My name is Daniel James Scott. I’ve been an advocate general for Florida’s largest technology hub as the Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum.
I have a fairly common name and for a long time I went by Dan Scott. It’s generic both locally and around the globe. But you can’t become known if your name is common. People like things are different; they notice things that are different. So I decided to have a professional brand name that I could market, which was my complete name, Daniel James Scott.
In Tampa Bay and in my area of entrepreneurship, there is no other person by this specific name. Now, regardless of what my family or friends call me, I’m called professionally by one consistent thing. It’s extremely important to realize that people are always seeking consistency from you. Build that consistency into your brand.
Make Sure People Know Who You Are: Why Biographies Are Vital
Biographies are vital; it’s the currency in which we trade. Imagine going to do a job interview without a resume. Before entrepreneurship became prominent, it was code name for being in between jobs. Now everybody’s calling themselves an entrepreneurship. Being able to define yourself as an entrepreneur in a bio is vital.
Headshots visually communicate to somebody what you look like and the value you bring. It’s important to have your own headshot as opposed to a company photo where everyone looks the same. When you’re able to offer a headshot, you’re able to communicate a message of who you are as person.
How LinkedIn Can Help You Build Your Brand
You don’t necessarily have to build a website. There’s so much value in building your LinkedIn profile into something that can communicate your message on your behalf. And frankly, LinkedIn will beat a website every time. I have a professional website that is used predominantly for speaking opportunities; it has a very directed purpose.
On the other hand, on LinkedIn I can communicate specific measurable impact. I can communicate the impact I had on my students or on the culture of my institution. I can show pictures of awards that we won to really shape the story. Web presence is just so important that it’s vital to be able to control that message.
Different Branding Statements for Different Audiences
There’s something valuable about differentiating significantly between your “about page” (for the value you bring) and the front page (for validating social proof). So on the front page of my website, I have a celebrity reading a story about me because that’s the social proof. The about page is very specifically about getting somebody to understand who I am and where I come from.
My branding statement changes all the time depending on the audience. I don’t have a broad statement that I use, but I do have a tag that I could apply to different scenarios. It’s important that no matter the situation, you still stick to the core story of the value you bring to the world. It’s something you can work on for your entire life, but also should be encapsulated in 30 seconds as not to distract from your actual business.
Establishing Yourself as a Thought Leader in the Modern World
Leadership used to be about writing for Forbes or the Huffington Post, but that’s an outdated concept. Now it’s about consistency and fostering an audience that’s uniquely your own. If you are good at creating the written word, then by all means, make that the currency you trade in.
If you like making videos, then do that on a consistent basis. Everything that you are not good at should be automated or outsourced. Focus on what you’re good at and do that a lot: that’s how you build a consistency around the content that is “you.”
Keep Consistent Habits
Habits are built on a daily basis, not weekly or monthly. I don’t touch social media, but during the week I’m very consistent; something will go out every single morning. I try to visit each social media platform once a day to engage. I retweet people who communicate the same message as I do.
If a friend is sharing a personal message, I try to reply or at least communicate with that individual. It’s more habit than anything else, and if it’s a habit, then social media really shouldn’t take more than a few minutes each day.
Build Your Brand By Supporting Your Community
If you’re not supporting the community, the community has no responsibility of supporting you back. Part of our responsibility is to build a great company and be a fantastic boss. But then we also always have the responsibility of making sure that we are kind and generous in a community. It’s the number one thing.
In storytelling, there is no such thing as a book with the front cover and a back cover and a certain number of pages. People will find your story in a myriad of ways. For example, a bio is the best place to show people who you really are because that bio will be published every time you go somewhere.
So if I want to be known as an serial entrepreneur, I need to be using that adjective from day one. We can shape how people perceive us before we even opened our mouths by leveraging that consistency around story.
Try to be everywhere at all times. I subscribe to as much as I can, the local startup digests, the IT News ― anything that offers me an opportunity. I don’t think there’s an event that runs here in the greater Tampa Bay area that I haven’t spoken at, and it’s not because somebody called me, it’s because I reached out.
Be Heard: Why Public Speaking is Important
Public speaking opportunities allow you to build up your repertoire so you can take those skills to future potential employers or investors.
The entrepreneurs who I work with or mentor have a certain respect the work that they do. However, they have a very difficult time standing behind that respect because entrepreneurs often move onto the next thing. In order words, we tend to get overly passionate about things for a while before we mature out of that phase.
I almost never see successful entrepreneurs honoring their work on a consistent basis. When I work with entrepreneurs, I tell them to always apply to any speaking engagement or potential honor. And if you have a headshot, a bio, and website, you have almost everything you would need apply to any opportunity.
Until you build a journalist network with that is willing to accept you as a thought leader and as a trusted resource, you need shortcuts to get yourself out there. I am a huge proponent of press releases, which are words that you get to write and are published verbatim.
There are press release sites that will put your news in the Wall Street Journal. It’s not content that remains forever, but now I have a screenshot of my words in that publication. Now you can quote yourself in that publication, and journalists in the future will describe your business using those words as well. It’s a way you can build that social proof immediately and buy credibility.
Daniel James Scott
Daniel James Scott serves as executive director of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, one of the nation’s largest technology councils, and on the board of directors for the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant & Research, the only combined eye bank and ocular research center in the world. Previously, Daniel’s work as founding associate director of the Entrepreneurship program at USF St. Petersburg earned him the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship’s “Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Program” award and the Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship’s “Educator of the Year” award.
Additional honors for his community leadership include being named the US Small Business Administration’s 50th Anniversary State of Florida “Business Advocate of the Year,” a three-time national Small Business Influencer “Community Choice” honoree, and a four-time Tampa Bay Business Journal “Up & Comers” honoree.