People are talking about you behind your back

It was just before Christmas and I was in my office frantically trying to wrap up loose ends so I could put my feet up and VACAY for the rest of December. I was in desperate need of some time off. I’d been back and forth to Europe three times in three months and I was exhausted. I was almost ready to turn off the lights when my phone rang. I have to admit, I considered not answering it, but come on, I’m an Entrepreneur, I know better. Good thing too, because on the other end of that phone call, was a $250K paycheque, flights on a private jet, more speaking experience packed into a few months than I could dream of getting in an entire year, not to mention the priceless lesson I was about to receive in the power of personal branding.

Brand is the conversation people have about YOU when you’re not in the room. That was what a graphic designer told me when I first started my business. I got it then, but when I hung up the phone that day, I felt it in my bones.

You see, I hadn’t gone looking for that contract. I hadn’t even heard of the company that inevitably hired me. And they hadn’t heard of me. But because I had been plugging away for about 7 years by then, building a name and a reputation for myself, there were people who knew me, and more importantly knew what I could be trusted to do. And earlier that day, unbeknownst to me, a couple of people had a conversation about me, and I wasn’t even there. THAT is the power of a PERSONAL BRAND.

People do business with people they know, like and trust. It’s the oldest rule in the playbook. In a 2012 consumer survey it was reported that 92% of consumers say they trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising. That’s a staggering number. But it also rings true. The first people I ask any time I’m looking to solve a problem (which is usually why we reach out to anyone), I go straight to my inner circle. Friends, family, colleagues, clients — rarely, if ever, do I have to venture outside of that group.

Source: http://www.nielsen.com/ca/en/insights/news/2012/consumer-trust-in-online-social-and-mobile-advertising-grows.html

So, you’re a smart cookie. I’m sure I don’t need to spend much more time convincing you about the power of a personal brand, but I do have a couple of questions.

Have you been conscious about creating the conversations people have about you?

Do your friends, family and others in your inner circle know, beyond your title, or the company you work for, exactly what you do? As in, they could describe it easily?

Do they know why people connect with you? Or might want to connect with you?

Do they know the problems you solve for others? Or the service you provide?

Do they know the kinds of qualities and characteristics you look for in ideal clients?

These things sound pretty simple, but you’d be surprised. So often, as professionals, we do the worst job educating, marketing and branding to those closest to us. We pour over a Facebook ad for weeks getting every detail right, but neglect to realize that our uber connected Uncle has no idea what we do.

Kick it old school this month and go through your list of inner circle Champions. Schedule some time to reach out and connect with them. Find out what’s going on in their world and how you might be able to help them. And while you’re doing that, check in to see if they truly know how they can help you.

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