Maintaining Your Personal Brand In a World of Mistrust

Trust And Your Personal BrandTrust Is At The Center Of Your Personal Brand

I read an awesome post by Mary Morgan earlier today that got me thinking about trust, values, and honor. It really had me thinking about your personal brand in relationships and how that effects business.

Whether we are talking about leadership, sales, marketing, or even parenting, trust is an essential element in any healthy relationship. Earlier this week I wrote about Why Your Social Media Marketing Sucks. I hope that beyond the hard skills you walked away from that thinking about relationships and trust as an essential part of that mix.

Your Personal Brand

Here is the deal… everything you do or say is either helping or harming your brand. Yes, you have a brand, even if you are not a speaker, writer or consultant. Obviously, your company has a brand and the product or services that company produces affect it. However, many professionals forget that they themselves have a personal brand and that hiring decisions are frequently based on it. In this day and age understanding this is critical because everything you do or say affects it. If you want to get an idea of what your personal brand looks like right now you can do a couple of things.

You have a personal brand and hiring decisions are frequently based on it. Monitor it! Click To Tweet

First, you can ask people who are close to you to candidly share some information about what they or others think of you and why. Second, you can Google yourself.  You can learn a lot about someone by Googling them. If you just looked at mine you can see that I have spent years monitoring and developing my personal brand, but when you dig into it you can see that I am consistent and real. There are no surprises in there. My blog and LinkedIn come up prominently, but digging deeper you can see I have been mentioned on a lot of top-notch sales and marketing blogs. These are all things that reinforce my brand.

Why Should I Care About My Personal Brand?

That’s easy. You should care about your personal brand because whether you are aware of it or not it is representing you everywhere you go. It’s more than just your reputation, its who you are and what you stand for and people are checking up on it.

After my divorce, I started dating again, and I Googled everyone I went out with. I was looking at where they worked, who they were friends with and what they were posting in social media to ensure I saw parity between what I was being told and what I found. I have custody of my kids and I was making an effort to ensure that moving forward I was certain the people I was seeing were people I would be ok eventually exposing my children to.

When our kids come home talking about a new boy or girl, my wife and I are doing the same thing. We are looking at what that kid is posting, who their parents are, and seeing if they know people we know so that we can get an idea of what kind of person our child is (potentially) dating. We also make an effort to meet the kid and ideally their parents.

Professionally, I research everyone before I extend an offer. I’m reading your LinkedIn Profile, checking your Facebook and Twitter, and again making sure I do not see anything that seems contrary to what I heard in my interview process.  A lot of my hiring process is based on personality and fit with my team. A large part of determining that it is based on manners, morals, ethics, and emotional intelligence so I’m checking to see if what you are posting, liking and commenting on are aligned with your words.

In all three scenarios, s I’m trying to confirm trust. I’ve decided I want to trust you now I’m doing some due diligence to ensure I can. If you are a company I am reading your reviews and looking for customers you use your product so I can talk to them and see what they think. I do not like to make mistakes and I make very few “bad hires” because I am meticulous and careful in this process.

My Personal Brand

I’m going to share a little about my own personal brand because I think it is helpful to see before you start thinking about how to craft your own. Mine is heavily focused on trust, sound leadership advice, and outstanding sales and marketing industry knowledge. When it comes to relationships your reputation and trust are all you have. It follows you everywhere you go and your actions are either improving it or tarnishing it. If you read my blog for any period of time you know a few things about me:

  • I’m driven
  • I value relationships
  • I’m generally more concerned with happiness than money
  • My family is important
  • I’m generous with my time and knowledge
  • I try to be humble and kind in all situations

When you google me nearly everything you find reinforces those ideas and or is displaying my excellent sales and marketing industry knowledge and experience.

Developing My Personal Brand

My personal brand is heavily influenced by the Navy / Marine Corps Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Largely, this is because that was a driving force in molding who I am as a man through young adulthood and because those values were driven in repetitively and I owned them. Later in life, I became a Christian and I was able to develop a much deeper level of commitment to those same ideals based off of sound biblical principles.

