In recent years, we’ve seen a shift in how successful business is conducted. Because of the recession and the jaded nature of society, people are looking to work with businesses that are about making a difference instead of focused exclusively on making money.
Every business exists to make a profit, or at least enough money to pay the overhead costs they incur. That’s just smart business. However, the truly successful businesses have figured out that success is way more than turning a profit.
In order to be outstanding and have a business brand that exudes leadership in your industry, you have to shift your company focus. The focus must become one of how to make it about others. In other words, what is your fundamental business mission and how does it make a difference for others?
This shift in focus must be felt by every single employee- make it a culture. That means each employee’s personal brands must be cultivated to exude the mentality of making it about others. If employees do not understand their unique contribution to the landscape, then they have a weak personal brand that infects the entire company.
So stop and think about:
- Does your company/business really make a difference in the community (local, regional, national, international)?
- If so, give a detailed explanation of WHY.
- If so, give a detailed explanation of HOW.
- Do each of the employees understand this purpose- are the employees receiving: a) regular training and development of their personal brands and development as contributors to the organization b) an incentive to motivate them to strive to make the difference every day?
Mergers and acquisitions are a topic from my previous career as an attorney. However, it applies to personal brand management just as well. We see the impact, first-hand, of what happens to the corporate brands when two entities merge as a result of an acquisition. It’s often times anything but pretty- for the companies involved and all the employees. I was recently interviewed on this topic. See the video below or click on the link http://http://vimeo.com/65261213.
In personal brand management, we are always looking at the two “C”s, clarity and consistency. When two companies merge, we find the clarity and consistency of the brands (both corporate and personal brands of the people) take a big hit.
I was having lunch recently with an employee who had witnessed his company be acquired by another. He was anything but happy by the new corporate brand. He felt completely lost and left out of his “new” company. He was telling me he felt like his voice no longer mattered- that the new company had forced their beliefs and procedures and entire brand philosophy on his acquired company. As a result, he was disillusioned and wondering how long he could take it anymore.
Personal brand management is about feeling unique, owning your uniqueness and communicating your best qualities with confidence to your target market. It is extremely hard to work somewhere when you think your company (and you) no longer matters. We find employees’ self-confidence and ability to express their unique qualities is eroded often to a point of no return. When the trust factor fails, productivity decreases and a quality personal brand fades fast.
The key is for management to have a solid brand consolidation plan post-mergers. This plan MUST include a personal brand management portion so that each employee understands: 1) the new corporate brand messaging and positioning and 2) their own personal brand so they can fit well within the new entity and produce results and be in harmony with other employees.
We’ve all heard people referred to as “technicians” of their craft/ job/career/business/profession. Sometimes people call it an “expert”. But what does it mean to be a “technician” and is it the same as an “expert”?
In my personal branding opinion, they are not the same. In fact, I encourage you all to be an expert IN ADDITION to being a technician.
I often find clients come to us because they are suffering from being a really good technician. All they know is their substantive work. They are really good lawyers, CEOs, senior management, CPAs, doctors, dentists, engineers, etc. By the time they get to me, they realize that something is missing. While they are really good at WHAT they do for a living, they are usually not happy, not promotable, not memorable, not liked, not prosperous if they are running a business, etc. The list goes on and on. Want to know why?
It is because they are lopsided in their personal brand. They are masters at their craft, but not well-rounded. What good is it if you are a master, but no one sees you as the “expert”? If you keep your door shut all day long mastering your craft and being a great technician, it only gets you so far in life and in business. No one remembers you for being a great lawyer or CPA necessarily.
The key is to be well-balanced as a personal brand. No one should expect perfection from us in business. However, everyone does and should expect quality work product we can all stand behind and own. This means having your substantive work down firm, but also knowing how to effectively communicate your OWN uniqueness that would have us remember you for your substantive work one day. That’s what I call an “expert”- substantively knowing what you are doing AND having us see you as such.
- Are you JUST a master of your substantive work? If so, why so lopsided?
- How is your personal brand messaging coming across to your target audience? Do you even have one?
- What are you going to do to be a balanced personal brand that we all remember?
In my line of work, we are always studying perception value: that of clients’, their target market, the public’s, etc. We do this in an effort to be able to accurately gauge, and thus control that almighty first impression. You know the moment, even if you want to try and forget some of the not-s0-good ones you’ve had. It’s all about when you first notice someone- from across the crowded networking room or at a meeting. Do they “sit” well with you or not? Do you “like” them or not? Do they look smart and credible or not?
So what exactly equals a good first impression? Is it something we can quantify somehow so we can recreate the success formula over and over again- or at least know when we don’t see it?
A litigator was recently lamenting to me about a jury trial she was involved with. She was really upset because she had lost the case as the prosecution, but not on the merits, in her opinion. The jury had said that they did not find the defendant to be the harasser (ie, guilty) because he had been “nice” to his wife in the courtroom when he had opened the court gate door for her. So in essence it appears, at least on first blush, that the jury was more swayed by the defendant’s demeanor towards women, ie being a gentleman, rather than the evidence.
Lesson: first impressions go a long way, even in jury trials. It’s all about that first impression we form that we just cannot shake, despite the facts to the contrary even sometimes.
In my opinion, first impressions are a moving target because you cannot predict the mindset of the audience who first perceives you. However, you are firmly in control of how YOU want to show up at first and the energy and personal brand you want to lead with when you meet new people and leave first impressions. If you believe you are doing and resonating your best self and best personal brand, then we will all get a fabulous first impression from you. As humans, it is not always conscious processing we go through to get there, but nevertheless we consciously know and feel the end result- whether we like you and want to get to know you better or not.
SO GO OUT THERE AND MAKE A FABULOUS FIRST IMPRESSION AND COME TELL US ABOUT IT.
In my coursework about personal brand management, the emphasis is always on finding our uniqueness so that we can stand out from the crowd, be credible and then make money and be happy. Otherwise, how would you and your business ever get noticed and get work.
However, I also like to harp on the concept of sameness. This concept’s foundation is in A Course In Miracles. In particular, I love the phrase “Make today different by seeing everyone the same”. The belief is that if we all saw one another as the same (no less and no more), then we could relate better to others and create harmony rather than tension and animosity and hate.
Does this fly in the face of uniqueness and am I crazy for preaching out of both sides of my personal branding mouth? Well, not at all.
In my opinion and expertise doing this work for years now, here is how it works: the more you recognize that at the end of the day, we are all the same regardless of our external shapes and sizes and personal brands, the more you will be able to express your uniqueness as a contributing factor to make the “whole” of society better and more prosperous and joyful. In other words, our personal brand uniqueness can be used as a vehicle to bring harmony and light up our sameness rather than highlight one person’s strength while putting down another’s weakness.
Try this methodology on for size and see your world and personal brand strength change for the better. Email me if you have questions.