As a senior leader within an organization, my experience has been that developing your personal brand adds value to your business. This is even more true for entrepreneurs, as they literally ARE their business. In It’s a Jungle in There, Schussler points out that when investors are considering a business, they are looking at both the viability of the idea as well as their impressions of the person or people leading the project.
The importance of first impressions was reinforced for me recently during a presentation by stylist Lamond Hart of The House of Lamond. He and his colleague Sheena from Alpha Male Nail Care presented to MBA students on style, giving several very helpful tips to help them elevate their personal brand. One thing I was taught early on when preparing for a job interview, many people judge your attention to detail by how well you care for your nails and your shoes. It is no wonder that Mr. Hart partnered with a shoe shine business and nail technician when he opened his salon in Uptown Charlotte. Having these two services within his clothing boutique is genius! Not only do all three businesses benefit from the patrons of the others, all three business compliment the others to result in a well styled gentleman.
Another great take-away for me from this presentation was that professional does not have to be boring. The sock styles of Canadian Prime Minster, Justin Trudeau are a great example of this. He is always well dressed, but the pop of color found in his sock choices have shown that he has a bit of flair and personality. Mr. Hart suggested that a colorful pocket square or unique lapel pin can make a similar impact.
Career experts regularly point to the importance of a good hand shake and the first and last impression it can leave with those you meet. The balance of firm, but not bone crushing, is not easy for everyone to master. This is particularly true when you are nervous and your mind is on the pitch you are about to make. I recommend to my students that they actively practice their handshake and not take for granted that what they do naturally is fine. The feedback you receive on this tiny action could dramatically impact the impression you leave.
Schussler spends several pages in It’s a Jungle in There sharing the value of a unique and memorable business card. With companies like moo.com and Vista Print there is no reason to have boring, unprofessional business cards. Additionally, I strongly recommend that people leverage LinkedIn to connect with people after meeting them. Not only does a LinkedIn profile give you a lot more information about the person you’ve met, but it provides you a tidy way to keep your conversation going after the initial meeting. I use my LinkedIn as a database to help facilitate connections for others as well, but then doing so is part of the brand promise of my institution.
Lastly, I would submit that it is good advice to get involved in service to your industry or profession. Doing so is great for your personal brand, but it is also great for your business. As people know you and associate you with expertise in your field, your business is bound to benefit.