Honor

This one is tough to define. How does one act honorably? For me, this revolves around keeping my word and behaving in a way that honors God and makes people want to say good things about me. Being selfless, putting the needs of others before myself. leading with integrity. Think about it like a modern knights code of chivalry.

Courage

Being courageous is easier to define. It’s not about running into harm’s way, though there are times that is the honorable thing to do. Far more frequently, your opportunity to be courageous revolves around being honest in a difficult situation or making tough decisions based on ethical principle you hold that are unpopular but important.

Commitment

This is easy. You follow through on what you agree to. You are a person who keeps their word. You do not lie even when it would be easy and you are unlikely to be caught. When people ask for help you give freely.

Biblical Principals That Drive My Personal Brand

I’m not a person that walks around quoting scripture all day, but my relationship with Christ is a large part of who I am and a strong influencer of my overall philosophy in life and business. With that in mind here are a couple of my guiding principals of Bible verses that further explain my own philosophy on trust in relationships and define the personal brand I personally am trying to maintain.

Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

The golden rule. Treat everyone like you would want to be treated. Be kind, thoughtful, and respectful in everything you do.

Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

I try to continually improve myself. I study, read blogs, listen to podcasts, and seek wise counsel frequently. I own my mistakes and learn from them. I go out of my way to accept even painful correction or discipline with an open mind and soft heart. I seek out mentorship and focus on being coachable.

Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Who you hang out with defines you to some degree. A wise friend told me once to look at the 5 people I spend most of my time with and I would become an average of their qualities. I’m not sure about the math, but I know that over time your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors are absolutely influenced by who you chose to spend your time with. Choose your friends wisely. Try your best to be a good influence on those making poor decisions or displaying qualities of poor character, but make every effort to spend time with people on your level or better. Be forward thinking. Some friends of the past are better left in the past.

Your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors are influenced by who you chose to spend your time with.… Click To Tweet

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

Whatever you do be all in all the time. Always work with honesty and integrity. Provide your best quality of work no matter what you do, who you do it for, or how much you are being paid.

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Remain humble. Pass on credit for wins to your staff and own your losses. Remember without those around you. Always remember that alone you are nothing. No man is an island, you need your family, friends, and coworkers to support you and nobody gets behind someone who is arrogant or a bragger.
Ephesians 4:2-3 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
This one is tough for me sometimes because my early leadership experience comes from the infantry and I will always have a warrior’s heart. It’s taken time to get good at this, but I try in any situation to be humble consider that I could be wrong, to control my anger or frustration, and think clearly while acting with love and kindness in my heart. Being tough is a hard like to walk. You can not allow yourself to be weak or pushed around, but you cant be too hard either.
Honestly, I could go on for days here, but you get the theme.

How Do You Develop Your Own Personal Brand?

I really could dedicate a 2000 word post just to this one concept, but for today I am going to keep it brief. Think about who you are as a person and what defines you. For me, that is being a Sales / Marketing / Leadership professional that displays Honor, Courage, and Commitment in all situations and I back those guiding core values with sound biblical principals.

For you, it may be different. Try writing a list of adjectives that describe you. Rank them based on importance and work from there. Then write your own personal mission and vision statement and get after it. You won’t have to tell anyone what your brand is. That’s the brilliance of it. Your reputation will stand on its own. Your goal should be to craft a reputation you can be proud of which brings us back to trust in relationships.

Trust in Relationships.

Most of my readers are sales and marketing professionals, so I’m going to circle back to this idea. When you are marketing a brand or selling a product what you are really doing is establishing an identity for your product and making promises about what value it will add. I have a relationship with Toyota and Porsche because that is what I have driven for years and I trust the quality and reputation of those companies. I invest with Edward Jones for the same reason. I buy exclusively Cascade Platinum because I’ve used it for years and trust it to deliver clean dishes even when my kids fail to rinse them thoroughly. You get the idea. What you should notice is I’m buying based off of reputation and performance.

