Archive for ‘Stand out from the crowd’

05/05/2011

Put some personality in the pitch

personal brand elevator pitchWhen I wrote my blog 5 Words We All Dread: “And what do you do?” and chatted about it with people I met, it seemed that no matter what our age or status, this simplest of questions was leaving us stumped.  (Although help is on hand in my follow-up blogs).

Which is why I was interested in Personal Brand Week, an event run in the USA by PwC to help students learn more about the importance of a personal brand and teach them early on how to stand-out in a crowded job market.

Included in the week was a competition to find the best elevator pitch and here’s the winning entry for you to watch: http://www.facebook.com/PwCUSCareers?sk=app_7146470109

So what do you think?

For me, whilst I appreciate Susan’s skill in fitting so much into 30 seconds it didn’t float my boat.  Why? A lot has to do with the cultural differences (defining and sharing your personal brand is in its infancy in the UK and self-promotion of this strength jars).  But just as much has to do with the lack of clues as to who Susan actually is; from all she said, the only bit that stuck in my mind was that she’d spent time in China and could say, “Goodbye” in Mandarin.  

And here’s the point…

People buy people before they buy what they’re selling so there’s a balance to be had between selling them what you can do and selling them who you are (as my personal brand experiment aimed to show). 

 The trouble is, we’ve been brought up to converse only in business speak, just as Susan did: “driven leader”, “committment to excellence”, “passionate advocate”, “thrive on immersion”, etc.  Instead, we should be balancing that out by offering people clues as to what we’re like outside the business environment so they have something more interesting and tangible to connect to.  

Think of the times you’ve been at an event and got chatting to someone about business and, whilst the conversation was OK, it certainly wasn’t riveting.  Then think of the times when a bit of personal information popped into the conversation – maybe the person mentioned they’d spent the weekend rock climbing or were going to see their favourite band.  All of a sudden, the conversation came to life and you started to enjoy the other person’s company – and ultimately bought into their personal brand.

Isn’t that what we should all be aiming for, every time?

20/04/2011

Try the personal brand experiment

Experiment with your personal brandLet’s try an experiment.  Grab yourself a pen and paper and before you read any further than this sentence, write down your answer to the following question: “What do you offer as your personal brand?”

x

x

[I’m leaving a bit of a gap here so you don’t cheat and read ahead!]

x

x

So what did you put? Did you answer with a description of what you DO, or did you answer with a description of what YOU do?

The difference?  The first one is the default setting we’ve been trained to use – to define ourselves by our job titles and roles. But whilst that is certainly part of what you have to offer, if you leave your personal brand at that all you’re doing is putting yourself into a box with every other person that does that job.

The second description however – what YOU do – says what you bring to the job that others don’t. And that’s what people need to know when they’re deciding whether or not to buy into you.  So think about that the next time you’re promoting your personal brand!

PS: If you’d like to meet me in person to find out more about your personal brand I’m running a workshop with the fabulous image consultant Natalia Colman of Style Specialists, whose guest blog has appeared on this site.  All the information is at: http://lookinggoodsoundinggreat.eventbrite.com/

PPS: I’ll be taking advantage of the unusually long Easter break to unchain myself from my laptop and spend some time outdoors chasing the chickens from the vegetable patch and doing other fun pursuits – so my next blog will follow in a couple of weeks’ time.  Cheers and enjoy the sunshine if we get it!

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I’d love to know how you got on with the experiment so leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other. 
13/04/2011

Your image: when distracting isn’t detracting

Personal brand stand out from the crowd with your imageYears ago I read a book about how to dress for success, written by an image consultant in America.  In it she laid out her rules for getting it right – and gave numerous examples of how, if you didn’t follow them, you’d get it wrong.  And while I agreed with much of what she wrote (let’s be honest, bad hygiene is never going to be a winner) there was one rule that I fervently disagreed with: if it distracts, it detracts.

I was reminded of this when an executive approached me after a recent presentation. He said he’d once been at a workshop run by an image consultant who had pointed to the red handkerchief displayed in his top pocket and told him to get rid of it.  She said it was distracting for the eye and therefore was detracting from what he was saying.  He, however, was having none of it, basically telling her to get stuffed as he’d been wearing a red handkerchief that way for years and it was now a ‘signature piece’ that people knew him for.

When he told me that do you know what I said?  Bloody good for him!

And here’s why…she was right that something distracting a person’s attention means it will be detracting from the message you’re trying to get across.  Like when someone has spinach on their teeth and the more they talk the more fascinated you become wondering how long it’s going to stick there, so you stop listening to what they’re saying.

But what if the thing that’s distracting is actually adding to the message?

What if it’s giving fantastic clues to your personal brand that will say more about who you are and what you’re all about that your words ever could?

I’ve said before that my personal brand style is ‘City with a twist’ – I’ll wear a smart dress but then add something like a cocktail ring or an oversized corsage to let people know my big motivator: I’m different and I like being ‘me’ (although let’s be honest, there’s not much competition from anyone else wanting to!)   People then pick up on those clues and that forms the basis for listening to what I have to say.

Jonathan Straight - a memorable personal brandAnd if you’ve not come across him before, let me introduce you to Jonathan Straight, founder of Straight Plc which specialises in recycling products.  As you can see, Jonathan is a fan of the strong image because, as he told me when I spoke to him about personal brand, the whole idea is to be memorable; it’s easier to run a successful business if people remember who you are when they’re ready to buy.

Statement shoes can give strong clues to your personal brandOr to give another example: who can forget the media furore that happened when Theresa May MP wore leopard print shoes to the Conservative Conference?  Everyone said her shoes gained so much attention no-one could remember what she’d said.  But what did that matter?  She was speaking volumes about the kind of woman she is, making herself memorable and associated with a strong brand.  And look where she is now, compared to everyone else who took to the podium that day!

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Do you agree?  And do you have a ‘signature piece’ you wear to promote your brand… if so, leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other. 
05/04/2011

“And What Do You Do?” The Answer: Pt 2

Personal branding reputation management marketing yourself business introductions So you’ve read my introduction to the dreaded question, And what do you do?” and you’ve read how you could answer the question if you’re just starting out in personal branding.  But if you’re someone who really wants to tap into the power of your personal brand, perhaps you’re ready to be a bit more radical, to deliver a reply that really gets people thinking – then this blog is for you!

As anyone who’s read the excellent book The Jelly Effect will know, to be really effective at selling yourself, your communication need to focus on the benefits you deliver – the after-effect you will leave people with when they work with you.  There’s a whole process the book takes you through to determine what those benefits are, but for those with less time to spare, here’s my take on Andy Bounds‘ words of wisdom.

Get yourself a pen and paper and write down the answers to these questions:

Q1. Who do you help?
Q2. What do you help them do? (think hard not about the specifics of what you do, but the benefits that brings to your clients)
Q3. Why is that important in today’s world of business?
Q4. How do you deliver those benefits? (now you can put a few specifics about what you do)
Q5. What are some great examples of when you’ve done that?

And here’s how those answers fit together to form your reply to the question, “And what do you do”:

“I help

to
.”
  Using me as an example, I might say, “I help business leaders to get the right people saying the right things about them.”

Then stop…say no more…not a word….and wait for them to ask you more.

“So what is it you do?”  Now you reply with your answer to Q3.  This is about adding a bit of context to make the listener understand it’s relevant to them, so in my case it might be: “Well, you know how ‘people buy people’ and they can only do that if they know what they’re buying into? I teach people how to define and promote what I call their ‘personal brand’.”

If they’re like most people, the listener will then ask, “How do you do that?” which is when you go into a bit more detail with your answers to Q4 and Q5.  A good way to lead into that is to ask the person about their experiences in the area you work in. So I might say, “In essence your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room…so what do you think they say about you?”

When they answer I use that as the basis of talking about how I can help them find out specifically what’s being said (I offer a personal brand 360), define what it is they want people saying (another service) and teach them how to promote that (another service) all the while giving examples of how I’ve done that with clients.

This is very different from how we’ve been taught to give our answer ie state your job title and the company you work for, so it may feel a little odd at first replying in this manner.  But keep trying it out, adapting what you say based on what gets a good (or not so good) reaction.  I promise you’ll be more memorable than the other people your listener meets that day!

