Business: Perfecting Your Personal Brand

LUXE Ambition - Personal Branding

The impression you make both on and offline can make or break crucial relationships when starting or running a business.

According to Nielsen, 15 percent of people trust brand messages but 90 percent will believe a recommendation from a peer, family member or friend. How you show up on social media and in person is as important as your business branding and the two together can make a powerful combination.

Before you perfect your personal brand, here are four questions to ask:

1. What’s my professional purpose?

Why you do what you do is as important as your output. Most of us have to work to pay the bills, but what is it, other than money, that gets you out of bed in the morning?

It might be the thrill of building a business and watching it and your employees grow and flourish. It might be dedicating your career to non-profit causes or a particular industry such as healthcare or animal welfare.

Whatever it is, being able to articulate a purpose higher than earning cash will help motivate you through hard times and give your personal brand some depth and tenacity.

2. Where do I want to be in three years?

We’ve all heard of the five-year plan, but I suggest that’s too long a timeframe given how fast business and technology is moving in the 21st century. Three years is plenty of time to start, grow and even exit a business, but having a personal as well as a business plan will help give you something positive to look back on and provide a solid foundation for any future entrepreneurial endeavors.

When people come to me for our personal branding services, they think we can magically transform them into thought leaders pretty much over night. It doesn’t work like that. Having a truly approachable personal brand that smacks of experience and success can take years to achieve, and it needs a proper plan.

3. What don’t I want to be known for?

For your personal brand to have any equity, it needs to be clear what you stand for, but what about what you don’t want to be known for? Entrepreneurs are becoming increasingly time starved, so how do you filter out accidental time-wasters? 

Through your social media profiles and what you share online you need to be clear what you’re not about so your brand becomes more targeted and you see a better return on your time and effort.

4. Who are my business heroes?

Digital and social media now gives us closer access to the great minds in our industries who can inspire us on a daily basis. So if you’re following Richard Branson or Mark Cuban on LinkedIn, Barbara Corcoran or Oprah Winfrey on Twitter or Seth Godin or Avinash Kaushik’s blog, try and picture yourself in their position. What could you write about and how would you inspire others with your experience and smarts?

Building your personal brand isn’t all about you. Those people in your niche who are most successful are probably great listeners who sow as much as they reap. Figure out what makes these people your business heroes and try and inject some of the way they make you feel into your daily interactions with people.

Building the perfect personal brand isn’t an overnight affair that will bring you instant rewards. It’s about finding and nurturing the building blocks of your brand that over time leave more of a positive and lasting impression on your target audience.

Having the answers to these questions will undoubtedly kick-start that process and set you on the road to success.

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Business: Power of Consistency

 Image Credit -  lensman Josh Olins

Image Credit - lensman Josh Olins

Of the three Cs of personal branding (clarity, consistency and constancy), consistency is the most effective.

Take yourself out of yourself for a minute. Pretend you’re not you. Let’s say you’re someone else – an objective third party – and you’re conducting an evaluation of your personal brand across all the varied platforms and channels upon and through which you operate.

  1. When you meet people for the first time, what do you talk about?
  2. If you drove a van, what would be written on its side?
  3. Are people ever surprised when they meet the ‘real’ human you?
  4. Is your phone voice different to your normal voice?
  5. What’s your email ‘voice’ like? Different? Similar? Identical?
  6. Do all of your social media accounts ‘sound’ and look different?

If you’ve answered “Yes” or “I don’t know” several times, it’s time to talk about personal brand consistency, and how to sustainably achieve it.

Why is this important? It’s important because if your personal brand defines who you are, what you do professionally, your personal life, and the message you project online, it stands to reason that all of these elements should match up. Right? After all, people like to know what to expect from you, it gives them comfort and puts them at ease.

Step 1: Image

This is the easiest one. To help people identify and remember your personal brand and promise, be sure that you have a consistent photo, logo and colour scheme across all your social media accounts, marketing material and promotional content. This will help people associate visual icons or images with your brand.

And, if you’re going to have a corporate identity, get an expert to guide you on what will make you stand out in your industry in terms of colors, styles, icons, etc.

Step 2: Behavior

Match what you say (in writing and verbally) with how you act in real life. Each in-person interaction, whether professional or personal, is similar to a job interview. You’re being evaluated, whether you’re aware of it or not. So ensure that you’re ‘living’ your brand in terms of speech, body language, conduct and conversation.

For example, if you’re able to be outspoken online and yet you speak in a soft, timid voice when you’re in front of a small audience, you may need to re-think your presentation skills, so they match the strength and power of your e-insights.

Step 3: Corporate

Every time you attend a meeting, conference, seminar, talk, networking event or workplace function, be mindful of what others are experiencing about you – especially in the context of what you want others to experience about you.

Are you the person who always asks questions? Do you have value to add? Are you sincere and friendly? Or do you prefer to remain silent and absorb what’s going on? Are you more of a learner than a teacher? Are you more reserved?

Step 4: Digital

To build your personal brand you need to promote it by being (or appearing to be) everywhere. Have a social media presence, create your own website and/or blog and ‘show up’ in places where your expertise might be needed or appreciated.

And once you start, don’t stop! This is a big part of consistency. The moment you start engaging via social media, you cannot allow your brand to go quiet. You also can’t afford to pick and choose. Beware of only being responsive sometimes (when business is quiet, for example) or favoring some channels over others.

Step 5: Local

When putting yourself out there, don’t limit yourself to the online world, target your community as well. Check out small businesses, organisations, societies and groups that may be in need of the services you’re offering or the knowledge you've built.

You've heard of the big fish in the small pond? He’s so much more effective than the teensy-weensy guppy in that expansive blue ocean.

Side note: Interestingly enough, this one also works in reverse: You can extend your local or personal involvements into the online space, for better exposure.

Step 6: Authenticity

Your personal brand should be authentic. This is only possible if it genuinely represents the value you can deliver to those you are serving. Remember: This doesn't mean self-promotion. It’s not hard sell and it’s not pushiness. In fact, self-promotion has nothing to do with personal branding, which is deliberate but subtle.

In essence, this means that you shouldn't bother to fake a personal brand. Or to mimic someone else’s. It simply won’t last. And your audience can sniff it out.

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