Personal Brandby Dawn Bentley
Building your brand reputation
Creating, maintaining and evolving your brand will help you take control of how you are perceived and enable you to communicate your message in a positive way to your audience(s).
The simplest way to promote your brand is to be ‘out there’. Get yourself noticed. In work, that may involve speaking up in meetings, taking on extra responsibility, volunteering for projects and making presentations. People often do very good work and then never tell anybody. If you are one of these people, you are missing opportunities to promote and enhance your brand. It’s no good just assuming that your efforts will be noticed, so don’t be a shrinking violet. Find opportunities to demonstrate your experience and successes. This will help you to promote who you are and what you do, especially if a particular skill or achievement reflects what you want to be known for.
Your reputation is built by every contact someone has with you or that involves you. The trick is to be able to manage each of these ‘touch points’ as much as you can and get the credit for who you are. Touch points include
- Written communications: emails, letters, reports, internet social networks and, these days, even mobile phone texts (see also Business Writing)
- Verbal communications: informal corridor conversations, telephone conversations, conference calls, formal presentations and meetings (see also Listening Skills, Rapport, Presentations, Storytelling for Business and Telephone Skills)
- Gossip and hearsay: what other people say about you, what stories are around about how you have handled situations (see also Political Intelligence).
- Write a list of all the possible touch points that apply to you, ranging from telephone calls and emails to formal presentations, meetings and interviews.
- For each of these touch points, develop some success criteria. In other words, with your brand in mind, what could/should you be doing to deliver your brand at 100 per cent? You may well have several criteria for each touch point, as in the table below.
|Touch point||Success criteria|
- Decide how often you will review how you are doing against your success criteria: for example, at the end of every day, once a week and so on.
- Keep doing this until the good practices become habitual.
Moods are infectious, so the more confident you are about who you are, the more this will ‘rub off’ on others. Unfortunately, lack of confidence has the same affect in reverse, as we often see in politics, when a politician resigns because of an increasing lack of public confidence in him or her. So how do you radiate confidence? The starting point is to act as if you are confident, which isn’t the same as being over confident. Notice how you stand when you are confident and how you walk and talk, and then practise doing this. The more you do this, the more natural it will become; after all, practice makes perfect!
Another thing is to find ways of demonstrating what you have done in the past. Past behaviour and actions are a great predictor of future behaviour. This will encourage people to trust you in whatever you do. So if you are great at delivering on time, let people know; if you are great at solving complex problems, let people know, and if you are great at motivating teams, let them know.
Confidence is also about dealing with people as equals, no matter who they are. Your tone and body language need to match this to ensure you are not saying one thing and doing another. You need to be able to radiate confidence and believe in yourself. Confidence is rooted in capability and it follows that if you are doing what you are good at, you will naturally shine. It also means you need to be adept at knowing and managing your limitations and delivering what you stand for.
A stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in what you are doing or want to do in the future. In terms of building your reputation, there are some people to whom you are currently visible and there are others to whom you are invisible. Some of these people will be important and potentially very influential in building your reputation and career, while some will not be important or influential in terms of your career.
Using the grid below, map the names of those people with whom you are currently in contact and those with whom you need to develop relationships:
You can now begin to develop your marketing campaign:
- What actions do you need to take to ensure that people in the visible/important box fully understand you and your brand?
- What actions do you need to take to be seen and noticed by people in the invisible/important box?
Having completed this list, prioritise your actions to enable you to put together a comprehensive plan.
Additional ways for you to explore how to build your reputation, particularly in relation to stakeholder management, include considering which networks it would be beneficial to be part of (see also Networking). What networks do your stakeholders take part in, both within the organisation and externally? Which professional bodies do you want to belong to that will bring you closer to your stakeholders? Are there opportunities for you to write for one of their magazines or present at a conference? Is there an in-house journal you can write an article for? Who can you rely on to promote you, and how can you help these people do an even better job?