance your profile there will be one of the top listings.

Tip No. 2: Clarify who you are

This one is not always easy to do, but it is important. I always tell my clients that you must have clarity before strategy. Try it the other way around, and you’re more likely to not succeed. Begin by asking: “Who is my authentic self? ... What do I stand for? ... How do I help others?” I think it’s always helpful to establish the core values that define you. Some of mine include: compassion, hopefulness, kindness, presence and service. Because I incorporate them into my life and my business, they are part of my personal brand. The key is to be true to yourself. To be authentic. Don’t try to be someone you’re not.

Tip No. 3: Strengthen your LinkedIn

A lot of folks set up a profile on the world’s largest professional networking site and then do nothing to maintain or enhance it. If you’re building a personal brand or one for your organization, then it’s a mistake to ignore LinkedIn. But what if you don’t have enough time to work on every field listed? That’s OK; it’s about progress rather than perfection.

Focus first on these three parts of your profile: headshot, headline and summary. Is your picture professional, forward-facing and friendly? Your headline is the 120-character field underneath your headshot. Does it say something compelling about you or how you help others in your line of work? One of my real estate clients changed hers from “Licensed Realtor” to “I can help you find your dream home.” She’s getting a lot more traction. 

Your summary is like your short resume. I suggest that the first sentence be a power statement. Mine says: “LET’S ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS” because as a business coach, most of my clients are goal-oriented. Lastly, I suggest that you write your summary in the first person to make it more personal and interesting.

Want to learn more about building your brand? Check out my Facebook Live series “Personal Branding Makeover” at noon Aug. 10 at http://bit.ly/2tt1jOY. I’ll be coaching entrepreneur Jenny Glasgow on building her own brand.

Thomas Heath, CLC, is a business coach, strategic advisor and founder of Thomas Heath Coaching. Have a question? Planning a great startup event? He loves to respond to our readers. Contact him at Thomas@ThomasHeathCoaching.com or on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/AskThomasHeath.

Startup Roundup

An insider’s view into Charleston’s startup community.
Curated by Thomas Heath

As someone who advises startups and existing companies on the best ways to grow their businesses, I quite often get asked which entrepreneurial events around town are worth attending. It was with that in mind that we created Startup Roundup

If you’re looking for one calendar to find the best startup, tech, digital and entrepreneurial happenings around the Holy City, then you’ve come to the right place. 

Here are my picks for the best events coming up:

Are You Ready to Start a Business?
6-8 p.m. Aug. 8
This workshop from the folks at Score is a great opportunity for up-and-coming small-business owners to put a plan into action to get a business off the ground. They will cover: testing your business concept, developing a marketing and business plan, financial considerations, and available resources to support your success. Charleston County Public Services Building (Lonnie Hamilton Building), 4045 Bridge View Drive, Room B 337, North Charleston. Free. Register under “Take A Workshop” at: https://charlestonsc.score.org/

One Million Cups
9-10 a.m. Aug. 9, 16, 23
Do you love to be inspired by new businesses? Then come join the growing Charleston community of 1MC for free coffee, great ideas and new connections. Every Wednesday at 9 a.m., a different entrepreneur presents their startup business for feedback. The dialogue is fascinating. I promise you’ll leave energized. The Harbor Entrepreneur Center, 1505 King St. Extension, Suite 110, Charleston. Free. No registration required.

Startup Grind
6-8 p.m. Aug. 22
This monthly gathering, sponsored by Google for Entrepreneurs, is part of a global startup community that inspires and connects entrepreneurs. At this meeting, Charleston director Jeremy Berman will conduct one of his “fireside chats” with Carolyn Finch, executive director of Charleston Women in Tech. CWIT has grown to more than 1,700 members and focuses on supporting, connecting and developing women of all ages for careers in tech. Location is still to be determined, but usually in downtown Charleston. $10. Register: startupgrind.com/charleston/

5th Wednesday Connections
9-10 a.m. Aug. 30
Looking to connect with other entrepreneurial types? Four times a year, on a month that has a fifth Wednesday, the Charleston community of One Million Cups takes a breather from having a presenter and focuses on gathering together to get to know each other better and make stronger connections. Bring your business cards and your 30-second elevator speech. This is one amazing meeting. The Harbor Entrepreneur Center, 1505 King St. Extension, Suite 110, Charleston. Free. No registration required.

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