It's easy to confuse one's reputation with their personal brand, but in reality it’s not the same thing. You see, all of us have a reputation. Our first impressions, the relationships we form with coworkers and peers, and our style of communication all impact how others see us. However, a personal brand is much more intentional. It is how we want people to see us.
To start building a personal brand, we need to know what drives us. What is our motivation for getting up in the morning or for going to work? What self-improvements do we want to make and what topics grab out interest?
We need to align our values to our business goals. For instance, if our company regularly brings the most creative products to market, are we demonstrating the value of leaders who accept the challenge and step outside the box for results? Do our current strengths align with the company’s goals? If we envision ourselves as a creative person who enjoys solving complex problems, we could decide on “innovator” as our primary personal brand attribute.
Similar to the commercial world, a brand has no value unless people know it's there. To increase our visibility, we should create a stakeholder map. This is a simple list of people we'd like to know or people who can help us progress. (Advocates carry great value and word-of-mouth is a marvelous tool for raising awareness.)
Finally, we should reach out to the people we'd like to connect with on a more personal level. Using these opportunities to meet with them will provide the occasion to discuss our skills and interests. In doing so, our competencies may benefit them or others they may know or work with.
Remaining visible is crucial as a business owner. Yes, people need to know we’re there, but staying out in front will keep us in their minds. A personal brand defines authority in our niche, and authority differentiates us from the rest. Having authority lends more power, not only in bringing in more revenue, but by allowing us the ability to demand premium pricing.
With visibility and authority, we need relevance. This is important in developing the "know, like and trust" factor. People do business with people and relevance means that people see how we can fit into their life and business to achieve their goals.
Networking platforms such as a professional organization and the local community Chamber of Commerce are excellent platforms to introduce ourselves, remain visible and mingle with people who are there to support our cause. Ask yourself, who knows your business better than you? And what’s your business’ best asset? YOU!
You can do this!