For products sold by salespeople, you are a big part of that reputation. I have frequently bought from the second best deal because I saw value in customer service or because I trusted and liked the salesperson. I recently switched from Verizon to AT&T based on price and was hating myself for making that decision based on the experience I was having as I switched over. That was until AT&T sent an area sales manager to my house to help us. He was amazing. He fixed all my problems, made great suggestions and gave me his cell phone number with instructions to call him if I needed anything at all. Guess what. I have called him and even post close he has been helpful. He dropped a SIM card off to my wife at work. My relationship with AT&T is pretty solid now thanks to his effort.

I have frequently bought from the second best deal because I saw value in customer service or… Click To Tweet

What To Do Next?

This takes me back to Mary Morgan’s article that spawned this entire post:

No more over-promising and under-delivering. Your customers expect transparent authenticity. You must say what you mean and mean what you say in every communication. Being consistently truthful builds trust.

Source: Marketing In a World of Mistrust | Mary T. Morgan | Pulse | LinkedIn

Mary nailed it right there. If you want to sell more focus your energy into doing the right thing and being honest and respectful. Genuinely care for your customers. Learn about their business and refer them clients. If they tell you about a problem your service cannot handle refer them to someone who can. Share resources and research that will help them grow their business. Most people are friends with others who need similar services. Consistent first class service from knowledgeable caring professionals will be rewarded with return and referral business.

If you want to sell more focus your energy into doing the right thing and being honest and… Click To Tweet

For Further Study

I have a couple of book suggestions for you. First, is The SPEED of TRUST: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen Covey. Stephen is a master on building relationships and really you would gain tremendously from reading anything he has written but this is typically the best choice. Second I recommend you look at BrandingPays: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand by Karen Kang because she gives you a cookbook for developing your brand. Finally, you should look at Unleash Your Marketing by Establishing Your Brand: The GameBook to Boost your Brand and Grow your Company Online!

For Discussion

Tell me about your personal brand and how you developed it or how trust and relationships influence your business decisions.

Why Your Social Media Marketing Sucks!

Social Media Marketing is NOT about shoutingSocial Media Marketing Should Be Easy!

Social media marketing is easy, incredibly easy actually. That is why it so irritating to see so many people doing it wrong. If you think social media marketing or marketing, in general, is all about shouting your message as loud and often as possible you are part of the problem. I get that you have an awesome message, and I get that it’s important for people to see it. However, far more important is that they hear it and pay attention. How do you do that? You have to be engaging. We hear that a lot but what does that mean really? Aren’t you being engaging when you blast out your latest blog post every two hours on every media platform? No… You are not. At best you are shouting and in the worst case, you are spamming.

How Do I Become Engaging on Social Media?

There are Several things you have to focus on if you want to be engaging:

  • Great content
  • Conversation
  • Connection
  • Relationship
  • Care

I don’t think any of these ideas will come as a surprise to anyone, but it’s worth having the discussion about what it means.

Great Content

When you ask anyone how to get visitors to my blog, or how do I get people to retweet me the first thing anyone will tell you is to write great content or “Content is king!”. So what is “Great Content”? To me great content is simple. Great content is about writing articles that solve a problem or answers a question in a way that is entertaining, useful, or unique, and shows a strong point of view.

Great content is about writing articles that solve a problem or answers a question in a way that is… Click To Tweet

You should not just say “A lot of people think this and others that…” Be willing to put yourself out there. I’m reading your blog because I see some value in what YOU think. Do not be afraid to be strong and share controversial opinions. It’s scary to put yourself out there, but this is how you get people to comment and share your stuff. Nobody comments on or shares a boring post. However, if they disagree with you they are 2x as likely to comment and your supporters will chime in. Some of my favorite posts are ones where most people disagreed with me.