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If you’ve enjoyed these musings, or have followed this advice and want to share how you got on, don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

 
Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other. 
28/03/2011

“And What Do You Do?” The Answer: Pt 1

Personal branding reputation management marketing yourself business introductionsI set the scene in my last blog: you’re at a networking event or you’ve been introduced to someone.  You shake their hand, give them your business card and then they ask those five dreaded words: “And what do you do?”

If you’re anything like my clients before our work together, you’ll be hesitantly replying with something that you hope doesn’t make you sound like a big head or an idiot. But wouldn’t you rather reply confidently with something that promoted your personal brand and made you stand out from the crowd?

Well, as my clients can vouch, with my guidance and a bit of thinking time, plus some practice, you can.  So here’s Part 1 of my ‘how to’ guide.  Why only Part 1?  Because I’ve worked with enough people to know that some are comfortable blowing their trumpet loudly and others less so and depending on which you are, how you answer the question, “And what do you do?” will differ.

So Part 1 is for those who are just starting out promoting their personal brand, who know they need to turn up  the volume on their trumpet blowing but aren’t yet ready to give it the full toot; who aren’t comfortable answering the question without including their job title.  If that’s you, get yourself a pen and paper and write down your answer to these four questions:

Q1. What job do you do?
Q2. Who do you help?
Q3. What do you help them do? (think hard not about the specifics of what you do, but the benefits you bring your clients by doing that)
Q4. How do you help them do that?

Now use what you’ve written to fill in the gaps below and you’ll have your answer:

“I help

to
because I’m a
.”

So an example of my answer would be, “I help business leaders to be more successful just by being themselves, because I’m a personal brand coach.”

Or if you’re happy to leave out your job title, an alternative would be:

“I help

to
by
.”

At a recent seminar I gave, someone who’s original reply had consisted of a job title that was so convoluted no-one in the audience understood what it meant, ended up with the much better reply: “I help shareholders to buy and sell businesses by giving them the advice they need.”

The reason you’re stating how and who you help first and your job title second is because as soon as you tell someone your occupation their mind puts you in a box with everyone else they’ve ever met with who does that job.  So you need to get them interested with the benefits you bring before revealing what you do.

Now you have your answer, go out and try it.  I guarantee you’ll feel like a numpty the first time you do (I certainly did the first time I told people I was ‘The Antidote to Yes Men’) but watch and listen to their response.  Because I also guarantee they won’t sneer and walk off in the other direction.  On the contrary, they’re likely to ask you more questions about what you do, which is exactly what you want, because now you can elaborate and promote your personal brand even more.

But if you’ve read all that and think you’re up for something a little more radical, stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog when I’ll be helping the more experienced personal branders among you to come up with your answer!

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So what do you say when you’re asked, “And what do you do?”  Or what’s the best/worst answer you’ve ever heard? Leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.  Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other. 
06/03/2011

‘Go Large’ – Presentations & Your Personal Brand

Personal brand business presenting reputation managementAfter a week doing seminars and presentations in both Yorkshire and London (no, that’s not me in the picture!) I’ve seen first hand how important it is to deliver a large dollop of your personal brand along with your subject matter. Doing so gives your audience the knowledge they need to decide whether they’re buying into you as a speaker – and the sooner they do, the better vibe you’ll create.  That vibe will be felt by both you and them and like a ball of energy gathering momentum, your presentation will go from strength to strength and the audience’s enjoyment will go with it.

But promoting your personal brand to a large number of people at once, compared to a few individuals at a time, requires a bit of extra work – so here’s five tips and techniques to show you how:

1. Your Image
Both my last blog and the guest posting from image consultant Natalia Colman looked at the way you can use your image to give your audience clues to your personal brand.  When you’re presenting, you need to be sure those clues are coming across loud and clear and can be picked up quickly from the minute you take centre stage.  So whatever your image, go for a stronger version of it – wear your sharpest suit, your brightest tie, your boldest jewellery, your highest heels and a little bit more make up. (Not all at once of course!)

2. Your Sound
When you present don’t think of it as anything less than you’re putting on a performance and just as actors use their vocal range to convey not just what’s being said but the message behind it, so must you.  This is all about over-dramatising what you’re saying – longer pauses, wider tonal range, greater variance between loud and soft.  It may sound OTT but let me assure you, by the time your voice hits your audience’s ears, it will have diminished to just the right level and represent your brand as it would be if you were speaking to each person one-to-one.

