Social media and the digital age have made us more aware of how we are perceived publicly. We quickly learned that it matters how we represent ourselves – each of our expressions and interactions is stored forever online, a record of who we are and who we’ve been. Cultivating an authentic but strategic image is essential for anyone looking to have an impact on the world today because it helps clarify your mission, skillset, and personal values.
For entrepreneurs, image is essential because first impressions often dictate the amount of trust a customer may have in you or your brand. Projecting the right and best image for your personal and professional brand will help you craft clear messaging across platforms and contexts.
There are three basic elements of crafting a strategic but accurate image as an entrepreneur: an authentic message, specialized expertise, and a broad perspective.
Discover Your Core Message
You can’t craft a strategic image if you don’t know who you are. That’s why it’s essential to understand what makes you unique in the world, in this time, in culture, and in your specific industry. Before you can craft an image, you need to understand who you want to be. Align your career goals with the image you want to convey, and draw inspiration from others in your industry. What key messages do you see coming from the people you admire? Do you have similar focuses? Take this information to build a persona that is true to who you already are and who you want to become as an entrepreneur.
Image coach and entrepreneur Mena Garcia does just that for her clients. She worked in modeling and acting before launching her consulting business. Now, she uses the storytelling tools she honed in those earlier endeavors to help her clients cultivate an image that communicates their core message effectively.
Demonstrate Your Specialized Expertise
Your image should convey what you do better than anybody else, big or small. If you’re an entrepreneur, perhaps your invention solves a problem and your specialized expertise is in a specific field. Capitalize on that information and demonstrate it regularly. This can also help create focus within your work. When you understand your unique skill sets, you know where you can concentrate more effort to develop them further.
Garcia said showcasing expertise is an essential element of crafting an image, and one she focuses on when consulting with clients. Developing expertise has also helped her grow her own business. She is a color theory expert and uses this in her coaching to help clients understand how the colors they wear affect their perceptions. This niche sets her apart from others and is a key part of her own messaging.
A Broad Perspective Will Expand Your Reach
Keeping a broad perspective, and staying informed about the world around you, will ensure that you create a relevant image. This isn’t superficial. It’s strategic. Continue developing your education, expose yourself to new ideas or opportunities, and share them with the people around you (professionally and personally).
Garcia puts it this way: “Better yourself. Your abilities professionally are often a reflection of you as an individual.”
Entrepreneurs need to pay special attention to the way they present themselves publicly because it directly affects the perception of their company. Crafting an image that is authentic, but strategic, is an essential skill in the entrepreneurial journey.