On the back roads of New Mexico, you’ll drive on lonely two lane highways that will every now and again feature these signs… “Pass with care” and then “No Pass”. There are times when there are huge 18-wheelers blocking your progress as well as your speed down the highway and you might make the decision to pass or it could be that inevitably slow vehicle that can only hopes to achieve 55mph that stunts your progress. Either of those obstacles provide you the opportunity to make a decision….”Pass with care” or “No pass”. For safety sake, there might be times when you have to drudge along these drivers and look for another opportunity to leap frog to the front.
In personal branding and most specifically with word of mouth, there might be times when obstacles slow your progress.
The journey is a part of it
In personal branding, it could be that you get frustrated with the process of discovering your brand attributes, strengths and unique value proposition. Often, that discovery process can be frustrating and seem too “fluffy” especially when someone is so in the hurry to get their brand statement, business cards, logo, websites and make a sale! Or, it can seem stupid especially to that executive who thinks that they already work for a company with a brand they just want to garner enough people speaking positively on their behalf to get a promotion or land some great connections – they’re thinking “let’s get on with it already”!
You can choose to pass this process with care. Yet, it is one step that I coach my clients to “No Pass”. Sixty-percent of personal branding is making sure you’re solid in knowing what makes you unique in strengths and deliverables. If you merely position your personal brand, you risk much in there being a disconnect between who you say you are and who you really are. And, as we know, reputations take life times to build and moments to destroy.
Take the time to go through the process. No matter how slow or tedious the process might be of brand discovery and creating the subsequent communication plan. If you pass this part, even with care, you are likely to run head onto oncoming traffic and your survival chances will be determined by the size of the obstacle that hits you. Would you rather be chartering your own survival? And, better yet, wouldn’t you rather thrive?
Develop your word of mouth goals and strategy
In word of mouth, the lesson also applies. There are thousands of different social networking sites to engage in and lose time in. There are hundreds of networking opportunities to participate in. And, there are thousands of potential referral partners that you could coffee with every 20 minutes and fill an entire day. There are some that are good fits. Some that are far-fetched. And, some that are just plain time wasters. How do you decide what “opportunities” to pass up and which ones to take on?
The basis of knowing your niche (the perfect client or contact that provides YOU the most pleasure and profit) and having strategy as to why you would need to participate, engage, log on, link to, friend or follow, provides you the measuring stick and guidance to make choices on which ones to “pass with care” and which to participate in and “no pass”.
People transitioning to a new career or developing a business for themselves are the people I normally work with. One of the criteria I have for any new client is that they must have experienced some success in their field, expertise and/or industry. If they’ve not experienced any success, we are basically starting without the supplies and materials needed to move forward. These staples that we must be gathered first before we can build the solid foundation of a personal brand and the all important personal brand communication plan.
I start with the personal brand discovery process because it is the solid foundation for any word of mouth plan. Without it, your message becomes diluted, confusing and worse yet, forgotten by those who could help link and support you.
So now that we’ve started on this process – I won’t leave you on a lonely highway.
Here are the “staples” that you’ll need on the road of success:
- Personal Brand Attributes
- Personal Brand Statement
- Target Market (target audience/niche)
- Strategic Goals
Anything else you feel are “must haves” for this road trip?
Maria Elena Duron, is chief buzz officer, coach and speaker with buzz2bucks.com . buzz2bucks | a word of mouth firm, is the community manager around your personal brand or business/company brand, online and offline, and coaches community managers on how to be buzz-worthy. She contributes to several publication including the Personal Branding Mag and is editor of the Personal Branding Blog.