When thinking of branding, most experts would agree that it is no longer enough to build a brand around a business. Top executives and even sales managers must develop their own personal brands as well. This forms an extension of a company’s brand.
This branding is important for future employment opportunities. A sales manager hiring test will tell an employer plenty about you. However, any potential revealed in the test is moot if your personal brand doesn’t match or is simply unprofessional.
Customers will also react to your personal branding efforts — probably more so than your company’s. Issues with your brand could destroy rapport-building efforts, erode already established trust, and hurt your wallet, so it is something worth paying attention to now if you have ignored it in the past.
Let’s look at a few tips to improve your personal brand.
Find your personal voice
The informality of Silicon Valley has extended itself across all business spheres to some degree. In past decades, formal corporate-speak which included the popular buzzwords and phrases of the day, such as “let’s interface on Tuesday,” or “how can we be more proactive,” was expected from anyone seeking an upward trajectory into management.
Today (most would say thankfully) these norms have been relaxed. Executives are expected to develop more relatable personal brands rather than the bland corporate images of the past, which — let’s face it — made every manager or C-suite executive nearly indistinguishable from others.
Formality no longer rules, and this is not an excuse to throw professionalism completely out the window. Vulgarity, off-color jokes, and profanity are still generally off limits – especially when dealing with customers. Stuffiness can be just as big a turnoff, however.
One writing tip to find a not-too-corporate, yet professional, voice is to speak as you write. You will find you don’t often use formal corporate buzzwords when you speak normally, so if you verbalize when writing a sales letter or email, you will come off less stiff and much more relatable. Try it!
Spruce up your first impression
First, a disclaimer: the following is not meant to shame anyone for their appearance, especially for things they cannot control due to genetics or other factors. However, thanks to what we have learned from delivering hundreds of sales manager hiring tests and researching emotional intelligence, we know first impressions have an outsized influence on how others think about, and treat us.
This impression is made in milliseconds, not minutes, and is extremely difficult to change. Your job is to make the most positive first impression possible always, and the predominant sense which drives it is SIGHT. This is followed by SOUND.
What this translates into in practical terms is that your attire, grooming, office quarters, and even your vehicle should be neat and reflect your “best self.” You don’t need to buy new shoes, but you can certainly wipe the dust off the ones you currently have and apply a little polish. Pay the ten bucks to get your car washed, and get it detailed every once in a while. If you’ve got a little extra weight on you, sign up for a Zumba class or just start walking more. And practice ice breakers so you sound confident when first meeting people.
The little things add up, and people will notice.
Clean up your online brand
A sales manager hiring test will reflect your current mindset. Your MySpace profile from 10 years ago will show your past one.
Which one do you want the world to see?
I am sometimes caught by surprise when I look up a prospective hire or customer in Google and am presented with a few embarrassing party pics or inappropriate jokes on old profiles. While everyone has the right to enjoy themselves and think how they like, sometimes the evidence should remain offline, because what is acceptable today might be completely taboo in just a couple of years.
The news of late has several stories of celebrities and politicians getting into plenty of trouble for past social media posts or photos which might have been funny at the time, but are poison to anyone’s brand today. Kevin Hart’s resignation as host of the Academy Awards show due to past tweets is a recent example.
Do a Google search of your name, including nicknames and old social media handles, and see what comes up. Remove anything which doesn’t reflect you in a good light. If necessary, set your current personal social media profile to “private” and avoid posting anything inflammatory (think religion, politics, gender issues, etc.)
If you would like some more branding tips geared specifically towards your LinkedIn profile, listen to our Asher Sales Sense Podcast “5 Urgent Reasons Why LinkedIn Matters for Your Business” featuring the CEO of ProResource, Judy Schramm.
During this podcast, you’ll learn:
- Myths about LinkedIn
- Common profile mistakes
- Bare minimums every professional LinkedIn profile should contain