April 1, 2012

"The Value of NAHB: Self Branding as a Benefit"

"If you don't know what you bring to the table, you'll never get a seat there." - unknown

You, Inc. How others see you is the difference between being in the crowd or being the that bright light everyone can see. Our association has many members but think for a moment; how many actually stand out and by standing out I'm not talking about self promotion. I'm speaking about your personal brand of professionalism. Whether you are self employed or are employed by someone else you are the focal point to any business opportunities that may be generated. 

Think about these questions:
  1. What makes you unique?
  2. How are you perceived? 
  3. Do others "see" you in a crowd?
There are ways of branding yourself as a professional and there are ways of self promoting. Self promotion is the number one turn off switch for most people, including association members. Self promotion can be as blatant as a person that doesn't stop talking about themselves or a subtle as constantly handing out business cards. (Note: The value of a business card is not how many you hand out but by how many you are asked for.) The key to sales opportunities has never been with the look of your company polo shirt or the golf ball with your company logo. It's what you do past all the fluff that matters, your brand, who you are. Just as important; what you bring to the table. The association has many benefits if you look closely but one of the more useful, as it pertains to your brand, is making contact with fellow members through You, Inc. The following self branding vehicles that you could utilize are amazing, in my opinion, if you utilize them correctly;

  1. Speaking at a general membership
  2. Writing an article for your HBA publication
  3. Writing a blog that is relevant to our industry and/or association
  4. Social media such as LinkedIn or Facebook that have groups or pages that have other HBA members participating.
The idea for each is simple and worth repeating; provide information that is relevant to the association and/or industry without selling. For instance, speaking at a general membership meeting could mean talking about the importance of the event/initiative or asking pertinent questions of a speaker. In both cases you should always identify yourself and your company but then let the conversation focus on the topic at hand. You could talk about a product that is relevant to home sales or could bring value to another associate member. But stay focused on the benefits of the product, do not sell. It's very tempting to sell, I know, but if you can master the knowledge of the difference between the two you will be on another level of sales. Same thoughts should be applied when writing either an article for a newsletter or your own blog. Who you are and represent (in your signature of article), then stay on topic. 
One of the best places to self brand is social media, and in particular, LinkedIn. Starting a discussion or joining in and contributing to a discussion is a great way to self brand but do not sell. Selling is posting links to your business, self branding is sharing your thoughts that, if interesting and timely, could lead others to view your profile and they will then learn about who you work for. Do you understand the difference? Nobody wants to be sold but everybody will gravitate towards something that interests them. Remember what I wrote earlier? "The value of a business card is not how many you hand out but by how many you are asked for." The same theory applies in all self branding efforts. As a member of NAHB, and the multiple local and state HBAs that make up our Federation, You, Inc could thrive if you don't sell. You could never get the same opportunity to showcase your knowledge in such  an effective and efficient manner without HBA membership. To do so on your own would take years and even then you would constantly need to start over. 

Your HBA membership gives you the opportunity to shine, stand out, differentiate.  This is almost impossible to do on your own. How much is your yearly membership cost again? Or should I ask, how much are you gaining from your HBA investment?

Submitted by:
Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP


Anonymous said...

"The value of a business card is not how many you hand it out but how by how many you are asked for it."

Perfect summary to a great article!

Anonymous said...

that sentence does not make sense...but I got it anyway...good point but I wish more people proof read their writing...you never know who's going to read it and it can portray our industry in a negative light.

Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP said...

To: Anonymous # 2;

I believe Anonymous # 1 just copied and pasted my sentence. I just edited the blog.