Monday, August 12, 2013
How to Establish Your Personal Brand BEFORE Any First Meeting
Your personal brand exists purely in the minds of the people you interact with, be that your clients, managers, recruiters, friends or children.
In the words of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, "Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room".
When it comes to first impressions in business you have a wealth of tools that you can draw on to help support the image you wish to convey before you've even engaged in your first handshake.
Here are my top 10 tools to build your 'first impressions' personal branding arsenal. Use them to demonstrate your professionalism, value-add and expertise and you're much more likely to build trust and credibility from the start:
It's never been good enough to have a drab CV. Thesedays you simply can't afford to be a wallflower; the competition is just too fierce. And a recruiter - or potential employer - sifting through a stack of CVs during her tea break doesn't have the time, or interest, to reach page 3 of your CV to read the juiciest, attention grabbing stuff. My advice? Make your first paragraph count. Cram it with 3-5 high impact statements that really sell your value, and potential value, to your reader.
2. Email address
A big bug bear of mine is unprofessional email addresses. If giving out a personal email address why use, firstname.lastname@example.org when you can have an address like this: email@example.com? It would be easy for people to make a negative judgment about the first one but not about the second. Simple.
3. Your Advocates
Think about who you want talking about and representing your brand. The referees you choose for your CV for example say a lot about you. If your referee is a CEO a recruiter might think, "This candidate is well connected," or "This person has credibility." Think too about who is talking about you - do they have credibility? Do you want to be associated with them?
4. Your Reputation
What are you known for? If you were to think about the most influential, or well-known people you work with the chances are, some sort of 'value-proposition' comes to mind. Perhaps s/he is a 'go-to' person for something in particular? Or s/he is the most knowledgeable on a specialist topic? What is your reputation built on? What do people think of when they think of you?
5. Your Social Media profiles
You know as well as I do that it matters what you post online. Does your LinkedIn profile truly reflect your achievements to date? Is your facebook profile embarrassing? Are you tweeting endlessly and if so, what are you saying? Are your social media antics beneficial, or a career limiting fiasco?
6. Blog or website
It's becoming more and more common for regular 'careerists' to have their own websites and blogs. Why? Because they're a great tool to demonstrate your expertise and value. And I LOVE that! And even if you've only just started out writing a blog or you have a really simple website, that still tells me you have guts and initiative and helps establish a positive perception of you.
7. Video or audio
If you really want to stand out from the crowd, why not record yourself sharing an idea or opinion about something topical? Video CVs will probably come to replace the traditional paper and online versions so get ahead of the game; you could even post your videos on your blog!
A physical portfolio, to showcase your work and ideas, is a tool few people use which makes it highly valuable. If you are in the graphic arts or media industries you may be using one already but if you're in accounting, law, finance you might not have considered how powerful a weapon a portfolio can be. Demonstrate your expertise and knowledge through articles written about industry issues. If you've had these published in trade magazines or on your in-house company intranet, all the better but your unpublished thought pieces are also gold.
9. Business card
Your business card has the power to make or break a first meeting. Your aim is to establish credibility quickly so if your card is bland, or printed on poor quality paper stock, you might want to rethink it. A job title can also help establish your authority or memorability. My friend Ben is owner of the Australian Beer and Wine School; his title is 'Head of Liquids'. Yup - that sticks! If you work for a global organisation and you're stuck with your 'safe' corporate card, help it work harder for you by making yourself more memorable (in a positive way, obviously). There are plenty of ways to do that including...
10. Attire and Grooming
My grandfather always said, "You can tell a lot about someone based on their shoes". Are your shoes scuffed or the heels worn? Are your clothes tailored or hanging off you loosely? Do you need a new hairstyle to freshen up your look?
People notice small things and, in the blink of an eye, will make a judgment whether or not they like, respect or trust you.
How can you use any/all of these tools to help you further your career? What else have you done to create a solid first impression before you have even met a new client or potential employer? Love to hear your comments - post them below! Rebecca
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Rebecca Wells is a Career and Executive Coach with a specialism in Personal Branding for Corporate Women. She believes that women are phenomenal and add long lasting commercial value to business and yet often struggle to understand their value or believe deeply in their abilities to succeed. Her coaching programs are designed for talented and savvy professional women who simply need that extra push to achieve their greatest fulfillment and success.