There are probably a bazillion trainers selling themselves and their training sessions to the world today, all targeting the same kind of people. The training and speaking industry is saturated with people who are proficient in whatever topic you can think of- marketing, sales, leadership, team building, health, creating wealth, handling personal finances etc. Every trainer looks at the same pie of customers and wants a piece of it. Most trainers have similar ways of delivering sessions, with similar content, objectives and resources, but is their personal branding in place?
The learning curve of trainers is also similar- incorporating sound product knowledge, flexible and in-depth course designs, good presentation skills and communication skills. Majority of trainers are also certified from one or the other certification body and may follow a system taught by a mentor-trainer.
How do YOU stand out as a trainer then?
From a client’s point of view, why should you be hired to do the work, and not your competition? If you organise open workshops, why should a participant choose your seminar over someone else’s? What can you as a speaker do for the audience which another in the same niche as you can not?
What values do you bring to your work which makes you stand apart from the rest? How does your audience know about the values you stand for without you droning about it?
You may have heard that first impressions are very important. But do you know the lightning speed at which first impressions are formed? Just 7 seconds! In the first 7 seconds of you walking on stage or entering the training room or meeting your corporate client, your audience is computing thoughts about you.
Here is how it happens.
First, the person looks at your outward appearance. If he feels your clothes look expensive and you are well-groomed he will believe you are successful and wealthy.
Second, the person subconsciously weighs your body language and determines if you appear confident, powerful, believable, energetic and determined.
Third, the person makes assumptions about your work, your success, your credibility, your status and authority even whether you have knowledge about your subject. In fact, in the first few seconds the person may have decided whether he will listen to you or not!
Fourth, from these few seconds the person has formed a first impressions filter. Now every time that person meets you next, whatever he sees or hears from you or about you will go through this impressions filter.
It is that complex, and that quick!
How does your audience know what you can do and who you are? Should you be spending a lot of time explaining to your clients what you can deliver? Do your prospective clients have that much time to spare? How do you grab attention amidst all this noise?
By creating a cohesive brand for yourself across all platforms!
The foremost platform for developing a Brand You starts from your own appearance.
Teachers are leaders! says Blair Singer, world’s topmost sales trainer. (In fact Mr. Singer himself is a great example of seamless branding across all platforms, offline as well as online! He lives what he teaches about!)
Here are a few more trainers, speakers and leaders who have branded themselves super successfully!
So the first step in your Personal Branding strategy is to LOOK LIKE A LEADER.
Take a good look at your wardrobe and ask yourself these questions
1. How do I consistently wear clothes?
2. What kind of garments do I invest in?
3. How do I put them together?
4. Do I wear occasion appropriate clothing?
5. Do I dress for who I am now or for who I want to become?
6. Does my clothing suit my age, experience, body shape and structure, my cultural sensitivities, my aesthetic sense, the values I stand for?
7. Do I invest in good quality shoes and keep them in good condition?
8. Am I well groomed- skin, hair, nails? Are my clothes sloppily wrinkled or crisply ironed?
From a body language perspective
1. Do I show manners and basic courtesies every where I go?
2. Do I smile easily and make eye contact while interacting?
3. Is my handshake limp, too hard, or confident?
4. Does my body language and facial expressions correlate with the image I have created with my outfit?
5. Do I take up space and hold my head high?
Also, across all social media platforms online and offline, do you look and behave the same way?
For example, if you look stylish in your photographs but create videos in an avatar entirely different from your photographs (read:sloppy/casual/unkempt), your audience may not want to hear you out! (It is also called cognitive dissonance. Beware!)
Your personal brand is a consistent outward showcase of your inner value system, your beliefs and your wealth of knowledge and experience. Remember the word consistent.
Benefits of branding yourself are manifold.
One of them is it makes you take a good look at your strengths and weaknesses. What would you like to highlight?
Once you’ve identified your strengths that you want to highlight, you gain confidence. Now you know what your forte is and no one can beat you in that! Your self-esteem soars, and it shows! People you meet can feel your confidence and are attracted to the positive energies you emanate.
When you consistently do as you say, you build credibility for yourself.
Consistently delivering as per the values of your personal brand in your actions makes people trust you.
Through out the process of creating your personal brand, you eliminate all that doesn’t serve you and only focus on that which is an asset to you. You get the chance to show your speciality and not become a jack of all trades. Developing a personal brand forces you to make your true self visible.
The easiest way to be ahead of competition is to stand out of the crowd. For example if the entire world is tardy with time, people will notice your consistent punctuality, appreciate it and of course remember it!
You need not do or be everything. Find your niche and build it and be known for it. That will build you as a go-to expert in that area faster than trying to deliver every program to every body.
Your personal brand is your filter. When you know what you stand for, what you want to do, what you want to focus on, you also weed out all that you don’t want from your life. Your focus improves and you deliver much more efficiently.
Think of it this way- how do you want people around you to feel about you? These people can be any one you come in contact with. At the end of the day you can’t afford to be with one group of people one way and be someone else with another group of people. Consistency is the key here. How would you want people to experience you? You may need to write that down, and focus on delivering that experience every single time with every single contact. That is how a personal brand is created.
Does that mean you have to wear a suit to go grocery shopping?
Of course not! But that DOES mean you are aware of the impressions you are creating on people, being who you naturally are, and never acting a part.
Personal branding is about finding the uniqueness in you and letting it shine. It is about creating a standard that your peers, customers and audience can recognise and expect every time.
Personal branding is not self promotion mind you! It is way deeper. It’s not a marketing tool, it’s a way of living- ever single day!
Most trainers think that they have a brand but they can’t stand a scrutiny.
Originally published at www.theimagemanager.com on July 25, 2016.