I had a great conversation with a CEO yesterday who recently realized that she had been too heads down and focused on her day to day tasks to build up her personal brand. It was never something she made a priority until she realized that building up her own brand was part of the company's marketing. It would create just as many opportunities for her company as it would for herself. A strong leader's personal brand helps with hiring, creates inbound business development opportunities, and opens up speaking opportunities where a founder can talk about the business of her company, not just herself and her career.
It's also key to financing. Investors put money into a founder, so walking into a pitch meeting without having built up any kind of personal brand effectively means you've left out a big piece of your company's marketing strategy. It's hard to build a relationship from scratch with no prior knowledge of someone--whereas a strong social media and personal brand presence makes an investor feel like they know you already. I know I wouldn't have been able to raise my fund if it wasn't easy to ask people about who I was and if you hadn't heard about me from somewhere before.
Any founder not working on their own brand is doing their company a disservice. Period. It's important for a founder to publicly project a set of values, believes, share knowledge and best practices and be seen as a leader not just at the company, but in their market. Investors want to back leaders.
Plus, if you don't tell your own story, an investor will make one up for you--often times within the first ten to twenty seconds of meeting you. In a world where we're very concerned about stereotypes and generalizations as they relate to diversity, should we let an investor make a snap judgement about how we look or should be blanket the airwaves with a strong narrative first--so that their opinion is based on the brand they've heard about before even knowing what you look like.
Either you tell your story or someone else will--or you'll have no story and no one will care.