By meetings industry consultant and professional speaker, Michael J. Lyons
In the past year, since I decided to go out on my own as an entrepreneur, I have spent time researching how to improve my ‘brand’ so I can market myself as effectively as possible. In the process, I have come to a number of conclusions and ‘Eureka’ moments.
As obvious as it may be, every one of us is a unique human being and, like it or not, we each represent our own personal brand. And just like corporate brands, we must apply the same disciplines of business branding to the process of creating, developing, managing and protecting our own personal brand.
How we present ourselves, how we behave and how we are perceived by our professional peers not only defines our personal brand but, in turn, the level of success in our careers. After all, if we don’t brand ourselves, other people will. And, chances are they won’t brand us in the way we want to be branded. If we are not conscious of our personal brand every day and don’t work to improve it, career aspirations may fall short.
It has been said that your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, and how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you is your trademark. How true. In order to polish and enhance the ‘Brand of you’, four major components need to be addressed and incorporated into your brand plan:
· Appearance: Your body language, clothing attire and posture
· Personality: Your behaviour, communication skills and attitudes toward people
· Competencies: Your unique experience and skill sets
· Differentiation: What separates you from others?
If you are weak in any of the above areas, I suggest the following:
· Evaluate how you look, dress and carry yourself. Better yet, ask close friends and family for honest feedback and make appropriate adjustments.
· If you are perceived as difficult to work with, have an uneven temperament, or anything else with a negative connotation – work on changing that behaviour – as quickly as possible!
· Improve your skill sets through additional training and industry certifications, and position yourself as an expert by writing articles and volunteering to speak at conferences.
· Promote yourself. You can have an amazing brand, but if no one knows about it, you’ll get lost in the crowd. Use the power of social media on a consistent basis to create a strong online presence.
There is no question that building a distinctive and recognisable personal brand opens up professional opportunities. Creating a vision for your future and implementing that vision through your brand will usually lead to:
· Better career prospects
· More contacts and clients for your company or organisation
· Industry recognition and success
· A sense of purpose, fulfillment and satisfaction
For example, if you are looking for a better job, you want potential employers to see that you have built a solid reputation via your personal brand – which will make you stand out as a desirable candidate. Or, if you are working to grow sales for your company, potential clients will want to buy from you because your personal brand has been established as trustworthy.