Personal branding really caught on in the late 90s when Tom Peters authored an article in Fast Company magazine called, "The Brand Called You."
“We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You."
Personal branding is based in authenticity so you have to know who you are and why you are compelling to your ideal audience?
For service based professionals and entrepreneurs, you are the brand of your company and everything you say or do is either attracting new business to you or repelling it. Your personal brand sends a clear and consistent message about who you are and what you have to offer. It also helps you communicate how you are differentiated and relevant to your ideal clients.
We know that clients will do business with people they know, like and trust and you must honestly ask yourself, does your personal brand help build the KLT factor or is it giving off a completely different message?
This may sound obvious but I’m amazed at how many business owners I come across whose personal brand is creating the wrong message and is repelling potential clients instead of attracting them. The devil is in the details, you could be doing everything else “right” in your business and then falling short in this often overlooked yet crucial area. The reason this area is so overlooked is that we don’t receive feedback as business owners about how we are showing up. In the corporate world, receiving feedback (albeit harshly at times) is built into high performing cultures so that employees can constantly improve but in the small business world we find ourselves trying to figure this stuff out alone.
Here are some simple tips to guide you:
1) Take a look at your own business card. This is the key piece of marketing material that you will hand out on a daily basis and worth investing some time and money into. What does it communicate in terms of the clients you want to attract? Is it high quality with a good design and professional printing or does it look homemade or similar to so many other business cards on the market with stock photos and standard backgrounds? Is your email address a real business name? If not it needs to be changed – Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail accounts do not create the impression of a serious business owner. Enough said.
2) What message is your own wardrobe of clothes communicating? Well put together? Coordinated? Elegant? Distinct? Or do you look like you’ve thrown it all together at the last minute? Is your personal style going to attract the clients you want or repel them? The devil is in the details again here– think hair (and for you guys that includes facial hair!), shoes, handbags and other accessories too. They all play an important role in the first impression you create, which is within a few seconds of a potential client meeting you. Negative first impressions take a long time to change!
3) Monitor your own energy and emotional state – I see so many business owners rushing into meetings or events, barely able to catch their breath and frankly looking out of control. Or they are constantly checking their email and phones and distracted from what’s happening around them. Is that the message you want to be communicating to clients? It’s no good saying that you don’t act like that with clients because “how you do anything is how you do everything.” This is what potential clients will unconsciously pick up on. I know we can all feel pulled in multiple directions at times. One strategy I recommend using is doing an energy check before you even leave your car or enter a room full of people. A couple of slow, deep breaths is a great way to rebalance and center yourself so that you have a more compelling, grounded presence.
If you are tired of trying to figure it all out alone and want some professional expert guidance to help you grow both yourself and your business, all you have to do is complete a request for a strategy session here. Your business growth help is only a phone call away!