“We don’t know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don’t always appreciate their fragility.” – Malcolm Gladwell
First impressions are everything in the world of sales. From the moment a client answers the phone or opens the door, they are sizing the salesperson up. Why? Because as humans we are wired to do just that. Evolutionarily speaking, our brains place everything we encounter into two categories; threat or non-threat. In addition to this subconscious categorization, according to Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, people also internally answer two questions when they first meet you:
- Can I trust this person?
- Can I respect this person?
In regard to modern society and more specifically business, first impressions can precede even the initial in-person meeting thanks to technology like phone, internet, and more specifically, social media. So, in these modern times, how can we ensure that our first impressions paint an accurate and flattering picture of ourselves? Cultivating a personal brand is one way to ensure that our first impression is a positive one. A personal brand is a cultivated image that represents an individual to others by clearly reflecting one’s characteristics. And unless you live in a cave under a remote mountain with zero internet presence, you already have a personal brand. If that makes you nervous, fear not. We have put together a few ways to elevate your personal brand.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw
The first step in elevating your personal brand is to establish a baseline. In order to create a blueprint for where you want to be, you need to have a solid understanding of where you currently stand in regard to how you present yourself to others. In terms of an online brand that means one word and one word only. Google. So before anything, google yourself and see what comes up. This will give you a firm understanding about what content is available to someone doing the same. Don’t like what you see? Then begin the process of cleaning up. Remove any unwanted content (as best as you can) and start being conscious of what you allow online. Want to be known as a trust-worthy confidant to your clients? Then make sure you don’t have an Instagram that’s filled with videos where you are trash-talking your customers (or anyone for that matter).
Create An Individual Voice
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
The easiest way to start cultivating a personal brand that belongs to you and you alone is to be genuine. Don’t try and be the person you think your clients want you to be because it isn’t sustainable in the long run. You may be able to pull the wool over some people’s eyes but sooner or later, if you are full of it, everyone is going to find out. Be you. And if the person you are is not someone that you would want to do business with then work on bettering yourself. After you have established who you are then you can more easily begin the process of packaging and presenting that to the world.
For me, I truly believe that discovery, collaboration, and compassion are the best ways to practice business as a salesperson. I have a lifelong passion for philosophy which has led me on a never-ending search for truth in all areas of life. This passion, paired with a career in sales, led to the idea for this blog. I hope to cultivate and promote a shift in business where slimy, slick-talking salespeople are a thing of the past. If I was not genuine then it would be impossible to sustain the brand. Once you have a clear understanding of who you are and what you hope to achieve then you can begin representing that idea with your mission statement, logo, website, and content that showcases your knowledge and passion in your particular field.
Surround Yourself With Professionals
“You must choose but choose wisely” – Old Dude from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Once you have established your brand, the next step is to start connecting with professionals in your field. If you are launching a startup that doesn’t mean to follow every person that claims to be an entrepreneur on Twitter (trust me, there are millions). Do the research and choose who you connect with wisely. Make sure that their ideals and brand align in some way with yours. It’s better to have 100 quality connections who provide valuable content on LinkedIn than 500+ who simply dilute and drain your online energy. Jim Rohn once famously stated that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with and I believe that wholeheartedly. Those five people could be your spouse, kids, or even the person that you follow online. If you want to be great then surround yourself with great people and consume quality content. Do you want to start a podcast? Listen to podcasts from people that you admire. Want to start a restaurant? Eat somewhere that embodies the type of place that you want to open. We all need mentors and peers to support our journey and push us forward.
“Your consistency says a lot about your commitment.” ― Rasheed Ogunlaru
Another way to elevate your personal brand is to keep it consistent. Make sure that all of your social media sites are under the same name. On that subject, take the time to change the URL of your social media web address to your name (or brand name). Make it easy for people to search for your brand. Put the same image (preferably your logo) as the avatar for all of your online pages. Trust me, it not only makes it easier to search for you but it looks more professional. If you are putting out content (blog, vlog, podcast, etc) make sure that you stay within the limits of your brand. If you have created a specific narrative then it’s important to keep your content consistent with your vision (which is why it’s essential to first understand who you are, what you do, and how you do it). I find having a mission statement to be invaluable in this situation because it gives you something to refer back to again and again.
Ask For Endorsements
“Life is a wall, you have to climb it by pushing others to climb over and you will be pushed as well. Give a helping hand today.”― Bernard Kelvin Clive
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your connections for endorsements. Whether it be a literal endorsement on LinkedIn for a skill or sharing a recently published blog post or even recommending your site to a friend. A personal brand means nothing without validation from peers. In regard to LinkedIn, there are a few ways to make your endorsements easier to access. The first way is to identify your top skills by highlighting the specific skills for your industry including both hard skills (CRM, Data Analysis, etc) and soft skills (Contract Negotiations, Team Mentoring and Training). I would suggest making a long list and then choosing the top 20 skills that you think best describe your brand and list them in importance.
Hopefully, these tips will help you cultivate a stronger personal brand. As long as you remain authentic to the person that you are and the value that you bring to your audience, you will begin to prosper in amazing ways. Regardless of the industry, we all have a unique voice, and the moment we start embracing our individuality is when we begin to truly find purpose within our community.
Don’t forget, the journey is ours so be good to each other.
Until next time!