Your personal brand is how you tell the rest of the world who you are and what you’re about. It can be about the way you look but goes much deeper than the superficial nature of whether you’re wearing a nice suit and if your shoes are shiny. A lot of it is about how other people see you, it’s about perception. That doesn’t necessarily mean that is how you actually are, but it is the ‘vibe’ that you give off. In order for personal branding to be truly effective though you need to be authentic, you must walk the walk not just talk the talk.
Forgive this as an analogy, but imagine the typecast car salesperson – slick suited and slick talking who is actually a real creep? They look the part but are arrogant, disingenuous and would sell their own grandmother to make a few quid. This person can ‘brand’ themselves all they like but when a person isn’t Ronseal© it’s pointless (do what it says on the tin!).
Imagine in itself is one part of your personal brand – yes this is the superficial bit, but nonetheless is the first thing people notice about you and therefore the one characteristic by which you are initially judged. It’s a pity that our society can’t see people’s souls as opposed to our exteriors, maybe then we’d all realise everyone is beautiful on the inside.
The times image does become one of the most important things about you is obviously when you’re meeting new people, when you’re attending a job interview or when you’re working to engage stakeholders with whom you want to build a long lasting relationship. I guess the rule of thumb should be, if it’s important to you and you want to convey how important the person you are meeting is to you, then be smart. Organisations these days are adopting a more casual look for everyday business wear so many of us are no longer required to be ‘suited and booted’. Irrelevant of what you wear there’s no excuse for not being clean, tidy, ironed and well presented. Smelling pleasant is always a bonus too as is a smile on your face.
How you carry yourself says a lot about you. If you slouch and slump you will be perceived as lazy and uninterested. If you walk with your head bowed to the floor you will be perceived as shy or introvert. If you never speak up in a group meeting it will be assumed you’re not engaged in the conversation and you don’t care.
The way you act speaks way louder than anything you may say because your body language conveys your attitudes and feelings without words. More than 50% of what we ‘say’ is non-verbal when we communicate.
Being open, warm and personable will take you far.
Behaviours and values
Do you have a core set of values and beliefs? Do you for example only buy eggs that are free range, or do you not care as long as they’re cheap? Do you only want to work for an organisation who gives something back to the community and allows you to do the same, or would you be happily employed to the organisation prepared to pay the most for you?
Our core values and beliefs form part of our makeup and therefore part of our personal brand. These things are important to some people and not to others. I guess the important thing is that if you say have values and beliefs then you demonstrate that you live them. If you don’t do this you will be so easily spotted as a fraud and no one likes people who are disingenuous.
More than ever before so much of our lives are exposed on social media. There are those who choose to post snapshots of every meal and activity on social media sites and there are those who prefer to be more private. Whichever you are it’s important (professionally at least) that your social media presence is a reflection of the true person you are. We’ve all heard about people who have been fired because they are in jobs where their integrity is critical, only for them to be snapped dancing round a pole on a drunken Friday night and posted all over Facebook. We are all entitled to dance as drunkenly as we like around whatever we want, it’s just not a good idea to have it captured for posterity all over social media. If this is you, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back from that latest job application – pre-employment screening these days can include screening your online presence so anything incriminating found on social media will go against you. It’s publicly available information so anyone is entitled to look at it.
Show others what you’re passionate about and get involved. Whether that’s in a meeting speaking out about your thoughts on the topic at hand or whether that’s volunteering to go plant up some flower beds in the local residential care home. Embrace your professional and social responsibilities. These things will raise your profile as a side effect of simply getting involved.
There is so much you can do to work on how you want to be perceived by the world. Your personal brand will become your calling card and the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd.