A brand is the identity of a product or service. Interestingly, the word originates from “branding” for ownership of cattle and other animals, but the meaning of the word has evolved to encompass identify, and can now take many forms (promise, symbol, general identity).
As any professional service provider (recruiter, lawyer, engineer, town planner etc) your personal brand defines who you are and what you stand for. In the professional services arena, technical excellence is essential, but so too is the ability to distinguish yourself from your competitors. Key to this is building a strong personal brand (this is separate to your company brand). Having presented on this subject a few times, it is surprising how many people in this industry don’t have any concept of their own brand.
Your brand is developed through all the points of contact with you and is known as your “brand experience”. When a candidate calls to enquire about a role – how do you treat them? When you are sitting in front of a client to take a brief or present a shortlist – what is their experience?
To engage in building your brand, you need to develop or align the expectations behind the brand experience, and the impressions that people get when they deal with you need to be consistent. To develop your brand consider:
- What makes you special or unique? (Point of difference)
- What is your value proposition?
- What can you offer in the market place?
- Just like a corporate brand, a personal brand offers a promise – what is yours?
- How is your appearance and presentation?
- How do you communicate (written and verbal?)
- What are your values?
- Are you consistent?
Branding is not just about the way you walk, talk and dress. It’s the way that you conduct business, your customer service level and your follow through on promises. I was talking to a client last week, who sent me an email that they had received from another recruiter trying to market a candidate. The email was filled with grammatical errors, and was very informal. This was a recruiter that she had not dealt with before. How is this person’s brand perceived by this client? Remember that every bit of correspondence that leaves your desk defines your brand. Consider too your personality – it’s important not to try and be someone that you are not.
Spend some time thinking about what words or descriptors describe you, and think long term about what you want to stand for. Always focus on fine tuning your interpersonal skills (including written) and most importantly – be consistent!