After having worked in the High Street for 14 years I’ve recently become a home-based travel agent. Given that quarterly conference is coming up and I also need to network with prospects, how do I go about presenting myself? Do I need a brand?
Sharon – Middlesbrough
To start let’s put the ‘brand’ thing to bed. A lot has been written around this concept. All it means is that you have thought about what you do and how you do it and that the way you come across reflects this process. End of story.
You’ll have to choose to what extent you wish to identify with the company behind you. Naturally all the due diligence stuff like handling money and only selling approved suppliers is (rightly) inflexible. However, you do have latitude as to how you portray yourself e.g. are you part of a large professional set-up or are you an independent expert who is truly the best in their field? There is no right or wrong here but you do need to contemplate which makes you feel most comfortable as this will affect your confidence when dealing face to face with new people.
You asked about how to present yourself. I suppose you are thinking of what to wear –more of that later. Let’s now examine Social Networking. The facilities offered by Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Word Press, About.Me and whatever else will appear in 2017 are amazing ways of adding to your self-portrait. By working with them you will actually begin to know yourself better. Because these media thrive on users writing with brevity you’ll soon find you are better at discussing what interests you. This in turn will inspire you to research subjects you have a passion for and in time, you will become even more expert in them. For instance one person I follow on Twitter divulges how many seats particular airplanes have. Although the subject matter is somewhat niche (by which I mean boring!) it does help me think of this person as an air seat specialist. Social networking consumes both time and money but has become the marketing method of choice simply because people gravitate to these sites with the same verve as they delete both solicited and unsolicited emails and recycle paper mailings they have not even bothered to open.
So, when you have decided how big or small you are and have become a self-knowing maven you are ready for launch. Before you leave home however, remember that a conference with your peers is different from meeting potential clients. At the company event you are among trusted friends and you’re only selling a smile and a listening ear. However, being among customers is altogether more difficult. You do it because you need to sell to and through them.
And what will you wear? Actually, it doesn’t really matter. The purpose of selecting the right clothes and make up is to suggest competence and expertise. What you put on is secondary to the way you carry it. If a certain styles make you feel confident and good about yourself, then wear it. As a person who is now working for herself you are the boss and you should enjoy the freedom.