PR18 Your Personal Brand Gives You a Virtual Marketplace It used to be that the best way to get a job was to talk to people you knew – and that adage still holds true today. Unlike the days of our parents and grandparents, however, you have billions more opportunities to make friends than people just a few decades ago. The key to meeting people with an eye toward success is creating and maintaining a successful personal brand. By defining who you are and what you do, you create a marketing message for as many people as you can reach. If you put that on the Internet – in the form of your Web page, your blog, and your social networks – you can reach literally billions of people. Your brand will receive even more attention with careful nurturing. Outline your philosophy, and aside from improving it with added wisdom, don’t ever deviate from it. The first time that you do something that clashes with your brand is the last time that whatever client or employer who initially bought into it will do business with you; moreover, you can bet that this person has a network of friends and colleagues who will hear the story and decide that they had better not do business with you, either. While our parents’ business communities were likely tied up with the Optimist Club or the Rotary Club, we have hundreds of chances each day to interact with colleagues. You respond to instant messages, text messages, blogs, and e-mails in addition to traditional mail and phone calls. Make certain that those communications efforts pay off. If you’re talking with an immediate colleague from your company, you can answer in short, succinct sentences. However, if you’re talking to a vendor, a colleague from another company, or a client, you will fare far better by writing a note that fully explains what you mean. I’ve seen too many instances in which someone gets their feelings hurt because they’ve thought the tone of somebody else’s e-mail sounded “curt.” As silly as it sounds, review your e-mails to ensure that they have a pleasant tone. You don’t have to be long-winded – just be complete and polite. If you’re dealing with a colleague or client from another country, you don’t have to write the note in that language – in fact, unless you are proficient in that language, I highly advise against it! However, you can sign off with a cheery good-bye in whatever language they speak – it makes them feel that you are making an effort. In addition, you should ensure that you meet the social norms of your colleagues or clients. Different companies as well as different cultures have different ideas of what’s appropriate, and there’s nothing that will cool a business relationship faster than making a giant social gaffe. The world is much bigger for your personal brand than it ever has been, and it’s only getting bigger. Make sure that you know how to sell the idea of yourself to all of these people, and you’ll find that your brand will shine all the more brightly.