Don’t let com­peti­tors scoop up the best tal­ent. Instead, build and mar­ket a strong per­son­al brand, broad­cast it con­sis­tent­ly on social media and back it up with busi­ness deci­sions.

No one does per­son­al brand­ing bet­ter than Lady Gaga. Her Super Bowl half­time per­for­mance, while not as brazen­ly polit­i­cal as some would have expect­ed, still show­cased every­thing that helped build her rabid fan base: out­ra­geous cos­tumes, mag­net­ic stage pres­ence, breath­tak­ing vocals and a dash of social com­men­tary.

As a strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­fes­sion­al and busi­ness leader with more than 20 years of expe­ri­ence, I’ve come to appre­ci­ate the impor­tance of curat­ing a strong per­son­al brand — par­tic­u­lar­ly when you’re still in start­up mode.

Often, we asso­ciate per­son­al brand­ing with bla­tant self-pro­mo­tion, and yes, it’s a great way to build up your rep­u­ta­tion as an indus­try leader, but it’s so much more than that. Your per­son­al brand encom­pass­es the offer­ings you deliv­er; the assort­ment of val­ues you advo­cate for; and the unique resources, skills and knowl­edge you bring to the table. A well-craft­ed one can help you gain a com­pet­i­tive edge and boost brand equi­ty, and it can even act as a high­ly valu­able recruit­ment tool.

The ques­tion is this: How can you tap into your per­son­al brand to attract and retain like-mind­ed inno­va­tors who will pow­er your bud­ding busi­ness?

1. Foster a genuine personal brand that people want to rally around

Though you prob­a­bly don’t have the high vis­i­bil­i­ty of Lady Gaga, you are the face of your start­up, and, espe­cial­ly in the begin­ning of your business’s life, your per­son­al brand and your com­pa­ny brand will like­ly be one and the same. When you can project an authen­tic one, you’ll attract indi­vid­u­als who want to ral­ly around you and your company’s mis­sion. In turn, your work­force will be more engaged, pro­duc­tive and loy­al, accord­ing to Gallup.

In the cor­po­rate world, South­west Air­lines CEO Gary Kel­ly is the embod­i­ment of his company’s atti­tude. His cus­tomer-first stance and relaxed demeanor mesh seam­less­ly with the company’s over­all brand image, and he takes his role of ral­ly­ing employ­ees around the cul­ture seri­ous­ly. As a result, sev­er­al of Southwest’s 53,000-plus employ­ees are long-stand­ing, and it’s rat­ed as one of the best places to work in the Unit­ed States on Glass­door.

Back in start­up land, you can start by active­ly writ­ing arti­cles and shar­ing your per­son­al val­ues, beliefs, ideas and opin­ions in the mar­ket­place. Prospec­tive employ­ees will search online for infor­ma­tion about you and your com­pa­ny while they’re in the ear­ly stages of con­sid­er­ing work­ing for you. Make sure there’s plen­ty out there for them to read before they even come for the first inter­view.

Once you’ve caught their atten­tion, be an active part of the inter­view process. Although the pri­ma­ry focus is on learn­ing about prospec­tive employ­ees, you can also use this oppor­tu­ni­ty to share high­lights from your own lead­er­ship nar­ra­tive — how did you get to where you are today, what chal­lenges have you faced and over­come and what is your lead­er­ship style?

Mul­ti­ple stud­ies have shown that it takes only sec­onds for some­one to form an ini­tial and often­times last­ing impres­sion of you, so make sure you’re speak­ing gen­uine­ly — or risk com­ing off as insin­cere to the best can­di­dates. Being open about your own jour­ney allows them to under­stand and con­nect with you bet­ter and cre­ates a stronger draw to work for you. In the end, to trust the com­pa­ny, can­di­dates need to trust you.

2. Use social media to amplify your brand message

Just 10 years ago, CEOs weren’t required to be vis­i­ble at all — much less main­tain a pres­ence on social media. Today, peo­ple expect them to be active online embod­i­ments of the brands they rep­re­sent.

Though Kel­ly is the CEO of a com­pa­ny that Mar­ket Watch said broke $20 bil­lion in rev­enue last year — not the founder of a 10-per­son start­up — his per­son­al brand remains an impor­tant part of Southwest’s strat­e­gy. On Twit­ter, he gives cred­it to those around him, adver­tis­es cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion awards, lauds Southwest’s employ­ee prof­it-shar­ing pro­gram and sends the occa­sion­al per­son­al shoutout.

Kel­ly doesn’t just do it for the cus­tomers, though. Accord­ing to Altime­ter Group and LinkedIn, social engage­ment makes com­pa­nies 58 per­cent more like­ly to attract bet­ter employ­ees. Bet­ter employ­ees cre­ate a bet­ter prod­uct, attract more cus­tomers and make investors hap­py. If per­son­al brand­ing can help cre­ate this effect for a com­pa­ny this large, imag­ine how big a dif­fer­ence a smart­ly brand­ed start­up founder could make.

But before you start tweet­ing willy-nil­ly, be very clear about the image you want to show­case. Avoid pro­ject­ing incon­sis­tent — or worse — con­flict­ing mes­sages online. Just as you may use social media to research can­di­dates, they’re doing the same to deter­mine what kind of com­pa­ny leader you are. That said, make sure to stay focused in your efforts.

I try not to be too scat­tered in my social con­tent. Instead, I have a few key areas I com­mon­ly write and share about — such as lead­er­ship and entre­pre­neur­ship. Pick two or three areas that match up with your pas­sions, and start a con­ver­sa­tion on those top­ics. That will help you stand out more in those spaces.

Go beyond mere words to incor­po­rate visu­als. The more visu­al the con­tent, the more oth­ers are will­ing to engage with and remem­ber it. Accord­ing to an exper­i­ment test­ing the Pic­ture Supe­ri­or­i­ty Effect, when peo­ple mere­ly hear infor­ma­tion, they can only recall about 10 per­cent of it three days lat­er. Where­as peo­ple can recall 65 per­cent of the same infor­ma­tion three days lat­er if a rel­e­vant image is paired with it.

Per­son­al­ly, I’m very active on Insta­gram and look for ways to tie pic­tures in to my brand. I’ve also found Face­book Live to be very effec­tive in engag­ing with oth­ers, par­tic­u­lar­ly around con­tent from my new book, “Lead­ing Through the Turn.” Whether you uti­lize videos, pho­tos or designed con­tent such as quotes, visu­als will make your con­tent more attrac­tive, digestible and mem­o­rable.

Don’t let com­peti­tors scoop up the best tal­ent. Instead, build and mar­ket a strong per­son­al brand, broad­cast it con­sis­tent­ly on social media and back it up with busi­ness deci­sions — because when it comes to plac­ing trust in a com­pa­ny, it all starts at the top.