This is the way — what Star Wars taught me about personal branding

A picture of The Mandalorian with the caption ‘This is the way’.

In March 1978, my Mum took me and some friends to see the film that was then called Star Wars, which we now know as Episode IV — A New Hope.

My love for that franchise has been lifelong, from the original three films, through the prequels (yeah I know), the sequels, the spin offs (Solo is underrated) and The Mandalorian. I love the universe, how everything works together, the stories, the stories behind the stories and, of course, the characters.

Luke, Leia and Han have been part of my life and one of the reasons I keep going back to the films, and now TV series, is to find out what happened next, or before, or what led to that happening. I have bought into those characters and am always interested to learn ever more of their stories.

I know logically that they are fictional, but even then I believe I know and understand their characters and personalities and, every time the franchise comes up with a new way of telling me a little about that story, I’m more than happy to invest my money and time and enjoy watching every new thread and facet of those stories.

So, networking guy is writing about Star Wars — tell me why this is relevant?

It is relevant because people are interested in your story, in finding out about your character and your life. They’re interested in what makes you the business person that you are, and how your business evolves and changes over time.

Once we’ve met someone, either through networking in real life, or here on social media, our journey will continue, in business and in life. We can choose to allow those people who have met us to be part of that journey, even as observers, or we can choose not to.

I share mainly business stuff over here, a lot more about my personal life over on Facebook, and a mixture of both on Instagram. Some people choose to connect with me all over the place, some choose just the business side, some choose just the personal side. But I choose to give them a window into who I am and what I do. They’ve seen the progress of me writing the books, my challenges along the way, the ebbs and flows of business, and sundry other stuff.

And some people choose to tune back in for each and every instalment, and I’m allowing them to.

My thoughts are this. People like people they can relate to, who are like them, who think like them. In networking we talk about the Know, Like and Trust, that process after someone has met you, where they decide whether to like you and trust you.

The more I show people who I am, warts and all, the more they are able to decide whether they like and trust me. And the more they are able to decide whether they want me to speak at their conference, or work with their team, or whatever it happens to be. And when they do, they are bought into me as a person, as a business person and as someone they trust.

In fact, when I’ve asked some clients why they booked me, when we had actually never met in advance, their comments were “because we felt like we already knew you”.

This isn’t for everyone. Allowing this much of a window into our lives freaks some people out, and I get that. There is still some belief that we should keep business and personal entirely separate. But for me, fifteen years into this journey now, allowing people to get to know all of me has massively helped with the Know, Like and Trust. Plus it has allowed my personal brand to be me. Uniquely, authentically me. Not a character I put on when I’m on LinkedIn or YouTube, but all of me.

And it turns out, some people know, like and trust the Star Wars loving, heavy metal loving, veggie, covid recovering networking guy that I am, and that works for me.

Keynote Speaker. Author of Business Networking for Dummies, Instant Networking & Win The Room. Trainer. Mentor.

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