When Dan Schawbel initially invited me to be a contributor on PersonalBranding.com I was honored but also confused about how a leadership and workplace communication expert could add value here. So, before accepting I took time to assess how I wanted to position my contributions.
I realized that personal branding comes down to how and what each of us regularly communicate in the manifold contexts in which our personal brand impacts our level of results.
After coming to that conclusion it was a no-brainer for me.
I decided the place for me to start must be to share a comment from a participant in a recent workshop for a senior leadership team at a medium-size, regional not-for-profit agency.
In the early minutes of my program I ask the audience this simple question: “What are your biggest frustrations or challenges with communication in your professional or personal life?”
A young woman responded with “not communicating.”
Sensing a teachable moment I investigated further as to the meaning of her comment. She replied, “when people just don’t communicate”.
I replied, “Oh, so you mean there is just radio silence. No response to a request or comment you make.”
“Yes!” She replied emphatically.
I then asked her “you are aware that ‘not communicating,’ is actually not possible because as human beings we cannot not communicate, right?”
She, like many others, needed me to explain.
Let me explain and tie it into its importance for personal branding.
Not communicating sends some message that we must learn more about. If we don’t investigate it leads to assumptions and judgments, which are never useful to building the trusting relationships we need.
Not communicating could mean many things, such as:
- We don’t know how to respond and decide not to respond so we don’t look bad.
- We do know but want to hold on to the information for “job security/control” issues.
- We don’t like the person making the request and this is a passive-aggressive way to show it.
- We truly are overwhelmed and just haven’t been able to get to it.
- It’s just not a priority for us.
All of those “reasons” send a message.
None of them are good for our personal brand because it puts the control for defining our personal brand solely in the mind of others.
By “not communicating”, we give up our power to define our personal brand and how we are perceived.
If we have invested time, energy and financial resources into building our personal brand, we lose brand credibility by “not communicating,” or communicating less than promptly.
Here’s one tip that can transform your personal brand:
Call your own voice mail and listen to the outgoing message.
If your message says anything like, “I’ll call you back as soon as possible,” or “I’ll call you back at my first opportunity” change it immediately.
Change it to something that gives people certainty that they will hear back from you in a reasonable time frame. You can choose whatever timeframe you think is reasonable. My clients have chosen things like “within 24 hours,” “within 4 hours,” “before the end of the day,” etc.
Choose whatever you are comfortable with.
The only caveat is you have now set a standard that will enhance your personal brand when you live up to it and make you look like a fraud when you don’t.
So you know I walk my talk, call me at 845-463-3838 to hear my outgoing voicemail and see if I fulfill my personal and professional brand promise. The first 5 that call and leave a contact information I’ll offer a FREE 60-minute Leadership Communication Strategy Session.