Claire is a personal brand strategist and the CEO and Co-Founder of Claire Bahn Group. She has been helping high-achieving entrepreneurs, investors, founders, and executives create their best personal brand for over 10 years. As an entrepreneur and influencer with over 70,000 followers on social media, she has learned the importance of creating and maintaining your personal brand. Claire helps entrepreneurs leverage their personal brand to develop the authority, influence, and trust they need to exceed their business goals.
Can you share what personal branding is and why it matters to you so much?
Basically, there are so many different nuances of personal branding. But really your basic personal brand is essentially what people think about you when they do a Google search on you or they meet you for the first time in person. It's literally someone's initial reaction to you, and how they feel about you whether they want to work with you and that sort of thing. So that's your baseline personal brand.
How can entrepreneurs and SMBs boost revenue by showcasing their subject expertise and leveraging their authority?
I always look at personal branding from an aspect like when we sign on a client, we take a strategic approach to personal branding. We look at social media as well as Google, SEO in blogs, and SEO in videos. Because Google and YouTube are search engines, you can find out what people are actively looking for and the type of questions that people are actively asking and wants to know answers for. They want to find experts to help them find a solution to the problem that they're currently having. So ultimately, one of the best possible ways that someone can build that know, like, and trust with an ideal client is to create content, whether it's a long-form blog or a video or both that specifically answers a question that somebody is looking for. So ideally, you want someone to do a Google search on a certain subject, and they find something that you created, and they're like, "Wow, I really liked this person." So many times people find me that exact way because they search a topic that I'm an expert in, and they find a piece of content that I created or video that I created and they're like, "Oh, wow, Claire really knows her stuff." So that's ultimately how you really build ROI, you get customers that are committed and trust you, and value your input. The goal is to hopefully work with them, but trust has to be one and it's not something that everyone gives for free.
For small and medium-sized businesses, is it important to have the individual or the owner of the organization versus building up the brand of the company itself?
People connect with people and people want a connection, especially when you have you know certain younger demographics. They want to know your values, what you stand for and that is done through people. If you think of some of the very well-known, multibillion-dollar corporations, those CEOs branded themselves. Think of Elan Musk! Tesla's cool, but Elon Musk is cooler, if you think about it, right? He has more followers on social media than Tesla does, because when Elon says things it has so much more weight. So if you just think about these real-world examples, you see exactly why it's more important that the person be branded and then they talk about their business because the people are going to have that know, like, and trust factor, not a business.
Why does ignoring personal branding negatively affect your ROI?
If you really think about everything that I've talked about like if someone does a Google search on you, specifically. They're like, okay, who's this person, should I work with them, and there's nothing there, they're definitely not going to want to work with you. You should have some information, especially if you are an expert, which most people that have their own businesses are an expert in something, right? So you kind of wonder why can't I find content about you? What's wrong with you? Then the next part of that is, what if I do find content about you, and it's bad? So this is how can negatively affect you, either not finding any information so people don't believe that you are actually the expert that you say you are or the second thing is that they do find information about you and it's not great information. Whether it's negative information, or you really did not do a good job of creating content that was very helpful, and it negatively impacted what people think about you. You want to put effort into really engaging and answering questions and things that people are actually searching for. It's not one of those things where you can just kind of like punt, and it'll work, you actually really have to put in the effort and answer people's questions. So that's the return is you can help people but it also helps build your business too. But it's a long-term game.
Can you share with our listeners one of the favorite networking experiences that you've had?
I admit that sometimes networking is scary, and I actually did a blog talk giving some tips on how to make it not so scary. But I think ultimately, one of the biggest things is, if there's a group that you are being very strategic with your networking, I would kind of go on to LinkedIn, find who you want to really connect with, and have a way to connect with them. Say something like, "Hey, I read your article on this and I really just wanted to come over and say hi," and have you have your brand statement really quick write your little kind of like blurb about me. I think that's one of the biggest things in making networking easier, especially if there are people that you want to connect with is do your homework first. That's actually one thing that a friend of mine taught me and it's such a valuable thing. If you know there are strategic relationships that you want, go and do a little bit of homework.
How do you stay in front of and best nurture the relationships that you have?
Connecting with people on social media, connecting with them on LinkedIn, which is obviously a very professional network. I think you can always nurture the relationship through whether it's inviting them on your podcast, inviting them onto a video podcast. Just staying connected by essentially asking for their input on something. Everyone again, loves a compliment and I think that is a really key thing. Don’t ask for favors, ask for advice on things. Connecting with people like that is really great. I think if you do have a platform, invite them to be on your platform. That is a really great way to stay connected with people and there could be an end game strategy with it, but it doesn't feel and come off as salesy. I definitely don't think it's a good thing to hard-sell people in the social sphere or when you are networking, it's so much better when you just really show up and are committed to sharing your expertise and giving value. The relationships that you create through that are so much stronger than immediately going straight for the sale. I think that would be one of the biggest things. Stay connected, ask for their advice and if you have a platform, bring them onto that platform, but don't sell.
What advice would you offer that business professional is really looking to grow their network?
There are so many networking groups. For me, I've asked friends, and I, you know, asked the group that I know for their advice. Find out from other people, other networking opportunities that they would suggest whether it's in your area in person or online. There are so many events that are online as well, that I have found and you can just ask your network. There are also so many Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups that you can join, you can find out about other networking opportunities in those groups as well. So there are just so many ways to do it, but I don't think it's a bad thing to ask. Just ask people because people want to give their advice. They want to be helped. just asked people to ask your network put out a post saying. So ask your network or you can also just put it out there on social media and a lot of times people will respond, and they'll have great information.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
You talk about this a lot, but networking is so important. So I would say probably more networking, pushing myself to be uncomfortable rather than always staying safe, and not maybe doing that networking event because it's scary. So I think pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and doing more networking.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you could do it within the sixth degree?
I've kind of liked the way that Rachel Hollis has navigated a lot of stuff. She's definitely gotten herself in some sticky situations over the years, but she's somebody that I what she's done with her personal brand and it's very much evolved. Neil Patel is another marketer who has done great things so I definitely think I could connect with those people through six degrees because I'm in that kind of marketing and influencer space, but those are people that I think are learning kind of more about their story would be really cool.
Any final word of advice you'd like to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
It kind of goes back to even your personal brand. There are so many people like you mentioned, that won't put themselves out there and won't commit to networking with people, they won't commit to doing their personal brand. When you actively do it, and you commit to it and you do it and you show up, you're really going to be in a smaller group of people. I think that's one of the most important things to think about. There are so many people that won't have the follow-through, that won't commit to going all the way with whatever it is whether it's building that personal brand, networking, and committing to so many networking events or opportunities. Just commit and do it! You don't have to bite off the biggest chunk, just find the events that you want and commit to going all-in because so many people don't. That's what's going to differentiate you from somebody else is that follow through and that commitment, and that's a lot of what you said earlier about networking and just being true and following through. It really will benefit you in so many ways.
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