A brand, put simply, is a promise of what customers, prospects, referral sources and others can expect from doing business with you. In good times and bad times your brand screams to the world who you are and what you do. All the little things you do impact how others think of you.
Even if you are not actively promoting a brand, your brand is promoting itself. People in your business community are always watching your actions and jumping to conclusions about you and your product or service. Even when you are having a bad day you are forging your reputation in the minds of those watching (and everyone they tell).
Some people think it is not fair that they are being judged. Too bad. Who told you life was fair? Who you are inside... your character.... really, really matters. As you are being observed all the time.
Large corporations have entire departments with dozens of "brand managers" who work tirelessly to protect and promote the image of the company. As a small business or sole proprietor, you cannot afford legions of people to manage your brand -- thus you must oversee this process all on your own.
Further more you must worry about marketing, sales, business development, public relations, social media, advertising, networking, and customer services. Each of these disciplines are bound together. Again, big companies allow them to float separately in silos, but you must put them all together in one big puzzle. Some Assembly IS Required! You cannot leave these important areas of business to chance.
Too often people want to take shortcuts in their career and then they sit on the sideline scratching their head wondering why they did not climb up the ladder as they had hoped.
Success takes a combination of skill and talent in your area of expertise in conjunction with a brand and reputation. If you are good and nobody knows you exist you are leaving money on the table. Being the best kept secret in your industry will leave you short of your potential. You must create buzz that will cause others to become active referral sources to help bring opportunities.
At the same time you must remain humble and continue to be genuine. Nobody wants to recommend a pompous ass.
Develop a "long-run strategy" where you are consistent in your efforts to do great work and still find time to get engaged in your business community so that you can establish that brand that excites other people into wanting to become part of your support team.
The best way to get a support team? Be a support team. Everyday find a way to help promote other people. Be a contributor and an active part of your community. If you want to have career success and gain higher levels of attention in your industry, do not do it behind closed doors.
Consistent work product, community involvement and collaboration is the only path to the top.
Serve. Contribute. Love. Accept. Be real.
Have A Great Day.