Last week I had an opportunity to hear Melanie Spring, Chief Inspiration Officer at Sisarina, speak on rocking your brand. She kicked off the conversation by asking the group what we thought makes up our brand. Folks responded values, services, and such. Although these are all good things and important pieces of our business, Melanie shared that what makes a brand is everything that others say about you and not the other way around. Your brand is the reputation you are cultivating through your words, actions and connections. Although the message was geared towards us as business owners, what I learned has application at the individual level as well. Two elements that stood out as being key to building your brand are connecting authentically with others and building trust through consistency.
Connecting Authentically With Others
Whether connecting with people in person or virtually, what do others feel when they interact with you? What are you doing to build relationships in a genuine manner? Maya Angelou said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” You are more likely to associate with people that make you feel good, have similar beliefs, and relate to you. When you evoke positive feelings in others, they will be drawn to you and your brand more. The opposite is also true, you stay away from those that bring you down or are negative. Think about whether you are drawing people in with your words, actions, and behaviors or are you repelling them.
I was reminded of when I received some really great feedback early in my career. I am a direct person. When I was much younger I was told that my directness was often perceived as meanness. Hearing this took me by surprise because I shared my thoughts to be of service to others and not to intentionally hurt anyone. Yet, I had to learn to present my ideas in a manner that helped others see my intention so that they would be open to receiving what I had to share and to feel comfortable working with me. It made a world of difference and changed how others perceived me.
The other side of this is considering who is in your tribe. Dime con quién andas y te diré quien eres/Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are. The people that you surround yourself with also influence your reputation. Are those around you promoting or distilling the reputation you want to build? We cannot always choose our family but we can choose whom we hang out with personally or professionally.
Building Trust Through Consistency
It takes time to build relationships with others. Your audience, whether it be friends, family or work colleagues, needs to know that they can count on you in each interaction. They do not want a Jekyll and Hyde nor are they asking for perfection. As I shared, in some instances my directness did not work in my favor and yet, in others it did. Colleagues and friends have learned that if they want a candid response I will give it to them. And, they do not hesitate to ask because I have connected with them in a genuine manner. They want to know that you will be honest with them and that you will follow through. Do you deliver on what you say you will? People want to feel confident that your actions and words are consistent and reliable. This is powerful because you affirm their belief in you through your response. Once you have built that reputation, they will trust you. And, these individuals will become your brand ambassadors.
If you are not sure about your brand or want to improve it, si tú quieres, consider doing one or more of the following.
Reflect on these questions:
- What do you want to be known for by clients/supervisor/friends/peers?
- How strong is your brand?
- What are you currently doing to build your brand?
- Where is the gap?
- What do you need to start or stop doing?
If you aren’t sure where to start, consider your most recent review or feedback session at work.
- What feedback was provided?
- What did you want them to say about you?
- What do you need to change?
Think about the topics that your friends or colleagues ask you for advice on or see you as the go to person. Ask individuals you trust:
- What do you think I stand for?
- What does my work say about me?
- How excited or indifferent are you/others about working with me?
- How do you perceive me as a leader and/or team member?
- How do you describe me to others?
Your turn: What do you want your legacy to be?
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