There are many crucial elements to running a business, but a strong personal brand can be the most important one to focus on early. A new business relies more on the CEO’s passion, vision and likability than the product or service it is selling. Until there are enough reviews, testimonials and a vast portfolio of work, it can be difficult to drum up new business. I have found incredible success in becoming a subject matter expert, educating my audience at conferences, events, company summits, and workshops.

My business was at a turning point right after I participated in the LaunchPad2X program. I completed the core program in 2016 and we were about to start growing. We learned how to price our services more appropriately and set new standards for ourselves to improve our quality of work. We thought it might be a good time to bring on a sales person and found an individual who specialized in business development. While he was able to get us in the door at several large companies, we were never able to get beyond the first couple of meetings. At the same time, we found that we were getting the majority of our leads from the connections we made at my speaking engagements. How Annie Grew Her Personal Brand to Build Business

I started to grow my Twitter following by interacting with other influencers in my industry. Our company started our own blog on our website to gain better search engine optimization. We made connections with the hardware providers we used and worked together to cross-promote our brands. Earning notoriety in various organizations has also been a great way to boost credibility. I was fortunate enough to win the Technology Association of Georgia‘s Young Professional Technologist of the Year last year, and Women in IT Awards Rising Star of the Year this spring. Those accolades helped us fast track many of our initial meetings because we were going in with a solid reputation.

All of these little changes impacted my business in a big way and we found that we did not need a dedicated salesperson. We received more contact forms on our website from large companies and fostered our relationships through education of our industry. Establishing ourselves as educators was the best thing we could have done for our business. It is a low-pressure way to get in the door of major organizations. We’ve found that fostering those relationships leave us top of mind when the companies we educate start to move into the purchasing process. So regardless of how amazing your product and company is, always remember your personal brand is your professional brand.

Annie Eaton is the CEO of Atlanta-based future technologies company Futurus, where she creates immersive, engaging and interactive experiences in virtual reality, augmented reality and 360 capture. Annie earned her degree from Georgia Tech in 2010. She is involved with XR Atlanta, Women in XR Atlanta, and is a re:imagine/ATL Alliance member. Earlier this year, Annie received the Women in IT Rising Star award and was named the Technology Association of Georgia Young Professionals’ 2017 Technologist of the Year.