Personal Branding Success: Why Relationships Are the “Missing Ingredient”
There are a whole lot of elements that go into building an effective personal brand. Credibility and visibility are two of these crucial elements—credibility to ensure that the business owner is perceived to be an expert in his or her industry, and visibility ensuring that the business owner reaches his or her audience. But beyond these elements and a variety of additional strategies that go into building a powerful brand, there is a “missing ingredient” which is often overlooked.
That ingredient is relationships. It is only through building strong relationships that your personal brand can achieve maximum effectiveness.
Why is this? Because people buy people. They want to do business with individuals that they know, and that they trust. This means that, in addition to the more traditional branding strategies that you are pursuing, you must also be working to develop strong relationships with colleagues, fellow professionals, and potential customers.
These relationships have the power to “prove” that you are:
1) Trustworthy. Today’s consumers are increasingly skeptical, and with good reason. For every great business, there are five more that either do a terrible job or are outright scams. But a strong relationship demonstrates your trustworthiness and makes potential clients much more inclined to do business with you.
2) Knowledgeable. Trust is great, but it alone isn’t enough to close the deal. You need to show that you are a credible expert in your industry. Hopefully you’re pursuing some, if not all, of the strategies that we regularly discuss on my blog and in these articles—because they will position you as an expert within your market. But it’s important that your face-to-face relationship with consumers in your market convey the same image. If your books, your website, and your media presence position you as a respected thought-leader in your industry, your in-person persona should reinforce this image.
3) Relational. Consumers prefer to do business with others that they like. After all, if they’re going to be spending time working with you or with your team, they want to be sure that the time is enjoyable. (Or at least, that it’s not unpleasant.) For many of you, this comes naturally. But if it doesn’t, it’s important that you make an effort to become known as someone who is pleasant to deal with.
4) Reachable. Finally, developing real-life relationships with others in your market demonstrates that you are reachable. One of the fears that many consumers have is that they will agree to do business with an individual or a firm, write them a check—and rarely hear from them again. Work to establish a reputation as someone that is reachable—that returns phone calls or responds to email. It’s much easier for a potential customer to decide to do business with you when they have complete confidence that they’ll always be able to get you on the phone! (Keep in mind that it doesn't always have to be you. A good staff can help relieve the burden of having to respond to hundreds of questions, which happens when you have a large client base, and still keep your customers happy because you and your team are always reachable.)
As you work to create a powerful personal brand, it is important that you continue to invest into building and developing relationships. As you do this, you’ll find that converting prospects into clients becomes easier than ever!