Brand Yourself Authentically to Improve Business Relationships: Presentation to Georgetown University Alumni

This Tuesday I am speaking to Georgetown University alumni via a teleclass about using personal branding to improve business relationships. (Click link for handout:  Use Personal Branding to Boost Business Relationships.pdf.)  Even if you are not participating in the teleclass, refer to the handout’s suggested resources to learn more about personal branding.

When I speak to groups of professionals about cross cultural client development, the issue of”personal branding” always seems to arise. In other words, professionals want to know how to brand, market and present themselves in a way that communicates their attributes and enhances their rainmaking at home and abroad.

Tom Peters coined the term “personal branding” in his 1997 article for Fast Company called The Brand Called You. As Peters explained, “We are CEOs of our own companies:  Me Inc.  To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”  In other words, how you present yourself will greatly impact your career success. 

Competition for clients remains fierce in today’s global economy. One way that you can improve your position is to communicate clearly to everyone–but particularly to clients, prospective clients and co-workers–your uniqueness and value.

Make sure that your brand is consistently and correctly reflected in your website, business cards, demeanor, appearance etc… And perhaps most important, make sure that your brand is authentic.  Do not try to portray yourself as something that you are not. 

To figure out your brand, start by gathering feedback about yourself.  Use diagnostic tests (like 360s, Meyers Briggs, DiSC); feedback from colleagues, clients and peers; and other resources, to define your best attributes.  Use this data to figure out your brand–the positive and negative–and then take proactive steps to improve it.  Try to correct any unflattering traits (self centeredness, procrastination etc…) that negatively impact your brand and reputation.  Similarly, try to build on what is positive and special about your brand and reputation by enhancing your attributes.

So, brand–or perish.  After all, as Tom Peters said in his seminal article, “It’s a new brand world.”


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