By Jeff Beals
I live across the street from a high school.
Make no doubt about it; there are some negatives living so close 2,500 teenagers. You hear a lot of squealing tires and you’re constantly picking up fast-food wrappers that blow into your yard.
But there’s a big positive as well – I love hearing the marching band practice each evening. It starts in early August and continues throughout the high school football season. When I hear that marching band, it puts a smile on my face, because it means autumn just around the corner. It’s my favorite time of year.
September is also the best time of the year to assess your personal brand status and make plans to grow and strengthen the image people have of you. Why is September such an important time? Well, ever since you were a kid, September marked the beginning of new academic year. As a professional, it’s the start of a very busy four months. Right now is your chance to make sure 2017 ends up as a success for you.
Make no mistake…You ARE a brand. You’re a business of one, a business unto yourself. Every successful business makes annual marketing goals. As a “personal business,” so too must you. So too must all of us.
As I do each year around this time, I’m reminding you to protect and advance your personal brand, here are 12 items to remember:
Focus externally – Be active and involved outside your home or office. Show up at networking events. Go out of your way to talk to people when you are in public venues. Remember that nearly 75% of all jobs are never advertised and a similar percentage of big clients only come from relationship-building. Make it a goal to attend a certain number of events per month.
Think Like a Sales Pro – Because you are a “business” of one, you need to sell yourself the way businesses sell themselves. Read up on marketing and sales techniques. Remember that a good sales rep always has lots of prospects moving through all parts of his or her pipeline at all times. In other words, at any given time, you should be meeting new people, strengthening relationships with existing acquaintances and holding serious professional conversations (deal-making, so to speak) with people you know well.
Find the Fascinating – You need an “area of self-marketing expertise,” something about your business or career that is fascinating to people outside your profession. Feature this when you are networking or using social media.
Focus on results when networking – Determine what is most interesting about your career and your line of work and then exploit it. I call it your “area of self marketing expertise.” That’s what you talk about when you meet new people, not the mundane, technical details that will cause a lay person’s eyes to glaze over in boredom.
Build a “Google trail” – If you haven’t done a search on your name lately, see what’s out there. I guarantee that people are Googling you on a regular basis. A prospective client will probably Google you to know who he or she is dealing with before meeting with you. That’s why a Google trail is so important. If nothing or very little pops up when someone Googles you, there’s a problem – they’ll assume you don’t have much going on. Therefore, Google your own name on a regular basis. If you’re not very visible on line, deliberately get your name out there to build an Internet presence.
Get serious about social media – Be honest…Is your online brand inadequate? Social media are now to people what the Yellow Pages were to businesses 25 years ago – THE place where future clients and prospective employers find out about you. Don’t just have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Make sure you post material that is interesting and not just inane personal stuff. Use social media to strengthen your reputation by building on your area of self-marketing expertise. Social meeting is not just for fun; it’s an essential business tool.
Go Beyond the Big Three – LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are great, but don’t stop there. The more social media outlets you use, the better. You can even use Google+, Pinterest and Instagram to build a personal brand. Millions of professionals receive great benefit from their YouTube videos. Blogging has long been a powerful personal branding tool.
Use Your Real Name – In order to build your personal brand awareness, use your real name when reviewing products on websites, making comments at the end of newspaper/magazine articles and posting comments on discussion forums. Just make sure the things you write help your personal brand as opposed to harming it.
Engage the Media – Volunteer your expertise to media outlets in your industry as well as your local market. Make a point to meet members of your local and industry media and build friendly relationships with them. In addition to traditional media, you can get a lot of mileage from doing blogs and podcasts.
Refresh your value statement – Does your 20-second intro speech need updating? You need to be able to say what you do quickly, clearly and in a way that captures a person’s interest. A useful elevator speech also conveys how a person could benefit from what you do.
Ask probing questions – Don’t just chit-chat and make small talk during networking conversations. Ask some questions designed to uncover the critical information that leads to new opportunities.
Listen to your clients and colleagues – When we get too busy, it’s easy to start making assumptions. Those assumptions can cause you to lose opportunities. Instead, ask the important questions and truly listen to the responses. Don’t just go through the motions. Let the other person’s words sink in and make an impression on your brain.
By the way, never let up. When things are good, don’t let complacency stop you from perpetually marketing yourself. When things are going poorly, don’t let discouragement be an excuse for apathy.
Remember, marketing yourself is never about ego; it’s just marketing. In a loud and crowded world, hard work and talent are no longer enough. You need to make sure key audiences know about your abilities and accomplishments.
Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”
Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:
“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY
“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil
I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here. He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard. Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA
“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team