Personal brands matter to everyone, not just startup founders and public speakers. In the age of social media, every employee owns a unique personal brand, and most employees want to grow those brands to boost their careers.
As the boss, you can help your team members accomplish that goal by providing the guidance and opportunities they need to flourish. Even if you invest in people who eventually leave your company to pursue other passions, they’ll remember the help you provided and speak highly of your brand to others in their network. That positive word-of-mouth advertising could pay major dividends down the road.
Follow these best practices to help employees cultivate strong personal brands:
1. Provide content contribution opportunities.
Do you publish all your company’s content under your own name — or, worse, the brand’s name? If so, you’re not just missing opportunities to help employees grow their personal brands — you’re also missing out on better audience engagement. Consumers prefer content that comes from people over brands, so give employees opportunities to express themselves and attach their names to their work. Offering different voices and perspectives will increase your readership and cultivate long-term interest.
2. Encourage time ownership.
Don’t micromanage employees or give them simple lists of tasks to accomplish. Instead, teach them calendar management or download top calendar apps, and provide opportunities for workers to use their time more wisely. You hired smart people for a reason, and the more opportunities they have to explore their innovative sides, the more confidence they’ll gain. That’s good for them, good for your company, and a good look for anyone thinking about joining your team.
3. Invest in education.
The digital world requires diverse skill sets. To stand out from the crowd, workers today need to know about more than just the tasks in their job descriptions. Invest in training opportunities for your employees, such as conferences or subscriptions to online educational resources. Ambitious team members will use their newfound knowledge to innovate and explore for your company.
4. Create mentorship connections.
Despite the popularity of new communication tools, young people at work prefer face-to-face communication over emails and IMs. Provide opportunities for more experienced employees to mentor younger ones. The “old” hands can grow their management chops, while the younger staffers can get more hands-on experience under the guidance of people who know the industry well. Both sides get to accelerate their growth while helping each other.
5. Help speakers step up.
Speaking engagements provide valuable connections and visibility for your brand, and your employees want in on the action. Instead of hogging the limelight yourself, help your employees get speaking gigs at trade shows, schools, association meetings, and conferences. When employees suffer from stage fright, help them overcome their fears by letting them create and publish short videos on the company website. The content will help you now, while the experience will help them later.
6. Get active in the community.
Modern audiences prefer brands that give back. Employees, too, want to work for companies that strive for more than profits. Get involved in community efforts, and let employees lead the way. Use your network to connect with local leaders, then step back and let team members handle the specifics. Your brand will look good, your community will benefit, and your employees will add to their growing prestige.
7. Acknowledge the value of failure.
No one grows without failure. Implement company policies that encourage smart risks. Never punish employees who take a risk and miss; your team members need to know they can explore without fear of retribution. When your employees know you have their back, they’ll feel more confident about their ability to innovate — a vital component of any strong personal brand.
The more you invest in your employees’ personal brands, the more your company’s reputation will spread. Eventually, your industry will be filled with thought leaders who all point to your company as a catalyst for their growth. Take advantage of every opportunity to help your employees expand their influence — it will pay dividends for you both.