Consulting Consultants: Personal Branding – Public Events

You’ve got a blog and you’re firing off tweets at a record pace so when it comes to the digital side of personal branding, you’ve got the basis covered, at least until the next new digital thing comes out anyway.  So what’s next?  Public events is the answer to that question.  When I say “public events’” I mean any event that puts you in a building with actual people.  this could be a conference, a presentation, a user group meeting, or even just a bunch of people with similar interests (i.e. geek dinners).  The point is to get out in front of actual people.  So what do you do once you’re in front of people?  Lets have a look.

Elevator Pitch

If you haven’t heard of the “elevator pitch” here’s the basics.  You have the time it takes to travel one or two floors in an elevator to tell someone who you are and what you do.  No more no less.  The idea is to:

  1. Introduce yourself and what you do
  2. Leave them in a way that they are comfortable with know who you are and what you do, but also in a manner that will leave them with some form of desire to call you should they need your particular skill set.

A helpful tool during the elevator pitch is your business card.  If you don’t have any made, get some (you can pick up some free ones at VistaPrint).

It is important to understand that the “elevator pitch” isn’t just for elevators.  This is what you tell someone when they ask you who you are or what you do.  The idea is to keep it short, answer the key questions quickly and effectively, and to make them fully understand it all.

Presentations

Giving presentations on your what it is your good at is a sure fire way to meet a lot of people and help them understand what it is you do.  It can also have the adverse effect and make those same people never want to have anything to do with you again.  So you have to walk a fine line.  When you decide to give a presentation, you’ll want to make sure that you are up on your knowledge.  You don’t have to know everything but knowing a lot about what you are talking about is most helpful.  Being knowledgeable helps build your reputation, showing that you are knowledgeable builds your credibility.  Occasionally saying “I’m not sure, give me your card so I can get back to you on that” is a good way to show that even though you don’t know, you’re willing to find out and follow up.  This is both professional and educational. 

I’ve gone more in-depth on giving quality presentations before.  But I’ll review the high points here real quick.

  • Write down what you plan to say, and plan it well.  Make sure it flows and conveys the message you want to send
  • Don’t just stand there, move.  Give people something to following rather than just stare at you standing there for more than an hour.
  • Speak clearly and audibly.  It’s pointless to give a presentation if the people in the back can’t hear you.
  • Finally, practice your presentation.  Give your presentation a few dry runs in the days leading up to it, you’ll be very glad you did.

Answer Questions

When people ask questions, they expect answers (generally speaking).  So if you’re at a round table, group discussion, or some other group activity and someone asks a question you know the answer to, speak up.  You do more harm by staying quiet out fear of being wrong than you do by giving your answer.  If you are wrong, most people will offer other suggestions and you will in turn learn something.  You can prefix with things like “in my experience” or “the way I’ve done it in the past” to make your answer slightly less authoritative and thus less about ego.  You don’t need to have an ego but you shouldn’t hide out of fear either.  Again, speaking up increases credibility.  It can also lead to knowledge.

Plan Events

If you truly have no problem speaking to people and getting out there, a really good way to build your personal brand and get your name out there is to plan events for others to attend.  Yes, it takes some work, but the end result can be well worth it.  Plus “event planning” can help nicely on a resume (*wink*).  The idea is to bring people together under a certain theme.  So make sure you’ve got interest.  This can also help you get to know other people outside your local circle that share your interests.  You might arrange to have some of the more well known folks to come and speak at your event and this could start relationship with those people.

Reminder

Remember that building your personal brand is pretty much all about self promotion.  The idea is for people about who you are and what it is that you are good at.  The reason for this is so they can remember you when they might need you.  The idea of getting out in public and in front of people is to help more people know about you.  This can increase your personal network, which can lead to more work as a consultant (more sales opportunities if you work in a consulting firm) and it can also lead to other opportunities in general both professional and personal.

Next week I’ll look at some things one can do when they work specifically for a consulting firm to improve their personal brand inside their company.  It’ll probably be a little shorter than the last few posts in this series, but the information should be just as helpful.

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