3. Your Body Language
Now you’ve increased your vocal range you need to make sure your body language matches, so don’t forget to increase the drama in your gestures.  One example is to act like the fisherman describing the one that got away: if you’re opening your arms to illustrate something you’re talking about, open them twice as wide a you would normally.  The distance between you and your audience will temper the gesture back to its normal level. (I once worked with the MD of a company who didn’t believe this until he saw a video of himself on stage at the company conference.  He’d resisted the big gestures because he thought he’d look like an eejit, but told me he wished he’d done them because he’d ended up looking bland instead of getting across the bold persona he has.)

And don’t forget to connect with your audience through eye contact – looking directly at someone will strengthen the trust they have in your personal brand.  Add a beaming smile to go with it to show you’re genuinely enjoying your audience’s company and you’re onto a winner.

 4. Spoken Language
I’ve written before about using positive language to communicate a positive personal brand and it’s just as imperative when you’re presenting. But in addition to that, don’t forget to pepper your presentation with some of the key words from your personal brand – hints as to your values, beliefs, reputation, etc. These are the thing that make you you, so make sure people know that.

5. Offering a Connection
Just because your presentation is about what you do, that doesn’t mean you can’t tell your audience a little bit about who you are.  Stories and metaphors are a great way to bring a presentation to life so why not make them anecdotes about you? Use that funny story about the time you locked yourself out of the hotel room on your honeymoon in just your underpants to illustrate risk management (whilst also letting them know your marital status plus somewhere you’ve been on holiday).  Or relate the story of how you trained to run a marathon to illustrate long-term goals (and the fact you’re a keen runner).  I guarantee it will be these things that people come up and talk to you about at the end, because you’ve offered them a personal connection to your brand, rather than just a business one. 

So it boils down to this: when you’re promoting your personal brand messages to a large audience, do all the things you’d normally do…just do them bigger, stronger and louder!

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If you’ve got your own suggestions for promoting your personal brand in presentations, or just want to tell me what you think, don’t be shyleave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other. 

23/02/2011

What To Wear For Your Personal Brand

Natalia Colman Image Consultant Style SpecialistsGood things come to those who wait – and I’m pleased to announce that following my blog about addressing your dressing today’s offering is the delayed guest posting from style consultant and all-round fabulous woman Natalia Colman of Style Specialists

When Natalia recently found herself ‘sans model’ on a project she was doing with celebrity photographer Cat Hepple I was happy to step-in (well, who’d pass up an opportunity to be made to look glamorous and with Photoshop on hand to help out, I was onto a winner!)  So here’s her take on how image plays such an important part in your personal brand.  Over to Natalia…

“As an Image Consultant it’s my job (and my passion) to help people convey their skills, qualities and talents through the way they dress. 

“Whenever I work with any of my clients the first thing I assure them is I want them to be themselves and that getting dressed every day should be about getting across to people who they genuinely are on the inside.  Your clothes and accessories should be the icing on the cake and give people an instant impression of who you are and what you’re about.  Jennifer is a real expert at taking you through this process of internal self-discovery.  And when it comes to the external self-discovery of buying clothes and putting outfits together for different occasions, that’s when you can really have fun – dressing to represent your personal brand and doing it authentically.

“Jennifer and I have worked together creating outfits from her wardrobe for a variety of different events and occasions she needs to dress for. It’s always a great idea to spend some time in your own wardrobe doing some trying on and planning, writing up different combinations.  That way you avoid a clothes mountain and panic attack the next time you have to go to do some public speaking, go to a meeting, have  lunch with an important business contact or go along to a networking event.  When getting dressed for each occasion, you need to think about two things:

1. What you want people to notice about you  
2. What people expect from you

…then dress accordingly.

“In Jennifer’s case here are some outfits that she can go straight to when she’s out and about during the working day and how they do a great job of conveying Jennifer’s brand authentically.

