Tracy Fink, director of marketing for the Central Jersey region of J.H. Cohn, has created her own personal brand.
“I have established myself as a women’s networker and net-weaver,” she says, “helping others without necessarily a benefit to myself.” Her brand establishes her as a resource, even though there may be no self-interest in her role of linking people to what they need.
To create her brand as a person who links others together, Fink has not only put herself out among people but has also created a women’s forum at her company. Within her company, she has created an executive women’s forum. “I try to attract speakers who will benefit attendees,” she says. “I’ve amassed a group of dynamic women of different disciplines who can help my attendees with their needs.”
Fink will present “Brand-Yourself Marketing” at the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Leadership Summit on Thursday, March 18, at 8:30 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza in Somerset. Cost: $125. Visit www.mcrcc.org.
The day begins with a breakfast panel on “Caring for the Total Woman” with Antoinette Little of Antoinette Chocolatier, Michelle Tuck-Ponder of the Women’s Fund of NJ, and Hueina Su of Beyond Horizon Coaching.
Breakout sessions include “Time Management” with Camille Macchio of Realistic Alternatives; “Social Media” with Caryl Fellicetta of Single Throw Alternatives; “Stress Management” with Susan Jakers of Health and Wellness Advisor; “Better not Bitter” with author Wendy Pearlman; “IRA, ROTH, 401k and Retirement Strategies,” with Lisa Kent of Merrill Lynch; “How to get a handle on household finances” with Kimberlee Phelan of WithumSmith + Brown; and “Opportunities for Women Owned Businesses,” with Lorraine Allen of the Small Business Development Center at the College of New Jersey.
So what does it mean to create a personal brand? “You are doing an honest self-assessment and figuring out what is yours alone,” says Fink. “In terms of what makes you unique and what makes you human — some of the emotionally hard-to-measure qualities that really distinguish you from other people.” The brand is personal in that it is uniquely yours, and it is also the way you can be identified. “It is how you look, speak, interact with others, and add value.”
Having a personal brand is critical so that people remember you when they need something. “In this competitive, fast-paced, sound-bite world, it is important for you to stand out for a number of reasons,” says Fink. “People will consider you if they are looking for the kind of work you do, for an introduction or a referral, for leadership, or for volunteering.”
Create a personal mission statement. “This is an honest assessment as to what you are about, what you stand for, and what your life is about,” says Fink. Some people are givers, others are educators, and still others are caregivers. Some are more self-involved and others reach out to the people around them.
But a personal mission statement is about more than what you are; it is also about what you do in the world and why. Fink suggests that people ask themselves, “What actions am I taking to live the life that I want and to be the person that I stand for? What do I value? What is my character like?
“In personal branding, it is not about the company you work for — it is really about you,” says Fink. “The company you work for hopefully becomes an extension of your values; but when you’re out there meeting people, they’re not meeting a company; they’re meeting a person.”
Evaluate who you influence and how you influence them. People influence others’ perceptions in different ways — through collaborative behavior, through services they provide. This influence is mediated through a person’s actions, which in turn create impressions on others.
Think about how people refer to you when they introduce you. “What is it you do that resonates with people?” asks Fink. It will be different depending on your audience. Fink herself volunteers at Homefront, drives children to lacrosse practice, and runs a women’s networking group. But which of these activities will appeal to a particular person will depend entirely on that person’s own needs.
Because these activities and modes of influence are what people think of when they refer to you or introduce you, you must make sure everyone knows what you do.
Use leadership to help establish your brand. “How you put yourself out there and take on a leadership role and the fact that you do take on a leadership role helps establish you in the minds of others,” says Fink. Leadership includes being able to use feedback to make changes and improve oneself. It also means taking risks, like following up on something that other people don’t want to touch but you think is very important.
Be authentic. To create a brand, you can’t send out mixed messages, saying on the one hand, for example, that you love to help people, but then never following through.
Fink’s brand is characterized by her support of women’s networking at J.H. Cohn, the introductions she makes between people, how she helps others grow their businesses, and how she always follows up. “That sort of consistency has defined my personal brand,” she says. “The people at my firm can count on me to be a certain way if they send me to a networking event or put me in front of clients.”
Use social media. To help establish your brand, create a fan page or start a group in an area of interest. To reinforce your brand, regularly update your status with things you are doing. Attend local events that you find on a social networking site like Facebook.
Fink grew up in Massapequa on Long Island, where her mother worked as a high-school special education teacher and her father as an entrepreneur who ended up in the area of medical transportation. She graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s in psychology in 1986, and she received an MBA from Northeastern University in 1991.
After college Fink worked in customer service for supercomputers at BBN Advanced Computers. She returned to New Jersey and worked for five years as marketing manager at Russell Reid Waste Water. She then had a marketing consulting business for seven years. In 2004 she moved to accounting firm J.H. Cohn, where she is director of marketing for the central New Jersey region.
Fink offers celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse as a person with a clear, consistent personal brand. What does it consist of? First, there if his signature: whenever he adds spice to foods, he says, “Bam!” He also speaks clearly, is very professional, has recipes that appeal to the general population, uses new ingredients to make his cooking interesting, and doesn’t make his recipes too complicated. “That’s how people know him,” she says.