In today’s fast-paced, dog-eat-dog business environment, everyone is looking for a way to squeeze ahead or get a leg up on their competition. Some would argue that conveying your professional brand is more important than ever. Clients, customers, and employers are looking for results and benefits. It’s imperative that you can explain your professional brand in a concise and engaging way to ensure that your value is truly realized by your audience.
While it’s convenient to talk about your abilities in your terms, you’ve got to meet your audience halfway. Cater to today’s sound bite culture and distill your knowledge into bite-sized chunks people can easily consume. Here are five keys to conveying your professional brand effectively and efficiently so your audience hears you:
- Hit the high points: No one has time – or will give you the time – if you don’t explain what you do and how it can benefit them, quickly and concisely. Your goal is to engage and educate using the simplest means possible. If you can’t explain the basis and benefits of your professional brand in a matter of minutes, then you’re going to lose your audience, no matter how good your personal product is.
- Relate: The saying that “people love to talk about themselves” could not be truer. Whether you’re having a sales conversation or simply gathering information, it’s always important to relate to your audience. You must engage and find some way to relate your professional brand to your audience’s experiences or beliefs. People like to work with people they like – and they need to develop a rapport with you before they’ll ever like you.
- Keep in casual: You should be passionate, but you also need to be conversational. No one wants to be sold on your professional brand. Practice so any time the subject arises, you are casually discussing your professional brand, rather than selling it. Be well-versed in your story; people are always enthralled by a good story.
- Tone: Quite possibly the most important aspect to conveying your professional brand is the way in which you convey it. Your tone should express your passion and confidence in your professional brand. After all, it’s what you do best (I hope)! If you’re excited about it, others will be, too. Give them a lead to follow.
- Dress the part: Dressing the part is always easier said than done, but it is a must. First impressions are everything; if you aren’t dressed appropriately, you will have already lost your credibility with your audience. Don’t stress over what attire is appropriate. Think logically about the event you are attending and what everyone else might be wearing. It is a good rule of thumb to be overdressed, rather than underdressed.
Most people are, by now, thoroughly convinced of the need to have a solid professional brand. The problem is that many aren’t confident in their ability to convey that brand without PowerPoint slides, a portfolio, and a lengthy speech about their childhood dreams. Because none of those things will interest prospective partners, clients, or employers, you need to filter your message to the most compelling points in the shortest amount of time. Remember, we usually only have two minutes to capture people’s interest – make sure those two minutes convince them to keep talking once the time’s up.