Monday, December 15, 2008

The Art of Establishing Your Personal Business Brand

By Cambridge Who's Who Member and Contributing Author Lisa Parker

Each of us sports our own, unique personal brand. The many things that separate and identify us as individuals become known as our personal brand. All of the principle components of our personal brand, including our first impressions, demeanor, accomplishments and the value we place on interactions with others, determine the level of success we experience in both our personal and professional lives.

As we establish business and working relationships, we must incorporate those same principles in the strategy we use to develop our personal business brand. As an entrepreneur, I would like to share with you four basic steps I took to incorporate personal branding into my business.

Service and Reputation – The first step toward developing a personal brand within a business context is to decide what your mission is and determine the type of service or product you intend to provide to your clients or customers. Always deliver the service or product as promised and in the utmost professional manner. The expectation of, or perceived, service is the reason your customers will choose your services over other competitors’. Once you identify the needs of a potential client base, market your business based on the provision of those needs. By visualizing the result of your efforts, you will be able outline a plan of action to reach your goals.

In promoting my business, I researched other service providers in my industry and chose to provide my clients with a level of service that I found missing in a sampling of my competition: one-on-one customer service. The availability of this simple, consumer expectation is severely lacking in today’s market. A client can hardly expect satisfaction while seeking services when access to a concerned service provider is practically impossible. As my business continues to grow, I note that most of the comments from satisfied customers focus on their appreciation for being able to contact an individual service provider.

Marketing Strategy – The second step in promoting your personal business brand is obtaining visibility. With the unlimited resources and marketing avenues available today, you do not have to spend a great deal of money (if any) to establish yourself or your business. You may consider my techniques “shameless self-promotion”; however I consider the results monetarily rewarding. In addition to a variety of local advertising assets, such as newspapers, magazines and the Chamber of Commerce, there are plenty of online resources just waiting for you to tap into the benefits they provide. One little known option is using popular, free blog sites such as Word Press to help you get your information out onto the Web in minutes. I spent a short amount of time researching some of the opportunities available in regards to free advertising, and you can view the results of my efforts first hand by taking time to Google my business name in a variety of ways (e.g. Parker cprw, Parkercprw, Lisa Parker cprw).

Networking – The third step in laying a successful foundation for your personal business brand involves never underestimating the power of networking. In addition to the efforts you employ through advertising and marketing methods, remember that opportunities for networking happen on a daily basis. Large amounts of my clients have sought out my services after seeing my business’ name or speaking with other satisfied customers.

Aside from the many organizations that enlist members in the development of professional relationships with others in their career field, there are also plenty of opportunities to network in your local community. As a business owner, you can provide free workshops, schedule product demonstrations, distribute opportunities for entry into free drawings to local businesses and participate in a number of other activities to support the growth of your business. If your organization supports local events, be sure to wear a professional identification badge that mentions your business or service. The key to effective networking is to be diverse in your connections, and by this, I mean that you should not limit yourself to a particular industry, profession or region.

Association – The ultimate goal is to have your business name associated not only with the service or product you provide, but with your own personal name as well. Most of us already have a business name before we begin to research and understand the importance of branding. Do not wait any longer to begin marketing your name side-by-side with that of your business. Consider “Trump Plaza”, “Trump Towers”, “Trump University” and “Trump Financial”. Do you know whom I am referring to?

Personal business branding is the art of following the “Golden Rule” in the provision of services to and interaction with clients and customers. By learning how to manage others’ perceptions of you and your business, you will naturally establish a unique value that sets you apart from competitors in your career field.

Cambridge Who's Who Contributing Author Lisa Parker


Cambridge Who’s Who lifetime member, Lisa Parker, is a certified professional résumé writer (CPRW) with more than 23 years of experience in personal and professional development, and the owner of Parker-CPRW Professional Résumé Presentations. Her services help clients advance in their careers or pursue a career change. When Ms. Parker transitioned from military service to the civilian labor market, she was able to understand first-hand the difficulties that many professionals experience during a career change. Overcoming these challenges inspired her to provide guidance to others in the job market.

Ms. Parker assists her clients in preparing cover letters, thank you letters, follow-up letters, biographies, award narratives and entry-level, professional and executive résuméand curriculum vitaes. She also offers company and labor market research and helps individuals to identify their skills and personal traits.

She served in the military for 21 years in aviation, and retired as First Sergeant of an air traffic control unit. Upon her retirement from the military, Ms. Parker worked in the Department of Labor as a Disabled Veteran Outreach Program Specialist, providing assistance to veterans in the areas of job placement, military transition and résumé preparation.

In addition to being a CPRW, Ms. Parker is a Certified Transition Assistance Program Facilitator and a Notary Public. She is also a member of the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches, International Association of Workforce Professionals, National Notary Association, Association of Online Résumé & Career Professionals, National Veterans’ Training Institute, Disabled American Veterans, Non Commissioned Officer Association, American Legion Post 283, Women In Military Service For America, National Motorcycle Safety Fund, American Bikers Active Toward Education and the Victory Motorcycle Club.

To add to her accomplishments, Ms. Parker received the Customer Service Award from the Georgia Department of Labor in 2007; Certificate of Appreciation from the Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program; and a Meritorious Service Medal and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, both from the United States Army.

Articles by Lisa Parker

Friday, November 14, 2008

How Your Personal Brand Makes an Impact

Understanding the Importance of Performance, Image and Exposure

By Cambridge Who's Who Member and Contributing Author Philip B. Righter

Impact…you know it when you see it.

In its mathematical form:

Impact = Confidence + Competence + Credibility

To have impact, you must consistently deliver exceptional results by connecting dots and showing how the big picture relates to tactical execution; demonstrate intimate knowledge and expertise of the subject matter while exuding confidence but not arrogance; and maintain your composure and effective management skills through a crisis while presenting information clearly and concisely. The art of charts, interaction and the ability to communicate at all levels of the organization will also come in handy. (Definition derived from “5 Steps to Professional Presence” by Susan Bixler and Lisa Scherrer Dugan)

Impact and “Executive Presence” are concepts that most people can identify but have a hard time describing. If we watched someone with Impact and Executive Presence, what behaviors would we observe? The individual in question would project an image of confidence, competence and credibility.

Each of the three C’s builds upon one another. Confidence is derived from being comfortable with who you are as well as having a working knowledge of the subject matter. Competence is a reflection of how comfortable you are with a particular topic, and you typically display more confidence the more competent you are. Credibility comes when, through your confidence and competence, you are able to deliver what you have committed to. When you are credible, people believe you because your “Say/Do Ratio” is equal- i.e., what you say you are going to do = what you actually do.

You can increase your confidence, competence and credibility by doing the following:

  • Consistently deliver exceptional results – Everything starts and ends with the ability to produce exceptional results on a consistent basis.

  • Connect the dots – Be a clear thinker who connects the strategic picture to tactical objectives with accountability. Clear thinking is one of the main traits of a growth leader.

  • Demonstrate intimate knowledge and expertise – This is where many people can gain their confidence, as expertise is also a growth leader trait. Each of us should develop functional depth on a subject related to our position. You gain this knowledge through varied experiences and a compilation of skills. It is important to realize that you shouldn’t act like you know something when you really don’t. It’s OK to say, “I don’t know” if you commit to finding the answer.

  • Exude confidence, not arrogance – Be confident yet humble. Don’t act like you have all the answers and know everything. And do not be prideful, arrogant or boastful. Leaders with impact are open to feedback and opposing points of view.

  • Maintain composure – We all have crises and emergencies. Leaders with impact are calm and collected as they manage the issues. In other words, they understand the magnitude of the issue, put emotions into perspective, create an action plan and communicate the issue and plan to stakeholders.

  • Present information clearly and concisely – Here there are two equally important concepts: preparing the pitch and delivering the pitch. You must construct your presentation so the message, call for action and next steps are clear and flow well throughout the pitch. This includes the use of charts, colors and graphics. Once you have created the presentation, you must deliver it with the appropriate use of gestures, voice inflection, audience interaction and eye contact.

  • Interact and communicate at all levels – Leaders with impact can interact and communicate with exempt, non-exempt and hourly employees. It shouldn’t matter what the person’s title or job responsibilities are. Leaders with impact display respect and consideration to all. This is consistent with the inclusive growth leader trait.
Note that we can use the phrases “Executive Presence” and “making an impact” interchangeably. Making an impact means understanding that our economy is a meritocracy. The United States is a place where performance and execution count the most. Your drive, determination and commitment to succeed are part of the image you project.

The PIE model (based on “Empowering Yourself – The Organization Game Revealed” by Harvey Coleman) is a framework for success that lays the foundation for personal and professional growth. It comprises performance, image and exposure:
  • Performance: This is your entry ticket and reputation-builder. It begins your legacy – the common denominator in the promotion process. It also confirms your ability to take on more responsibility, helping you to stay above the bar as it is continuously raised.

  • Image: It is the message that you send before you speak, whether intentional or not. It includes attire, confidence and demeanor, and develops early in your career. Every interaction counts, so make sure that all are positive.

  • Exposure: This lets others know of your performance and makes you visible to those who can influence your career. It can be enhanced by a strong network of mentors, bosses and champions. Exposure is a double-edged sword; if you perform well and obtain exposure, you can score a home-run. If you perform poorly and obtain exposure, you can strike out.
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