Kim Baker, Owner, Vivid Performance Group
Kim Baker with Vivid Performance Group
Firstly, many people fear the words 'personal brand' as it means going public with your thoughts. I want to know if you have always found it easy to 'put yourself out there'?
No, it has not always been easy. Before I started my own business, I was a successful salesperson, but recognition was never my motivation. I was different in that I didn't create the typical "I Love Me Wall" full of certificates and awards. It was through my work in personality assessments that I became aware of my low need for public recognition and attention. I knew this had to change to accomplish my goals as I shifted from running training and development to launching my own consulting business. I needed to create the desire to be recognized but still be authentic to myself and my brand.
When it comes to building an authentic personal brand, what advice would you give professionals starting out?
Build your brand by beginning with the end in mind-in other words define your north star. You also need to create a balance of what you want to be known for and what you don’t want to be known for, especially if the work you do or the way you go about it is controversial in any way. Pay attention to how you are perceived and how you are coming across with clients and colleagues. Focus on who you really are as you define your intent and how that should be reflected.
Do you think personal branding and reputation go hand in hand, and what can people do to maintain a positive reputation while brand-building?
Yes, and first I would recommend people to be mindful of their north star of who and what they wish to be known for. Pay attention, do good work, stay committed, and build a good reputation within your targeted market. Build on the little things as your build your brand. There are many ways to put yourself out there in a positive light as you brand-build. You can focus on successful case studies and use those to send to clients and prospects. You can apply for and secure awards, seek out endorsements from happy clients, write articles, speak at events and other vehicles. All will help grow your reputation as you amplify your brand.
Can you share a success story of how you or someone you follow used their personal brand to build business or career?
When I started my business i wanted to make a difference that was vivid. Previously, when I ran training for medical device reps, we were amazed at the quantum lift in the representatives that occurred within two weeks; it was a vivid difference. That’s why I named it Vivid Performance Group and the name is becoming known in HR circles and with leaders nationwide. One person I tried to emulate who seemed to successfully use their personal brand was Tracie Wolfmeyer now with Bayer. She had a certain persona, was well respected and liked by her leaders, teams, and colleagues, and had the ability to motivate others to get things done. Interestingly I find my greatest role models are my clients. As a team builder and consultant, they bring me in because the leaders and team don’t play well with others. When I started my business, my mantra was that it and I would evolve to serve where called. I learned from my clients the issues they needed addressed and which solutions were most successful. I have built and grown my business by learning from my clients, adjusting to their needs and building a brand on what matters to them.
Which platforms do you find most effective for establishing thought leadership and growing professional presence?
I found LinkedIn works best as a social media tool for those in business-to-business type companies. In addition to LinkedIn, I focus on my own website and write articles for business publications, write for highly focused HR publications, participate in leadership panels, and speak at events with business owners and corporate executives from coast-to-coast. It all goes hand-in-hand in becoming a thought leader and growing your professional presence.
How do you ensure your personal brand stays true to who you are and your evolving goals?
You need to maintain intention as you grow but still be true to your north star. During covid things were all up in the air. Teams were in turmoil and not playing well. There was a lot of bullying, withdrawal and unhappiness. I found conversations with individuals revealed a lot of issues that could be resolved with better communication and conflict management strategies. Companies were maxed out with internal options, so they brought us in to help them fix things. It helped me build a bigger business and, through understanding, what was most important in individual and team performance at that moment and where I should focus the business moving forward and what I could offer. We grew by shifting conversation on group workshops and individual contributor and leader development to a mix that is over 50% team related engagement. It became a priority as organizations needed to improve how their teams worked together. Again, stay focused on the long game and your objectives as your goals continue to evolve.
What are some practical strategies or tactics professionals can use to expand their network and build meaningful connections?
I have built many meaningful connections from trade associations, connecting with nonprofits, business groups and participating in communities of practice where professionals in the same arena learn and get better. You always look to help others, and, at the same time, improve yourself.
Along your personal branding journey, have you encountered any common obstacles that readers of this interview should be aware of?
I am an ambivert, meaning I have a balance of extrovert and introvert features in my personality. I can adapt to socializing but also appreciate my solitude. Sometimes the thought of personal recognition can be a challenge and pursuing it most difficult. So, I recommend hiring other people to do the nuts and bolts of brand-building for you wherever possible. This would include hiring a PR person or a marketing firm or even someone who can do lead generation. Outsourcing this task leaves it in professional hands and enables you to concentrate on what you are good at without an over amount of stressful activity. Not everyone has the social skills to build their brand in the proper manner or develop the social skills necessary to do so. Finding people to help you will help you reach your goal faster.
Imagine you have a time machine that can transport you to the future. What impact do you envision your personal brand having on the world?
My impact would have on helped leaders and teams work better together. Perhaps Kim Baker made a vivid difference helping organizations from coast-to-coast improve their ability to work better together.
Close your eyes and imagine you're a bestselling author. What captivating book would you write to share your personal brand journey and insights?
I would write either or perhaps both, The Ambivert's Guide To Business Success or Baker's Dozen Rules To Help Teams Play Better In The Sandbox.