Personal Branding Blunders
Learn what behaviors to avoid from other’s lapse of personal branding judgment.
Meet Judy. During the past 18 months, she’s gone from being a wealth advisor, to a marketing consultant, to a life coach. When asked about the kind of clients she is looking to attract, Judy’s responses are a rambling of generic statements, industry buzzwords and ethereal reflections. Judy’s ambiguous declarations and scattered delivery would make it challenging for anyone to refer her business.
At a recent networking event, I was surprised to hear two other professional, who I held in high regard, recommend Judy’s services. One praised her for providing him with clarity on a personal issue and another for navigating him through a complex business dilemma.
At first, I wondered whether or not we were all referring to the same Judy? Then I started to question my impressions of those singing her praises. Were my eyes and ears playing tricks on me? How could three professionals have such disparate opinions of the same individual? After the meeting, and unsolicited, another professional attending the event remarked to me how unexpected he also found the feedback on Judy.
Because my impressions of her weren’t positive, I never sought Judy’s services. Either she provides value but needs to work on her pitch, or those who have recommended Judy have officially tainted their own personal brands by endorsing her.
Whether a business contact solicits the name of a CPA to handle their taxes, or a friend asks you to suggest a criminal attorney who can make their kid’s DUI disappear, who and how you make a recommendation will directly reflect on your personal brand.
I was awakened during the middle of the night by a phone call from an unlisted number. Half alert, I answered the call. A recorded message stated, “An inmate from the County jail is on the line. Press one to accept.”
My mind immediately went into overdrive, racing to make sense of the situation before me. Giving in to my curiosity, I accepted the call.
On the other end of the line was a dear friend, Matt. He had been involved in a physical altercation, resulting in his arrest. I was his lifeline; his one call.
Shaken up and confused, I attempted to calm Matt in hopes of obtaining the facts. I racked my brain to think of a contact who could provide guidance.
First thing the next morning, I contacted Ron, a defense attorney whom I had known for a few years. I shared with him the information that Matt had provided me, including the fact that Matt had never been arrested or had any previous brush with the law. Given the jail’s overcrowding, I assumed that Matt would be processed and released in short order. Ron wasn’t as convinced and offered to make a few calls to the jailer on my behalf.
One of the acts was a young gunslinger, Joey, who entertained the crowd with various John Wayne-style techniques of spinning, slinging, and juggling six shooters.
He opened his act by shooting an apple off the head of an unsuspecting audience member (don’t worry, he used rubber bullets). The stunt immediately wrangled the audience’s attention.
But, what stuck with me the most about the performance was Joey’s last stunt. He simultaneously rolled both pistols in his hands, flipped them over his shoulder, and caught them behind his back, all while blindfolded. It was an absolutely amazing stunt, if only he’d pulled it off. Sadly, he missed catching one of the pistols, which fell to the floor.
One afternoon, Victor, the chair of my agency’s consumer product’s group, popped into my office. He couldn’t wait to tell me about a major media profile he had just successfully placed for his specialty food client, the maker of a popular, Mexican hot sauce. Due to the magnitude of the publication, Victor insisted that I leverage the piece to secure his client even more publicity.
After verifying that Victor had client approval for the media frenzy that could potentially ensue, I called upon one of my team members, Janet, to assist me with the strategy.
Without hesitation, Janet and I eagerly went to work drafting a pitches, assembling a media list, and scheduling calls with industry and business reporters. It seemed as though everything was falling into its proper place.
Whether we should hold our elected representatives to a higher, moral code or not has been debated ad nauseam.
What is perfectly clear is that Weiner’s personal brand has gone from “NYC mayor hopeful” to “a creep and incessant liar.” Who needs enemies and critics derailing your career when you’re doing a fine job of it yourself?
Our reputations are formed by three main elements, over which we have total control: our words, our actions, and our appearance. The combination of which form the foundation of our credibility. And, it’s our credibility that establishes trust with clients and prospects and communicates our ability to deliver on our word.
Avoid compromising your success by considering the following: