When it comes to business, whether it’s the customer, owner, or CEO, everyone knows how important maintaining a respected brand is and how it intertwines with reputation and perception. Far too often people forget that there is another brand in business, the personal brand. We forget that we’re not just marketing our product or services, we’re also marketing ourselves, and this isn’t exclusive to business either. Marketing goes beyond the realm of the corporate world, and it starts with our image and actions on a personal level.
Before a small business can bloom into something larger, the owner is always meeting with clients, distributors, and customers. In those conversations and interactions, it’s the first impressions that can make all the difference. Just because they’re entrepreneurs and small business owners, they’re not excluded from interviews, in fact, they’re constantly seeking out clients and consumers, forcing them to hold a respectable image daily. The way they carry themselves is usually an indicator of how their business is run, and that can be either beneficial or detrimental. Perception is important in business, and whether the old saying is true “Never judge a book by it’s cover”, most people make their decisions based on first impressions.
It’s not just in business meetings or day-to-day interactions with customers and clients that are important to your personal brand. What you say on your Twitter or Facebook account, the pictures you post, or even the things you “Like” or the accounts you follow are all part of your image. When it comes to potential clients, they’ll seek you out, they’ll search for you or your business on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and if they’re not too fond of what they’re reading or seeing, your reputation is already slipping. The way you carry yourself on a daily basis has to coincide with who you are when you’re with family or friends. Business partners and associates want sincerity and realness from who they’re working and making business decisions with, and whether you show it or not, they’ll know the real you sooner or later.
Present yourself as a professional, dress like a professional, be professional everywhere you go. It doesn’t matter if you’re a college student, business owner, or employee; the people around you will draw their own conclusions of who you are without even getting to know you. It isn’t right, but the image you’re portraying will ultimately make the decisions on how others perceive you to be.
Your brand has to be friendly, open, professional, and real. Just as we are when meeting new people outside the office, the same has to be applied in the business world. Especially for students, this is a time when your brand needs to take shape. You can’t say, “I want to be successful” or “I want a job” while being lazy and acting in a completely non-professional or immature way that everyone can see. Have some self-respect, work hard, stand out from your peers; you’ll get noticed. The same for small businesses. You’ll get noticed by who you are and your identity; if it’s open, unique, friendly, and professional, you’ll attract customers that reflect what your business sells.
Personal branding is so important, but so easily forgotten. Start now, get ahead of your peers or competition in the business world, and show the clients, business partners, and customers who you really are. Make that a part of your marketing strategy. As a business owner you’re the marketer and advertiser, and you’re the best representer of your business and how it’s constructed. Good marketing is a vital part of the company’s success, but without a respected and honorable brand, your business will never reach it’s full potential.