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Building Your Personal Brand

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October 11, 2011 by emarketingrookie

While reading Crush It- a book by Gary Vaynerchuk about how the social media revolution has changed both our lives and the way we do business, my mind kept wandering back to the concept of a personal brand, so I decided to research it a little bit more.

What is a personal brand? Well, your personal brand is synonymous with your reputation – the way people see you, what you represent or stand for and what pops into a person’s head first when they see you. Your personal brand is an investment. Whatever your trade, a great personal brand is invaluable. Regardless of whether you have been in an industry for a long time, or are just starting out in a new one, your personal brand will ensure that you never have to start from scratch again. How you present yourself publically is something you have complete control over.

Your personal brand is composed of three main areas. First, ‘what you’re about.’ These are the key ideas you want people to associate you with. Secondly expertise – “Every good brand involves the notion of expertise.” Even if marketing your advice is not something you are interested in, you need people to believe that you are great at what you do. And thirdly, your style. This has more to do with how you communicate than what you communicate.

And now you’re saying, “That’s all great, but how do I do it?”

How about running a blog or website. If it’s a blog, it doesn’t need to be something you do every day, but it does need to be consistent. This will give people a place to connect with you on a slightly different level to your day to day phone call, and allows them to see a little more of what you are about. Put as much relevant info as you can into your About page. This will ensure that the few things people do read about you are the right ones.

If you have a blog or website, make sure the email address you are using is linked or uses the same name so that people can find your website easily. Put a signature at the bottom of your email with as much contact information as you can, and a logo if you have one – to build up some brand association.

Remember, every time you do or do not say something it sends a message. So if you are on Twitter, or Facebook (and I sincerely hope you are), decide what you will and won’t respond to, how often, and what format you will do it in. If you can’t reply to emails straight away, try setting up an auto response. People like to know their email has reached an inbox and isn’t sitting in a black cyber hole.

While some people will advise you to keep your brand fresh by adding new layers and services to what you represent, I would like to emphasise that trying to do too many things can lead to trouble. Try to keep to what you do well, instead of trying to incorporate too many things and not being able to do them to the standard you would like. That being said, don’t feel that you need to be stuck with your products. You can adapt them slightly to allow them to move with the times. For example, if you are in publishing, take your publication into the digital world, or add in the option of reading the magazine or newspaper online. But try avoid going from fishing to jewellery design unless it is an absolute passion.

It is never too late in the game to simplify. If you feel that your product or service, or even the ordering procedure is too complicated, then cut things out. Optimise. Get feedback from your customers and clients and see what works for them, this will show them that you care about what they have to say, and about their patronage – always a great trait.

Never stop learning. Industries can change so quickly, so by continually expanding your knowledge you will never be left behind. Even if you don’t personally take on a new service or follow a new trend, you will still be ahead of your customers and this shows that you are not stubborn, and stuck in a way of doing things because “that’s how it’s done.”

While having a mentor is a great idea, try not to just agree with everything they say and do because they are someone you admire. Have an opinion! Give your brand a voice.

Each time you talk to someone, think about your personal brand and the impression you are leaving them with. Network whenever you can. And by network, I don’t mean ‘talk shop,’ I mean talk to as many different people as you can, get to know them, and plant a good impression into their head, so when they think of your sector, your face comes to mind first. Be honest, and try to learn as many people’s real names as possible – and if you can’t remember, ask! It’s way better to ask than not be able to contact them again because you can’t find their details or name. If you engage with your customers on a more personal level they will become more invested in you, and your product.

Erookie tip: practice what you pitch. Believe in it. Live it. Until it becomes a part of you. There is nothing worse than an apathetic sales person that doesn’t know much about their product.

Building name recognition with influential people takes time, but keep at it. Learn from people like this – why are they influential, how do they communicate with the people they influence? Keep in contact as much as you can, let them try your product (but watch out for the people that will ‘test’ your product continuously without actually buying, you’re running a business not a charity and they should respect that).

But again, an e-rookie emphasis on being genuine. Be passionate. Trust us when we say that passion shines through. Like Gary Vaynerchuk says, if you don’t absolutely love what you are doing, you are doing the wrong thing. When you believe in what you are doing, selling, serving, it will reflect in everything you do.

Allow your personality to inject itself into your products, whether it is a colour scheme, or little quirk, it will make your business memorable, and part of who you are which is important if you want people to associate you with your work.

And then, of course, remember that with social networks comes transparency. Keep your LinkedIn up to date, bear in mind that people can Google, Facebook and Twitter search you and see exactly what you’re up to on the weekend. So if you aren’t being genuine, they will probably be able to pick it up!

What are your thoughts on personal brands? What have you learnt / done that has helped you grow?

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