Like your business brand, your personal brand isn't what you say it is - it's what other people say about you when you're not in the room (according to Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, who probably knows a thing or two about it) ...
Whether you know it or not, you are creating impressions about yourself and your business every day. Even if you don't do anything, it will have an effect. We always say that people like to do business with people they like, so it's important that they find out about you as a person, as well as what you do.
One of the most powerful ways to build your brand positively and authentically is to regularly spend time with other business owners!
Iconic brands like Apple or Amazon don't just sell things; they represent values and emotions. They have spent a long time embedding these qualities throughout their business, so it's not surprising that they defend everything associated with their brand fiercely. It's worth real money to them, although the idea of brand value can be difficult to pin down.
In the same way, the best personal brands are authentic and trustworthy. Yours will help you to build a strong reputation that will support you personally and professionally. Who you are and what skills you have are only part of your personal brand. Through effective business networking, you can build strong relationships with business people you respect.
You can learn from them and recommend them to others, and they will do the same for you. It's impressive when a well-known and trusted business owner recommends you to others and you will benefit from their credibility with potential new customers.
For the 4.3 million self-employed people in the UK, their personal brand is their business. Taking the time to manage and build it will help to secure better and more profitable contracts.
Employers and customers will check social media accounts to find out more about you. Positive comments and recommendations from your networking contacts will certainly create a good first impression, even before they meet you. On the other hand, random comments by you and others without any clear purpose or consistency could be damaging.
How to build your personal brand:
- Set goals - if you don't know where you're going, you will never arrive. Work out what you want to achieve and make sure your personal brand honestly reflects your goals. Think about what drives you, your skills, your motivation, and your inspiration.
Nothing is set in stone and your personal brand will grow and change with you, but it's important to have a clear view of what you want it to be.
However, if your goals and your toolkit of attributes and abilities don't match, and probably never will, you'll have to revisit your goals. Critically you must be open and honest with your networking colleagues.
It's also important to remember that you're talking about what you're like, as well as what you do. Especially, think about examples where you have made a difference and how you will achieve your goals. There's no one else like you, so once you have refined this step the message will be uniquely yours.
The best and simplest way to find out is to ask people you trust. Give them permission to be completely honest. If what they tell you doesn't match your goals then you have the ideal opportunity to rethink your approach.
How do networking ninjas build their personal brand? There aren't any half-measures if you want to achieve the best results for you and your business through networking. Occasionally meeting some nice people for breakfast or lunch will be pleasant, but it's unlikely to move you forward.
When you really understand how a genuine network of trusted colleagues can support and nurture you and your business, making a commitment to each of them in return isn't difficult at all.