10 ways to grow your accounting business by building your personal brand

Have you ever considered the power of your own personal brand and how it can be leveraged to promote your accounting firm?

To successfully grow your firm, you need an effective strategy for building and strengthening your firm’s brand—but that isn’t the only brand worth investing in.

Consider how you, as your firm’s leader, can impact how others view your accounting business.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you know how you are perceived by those who know you professionally—your peers, your staff and your clients? 

  • Does everyone know only a small slice of who you are?

All professionals now need a virtual presence. As a business owner, you have the advantage of connecting your personal brand to your firm’s brand to drive the success of your business.

If you haven’t yet focused on building your personal brand, it’s time to get started.

First, connect why you need to build your personal brand to how you can do it

The first step in building your personal brand is understanding your goals and why you want to do so.

Are you looking to:

  • Establish yourself as an expert and thought leader?

  • Give back to your industry by helping your peers to learn from the challenges you have already overcome?

  • Build trust in your business by showing your potential clients the real person behind your logo?

  • Attract great talent to want to work for you?

  • Add an additional revenue stream through speaking gigs or training other firm leaders? 

Once you’ve clearly defined your goals, you can prioritize the most effective techniques to get you there.

Here are some suggestions for your journey to building your personal brand

Be intentional and strategic. 
Don’t just make a guess and hope for the best. Commit to a few ways you can build your personal brand, and make a conscious plan and effort towards achieving some goals while you get your footing.

Know your audience. 
Remember that you’re appealing to humans. Take the time to deeply understand them, where they spend their time online and the type of content they want. 

For example, if you decide to provide thought leadership to millennials about starting their first business, then you need to understand:

  • Their concerns

  • What makes them tick

  • Where they go to find information

Most importantly, be honest with yourself. 
To create your personal brand, follow your innate strengths and interests. 

If you’re a skilled writer, for example, play to your strengths and start a blog. Or if you have a knack for public speaking, get in front of as many people as you can.

Start with what comes naturally to you.

Here are 10 ways you can build your personal brand to promote your accounting firm.

1. Enhance your LinkedIn profile

When you think of your personal brand online, the first place you should think of is your LinkedIn profile. Since its debut in 2003, LinkedIn has become one of the world’s largest professional networking sites on the internet.

Leverage this tool to make new connections, build your network and share strong content.

In LinkedIn, you can share your insights via:

  • Writing short posts

  • Writing articles

  • Posting videos, images and infographics

  • Using LinkedIn stories

  • Beginning a live stream

It’s important to understand that you don’t just need to produce strong content—you can grow your LinkedIn presence by also engaging with the broader community. This means commenting, reacting and sharing other people’s (or brand’s) content.

When you do this, you instantly increase your visibility across the platform.

2. Expand your social media platforms

It’s important not to be intimidated by social media. But you can keep things simple by accepting that you don’t need to be everywhere. Pick one or two platforms where your targeted audience is, and focus on those. 

Remember: people connect to people, so be intentional and tie your personal brand to your business and do so in an authentic way. Don’t forget to think about your own boundaries and how much you are willing to share on a personal level about yourself.

The key with social media is frequent engagement, consistently posting or sharing content, and sticking to it—don’t expect to see results overnight.

Facebook

At the end of 2020, Facebook reported 2.8 billion monthly active users; a 12% YoY increase. If you don’t have a personal account, now is a good time to create a basic profile for yourself. 

Determine how you want to ‘show up’ beyond your circle of family and friends. Even occasional posts and updates can go a long way in building your brand. 

To further optimize how you use Facebook, there are plenty of online marketing experts and web influencers (such as Neil Patel) who share how they use social media to build their brand.

Instagram

With the acquisition of Instagram by Facebook in 2012, you can link your Facebook and Instagram accounts to expand your reach. This way, content can easily be shared on both platforms. 

Instagram is geared to those who are more visual, so photos and videos work best on this platform. Proactively following other influencers and industry experts will help you tap into a broader audience.

If you do decide to leverage Instagram, don’t forget to use hashtags.

YouTube

If you naturally gravitate to public speaking and mentorship, or maybe you want to step outside your comfort zone, YouTube is a great place to build a useful library of educational content.

You can focus on creating videos that showcase your specialized knowledge, remembering to use examples where possible that link back to your own firm.

TikTok

Don’t disregard this one—TikTok isn’t just for teenagers. The pandemic spurred tremendous growth for this platform, making it one of the top apps downloaded in 2020. 

