This is part one 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 was giving a seminar on the “18 People You Need To Connect with on Earth” which really focuses on crafting a strong social capital portfolio when one of the participants came up to me in tears during the first break. She didn’t know if what she was doing right now in her life is what she really wanted to do. In fact, she was thinking of seriously leaving her job and doing something totally different. Out of fear of raising any doubts to her employer she continued with the seminar. During the lunch break, her workshop partner (who was not a co-worker) confided in me that he felt she did not want to work with him and that she might be racist because she avoided every conversation with him. I shared with him that she was dealing with other things that had nothing to do with him and assured him that nothing she was experiencing was directed at him.
People hear our music not our words
In that short time frame, these two people went from not knowing each other to some potentially negative word of mouth that could of began. Why? Because we feel when something’s not right, there’s a disconnect or a misfire, even when we cannot pinpoint where or what that is.
With songs, we often know the tune and can hum along but the words escape us. Or, we make up our own words. Many hilarious conjugations of songs have been written about in books and websites and the underlying lesson is this – we hear the music and not always the words.
Personal branding focuses on our authentic strengths, our vision, purpose, values and passions. So, it is really important for us to know what our music is. And, when we have the confidence to be the best version of ourselves our music comes across loud and strong. Like a well-grounded radio station, people hear not static but a strong energy emitting from us.
We are all in sales
And we are either selling ourselves on why we can’t do this or why we can. The biggest sale you make every day is the sale you make to yourself. Are you sold on you? Do you know what makes you unique? Do you know why people like to connect with you? Do you know why people do business with you? Do you know why people request you?
Knowing your personal brand will help unearth all of those items that make you so very unique. Positive word of mouth means that you move, touch and inspire others to action and to speak positively on your behalf. How can you provide them the ammunition to speak positively about you when you yourself do not know what makes you uniquely different?
In a recent study by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, they found that 78% of people will act on a referral or recommendation of someone they know, like and trust. They also found that 92% of people prefer to have referrals and recommendations for products, services and people.
If you want positive word of mouth about you and to harness that tremendous power, then you have to do the leg work and know what your unique brand attributes are and your strengths. In personal branding, you have to do all the heavy lifting first yet do know that the benefits of doing the work will produce exponential results.
First, do a little research
To find out what others are already saying about you is not an easy task. Most of us, when asked face to face for our honest opinion of someone, falter at giving a truly honest answer. Start with those people that are within arm’s length of you. This could be your personal fan club or brand advocates. Don’t know who these people are?
Here’s some people who could be your personal brand advocates:
- Your parents (yes, it’s okay to list them no matter how old you are if they speak positively on your behalf and can give some insight on what makes you unique. While there may be many statements that are “just because you’re their child” there could be some golden nuggets that are your personal brand attributes. As we compare this to what other advocates say, what we’re searching for are trends and commonalities.)
- A mentor
- A supervisor
- Someone you’ve mentored or taught
- Close friends
- Former instructors
- Church leaders
- Former supervisors
Come up with a group of five people and now ask each of them this question…
What do you think makes me unique? What do you think I bring to the table?
And, the most important part of this question is to be quiet and let them answer – fully and completely.
In our next installment, we’ll cover what to do with those answers and next steps in moving, touching and inspiring others to speak positively on your behalf!