05 Feb Don’t Confuse Reputation with Personal Brand.
Don’t confuse reputation with personal brand.
“What’s all this personal brand b****cks in estate agency?” asks my good friend, Christopher Watkin, on a recent LinkedIn post.
“Social media thought leaders are telling people to build a personal brand – but what does that actually mean? …The problem for estate agency bosses is they are being told to build a personal brand, yet nobody is telling you how…..the solution is very simple to personal brand. Stop reading crappy books about personal brand and worrying about vanity metrics, or videos going viral… stop thinking you need to build a personal brand and start being useful…and from that you will win and your personal brand, (or as I like to call it – your reputation) will grow for the better. It really is that easy.”
What does that actually mean? he asks.
Well, it means this:
Personal brand is self-defined. Your identity. What you believe. Your values.
It is in your control.
It impacts your behavior and, with that behavior, comes reputation.
Reputation is other’s interpretation of who your are. Their opinion arrived at through evaluation and appraisal.
Start being useful, as Christopher encourages, and your reputation will grow. People will take note.
“A generous, thoughtful, competent estate agent, not like some I have read about.” will be the reaction of many.
But that’s NOT personal brand. That’s reputation and most agents have it.
For the few that seek difference, they carve their niche in the marketplace and become the go-to agent in their community. Respected for what they do and how they do it. More importantly, liked for who they are.
For the majority, the artifice of competence and professionalism is as far as they go. Hiding behind the mask of common. Seeking to fit in as an estate agent, yet stand out as better. No wonder vendors/landlords are confused.
Agents, themselves, are confused about their identity.
It’s hard to be authentic, however, when you’re putting on this ‘show’ of being the perfected and polished local ‘expert’.Where’s the faults? Where’s the mistakes? The stresses and the strains associated with being so perfect?
“Nobody tells you how?” suggested Christopher.
If, as I posit, personal brand is self-defined, what’s the problem?
Agents don’t need help in being themselves.
Their problem is that they aren’t happy just being themselves – they’ve been coached to be someone they’re not.
To the extent that this has now become their assumed identity.
Always hustling. Crushing it. Not taking No for an answer.
Competing in a losing game.
“Competition is for losers.” – Peter Thiel.
If you do need help in simply being yourself, take some time to reflect on who you are. What is it, that you value most?
What is your vision? What makes you different? How can you prove that?
That’s not the problem, though!
The problem is that agents, by and large, are too afraid to be themselves.
They lack the courage to be imperfect.
As a consequence, they’re perceived as fake and insincere.
Which is, for the most part, is near the mark.
I know quite a few agents.
I observe them as part of my education.
I know a lot about some agents. How successful they are. How passionate they are. How ambitious they are. How proud, they are of their achievements. How much they are a team player. Even how garrulous they seem.
But I know none of the ‘colour’. I don’t know a favorite book, what brings joy, what inspires, what has been learnt about life? I see the surface level. Only what they are prepared to reveal and what they imagine others might find interesting.
It’s superficial at best. Insincere at worst.
Is your life so dull that you imagine it has no appeal to anyone?
Let me tell you, vendors are far more interested in who you are than in what you do and how you do it.
We’re looking for affinity. Someone with whom to connect. Someone we can trust.
And all we get from agents/realtors, at present, is an invitation to a really boring conversation.
Where the agent hopes to win your heart and mind.
With minimum transparency and maximum facts.
Personal Brand – It’s easy.
Don’t make it complicated.
If you have the courage, share the story that only you can tell.
Let vendors see behind the ‘mask’.
Allow them more than just a brief glance at your character.
Inspire them, if you can, with your passion for life – how you got to be where you are today.
Don’t state and prove your worth to them. They’re looking for so much more from you.
That, my friends, is Personal Brand.
Peeling back the layers of who you think you are – not who others perceive you to be.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable – unconcerned that some may not like what they hear, or read.
Is it worth it?
If you want to fit in, the answer is probably No. Be happy as that small fish in a big pond.
If you want to stand out, if you want to be different and to be the only fish in that pond, the answer is a resounding Yes.
It’s very, very much worth it.
So don’t confuse reputation with personal brand.
Being ‘useful’ isn’t mutually exclusive.
Estate agents/realtors already have a reputation. In short, they’re not altogether trusted by potential vendors/landlords.
All the charity bike-rides, sleep-outs and local sponsorship will only, over time, make a small dent in that reputation.
Personal Brand, done the right way, will fix the problem. Sooner, rather than later.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
I’m happy to help if you need any advice on personal brand. Just drop me a line.