- Decide what your personal brand looks like. Perhaps you want to be seen as a professional, accomplished, ambitious contractor. "The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear" Socrates. (Clearly this is not a new concept!)
- Decide what actions will always support that brand. Others will associate your actions to the type of person you want to be. The following might be examples that support the "professional, accomplished, ambitious" brand.
- Dress professionally;
- Invest in training -- continue to learn;
- Take on more responsibility;
- Always take accountability and do not look for excuses;
- Be a cheerleader. Take on the glass half full attitude;
- Look after your health. Stay relatively fit (you don't need to be an elite athlete) and eat relatively healthy (you don't need to be a model);
- Look for ways to give back to charities, to the industry, to colleagues;
- Be a team player.
- Decide how you will protect your brand. You'd hate to go through all of the steps of creating your personal brand, only to jeopardize it with inconsistent actions. Following the same concept, that you want to cultivate, for example the "professional, accomplished, ambitious" brand, here are some don'ts!
- Don't use abusive language in any circumstance when dealing with your clients, especially never in writing.
- Don't let your communication style be "un-business like". You may use text messaging or IM shorthand with your friends, but business communication should be understandable to everyone;
- Casual work days should not mean ratty jeans and well worn sweat shirts. Adopt a smart casual approach (always dress just a little better than you need to);
- If you write "stuff" outside of work (blogs, facebook posts, articles etc) you might want to be sure that if your clients read them they would not raise their eyebrows;
- Don't compromise your own principles. Work with clients that have your kind of principles;
- Don't let your personal life encroach unduly into your work life. It's OK to be proud of your kids, but most clients don't need a blow by blow of their lives and they certainly don't want to be dragged into your personal "dramas".
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Your personal brand defines who you are and will have a strong impact on your success as a contractor. Have you thought much into what your personal brand represents? It's never too late to get started, but while you plan it out, here are 3 important things you should decide: