A strong online ‘professional identity’ – from a smart-looking and easy-to-navigate website, through to an official email address and regularly-updated social media profiles – is a crucial part of launching and growing a microbusiness.
Consumers and business customers form a first impression of the companies they buy from quickly, so these factors matter to ensure that people have favourable perceptions of your firm from the very start. In fact, we’d argue that professional identity can be as important for business success as seed investment.
This also extends to the information you give to website visitors when they arrive. Consumer behaviour has shifted, and many now no longer go online to simply place orders. They want to hear about the story behind a brand and learn more about the products they are purchasing, especially when choosing to shop with small, independent retailers.
Building trust and loyalty is another advantage. As consumers become savvier to the risk of online scams and fraud, they want to feel reassured that they can get in touch with microbusinesses quickly and easily. Authoritative-looking telephone numbers, email addresses and chat functions undoubtedly help with this.
As a former entrepreneur myself, and now leading UK operations for GoDaddy – where our mantra is to empower everyday entrepreneurs – I know first-hand the role a professional identity can play in growing a business. Based on this expertise, we have compiled five top tips to help microbusiness owners build a stronger online presence:
Switch to a professional email address
Conducting business with a email address runs the risk of making you look unprofessional and sending the wrong impression. It’s best to change it up for something business-like, that sticks to your brand name.
Case in point: our customer Christiana Ajilore, who runs a ‘supper club with a twist’ called Eats and Beats, worked with us to create a professional email address to reach out to potential diners and brands for partnerships. She says: “Having a professional email address is invaluable when we need to connect with brands for partnerships – I doubt we’d be taken seriously if we emailed with a gmail address.”
As Eats and Beats is planning to expand its offering to corporate bookings and curating events for brands, having a professional identity will be essential for building strong professional relationships.
Invest in your own domain name and website
Having a website with your name in the title builds a more favourable reputation with customers and stakeholders. Put simply, it gives you a unique digital identity, and provides the brand you create with more credibility.
Update your personal social media profiles
Once you are Googled (and you will be), your social media profiles will be one of the top search results, so make sure they’re up to date. If it still says you’re a first-year student at Manchester University, you might not hook in the investors and customers that you’re after. A regular LinkedIn update is key, and be sure to include an up-to-date age, business, summary and preferably a professional headshot.
Conduct a social media audit
Social media is probably the biggest hurdle in ensuring a good professional online identity, especially given that most of us grew up with the internet and have documented our inner thoughts and photographs across a myriad of platforms since the early noughties. Conducting a social media audit – and ensuring you’re only sharing content that is good for business – is therefore crucial.
Creating social media pages for your business will also go a long way in establishing your professional presence and make your business look the real deal. Ensure you target the right social media channels for your business, create an impactful bio and continue to update the pages regularly with relevant content.
Make connections and build your network
Whether on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter or your website, ensure you’re making connections and building your network. Follow and reach out to entrepreneurs doing similar things or anyone in the industry you’re breaking into. While it may seem inconsequential, a mutual (and relevant) follower can often be the key to forming new partnerships and achieving entrepreneurial success.
Launching a new business can be equal parts exciting and daunting. There’s so much to do and so much to remember – but building a professional identity should be an item near the top of your list. It will be a key ingredient in ensuring long-term growth and success.