Your brand represents the public image of who you are, your values, what you stand for, your core competency – in short, the value you bring to the table for anyone who might want to work with you or for you. The more strongly you can position yourself on all of these dimensions in a way that differentiates you from other people (or firms) that operate in the same space the more likely you will be to drive success for yourself and those with whom you work.
Your brand (and as I mentioned above, this relates to your firm as well as to you and everyone else in it) should represent what people “think” of you when they hear your name mentioned so the key to building your brand is to first think about what you want people to think and then to put in action whatever it takes to turn that into the reality.
This is nothing more than a mindset issue. The way you think will, at the end of the day, determine the results you get. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
I’m frequently told by accountants that they don’t like “selling” to clients and prospects because they feel it’s unprofessional to come across as a “pushy salesperson.” I agree. BUT I submit this is a mindset issue because professional sales people are NOT “pushy” they genuinely believe their product or service will create value for their customer. Now if you don’t believe you really do bring value to the table then if you have any integrity you would not want to sell but I don’t believe that’s the case.
I suspect there’s another reason for not wanting to sell and that’s got to do with a fear of rejection. Accountants are, for the most part, smart people. They enjoy a relationship with clients built on the premise of them being an “expert,” of having answers to technical questions. It is much easier for them to respond to a client who comes to them saying “I have a problem or a job to be done, will you deal with it for me?” than for them to go to a client and say “I have identified an opportunity for you to improve the profitability of your business, would you like me to work with you on that?”
The challenge with this approach to professional service is you are only addressing problems your clients know they have and come to you for a solution. To put that another way, using a medical metaphor, you are in the prescription business not the diagnostic business.
I pose this question: if, at the end of your business career, a professional adviser said to you “I have run some numbers over the results you have achieved during the past 40 years and if you had made 4 simple changes to your operations in the first 5 years your net worth today would be 10x higher than it is.”
You might respond to that by saying “why on earth didn’t you talk to me about this back then?”
How would YOU feel if her response was “I didn’t raise it with you because I didn’t want to come across as being a self-centered pushy salesperson seeking to make a buck.”
My take on all this is quite simple. If you want to make a difference in your own life and that of the many people who you have a relationship with as clients, team members, mentees, and partners you need to unshackle yourself from preconceived limiting beliefs and step up to the plate by being willing to swing and miss but at the very least know you gave it your best shot. A 30% strike rate will likely get you into The Hall of Fame because you will have made a huge difference.