This is part five 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.
We’ve been going through a process to extract, express and exude your personal brand. We’ve been doing this all with the focus on engaging that brand with others in a way that moves, touches and inspires others to action and speak positively on your behalf. If you’ve missed any part, be sure to go back over each respective part so that you’ll be sure to have a strong personal brand foundation to engage others with. Personal Brand and Word of Mouth, Part 1; Part 2; Part 3 and Part 4. Remember, it’s your responsibility to do the heavy lifting of extracting, expressing and exuding your brand for positive word of mouth engagement.
Whether you’re connecting for work or for your own business, there are people who are beneficial for you to connect with. I always recommend that you deepen your connection with those who already know you – those who you already have some degree of “know, like and trust”. Further, spend some time really understanding who you would like to connect with that would be an asset in your goals. For example, identify who would be a great connection for you. Who would make a decision or be involved in a major project, position or department you’re interested in. Or, who would take you further connecting with leaders in your industry?
Most important is finding people prior to the time that they’re in the “looking zone”. This applies to employees and entrepreneurs alike. For entrepreneurs, what does your ideal customer “look like” before they’re in the looking zone? If you’re a realtor, before someone has an interest in selling their home, what do they look like? Maybe they just found out they were pregnant and are now thinking their current place is too small; maybe their child just graduated and are off to college and now their home is too big; or maybe they just were divorced and realizing they want to start fresh or find a new place. It’s important to connect with people prior to them looking. When people are connected with when they are in need of something, they are leery of the intention for the connection. They wonder, is it genuine? That’s why the connection, the relationship, must develop prior to the need thus you are seeking to develop your connections prior to the looking zone.
To maximize this connection, when your connections are in the “looking zone” – where is it they spend time with others just like them? For example, in keeping with our realtor situation and targeting someone who is going to have a baby and wants to sell their current home, let’s say before they’re in the “looking zone” they might look like parents with younger kids already, or they might have been married a couple of years and are thinking of starting a family. So, where do they hang out with a great number of others like them? It could be at a doctor’s office, Lamaze class, elementary school or day care or even a Kindermusick class. Now, it’s time to think who serves them that doesn’t compete with you? That might be a SMART connection.
The best contacts for you fall into one of three categories: Your INFORMATION network, your REFERRAL/RECOMMENDATION network and your personal brand ADVOCATE network. And, there’s a definite strategic plan that needs to be created to fill each network.
Your information network consists of people who can keep you up to date in the latest of you industry or community. This can include association leaders, auditors, authors, policy makers and speakers.
Your referral/recommendation network consists of people who can connect you with your best clients or best contacts. Again, you’re looking for those people who can connect you with large numbers and those who connect with large numbers of your potential client or contacts. Who have you referred? Who has recommended you?
Lastly, your personal brand ADVOCATE network are those people who have already spoken positively on your behalf. Do you know who they are and have their up-to-date contact information?
It’s important to know this so you can make the most of your connection time. For example, if you’re attending an industry conference then instead of just connecting with people you attended a workshop with over drinks. If you identify, you need to know an author in your industry who can keep you on the cutting edge of the newest industry information, then you’ll have a focused plan on how to connect with authors at the industry event. Better to connect over dinner? Best to meet them immediately after the meeting? If you’re at a networking event, and someone is there who has recommended you and it’s been forever since you’ve spoken with them, then your strategy for the event needs to include making contact with this person and to keep nurturing the relationship.
Now, anytime you have functions or conferences you’ll have a definitive plan.
Do the work on uncovering and developing your personal brand. Identify who you know and who you need to know. Make and carry out a strategic plan and you will garner positive word of mouth.
Maria Elena Duron is chief buzz officer, coach and speaker with buzz2bucks.com. Buzz2Bucks | a word of mouth firm serves as the community manager around your personal or business brand online and offline, and coaches community managers on how to be buzz-worthy. Buzz2Bucks is known for the talk that yields profits. She is author of the book “Mouth to Mouth Marketing” and the ebook “Social I.R.A.” She’s been quoted as a marketing and word of mouth expert by Entrepreneur Magazine and contributes to several publications and is the creator of #brandchat, a weekly twitter conversation about all aspects of branding. She broadcasts weekly as the business coach with CBS7. Duron will speak at the 2009 Massachusetts Conference for Women.