Personal brands: How to stand out from the pack

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1 Know your values and vision

The more aligned with these you are, the easier it is to attract your ideal clients. Is it integrity, wealth creation, reliability, or perhaps a combination of all three? Three is a number I often ask people to give, as one is rarely enough, and any more than three dilutes our impact and focus. Some people say ‘courage, clarity and integrity’. For others it’s ‘joy, responsiveness and detail’. There’s no right or wrong three. They must be yours – something you believe in and something you know you can deliver on.

2 What does that mean for your clients?

Now you’re even clearer on what you stand for, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. No matter how clear you are, if those values aren’t ‘valued’ by your clients or colleagues, then you’ll be stranded on your own personal branding island.

So now picture your ideal client and ask yourself these questions:

• What specifically do they gain from doing business with me?
• Is it less stress? More money in their pockets? More time with their family?
• Can you be even more specific than that?

The more you know these benefits, the easier it is to capitalise on them in your marketing copy, on your website, and on social media. You can even work them into your business conversations.

It makes you much easier to recommend because people know what they’re getting by doing business with you – and they know whether it’s something that matters to them or not. It’s easier to become known as the go-to person in your industry. It’s also healthy to remind yourself of these statements as much as you can, because the first sale is often made to ourselves.

3 Ask your clients or colleagues why they like working with you

You’re often so close to your own work or appearance that you can’t see how you’re being perceived. Ask your clients why they keep coming back. You can do this casually or formally: over the phone, at the end of a meeting… wherever. Asking them to do this will also help your clients remind themselves why they keep coming back to you.

Reread your referrals and testimonials. There will undoubtedly be words and phrases that keep coming up again and again. Highlight the words that reinforce your brand and the benefits it brings to your clients.

4 Leverage social media to amplify your brand

If you’re not already using social media to leverage your brand, I highly recommend you do. But as with any branding, you’re better off going deep into two or three channels than diluting your efforts across multiple networks and not gaining traction in any. See box above for my personal top three for service professionals.

5 Stay on brand with social media

Where many people fail to gain momentum in their social media is failing to have an authentic voice in the channels they choose. If you’re new to social media, then play with it, keeping an eye on who follows you and the impact you have on the market.

Follow people in your industry who have many followers or connections, and observe what they do, then infuse those practices with your own style and – most importantly – your own opinions.

TOP THREE SOCIAL NETWORKS

LinkedIn is a powerful search engine that connects you to a global community of professionals and has ever-increasing functions. One function we’ve begun using more and more in one of our businesses, presentability, is a private (closed) forum. Just like hosting your own mastermind group can be good for your reputation as a serious player who’s also a seriously good connector, the same impression can be made in an online forum, as long as you give value. If you have a blog, post it to the forum, or simply contribute articles and questions for your audience, further establishing your ‘go-to’ value, with the added benefit of being a connector.

Twitter is more than just about tweeting about the incidental moments in your life, or for self-promotion. One of the most underutilised aspects of Twitter is its use for research. By staying focused in terms of who you follow and how ‘on-brand’ you are with what you post, you gain much more credibility here too. Always leave enough room for your followers to have an opinion when they retweet (say 10-20 characters). If you’re retweeting an article yourself, have an opinion of your own.

YouTube is owned by Google. That means it’s powered by the singularly most powerful search  engine in the world. If you’re not already putting video content up, consider it. As a service professional we want to know about you. Clients gain so much more traction by allowing people in to see who they are and the passion behind what they do, not to mention their own personal style.


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