BY MICHAEL BECK | OB BLOGGER
Communicating "who you are" is essential to effective leadership and effective marketing. Establishing "who you are" as a person becomes your personal brand. And rather than our intelligence, education or years of experience, people base their opinion of who we are on other factors. They determine it based on the level to which they respect, trust, and admire us. Their opinion of you is based on what kind of person you are, what your philosophies are, how you express yourself, how you treat people, and the values you value define you as a person. Taken together, they form your "personal brand".
The question is, how do you help people learn "who you are"? The key is consistently communicating in a way that reflects your values and philosophies.
Be Mindful in Your Interactions
People form opinions about us based on how we come across to them. It's not so much about how accurate we are as much as it is about how it makes them feel. People are attracted to those they respect and trust. We earn respect by showing respect. Showing respect to others face-to-face is fairly straightforward, but showing respect online (email, tweets, posts, blogs, forums, social media) can be a bit more challenging.
As an example, you can disagree with a comment someone made but you need to do it with style and respect. If you disagree with someone, there's no need to tell them they're wrong. There's nothing to be gained by belittling someone or pointing out their mistake. Instead, simply let them know you disagree or that you have a different perspective. Then go ahead and state your point of view.
Also, in order to express yourself effectively so the real you comes through, you should first draft what you want to say and then re-read it as someone who doesn't know you, your state of mind, or your sense of humor. Often you'll find that your initial wording can be misinterpreted and could therefore send the wrong message about what you mean and who you are.
A perfect example of this is in the use of sarcasm. A sarcastic comment like, "Maybe you should fire them and start all over," might be humorous to people who know you and your sense of humor. But to the majority of people reading your comment, you run the risk of coming across as someone who is mean-spirited, angry, or just plain inexperienced. It would be far safer and go further in establishing your brand by re-writing your comment to say exactly what you mean and how you feel.
Building Your Brand Online
Participating in a social network, especially LinkedIn or Twitter, can be a great way to communicate who you are in the business world. It allows you not only to share your knowledge, but if done right, will help people you don't know you get to know you as a person (your brand). Look for opportunities to participate in group discussions. You don't have to spend hours on end doing this - just engage at a level that's comfortable for you. The key to success is, of course, being mindful of how you come across in your interactions. (Follow all the suggestions we discussed in the previous paragraph.) As you interact over time, people will draw conclusions about "who you are". Your style of communicating sends a strong message - maybe even more than your content.
If you make the effort to develop and maintain your "personal brand" on a steady, consistent basis, you'll find that your leadership effectiveness will improve and you'll attract new career and business opportunities. After all, people do business with people they like, trust and respect.
Michael Beck blogs on executive leadership for Oregon Business