It’s vitally important to define or brand yourself as a professional service provider
This week Lew and I discuss the importance of defining or branding yourself as a professional service provider within your firm.
1 – Personal branding is a big topic these days, what does it mean for someone working in professional services.
I’m a big believer in personal branding for just about any career. It goes back to the age old question “What do you want people to say about you at your funeral?” That’s what personal branding is all about, how you are known and remembered. It’s your reputation.
If you work for a firm, you want to be well-known and on top of the decision makers’ minds for your next project assignment. When they go through the staffing process, they most-likely have a ‘bench report’ of anyone who is available or soon will be. As they start narrowing that list down based on matching their needs with the available skills, they may have a short list of people who can do the job. If they know that you’re a go-getter and always go the extra mile, you have a much higher chance of getting assigned to a project.
If you are an independent contractor, if you have a good reputation with your clients, you will be the one they think of first the next time work comes up.
2 – How would a professional service provider go about branding themselves?
It’s really the same whether you work for a firm or are independent
· First and foremost, do whatever it takes to get a project done. Beyond that, it’s a lot of little things: showing up on time, volunteering to help out, getting tasks done on time or communicating well in advance if you won’t, not making excuses.
· Come up with creative ideas to resolve issues that cause the client to request you back
· Identify sales opportunities that allow your firm to sell additional projects to their existing clients.
· I ended up branding myself without even realizing it (discuss Associates project, bosses reference to new firm).
3 – What are the benefits of branding yourself within a firm?
Some consultants are fought over when they become available. They are the ones that continue to make their projects, and in turn, their firm successful. Those are the type of people that everyone wants on their next project.
For a successfully branded independent service workers, they actually have a waiting list with some clients willing to put projects on hold until they are available. Some are willing pay a premium billing rate to get the person they want.
Think about this for products you buy yourself. I have a place that I take my car for service. They’ve established a very high level trust with me and I’m willing to wait longer and even pay a little more for their service because I trust that they will do a good job and not charge me for unnecessary work. They have well branded service that has resulted in my loyalty. I’m willing to recommend them to my friends.
4 – Can someone be negatively branded?
That’s not a brand, that’s just a bad reputation.
Much of this is obvious, but if you habitually deliver your tasks late or with poor quality, word starts to get around within a firm’s management.
Even if you deliver quality work, if you have a negative attitude, people will be reluctant to work with you. (discuss recent experience with client-worker with bad attitude – knowledgeable and did good work, but no one wanted to work with him).
Sometimes you can negatively brand yourself with the greatest of intentions. For instance, by gold-plating: Being a little too helpful, doing work that is outside of the scope of the project, which can result in delays and client complaints.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you want to become known by decision makers within your firm. Sometimes that means going up to them and introducing yourself. That’s a great way to get to know them, but you want to balance being self-promotional while avoiding just being a pest. If you stop by their office or interrupt them too often, they may end up trying to avoid you.
Have you ever had a television or radio advertisement appear so often, or was so annoying that you end up hating that product and vow never to buy that product? You want to avoid branding yourself that way with your bosses or even your potential clients.
5 – What other ways are there to “get your name out”.
Publishing is a great way to both share information with others and to demonstrate your knowledge and experience. It’s so easy to self-publish articles or a blog online. If you have a particular area that you have a deep knowledge of, write about it. If people are looking for information on it and do a Google search on it, they may see your article and end up looking you up.
It’s also important to network on social media. I use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to notify people in my network when I’ve posted a new blog or article online. That lets people within your network – particularly clients and firm management – know about your publishing efforts and also makes them aware of your capabilities.
Next Week: Being an Outsider