Creating a Personal Brand
By Laurie Brown
was a small boy his father asked him, “What do you want to be when
you grow up?” David thought about it for a minute and answered, “I
don’t know what I want to be, but I know that I don’t
want to be a salesman.” “That’s too bad,” his father
responded. “Because, whatever you want
to be, you have to be a salesman.”
It is so
true. People are always selling. They sell their products, their
services, their ideas and most importantly, they sell themselves. No
matter what you do for a living, you are a salesperson.
will help someone succeed in this world of “sales”? Let’s take a
look at how branding can help you sell yourself more successfully. What is a
brand? It is simply the emotional reaction and attachment that a
customer has to their total experience with a company, product or
service. Judgments about brand are created in the hearts and minds of
understand the importance of branding. In this very competitive
marketplace, it is more critical than ever that they differentiate
themselves from their competition. Success depends on being visible;
standing out and rising above the crowd. Managing their brand allows
companies to grab attention and gain a hold on the hearts and minds of
may be thinking, how can someone maximize their brand as an
individual? How can a person harness the power of brand, to help them
stand out from the crowd—to demonstrate the value they add? A
personal brand provides a person the same benefits as a corporate
brand. Your brand is what you represent; what you stand for in the
hearts and minds of others. It is not posing, pretending or posturing.
It is about who you are every day consistently, and who you are
working to become.
attempt to manage your personal brand, remember that everyone makes
split second decisions about the world and the people with whom they
come in contact. While you are taking in data and forming opinions
about the people around you, they are doing the same. The way you
dress, what your business card says, your tone of voice, your body
language, your work ethic and the words you use.
These all form mini impressions in the hearts and minds of
others. These impressions are brand touch points, and collectively
they form your brand image. You need to remain aware of and responsive
to how your everyday actions create the impressions others have of
you, so you can constantly shape your brand to maximize your value.
of where you are in the development of your image, there are five
areas that you need to focus on:
you like it or not, you are judged on your appearance. The moment
you walk into a room, people’s mental checklists come into play. Are
you well dressed? Check. Is your hairstyle both flattering
and contemporary? Check. Do you look well groomed? Check. Do
you look successful? Check.
free spirits have said, “I’m not concerned with shallow things
like clothes. My clothes express my personality.” Yes,
they do. But think about what message you’re sending about
yourself. Is your message, “I don’t care what you think?”
The key isn’t having the most extravagant wardrobe; it’s taking
the time to look appropriate for the setting and situation.
want to be judged on merit; but if you don’t make a positive
physical impression, you may never get a chance to impress others with
your knowledge and skill.
you communicate: No matter how
wonderful your physical impression, you have to support it with good
communication skills. Have you ever watched a presentation given
by someone who is slump-shouldered, can’t look you in the eye and
bores you to tears with their lack-luster voice? Don’t let that
Your body language needs to say that you are confident and
relaxed. Good posture and appropriate gestures say that you are
sure of what you’re saying and enthusiastic about your topic. Comfortable
eye contact says that you believe what you’re saying. Varying your
vocal tone, pitch and pace says you are motivated to keep the person
you’re talking to interested and that you are worth listening to.
vocal skills are even more important when communicating on the phone
because the person on the other end doesn’t have the benefit of
you do: You can promise people
the world, but if you don’t follow through, your promises are
meaningless. For example, you can assure someone that you make it a
practice to always be on time; but when you show up late you are
sending quite another message. Your actions don’t match your words. Though
people may not notice when you are punctual, every time you are late
you leave a negative impression. The message received is that you made
the person you are meeting a low priority, whereas showing up on time
or a little early indicates that you consider that person and the time
you will be spending with him very important.
attitude goes beyond punctuality. You need to be seen as someone
others can count on in a pinch. Ask yourself these questions:
Can you be depended on to follow through no matter
Are you the go-to person who consistently gives
more than is asked for?
Are you able to multi-task with grace?
Is your word your bond?
Yes to these questions, and
you will deserve the confidence you’re seeking.
4. What you know:
You probably don’t like to appear to be bragging about your
accomplishments. No one likes the guy who flaunts his fancy
degrees and financial successes. However, that’s a far cry
from sharing the very things that qualify you as an expert on
something. If you’re asking people to believe that you know
what you’re doing and/or to take your advice, you need to tell them
why their confidence in you is justified. What makes you
qualified will vary with what you’re trying to do, sell or teach. Perhaps
it will be years of experience, a long and/or varied job history, an
advanced education or a depth of research. The key is in giving
your listener the information needed to make an informed decision.
5. How you reach out: Letter writing is an art. You need to make
your communication compelling and effective. People will also want to
do business with you based on what they see on paper.
e-mails are intended to be less formal methods of communication than
written letters, you still have to be aware of proper e-mail
etiquette, which includes correct grammar, spelling and punctuation.
Mistakes in these areas make you look unprofessional or uneducated.
as small as your business card can have a big impact how you are
viewed. When you hand someone a tattered card that has writing on the
back, you are leaving an impression that you are not prepared to do
everyday you have the ability to either support your current brand or
enhance its power by supporting these five brand touch points. Create
a powerful image that sells.
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