How to Defend Your Personal Brand - dummies

How to Defend Your Personal Brand

By Susan Chritton

The more successful you are with your personal brand, the more enemies you will have. Some people won’t like you just because you are doing well. The old expression “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” comes into play here.

Negative attention from competitors

As you gain success, you may encounter a competitor who does whatever he can to sabotage your success. A saboteur draws attention to you through negative attention. Sabotage is an attack on your reputation, and how you handle the incident can give you further credibility.

The extra attention is your opportunity to turn your audience around with what you have to offer, your positive attributes, and a forum to take the high ground.

Having a resilient personal brand built on solid values, using your key attributes, and having supporters who believe in you are the best defenses against a saboteur. Developing clear personal boundaries sets you and your brand apart from the ugliness.

In other words, don’t get involved in dreadful gossip at work or people who pry too deeply into your personal life. Always keep clear professional boundaries, and your foes will have less ammunition if they decide to target you. Boundaries are the best protection for preserving your emotional energy and defending your brand.

Keep professional boundaries

Professional boundaries are simply knowing where you end and where another person begins within your profession. Professional boundaries are important because the boundaries define acceptable behavior and identify the limits for the relationships that you share in the workplace. Having clear boundaries causes less stress in the workplace. Professional boundaries are like good manners in that they make everyone feel comfortable.

Ask for advice from colleagues

Now, this advice may seem contrary to the idea of competition, but one of the most valuable resources you can have is your colleagues (a.k.a. your competition). However, you need to apply some strategy here: You need to find competitors who aren’t really direct competitors.

Perhaps you can locate people doing the same work with the same target audience as you, only they are in Illinois and you are in California. Or you may look for someone inside your company who works in a different division.

People share much more freely when they don’t feel threatened. As a matter of fact, it often makes them feel good to know that they are helping someone and can act as a mentor.

One of the best ways to learn about an industry is to find alliances that you can partner with. In business, that may mean working with a group that needs someone who does what you do. The alliance is an offshoot of the core business; they take a cut of the fee but refer business to you.

These alliances will share information with you because they know if you are good, they too will make more money. Your good personal brand enhances their brand.

Some other sources to learn more from colleagues are found through professional groups in person and online:

  • Yahoo! groups: There is a Yahoo! group for everything. When you join a Yahoo group, you can receive the e-mails that the members of the group send to each other. This is a connected way for you to ask a question and have it answered by someone who shares your interest.

  • LinkedIn groups and LinkedIn questions: LinkedIn has a plethora of business groups that you can belong to, begin discussions with, and gain credibility with to learn more from professionals in your field. With LinkedIn questions, you can pose questions and hope that someone answers them.

  • Industry-specific websites: These can give you information about the work that you do and the markets that you serve. Industry experts are often featured here.

  • Professional associations: You can meet people in person to expand your network, listen to speakers, and learn who the players in your industry are.

  • Industry newsletters: The articles may provide valuable insight into the work that you do and the people you serve.

  • Twitter: It’s fast and immediate and gives you more information than you will know what to do with. Experts abound here, so check it out.

  • Facebook: In particular, the business pages connect you to colleagues with your interests and provide relevant information to learn.

Study your competition, but don’t be afraid of it. If your market has competition, you know that you have found a niche that others find attractive as well. Personal branding positions you to compete with an authentic approach to your target audience.