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