You are the ambassador of your brand.

October 8, 2007 § 1 Comment

This one goes out to all the good folks who are up early in the morning, going to their local chamber of commerce, hitting that networking breakfast, and doing their part to keep the economy going through good old fashioned hustle.  You are the ambassador of your brand. 

When you swap cards at the chamber you are engaged in economic diplomacy and the stakes are high for you and your business.  When you stand up and give your 60, or 45, or 30 second speech at that networking lunch you are in the process of setting policy and expectations for inter-business relations.  Now here’s the rub: you are you AND you are the impression-setter for your company.  You are the window by which your friends, partners, customers, and prospects become acquainted with your brand.  If you are not projecting an image that is consistent with your brand you are creating a disconnect in the minds of the people you meet, yet you must also be authentic to yourself. Of course it is easier when you own the company and you are the one setting the tone for vision, mission and value for both yourself and your enterprise.  but even if you are working for someone else, you are shouldering the responsibility for framing the brand story for the people you interact with – if you are phony, it reflects on the brand, if you are impatient, it reflects on the brand, if you are overly what’s-in-it-for-me, that reflects on the brand.  A brand can be a lot of things, and a person is a whole lot more complex, but you have to find a harmony that fits, that gives people access to you, and through you, to all the great value your company can bring.

What’s your brand’s diplomatic policy?  Try writing down the 3 to 5 most important aspects you want your business contacts to recognize in your brand.  Then write down the 3 to 5 perceptions you want people to have of you. How well do they align?  Ask a trusted friend if this the image you are projecting.  Go over your elevator pitch, your handshake line, your stadium pitch, and see if it serves both you and your brand to meet the criteria you’ve written down.  Keep tweaking and tuning – you’ll know when you’ve found the right balance, because it will both feel good, and will get you the folks you want to connect with: the ones aligned with the value you offer and the working vibe that suits you best.  That’s the best kind of business diplomacy.

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