On a road trip, every turn you make can take you in a completely different direction. The same is true of your career journey and the development of your personal brand. Every business decision you make, outfit you wear, conference you attend and social media post you share reflect your professional identity.
Let’s explore the idea of a personal brand. What is it? Do you need one? Do you have one?
Before you wrack your brain, here are the short answers:
- A personal brand is how your clients and colleagues perceive you, based on the culmination of your marketing activities, accomplishments and personality.
- Yes, you have a personal brand.
- Everyone needs a personal brand and the surprising news is, everyone already has a one.
It is important to assess whether you are defining your personal brand or if others are defining it for you. It is not uncommon for professionals to have a hard time seeing themselves as a brand. Be wary of taking a backseat in your career journey, allowing clients and colleagues to drive and define who you are, what you do and how you do it.
Here are some suggestions to help you steer your own brand.
The first step is to look at where you are and where you want to go. This will help guide you on the path you choose to take. Also take the time to identify what is going on in the real estate industry, what it needs and where it is going. Write a plan that clearly states where you would like to position yourself within the industry and what you would like potential buyers and colleagues to respect and know about you and your brand.
As cliché as it sounds, it doesn’t get truer than you. Your personality, strengths and experiences are unique and powerful. Honing in on those traits will immediately set you apart from the competition.
Yes, knowing how to complete the appropriate paperwork and navigating your clients through the buying process are very important parts of the job. Throughout the process, however, clients should feel comfortable and confident that you are presenting your true self. Let them see your personality and sense of humor. Share your interest. Tell your story. Allow your clients to build a personal connection with you. Be human.
When your brand is authentic, it will evolve as you do. Authenticity not only makes growing your business easier, but also more enjoyable. You will better understand the direction of your business and better commit to your business plan when it feels like an extension of your true self, as opposed to a façade or role that you are trying to play.
Perfect the Pitch
Once you have identified what you want your personal brand to be, learn how to talk about it. From a 2-minute elevator pitch to an hour-long talk, be able to articulate what your brand is all about. At the end of any conversation you are in, your audience should understand what your expertise is, what problems you can solve and why you are different from the competition.
Creating content and sharing your knowledge can help position you as a real estate industry leader. The more valuable information you share with others, the more you will be considered a go-to source by colleagues and clients, which opens more business opportunities.
First, share information with your clients. Be open to giving your insider tips, break down any real estate jargon and continuously look for opportunities to show what you know. Next, think about your colleagues. If you have information that will help them grow their business or better connect with their own clients, don’t be afraid to share it with them. Building such rapport makes you more trustworthy and many will be more apt to share beneficial information with you in return.
Don’t forget about social media. With Twitter, LinkedIn and tools like Instagram’s IGTV, you have ample opportunities to create and share content. Look for creative ways to showcase your industry knowledge, share your success stories or spark conversations with your followers.
You should also look for opportunities to join boards, committees and affiliate groups or speak at industry conferences. You cannot amplify your personal brand if you are not putting yourself in the position to be heard.
How you present yourself is just as important as staging your property for a showing. Buying and renting can be stressful, sensitive time for your clients. It is imperative that you eliminate as many areas of concern as you can to make the transaction easier and more enjoyable for all. One way to do this is to present yourself as neat, poised and professional.
A firm handshake, eye contact and an energetic, friendly tone of voice reassure buyers that you are confident in your skills as REALTOR® and ready to meet their needs. Your outfit choices matter, too. While there is no uniform for REALTORS®, tap into your personal style and tweak it as necessary to make it professional. It does not have to be too bold or too understated, but your clients will take notice of how much you care for yourself as they assess whether to trust you with their business.
Once you develop your personal brand and begin to implement tactics to define it, make sure it is working. Look back at the work you have done and figure out how your clients and colleagues are responding to it.
There are plenty of high-tech ways to analyze your traffic and customer feedback. Perhaps the easiest way, however, is to look at what Forbes calls “micro-wins.” Looking at micro-wins requires you to track your daily business activity and analyze the feedback, revenue and new business opportunities the activity generates. Ask yourself: What kind of inquiries am I getting? Are clients responding my emails and social media posts? Do colleagues or media reach out to me for my expertise?
The answers to these questions will help you understand if your personal brand is connecting with consumers and cohorts.
Building a personal brand takes time and consistency. Once you have identified what you want your brand to be, the process requires many repeated steps that reinforce your message, a lot of patience and true commitment. Conversely, one of the best things about a personal brand is that at any time, you are free to change direction. If one path wasn’t working for you, try another.
Creating and defining your personal brand will not always be easy. It may require many attempts to figure out who you want to be, how to convey it and how to know if it’s resonating with the public. Through it all, remember that if you don’t share who you are, the market will create a brand for you and it may not align with the brand you envision. While it may be easier to be the co-pilot on this journey, choose to be in the driver’s seat. Even more importantly, choose to enjoy the ride.