Building Personal Brand as a Tech Leader: How to Leverage Yours to Attract Opportunities

Personal Brand 1 (2)
by Taylor McAuliffe

Many startups don’t realize the value of establishing their own personal brands. With the rise of social media, that has closed the gap between promotion and community, there are endless opportunities to establish yourself as a tech leader that will yield opportunities for your company as you grow.

We talked with Stephanie Lipp, Co-founder and CEO of MycoFutures and Staci LaToison, Founding Partner of Dream Big Ventures and host of Her Money Moves podcast on the latest episode of TECH Uncensored. Both women have done an exceptional job at building their own personal brand in the tech space and provided quality insights for other founders striving to do the same.

Focus on value-add

As a thought leader in the tech space, the number one area founders should be focused on when building a personal brand is producing content that brings value to their audience. When it comes to social strategy, Lipp emphasizes that thought leaders should never post just to post. She discusses the importance of posting content that adds value to the ecosystem,

“I always ask how I’m bringing value, because I think it’s about the intent to bring other people value. You’ll get that returned many times over just by putting a good intent out there into the world.”

In the context of events and conferences, Lipp discusses how it can be easy to take a few photos of yourself and post about your attendance. However, to resonate with your audience thought leaders must post content that includes information that audiences will want to consume. Lipp encourages founders to use their critical voices to create content that discusses the key takeaways or lessons learned from the event,

“It’s about bringing value to whoever is reading the post so that they can feel like they were there, rather than seeing a bunch of selfies because then you don’t really get a sense of what the event was [about].” 

Similarly, LaToison stresses the importance of distributing value and advises founders to be intentional with their messaging,

“I’m very intentional with the messaging, I want to empower and inspire. And for those who were unable to attend the conference–maybe they couldn’t pay $500 for the ticket–they could feel like they were there, and they could experience and receive all the key takeaways.” 

Authenticity brings opportunities

Authenticity is crucial to building a personal brand that builds trust and fosters meaningful connections with your audience. Being transparent, genuine and true to your own values, beliefs and personality is what will make your brand relatable and set you apart from others in the crowded market. LaToison believes that presenting yourself authentically is key to creating a successful personal brand that fosters long-lasting relationships with your audience,

“It builds trust with the community, because you’re being genuine.” 

It’s important to remember that as a founder, your personal brand also reflects that of your startup. Lipp encourages founders to pay attention to the message they are sending in every social interaction and carry authenticity through all formats of communication, whether online or in person,

“It’s important to have consistency online and in person. You wouldn’t want me to covey a certain way in my post and then be entirely different in person. That’s not a nice surprise! When developing a personal brand remember what people will read out there, they will remember to carry that on into in my day-to-day actions and behavior.” 

While authenticity in business is an invisible force, it is powerful in creating meaningful connections that will provide further opportunities for yourself and your startup. LaToison reflects on the advantages of authenticity in her personal brand,

“There’s definitely an advantage. I have built a brand and a professional reputation for Dream Big Ventures, for Her Money Moves and for Staci LaToison. [Now] people can go out and they see what I’m doing. Oftentimes people in the community come to me and say, Staci, ‘I see you’re killing it. We’re so proud of you. What can I do to help and support you?’ And they want to partner with me.” 

Attracting the right audience

A well-established personal brand can open doors to investment opportunities. Founders can use their personal brand to showcase progress and dedication to investors and other industry partners. Lipp believes that brand building is a form of investment marketing and can have a strong impact on how investors perceive your company,

“As an early-stage founder and startup, there’s a lot of value and pressure on making progress because that’s a way to signal to investors and people that support you that you’re working hard and you’re making things happen. For me [a personal brand] was a great way to highlight that. It was a place to accumulate all my business activity and even just for myself to show how far we’ve come”.

Measuring efforts

Both founders agree that measuring the success of your personal branding efforts is important. Tracking key metrics such as engagement, impressions and conversions can help you to understand your audience and how they are receiving your content. LaToison states,

“It’s really important to track your analytics to know who is in your community and which audience most resonates with you.” 

A crucial aspect of building and growing a personal brand is to be open to adjusting your approach and messaging based on feedback you are receiving from your audience. Metrics will show you what is resonating with your audience, and founders can use that information to continue showing up in the most relevant and impactful way. More importantly, metrics will also provide feedback on performance, giving founders the space to reevaluate and adjust their brand.

Representation matters

Community is another significant aspect of building a personal brand. Sharing your story and engaging actively on social media platforms can help build a community that shares your vision and values. This is especially vital in the tech sector where representation is crucial. As a Latino female founder, LaToison talks about why it’s important for her to be on social media and share her knowledge and experiences with others,

“I want to make sure that there is representation so that others who are at these conferences and who are working in the corporations know that it is possible. You can do it too. Even though it might not look like it because you don’t see that every day. We are more than capable, and anything is possible.” 

Lipp also discusses the weight of using her social reach to build female representation in the tech industry,

“There’s value in taking the time to share the little wins. Talking about equality and representation, I never saw anyone that looked like me out there doing biotech and running a company. If there is someone else that happens along my profile and I look like them, they can resonate with me in some way and see that there’s all kinds of people that make a CEO. It’s not what we’ve just seen growing up. There’s possibility out there.”

Both founders reflect on their journey of building a personal brand over the past two years and the opportunities they have received from putting themselves out there,

“I’ve had so many opportunities to speak and be interviewed. It’s cool that I have a footprint out there now,”  says Lipp.

LaToison, who didn’t have a LinkedIn account until two years ago shares, “I had no idea that I would be an entrepreneur one day, but now when you look me up, you’ll see the podcast episodes, you’ll see me speaking at conferences, you’ll see that I’ve won some awards and you’ll see my book. I’ve have made a lot of progress and a lot of momentum in the last two years.”  

A personal brand not only helps to establish yourself as a thought leader in the space, but also contributes to the success of your startup. A personal brand is necessary for founders to build credibility, attract the right audience, increase access to investment and foster a strong and supportive community. The value that your brand puts out will determine the value you receive back. Lipp provided final words to founders who are just getting their startup off the ground stating that it is never too early to start building a personal brand,

“No matter how big your company is, the way you present yourself to the world is really valuable.” 

Looking to build your personal brand and scale your startup to new heights? Altitude Accelerator supports tech founders with a broad network of experienced advisors and investors. Check out our program offerings here.