As I prepare to moderate a panel discussion on brand-building at the Texas Governor’s Small Business Forum for Women – Gulf Coast on August 8, I’ve been meditating on what would be most valuable to the audience. There are so many things I do instinctively when it comes to branding. So I may forget that it doesn’t come as naturally for those who have more finely tuned skills in other areas.
I have a real passion for helping professionals who want to build and grow their personal brand. I’ve done it three times in different cities: Dallas, Houston, and now San Antonio. Each time I have entered a new and unknown environment, I’ve gone about it in my own way. I’ve written thought leadership articles. I’ve challenged myself to stretch beyond my comfort zone and core strengths. I worked to become the face of a company’s brand. I’ve leveraged social media successfully. I’ve mentored younger professionals, I’ve learned from them and I beam with pride at their successes.
Branding yourself is relationship-building. It’s far more than networking. It’s not a transaction, in which you start asking for the order as soon as you meet someone. It’s not “I’ll do you a favor if you do me a favor, and I’m keeping score.” What’s far more effective is learning first about a contact’s challenges and goals, and then offering ideas, connections or resources to help them succeed. Only then, after the relationship has been established, do you have a firm foundation for moving it forward.
The same type of relationship-building applies when you want to build your brand in any new community. A community could be a city, a professional group, a social or nonprofit organization, or a work group. First understand what that community’s needs are. Ask a lot of questions – don’t just depend on information that everyone else can learn. Do your own research by talking to people who understand the group’s focus. Seek out the influencers. Learn what matters most, and what might be standing in the way of that.
Now, through my consulting business, I work to help motivated executives and aspiring leaders to create the brand that fits them best — using their strengths, their passions, and their most authentic selves.
I’m eager to hear the secrets our panelists Matt Ross, Ventures Marketing; Shawntell McWilliams, SM Global Consulting; and Hami Bo Arrington, One Foot Over will reveal. I know some of our strategies will align, while others will be unique. I expect that at least one of the panelists will have insights that move the audience into a new realm of thinking when it comes to discovering and then owning our power.