Thursday, September 20, 2007

More on Branding Yourself

It has been ten years since Tom Peters first interjected the concept of personal branding into the workplace lexicon. Very few people get it. I think I am just beginning to get it. I keep learning. I evolve. Someday I too will be a beautiful and unique snowflake.

Today has been a day of convergence around Personal Branding. I read a great article from Joe Calloway at The CEO Refresher called Your Brand is Everything. Calloway does a good job of cutting through the marketing-speak and laying out what a brand really IS:
Your brand is owned by your customers, the people you work with, and anyone else who has an impression of you. Your brand is other people's perception of what it is like to do business with you, work with you, or be with you.
Take a minute and let that sink in.

You create your brand with every breath, every action, every decision and how all of those elements drive your customer's experience. Calloway advises that the way to build a strong brand is simple: keep your promises and create great experiences for others.

Then, the mind-blower: you don't have just one brand. You have MULTIPLE brands. "You literally have as many brands as you have customers and people who have an impression of you." Holy cow. How many people did you talk to today? How many did you email? IM? All of them walked away with a perception of YOU - your BRAND.

The customer gets to decide your brand. He then goes on to talk about customer experiences. One I particularly LOVE:
Everyone at the dry cleaners knows my name. I spend about thirty dollars a week with them. My company spends tens of thousands of dollars every year with you and yet I feel like you have no idea who I am.

Tomorrow I will drop off my own dry cleaning and be greeted by a "Good morning, Mr. Lally!" And it is genuine. I've been going there for years. It is not because they HAVE to do it. It is a part of them. As soon as I get to the office, I have a meeting with a technology vendor who is coming to talk about a migration plan to a new platform. I've been chasing them all week on a problem we are having with the existing platform. The sales person doesn't know that I am going to be managing the relationship going forward. And I am not a happy camper.

Flip over to Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist blog. She has a great post today on Three Steps to Building Your Brand. I've really enjoyed this blog. The link is to the full Yahoo Finance article. She points to a definition by Dan Schwabel (who has actually commented on Diligentia!) in his Personal Branding Wiki.

The wiki definition of a personal brand is labeled a PROCESS of "identifying and articulating their unique value proposition...and leveraging it across platforms with a consistent message and image to achieve a specific goal."

But where to begin? Penelope and Dan provide some tips. Dan says to begin with an "inventory of personal core competencies, natural constituencies, expertise and demonstrated abilities." Good but I am just a simple farmer. That is a bit too wordy for me. I like Penelope's version better:
  1. Know what you are good at.
  2. Know what people think of you.
  3. Meet the right people.
One of the big tricks to career success is to find out what you do better than almost everyone else, and then let people know that's what you do.
Knowing what people think of you is a tough one. Getting honest feedback is not easy. She points to a great article from The Prometheus Institute on Five Tips to Increase Your Likeability. I would also point you to Marshall Goldsmith's book - What Got You Here Won't Get You There.

How to be likeable:
  1. Be positive. As my mother-in-law says: "Quit your crab-applin'." She's right. Attitude is everything.
  2. Control your insecurities. Breathe. Accept who you are and if you don't like it, change it. Or sit down and be quiet.
  3. Provide Value. Get in the game. Get some social skills. You may be brilliant but if you can't stand to be around other humans, no one is going to care. Learn how to fake it if you must.
  4. Eliminate all judgements. This means "treating everyone with the respect you would give to a 120-year-old man and the understanding you would give toward your sever-year-old cousin."
  5. Become a person of conviction. As the song says....respect yourself.
Be a hammer. "Specialists have the best careers."

As I mentioned, I have been working on this. I have been going through a process of deconstructing myself. Stripping ME down and putting myself back together again starting at the core.

I will start posting about my efforts to develop the Brand Me.

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