Natalie Sportelli is the Content and Brand Manager at New York-based Lerer Hippeau, an early-stage venture capital firm that’s invested in leading brands like Casper, Allbirds, and Warby Parker. Before joining the tech world, she served as an Associate Editor at Forbes, writing, editing, and producing content for its 30 Under 30 list and online vertical. Today, she works on building Lerer Hippeau’s brand and content strategy and shares advice on how to build a strong personal brand on her blog, Twitter, and most recently on The Media Mindset podcast.
Here, Natalie shares five personal branding tips she swears by:
#1 Find your sweet spot
Ask yourself: what am I uniquely positioned to talk about? You can find your personal brand at the intersection of your professional experience and personal life. Zero in on your areas of expertise and topics you care about. Over time, you’ll discover your point of view and begin to find (and deliver) a consistent voice. People will come to you for specific themes and subject matter expertise, but, more importantly, they’ll come to you for your perspective. It’s a quick way to build a strong network and following of people who share similar interests and concerns.
#2 Be authentic
This is easier said than done. Authenticity can’t be faked. In the early days of building your personal brand, it can be challenging to determine what you want to say and it can be scary to put yourself out there. But being honest, open, informative, and funny can go a long way, and they are the best avenues for connecting with others. Don’t say what you think people want to hear from you and try to not copy what works well for others. It’s going to take time, trial, and error to find what works best for you. But most people are still figuring it out, so you’re definitely not alone.
#3 Give to get
Imagine that the Internet is a neighbourhood. To be a good neighbour, you give and get back. Personal branding isn’t only about what you say, it’s about what you do. Show, not tell, what you want to be known for. If you want to be seen as an expert, engage and weigh in on conversations. If you want to be seen as helpful, share relevant news or point others in the right direction as needed. Personal branding isn’t all about you. You may think you have a well-crafted presence, but at the end of the day, personal branding is how others perceive you and whether or not you’ve left them with a good impression.
Building a strong personal brand takes time, commitment, and consistency. Whether it’s blogging, public speaking, tweeting, or however else you’re sharing your perspective, you need to put real time and energy into those channels. You can’t build a personal brand overnight; it’s a long game. And the best way to win is through getting out there regularly. If you want to blog, challenge yourself to write once a month or even once a day. Form habits around creating content and building your brand to keep yourself accountable.
#5 Own it
Once you discover your groove, own it. It’s empowering to talk from a place of authority and rewarding to see your insights resonate, especially as your audience grows. Part of owning your brand means celebrating your wins—a practice that can be more challenging for women. But if you’re interviewed about a topic or mentioned as an expert, sharing the resultant clips will give you even more credibility. Don’t be afraid to discuss your challenges and celebrate your success; it’ll make you more well-rounded and approachable. People want to feel like they’re getting to know the real you, and the best way to do so is through being relatable–and being yourself.