“This navy blue matching dress and jacket is a favourite outfit of mine for Jennifer.  Navy is a dark colour that Jennifer Holloway Personal Brand Expert Yorkshire and Leedsconveys authority but is softer than black. How often do you see an ocean of black suits at conferences? If you really want to stand out then opt for charcoal grey or navy instead. These are still authoritative colours but will give you a different look to everyone else.  With everything matching from top-to-toe Jennifer’s outfit this gets across her attention to detail.

 “Jennifer really suits purple so this purple dress is a must for whenever she wants to make a bold statement and to lookBuilding brand repuation management coaching Leeds Yorkshire healthy and glowing.  The lovely corsage adds a quirky, modern twist to show that you can expect creative and flair every time you meet Jennifer!

“If you’re not sure what colours best suit your hair and skin tone it’s always good to have colour analysis and find out which shades and tones really give you the wow factors and which colours to avoid.

“This black and white outfit is perfect for a lunch or meeting clients that Jennifer knows well.  All the fabrics are softer, Personal brand image coaching consultant Leeds Yorkshirethe print on the skirt is bold so all of this contributes to making Jennifer more approachable. The jacket still conveys status and authority so if Jennifer wants a more relaxed look she can simply remove the jacket.

 “My favourite photo of all sums up Jennifer and her brand in a nutshell.  She has strong classicManaging personal brand reputation marketing yourself foundations but brings a modern twist to this with the shirt worn beneath her dress and the beautiful but unusual jewellery. This outfit says ‘Expect to rely on Jennifer’s knowledge and experience but also rely on her to shake things up and add her own special twist to everything she does!'”
Thanks Natalia – a great way to show how you can communicate your personal brand through your image (and she’s not even getting a penny for all that flattery!) And thanks too of course to Cat Hepple – a woman who has an eye for light and shade that’s like no-one I’ve met before.

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If you’ve enjoyed Natalia’s guest blog, don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other. 

09/02/2011

Addressing your Dressing

Personal brand for business in Yorkshire and LeedsOut of all the things that make up your personal brand your image is the first thing you need to get right, so it’s time we addressed your dressing.   

Think about it…if you are in a room of people and someone walks in, within seven seconds of spotting them you’ve  formed an opinon about them.  They haven’t opened their mouth or shaken your hand, but you already have a pretty good idea whether you’re buying into their personal brand.

What’s influencing that opinion?  How they look: their physique, their hairstyle, their clothing, their accessories, their personal hygeine – it’s all adding the picture. 

And every piece of the picture needs to add up.  We all know of someone whose attempt to convey a smart brand was let down by the fact their shirt collar was threadbare and their shoes were so scuffed and uncared for that the toes curled upwards.  Or someone whose pinstripe suit and snazzy tie conveyed an attention to appearance, only for that to be contradicted when they opened their mouth and their yellowing teeth and coffee and nicotine breath  told you otherwise.

So you have to ask yourself: “What do I want my image to tell people about me?”

The answer to that should reflect your personal brand.  For example, I define my image as ‘City with a twist’.  I’ll start by wearing something smart and having a hairstyle and make-up that wouldn’t look out of place in a boardroom (reflecting my brand attributes of confidence and making things happen).  But then I’ll always add something extra, like a big flower corsage or a multitude of pearl necklaces, to show I’m not your typical boardroom exec (reflecting my brand attributes of being ‘me’ and doing things my way).

So when you’re deciding what to wear in the morning, take time to think about what your key brand attributes are and whether your image (in all its forms) is saying that.  And if it’s not, perhaps it’s time to rethink your wardrobe, which is why my next blog will be a guest post from Natalia Colman, founder of Style Specialists.

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If you liked this blog don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other. 

02/02/2011

Who’s buying your personal brand?

Who's buying your personal brandWithout a doubt, the answer to that question will be, “Not everyone.”  And that’s exactly as it should be. 

As I said in my last blog, PEOPLE BUY PEOPLE – and the trick to being confident with your personal brand is accepting not everyone is going to buy you.  So embrace the fact and let it give you confidence when it comes to promoting who you are and what you’re all about.  I certainly did…

I once received anonymous feedback on my brand (something everyone should do – a reality check is never a bad thing).  The person said: “Jennifer has a strong style, like double espresso, but sometimes I want tea.”

