We spend a lot of time here on the Personal Branding Blog talking about the importance of a strong personal brand to the brand holder. You get known more widely, you get hired more quickly, you get paid more, etc. But what about the flip side? What about the benefits to the buyer, the customer, or the hiring manager?
A few months ago I was interviewed for a magazine article on personal branding when the writer asked if I knew a resume expert who could provide tips for a sidebar in the story. I didn’t even have to think twice about it. Before she even finished her sentence, I said, “I know the perfect person: Barbara Safani.”
Barbara’s name is THE name I think of when I hear the phrase “resume expert.” In addition to running a coaching firm called Career Solvers, she’s written a book on resumes and has won national awards for resume writing. Frankly, I didn’t even know there were such distinctions, but she is one of the best in the country in this area.
This morning I woke up with the beginnings of a sore throat, and said, “Time for a trip to the drug store for some Airborne.” While there is some controversy over whether this herbal supplement can actually fight the common cold, I know that it’s worked well for me in the past so I reach for it at the very first sign.
Branding with benefits
If you’ve ever been reluctant to develop your personal brand, fearing that you’d be seen as a braggart or egomaniac, think about the benefits from your customers’ point of view.
When they can reach for a solution to their problems right away without having to spend hours researching all the options and taking a risk that whatever they choose won’t work, it’s actually a huge value to them. Their problems get solved quickly and they can go on with their lives.
In fact, you’re actually doing a disservice to your potential customers and colleagues by not becoming more widely known for the solutions you provide.
Lay it all out
So how can you do a more effective job of clearly laying out the benefits of your personal brand so that you become the go-to remedy for folks in your target market faced with a particular challenge?
1) Hone in on what you’re the best at. Not just what you can do, but what you can do really well and be one of the best in your field in. Will you be able to help out in related areas once you start working? Yes, probably. But with a mushy, indistinctive value proposition that makes you sound just like everybody else in your field, you won’t even get in the door.
2) Stake your claim in a specific market. People want to know that you can relate to them, that you know their specific challenges and have solutions to help them. While it might be scary to think that you’re cutting off markets, that’s probably not going to happen at all. For example, even if you say that your audience is women under 35, you will get asked from time to time if you work with women over 35 or with men. You might capture some folks from adjacent markets on an ad hoc basis, but in the meantime, you’ll capture a greater share of your ideal market than if you had just gone out with a broad message.
3) Be accessible. Let’s face it, we live in an era where convenience is king and whatever we want, we want now. We also live in an era of information overload where the only way to cope is to retain very little in our heads (gotta love speed dial and autofill, right?). So if you’re not making regular appearances in your market either in person at networking events, or online on social media sites, you’ll be easily forgotten. But if you’re able to stay on people’s radar screens, and have an easy way for them to find you right when they think of you, you’ll be rewarded.
A strong personal brand isn’t just for your benefit. When you think of all the people you could help if only they knew about you, it’s almost selfish not to invest the time and effort into getting your brand more finely honed and more widely known.
Liz Lynch is founder of the Center for Networking Excellence and author of Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online (McGraw-Hill, 2008). She writes, speaks and consults to experienced professionals on how to seamlessly integrate social media and traditional networking to save time and accelerate results.