Your glowing red tie that everyone can see from across a busy city street, the gleaming white smile, the perfectly pressed suit or designer pumps, the fancy name badge you always wear to try and stand out, the robust strides you take when you enter a room that creates an air of confidence are just not enough to build your personal brand anymore. There will certainly always be a place for the Fuller Brush salesperson approach and some may be fooled by pomp and circumstance, but today’s buyers are savvier than ever and they want substance.
I remember buying my first business suit at Today’s Man when I was 21 and being so proud and confident that I could actually look the part of a successful person. I felt like a million bucks, but in reality I looked like $124.95 off the sale rack. No one was impressed. I quickly learned that playing the part was not nearly enough. I needed to be able to deliver for my prospects and clients to earn the respect and credibility I needed to grow my business and advance my own skills.
So I hit the streets.
Cold calling, telemarketing, and getting to every networking event and industry gathering I could humanly make it to. Within a remarkably short period of time I realized that more and more people knew who I was and they were recommending me to their friends, clients, and colleagues. Without much thought, in these early days I was building my personal brand of excellence and people were taking notice of my prowess in the heavily trafficked payroll services industry. It was nice to be in demand and even better to have folks calling me for a change.
Fast forward 17 years: I’ve built my own successful company with 35 employees and thousands of clients, founded a bank, invested in various industries, got married, had two kids, bought a commercial building, become a regular on Fox Business as a small business expert. And all the while building the skills and knowledge that helped shape my personal brand; the motivated, entrepreneurial go-getter that wants to help others succeed to live their American dream. That’s my brand….oh, and my suits are a little snazzier now.
Brand is defined by Wikipedia as “the set of emotional and sensory inputs a consumer associates with a particular product or service in their episodic memory system.
” A personal brand can be similarly expressed, except YOU are the brand, not a product or service. So how do you craft whatever it is that you want your brand to be? It took me a long time and I did not really think of how it impacted my businesses and life up until about five years ago. You can do it more expeditiously if you use a formula that fits your personal ethical, spiritual, and business desires and beliefs.
Ask yourself these questions:
Who do you want the world to see?
Tough guy, sporty lady, brilliant thinker, the best-darn lawn mower repair person. Whatever it is pick a direction and don’t deviate unless you have to.
Why should anyone listen?
Presumably you are really what you portend to be and you are good at what you do and others will WANT to hear what you have to say….that always works best. Absent of real talent, drive, or ability this becomes a lot more difficult, but not impossible to have your personal brand work.
How do I get it out to the world
No one has unlimited time and resources. Start small. Use the social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others to build your voice and imagery in a consistent manner. Comment regularly on highly read blogs in your industry. You physical presence is necessary for this to work as well; don’t hide in the virtual world. Get out in there and become knows as a leader in your industry by actually BEING a leader. Think Tony Robbins, Gary Vanynerchuck, and Seth Godin. (will link to articles here)
What do I want my personal brand connected with?
What should your brand be synonymous with? Make sure you steer your brand in the right direction. For example, when you think of George Foreman, do you think of the boxer? Probably not. The first thought that comes to mind is his heavy marketed grill that has become a kitchen staple. Brand, connection, success!
Does your brand compliment your mission statement?
Make sure that your brand aligns with your personal mission statement. Mine is inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit to get American businesses back on their feet.
Hey, who are you anyway?
Build your credibility. You may have the coolest brand in the world, but if no one knows who you are it will not help much. Attend industry conferences and become a sought-after leader in your field. Become a fixture on the speaker circuit. Take advantage of every opportunity to practice and hone your speaking skills. Host lectures for clients, partners, prospects, and the general community, contribute to articles both in print and online, and help out members of your local community.
Formulas and tactics are meant to be morphed, twisted and turned on their heads. Don’t be afraid to try something different to get the attention you need to move forward. You can make your brand like nobody else can; because you’re just simply YOU.
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