“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos
What is a personal brand?
Good or bad, your personal brand is the image you present to the world.
About a year ago, we did a photo project at Three Box called “Inside the Mind” (you may be familiar with these images if you follow us on Instagram). It was a simple exercise – bring in a collection of things that represent you, that tell the world about your personal brand. It was a difficult exercise at first. What am I about? What should people know about me?
I think the finished project says a few key things about me:
It speaks to my values – my family and my faith.
It shows how I spend my time – constantly learning and being creative.
It shows how I treat others – encouraging and professional, but always approachable.
I use this personal brand every day to drive not only my own actions and decisions, but also to attract clients who value these qualities and want to buy what I’m selling. Not only does my personal brand attract like-minded customers, but it fosters relationships that builds trust and helps me retain relationships.
Why build your personal brand?
It builds business.
The data shows that a strong personal brand is good for your business.
According to Entrepreneur, leads developed through employees’ social media convert seven times more frequently, and sales reps who use social media as part of outreach outsell 78% of their peers. Not only that, 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals over brands.
It builds connection.
In sales, people buy YOU. Do your ideal customers know what you’re selling?
According to that same Entrepreneur article, 84% of decision makers start their buying process with a referral. Google is their next stop. In addition, 65% of Internet users see online search as the most trusted source about people and companies. More than half of decision makers have eliminated a vendor based on what they did – or did not – find online.
What is YOUR personal brand?
Be intentional about how you present yourself to customers and to the world. Start by defining your authentic self. What differentiates you from others and makes customers want to work with you? What are the core values that define your unique approach? How do your customers see those values in your work?
Next, find your ideal customers. These are the companies and individuals who share your core values and want to achieve similar goals. They will relate to and connect with your personal brand, inciting collaboration and loyalty. Think about what they need, both in products and in a relationship with you.
Finally, craft your personal narrative. It’s important to put structure to what sets you apart and how you’ll live out your personal brand each day. Craft three or four statements that sum up your approach.
I want to identify new opportunities for my customers and their companies to make a positive impact on their business results.
I will be available to my customers whenever they have a question or need.
I am constantly learning so that I am a leading expert in my field.
How do you activate it?
With a clear understanding of your brand, it’s time to take it to market.
Get involved. Consider memberships in professional organizations for networking opportunities. Volunteer for leadership positions. Work closely with people and demonstrate your personal brand through action.
Speak out. Find platforms and venues where you can share your personal brand. Speak to organizations and events. If given an opportunity to interview with a professional publication or media outlet, do it. Be active on LinkedIn, Twitter and other professional forums. Take any opportunity to share your brand and your product with your ideal audience.
Be consistent. Be sure your personal brand is at the forefront of every interaction. If you stand for integrity, make sure you are outspoken about ethical decisions and doing the right thing, even when it’s hard. If you promise excellent service, be available to your customers and provide quick response. People will believe what you show them.
So, what are people saying about you when you’re not in the room?
Personal branding can be a little uncomfortable – it causes you to think about yourself and how you want your customers to see you. But defining how you want to be seen and living that out consistently can lead to real business impact. The reward can be a connected, loyal customer base that will spend more and stay with you longer. Show people who you are. They want to buy from YOU.