Many people think that all it takes to get the same quality of service from different vendors, at a reduced price, is to shop around.
I recently read an article in Fast Company about personal branding. And I wondered if people think about me, and my level of service and professionalism, the same way.
Regardless of whether we own a big name corporation or represent ourselves individually (Me, Inc., according to the article), we all have a brand and image associated with our name. When we move to a new city, we are often advised to find a highly recommended doctor, accountant, mechanic, etc. Associated with each of these small businesses are a local brand name, and a reputation – good or bad.
For example, for almost a year I have received tremendous customer service at an auto dealership in Hyattsville, Maryland. Due to its reputation/brand, the company was highly recommended by a friend of mine. I’ve never been over-charged, I’m treated as a V.I.P. customer and the mechanics complete the work without causing me any inconvenience (i.e. I can leave my car overnight or all day long). From changing my ’94 Camry’s engine to fixing a slight wiring problem on my battery, they have speedily completed every repair over the last year at a price I can afford.
Since I refuse to be known as just another receipt, this level of service is important to me.
There is power in these type of relationships. I’ve realized in my own business how important those relations – customer, vendor, employee, and social (both online and offline) – are to my personal brand.
I want people who work with me, and my company, to feel the same way about my brand as I do about that Hyattsville auto dealership. Maybe my customers can go somewhere else and get a “cheaper price”. Maybe I can be replaced by customers, managers – and even vendors. But if my personal brand, my reputation, and my service levels are perceived to be at the highest possible standards, they wouldn’t consider leaving.
Of course, most of us have always been told we must “sell” ourselves, and I am perfectly comfortable with this newer phrase: “personal branding”. In fact, this new focus has created many resources specifically to help emerging talent and entrepreneurs realize their brand is always present, and their reputation always at stake.
Two of the best resources for you might be those produced by the author of Me 2.0, Dan Schwabel: PersonalBranding.com and StudentBranding.com. Two relatively new career-oriented sites that have been of value to me are Brazen Careerist and ComeRecommended. Our site, YouTern, is also building a great content portfolio that will help brand “Me, Inc.” in a positive manner within the start-up and entrepreneurial communities. I’ve also found there is no shortage of information available through social networks – especially Twitter.
I recommend you spend some time researching not only these resources – but also your current brand.
Google yourself. What do you see? To your managers, vendors, customers and peers — what does your current online brand say about You, Inc.?
Semaj Rashad, in addition to being Student Ambassador Director at YouTern, is a college student and aspiring mogul establishing himself within the business community. Among his accomplishments, Semaj is a regular blogger for the Washington Post. You can reach Semaj via Twitter at @theelevatorup.