Most of us don’t put a lot of thought into branding. We assume that our key contacts understand what we do well enough to refer or cross-sell when appropriate.
But branding is more than your website bio or the brief description you offer when you hand someone your business card. It is your unique offering in the marketplace and it’s a critical component of a successful business development strategy.
Your branding occurs every time you meet with a new referral source. You typically warm up with a few personal rapport-building details about your family or favorite hobbies, but before long, you’re describing your background and outlining the specific work you do today. Perhaps you reference an engagement you recently completed by way of example. By the end of the meeting, if you’ve branded yourself effectively, your new referral source has a clear picture of who you are and the problem you are uniquely qualified to solve.
If you haven’t branded yourself effectively, the referral source leaves the meeting thinking that you’re a nice enough person with general competencies that are relatively easy to find in the marketplace.
Now, imagine later that day your referral source meets with a client who is struggling with the very problem you solve. If you have armed your referral source with a compelling brand, they can relay it in a sentence or two such that the client is motivated to consider your services. Even if the client already has a resource for their problem, your brand should present itself as an alternative worthy of comparison.
When the client pulls up your LinkedIn profile, your unique value proposition should be immediately evident. The average visitor spends no more than 5-7 seconds reviewing a LinkedIn profile so don’t expect them to dedicate a thorough search for your key message. Whether it’s an area of expertise, your extensive industry knowledge, or simply your attention to detail, make sure your unique brand is front-and-center when you introduce it into a conversation or represent yourself online. After all, there is nothing less remarkable (and less referable) than a bland brand.
Authored by David Ackert