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BUILDING YOUR PERSONAL AND BUSINESS BRAND

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  By Gary Lumby

 

BUILDING YOUR PERSONAL AND BUSINESS BRAND

The most frequent question I ever get asked by other people who are looking at developing their own portfolio career as a Non Executive Director is  “How do you find your clients?”. The truth is that often I don’t because they either find me or I get referred to them by an existing client or someone in my network.

Building a personal network of great contacts is a lengthy and time consuming activity but it is absolutely vital if you are going to be successful in business is my opinion. I sometimes receive criticism from other people about the amount of time I spend attending meetings. Colleagues would say ‘Why are you wasting your time going to see that person or that organisation, they are just after something from you?’ I knew that to be the case of course but I still went along, why? Well I am a firm believer in helping people be successful and if I can introduce one of my clients or someone from my network to a person who wants to meet them, then providing I can see a benefit for both parties I will try and facilitate it.

Sometimes those benefits are not obvious at first and you need to be able to think ‘outside of the proverbial box’ when looking at the reasons to introduce people and you may well have to explain your thinking to both parties.

Being known as someone who is able to generate opportunities for yourself and other people is very much part of my brand and is something that I continuously seek to achieve. But that alone is not the whole picture because your brand is made up of many other things. From how you look, your vocabulary, your body language, your personality, your skills and knowledge and above all your passion and attitude. I often say to clients who are recruiting ‘Recruit for attitude and passion and train for skills and knowledge’. If your gut feeling tells you that a candidate is wrong, despite a great CV, then go with your gut feeling.

I personally look to be positive at all times and to keep my skills and knowledge up to date and relevant for today’s business world and that can be difficult with technology and legislation changing so quickly but it’s vital if you are engaged in running or advising businesses. Whilst you cannot know everything, you should have a sound understanding of the latest principles of good business and then a good network of experts to tap into for areas that are outside of your own expertise.

I also think that the businesses and people with the best brands are those that have integrity and honesty; these are hard won attributes but ones that are easily lost as well. My principle is that if there is a chance that something is immoral, unethical or dishonest then I will not get involved and that applies to how I charge my clients for my time. I always am clear and transparent about what and why I am charging and what value this brings for my clients. Being from a banking background taught me the importance of having a clear audit trail and documentation showing where and when expenditure and costs were incurred especially if these are being passed onto to third parties or clients.

Having a brand that is considered honest, positive, passionate, fair, forward thinking, pro active and always professional is something that you have to work on and continue to develop. But the benefits that this brings to you, your business, your clients and your network is certainly worth the effort.

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