7 Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand
Maybe you own a business. Possibly you’re a sales rep or an insurance agent. You could also be a student, or an executive in corporate America. The truth is no matter where you are in life you have to be concerned with your personal brand.
I am an Inbound (Digital) Marketer by profession which means that I use the internet to market businesses and individuals. While this is a part of developing a personal brand I am going to focus on the not so technical aspect of improving your personal brand.
7 Simple Steps to Brand Bliss
- Be Unique-this cannot be over-stated. The cookie cutter method just will not work here. To stand out, to be memorable you have to be unique. That does not mean you have to be over the top outrageous, it just means you cannot imitate someone else.People have a keen sense and ability to be able to sniff out someone who is being phony. Overstating facts or exaggerating stories are almost always easily identified. A quick turn off; for me at least is someone who is obviously telling tall tales.
- Be Yourself-there is nothing worse than someone who tries to portray something they’re not. This kind of segues nicely from Being Unique. The easiest way to be identified as a fraud is to be someone you’re not. It’s nice to have people you look up to, maybe even carry a quote or 2 from them but ultimately you have to be yourself.Being Yourself is hard for some people. I am an introvert. That means I am not exactly a social butterfly, at least until I get comfortable around people. To counter that I have what I am told is a very dry sense of humor and sarcasm (I get it from my mother). Most people identify me with a quick wit, almost always wearing a tie, always talking about my kids and always willing to help another small business owner. These qualities describe who I have been pretty much my entire adult life.What qualities have you had your entire adult life? What personality traits can you translate into your brand?
- Be Personable-if people can’t approach you your brand is going to suffer. I often catch myself folding my arms. Folded arms sends a signal to others that you don’t want to be approached. In my case nothing could be further from the truth, it’s just comfortable for me but I am very conscious of the image I portray and correct it.Another way to be viewed as unapproachable is by burying your face in your smart phone or some reading material.Learn people’s names. There are lots of tips out there on how to remember people’s names. This is probably one of the best tips I can give you regarding being personable. I am very good at remembering names but many people are not. Use Google and research how to remember people’s names.
When you see someone you met before say Hi (Insert Name Here), how are you? How’s business? Even more impressive is remembering specific information relevant to that person.
For example….I received an email last week from someone who wanted to schedule a meeting with me. I have seen this person several times before at other networking events. I remembered that he worked a 9-5 but was also running a business after work hours. I also remembered what that business was and approximately where he lived. I responded with some times mentioning that I knew he worked during the day and we could meet near his home to make it more convenient for him. He replied back with how impressed he was with my memory.
I also would recommend not being negative in any way. Don’t put your competition down, or another person down. The first thing people will think is what is he/she saying about me when I am not around?
One of the most important tools in your arsenal will be a CRM. If you don’t already have one in use, get one. This will fill in the gaps with your leads/clients and fellow networkers.
- Be Honest-honesty is the best policy. It’s really that simple. If you’re not ready to commit to something just be up front. If you cannot do something for someone due to ability or prior commitments just tell the truth. If you’re not an expert on a topic, don’t make yourself out to be.
- Be the Expert-answering questions and offering quick solutions will quickly establish you as an expert in your arena. Everyone wants to work with an expert and everyone will go to the expert.Some of the best ways to establish yourself as an expert include podcasting, speaking engagements and awards/recognition. It will be difficult at first to get yourself recognized as an expert on something but with time and persistence you will get there.Networking will definitely help. So will the use of social media to join in on conversations regarding a topic that you want to be recognized as the expert in.
- Be Aware-people will talk but what are they saying. Monitor conversations to get an idea of how your brand is trending in your space. There are numerous ways to monitor conversations online, especially Twitter, and to a lesser degree Facebook.Google yourself occasionally to see if there has been any feedback that maybe you’re not aware of. Nothing can set a business back quicker than a negative comment, especially one that goes unanswered.Check some of the more popular directories such as Yelp, Bing and Yellow Pages to see if there are any reviews.
There are several local directory managers that can help you monitor these sites.
Lastly, survey your customers once in a while. Ask for feedback on how well you provide services or how they are enjoying your product. Even an occasional phone call, note or email just to see how things are going will go a long way with building trust and repeat business.
- Be Consistent-If you show up for one networking event wearing a 3 piece suit and the next event (of similar type) wearing shorts and a t-shirt you are not delivering a consistent personal brand.If you tell everyone you sell luxury cars one month, and then next month you’re selling computers..you’re not delivering a consistent message. Worse your audience is not going to remember what you do, or recognize you as the expert on a topic. A jack of all trades does not usually do well in business.Also be consistent with attendance. Not showing up for a monthly event for 6 months does not allow you to build a level of trust with other people.
Chances are whatever you’re in business for you have competition. While you can specialize in a niche of a particular product or service you will still likely have competition. At the end of the day you’re not selling your product or service, you’re selling yourself.
People want to do business with someone they know, like and trust. Gone are the days of picking a name out of the Yellow Pages. Just ask yourself how many times you have read posts on Facebook asking for recommendations on a plumber? How often do you take to Google to research before committing to making a purchase? Do you read the reviews? Guess what, others are reading reviews too! People usually post positive reviews about business and owners they know, like and trust.
If you’re trying to move up at work, or looking for a job out of school, it is still critical to build your brand. How many times have you heard of people getting promoted, or getting a job because of who they knew? How many times have you heard people ask how did John get that position when I know more than them? Get out there and network with industry professionals. Check out Meetup or Facebook for groups that get together and network with them. Stop watching TV!
Happy Personal Branding
Edit 3/20/15: I have added a Slide Share presentation based on thisblog post.