What kind of car do you drive? The answer to this question can be surprisingly personal. Are you an eco-friendly Volt, a nostalgic Mustang, an elegant Benz, or an avant-garde Model 3 Tesla?
Like it or not, the brands we drive, wear, or otherwise brandish are very much a part of the impression we leave on others. They are also a part of how we assess each other in business.
Let's say you meet a potential referral source for lunch. Your conversation with her goes well and you become hopeful that the relationship will lead to meaningful, mutual advantage. After the meal, you step outside as the valet pulls up a ten-year-old weathered Camry. Your referral source waves to you, gets in and drives away. Do you think to yourself, "how smart she is not to burden herself with exorbitant car payments" or do you judge her as unsuccessful and consider the lunch wasted?
The answer to this question does not define you as either noble or superficial. The fact is, the commercial brands with which we associate are just as much a part of our personal brand as the firm where we work or the reputation that precedes us. It's all part of the story we choose to tell the world about who we are and the opportunities we hope to attract.
I'm certainly not advocating that success in business requires an upmarket shopping spree. But I am suggesting that the people in your network can become confused if your material cues are inconsistent with your professional message. So, give your contacts the physical evidence that supports your value proposition. That way, when you tell them that your strengths lie in your pragmatism or your conscientiousness or your win-rate, the brands you endorse will tell the same story.
Authored by David Ackert