Does Your Network Have Clarity on What You Do for a Living?

by Robinson, Andy Tuesday, December 08, 2009
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How well are you "branded" amongst your network of connections - friends, family members, individuals with whom you share outside interests, vendors, clients, colleagues, former colleagues?

What comes to mind when people think of YOU?

• Do your contacts fully understand what you do for a living and exactly HOW you add value to other people's lives?

Who's "radar screen" are YOU on when someone asks a contact if they know someone who specializes in your areas of expertise?

Try the following idea every once in a while to "research" and confirm your brand awareness:

1. Choose a network connection and give them a call, asking for a quick few minutes of their time

2. Tell them that you've been working on improving your personal branding campaign and that you're doing some research with some of your friends and clients to see how effectively you've been in communicating your brand to your network

3. Then, ask this question: "What is your understanding of exactly what I do for a living -- the product, service or skillset that I deliver?"

4. Listen carefully to their response and probe their response using the "blinking word" technique -- (a) Identify a couple of words that "blink" or really stand in in their response, (b) ask about one of those words, (c) notice the blinking words in his or her answer, (d) ask about one of those words, (e) repeat this process until you've reached a point where you can summarize a quick brand statement. See the example below:

a. You: "What is your understanding of exactly what I do for a living?"
b. Your contact: "You're an executive coach." (blinking word bolded)
c. You: "What is your understanding of what a coach does?"
d. Your contact: "Helps someone be more effective in their job." (blinking word bolded)
e. You: "What are some things you think I do to help my clients be more effective?"
f. Your contact: "Maybe you help them manage their time better." (clinking word bolded)
g. You. "I definitely do a good bit of work with helping people get control over their time and focus on the important. One of the other areas of effectiveness I focus on is helping my clients is helping manager communicate more effectively with their teams."
h. You. "Thanks I appreciate your time. If you run across anyone who might need my help, please let me know. Is there anything I could do to help you right now?"

OK, so what exactly have you accomplished with the above. Consider this:

• You've reached out and communicated in person with someone in your network
• You've strengthened your relationship by a notch or two
• You've asked for and received their help, and you've THANKED them for their help
• You've gotten "market" feedback on the brand that you wish to be known for
• You've educated a contact about what you do for a living
• You've enhanced your brand awareness
• You've empowered a network contact with the information necessary to possibly refer a client to you in the future
• You've made a referral request

Use your personal branding program to stay on the radar screen of your contact network base -- by keeping them current on what you do for a living and how you add value to your clients. Your branding program should include newsletters, frequent communication through social media, blogging and "in person" networking at clubs and professional organizations. "Test" your branding program on an ONGOING basis using the above research program and make adjustments as necessary.

All the best to your career success!