There Buzz About You?
The Power of Building a Personal Brand
By Suzanne Bates
Word of mouth is the most powerful force in
business. Who doesn’t
want to have other people “buzzing” about them?
If people respect you, like you and have a good experience with
you (or hear about it from someone else) they hire you, promote you
and do business with you. But
how do you get people buzzing about you?
Let’s look at how big companies do it—Nike, for
recognizes the famous swoosh logo on shoes, hats, shirts and golf
bags. That logo has power.
But its power was not the result of a multi-million dollar
Back in 1971, a graphic design student at Portland
State University named Carolyn Davidson was hired to “just do it”
- create a logo for the side of a running shoe.
She was paid the princely sum of $35.
Carolyn had a moment of creative genius!
It resulted in a symbol that became ubiquitous on Nike gear.
Twelve years later the company gave her a gold Swoosh ring
embedded with a diamond, along with a certificate and an undisclosed
amount of Nike stock. Today the company reports net revenues of $13.7
You don’t need to have a big budget or a multi-million dollar ad
agency to build a personal brand!
It’s about focusing on how to communicate effectively - using
your wits. A creative,
thoughtful approach to delivering the message will get people saying
positive things about you. If
you and your message are interesting, and if you get out and deliver
that message often enough, you are going to develop a powerful
Sometimes people try to make it too complicated.
A personal brand is really nothing more than a message, and a
message is a thought – it’s what people think, when they think of
What comes to mind when people see you?
Or hear your name? That’s
your personal brand. It’s
the sum total of what people know about you – what they think of you
after you’ve had a conversation, given a speech, or they’ve seen
you in the public eye in some way.
So every time you speak, you are branding yourself, and it’s important
to think strategically about what and how you are delivering that
conversations, presentations, emails, phone calls and conversations in
the hallway all send signals. Are
you talking about big ideas? Are
you clear, concise, and interesting?
Do people appear to sit up and pay attention when you speak?
People have a feeling about others, almost as soon as they meet and work
with them. They continue
to shape that feeling with the more interactions they have.
Pretty soon, they see them walking down the hall, and something
registers, positive or negative. It’s
within your power to make that feeling positive.
constitutes a strong personal brand?
There are 7 aspects of a powerful personal brand.
A personal brand:
something of value
positive word of mouth
Results in professional and financial success
Some people have all the tools to create a strong,
personal brand – but they just can’t get the ball rolling to get
their name out there. They’ve
got great ideas, and a semi-recognizable name, but there’s no buzz
about them. So how do you
create buzz? One way is to
start speaking, in formal and informal settings.
Speaking is perhaps the single best way to establish yourself
as an expert in any business or industry.
inside and outside your company or industry positions you as an expert
for several reasons:
Many of your
colleagues or competitors don’t do it
People assume if
you are speaking on a topic you are an expert
promote your talk
You are center
stage which automatically gives you credibility
If you give a
valuable talk, people remember you
If they remember
you, you become top of mind – you are the one they think of when
they are referring someone for new business, promotions, other
speaking engagements, etc.
people say, "I don’t really have opportunities to speak."
But finding opportunities to speak is easier than you think.
Here are some tips on finding opportunities:
If you’re a
business owner or entrepreneur, call to ask organizations where you
are a member if you can speak
Ask all of your
local business and community organizations, from the Chamber of
Commerce, to the Lions Club.
trying to develop your reputation inside an organization, look for
opportunities there. Many
companies sponsor brown bag lunches, panels, and have off sites where
you can present your ideas. Put
your hand up to present in team meetings; by volunteering and putting
it on your calendar you automatically create a deadline that forces
you to go into action and prepare a great presentation
Start small with
friendly audiences if you haven’t done much speaking, until you
develop confidence and have a chance to test out your
presentations—figure out what a small friendly audience is for you
– it might be a team meeting, your church group, or the Rotary Club
As you develop
confidence, push yourself to accept bigger assignments
Pitch to speak
at regional conferences of professional associations and
organizations, attend events where your clients or customers or
colleagues go, get to know the executive directors or presidents of
those organizations and ask if they are looking for speakers
The more you do,
the more confident you become and the better your material is because you have tested
it out. Speaking brings
more speaking, as people hear you speak and like you they invite you
to speak for other organizations.
benefit of this is not only that you are getting in front of these
audiences – you are getting other people to market for you.
You aren’t just getting exposure to the 50 people who show
up. Your name is going out
on their stationery, email newsletter or web site to the thousands of
members on their list. That’s powerful marketing.
And it doesn’t cost you anything.
Wherever you are today in your professional life,
you can start sending strong, positive signals that will cut through
the clutter of day to day business and create buzz about you.
Everyone has the power to create their own positive personal brand.
In fact, you could argue, they must, if they want to succeed in
a competitive, global economy. It’s
up to you to create the strategy and messages needed to create a buzz
and a powerful brand.
Read other articles and learn more
about Suzanne Bates.
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