This is part two of a five part series of the importance of personal branding in garnering positive word of mouth. In our hyper-connected society, word of mouth has become “world of mouth” and recommendations truly craft your online and offline persona and value. It makes all the difference between positive or negative word of mouth about you, your service, or your business.
I hope you were able to connect with your personal fan club and ask the questions posted in the first part of this process, Personal Brand and Word of Mouth – Part 1. It’s important that we research where we are in our personal brand and word of mouth in order to effectively move forward. Remember, we are not really focusing on what each individual says as much as we are focusing on the common traits or brand attributes mentioned. If you haven’t done it yet, for any reason (either fear, lack of time or lack of focus) you still can find out. I utilize the 360 Reach Personal Brand Assessment and you can, too.
Now that you’ve garnered some feedback from your brand advocates it’s time for you to assess what they said. What they said is the way they describe you and more than likely your brand. You need to see if that is in line with what you think your brand is. What do you feel are the attributes that you have? What are your strengths? What makes you so very unique? Does there feedback match with what you think you bring to the table or is there a disconnect? Do some of the attributes show or are there some that are nonexistent that you feel should be there?
For those brand attributes that you believe you have but are missing from the feedback, do you truly believe those are authentic attributes for you or ones that you should possess?
For those brand attributes that you have but don’t believe that is “really you”, is it because you really don’t exude those attributes or wish you didn’t exude those attributes?
This is something that you alone have to ponder and reflect upon. Understand that branding is not about positioning, it is about tapping into your authentic strengths and how can you tap into those if you lie to yourself about what they are and who you are?
Some people can do this part alone while others need the help of a coach or mentor. Whatever way you get it done, it’s an important part of discovering and developing a personal brand that garners positive word of mouth. Without it, you will not build a solid foundation and any word of mouth about you becomes unsteady as shifting sand. Build a solid foundation so that you won’t have your referrals and recommendation legs literally cut out from under you later on down the line.
Your word garden
Planting a “word garden”, is a popular exercise I use in my workshops to test if your personal brand “powers up” or “drains” positive word of mouth. Essentially, a “word garden” is comprised of words that people use to describe you. They are your spoken brand attributes.
Whatever you have harvested from your brand advocates you have planted sometime before with them either through action,interaction or perception. Does your word garden reflect what you want people to say and know about you? Does it reflect who you really are? Now, you see why that earlier reflection was so important.
List down what you want to see in your word garden. Now, do people use any of those words when they describe you? If not, then why not? Is it that it’s really NOT a part of who you are? Or, is it that you’re not expressing that in your daily activities and interactions? And, finally, what can you do to start planting these words in your word garden so that they show up when people describe you?
It is authentic to plant a word garden and is not merely a practice in positioning because you are taking something that is uniquely you and evolving it into a portable message that shows up in what you do and is easily communicated by others. Understanding where you’re at in the words that people describe you will help you better understand what kind of word of mouth is out there already about you. Now, how do you evolve to ensure that people are talking about your authentic strengths, speaking positively on your behalf and moving others to action?
To plant your word garden:
- Using the words people have described you with already, what actions are you doing that perpetuate those words?
- Are these actions that stem from your vision, purpose, values and passions?
- What words did not show up for you that you really want to be known for?
- In what ways are your actions working against these words?’
- What can you do to make sure your actions support these words?
Asking for word of mouth
It’s a wonderful gift when someone speaks positively on our behalf. Yet, currently most people hope for those ‘gifts’ from people instead of creating a plan to harness the tremendous power of word of mouth. Many people ask others to give them referrals with statements like “please say something nice about me” to “put in a good word for me” or even “if you know of someone looking send them my way.” Unfortunately, we usually receive something or worse yet they say something to this effect, “they asked me to say something about them to you.” Often the quality of word of mouth we receive from such questions stems from the quality of the question itself. When we ask better questions, people have a better idea of what our brand is, what are deliverables are and how they can help make the connection.
To further engage and really harness the power of word of mouth we need to craft our word of mouth curriculum and that’s what we’ll focus on in the next installment!