By Lynn Manternach / Guest Column

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a CEO, an en­try-level employee or somewhere in between, your personal brand has the potential to add val­ue to your organization’s brand. In fact, there’s often a very fine line between a company’s brand and those of its leadership and teams.

Consumers buy products and services from people and businesses they know, like and trust. Relationships are easier to cultivate with individ­uals. As a result, the face of your brand has be­come increasingly important.

In the not-so-distant past, most employees focused exclusively on building their employ­ers’ brands. But that’s not the case anymore. Between social media and digital experiences in our personal lives, we all have more public per­sonal brands.

In professional services companies like mine, each and every person in the company gets hired because of their unique gifts and talents. Their personal brand becomes intertwined with the company brand – hopefully for the better.

Supporting employees’ personal branding is a win-win. It helps create a company of knowns by building a powerful narrative about the com­pany and its people. When the members of your team show up online as representatives of your organization, you increase your company’s reach and the opportunities you have for growth.

Research supports the premise that the pow­er of an employee’s personal brand online can benefit the company. Brand messages are re-shared 24 times more frequently when posted by an employee versus a brand’s social media channels. Employees have 10 times more follow­ers than their company’s social media accounts, and content shared by employees receives eight times more engagement than content shared by the corporate brand channel alone.

Establishing thought leadership

Regardless of your position in an organization, building your personal brand makes you an as­set to your company, increases your reputation and opens up a range of opportunities for your professional life, both now and in the future.

Personal branding provides a clear focus for personal development, while also allowing you to establish yourself as a thought leader. Thought leadership is one of the most visible and most powerful ways to use personal brands to elevate company brands.

Confidence builds trust. Blog articles, client testimonials and other tactics that showcase you as an expert in your field establishes your credi­bility and your personal brand – and in turn, re­flects positively upon your company.

A 2017 report from Edelman and LinkedIn shows thought leadership to be a near-prerequi­site for request for proposal (RFP) consideration, with 42 percent of CEOs saying that a company’s thought leadership led them to issue an invitation to bid for business. On the flip side, poorly exe­cuted attempts at projecting such leadership often made CEOs cross contenders off their RFP lists.

When properly leveraged, your personal brand is one of your most strategic assets. You just need to figure out how to make it work for you.

So what’s your superpower? That’s where your personal brand begins. Perhaps you have the ability to simplify complex ideas. Maybe you can see patterns and connections in data that are invisible to others, or perhaps you’re the ul­timate networker who can land a meeting with anyone you want.

Figure out what you’re best at and what dif­ferentiates you from others, and focus your ef­forts on that. The mistake many of us make is spending too much time trying to improve areas we’re not good at. Why not spend that energy on becoming truly unstoppable in the areas where you already excel?

Your company and your industry does not need you to be a jack of all trades. You need to be a master of one. And if you can find that sweet spot, it will benefit everyone – you, your custom­ers and your company.

Lynn Manternach is a brand arsonist and president at MindFire Communications Inc. located in Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities. Contact her at lmanternach@mindfirecomm.com.