Word of mouth is the most powerful force in business. Who doesn’t want to have other people “buzzing” about them? If people respect you, like you and have a good experience with you (or hear about it from someone else) they hire you, promote you and do business with you.
But how do you get people buzzing about you?
Let’s look at how big companies do it—Nike, for instance. Everyone recognizes the famous swoosh logo on shoes, hats, shirts and golf bags. That logo has power. But its power was not the result of a multi-million dollar marketing effort.
Back in 1971, a graphic design student at Portland State University named Carolyn Davidson was hired to “just do it” – create a logo for the side of a running shoe. She was paid the princely sum of $35. Carolyn had a moment of creative genius! It resulted in a symbol that became ubiquitous on Nike gear. Twelve years later the company gave her a gold Swoosh ring embedded with a diamond, along with a certificate and an undisclosed amount of Nike stock. Today the company reports net revenues of $13.7 billion dollars!
You don’t need to have a big budget or a multi-million dollar ad agency to build a personal brand! It’s about focusing on how to communicate effectively – using your wits. A creative, thoughtful approach to delivering the message will get people saying positive things about you. If you and your message are interesting, and if you get out and deliver that message often enough, you are going to develop a powerful personal brand.
Sometimes people try to make it too complicated. A personal brand is really nothing more than a message, and a message is a thought – it’s what people think, when they think of you.
What comes to mind when people see you? Or hear your name? That’s your personal brand. It’s the sum total of what people know about you – what they think of you after you’ve had a conversation, given a speech, or they’ve seen you in the public eye in some way.
So every time you speak, you are branding yourself, and it’s important to think strategically about what and how you are delivering that message. Your conversations, presentations, emails, phone calls and conversations in the hallway all send signals. Are you talking about big ideas? Are you clear, concise, and interesting? Do people appear to sit up and pay attention when you speak?
People have a feeling about others, almost as soon as they meet and work with them. They continue to shape that feeling with the more interactions they have. Pretty soon, they see them walking down the hall, and something registers, positive or negative.
It’s within your power to make that feeling positive.
What constitutes a strong personal brand? There are 7 aspects of a powerful personal brand. A personal brand:
- Is instantly recognizable
- Stands for something of value
- Builds trust
- Generates positive word of mouth
- Gives a competitive advantage
- Creates career opportunity
- Results in professional and financial success
Some people have all the tools to create a strong, personal brand – but they just can’t get the ball rolling to get their name out there. They’ve got great ideas, and a semi-recognizable name, but there’s no buzz about them. So how do you create buzz? One way is to start speaking, in formal and informal settings. Speaking is perhaps the single best way to establish yourself as an expert in any business or industry.
Speaking inside and outside your company or industry positions you as an expert for several reasons:
· Many of your colleagues or competitors don’t do it
· People assume if you are speaking on a topic you are an expert
· Other people promote your talk
· You are center stage which automatically gives you credibility
· If you give a valuable talk, people remember you
· If they remember you, you become top of mind – you are the one they think of when they are referring someone for new business, promotions, other speaking engagements, etc.
Some people say, "I don’t really have opportunities to speak." But finding opportunities to speak is easier than you think. Here are some tips on finding opportunities:
· If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, call to ask organizations where you are a member if you can speak
· Ask all of your local business and community organizations, from the Chamber of Commerce, to the Lions Club.
· If you’re trying to develop your reputation inside an organization, look for opportunities there. Many companies sponsor brown bag lunches, panels, and have off sites where you can present your ideas. Put your hand up to present in team meetings; by volunteering and putting it on your calendar you automatically create a deadline that forces you to go into action and prepare a great presentation
· Start small with friendly audiences if you haven’t done much speaking, until you develop confidence and have a chance to test out your presentations—figure out what a small friendly audience is for you – it might be a team meeting, your church group, or the Rotary Club in town
· As you develop confidence, push yourself to accept bigger assignments
· Pitch to speak at regional conferences of professional associations and organizations, attend events where your clients or customers or colleagues go, get to know the executive directors or presidents of those organizations and ask if they are looking for speakers
· The more you do, the more confident you become and the better your material is because you have tested it out. Speaking brings more speaking, as people hear you speak and like you they invite you to speak for other organizations.
The benefit of this is not only that you are getting in front of these audiences – you are getting other people to market for you. You aren’t just getting exposure to the 50 people who show up. Your name is going out on their stationery, email newsletter or web site to the thousands of members on their list. That’s powerful marketing. And it doesn’t cost you anything.
Wherever you are today in your professional life, you can start sending strong, positive signals that will cut through the clutter of day to day business and create buzz about you.
Everyone has the power to create their own positive personal brand. In fact, you could argue, they must, if they want to succeed in a competitive, global economy. It’s up to you to create the strategy and messages needed to create a buzz and a powerful brand.
About the Author:
Suzanne Bates is a prominent executive coach and communications consultant who has perfected the art of corporate communication. She is the President and CEO of Bates Communications, which helps executives and professionals develop a unique and authentic communication style to become stars in their industries. Suzanne is the author of “Speak Like a CEO: Secrets to Commanding Attention and Getting Results.” For more information, please visit www.bates-communications.com or call 800-908-8239