You in 2017

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What areas of your personal brand do you need to work on for business success?

Those in business development or management roles in professional services will know that their personal professional image is an important factor to success. Their work involves meeting with potential and existing clients and other stakeholders, and possibly attending business networking functions, public speaking and online writing or social media.

Your professional image – or personal brand – plays into all of these activities. In fact, any touch point with your target audience, be it in person or digital, says something about who you are and the quality of the work you do.

So what areas of your personal brand do you need to work on in 2017 to increase your success in gaining more clients, developing the business and becoming top of mind in your field?

Consider some of the following expressions of your personal brand:

Your physical appearance: clothing, grooming, car, stationery

After years of driving around in what my husband calls ‘a uni student’s car’, I recently purchased a new car that better reflects where I’m at in my career. I drive around to see clients all the time, so this is something that desperately needed attention.

What about you? Do you pay attention to those little things that people subconsciously take in when forming an opinion of how successful you are? Do you need a new phone because the screen is smashed? Are the ends of your shoes scuffed? Need a haircut?

Your non-verbal communications: body language, tone, facial expressions

We underestimate the power of the simple smile, but what a difference it makes to breaking the ice, connecting and gaining trust. I’ve heard that even smiling on the phone can make a difference to how the conversation goes.

Does your body language say you are someone with important ideas and skills, worth listening to? Ladies – I am particularly talking to you – many of us have to remind ourselves to physically take up more space in the room. I often unconsciously stand with one foot crossed over the other – I figured it was a thing left over from years of childhood ballet lessons – but I’ve since learned that ‘closed’ poses like this undermine the impression of authority – important when I am speaking in front of an audience.

Think about how you sit, stand, walk – does it give a feeling of purpose, confidence and connection?

The little things do make a difference psychologically, both to yourself and the person you are communicating with.

Your language: when you talk and when you write

I have a friend who starts every conversation with a genuine smile and a question (‘So how are you?’ / ‘What’s been going on?’) that she really wants to hear the answer to. She is more interested in connecting than pushing her agenda. It leaves quite an impression.

Another friend has a mega-watt smile and always uses positive language in professional settings (and in general). She is known for her vibrant energy and passion for her work.

Consider what you are saying and writing: the content, word choice, attitude/mood, and how clearly and succinctly you communicate your message. What do your communication habits say about you… and how well do they serve your goals and values?

Your online profile: LinkedIn and other online bios

Are these up to date and complete?  Do they draw attention to your key strengths and serve your current professional goals?

It’s not only job seekers that need a current and professional-looking LinkedIn profile. Professionals and business owners can use this as a powerful representation of who they are, what they do and what they bring to clients. It’s a way of making new connections, when someone comes across your profile and feels it resonates with them. That’s why it’s so important to have a clear purpose and key messages planned before you write that bio.

I talk on this a lot and you can find some specifics on how to do this on the blog.

Your social media activity:

How private is it? How in line with the image you want to project? How consistent are you being with communications aimed at raising awareness of what you do? Are you randomly ‘posting and hoping’, being overly promotional and spammy, or truly adding value and connecting with your audience?

There’s a lot to seriously consider when it comes to how social media impacts on your professional life: just because it’s a part of every day, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be questioned.

Another one I write about and train on all the time.

Your expression of your expertise

Is it obvious, when someone does a search on you, that you are experienced, have worked with some great clients, achieved project success, and have loads of  industry knowledge? Could you go one step further and say that people can instantly recognise that you are sought after in your field – a go-to professional?

Playing on my mind right now is the need to update my website with more recent project case studies and testimonials. My LinkedIn profile gets a look-in on a regular basis because it’s a major tool I use to grow my client base. Where do you need to better demonstrate how great your work is?

January is a great time to reflect on how effectively we are communicating our value (what we bring) and our values (how we like to work). Carving out a few hours to reflect on these areas of our personal brand and checking if our communications consistently serve them, is a powerful way to start the new working year.

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