You should never be afraid to give too much away for free. I use to be afraid to share my best stuff, my secret sauce, the things that make people want to pay me for what I know. The truth is, the more you share the more people see how much value you add and what you can do. They will appreciate your generosity and keep coming back. It’s difficult to remember some times, but being generous with your knowledge is the key to developing great content.

Being generous with your knowledge is the key to developing great content. #socialmedia #blogging Click To Tweet

Finally, make your posts actionable. When someone is done with your post they should be able to do something new. Create step by step instructions, leave them with an action item to do or think about. Give them a book to read or another blog post to visit. You can do whatever you want, but there should be a next step. I frequently do all of these things.

Write in a Conversational Tone

My favorite bloggers all write in a conversational tone. When I read what they are saying it sounds organized, professional, and intelligent. Of equal importance though, is that it sounds like they are talking directly to me. Chris Brogan is one of my favorites because when I read his writing, I feel like he is in the room with me. I get a sense of who he is and I feel a connection to this man that I have never spoken to. If you want to get a feel for what that looks like check out this post he wrote on Facebook Live. You can see he is giving a lot of great information there, but as a reader, it doesn’t feel like he is just shouting his news to the world. To me, it sounds like a friend who has written me just to let me know what he is excited about. Another example from my own blog is my post “Long Time no See.” In this post, I talk about what I did during the four-year break I took from blogging and my divorce and remarriage. <–That’s a pretty interesting story BTW.

You Need To Make Connections

The marvelous thing about blogging and social media, in general, is that the conversation can go back and forth. Before I follow a new Twitter account one of the things I do is click the Tweets & Replies button to see if they have any conversation at all or is the account just shouting into a void.

There are a lot of people on Twitter complaining about how they get nothing out of it, or that nobody engages with them. I’m going to give you the “secret” to being successful on Twitter.  Talk to people! Don’t just rebroadcast your RSS feed and then complain that nobody follows you back or engages with your content. When I read something I really like on Twitter I try to reply to that person publicly thanking them for the information. If I have strong feelings I’ll agree or ask a question and see if I can learn more or spark a conversation.

I also make an effort reply to people who tweet my blog posts and thank them personally. I do this myself not with a service, I’ll ask them what they thought or for feedback. This gives me a chance to learn, but their replies are also public and your conversation can occasionally draw other people in or attract new followers. People like to follow other active engaging people. If I just wanted to see your RSS feed I’d add it to Feedly and follow it there.

Relationship

Once you start making connections you need to foster and mature that relationship. This sounds very difficult, but the reality is, it is very easy. Here is how I do it. When I find engaging people I add them to a twitter list. This lets me see a much cleaner version of my Twitter feed with just the people I am most interested in talking too. If it’s someone who’s content I am particularly interested in I will add their blog feed to Feedly as well. If I am extremely interested I’ll also sign up for their newsletter.

None of that in and of itself builds relationship. What these two things allow me to do though is keep a close eye on the 20-30 people I am most interested in. It ensures I see more of their Tweets and when I am working on that list I am in retweet and reply mode. When I am in Feedly I am in blog comment mode or looking for ideas to write about and posts to link to. What I want is for these people to see my name and face everywhere they look. I want them to think WOW! I see this Brad guy everywhere. More importantly though they see me sharing their content, commenting with substantial comments and holding conversations about their stuff with not only them but other people as well.

What I want is for these people to see my name and face everywhere they look. I want them to think WOW! I see this Brad guy everywhere. More importantly, though they see me sharing their content, commenting with substantial comments and holding conversations about their stuff with not only them but other people as well.

Why do I do this? There are a number of reasons. first, when people notice this activity they generally appreciate it and will follow back. Second, I am a little hopeful they will return the favor. Maybe they will visit my blog to see who I am? Maybe they will link out to me or share my content? When I notice some interaction back I’ll reach out via email, their contact page or Twitter DM and initiate a more private conversation to share ideas on how we can help each other. That is where relationship starts. helping others with nor real expectation of anything in return. My experience tells me if you do this a lot it always comes back to you in one way or another. If I do this for a number of weeks and get no response though I’ll disengage and move on. I’m not interested in building relationships with people who do not want to work the relationship both ways.

