Susanne Bavinck- Bender

The power of personal branding for independent professionals.

The power of personal branding for independent professionals.
Susanne Bavinck- Bender

Susanne Bavinck- Bender

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Many professionals are hesitant to share their journey out of modesty. Or is it fear? Fear of rejection, criticism or being judged. These barriers hold professionals back from their own success. 

With the amount of freelancers booming, it becomes a challenge to stand out, attract professional opportunities with ideal clients and charge premium rates. This is where personal branding can make a difference.  

So, let’s get started by exploring the what’s and why’s of personal branding and sharing relevant tools for a straightforward process to build your own personal brand and position yourself for success.

The definition of personal branding.

Personal branding is when professionals market themselves and their careers as brands, reflecting their own unique combination of qualities, values, skills and experiences. This way, they take control over how the market perceives them. 

Related to your personal brand is your reputation. This is more the collective result of your past actions, developing naturally over time. By taking a proactive approach to personal branding, you can enhance your reputation. 

Be top of mind with your ideal clients.

Personal branding is very important for freelancers as it allows them to create a positive image of themselves while building trust in the market. By sharing what you offer, who you service, and what you stand for, you can establish yourself as the go-to-expert in a specific niche, attracting ideal clients who resonate with your values and ambitions. This will help you to stand out from your competitors and justify charging premium rates for your services. 

Extending beyond attracting clients, a strong personal brand can also be used to build your network, both online and offline. Once other people exactly understand where you bring value, they may start referring you to more of your ideal clients. 

A well-established personal brand can also be utilized to pivot your career, start new projects or gain support for causes you believe in. 

A three step guide to build a strong personal brand.

Cultivate a strong personal brand is a straightforward process actually, divided into three steps:

1. Define what you want to be known for. 

As a freelancer, you can do this self-awareness exercise by answering: 

  • What problem do you solve in the market (your expertise), 
  • How do you and your services stand out (your values), 
  • Who is your ideal customer (your market), and 
  • What services do you provide (your product)? 

Answers should be clear and come natural to you; don’t overcomplicate it. The most dangerous part of marketing for any business owner or entrepreneur is trying to be everything to everybody. So, the ideal customer for your personal brand is narrowed down to a specific niche.

These answers can be converted into a personal brand statement, a short catchphrase that shares your unique expertise, values, market and product. Carefully choose the right words and arrange them the right way to get your message across effectively. This will help you build strong name recognition in your market.

2. Consistently share your story with your audience, in your own unique voice, with confidence and authenticity. 

Have a look at your target audience. Decide on which platform your ideal customer is most active, what topics would resonate with them and what format would be most appealing to them? 

Humans connect with stories. Avoid using a formal tone, as it doesn't resonate with people. Instead, infuse your content with your own distinct voice. Don’t know where to start? Just talk to Siri, dictate what you want to say and take it from there. 

Position yourself as the go-to expert with confidence. Share your knowledge, tactics or strategies that may support your ideal client’s ambitions, share why you care about the work you do, elaborate on your contributions during a recent project, etc. This is the part you show the best of yourself. 

Present yourself in an original, genuine and interesting way. Showing up in an authentic way will attract like-minded people and clients. 

Ingredients for powerful storytelling include authenticity, relatability and admirableness. Understand your audience's aspirations and challenges, and share insights through engaging storylines. By being transparent about your journey, you connect with others on a deeper level - the ultimate trust builder. Needless to say that strategy and M&A professionals must prioritize confidentiality; when uncertain, seek client approval before publishing. 

Besides sharing your own content, you can also co-author articles with relevant peers or interact with other interesting people’s content. 

3. Build relationships 

Have you ever felt a connection where there was just a one-way conversation? Me neither. Interaction is key for relationships. Start conversations, ask questions, respond to comments, and offer genuine help to others. This will demonstrate that you are an expert willing to engage with people and that’s the kind of person business wants to work with.

Evaluate your online presence to align with your personal brand.

Google yourself and review your social media platforms. Take ownership and delete old content that doesn't relate to your personal brand. 

After an online clean-up, focus on LinkedIn. As a strategy and M&A professional, your main target audience is active on this platform. Your LinkedIn profile serves as your online CV and when used well, enhances your personal branding. 

Make sure to keep your LinkedIn up to date and use additional options to show your capabilities to stay relevant in your professional network. Sharing your personal brand statement allows potential clients to understand your expertise, values, market and product quickly. Also, take a good look at your profile photo and cover image as they can help you to make a good first impression aligning with your personal brand. 

Rise above the noise and create a lasting impact.

Personal branding is a strategic tool that can significantly boost your professional success. Cultivating a strong personal brand takes confidence. But if you don’t believe in yourself, why should others? 

As an independent strategic and M&A professional, you are well-educated and have ample experience. You know what you are worth and what value you can offer in the market. Just get started in your own authentic way and enjoy the ride!

About the author

Susanne Bavinck - Bender is a freelance communications specialist and creative marketeer dedicated to empowering companies and supporting individuals to boost their personal branding. She started freelancing to combine her work with her family adventure in South Africa. Her mantra is just do it; and if you are scared, just do it scared. She started her career as M&A lawyer at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, became a fashion influencer and then pivoted to marketing and communications.

Susanne Bavinck- Bender

Susanne Bavinck- Bender

Marketing & communications specialist

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