Actor, plumber, manager, scientist, athlete, nurse – whether you know it or like it or not, you and what you offer are a brand.You may be looking for your next employer, your next role or a higher grade, your next customer, interview or review … success or failure are affected by how you develop and market your brand.
Ten top tips for personal branding
1 – Know what you are. Are you a rarity, offering something in short supply? Or if there are a lot of you, do you know your Unique Selling Point? Keep it clear in your mind and be prepared to put some people off.
2 – Know your values. What do you believe in, stand for? This is part of your image and will influence others’ opinion. And if you don’t live your values, you’ll be found out as a fraud.
3 – Know your stuff. Are you any good? Are your knowledge and skills polished and do you know what you’re talking about? Can you do it with grace and style? Whatever ‘it’ is, work at being a go-to person, keep up to date, refresh and recharge, advise and consult.
4 – Refine your look. Do you look the business? There are a lot of services promising to upgrade your dress, hair, colours and styles – we do respond to what we see and if you look up to date, stylish and well groomed, you’ll inspire confidence. It’s not rocket science , but it evades so many. It may only take the tiniest of tweaks; some high fashion glasses, good shoes or finally admitting that pink does not suit you, or a signature piece that will forever be associated with you. Little Black Dress, anyone?
5 – Speak well. Do people enjoy listening to you – or do they visibly wince when you open your mouth? I’m not talking accent [that can be a key part of a successful brand], but do you have any habits that put people off? Invest in some public speaking skills training.
6 – Be a radiator, not a drain. Do you gossip, bitch, criticise, backstab and whinge? Or do you champion a bit of old fashioned courtesy, offering supportive coaching and honest, respectful feedback? And do you love what you do and get on with it with passion, positivity and a sense of fun?
7 – Be seen and heard. Have some good headshots taken and make sure your photo’s all over your online presence. And your business card, too – putting a face to the name helps them find you. Practice reading aloud and talking off the cuff, then make audio and video recordings for your website, blog and social media. Talk about your field in an engaging and entertaining way – being invited to be a keynote speaker or interviewed on the radio feels great.
8 – Get online. Social networking is no longer about what you had for breakfast; it’s vital for business today. Linked In has real power now, Twitter allows you to speak to the world, and your personal and business Facebook pages can have a long reach.
Blogging – a person of note has something to say, and the internet gives us all somewhere to say it. If you don’t already, start writing articles, opinion pieces and useful tutorials and ensure you have a website that reflects and supports your brand. If a customer has the choice between two very similar suppliers, they may well go for the one with the prettiest website.
Just remember that every single comment, photo, status update and share you put out there feeds into your brand. Does it say what you want it to say?
9 – Network, network, network. It’s not what you know, it’s whom you know. Contacts, word of mouth, reputation and recommendations keep business moving, so google local business netorking events – and go. Facilitate others, learn the art of making introductions and the pleasure of good conversation.
10 – Speak up for yourself. Have your elevator pitch your brief confident answer to ‘and what do you do?’ polished and ready. Umming and erring, self-deprecating and looking embarrassed will not advertise your brand in a good way. Be interesting, proud and excited about what you’re doing now, and be interested in others and their activities, too. A lot of business works at a social level. Do they understand, trust and like you?