I go along to the Farnham Hub run by Emma Selby and enjoy the company of the members, the guests, the camaraderie, the leg pulling, the sharing of ideas and problems, the collaboration and the talks. The talks.
I’ve been a member of the Hub for I guess a couple of years and over that time I have heard a lot of people give talks on loads of different subjects. Tied with all the social media output, the webinairs, blogs, self help courses, books and general advice I have concluded something, not new but very true.
It’s that none of us do anything special. Very, very few of us actually do anything unique or original. I am no different. There are thousands of photographers. Around any business resource networking table there will be HR people, web designers, graphic designers, solicitors, accountants, finance advisors, networkers, tutors, business trainers, sales trainers, linguists, motivational speakers, bloggers, life coaches, retailers, MLMers the list goes on.
So you do HR for small businesses. So what. You offer sales training for big companies. So what. You design websites. Big deal. You sell skincare products. Bully for you. You get paid to teach executives to use social media. Seriously?
The thought came to me last week that what I was watching being presented was nothing I couldn’t do, or anyone else in the room. OK, some things may need some re-training, a course or two to learn the business but at the end of the day I reckon any room of entrepreneurial type people, self employed or employed could ‘cross the house’ to any business they chose.
So what is it that does make what we do special?
Each and everyone one of us delivers what we do in a particular way, unique to ourselves and that makes everything we do very special. Exactly the same skill-set and knowledge base can be delivered by two HR consultants, but you chose the one you want based on their personality, their character and that you feel they align with you.
You need someone to come into your business and pull the sales team apart and re-build them with a new, dynamic way of thinking which will improve your business. Your choice of re-training is mostly influenced by the personality of the person offering the service.
So what you are buying is as much the brand of the person as the service or product they are selling.
So, given you are likely one of these people, do you value your personal brand?
You are unique as you and your image, personality, humour, gravitas, character are as important as whatever it is you are selling. They are on equal footing. Possibly, your personal brand is more important. Your personal brand is the launchpad for anything and everything you do.
So why do so many people hide themselves? Why do so many websites carry huge amounts of what is being sold and hardly anything of who delivers?
We’ve all heard the saying, ‘people buy people’ and pretty much everyone agrees but if you aren’t selling yourself you are missing out. You need to look very closely at your personal brand and ask yourself if it is bolstering your business.
Whilst writing this I have just looked up a website of a Business Development Consultant. It says what he does and has a little Bio and Headshot. The site is full of text and stock photography.
This guy relies on his persona, he is a one man band and personally deals with his clients. I’ve seen him talk. He’s engaging, amusing, confident, sells a style of training with results but he’s not fully exploiting his main asset. Himself.
My message is for people to start looking at their own personal branding. You need to embrace good, planned photography. I mean professional work. You need to budget for photography. Make it an important part of your year and spend money on having made strong narrative images of you doing what you do. Think about video, you may be surprised at what you can get made which will really boost your brand.
I am going to start offering a ‘Shadow Service’. The plan is you have me shadow you for a day, chose an active busy day which gives lots of photo opportunities. I am going to talk to a videographer to see if we can work together and offer a package. A day, maybe several at different times, to create content for your website and social media. A day building you as your own personal brand.
Another aspect to all of this is your wardrobe. As a photographer I see people I want to re-dress! Many men and women could do with real, constructive and objective guidance on clothing. Clothing choices are affected by personal comfort zone, personal self perception, the work you do, the work you want, helpful/unhelpful outside help and advice, budget, fashion, attitude. Clothing falls into this discussion on personal branding and cannot be ignored.
Setting aside my plans the overriding thing is personal branding is hugely important and hugely overlooked. In fact, it may be more important than what you do, because it’s your personal brand that makes it all special.