What do people say about you behind your back?
We might not realize it, but each interaction we have is an opportunity to build our personal brand. What’s a personal brand? Jeff Bezos of Amazon put it succinctly when he said “a personal brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.”
We don’t always have control over the way our words will be interpreted by someone. Given this, the ability to harness what you CAN control may mean the difference between closing a deal and closing the door. Here are four tips to keep in mind:
Do your homework. Don’t be the person in the room that opens their mouth to talk but doesn’t know enough about the topic to offer value. Meeting with someone who spent 15 years in South America growing coffee beans who now wants to open a coffee shop in your town? Google coffee bean trends over the past five years and educate yourself on the competition in town. Better yet, get a subscription to a global newspaper like the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times and read it, every day. Each article might not be of interest but even by simply being aware of the headlines and asking smart questions you will know enough to carry a conversation from elevator to boardroom.
Know your audience. Does the person you are meeting with have any customs you should be prepared for? What will you wear? Your personal style of dress may need to be altered depending on if your audience has worked in a corporate office for years or at a digital start-up. Do you know if the client has a distrust of people in your industry? Any bias you can be aware of will help shape how you open and address any situation.
Learn to listen. I mean really listen, without judgement or without thinking about what you are going to say next. When is the last time you felt someone really heard what you were saying? In my opinion, being a GOOD listener is one of the most underrated skills in life. Learning to listen intuitively, and with empathy, will allow you to not only hear a person without being clouded by inner thoughts, but will also allow you to hear what they are not saying. Sometimes, what a person doesn’t say, but telegraphs through tone, body language and carefully chosen word usage can tell you more about where you stand than a string of drawn out conversations.
Be confident. There is only one you. Every interaction is an opportunity to learn and influence those around you. By using your knowledge and unique gifts to elevate the conversation, you won’t have to wonder what they say when you leave the room. You’ll leave confident in your contributions.
Until next time,