What exactly is a personal brand anyway? It is credibility, increased sales, respect for the individual and the organisation and the ability to communicate a unique message to your target market. One that strikes a true chord with them and echoes throughout their networks.So what are the steps to first developing and protecting your own personal brand well into the future?
1. What’s your angle? (Grow some balls!)
Marketers harp on all the time about developing our USP (unique selling point). We try and tune them out but unfortunately they’re right (and too damn loud!) We need to clearly establish what our unique perspective is on our industry, topic of conversation and our opinions relevant to our consumers needs. Quit sitting on the fence, believe what you believe in and communicate that to your consumers. You’re going to piss some people off but you’re also going to develop raving fans who are going to stalk your business and tell everyone about you.
2. What types of images and styles do you represent?
Your images include everything from your email communications (if you have a Hotmail/Gmail account, upgrade it now – you look cheap) through to your website, brochures, business cards, personal presence and your actions associated with your clients. Take a look at the images you use throughout and ask yourself honestly: “What does this say about me and my business?” Ask friends who aren’t willing to skirt around the edges and give you their personal opinion. Honesty counts. After all, it could be costing you!
3. How is the brand communicated? (You’ve got it, so flaunt it! And flaunt it shamelessly!)
To supercharge your own personal profile and build your brand, your motto from now on is, “Be everywhere, all the time!” And even when you can’t be there, you are there because people are talking about you. Consistently attend the same networking events until you become a regular. Become instantly recognisable at various business events because you’re well established and networked.
4. Personal styling – your clothes count
I recently attended a business networking breakfast. From where I was sitting, all I could see was a sea of black suits, with ties that dated back to the early 50s and an interesting wave of comb-overs. Excuse me, but when was running your own business all about fitting in? The point of advertising and marketing is to stand out – including your clothes. Now, I’m not talking about wearing a pink suit (even though that could work). I’m talking about wearing a grey pinstriped suit when you know that everyone else is going to be in corporate black. Fitting in screams uninnovative, boring, uninspiring and even rigid. Is this the message you’re wanting to communicate to your customers? My guess is no! Regularly update your clothes and ensure you’re always looking fresh and inspired.
Protecting your brand
Once you’ve worked your butt off to achieve the above, it’s now time to protect your personal brand and reputation. One slip up could destroy all of it. Be aware that if you build your business from networking then you can also destroy it from networking. Bad word of mouth spreads like rapid fire. That’s why if you ever hear any unfavourable feedback about your business you must jump on it straight away. Find the source of the feedback and pick up the phone. Come from a place of love and respect and ask the individual if you can assist in any way regarding your service or, if it is another business, ask if you can be of any help (i.e. refer them business). Never approach them head on, as this will add fuel to the fire.
Remember, you are the brand of your business. Develop it, work it, leverage it constantly. And most importantly, never allow it to go stale.Ben Angel is the Founding Director of Nationwide Networking, a business networking group that meets monthly to share referrals, access key business knowledge and network with pre-matched business connections.
For your FREE business audio download entitled “How to Increase Your Business Success in Under 30 Days!” visit www.nationwidenetworking.com.au/freedownload