Only if you want to stand out from the crowd, and successfully build your reputation and patient base.
- You need to be distinctive: where you decide what you stand for (your values) and you commit to act on them. You recognize your unique value (based on your skills, experience, expertise, values, and point of view), and know what sets you apart. You capitalize on that, not by selling yourself, but by connecting with others based on your unique value.
- You need to be relevant: where you have figured out who your customers are (referring docs? hospital admin? patients?), and what their needs are. You move out of your world and intotheirs... you figure out what's in it for them, and how your unique value meets their needs. Start asking yourself, what do they want? need? value? expect? ... and then connect those thing to your unique strengths and abilities. Being both distinctive and relevant in the eyes of others that count, is truly what ignites a personal brand.
- You need to be consistent: where you meet the needs of your customers, and you do that again and again and again. This is the hallmark of a solid brand - every time you meet someone's expectation of you, you build your brand and you build trust and confidence in the relationship. Consistency is established by the dependability of your behavior, and this builds your track record and reputation.
Improving Your Perceived Value:
- Become an expert communicator. Your ability in this area is one of the key factors that affects how you are perceived by others. The greatest skill you can have in order to instantly and significantly improve your communication skill is to understand the other person's point of view. Do this through collaborative listening, where you pay attention (no multi-tasking while someone's talking to you!), clarify what you think you heard, and ask for more detail. Poor listening is the key ingredient in many communciation breakdowns. If we don't listen and clarify, we are likely to misunderstand the facts, which can have negative results. You can also improve your communication via the use of open and positive body language - e.g., keeping arms relaxed, making eye contact (not "glazing over", but genuine eye contact), leaning into the speaker, but maintaining appropriate physical space/distance. Managing your assumptions when communicating is also critical - be aware of any assumptions you bring into the conversation, and try to double-check them with the other person (e.g., I've assume XYZ, is that accurate?"). Good communication is often sabotaged by too many unconfirmed assumptions.
- Be congruent to build trust. Congruence = Integrity. "Walking your talk" allows people to see that there is no gap between your intent and your behavior. Inner congruence to your belief system and your principles (which is an essential part of your brand), inspires trust in relationships. People see you as strong, solid and dependable, they know what to expect and it validates their confidence in you.
- Have a consistent professional presence. There is power in your professional presence - it is an inherent part of your style and your brand. Do you have the ability to make a good first impression and keep it? People will start to see you in this way, and reputations follow. Small things can make a huge difference: e.g., respecting other peoples' time as well as you own, demonstrating body language that shows you are comfortable in professional situations, making good eye contact and demonstrating interest in others, being organized and in control of what you present, smiling appropriately and using professional language, keeping a professional distance until it is appropriate to be more familiar. Your professional behavior needs to follow you in all avenues: in-person, over email, on the phone, and online ... you must be consistent.
- Be honest and transparent in your intent. This is about establishing a balance. Being transparent, or clear and truthful in your dealings with others does not mean that you have to "lay all your cards on the table" with others. It means that you are transparent with appropriate information and with what you're trying to accomplish. When people perceive you this way, there is no fear of hidden agendas or having to second-guess you. There is no misunderstanding (whether unintentionally or not) your intent. Bottom-line: figure out what is appropriate to share in each situation, and do so with truthfulness and authenticity. Err on the side of disclosure vs. keeping things hidden. People will appreciate it, and trust in your relationships will increase rapidly.
- Deliver the results you promise. The best thing that you can do to establish a new relationship and build trust with a customer is to deliver results. It gives you instant credibility and demonstrates that you can add value and perform, and live up to your brand. If you can do this consistently, you build trust, or what the experts call "brand equity". Every time you deliver you create a deposit into this account. The best way to ensure that you deliver is by doing two things: 1) clarifying "results" up front and managing expectations from the get-go - sometimes people deliver but don't get the response they expected because they didn't take the time up front to establish clarity... don't assume that you know what "results" mean to the other person!, and 2) ask yourself whether the commitment is realistic - you must make sure you always underpromise and overdeliver. To do it the other way around is the quickest way to blow your credibility and to diminish your brand.