I’m going to give you 3 names and want to you to spend a second thinking about your immediate reaction to them:
Chances are you had an immediate impression of them –perhaps good, perhaps not so good, depending on your perspective. That’s not necessarily because of what they do or have accomplished. It’s about their image, or personal brand.
As an independent agent, your personal brand is incredibly important to your success. Chances are you are working from home, no longer at a desk in a sparkling shopping mall sitting under a huge, well-recognized sign. It’s all about you.
Of course you already have a personal brand, even if you aren’t aware of it. How would you say people view you? What is your personal style – conservative, casual, kooky? How would clients describe you? Sometimes it’s a good idea to write down what you think you are not, e.g. risk taker, cautious, easily-angered. Ask friends and family and even close clients what their impressions of you are. What are your values, your passions? (It helps to write all of this down.)
So now it becomes a question of managing your personal brand. How do you want to be perceived?
Bear in mind that your personal brand is comprised of many elements. It’s not just about your appearance and how you choose to dress, it’s about your attitude to life, the look of your website and the tone of your emails.
Remember that these days confidence is currency: clients will want to book with an agent who projects self-assurance (but not arrogance) and authenticity. And a tip here: your personal brand is also front and centre on social media when you are not at work.
A fun exercise is to look at people you admire. They needn’t necessarily be celebrities. How about people in the industry you know, perhaps a colleague or a BDM? What is it about them that you admire and can you replicate that in any way?
Don’t get stressed about trying to be all things to all people. Decide on how you want to appear to your target audience and start tweaking your brand now. As the legendary gossip columnist Liz Smith said: “Begin somewhere. You cannot build a reputation on what you intend to do.”
Lynda Sinclair, CTM, is the Senior Vice-President – Leisure at Vision Travel Solutions, which has an ever-expanding and vibrant program for independent agents. With over 30 years in the Canadian retail travel industry, Lynda says she “lives and breathes what goes on at the front line.” She can be reached at email@example.com.