A Few Simple Ways to Build Your Brand!

posted by Dilip on April 6, 2019

Prospects and clients reach out to me to build and improve their professional brand. Many often think that there is some great mysterious secret to brand building and that only those in the top of their professional have the right and the reason to build their own brand.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Building a professional brand is for everyone who wants to come across to others in their professional and everyday life as someone who deserves their respect and consideration when they approach others for some purpose. It could be as simple as asking someone for a small favor to connect you with someone they already know. The size of the favor others in your circle of influence are willing to do for you depends on the degree of your professionalism and the footprint of your brand.

So, what are some of the simple things one can do to build and enhance one’s brand? Most of the tips I am offering here simply stem from good etiquettes, which are conventional rules of personal behavior in polite society. Alternatively, it can be defined as unwritten code governing the behavior of professionals. Simple things done repeatedly and consistently can help you build a long-term brand for yourself that far outweigh big things that you may do occasionally or only when it is important or expedient for you to do.

Although many have authored books in proper etiquette, with each chapter in their book devoted to one aspect of our everyday life: Weddings, birthdays, condolences, graduations, job search, etc. my focus in this blog is what I encounter in my own coaching practice that stands out as routine. Although this list is not exhaustive even from my own encounters with prospects and clients I am listing below the most frequent offenders of everyday norms:

Phone Calls/IMs:

  1. Personal Greeting: One of the most common offenders is when a call a person’s phone (typically their mobile #) results in the robotic announcement of their phone number. The problem with this way to “greet” someone calling you is that the caller does not know if they have reached the person they intended to call. The caller, too, is mostly calling from their mobile phone, often on the move, and they are more likely to misdial in such cases. Also, about 10% of the people are dyslexic; transposing the numbers. So, when the caller hears this robotic greeting, they have no idea if they dialed the right number or misdialed to reach an unintended party. Even if your “greeting” announces your number in that robotic voice, very few will remember the number they just dialed.  

    The other impression such practice creates is that you can come across as too lazy to change the canned greeting; not a good way to build your brand or to create a positive first impression.

    The best remedy is to have a short, personal greeting in your own voice, asking the caller to leave a message. I recognize that this can be used by some stalkers to harass others once they know the person’s name. If anyone is worried about announcing their name, then at least say, in your own voice, You have reached my phone and I’ll call you if you leave me a message.” Often, the caller may recognize your voice to realize that they have reached you correctly.
  2. Leaving a message when you go past the greeting is often something that needs work for many. The best way to leave such a message is to be short and to the point: First announce your name and callback number. Then state why you are calling in one or two sentences (do not give your life history here), and then repeat your name and number again at the end. Since most calls are placed from mobile phones it is easy to encounter message drops as people call on the move. Leaving long messages and the callback number at the end of that long message is inconsiderate, especially if that number is not fully audible.

    Yet another point to remember is to speak slowly and deliberately especially when announcing the callback #, both times. Noting down numbers takes times and having to replay a message—especially a long one—creates a negative impression; not a good way to maintain your brand.  
  3. Preemptive Call: When you make an unscheduled call to someone do not launch into your needs right after they answer your call. First ask if they have a few minutes to talk (then stick to your few minutes). Just because someone answers their incoming call does not imply that they are available to talk to you.
  4. e-mail as Back-up: It is best to leave a voice mail and then send an email to that person that you left them a voicemail. It is much more efficient to respond to emails. Besides, retrieving voice mails and calling back can be time consuming to busy professionals. Giving them this option can ensure a prompt response either way.
  5. Instant Messaging (IMs) may be a more efficient mode of communicating for you, but for the party on the other end they have to wait as you tap your responses going back-and-forth. Exchanging emails can be more efficient, so use your judgment.
  6. Calling right-back: One of the most egregious practices some do not even understand their pernicious effect is when you reach them after multiple back-and-forth of calling is when you reach them they respond by saying, “Let me call you right back.” With this response you hang up the line and wait for them to call you back, which sometimes does not even happen. When you tell someone, you’ll call them right back, it is best to give them a time. One time after going back-and-forth with a prospect, who was trying to reach me and after reaching him, he said he’d call me right back. So, I hang-up and wait. I could not call anyone else to keep my line open, nor could I take incoming calls. He did not call back even after 20 mins. So, I had to get on with my other calls. In such cases state the time you need to call them back to avoid such problems.

Emails:

  1. With increasing familiarity and usage of emails people are casual—even careless—about how they treat emails as a professional communication medium. Sloppy language, misspellings, incomplete sentences, lack of logical structure are all commonplace these days, even in professional emails. Since these practices have now become norms in email exchanges a thoughtful, well drafted, and cogent email stands out from the pack and can help you build and establish your brand with little effort. Try it!
  2. Make your email’s subject line a reason for the recipient to open your email. Also, in the body at the top give them a clue about what action they need to take from reading that email: Immediate Action Required; For Information-No Action Required; Request Forward this Message; etc. This saves the reader time in how they need to attend to that email.
  3. If you have an attachment to the email write a one-line summary of what that attachment is, so the reader can decide what to do with it and when.
  4. Have your signature with full name and phone # as a template so every outgoing email clearly identifies you. Also, if the recipient decides to call you instead of emailing you back they can quickly pick up the phone.
  5. If you want to maintain your brand, make sure that each outgoing email is reviewed at least once before pushing the SEND button.

These simple habits when dealing with everyday use of technology in our lives can give you countless opportunities to develop, build, and sustain your brand. See how easy it is to do, once you get in the habit!

Good luck!

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