Before we dive into the ‘how’, the main question is:
‘Why’ do we need a personal brand?
The VC landscape is constantly changing, with a lot more rising VCs being role models and inspiration to younger aspiring VCs who wish to break into the industry. A personal brand not only will build trust and authority, but is also a strategy to build the fund’s credibility. Personal branding has become pivotal in creating meaningful connections and shaping the outlook of the VC’s career. It can help you stand out and make a lasting impression, which can be key to opening new opportunities in your professional career.
You can treat your personal brand as your unique selling point. It shows the character you wish people to know about, what you can bring to the table and your values. By building that, you are becoming a thought leader and trusted authority. This can help you build meaningful relationships and connections which VC is all about, instead of just the reputation.
So how do you build your personal brand?
In this article, we will talk about the questions you need to ask yourself first, identifying your niche, creating content and distribution with social media, and most importantly, building relationships both offline and online.
Table of contents
- Learn from fellow creators
- Identify your niche
- The process of content creation and distribution
- Leverage social media platforms
- Build relationships both online and offline
1. What is your goal?
The goal should be more than ‘just’ a great personal brand. You might want to be a better public figure or get more leads, or simply grow your following. However, you need to be giving something in return, whether this could be value, entertainment, promotion etc.
2. Who is your audience?
There are no set rules of who you want your content to reach. This could range from founders, investors to students depending on your intention. You might consider your audience as your ‘target market’ - if you want more engagement or simply a large following with minimal interaction. Understanding your audience will help you refine your focus and purpose, helps you push out better content and build meaningful connections.
3. What do you want to be known for?
This should be the fundamental question of why you want to build a personal brand in the first place. Do you want to be someone who inspires others? Or an expert in a certain field? You could also be a strong advocate for something you’re passionate about. People look up to you as a role model, someone who inspires or makes an impact. It’s not just about the things you say or do, but how you made them feel through your actions.
4. What type of content?
This is not easy to answer when you’re first starting. We consume different content every day. There is a lot of content that can be produced, whether this could be your insight on an article, a tweet or a media interview. It is important to be authentic and credible, instead of copying from other’s ideas. If you are unsure where to start, try to explore a range of approaches to the content you read about. Repurpose that into your own perspectives and aim to provide value to your audience.
5. What will help you achieve your goal?
This could be your previous experience, the skills you gained from it and how you can leverage it to help others. It could also be your network, the connections you’ve made over the years and relationships built to help you. The engagement of your audience and how you distribute your content can also be factors contributing to your goal.
Learn from fellow creators
A big part of creating a personal brand is creating a community. This could be getting inspired by your role models and learning from them. It will help you get a clear idea of your purpose and also the feedback will be invaluable to improving and refining your personal brand.
Here are 2 main areas how you can learn from other creators:
What type of content do they post?
This could be advice for founders in early-stage startups. It is a broad topic but it’s important if you give your insights to a recent post or article you find interesting. Seeing how others write their content gives you an idea of what your audience might like to see or engage with.
Besides blog articles, posts and insights, podcasts are an alternative option. Inviting top entrepreneurs to give inspiration to current founders could be valuable to a large reach of audience. This can also attract brand partnerships which helps promote your brand further.
How did they distribute their content?
This means how you leverage your social media platforms. It could be Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, or Newsletters. One piece of content can be repurposed into different styles. For example, your blog article could be repurposed into a LinkedIn post about tips, advice or guides that founders or investors might find useful. You can also collaborate with other founders, investors or partnerships to reach a wider audience. This is good for building relationships and makes you approachable to those who wish to go on a similar journey to yours.
Identify your niche
If you’re not sure what to post yet, start with something you enjoy talking about, or your area of expertise. Try to make sure your niche is not too narrow and start with an area where your content will resonate with a certain part of your audience. Make sure your niche is not too narrow as you could limit your potential. Start with an area where your content will resonate with a certain part of your audience. Test your content by posting different styles and see the engagement rates so you can start narrowing down to a few areas to focus on.
Choose a category which fits with your purpose and personality you wish people to know you for. Always be authentic and don’t copy from others. You can try adding your perspective and insights which others might find valuable.
Here are the different types of content you can create:
Leverage social media
Explore a range of social media platforms which could help you distribute your content to your audience. Test and use engagement rates to improve your content. Ask for feedback from your audience to see what they wish to see more as this will give you an idea of what area to focus more on.
Build relationships both online and offline
It is as important to build authentic relationships offline so people can get to know you better. Attending conferences, speaker events can help you build your network and genuine relationships. This will also reinforce your online presence and deepen your connections.
There is one common thing I’ve noticed in all of them:
Each of them is super passionate and knowledgeable in their area of expertise
- Maximilian Fleitmann - Co-founder Wizard Ventures and CEO BaseTemplates. Having been both a founder and investor, he understands the pain founders face especially when fundraising. This is how he solves the problem by providing pitch deck templates and guides to make investor outreach easier.
- Dr Fiona Pathiraja - Ex-NHS doctor turned VC. Her journey is quite an inspiring one. Having been in the NHS, she understands the greater impact investing would make in healthtech startups. She backs a lot of female-founded startups and is an active advocate for philanthropy.
- Harry Stebbings - Founder of 20VC. His podcast is always packed with value as he invites top VCs and entrepreneurs to share their journeys and insights. His journey is extraordinary but not unusual; dropping out of uni and putting the biggest investment in himself, growing the podcast as well as founding a VC fund alongside.
- Meagan Loyst - Founder of Gen Z VC, a global community centered around empowering the next generation of leaders in venture capital. She is a strong advocate in breaking the barriers to include more women in the VC industry and inspires the next generation of VCs.
- Dr Andre Retterath - Partner at Earlybird VC and writes a newsletter named Data-Driven VC. His newsletter intersects between AI, data and VC. With a PhD in Machine Learning in VC, he uses his expertise in showing how data can impact the dynamic VC landscape.
- Nicole DeTommaso - Principal at Harlem Capital. Her journey of entering the VC firm with no prior experience is truly inspiring. Whilst still an intern, she sourced a deal the firm invested in and since then became a key contributor. I remember reading an article about how she really wanted to be in Harlem and she did it! This is another story of showing not telling - action really does speak louder than words.
- Gian Seehra - Founder turned investor helping founders fundraise from pre-seed to Series B. With experiences from both sides of the table, his posts give great insights into the mistakes founders should avoid and how to intro to investors.
- Eva Dobrzanska - Dealflow and investment manager at Block Dojo incubator. Her posts and 'venture trend' newsletter are super helpful in advising founders mainly in the pre-seed stage to fundraise strategically.
Building a personal brand requires patience and time. It is important to understand what your main goal is and why you want to build that up. Building a personal brand can be a lot of fun, where you meet like-minded individuals and create a supportive community. It can also strengthen your authority and your VC firm’s reputation. Your personal brand will also inspire the next generation for those who wish to embark on a similar journey.