Top-Shelf Tip No. 148:

"Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room."

Jeff Bezos

The Power Of Personal Branding

"Personal brand" has become an overused term, especially in the world of social media where your presence requires a headshot, personal fun facts and links to everything that represents your likes and dislikes. However, in business, your personal brand is much richer than a Facebook or LinkedIn profile. It's a representation of who you are as a leader and professional in your industry.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we are sharing a few key insights from one of the country's leading experts in personal brand, international speaker and author Michele Wierzgac, who will deliver a keynote presentation on Wednesday, July 29 at the PPAI Women's Leadership Conference in New Orleans. Wierzgac, author of The Talking Stick, was recently interviewed by Travel Market Report. Here's a summary from this interview.

1. Understand your gift. A gift is what you are born with, while your skills are learned and used to build upon your gift, Wierzgac explains. "You have to go to basics. My gifts are to teach and to speak," she says, noting that one of her skills is educational administration, an area in which she holds a master's degree. "If we don't know who we are, then how can we tell others who we are and what we do for a living?"

2. Know who your brand champions are. Brand champions are your supporters, and you will find them in both formal and informal networks. Formal networks are those with organized cultures, including professional associations and online discussion groups, according to Wierzgac. Informal networks don't have any formal rules and feature a freer exchange of information, such as friends and colleagues who get together away from the office.

3. Make a good first impression. "First impressions are lasting impressions, and more than 70 percent of first impressions are accurate," Wierzgac says. She suggests creating what she calls a 10-second commercial—an introductory statement that tells people who you are. The introduction must be compelling. "Show that you're excited about what you do. People want to do business with people who know their stuff," she says.

4. Avoid stereotyping and judging. When people network, they don't know who knows who. Don't prejudge. As the adage goes, you can't judge a book by its cover.

5. Maintain your reputation. Reputation starts with one's family name and includes one's personal brand—what someone is known for. "I'm well known for being approachable, being a teacher," Wierzgac says. "If you need a lead, if you need help, I'm always there. Then people do a great job of promoting me. It's the human spirit to help each other out." People want a reputation they can be proud of, but it's also important to balance pride with humility, she says. As you gain success, remember the people who helped make you successful.

"Take the approach of always managing your reputation, your brand, whether times are good or bad," she says. "Marketing and branding is a daily exercise."

Don't miss Michele Wierzgac live tomorrow—Wednesday, July 29—at the PPAI Women's Leadership Conference when she presents Lighting The Path: Inspirational Leadership Increases Engagement.

Source: Michele Wierzgac, MSEd, is the founder of Michele & Co, a meeting management company and consulting firm. She is also a well known speaker and author of the business leadership book, The Talking Stick. Mimi Kmet is the author of What Makes You Unique? How to Develop a Personal Brand, an interview with Wierzgac that ran in the September 24, 2014 issue of Travel Market Report.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson