People think of a lot of different things when they hear “brand”. Some of my fave lady friends think of Nordstroms or Coach when they think of brands. My business friends often think of companies like Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart and Disney who are internationally recognized. But what about individuals?
Have you ever seen someone walk into a room and just shine, and you wonder if they’re a celebrity or not. I know so many people who just sparkle: they have amazing hair, they are well-styled and they seem confident in a crowd. They handle tricky conversations with grace, and their sense of humor is on point.
Did you realize that these things are a major part of your personal brand?
As far as outfits and styling goes, I leave that up to talented women to help me, like Army Veteran Toni Brooks, who helped me figure out what shapes and colors match me best. She is a rockstar at what she does, and she is one of those “sparklers” I mentioned. When I think of her, I think of upbeat, positive, and no-nonsense business woman. She has created a fantastic brand for herself, and you should take a page from her book.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou
Here are some things to consider as you build a reputation and brand identity for yourself:
- Who is your ideal client and would they be attracted to you? There is a universal truth on Earth – you tend to attract who you are to yourself.
- Be an expert, not a know-it-all. If you are an expert in an area, you are expected to help people with their pain points in that area anyway, so why not be helpful, not hurtful.
- How do we treat strangers, even when we don’t view them as clients or prospects? You really never know where or how your next sale will come, or who will recommend you. Fellow veterans make great leads! Leaving a great impression via social media, 10-minute phone call, or email can lead to word-of-mouth referrals that are priceless.
- Swearing. Can be good, or can be bad. Some people don’t like swearing, and others think it is acceptable sometimes. I am a very laid-back, personal person. I absolutely avoid dropping f-bombs and other seriously crappy cuss words in unfamiliar company. [One of my 2015 goals is to stop swearing completely, I know I can do it!]
- Ripping people new ones in public. In the military, we are okay with ripping someone a “new one” … in fact sometimes getting ripped is a rite of passage, and can also be pretty entertaining. I have been publicly reamed out in more ways than one, and I think it has made me a better person. However, civilians did not join the military, and I highly doubt ripping someone a new one at a business meeting will go over well [I feel a Buzzfeed Video idea brewing]. All kidding aside, avoid doing that in private or in public, in an email, conference call, or any other professional setting. Outside the military, people don’t really appreciate a good chew-out session, and word spreads to vendors and business contacts quickly. You may lose out on opportunities before they even come your way if you have no filter. Ask questions about the issue to get to the root of the problem and then have a conversation in private with the person.
This is just my list based on my own personal experiences, but I’d be curious to see if you have more! I know we have a great military community online and I’d love to hear your advice for new military entrepreneurs. I love the funny cultural things that make our military different.