By Janika LeMaitre, Certified Business Etiquette & Personal Brand Consultant
I love what I do for work; I help people confidently stand-out with a clear direction! My expertise is with modern business etiquette, personal brand building, and reputation self-management–I'm on a mission to guide people on investing in their professional selves. Over the years, it occurred to me that the term "building your brand" no longer refers to what one does to promote a business. Instead, to my mind, it means creating a personal identity and image that matches how people think of you. Like it or not, you as an individual are now expected to construct a brand around your unique traits. Amazon's Jeff Bezos said it best, "Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room."
Now, I want you to picture who you were ten years ago. Thanks to your cell cycles, your skin is different, your hair continues to grow, and overall you have physically changed because your cell cycle determines the inevitable process of aging. The good news is that your mind continues to develop.
Your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are influenced by what you have learned, seen, and heard. Yet, are you aware of this transformation? And, who have you become? How would you describe yourself today?
The trouble is that when it comes to re-branding yourself, there are many moving parts, and you often find that you have to hire many consultants to achieve the results you want–it can be overwhelming. But, what if you could hire just one specialist to help guide you along the way? Where should you start, and what are the right questions to ask? Lucky for you, I've devised five questions you should ask yourself to know whether you're ready to work with a mission driven personal brand consultant like me.
#1: Where does your reputation stand today?
Reputations are changeable. They can go from being significant to the polar opposite in an instant. So my first suggestion is what I feel is the most important if you take a few moments to dig into your digital and in-person presence. Here is where your use of humility kicks in; what is your reputation like today?
Now, if you want to get answers, ask those around you who you know will give you an unbiased truth. Then, if you know your reputation can improve, you're ready to work with a consultant.
#2 - How can you elevate your presence?
There are many aspects to developing your persona into one that's sophisticated, bold, composed, a thought-leader, etc., a presence that transcends your previous self. Of course, this takes time and patience to generate, but it's worth doing.
Determine your outlets; where are you seen? Think about online and in-real-life. These platforms require consistency with your messaging. As a woman in today's world, there are higher expectations with self-presentation. Keeping up appearances can be overwhelming and what a personal brand coach does is help you filter through the noise to assist you in creating a defined presence.
#3 - What does it take to start?
Do you know what your mission is in life? What about your vision for a better world? Furthermore, is there a philosophy that resonates with how you approach everything you do? Identifying your purpose is crucial to your brand; putting words to what you think and feel about life. If you’re having trouble figuring out your answers, a personal brand consultant will step in and assist you in narrowing it down: These are the first steps to help you get started.
#4 - Who do you trust?
I believe in building long-term relationships, ones that withstand the ups and downs of what life throws at you. When sharing your time with a personal branding consultant, you want to make sure it's worth your while. Much like finding a doctor, you want to be picky; ideally you'll be working with them for years to come. Establishing a rapport takes time–and they know that.
A great way to start is by having a virtual or real-life consultation which the consultant should navigate. If you are confident in their approach, you've seen great reviews and credentials, and respect how they consistently show up; you should feel about starting sessions with them. They should feel like your number one fan, a cheerleading squad just for you, and if not, then you have your answer.
#5 - How much are you willing to invest?
When planning to work with a personal brand consultant, you must think about the short-term goals and the long-term goals you have. Daymond John, Investor on the series Sharktank, preaches that you should write down your goals every morning and check them every evening. If you don't write them down, they will never manifest–there'll be no point in hiring a personal branding coach. And so, you must think BIG; write everything down and be very detailed.
Your investment corresponds with you wanting this to work: Your re-brand is about you, and your coach creates a roadmap for you to get there.
So what is your brand worth to you? Well, that's a question only you can answer.
In conclusion, you can take control of how you present yourself to the world through your words, actions, and digital presence. I suggest you think of the one person in the world you would like to have a face-to-face conversation with and know when that day comes–you are ready.
Perhaps, you're going through a life-changing experience. You’ve changed careers, or switched industries… Maybe you're looking to elevate your reputation with what you're doing now. Whatever the reason is, one thing is for sure, you want to change; you want to be intentional with your approach; and with the proper guidance, you'll need the right person around you to make it happen.
***Article originally written for the Auersmont Etiquette in 2022***
About the author, Janika LeMaitre
Jan is a certified etiquette advisor, specializing in personal brand strategy. Her mission is to provide life-changing soft skills for business owners and industry trail-blazers to self-manage and evolve their reputation. Jan is certified with the Protocol School of Washington® and The British School of Excellence™. In addition, she is the board president of Women's Business Group Connects, and as a second-generation Rotarian, proudly serves as a board director at the Rotary Club of Weston & Wayland.
Download your complimentary copy of Jan's "Handling Gender-Neutral Pronouns With Style" quick guide here.