That is where the relationship starts. Helping others with no real expectation of anything in return will help you make real friends. My experience tells me if you do this a lot it always comes back to you in one way or another. If I do this for a number of weeks and get no response though I’ll disengage and move on. I’m not interested in building relationships with people who do not want to work the relationship both ways.

You Have to Care About Others

Because I have talked about all of this in very clinical terms, I feel like I need to be clear here and say: You have to be truly selfless in all of this and actually care about the success of others. Thats right, your social media isn’t just about YOU. That’s why it is called “social” media and not internet media. If you want any of this to work you have to be invested in your content, audience, and the people you follow. Think about yourself as a curator of quality content. I try to only share awesome and interesting stuff. especially if it is off my primary topics.

Your social media isn't just about YOU. That's why it is called social media! #socialmedia… Click To Tweet

If you are following me you will see some of everything I find valuable. I share content on sales, marketing, news, fatherhood, christianity, occasionally fitness, fishing, video games, and pop culture. I’m trying to connect with people like me. I know I can’t be all things to all people so I focus on being the best me that I can be and making my strongest connections with similar people. Fortunately, a fair about of people seem to think I’m cool enough to follow and interact with.

Closing Thoughts on Social Media Marketing

I said in the beginning of this post that social media marketing should be easy and I hope now that you can see that it is. Yes there is some science to it, but it’s really more of an art. if you are a good citizen in the world of social media your marketing efforts will be far more effective than the person who crafts perfect headlines and shouts out their content at only peak times.

The short version of this entire article is this. If you want to be effective in your social media marketing strategies focus on people and interaction more than you do thinking of headlines and optimizing your posting times. Be a real and engaging person and people will be attracted to you because you will look different that the mindless people shouting “LOOK AT ME!” from the rooftop.

If you want to be effective in your social media marketing strategies focus on people. #marketing Click To Tweet

What to do Next:

Develop a Social Media Marketing Action Plan

  • Start engaging with people on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Create a list of people who seem to respond back and hold conversations.
  • Keep that list small and follow it closely.
  • Add your favorite people to Feedly and comment on their blog at least weekly.
  • Share and retweet quality content.
  • Respond to people you catch sharing your content and engage them by asking what they thought.
  • Write blog posts that link out to content created by people you admire and extend their thoughts or add substantially to the conversation.

For Further Study

I have 4 fantastic books you should take a look at if you want to know more:

I’m a huge fan of Guy Kawasaki so my first two recommendations are: The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users and Engagement from Scratch! How Super-Community Builders Create a Loyal Audience and How You Can Do the Same! These two books are rated 4.5 and 5 stars respectively with hundreds of reviews. I promise you Guy will not let you down. He is a master marketer and relationship builder. 

Next, I think you should take a look at Text Me! Snap Me! Ask Me Anything!: How Entrepreneurs, Consultants And Artists Can Use The Power Of Intimate Attention To Build Their Brand, Grow Their Business And Change The World by Kevin Kruse. Kevin is a master of leadership and engagement who is famous for being able to teach you how to be viewed as a thought leader in your industry in less than a year. 

Finally, I think the SEO Fitness Workbook: 2017 Edition: The Seven Steps to Search Engine Optimization Success on Google is worth taking a look at for a couple of reasons. First of all it has a wonderful section social media marketing and it’s impact on SEO. Second, all of this work is worthless if your site is not optimized and Jason McDonald does a great job of giving you clear actionable steps to improve not only your social media engagement but your overall SEO. 

For Discussion

Please answer one of the following in the comments below:

What are your social media pet peeves?

How do you increase your engagement on social media?

What will you do differently going forward after reading this?