It’s easy to be misled into thinking that personal branding is all about you, and only about you. However, building your personal brand is far from a solitary process. Despite the word “personal”, there are many others who factor into and shape our personal brand, and if you look closely, you’ll be able to identify (and celebrate!) those important individuals out there who are major players in “Team You”.
Our guest contributor, virtual assistant extraordinaire Natalie Guerin of Pebble, gives us some fantastic insight into the personal and professional relationships behind our personal brands.
A couple of years ago I was asked who was in my team? I replied without really thinking, no-one, I am a sole trader. Then I thought about it properly.
I have a large team behind me, and I am a member of many other people’s teams. Being part of a team allows us all to succeed in ways that would not be possible without each other, personally and professionally.
How important is it that our personal brand reflects our business?
As a Virtual Assistant, my job is to ensure that my work is carried out in a professional manner, delivered to a high standard, whilst meeting tight deadlines. This provides my clients with the peace of mind that the administrative tasks involved with running their business is in capable hands. If I were to turn up late for an appointment with torn trousers and a creased jacket, or send them an email with a lot of errors in it, how can I possibly tell them that I am a high performing Virtual Assistant who works with premium clients?
We are our brand 24 hours a day
One of my newest clients came about after a chance encounter with someone I met in a pub on a Friday evening. He asked what I did, I explained, and a few days later he got in touch saying that a contact of his was looking for a Virtual Assistant. That would never have happened if I did not have a personal brand that matched my business. It also taught me that I am my brand, and my business, 24 hours a day. That may sound extreme, but when you think about all the people you have spoken to in the last day, week or month, they have all formed opinions of you, and if you tell them that you are a confidence coach yet stand slouched, in a corner, avoiding any interaction with others surrounding you, you probably are not giving off the right message. The old saying, actions speak louder than words, is true.
If I had been in the pub that Friday night having had one too many drinks, dressed slovenly and unable to hold a sentence together, I never would have been put me in contact with my client. There are certainly times when I may have had one too many, we are all human, but during those times I am less likely to be telling people what I do for a living or give away my business details. I would, however, always be authentic.
So how does my team fit into this?
When I started to think about who was in my team and the importance of their role within my business, the answer is obvious. Without them my company would not be a success, in fact, it never would have got off the ground.
My team is huge. It includes:
- One of my closest friends who, as a copywriter, not only wrote my website but helped me decide on my business name, choose my business branding and mentored me many times along the way – she will continue to do so I am sure
- My friends and family, with whom I laugh with, cry with, and, of course, celebrate with
- The photographer who took the photos for my website, and advised me to wear a top that complimented my brand colours
- My accountant, for keeping me on the straight and narrow
- My DHL delivery driver who ensured that deliveries and collections were made on time enabling me to deliver a reliable service for a client who was launching several new products
- My personal trainer. Sadly I have let this one go for a while, but I have realised that time spent on myself is extremely important and I will be rebooking him very soon
- The make up artist who sold me a lipstick in the same colour as my logo
- My hairdresser: it takes a brave man to try and keep my hair under control
One quirky piece of personal branding that I have followed for the past six months is that as part of my preparation for a business meeting, I paint my nails in my brand colour. Thankfully it is not lime green.
All of the support provided by my team compliments my personal branding.
There is a common theme running amongst my team, and my personal brand. Authenticity. In my mind, our personal branding needs to be authentic, true to our beliefs and values. All the beauticians I know love skin care, make up and making their clients feel beautiful. All the photographers I know love to see the happy reaction from their clients upon delivery of their stunning photos. Perhaps that is why they run their own successful businesses. But ask them if they can do this without a team behind them and the answer will always be no.
Business and personal life
My story concentrates mainly on my business life. But if I was to think about my personal life, the story would be very similar. My personal branding is just as important. My team would include friends and family, for the same reasons as those listed above. It would include the sales lady who sold me my go to pair of jeans, my hairdresser, yes him again, and the staff in my favourite coffee shop who, not only provide the best tea and cake, allow me to take some time out, relax, read or just watch the world go by. These team members all have one thing in common, at that time their focus is on me and my needs. Authenticity and similar values run through this group of people, perhaps that is why they work so well with me.
Why it is good to be part of a team?
Being part of a team is not a one-way street. I know that I fall into many other people’s teams. Clients who rely on me to keep their admin in check, friends who want fun or support at different times in their lives, elderly neighbours who need some help with their shopping.
Although I thought I knew my personal brand well, since I have asked my team what I can do to enhance it, the ideas have been endless. I never would have thought about wearing my brand colour for work meetings. A simple idea that really works. Likewise, when I have been asked what others can do to enhance theirs I feel comfortable in suggesting ideas and talking through what could work for them.
We like to help
Life can be daunting, and sometimes lonely. Often it can be hard to ask for support. But people like to help. We all like to assist others in finding a solution to problems, and we love to see people succeed and live their dreams.
Finding our personal brand makes us feel more confident, assured and credible. This in turn helps us to provide support and guidance to others.
We all have different skills, but pool those skills together and we will all flourish.