I’ve always liked the movie Tootsie, the 1982 comedy about a talented but stubborn actor named Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman). After years of struggling, he reinvents himself as a woman to land a role on a soap opera and becomes a big success. One of Michael’s most important relationships is with his talent agent, George Fields (Sydney Pollack).
Even if you’re not an actor, believe me, you still need good representation.
The importance of brand agents
In Hollywood, agents are constantly promoting the individuals they represent in order to win them the best parts and financial deals. An actor may have extraordinary talent, the right image, and enough beauty to stop traffic, but she or he still needs good word of mouth. Skilled agents know how to share positive information about a client’s accom-plishments and future aspirations. They excel at raising the visibility and attractiveness of a brand.
The same principle applies to your personal brand. If you deliver a significant amount of value and satisfaction to those you interact with on a regular basis, you create an effective brand. Those people who hold you in high regard are your very own brand agents. They act like talent agents, singing your praises to others.
Right now they might be telling executive leaders that you should be given a project with major visibility. Or suggesting that it’s time for you to be promoted or given a more generous bonus. Or they’re recommending that some organization honor you with an industry award.
How do I find my agents?
Your brand agents are everywhere. They include your manager, peers, executive assistants, vendors, and colleagues in other departments. You’re connected to brand agents on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Your clients, executive recruiters, alumni network, and industry contacts are all important players in spreading the great news about you.
Although agents abound, they will only work on your behalf when they have something worth talking about. The key is to give your agents something they can use. Here are some ideas.
1. Share your expertise to help others solve a problem. Be ready to offer resources, advice, and lessons learned from your personal experiences.
2. Give credit and praise to those who have helped you personally or who make important contributions to their employers, community, and professional organizations.
3. Make an introduction that would benefit a colleague’s career or allow that person to succeed on a project.
4. Proactively reach across business-unit lines to gain the perspectives of peers who may not know you well.
5. Look for opportunities to coach or mentor others to help them develop expertise that is valued by your organization.
It’s important to keep these relationships strong. Check in with your brand agents from time to time. Email, text, and tweet congratulations when appropriate, share an interesting blog or article, or acknowledge a job well done. Take the extra step to touch base over breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If you want the conversations about you to enhance your brand, give your brand agents something good to talk about. DW
Dr. Bouvier Williams is an executive coach and HR consultant. He is the president of Your Personal Brand Solution LLC and writes an online blog called The Personal Brand Professor.