Meet Nela Dunato
Nela Dunato is a graphic designer and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building brands and digital platforms for service based businesses and non-profit organizations. She’s also the author of the book “The Human Centered Brand”, a practical guide that teaches service based business owners how to create an authentic brand and grow meaningful relationships with their clients.
What does it mean to have a brand?
What it means is that there are people outside of your immediate social circle, people that you never met, but that they've heard about you, about what you do and they have formed some kind of opinion and impression about you. So that means that you have a brand because there there are people who have never met you but you've entered kind of their consciousness and their sphere of influence.
What exactly is the difference between a personal brand and a corporate or business brand?
A personal brand is, as the name says, it's related to the person and it follows you around. No matter where you work, no matter which company you're in, and it's an asset that you can use. Corporate brands are a bit impersonal. Sometimes we forget that there are people behind the brand, although people have made them but they really belong to a group of people or a business entity.
Do you have any tips that you can share with in regards to leveraging branding when it comes to networking so that people remember you better?
When you're meeting new people come up with a really short and clear and concise introduction. My tip is don't use industry jargon or buzz words. Talk like real people talk. Another tip that I give to people is to wear a signature color, like a detail or a clothing item that is in what I refer to "your color" because I'm sure most people have something that they feel is their color and double down on that.
Can you share with our listeners your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
My dearest and best client that I still work with, we met when we were teenagers, and we met accidentally on a bus while we were going to school. About 10 years later he started his own business and contacted me and asked if I could create a logo and website for him and six years later we're still working together. Don't discount those relationships that you make on a daily basis because you never know where they may lead.
How do you stay in front of or best nurture your community and your network?
I use a combination of showing up at local events in person to meet new people and to deepen the relationships that I already have with people in my community, and I use social media to keep these people updated on what I'm working on and just staying in touch. So it's a combination of in-person and digital.
What advice would you offer to business professionals that are looking to grow their network?
Go and find something fun to do around other people because networking doesn't have to look like business conferences or meetups or brunches. You can meet new interesting people at a book club, or an organized hiking trip, or cultural events, or anywhere that there are people that kind of like the same things that you like.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self what would you tell yourself to do more of, less of, or differently with regards to your professional career?
I believe that I would do better if I didn't listen to so much other people's advice at the time and I would prefer not to have second guessed myself and my own decisions because that was a big issue with me in my 20s.
Are there any books that you're reading or podcasts that you're listening to or anything you want to share with our listeners?
I'm reading the book, No Logo, which is maybe a bit ironic for a branding specialist to read. It's Naomi Klein's critique of basically brands occupation of public spaces that happened in the 80s and the 90s. And I feel that it's important for people in marketing to examine the effect that our work has on society because individually, we're like tiny fishes in a pond. But collectively, we're a very strong force that shapes our society and shape our communities, and the marketing has done a lot of damage for society. So I think it's really important for us to kind of examine this ethical side.
Any final words or advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I'd say, make sure to put in as much goodwill in relationships that you're growing as you can, more than you ask for in return. Don't be that person who sees every interaction as a transaction. Because people will quickly notice that and it creeps them out a bit when they see that someone just sees them as a way to get something out of you. So just go into relationships with your willingness to help and your willingness to do something for them, even if they never do anything for you.
How to connect with Nela:
Download a Free Chapter of Nela's book, "The Human Centered Brand: A Practical Guide to Being Yourself in Business" by going here: http://neladunato.com/books/