The ability of a manager or consultant to influence others is very strongly influenced by how the person is perceived. Very few business situations involve communication between people who know each other well; more often the building blocks of a relationship are based on perceptions. This is where personal branding becomes critically important.
The concept of personal branding was first introduced in the 1980 book: “Positioning: The Battle for your Mind”, by Al Ries and Jack Trout, since then, the idea that has been gaining momentum. The basic concept is that we, as individuals, have an opportunity to create a brand identity for ourselves that can have a significant impact on the way people see us. Fortunately, we have the ability to adjust our brand to influence how we want people to perceive us and consequently influence the way they interpret our communication.
For long term effect, it is important your brand is authentic. Whilst within reasonable, and ethical, limits you can make a big impact on what the brand is, it is important to stay ‘real’. It is nearly impossible to maintain a brand that is not authentic, and in losing credibility, you destroy trust and relationships.
The key to branding is the impression we make on the people we work with while we are with them and after we have moved on. Every interaction we have with a person has an impact on how they perceive us. This means that each time we connect with another person we have an opportunity to establish, build and maintain our own personal brand, or conversely damage it.
Once established, our personal brand becomes part of the encoding and decoding process and influences every message we send. If the people you work with perceive you as someone they can trust and rely on, then they’ll be more likely to believe your message even when the news is bad.
To develop a credible brand you first need to work out what you want to do for the rest of your life, setting goals, writing down a mission, vision and personal brand statement (what you do and who you serve), and then create a development plan.
Some aspects to consider include:
- Wardrobe: Your personal style is tangible and is extremely important, select clothing that best represents you.
- LinkedIn and Facebook profiles: people will look at both. LinkedIn allows you to establish your brand through professional credentials and a professional network, Facebook adds another more social dimension but be careful! Tools like Facebook can be a double-edged sword, you never really know who is looking at your collection of photographs. These tools are powerful, but without care, they can easily have a negative impact on our individual brands.
- Work performance: Last but most important. Looking good is of no value unless you have a solid track record. However, the key element is effective relationship building and communication within the work.
These are just a few ideas, if you want to develop a personal brand there are heaps or resources available on the internet. But without a brand, many of your communications will simply be noise that is ignored by your intended recipient.