Corporations understand the importance of branding. In this very competitive marketplace, it is more critical than ever that they differentiate themselves from the competition. Success depends on being visible—standing out and rising above the crowd. Managing their brand allows companies to grab attention and gain a hold on the hearts and minds of their customers.
Your brand is what you represent—what you stand for in the hearts and minds of others.
A personal brand provides you with the same benefits as a corporate brand. Your brand is what you represent—what you stand for. It is not posing, pretending or posturing. It is about who you are every day consistently, and who you are working to become.
As you attempt to manage your personal brand, remember that everyone makes split-second decisions about the world and the people with whom they come in contact. You need to remain aware of and responsive to how your everyday actions create the impressions others have of you, so you can constantly shape your brand to maximize your value.
Regardless of where you are in the development of your image, there are five areas that you need to focus on:
1. How you look
Whether you like it or not, you are judged on your appearance. The moment you walk into a room, people’s mental checklists come into play. Are you well-dressed? Check. Is your hairstyle both flattering and contemporary? Check. Do you look well groomed? Check. Do you look successful? Check.
The key isn’t having the most extravagant wardrobe; it’s taking the time to look appropriate for the setting and situation. You want to be judged on merit. But if you don’t make a positive physical impression, you may never get a chance to impress others with your knowledge and skill.
2. How you communicate
No matter how wonderful your physical impression, you have to support it with good communication skills. Have you ever watched someone give a presentation who is slump-shouldered, can’t look you in the eye and bores you to tears with their lackluster voice? Don’t let that be you.
Your body language needs to say that you are confident and relaxed. Good posture and appropriate gestures say that you are sure of what you’re saying and enthusiastic about your topic. Comfortable eye contact says that you believe what you’re saying. Varying your vocal tone, pitch and pace says you are motivated to keep the person you’re talking to interested and that you are worth listening to.
Your vocal skills are even more important when communicating on the phone because the person on the other end doesn’t have the benefit of visual input.
The moment you walk into a room, people’s mental checklists come into play.
3. What you do
You can promise people the world, but if you don’t follow through, your promises are meaningless. For example, you can assure someone that you make it a practice to always be on time, but when you show up late you are sending quite another message. Your actions don’t match your words. Though people may not notice when you are punctual, every time you are late you leave a negative impression. The message received is that you made the person you are meeting a low priority, whereas showing up on time or a little early indicates that you consider that person and the time you will be spending with him very important.
This attitude goes beyond punctuality. You need to be seen as someone others can count on in a pinch. Ask yourself these questions:
- Can you be depended on to follow through no matter what?
- Are you the go-to person who consistently gives more than is asked for?
- Are you able to multitask with grace?
- Is your word your bond?
Answer yes to these questions, and you will deserve the confidence you’re seeking.
4. What you know
You probably don’t like to appear to be bragging about your accomplishments. No one likes the guy who flaunts his fancy degrees and financial successes. However, that’s a far cry from sharing the very things that qualify you as an expert. If you’re asking people to believe that you know what you’re doing and to take your advice, you need to tell them why their confidence in you is justified. The key is to give your listener the information needed to make an informed decision.
5. How you reach out
Letter writing is an art. You need to make your communication compelling and effective. People will also want to do business with you based on what they see on paper. Although emails are intended to be less formal methods of communication than written letters, you still have to be aware of proper email etiquette, which includes correct grammar, spelling and punctuation. Mistakes in these areas make you look unprofessional or uneducated.
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Laurie Brown is an international speaker, trainer and consultant who works to help people improve their sales, service and presentation skills. She is the author of The Teleprompter Manual for Executives, Politicians, Broadcasters and Speakers. Contact her at www.thedifference.net, 877-999-3433 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .