Soloists often work in isolation and don’t get to see clients on a constant basis to help build that easy camaraderie you get at work. Therefore to succeed in your business, it’s critical to establish strong relationships through personal branding.
But what is personal branding? I believe it covers three areas.
Communicating the inner essence of you – your uniqueness, qualities, strengths, skills and passions.
Your visual communication. How you appear through dress and personal presence.
Building recognition and reputation.
At the start of your solo career, it’s a good idea to really think about personal branding – who you are and work out what your stand for. If you are a service provider, in particular, you need to consider that you are an integral part of a team. Wouldn’t it be a good idea if you really matched the clients you work with to your own personal style?
You can do this by conducting a personal audit to determine your values, vision, strengths and goals. By understanding these and how to apply them to your role, you will have a strong foundation for uplifting work.
Ask whether your vision aligns with that of the client’s company. If not, do you need to acquire new skills or develop your strengths further to gain their trust and confidence to be a true member of the team?
The next consideration for personal branding is the package. What does yours look like? How are your design, colour and look? What message does your personal image send? Your clothes, appearance and grooming are the external image of your personal brand.
At work, every email, voice mail or phone call you make creates impressions that build your business brand. In person how you shake hands, make eye contact and how you conduct yourself in social situations all go toward your personal branding. You need to take care of the details. High standards of personal presentation and presence will help you stand out as a well regarded contributor.
Want more articles like this? Check out the business branding section.
Some clients you work for may have a uniform that reflects the company brand and image. You wouldn’t be required to wear that uniform, but it’s usually a hint as to the dress standard of the organisation you are contributing to.
In a business environment there is definitely an underlying code of dress which is smart, polished and professional. By understanding the brand qualities you want to project with the work you do, in alignment with the clients your work for, you can create a look that is suitable, creative and stylish to help make your mark.
Write down some adjectives describing the type of person or brand you would like to be or project. Think of yourself as the product you are designing a package for. Cut out and collect some words, images and colours from magazines. Cut out images of clothes and shapes that appeal to you and reflect the words you have chosen for yourself.
You can then create a brand portfolio of ideas and visual examples. As you do this exercise you will begin to discover your style and what appeals to you. This is your logo – your own personal brand.
Once you have thought about your personal branding, it is now time to think about how to promote yourself and get noticed. First and foremost we need to be good at what we do. But what else can give us that extra edge?
Here are some ideas:
- Organise a special event such as lunch or after work drinks to help build relationships with clients.
- Network either formally through business or industry associations or informally by meeting current clients face to face rather than emailing all the time.
- Send thank you notes or items of interest to clients or perhaps to suppliers that have gone out of their way to help you.
- There’s also article writing and publicity – take a look at my article on getting PR coverage.
I believe it is important to connect with our clients as much as possible so we don’t feel isolated. Also, actively engaging with your clients will help you make an impression and build those all important relationships to ensure your business success.