Monday, 8 September 2008

Building your personal brand

Chris Brogan, social media expert blogger and speaker in the US, often writes about building your own personal brand in his blog.

He has recently published this excellent, free e-book on the subject and, whilst in the web 2.0 / social media / online world it is something that is perhaps easily understood and related to, in the less-aware offline world of networking amongst business professionals, the same thoughts are valid and have formed the cornerstone of many a business person's networking for years - Chris manages to link the on and offline "rules of engagement" really well.

Many years ago, at a previous company, my boss had several simple mantras that ran through every aspect of his business focus;
He would tell me "people buy people" and
"its not what you know, its who you know"
and, having generated the bulk of his work through personal recommendation for his whole life, would always ask clients "if you are happy with our work, please tell someone else, if not, please tell us!"
It worked.
And he had an impressive, yet simple database of all contacts, clients and prospects that he could easily sift to find a particular person.

I learned early on the value of these words and have always valued my contacts - you just never know when you are going to need a bridge to someone or somewhere, maintaining trust and respect with your network is essential to being able to use those contacts.

Over the years I have stayed tight to those mantras and with the advent of social tools, the whole process is much simpler to put into place and manage.

I can use LinkedIn to manage my business contacts (and now have a clearer idea as to who they can get me in touch with by), Twitter to keep my network up to date on what I am doing, my blog to publish thoughts and insight and garner response from my network and Facebook and other sites to manage personal contacts whilst maintaining a consistent profile across all sites.

Having a clear idea about your personal brand is essential, knowing how to implement it online is the next stage and Chris Brogan's ebook covering strategy and 100 tips on tactical suggestions and ideas should be on everyone's reading list this week. Thanks Chris!

The key things I think anyone should take from it at the very least are:
> Be yourself
> Be honest
> Listen
> Be confident and passionate, but dont brag
> Apologize if you mess up, and be sincere
> Dont try to SELL. Few people like being sold to, but most like buying. Help them to buy.

I hope that my old boss will be pleased that I have developed his ideaology into my own variant:
"Its not (just) what you know, but who, and how you can use it for and with those contacts"

What do you think?

Picture credit Brymo

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