Author:
Lou Sokolovskiy
Founder/CEO, Opus Connect
lou@opusconnect.com

Mastering the Art of Business Development Blog Series
Article Nine: Building Your Personal Brand Strategy – Part Two

Welcome back. We’ve recently been discussing the seven steps to creating your Personal Business Development Plan. Step Four is to develop your personal brand strategy, which is how you communicate to others in the marketplace who you are and what your value is. Today I am going to explore tips and strategies for building your own personal brand.

Be a Matchmaker
Of note, nearly everyone that I interviewed about this topic incorporates goodwill or helping others in some way into their personal brand. One of my colleagues and friends, Steve Sahara, is a Director at Stout who engages in a high volume of business development. When I asked Steve what he thinks his personal brand is, he explained that he is friendly and is always thinking about what others are trying to get out of the time they invest and how he can he be helpful to them. This quality leaves people with a favorable impression. One way you can generate goodwill is by matchmaking, or acting as a connector. If you can provide value to someone by connecting them with a potential client, referral source, or expert on something they need done, you are helping two people at once and ameliorating yourself to them. Perhaps in the future, one of them will refer you a client, or become clients themselves. To be a good matchmaker or connector, you should be constantly building and maintaining relationships. Organize get-togethers, attend events, and get involved with things that you care about and that are relevant to your career and industry.

Offer Brownies
Another way you can generate goodwill is by occasionally offering free advice. Steve Sahara, for example, is big on delivering results to prospects before they even hire him. Selwyn Gerber explained to me that he often waives fees on a bill or sponsors a presentation that he knows will not directly generate revenue, but that adds value to his clients and prospects. By offering people these “brownies” in the form of connections, free advice or other types of value- add, you will enhance your personal brand.

Be a Thought Leader or Expert
Another common and important component of personal brands is expertise, or thought leadership. Jeri Harman is a great example of someone who incorporates this into her personal brand: Jeri speaks on M&A and private equity panels around the country, and co-chairs conferences and boards. By highlighting herself as an expert in her field, she has built a reputation as a high level industry participant and influencer, as well as a subject matter expert in private credit and M&A. Indeed, taking on leadership roles in your field and becoming a spokesperson or authoring a content-rich publication (a monthly newsletter for example) can go a long way in helping to communicate your expertise to others.

Play to Your Strengths
Review your strengths from your SWOT analysis. Consider how you might highlight or develop them further. For instance, if one of your strengths is public speaking, you should incorporate that into your personal brand strategy.

Build Trust Through Authenticity
When people know they can trust you, they are much more likely to turn to you when they need something. A good way to build trust is by being open and authentic with people. Let them get to know you. For instance, Robert Derbabian shares his Instagram account with business contacts and allows them to see photos of his personal travels. And make sure that you are reliable by doing what you say you are going to do and following up with people appropriately.

How Do You Stand Out?
How are you different from the competition? Can you say it in one sentence? For instance, Selwyn Gerber’s CPA firm uses the motto “Beyond Bean Counting” and his wealth management firm uses the catchphrase “Providing Peace of Mind”. These short statements not only communicate what is different about these companies from other competitors, but they also directly tie into Selwyn’s own personal brand, which is someone who really cares about the people he works with and who listens to their specific needs.

Develop a Signature Style
I mentioned this in my last article, but Robert Derbabian is known for his big personality and he is always wearing a suit, tie and cufflinks. This “signature style” helps Robert stand out in a crowd and enables people to remember him more easily.

Be The Poster Child of Your Brand
To build a personal brand, you must be consistent in your message. You should apply your brand and message consistently through any text you put out there, your website, the way your office looks, and in the conversations you have with people.

Have an Attractive Digital Presence
Your professional profile should be impressive. You should also use social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, or even Instagram).

Be Great At Your Job
While building a strong personal brand is important, at the end of the day you need to deliver a product and back up your brand.

Hopefully these tips can get you started on developing a personal brand strategy that is consistent with your skills and identity. Next time we will delve into creating a plan of action to take advantage of this information.