I attended a social media event last month that made me think of one thing that wasn’t being discussed by the speakers: Personal Branding. This is not meant to be a negative post (of course there will be no names mentioned) but it should be a warning to speakers that they are being observed on AND off the stage.
Arriving at the event, I spoke to a couple of people who were on the speakers lineup; people who sadly describe themselves in their twitter bio as ‘gurus’, ‘evangelists’ and ‘experts’ (echoing this sentiment is Max Niederhofer’s post entitled ‘Reflections on Entrepreneurship’ which I recommend reading). What was immediately evident upon meeting them was that they were awkward to talk to, they didn’t smile when I met them and they didn’t seem to be looking me in the eyes whilst talking. The funny thing I noticed though was that the three people I met, were completely different people on stage when it came to talking about social media.
One Australian speaker in particular stood out. She swayed onto the stage looking as if she couldn’t care less for the audience, recited her ‘could-be-at-any-event’ spiel and then did something which I have never seen before. During a panel discussion and following her crass comments, she pulled out her mobile phone whilst another speaker was giving his input. She then proceeded to tap away on her phone as if she had just discovered she had a third thumb. To make matters worse and obviously forgetting the fact that most of the audience had paid a fair amount for the tickets, she then celebrated finishing the panel discussion and exclaimed, “Great now we can get to the bar!”
Now I’m no personal branding expert but having been to many networking events, conferences and seminars, I certainly know what not to do. It’s just such a shame when you see people on stage making good presentations and then completely undermining their credibility by acting so differently off the stage. It also concerns me that so many people do not see through their act.
People who run their own consultancies or are freelancers need to realise that their personal brand is as important as their company brand. As soon as people realise you are not the person they thought you were, they will stop doing business with you. If you want quick wins and high turnover of clients, this is the strategy you should take!
So why does it have to be this way? Answer: It doesn’t. The next time you give a speech to a large audience, make that extra effort off the stage and build a positive personal brand.
There is an excellent blog by Diana Lowe that looks at how we can improve our networking techniques and personal brand.