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May 14, 2009

The Notorious Consultant

What are you doing about your personal brand? Do you even know what it is or what it says about you right now?

Do you have any level of notoriety at all? Do people in your game know of you, in any way?

A brand means that when people hear your name there is an image and perception associated with that. Brand = Notoriety. And you want your brand to send out the message that you are a person who can be trusted to deal with their problems, or to satisfy their requirements.

The problem with current thinking on branding is that it has been diluted by much of the talk about Web 2.0 and the social media phenomena.

We have started to act as if we are in Big Brother all of a sudden. Everyone is watching your Tweets, everyone is reading your blog, the boss can see your LinkedIn profile. Oh no! Does she think I'm trying to get another job??

So we are all living in the fishbowl. By itself that's not too bad, but the real problem is that people start to act as they think they should act, not how they actually are.

Political correctness creeps in. Things that, in polite conversation, they might disagree with - they are suddenly fervently in favor of because it is what is expected of them.

And this leads us to the endless stream of blog posts, tweets, profiles and updates telling everyone how you want to help the world, with nobody taking any risk of offending a single person. All very bland, and very boring.

If you want to fit in the worst thing that can happen is that you achieve it.

Is your brand about what people read of your tweets, your LinkedIn profile and your blog posts? Definitely.

Is it the end of the story? No way - it is just a recent addition to an epic novel that has been running for decades. Your brand comes about through getting your name out there.

1) Write a book. Heck, write three. I have three books coming out later this year. In addition to the three I have already written on engineering.

When I enter a conference, a seminar, or even someones office they more often than not know of me. They know my name and often they even know some of my positions on certain issues.

It gives you credibility. Even if nobody reads it. It has to be good, preferably by a third party publisher. (E.g. not self published) and it needs to have at least been heard of. (Books are all about branding. You can earn some money from them, but Harry Potter it is not!)

2) You need to get articles out there. Not through the article marketing channels but through magazines, professional websites (while there are still some left), through other obscure but authoritative sources such as (In my case) the IEEE.

Write for internal company journals, trade magazines who still have a decent subscription base, and try to get into the prestigious journals for your sector. For example, I used to run regular articles in a magazine called Utility Week in the UK. Great for reaching the ears of hard to reach people.

3) Do you have a newsletter? No - write one! Get organized enough to write a few paragraphs for every second week and you will be amazed how much this impacts on your personal brand.

4) Speak. Speak at trade shows, run seminars, speak at industry conferences and do webinars. Get the name out. Regardless of what anybody says you are not stupid if you are not making top dollar from speaking! You are stupid if you do not see the potential that it has to gain you what will ultimately open doors for you...