There’s a great saying that goes, “character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you”, and this always rings true whenever I think of the PA, EA and VA worlds.
Whatever your role, I firmly believe you should strive to live life by that saying every day because it’s a direct reflection of your personal brand.
Wait a sec. Personal brand? Say what? Isn’t that something just for celebrities and PR companies?
Building a personal brand is something we are all doing, it’s just that the likes of the Kardashians are far more aware of how their character, reputation, and purpose in life can impact our feelings towards them.
Why should you care about your personal brand?
Your personal brand is your PR person for one; it’s what others say about you when you’re not in the room.
Being aware of and going on to build a trusted and reliable personal brand could:
Lead to new opportunities
Help foster relationships with connections outside of your usual network
Recognise you as the go-to person in your company, local area or even industry
Why goodwill is the cornerstone of your personal brand
Regardless of whether you’re a PA, EA or VA, to be good at your job you need to add value to every task you do. Over time, this will naturally translate into goodwill.
Image source and word definition: Google dictionary
I imagine you’re reading this because you want to create an “established reputation”. Therefore, bear in mind that being perceived as “friendly, helpful, or cooperative” WILL go on to generate feelings of goodwill; that “Value is a feeling, not a calculation. It is perception.” (Simon Sinek) And that this, in its essence, is the secret to personal branding success.
How to create a personal brand
Creating a personal brand boils down to three key areas:
1. Purpose - being well known for something
Regardless of your role or industry, at its most basic level, we’re all here to be of service (in one way or another).
Although our aims and motivations will vary significantly from person to person, the one aspect we will all have in common is that we gain more satisfaction and a greater sense of purpose if we create and nurture relationships with those whose core values align well with our own. This applies to your work and personal life, too.
It’s easier to glide through life when you’ve worked out what your core values are. In the world of work, this could fast-track you to gaining job satisfaction and a real sense of purpose, leading to feelings of contentment, happiness, and fulfillment.
If you do an online search for “how do I work out my core values”, you’ll find heaps of resources that will be able to help you with this soul-searching exercise.
As a VA, I know what my purpose is (my niche) and I am acutely aware of my core values; they feed into my broader marketing strategy and sales funnel, allowing me to actively seek to identify and support clients whose values complement my own.
By creating a solid reputation and becoming well known for something, you may be surprised by the reaction. I recently received a LinkedIn connection request from another VA who said, “I was inspired by your video [about becoming a VA] and it would be great to connect.”
2. Character – how you make others feel
Think about how you greet a barista in a coffee shop you’ve not visited before. Will you receive a good level of service if you shout your order while you’re distracted by sending a message from your mobile phone? Probably, yes – the barista is there to take your order, process your money and then make you the required drink so you can go about your busy day. Job done, right?
What if you give the barista your full attention when you arrive, greet them with a smile, ask about their day so far and then go on to request your order? Sure, the drink you receive may well be exactly the same as the one in the situation above, but you’ve allowed your true character to shine here.
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou
There’s a sandwich chain here in the UK where the staff are encouraged to give away a certain amount of hot drinks and food free every day – that might be because the customer has said they’re having a bad day, because they’ve been polite, or another reason. The staff members are wholly empowered to show goodwill to their customers.
There aren’t any stats to say what the ripple effect is from that sandwich chain’s generosity, but I’m sure you’re familiar with “paying it forward”. That level of altruism (and goodwill again) gives us a greater sense of meaning and fulfillment.
3. Reputation – being held in the highest regard at all times
If you want to be the type of person who’s held in the highest regard amongst peers, managers, and clients, the following traits are synonymous with creating a good reputation:
Doing what you say you’re going to do
Tailoring written/verbal communication to suit the reader/listener
Adding value to every single task
Avoiding office gossips, Negative Noras and the like
By following the above suggestions, you’ll become known for qualities pivotal to a cornerstone PA, EA, and VA role:
Thinking outside the box
Authentic and likeable
To put this into context, in the middle of 2016 I became an active member of a Facebook group specifically for aspiring, new and established VAs. I immediately recognised it to be highly supportive and collaborative, so much so that I didn’t consider the conversations there to be with my “competition”, but with my peers and supporters. I remained more than happy to contribute by sharing my thoughts on other people’s challenges, celebrating their successes along with them, and generally “being of service” and adding value to others.
Quite out of the blue, the group owner contacted me and asked if I would become a moderator (at the time it was nearing 4,000 members). Unbeknownst to me, my collaborative approach within the group over the previous months had been noted and recognised. By adding value to a Facebook group, somewhere I didn’t ever imagine I’d raise my profile or strengthen my personal brand, not only have I gone on to develop long-lasting friendships and strategic alliances with my fellow VAs, but I was also headhunted and became the group owner’s VA.
“You are the only you there is and ever will be. I repeat, you are the only you there is and ever will be. Do not deny the world its one and only chance to bask in your brilliance.” - Jen Sincero
The most amazing thing about building your personal brand is that you remain the totally authentic and likeable You you already are. Life is just easier when you don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not. Additionally, you’ll find you will not need to resort to boasting or bragging about your achievements because your personal branding will speak volumes for you, all leading to further goodwill over time.
Creating a personal brand can open up the doors to opportunities you may not have thought about before. It’s about everything we do and, until it becomes totally natural, can be worked on everywhere we go.
A poem by Nikita Gill, “Be That Kind of Person”
“Be the kind of person who isn’t afraid to ask someone if they are okay twice if they say they are, but look like they aren’t.
Be the kind of person who smiles at people even if they don’t smile back.
Be the kind of person you wished for when no one was there for you.
Be the kind of person who is brave enough to stand alone in a crowd for what is right.
Be that person because we need more people like that in the world.
Be that person because people like that are rarer than the rarest diamonds and gold.”
The Facebook group I mentioned is the VA Handbookers.
The video where I talk about how and why I became a VA can be found here.
The training I mentioned in the video above is here. For complete transparency, if you go on to purchase the above training, I may receive a small percentage.
Victoria spent 15 years at the Executive Assistant level, both in the UK and in Melbourne, Australia. For the past four years, she’s been working as a Virtual Assistant, initially as an employee before launching My Virtual Assistant (VA) Rocks in 2016. Over that time, Victoria has supported board members, high-net-worth individuals, a member of the House of Lords, a BAFTA award-winning film producer, an industry-leading magazine, a VA trainer and many, many other rockin’ clients.
You can connect with Victoria on the following platforms: