Isadora Teich

Philadelphia, PA
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Personal Brand Building in the Startup Ecosystem

Why is personal brand building so important?

If you are passionate about the world of startups, you have likely heard something similar to this phrase:

I invested in this company because I believed in the founder.

Whether you are looking to secure funding, build something new entirely, hire talent, or land your dream job working on something that you truly believe in, being someone that is known for inspiring confidence can get you far.

This is where personal branding comes in. Let’s take a look at what exactly this is, some ways you can approach it, and what it can and cannot do.

Don’t Get Confused

Real-life personal brand-building and digital personal brand-building do have some things in common.

If you want to get more in-depth into content marketing and digital brand building, we have many posts on social media marketing and how to build a digital brand. In this post, we are talking strictly IRL.

Brand-building in the real world is both more complex, but also simpler in some ways than its digital counterpart. For one, algorithm changes and other decisions by Meta and other social media companies can destroy entire digital businesses.

Offline, if you are a savvy personal brand creator, the whims of tech corporations do not effect you at all.

However, if you cannot physically join a thriving startup community (not everyone lives near one) the online route may be best.

Ideally, however, you combine both of these things and leverage an impressive in-person and digital reputation for success. Online, many people can successfully fake it until they make it to incredible heights.

In person, it is much harder to do this. However, as we have seen before, this is not something that you particularly want to do. If you do not come from a place of authenticity, people will eventually figure it out.

So, what exactly do you want to do?

Let’s take a look!

Think Bigger When it Comes to Personal Brand Building

Getting your foot in the door in a thriving start-up community is key. Prove that you are someone who can be trusted and who gets things done. The startup ecosystem is a lot more complicated than just isolated people with great ideas.

While you can directly work for a startup, there are a wide variety of other options in this complicated ecosystem. It includes:

  • Support organizations (accelerators, incubators, and co-working spaces)
  • Universities and research organizations
  • Service provider organizations (legal and financial)
  • Funding organizations and individual investors
  • Mentors and advisors
  • Startups, entrepreneurs, and the teams behind them

Of course, if it is your dream to work for a startup directly, go for it! However, ignoring all of these other opportunities would be a mistake. There are many ways that you can participate and distinguish yourself in this ecosystem.

Another limiting belief people have when it comes to this industry, and tech in general, is that if you want to work in it, you have to be in Silicon Valley. This could not be more wrong.

From Scandinavia to Baltimore to Pakistan, startups are solving problems and thriving around the world. If you look for it, you may even find something in a city much closer to you than you think.

Also, it is entirely possible that you may not have to go anywhere. As a result of the pandemic, many companies are embracing remote work.

At Chop Dawg, we have always been a remote working company.

What do you Want to Be Known for?

Once you have got your foot in the door, it’s time to get to work. Also, it’s time to cement your vision and ask yourself some big questions. Let’s start with this one:

What do you want to be known for?

Think about it. What do you have to offer that is unique and makes you the type of person that people want to hire, collaborate with, and believe in. What do you want your reputation to be? How do you want to stand out in a positive way?

Your personal brand is ultimately a simple synopsis of your positive qualities that can stick with people. It will help inspire confidence in you and make you someone that people trust and want to work with.

Wouldn’t it be powerful if before you even tell anyone anything about yourself people already had a positive idea of you?

That’s what you can accomplish with effective personal brand building.

As everyone is different, we can’t tell you what matters to you most, what image you should present, and how you should construct your personal brand. You need to discover it for yourself.

One way to approach this is to think about core issues that you want to solve in the spaces that you occupy. Make them a part of what you do and build. Your values should be a big part of what you do.

It’s Not All About You

This is one of the most common traps that people fall into.

Remember, while you are creating a personal brand to express all of the best things about you, this is not the only role that personal branding plays. It is also a strategic way to help others connect with you.

If you come across negatively, it may actually alienate people from you before they even meet you. This is the opposite of what you want. You want to build a reputation and a personal brand that facilitates positive connections.

While we often see the myth of the “self-made man” or “solo genius entrepreneur” thrown around, these ideas are rarely completely true in practice.

Humans are deeply interconnected and social creatures that are profoundly impacted by our environments, and very rarely work alone long term.

As we have explored already, there is an entire startup ecosystem, in which interlocking teams and institutions of people come together to bring brilliant ideas to life.

Keep this in mind when building your personal brand. Online, for example, share things that inspire you or the work of others that you respect.

Do not fall into the trap of only talking about yourself. Instead, think about how the work you do positively fits into its broader context.

Authenticity Is Critical

In a world where social media profiles can often overshadow our real-life persona, authenticity has become more than just a buzzword, especially in building a personal brand.

Building your personal brand is not only about networking and creating a compelling online presence, but it’s also about building a real-life reputation that matches your online persona.

An authentic personal brand showcases your unique values, skills, and personality, and it helps you stand out in a crowded job market or industry.

By being true to yourself and focusing on your strengths, you can build a brand that represents who you are and what you stand for.

When it comes to building your personal brand, authenticity is key, and it can make the difference between success and mediocrity.

The Dangers of Trying Too Hard

In the professional world, building an effective personal brand can help you generate success. However, there is a danger in trying too hard to cultivate and curate that brand.

It’s important to remember that authenticity is key when it comes to forming relationships and making meaningful connections. Trying too hard to present a certain persona can come across as disingenuous and turn people off.

Networking is key and you will struggle to build connections if those you interact with feel like you are playing a game, or working very hard to present a false face.

You want to build genuine trust, not make those around you suspicious of your intentions.

Instead, focus on highlighting your strengths and unique qualities that relate to the work you do in the world. By doing so, you’ll not only build a stronger personal brand but also build lasting professional relationships.

So, don’t try too hard. Instead, narrow down your genuine values, highlight them, and act according to them.

Final Thoughts on Personal Brand Building in the Startup Ecosystem

Personal brand building is complicated, but it is worth pursuing. It can help you professionally in a big way.

When you build a strong personal brand and good reputation, it can help you build powerful connections and accomplish big things!

How are you going to build your personal brand? Tell us below!

Since 2009, we have helped create 350+ next-generation apps for startups, Fortune 500s, growing businesses, and non-profits from around the globe. Think Partner, Not Agency.


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