Posted: January 03, 2011
Why reputation is everything
Building a powerful personal brand is keyLida Citroën
Business professionals understand the importance of differentiation, value and competitive advantage. Business schools taught us to capture the attention of target audiences with compelling and relevant messaging.
Successful executives across the globe are also embracing the power of "personal branding" to intentionally build a reputation for themselves and their companies that maintains this competitive advantage - in person, through experience, and in the online world.
Reputation counts when growing personal brands (and professional legacies). How your clients - and prospects - staff, peers and stakeholders perceive you has a direct impact on the loyalty, engagement and revenues you will generate.
What is personal branding?
Everyone has a personal brand - it is your reputation, what others use to assign you value and relevance: Do people around you feel you are someone who can be trusted with confidential information? Do your clients feel heard and respected?
Marketing is how you direct your audiences to action - buy now, click here, act soon, call today, hire me - and branding is how you drive them to feel a certain way about you. Branding is all about emotions and drives the expectation of the experience of working with you.
You already have a reputation
Your personal brand already exists in the minds of colleagues, peers, clients, friends and other stakeholders. Through your behavior over time, you have earned a reputation. For some, your reputation is inconsistent with how you want to be seen, and you might find yourself limited in personal and professional growth.
We hire attorneys, accountants, consultants and experts who not only have the qualifications, but who make us feel a certain way. We know them to be professional and capable, but what causes us to "buy" - to hire them - is how we expect we will feel working with them. It has been said, "We act on logic... and we buy on emotion." I might seek an attorney who is a pit bull in the courtroom, but makes me feel safe when I ask a dumb question. I might solicit an accountant who is expert at tax structure, but makes me feel validated that I'm on the right track with my business.
Personal branding starts with you
Personal branding is not spin or "PR". Personal branding does not make you into something you're not. It begins by understanding what you are passionate about, what you value and how you live an authentic life. What would you fight for? The personal branding process starts with you and your goals.
Understanding the needs of your audience
Next, we understand your audience's needs. In personal branding we strive to make ourselves relevant and compelling to a specific target audience. Not everyone will get your jokes, find you compelling or feel good about you. Targeting those clients, customers and stakeholders who will find you relevant is critical and cuts down on your marketing efforts!
Creating a powerful reputation
Professionals with strong personal brands show up consistently and authentically. They have achieved genuineness through confidence and experience and through focus and care. They don't try to please everyone, get every client and satisfy every customer's needs. They focus on the highest value they have to offer and target a specific audience with the lowest threshold.
You can begin to create power and relevance in your personal brand. In every action you take (from posting on LinkedIn, to participating at a networking event, to dressing for a presentation) consider how others could perceive you. How others feel about you will impact whether they assign you value.
Become intentional about the words you chose, the company you keep and the way you represent yourself. Your audience is looking for consistency and relevancy.
Consider how you want to be perceived, the reputation you want in the world, then intentionally create a path in that direction.
Your personal brand differentiates you from your competition, attracts opportunities to you and enables you to receive recognition for your accomplishments. Personal branding can uncover your desired goals and bring you benefits over your entire life - personal and professional.
Lida Citroën is the author of Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition and Principal of LIDA360, a consulting firm that helps create effective market positioning through the use of brand strategies. She regularly presents at conferences, events and programs, teaching transitioning veterans how to understand their unique value and market them to future employers.
Citroën is an active member of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and works closely with General Peter Pace’s program in Philadelphia, Wall Street Warfighters Foundation (WSWF). For more information, please visit, www.yournextmissionbook.com and connect with her on twitter, @LIDA360.