Founders: It’s time to come out from behind the curtain of your business.

Yes, even if you don’t want to.

Yes, even if you’re an introvert.

Yes, even if you have 100 things on your plate that feel more important.

Here’s why:

Whether you set out to be the face of your company or not, becoming and staying visible in your industry in the age of personal branding is now more than just a “good idea” for your content strategy: in 2017, it’s a necessity.

We live and do business in a time where value and transparency are believed to go hand in hand. Having a human face tied to a brand is even proven to increase conversion rates, just because it makes buyers feel more connected to the company, and the people running it.

A total lack of presence can also harm your credibility: With increasing numbers of founders and CEO’s using social media, and writing on their company blogs, organizations whose leaders remain silent can find themselves labeled “inauthentic” at best, or “shady” at worst.

Why are more and more leaders now expected to step up their online presence?

According to Robert Cialdini’s Influence, studies prove that consumers are much more likely to trust and buy from a company with a CEO who’s known as an expert in their field.

The easiest way to build up your standing as an expert? Sharing your insights — on your blog, your social media feeds, and in the traditional media.

The best part about stepping into that spotlight and cementing yourself as a leading expert is that, with a little extra time and investment, you can create enormous additional value for your readers and customers. By sharing your thoughts on everything from industry trends, to company culture, to the future of your sphere, you also open an avenue to expose more potential patrons, readers, and members of the media to your message by creating more opportunities to attract new fans of both you, and your company’s brand.

So: How can you make this strategy work for you? What are the best practices for stepping out from behind your company logo, and onto the world stage?

Here’s how to step into your CEO spotlight, and turn your leadership into a marketing tool:

Step 1: Start with the basics.

If you haven’t already, add a brief profile of yourself with your photo to your Home page, or create an “About the Founder” page, or add short bio and headshot on your brand’s overall “About” page. Tell your story about who you are, what you do, why you created the company, and what makes it great

Also, be sure to identify yourself as “Founder of [Your Company]” on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and everywhere.

One important note here: Once you begin to prioritize this visibility, be prepared to become and stay consistent on your favorite social channels — preferably the ones that make the biggest waves in your industry.

The most crucial ingredient for success is to make sure you’re not simply re-sharing articles you didn’t write, or posting famous quotes. Set aside time to really interact with your audience, and share what’s on your mind to boost engagement. Consistency builds trust, so the more you’re saying and sharing, the more likely people are to follow you and your company.

Step 2: Begin creating blog content or article content in your name.

Yep, you’re about to hire yourself as a writer for your own blog!

But if writing’s not really your thing, don’t worry: you don’t actually have to be the one doing the writing. While ideally the concepts will come from your desk, content marketing pros and blog ghostwriters can step in to do the heavy word lifting on your behalf.

Not sure what to write about? Focus on articles that speak to your overall values and beliefs as a founder, and your company’s values and beliefs. Be creative. Discuss what you’re passionate about. Form and stick to your opinions. Give people a chance to get to know you.

Writing more articles, or having them written for you, also means more chances to expand your reach. Don’t be shy about pitching additional articles to larger publications like Business Insider, Forbes, the Huffington Post, and The Next Web, etc. to get your face out there on a grander scale.

Having well-received articles in your arsenal, on your company’s blog, and on respected platforms can also make you a more attractive candidate when it comes time to pitch yourself for interviews, talks, and podcast appearances if that’s what you’re aiming for.

Step 3: Offer more access to your expertise with freebies, video trainings, content upgrades, and products.

While these aren’t required steps, offering consumers additional ways to learn from you, and experience the value of your ideas, brand messaging, products, and offerings is an incredible way to welcome more potential customers and raving fans into your world.

If you’re looking to ease into a larger role within your own industry — as a sought-after speaker, or event-leader for example — providing a collection of resources that feature your concepts and insights is the absolute best way to build up your fan base.

Here are a few ways to do that:

      • Host a live webinar (then offer the recording to those who opt-in)
      • Write an eBook
      • Do a Facebook live Q&A
      • Create “How-To”/[Your Industry 101]” guides for your audience
      • Start communities (on Facebook, Slack, or elsewhere)
      • Run a local workshop

As a founder, you don’t just deserve to take center stage. These days, your visibility must be a core component of your marketing strategy.

In 2017, lead generation is essential, and creating your own content strategy around that is priceless for your credibility, visibility, and overall brand trust. While it might seem almost trivial compared to fundraising, recruitment, sales, strategy and other ‘important’ tasks, failing to promote yourself as the heart of your business isn’t just a mistake — it can also cost you loyal customers in the long run.

For a few great examples to watch: Nate Silver of Five Thirty Eight, Clark Valberg of Invision, Mikael Cho of Crew. These leaders do a great job of both tapping into their company’s larger message, and turning themselves into approachable, go-to experts in their fields.

There’s never been a better time to step out into the world, and put your expertise to work in places other than the conference room.

So come on out. We can’t wait to see you.