Mention personal branding to someone who lives on the quiet side of life and their first associations may be of flash, pretense, and puffery. That’s not how I look at it. Branding offers a powerful opportunity to help people understand your strengths and talents, to hear your distinctive story, and to grasp your values and preferences so they can come forward or go away according to how well you and they match.
You put a lot of candor together with a little drama and pizzazz, and you get the reward of working with clients who appreciate you, respect the way you work, admire your credentials and experience, pay when and what you ask for, and stick with you for years. Less stress, more satisfaction. With personal branding, you get better matchups with clients and a more profitable professional practice.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re a financial advisor for business owners. You help them figure out their best exit strategies – how they can readily sell their business when the time comes, pass it along smoothly to the next generation or simply shut it down and retire. Over the years you’ve realized that you offer an unusual combination of realistic, big-picture thinking about finances and emotional savvy in helping clients identify their wants, wishes, and concerns.
When clients expect just the numbers from you, they don’t like the probing questions you ask. Or you get upset because you observe that the way they understand their options are clouded by emotional hang-ups they’re not willing to discuss. On the other hand, the work also has a tendency to go off the rails when clients approach the issues purely emotionally as if you were a therapist.
Your branding solution is the slogan, “Hard numbers with compassion.” You use this phrase prominently on your website, on your business cards, when you network or introduce yourself at parties, even framed on your office wall where you meet with clients. This attracts those who want exactly what you want to give them. It also alerts people and reminds them of what to expect from you.
The result: clients who perfectly match your talents and temperament, and a happier you.
Adopting a slogan is only one method of branding. Your ideal-client-attracting identity can also come out in your company name, the photos you select to portray you and illustrate your offerings, the tone of your writing (brash and irreverent or warm and friendly, for example), a carefully slanted bio, characteristic behaviors, and “is this you?” portrait of who you work with, a “how we work” page, and a good many other options.
Approached this way, branding spotlights your key values, unique gifts, and idiosyncratic introverted masteries. It conveys what customers can expect from you and portrays your personality strengths in a positive light. You use verbal and visual techniques to dramatize those ideas, yet there are essential honesty and consistency underlying this clear, sparkling business image. Best of all, the wrong people – those you would inevitably disappoint or run into conflicts with – they don’t click with your branding, and they go away. The right people respond.
In the next lesson, you’ll get my thoughts on how introverts can work smoothly with extroverts. Yes, it’s possible!