By Alexia Leachman, Personal Branding Coach at Blossoming Brands

Don’t use your friends.

Your friends are an important part of your life but their best role is to offer you love, support and a shoulder or ear in times of need. If for whatever reason they are not doing as what you were expecting, the possible fall-out could mean losing a friendship and why put important relationships in possible risky situations; there are certain roles that are best left to the professionals. Now, when I say “professionals”, I mean people that you pay, and the reason you pay them is because they’re good at what they do, which leads onto my next point.

Use professionals and pay them

If you’re not paying them, then it makes it very difficult to bring them into line when they’re not performing in line with your expectations. Also, they might have an agenda that may not be in line with your best interests. When you have a professional relationship in place, it makes it much easier for both parties and saves potential, and needless, head aches.

Brief them on the long-term plan.

If your team are made up of you fellow colleagues in a company, then it is likely that they understand the overall plan that you’re working to. But if you have a virtual team who don’t ever meet each other, then it might be very hard for them understand exactly how they fit into the larger plan. Take time to talk people through your goals and intentions so that they understand their role fully. It’s only when they have a feel of the longer term, can they begin to really add value and almost act as your eyes and ears in the worlds that they operate in.

Think like a business

Any person or organisation that you take on to help you or your business is essentially a supplier and as such you need to consider using supplier contracts or agreements. These agreements can help to formalise the relationship and can outline what happens if certain situations arise. This can be particularly helpful with crisis or emergency situations when emotions can run high and thinking may be clouded.

Minimise your risk and stay secure

As more and more people move to using virtual teams and cloud storage systems for our documents and emails, we are becoming more blasé about handing over important details about our business and ourselves. But ensuring that your personal and work data is secure is more important now than ever. Why should you be concerned about this? The obvious response here is the ever-increasing threat of identity fraud. However, if you happen to deal with large companies or high profile individuals, they may very well require you to adhere to their privacy and information security policies.

By agreeing to any terms and conditions you must then ensure that you personally are taking all the necessary steps to manage your own security and that means those of your suppliers. If anything happens on your watch and you cannot demonstrate that you’ve done what you’ve agreed to, then you could be facing a hefty fine at best, and at worst a dent of your personal or business reputation.

To minimise your risk in this area, seek the services of an information security professional who can help you to vet your suppliers, your cloud storage systems as well as your own internal systems. The important aspect to bear in mind here is that you need someone who is savvy on the legal side of things, not a techy geek. It’s the law and contracts that bite, not a dodgy anti-virus or firewall.

This is equally relevant to businesses big and small.

Alexia Leachman is a Personal Brand Coach and Head Trash Liberator at Blossoming Brands. She helps entrepreneurs find their mojo by helping them to clear their head trash, tell their story, raise their profile, build their digital presence and manage their reputation. She is also the contributor of a chapter on Online Reputation for an up and coming book on Internet Marketing due out in November 2012. You can find out more at www.blossomingbrands.com, www.headtrash.co.uk. And you can follow her on Twitter at @AlexiaL