TikTok content consists entirely of videos. This tool can be a great way to showcase a lighter version of your personality, while also providing genuinely educational content for your followers. 

For example, David DiNardo from Envolta shared these tax tips for small business owners and received a great response.

And you never know, it could one day play a role in your hiring process with ‘TikTok Resumes’—a platform labeled as LinkedIn for Gen Z.

Twitter

If videos aren’t your thing, perhaps the 280-character limit on Twitter is. This is an effective tool for sharing quotes, tips or reminders with your audience.

And to expand your audience, follow other leaders and influencers who align with your brand, remembering to engage and use hashtags.

Make the commitment

Whatever social media platforms you choose, keep it simple and select those that:

  1. You are comfortable using 

  2. Are aligned with your goals (and make sense to your audience)

Remember, social media is a daily (or at minimum, weekly) commitment to keep your content timely and fresh.

Don’t go it alone. There are several tools that make it easy to manage, schedule and publish your content across all platforms, saving you time and effort.

3. Publish your own blog

If you enjoy writing, this is a great way to connect with others searching for information in your field.

Blog writing can also lead you to a community of like-minded writers and experts with the same passions and similar backgrounds.

And if you don’t consider yourself a strong writer (or you don’t have much time to dedicate to writing), perhaps a ghost writer may help bridge the gap between your knowledge and audiences.

4. Develop a newsletter

A newsletter can simply be an extension of your blog articles. Think of your blog article as you writing a letter, and the newsletter as you sticking a stamp on the envelope and posting it to the recipient. 

But if you don’t have a blog or much original content to share yet, you can still send a newsletter. Instead of sharing your own writing, you can cultivate your favorite pieces you found online from the last week or month and share them with your audience.

Ryan Lazanis from FutureFirm does this well with his weekly newsletter.  

5. Write for popular industry websites

Consider reaching out to industry websites, such as Karbon Magazine, to write a guest article. 

By doing so, you’re expanding your audience, sharing your knowledge, and promoting your accounting firm. 

6. Manage your online reputation and reviews

Before choosing to hire an electrician or plumber, you likely searched their business online and read their reviews. Google, Yelp and Trustpilot are typically the first place that potential clients will head to learn more about your firm and how your clients rate your service.

While you can ask your best clients to post a review or rate your firm online, it’s the negative reviews from disgruntled clients that can seriously impact your brand reputation. 

While it’s inevitable every business owner deals with a client who has a bad experience, it’s how you respond (or your lack of response) that will leave a lasting impression for potential new clients.

Actively reading, managing and responding to reviews is a direct reflection of your business, but more importantly, your personal brand.

7. Volunteer as a guest speaker for a podcast or industry event

As you build your reputation within the industry, you will be presented with opportunities to guest speak at a conference, event or podcast.

Or if you aren’t invited to speak, why not volunteer and seek out engagements where you are confident in your ability to add value?

As a bonus, they’re often recorded and easy to share through your website, LinkedIn or social media platforms.

8. Create educational videos

Creating video content doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. The quality of today’s smartphones means you can record videos from just about anywhere. 

Focus on the actual content you want to deliver. Choose engaging topics that are relevant to your audience, and that you’re passionate about.

And if you make a mistake during recording, take it in your stride—it’ll remind audiences that you’re human.

9. Host your own webinars

Another option is developing and running your own webinars. While videos can be crafted and posted with longevity in mind, a webinar can focus on seasonal areas and go much deeper into the topics, such as the latest tax laws or regulatory changes. 

And why not engage your attendees with a Q&A session at the end to further expand on what you've discussed? 

Similar to live events, these sessions can be recorded and re-posted for those unable to attend the live webinar.

10. Join an advisory board

This is a great way to contribute your knowledge, insights and expertise. 

In return, you’ll expand your network and credibility—whether you join the board for a company in your industry, or for an organization that can benefit from your expertise, or a charitable cause you support. 

Choose one or two ideas that best support your goals

If this list feels overwhelming, start small and choose just a few to focus on. Many of these ideas can build on each other over time to establish your brand more powerfully.

Building your personal brand is a journey. It’s an opportunity to share your personal stories, life experiences, and even career missteps that all led you to where you are today.

Most importantly, establishing your personal brand will build trust in you as a person, as a leader, and ultimately help your firm grow.

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