Some practical advice on how to take your personal brand to the world.
Have you ever thought about how visible you are and how often people talk about you or remark about you to others? Do colleagues and friends have to describe you in a lot of detail for others to know who you are and what you’re great at, or are you generally well-known in your target market?
In my previous article I talked about what a personal brand is and how to build it with our 7 Big Strides to Walking TALL. This time, we are going to look at some methods and tips to build your brand via your network and increase your visibility with your authentic personal brand.
Oscar Wilde once said: ‘There is only one thing worse than being talking about…… and that is not being talked about’. This was deemed important a century ago, but today this statement becomes even more important in our lives if we are to get to where we want to be. We have to manage our careers more like entrepreneurs than ever before, and we just cannot leave visibility to chance. We have to take control of building our brand network and ensuring that people know us and talk about us for the right reasons.
The first step in networking your brand effectively is to ensure that you are clear about who you are and what you want to project. If this is not clear to you, then you are in danger of being inconsistent and therefore coming across as unauthentic.
My previous article explains this process in more detail however a few reminders are listed below:
1. Set aside some time to sit and write down all the positive words about your brand that you can and that are important to you. Think about personality traits, values and principles, talents and strengths and natural style.
2. Now highlight those words that are the most important to you as a leadership brand, or those you’d most like people to say about you behind your back.
3. Get some feedback from others on the perception of your brand. Ask a number of colleagues and friends to give you three words that describe you most accurately in their mind. How do these compare with those you have written down for yourself? Where are the gaps?
Now you’ll be clearer about your true brand, your value set and how you want to be perceived. You can now get to work on building your brand network and visibility.
I like to think of networking as brand visibility – but this needs to be managed in the right way. We all know people who have great visibility, but for the wrong reasons. The best way to approach this is to consider your target market first, and the most effective way to determine your target market is to set your goals and objectives. What is it you want to achieve in the next six months, one year, or five years? These can be personal or business and career goals and need to be clearly articulated in order for you to achieve them – define the goal, timeline it and then think about why you want to achieve it and what it gives you personally.
Once you have done this you can start to think about the people who will help you achieve these goals and where you need to network your brand most and more effectively. So for example, maybe your goal is: ‘To achieve a higher paid, more senior role in the legal sector, by 30th June 2012, so that I can feel proud I am achieving my full potential in my career and chosen sector’. With this, you can now start compiling your visibility plan. Think about who you know in this sector already, what they know about you, what else they need to know about you, and if they know your true authentic self.
Once you have the names and types of people you need to be more visible to, you can start to plan how you will network your brand. Traditional networking is not the way forward here – it’s not about attending random events and giving out and collecting as many business cards as you can. You are not going to achieve your goals by using a scattergun approach – you need to be strategic about it.
Here are some ideas for achieving visibility and increasing your network and exposure in the desired way, both on-line and off-line:
• Realise and utilise powerful and memorable character traits about yourself wherever you can in all your communication. For example, a friend was always known for meeting people over a cappuccino – he would refer and connect people all the time and realised people would talk about him and his fondness for coffee! He made use of this and created a brand for himself as the ‘Cappuccino Man’. Everyone knew who he was when referred to in this way and his visibility grew.
• Make sure your Linked In profile is current and written in a way that describes who you are and what you bring to the table. Does it ‘sell’ you in a way that is clear about your skills and personality or is it full of gaps and confusion and undersells you? It is not a CV, unless you are currently looking for a role, but it needs to clearly articulate what you are about in an authentic way. Not having a Linked In profile is a mistake – if you don’t exist on-line other than Facebook, that is going to be a huge negative to your brand and profile. Get it sorted!
• Be careful who you connect with – your contacts are an extension of your brand. Generally speaking, you should only connect with people you have actually met unless you can be sure they are good for you to connect with from a brand and visibility point of view. Ensure that you assess each one with your brand in mind.
• What publications do your target market read? Can you write an article or get interviewed for an article there too?
• What associations do they attend and can you attend any events, or get on a panel?
• Is there an article you have recently read that someone on your target market list might also be interested in? Send this to them is a great way to stay visible.
• If you don’t have a great memory, buy a little red book for keeping notes that you want to remember about people. Learn some memory skills too – it helps for remembering key events and names of people!
• Use thank you cards where appropriate instead of using email – this is a wonderful way to stay in people’s minds and stand out from the crowd. People love to receive thank you cards.
• Consider sending cards through a service such as Moonpig from your desk to make life easier.
• Post book reviews and comment on discussions on-line for high-rated on-line publications. This will get your name up on the top pages of Google when searched.
• Consider having your own Blog, but make sure it includes useful information and not too much trivia. Remember what you want to project about your brand.
These are just some of the ways to network your brand and build your visibility. Remember – with every communication, verbal, non-verbal and on-line, you are adding layers to your brand reputation. Are those layers positively reinforcing who you are, or are they weakening and diluting your brand? Have fun…..
Lesley Everett is an international speaker and expert on Personal Branding and Executive Presence. She is a media personality, author and executive brand coach and has delivered her message in 18 countries across 4 continents.
Tel: 01344 427977