6 Secrets to MAKE & LEAVE the ‘bulls-eye mark’ of Brand YOU

I am delighted to host Peter’s guest post on the Premier Personal Branding Blog in India. Peter has been a dear friend, who is championing this mutually beloved cause as the Pioneer of Personal Branding in Japan; In this post Peter shares his 6 personal secrets on how you can hit the bulls-eye with your Personal Branding, time after time!

Sterlacci-Peter-Headshot1

Peter Sterlacci

About Peter: Japan’s Personal Branding Pioneer, Peter Sterlacci advocates using personal branding to enhance success. As a long-term resident of Japan—where “fitting in” is the cultural norm—Peter intimately understands the challenges facing Japanese to “stand-out” and is dedicated to empowering on-the-move careerists in global companies in Japan to “break away” from the pack and ride to success. He capitalizes on his 21-year career in training and development and his passion for cycling in his powerful messaging.

What’s Your Personal Brand’s First Impression?

Does your personal brand capture others at “Hello” when you enter a room? Whether you are interviewing for a job, meeting potential clients and partners at a networking event, or even commenting on someone’s blog, how you use your brand to say “hello” and engage others both in the real and virtual world will provide the differentiation you need to stand out.  Bullseye Branding

The first impression you make goes a long way towards defining how others perceive you, and remember, we don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, in hitting the bulls-eye with our Brand!

3 Tips to MAKE Your Mark

1. Maintain eye contact

In the real world we need to look people in the eye at first meeting and maintain good eye contact throughout the discussion. Especially at a networking event, once you are engaged in a chat don’t let your eyes wander towards the person at the other end of the room you really want to be talking with. Keep your focus on the person in front of you until you find a polite way to move on.

We maintain eye contact in the virtual world with our professional head shot – one that has a full view of your face, eyes, and smile!  Use Gravatar to link your head shot to the avatar that shows up when you comment on other’s blog. And don’t be an “egg head” on Twitter! Nobody wants to engage with an egg or a silhouette image.

2. Seek first to understand…

…rather than to be undersood! Too often we get caught up with proving our brand to others by boasting about our credentials, experience, ability, and skills. Our personal brands speak for themselves, so let your brand do the talking!  When meeting people, be the first to ask questions and find a common ground. Listen actively to what others have to say by acknowledging their input and responding sincerely.

Even in the virtual world we need to be listeners. Social media channels are a wealth of insight, ideas, and thought leadership.  Use an 80/20 rule – maximize 80% of your time as a listener and 20% as a talker. By following this rule, the contribution you eventually make will give off an impression of value to your target audience.

3.  Use people’s names and personalize your connections

What’s in a name? EVERYTHING!  People like to hear their own names so make an extra effort to use someone’s names in every interaction. After leaving a chat, thank the other person for their time –  “It’s been great talking with you Peter.”  When commenting on a blog use the person’s name and recognize their contribution before giving your comment – “Thank you Peter for this great post.  I really agree with what you said about…  I often feel that…,”.  A great way to personalize your request is to avoid the standard canned request when connecting with others on LinkedIn. By making your request personal it will demonstrate your sincere interest in connecting with that specific person rather than simply increasing the number of connections you have.

What’s Your Personal Brand’s Lasting Impression?

Just as we need to be aware of the first impression our personal brand makes when we walk into a room, we also need to think about the lasting impression we leave behind after we say “goodbye.” People will always make decisions about you after you leave the ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ rooms. Their decision to connect with you will be based on their emotional reaction from that very first meeting, but they will always later rationalize their decision based on the lasting impression you leave behind after you have left the room.

3 Tips to Leave Your Mark

1. Respond and give thanks sooner than later

A good rule to follow here is what I call the “24-hour rule.” Send an email within a day after leaving a real world event to all the people you engaged with. Thank them for their time and even mention something that they shared with you. This shows you were listening and valued their contribution.

In your virtual world always thank someone for following you, mentioning a post you wrote/shared, retweeting your tweets, liking your Facebook page, or commenting on your blog. When others feel you have something valuable to share with members of their own community, show your appreciation and say thank you right away.

 2. Give credit where credit is due

To this day I remember the President of a university I worked for telling me “Go ahead and copy my idea. Just give me credit for it!”

Blogs, eBooks, and online portals have enabled any one of us to be ‘published’. Personal publishing as an important trend for demonstrating thought leadership and extending your personal brand. It is now more important than ever to share the resources where you have gained your insight, tools, and knowledge. For example, “I picked up some great tips from XYZ Blog so check it out this link.” or “My personal branding approach uses Reach’s proven 1-2-3 Success methodology.” In your social media channels always refer to the source of the tweet, post, or video you are sharing.

3. Ask yourself if you are ‘on-brand’ or ‘off-brand’

Is what you are about to say or do going to support your brand or potentially damage it? You might be a thought leader in your field, but an insulting comment could leave a mark that you do not want to be remembered for.

In the virtual world you leave digital footprints behind you. Mind what you say in your blog posts, tweets, Facebook updates, and comments on sites. Personal publishing may be an effective way to leave a lasting impression, but it is also important to realize that once you do publish something online, it is available for the world to see.  You cannot take it back. Even if you remove it or sweep it under the digital carpet, it is likely that someone has already seen it and shared it.

You may have worked very hard on building a lasting impression online, but all it takes is one bad comment or photo tagged of you to show up on the first page of your search results to change everyone’s opinion of you. Use the “grandmother test” – if you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see or hear it, then don’t share it!.  Instead share the things that support your brand and would make your grandmother proud.

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