Brand You

Brand You

Your brand reflects your personality and the services that you offer to your clients. It’s the first impression someone has of you. The right brand will draw clients to you. Crafting an irresistible brand takes time and thought.

Think about your unique style and personality. What are your personal values? Do you have a particular style? What is your personality like? How do you want others to perceive you? In blunter terms, I urge you to be the polka dot bra in the sea of beige. Your brand must ignite and excite your potential clients. You have one shot to make that first impression.

Put some serious thought into who your ideal client is. Make sure your brand appeals to their needs and shows them that you are the answer to all their needs. They will make assumptions based on your marketing materials.

Be clear on what you can offer. Make sure you aren’t promising something that you can’t deliver.

Make sure everything you put out for public consumption reflects you. Your website, social presence, newsletters – everything reflects your brand. Develop images and color pallets and stick to them. All of this contributes to the consistency of your message.

Your brand not only represents where you are now, it also gives people a vision of the future. If they stick with you, it assures them they will be getting consistent now and down the road.

Action vs. Intent

Action vs intent

“We judge our self by intention, but we judge others by their actions.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about action and intent. You can judge or evaluate based on an action. An intention can’t be measured.  However, if you think about it most of us judge others based on their actions. Yet, when we look internally, we give ourselves a lot of credit for just having “good intentions.”

An intention is more like a feeling. It’s a nagging internal thought about something you know you should follow through with. An intention is just the start of a vision. Before that vision can become a reality, you’ve got to put action behind the intent.

That action usually means something must change. Change can be scary, but it’s usually necessary to move forward. I recently heard a great thought dealing with change. “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevancy even more.”

You’ve got to set active goals and implement the strategies to get them done. There is power in doing something. When you put motion behind something it becomes real. It’s both a physical and mental cue that you are headed in a new direction.

But there’s a step in between as well. That’s commitment. Commitment means there are actual expectations in place. That commitment will move you to action. Better still if you add a voice to those commitments so that others can hold you accountable. Many people are afraid to verbalize their commitments, because if they fail to follow through, the confidence others have in you begins to fade. You lose credibility. That lack of follow through is where action once again becomes necessary. If you really want to change, you must put the action in place to show people who you really are.

In the end, each of us is judged based on our action. Whether that’s how we treat other people, or whether we follow through and finish projects at work. What you planned or thought you’d do is of no importance. No one is ever helped, or now project is finished, by your good intention.

Before you jump head first into action though, you need to make sure you check your intention. If intentions come from a motive of revenge or anger, you really need to think before you act. These may feel good for a moment, but they always backfire and make you look like a spiteful small person.

These lessons carry over into something more important than work. It carries over into our relationship with others.

What if you tell your child, you’ll be at their school program, yet the closer it gets you choose to take a lunch date with a colleague instead? What if you told them you’d go play outside “in a little bit” yet sit there all night watching tv? Your intention may have been to go see the play or go spend time with the child. Your actions speak volumes though. Your actions say they aren’t as important as something else.

What if you told your spouse or neighbor you’d help them with a project over the weekend, but spent all Saturday watching your team and eight more? Your intent was to help them out, but your action said it wasn’t important enough for you to give up tv time.

What it boils down and says to everyone else, is that you are more important than they are and your word isn’t worth much at all.

If we really want to make an impact in our lives and workplace, we need to realize what we do is way more important that what we intent to do. I want my actions to speak. And I want to be known as the person who keeps her promises.  We need to let intentions serve as a guide. To be effective leaders, you’ve got to learn how to follow through and put commitment and action into play to reach your goal and keep your promises.

Network like a champ

network like a champ

From your first days at your big girl job, through every level of promotion, and even when you decide to branch out on your own with some freelancing, the first piece of advice most of us get is “make sure you network.”

You’re encouraged to join the right groups and go to the right meetings. However, I’d urge you to look at it in a different light. What if you took on the idea that every time you meet someone new, you’re networking? You are given a brand-new opportunity to make that first impression. When you think about it like this, every social interaction – whether it’s stopping for your morning coffee, your new workout group, or a volunteer activity – becomes a chance for you to make a connection.

When you go about these activities, the difference becomes you projecting you. Your attitude is relaxed. You’ve dressed in a way you are comfortable with every day. There’s no pressure to come away with a new client or business project. You’re focused solely on making a connection with another person.

Make sure your manners are showing. Don’t interrupt people. Take the opportunity to introduce people you already know to new people you just meet. It’s not a competition. When we all learn that helping each other out gets us farther than trying to hold someone back, we’ll be so much better off. Compliment people. If you’ve heard something great about their work, let them know. Say thank you if someone acknowledges you for the work you’ve done. Don’t play it off like “it was nothing.” Be the real you. Don’t try and use words or corporate speak that doesn’t come natural. People will know when you are authentic or not.  Be confident in you.

Most importantly, pay attention. Don’t let your phone be a distraction. Don’t be so worried about your next hashtag you stop paying attention to the people around you. (See the point above – manners!!!) Use active listening. Don’t make someone else feel like what they are saying isn’t important enough to hold your attention.

Finally, reach out online, send an email, or better yet – drop them a personal note. Follow up with the people you meet. Thank them for the opportunity to get to know them. Relate a nugget from the conversation you had. Maybe you ran across an article their comment reminded you of – share it with them.  If you think they’d make a great potential client, suggest a follow-up meeting. Expressions of gratitude will go a long way in opening a door to a bright future.