One of the main trends happening in the entrepreneurship world right now is the concept of the self as brand. You’re not just You, business owner, you’re You, face of the business, label, household name, logo, ambassador, and brand image.
As any business owner will tell you, it’s a lot of work. To be an effective brand and brand manager you have to know how to get your message across and understand how it is perceived by others. And in today’s business environment, that message is based heavily on you and your personality.
For Michelle Tillis Lederman, a business coach, entrepreneur, finance consultant, and adjunct professor based just outside New York, a major component of managing you as a brand for your business revolves around a rather quaint concept. People, she says, should actually like you. And when you’re networking, being likeable begins with old-fashioned relationship building.
Lederman will be the keynote speaker at the 2015 Women’s Leadership Summit on Tuesday, November 10, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the College of New Jersey School of Business. Other featured speakers and panelists include William Keep, dean of the TCNJ School of Business; Susanne Svizeny, executive vice president of commercial banking at Wells Fargo & Company; Tammy Lynn Germana, assistant dean of the TCNJ School of Business; Susan Hume, associate professor of finance at TCNJ; Lynn Doyle, a journalist, executive producer, and philanthropist; Patricia Hall, managing director of Beacon Investment Advisory Services; and Patty Ryan, director of IT security technologies management at Johnson & Johnson.
Cost to attend is $100. Visit 2015womensleadershipsummit.eventbrite.com to register, or E-mail Patty Karlowitsch at email@example.com.
Lederman grew up in northern New Jersey, largely in a single-parent home after her parents divorced, an event that taught her how to persevere. As a teenager, and long into adulthood, she volunteered with rescue dogs. She helped socialize, rehabilitate, and place abandoned and abused dogs through Stray from the Heart, a grass roots, no kill shelter in New York City, from 1996 to 2007. She also helped raise tens of thousands of dollars by coordinating the annual Canine Comedy Benefit.
Lederman earned her bachelor’s in accounting, writing, and communications from Lehigh University in 1993 and her MBA from Columbia in 1999. Straight out of college, she worked for Arthur Andersen before becoming an analyst at Primedia in 1996. In 1999 she joined Deloitte as a consultant and then became the director of marketing and communications at Investor Analytics in 2002.
In 2004 Lederman ventured into education through the American Management Association, and then as an adjunct communications professor at NYU. She also started her own business, Executive Essentials, based in New York, which provides custom-designed training programs in communication, leadership, and team building.
Relationship networking. In 2011 Lederman published “The 11 Laws of Likability,” with a subtitle that describes her approach to building a solid business and self-managed brand: “Relationship Networking … Because People Do Business with People They Like.”
The message is that, in order to really be successful in business, you need to get to know other people and make sure they get to know you. Lederman cites some notable facts about the importance of solid networking. “51 percent of all jobs come from networking,” she writes. “If you’re after an executive level job, it will likely come through your network too — 90 percent of them come from networking.”
Most people say they hate networking, but Lederman says there’s something else to keep in mind: “You are always networking,” she writes. “Whether you have a job or you’re looking for a job, whether it’s internal or external, you’re always doing it.”
Relationship networking is more advanced. The concept, according to Lederman, focuses on shifting your attentions from building short-term connections to building long-term relationships. “You need to think about the relationship as an entity on its own,” she writes.
Three little laws. To make the leap from standard-thinking networking to relationship networking, Lederman advocates three rules to follow. First is familiarity, which, contrary to the old saying, doesn’t breed contempt. Rather, she says, it breeds working relationships, because people trust who and what they know.
The question is, how do you get and remain inside someone’s head? “Use light touches,” she writes. “Just having your name mentioned by sending your regards or congratulations to someone will help get your name out there.” This, she adds, can be as simple as using a LinkedIn update. Avoid pushing your name in someone’s face. It will just backfire.
Rule No. 2 is giving. Give whatever you can — invitations, talks, information, chapters of books, whatever lets you share yourself without costing the people you’re sharing with anything in return.
Third, there is the law of patience. “Be patient with the results, with your ability to give to others, and with the relationships,” she writes. “Because it all takes time to grow.
When it doesn’t click. Some relationships in business just don’t click at the outset. Don’t force it, Lederman advises. Forcing it can end up just making things worse.
However, if you really want to make a connection and build at least a familiar, cordial relationship after a rocky start, look for something in them that you can admire and appreciate. “These will often be things we don’t have in ourselves, so it’s the differences rather than the similarities that you can connect with and learn from,” Lederman writes. “Another way to build a connection is to seek advice from them and make them feel valued.”
The important point is, while you don’t want to stalk, you should at least give it a shot. But if it’s not working no matter what, move on.
Be confident. Under all the advice about networking and relationship building, there lies the simple truth that confidence (not cockiness) wins the day.
Clarity, confidence, and connection, Lederman writes, “are the three pillars to your results. You need to be clear on what you are trying to accomplish in order to accomplish it. You need to believe that you are worthy of whatever it is you’re going after. And then the connection is the link to it all because relationships drive results. You need to connect to the other person as well as yourself.”