It’s time to start networking and building your brand. But where do you start? Before you decide to promote yourself on social media or set up that blog, you need to differentiate yourself and create a unique identity.
Consider this example, if you walked into a courtroom and everyone was dressed in formal attire, a man who walked into the room with a bathing suit and a tank top on would immediately look out of place and inappropriate. Now consider that this same man walks into a networking event in the same outfit as before, and begins to give his sales pitch for his new surfboarding company. Not only will this man’s beach attire be appropriate for this event, but it will more likely come across better received than if he wore a suit and tie.
The key to the example above is credibility. Outfits and appearances communicate clear non-verbal communication to everyone around us. This is why many times people will begin to form their personal brand around what they wear. Once you have a unique brand constructed, it is paramount that you continually reinforce your brand. In the above example, it would be important for the new surfboard shop owner to continually wear beach clothes at every networking event he attended. This will reinforce his visual brand, which we will discuss further below.
Your appearance is a form of visual branding. It’s a way of influencing your audience’s perception of you. Here are some quick tips on how to brand yourself visually:
- Adjust your demeanor and clothes to fit in different situations. Is your atmosphere casual or more of a professional business networking forum?
- Be aware of your audience and the competition. Who are they? What other brands do they associate with? Who is your target audience? What are they wearing?
- Use/create a unique style of speech. Your personal brand can be identified by even the way you use words. If necessary, write down the verbiage or some slang you use in certain situations.
- Stay consistent. Whether you realize it or not, people are watching and forming their own judgments of you and your brand.
Create A Following
Once you build a brand and reinforce the brand image, it is now time to create a following. A following is a collection of people who enjoy and support your brand. The following is important because it is a direct reflection on how well you crafted your unique brand. If your following is beginning to spread like wildfire, you most likely are connecting with your audience very well. If you find your following is not strong, consider going back to the drawing board and form a new brand image. Remember, it is not the end of the world to change a brand image that is not working.