So you go to a party and introduce yourself to others and what do they tell you? Here’s an example of what I’ve heard:
- I’m a realtor.
- I do marketing for an engineering company.
- I’m in technical sales.
- I do market research.
- I am a stay at home mom . . .
Well, yawn! I have to say that these must be the most boring ways to define oneself. None of us are just functions, and, if we define ourselves as such, we lose the unique opportunity to articulate the value we can bring to others.
Numerous benefits are garnered by having a personal brand. Here are just a few:
- Recognition in your industry – Your peers and those of influence will understand that you are the “go to” person for your particular expertise.
- A network of advocates – Those that have come into contact with you (or your reputation) will serve as a referral network or endorse you for different opportunities.
- New opportunities – The doors open for you with jobs, media, projects, and speaking gigs.
- Greater success – With a brand you can climb the corporate ladder quicker, have clients come to you, and gain credibility with your supporters and/or financiers.
Then why don’t many of us do this? Many of us work IN our business, not on it. As a sole proprietor, I know firsthand that I have to work on my business, and that means I need to be out in the forefront in order to stay top of mind for my clients and the industry.
Unfortunately, the advent of social media and speednetworking has made many think they are creating their brand just by talking. Of course, these are great venues to communicate your message, but you need to have a consistent message to be effective at branding. Chatting on social media without a plan is like the old adage – “fire, aim, ready” – it won’t build an effective and consistent message over time.
So, just like a product, service, or brand, you need a positioning statement which consists of three major elements of a positioning concept: the problem statement, the benefit or value proposition, and the differentiating reason to believe you can deliver that benefit – plus two additional elements: the target audience and the targeted category. I have adjusted the way that Geoffrey Moore sets this up in his book, Crossing the Chasm, by completing this more service-provider-focused sentence since a personal brand focuses on you:
- For (target audience)
- Who needs or wants (problem statement)
- My service is a (category)
- That (offers that value proposition or benefit)
- Unlike (key competitor), I provide (competitive differentiation/reasons to believe).
Developing your personal positioning takes time, so I will explore these over some of my next few newsletters. However, the best place to start is with understanding of your goals. What do you want? Where are you heading? What does success look like for you? Take a few minutes and write down what you really want in five years, ten years and beyond. These might look very different for you than for someone else, and that is okay. However, what you desire will somewhat impact how you position yourself for this goal. Tuck the piece of paper away for a week, then revisit it for accuracy. Be truthful with yourself prior to starting this journey.