Self-branding: an exercise in entrepreneurial self-preservation
Creating a positive “personal” brand identity goes far beyond the quality of your business cards, brochures and Website. It requires the development of a personal image, one that positively enhances and promotes your business. Peggy offers four basic building blocks that – when constructed properly – play a role in the development of one’s personal image:
What does what you look like say about who you are? Studies at Harvard University show that it takes only 7-20 seconds for someone to make an assessment about your education level, economic status and social standing based solely on the way you look. The implications for entrepreneurs? People often decide to do business with you, based on your visual impact, within those first few seconds of seeing you. It’s critical that your appearance invite business, instead of rejecting it.
Verbal and Non-Verbal Communications.
The quality and pitch of your voice carry messages about your emotions, fears, enthusiasm and confidence. Like your physical appearance, the way you communicate can turn people on or off. And, in the same way you can alter the way you look, you can also moderate the sound of your voice. Nonverbal communication strategies such as a firm handshake and direct eye contact can enhance your personal brand.
Collateral and Marketing Materials.
Your physical appearance may declare “professional,” while your marketing materials scream “amateur.” Part of developing a successful personal brand is ensuring that all the components that make up your business send the same message to customers and clients.
Adherence to Business Protocol.
In this era of poor customer service, good manners and a professional demeanor can set your business apart. Consider phone manners. Do you always identify yourself with your first and last name? Do you always ask “Is this a good time to speak?” Phone etiquette is not old-fashioned, it’s good business. Attention to international mores is also critical – errors in international business protocol can be expensive and negatively impact on your overall personal brand.