Now, my first reaction was horror.  “Oh my goodness, I’ve obviously annoyed someone by being too OTT.  I should tone it down in future and keep my mouth shut more.”

And then I remembered the 3 Golden Rules of Personal Branding:

1. Be Authentic
If I tried to sell tea just because I knew someone was a tea drinker somewhere down the road I’d slip back into my authentic role: a coffee seller.  As soon as that was revealed, they wouldn’t trust my brand and the buy in would stop.

2. Be Clear
My personal brand is double espresso – I have a strong style that lets you know I love and believe passionately in what I do.  Adding tea to the mix would add confusion, and confused people don’t buy.

3. Be Consistent
If I gave people double espresso one day and tea the next, they’d start to question what I was selling.  If people can’t trust what they’re getting, they’re not going to buy.

So the result is the same: lose sight of the rules and you lose the buy in of your audience. The great thing is though, there’ll be someone out there whose personal brand is all about tea and if they’re promoting that clearly, consistently and authentically, the tea drinkers will soon find them.

One caveat that needs to be added : if you’re finding that too few people are buying into your brand, it may not be that you haven’t found your market, but that what you’re selling isn’t what people want to buy.  So take time to re-evaluate your personal brand, still following the 3 Golden Rules – you could just find your perfect USP!

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If you liked this blog (or if you disagree with it) don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other. 

24/01/2011

Business is Changing – NSS* (Part II)

Managing your personal brand in businessThanks for all the great feedback on Part 1 of this blog.  The comments on LinkedIn and Twitter show a lot of you are thinking the same as me: that you shouldn’t just accept business is changing – you should use your personal brand to keep up (or better still get ahead of the game).

So here’s Part II of my *No Shit Sherlock guide to changes in business to complete the picture.

Change #4
The viral nature of today’s communications is huge. Sharing details on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is part of our daily lives. Before, what went on in a company, stayed in a company.  That mistake you made at the Christmas party when you got drunk and made a pass at the boss is no longer just talked about on Monday morning.  There’s photographic evidence and commentary all over the internet. 

The impact
Your reputation, good or bad, can be spread worldwide at the press of a button. After all, how many Americans (or us Brits for that matter) had heard of Tony Hayward before the BP oil spill?

So use your personal brand to…
Proactively build a positive reputation so, should something go wrong, you have some credit in the bank to stand you in good stead.  Because if your personal brand rating is in plus figures, a knock to it with some bad press will hopefully just take you back to zero (which is a set back but not a catastrophe).  But if you’ve done nothing to establish your brand and you’re at zero on the scale, the same circumstances will see you in minus figures – which is a much harder place to get back from.

Change #5
This change links to #4, as well as #1 and #2 in the previous blog.  Advances in technology now allow us to work ‘Martini Hours’ – any time, any place, any where – and that’s increased competition.

The impact
If people don’t need to be in the office to work, you’re not just competing for jobs and contracts with others in the same town or region, you could be competing with people on another continent (just look at the trend for moving call centres to India).

So use your personal brand to…
Be overt about the value of your face-to-face, personal interaction and demonstrate the extra mile you go for people because your regular contact has created a rapport and relationship that they just won’t get from someone in a different time zone.

Change #6
All of the changes I’ve been talking about lead to one thing: increased choice.  This has lots of upsides but a big downside is we’ve reached saturation point, leaving decision-making a lot harder.  In the old days, logic would take care of it; if two people went for a job and one had a qualification the other didn’t, the qualified one would be odds on to get it.  Now, everyone going for the job is qualified, there’s no difference between them, so logic won’t work.

The impact
Instead, people are using more emotional reasoning to make a decision.  They look for a connection to the person, measuring their values, behaviours, attitudes, etc against their own.

So use your personal brand to…
Set out your stall with more than just your skills – be clear about the emotional value you offer too.  Reveal something of you as a person, to differentiate yourself from the next candidate and take advantage of creating a bond others might not.  For instance, I often drop into conversations that I keep bees and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the response, “Really, I’m a beekeeper too!”   The result?  Our conversation moves to a personal level where the chances of me standing out from the crowd increase immeasurably.

So now you know what to do – what are you waiting for?!

If you agree or disagree with this blog, don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other.