Profile - How We Build Personal Brands

Becoming Trusted Led To Credibility

Case Study ProfilesDeveloping a strong reputation can make all the difference in business, but successfully building a personal brand doesn't happen overnight. So how exactly is it done? Longtime industry executives Roni Wright and Missy Kilpatrick – both vice presidents at The Book Company (asi/41010) – say consistency, not flashiness, is key.

"Giving great service and communicating all the time, every time, has worked for me," Kilpatrick says. Wright adds: "Do what you say you are going to do."

Want more brand-building advice? Wright and Kilpatrick share lessons they've learned below.

Counselor: What's something specific you've done to improve your industry profile?
RW: I continually volunteer as a speaker and I've created a weekly e-mail program that is not about sales, but lifestyle.

C: What role does social media play in personal brand-building?
MK: Like it or not, your personal brand often plays out on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and other everyday applications. A picture is taken and seconds later it's up on the Internet. If you are concerned about how you come across to your peers – and in business, we all should be – then take heed not to deviate from your core values when engaging on social platforms.

C: Do you think women have to work harder to be considered an expert in this industry?
RW: Yes. If you look at the management profiles of most of our industry's leading companies, you won't see many women at the top. Although we represent the lion's share of the workforce, many women choose a personal life over a more public industry career. I feel a responsibility to help encourage and seek out our next round of strong women leaders.

C: What are effective ways to ask for feedback, endorsements or testimonials?
MK: One of the best ways I've found to get feedback, good or bad, is by inviting a diverse group of distributors to join a roundtable discussion. It gets them involved in the process by critiquing my business model as it relates to their own needs. I've never been afraid to talk to my customers to learn how I'm doing because that's the only way to find out.

C: How have you networked to polish your image?
RW: I've always believed that if you position yourself as a leader, people will perceive you to be one. Honing my networking skills has taken time and practice, but it's definitely worth it. When I meet somebody in person, I always maintain good eye contact, I'm the first to smile and I start off a conversation with something pleasant. I often attend educational sessions that are relevant to my clients so I can better understand what they do and support their needs. Finally, I'm not afraid to talk to others to learn what has worked for them in the past.

C: What brand-building advice do you have for people new to the industry?
MK: Find something that works and stick with it. This is a crowded field, so find a unique way to stand out – maybe it's your company name or maybe you've picked a unique product niche, like environmental products. No matter what you do, be consistent by providing great service and communication 100% of the time.

C: How do you avoid damage to your reputation when an order goes wrong?
RW: Some of our strongest, longest-lasting relationships have been built out of how we handled a difficult situation. We do everything in our power to make it right.