Companies spend countless dollars and hours determining their brand image. Why shouldn’t you invest the same into your personal brand?
Everyday you are representing the company you work for, the company you are founder to, or any organization you may be a part of. This should be taken into consideration every time you walk out of your front door. You should be investing more time into building your personal brand and here’s how:
According to Forbes, it takes 7 seconds to make a first impression; your appearance will play a major role when first meeting someone, make sure that it gives off a good impression. Your personal brand begins with how you present yourself physically, from how you dress to being aware of how much cologne you put on. At the start of everyday, dress like you may accidentally run into your boss. I’m not saying you have to put on a full suit or professional attire, but just remember that the way you dress shows a part of you. The other day, I was at the gym when I had just hopped of the treadmill and ran into a co-worker. Now of course, I was in gym clothes, but I wasn’t nervous about speaking to her because I still dressed appropriately. Firms determine their logo, colour scheme and websites through how they want their customers to perceive them. Similarly, you should consider your physical appearance the “logo” of your personal brand because its the first thing that people see everyday.
Know your Audience:
After you address your appearance before walking out the door, you should consider the environment you are walking into and who your audience is. Visiting Goldmann Sachs is completely different than visiting the Google office in Zurich, so knowing what to expect will go a long way. For example, when going into a more down-to-earth and relaxed environment, I’m more likely to get comfortable and take a friendly approach to the conversation (maybe including a few relevant but personal stories). However, if I am entering a more prestigious, formal environment, I will focus more on getting to the point and keeping the conversation ‘strictly business’. The worst thing you can do is wear a casual outfit and start cracking up jokes when in a formal environment. This will imply that you did not do the appropriate research about their corporate culture and you may appear unprofessional. Similarly, you may not be as effective if you are ‘strictly business’ in a casual environment. Preparation and understanding what “face” to wear and how to adapt to an environment will greatly help you when dealing with people and building your personal brand.
Although individuals should be respectful for moral reasons, there are also repercussions to your personal brand if you are not respectful to everyone you interact with. When you are going to grab a coffee and are talking to the barista, be respectful because your newest client could be standing right behind you. You wouldn’t want your newest client hearing you yell at the barista because that could negatively impact your personal brand. One happy person may not mention you at all but an unimpressed person will tell everyone they know. Help build your brand by establishing a good reputation and positive word of mouth reviews.
Every single day you network, even if you are unaware of it! The cashier you had a quick conversation with, your new teammates from your intramural hockey team, or any person you come into contact with is a new connection! Make sure to build your personal brand by surrounding yourself with a positive network. You can secure your professional connections through LinkedIn or a recent friendship through Facebook, both are great resources to build your network (just make sure to use the appropriate one). Once you have secured your connections, let them help build your personal brand by meeting some of their connections and vice versa.
One of my fellow peers used this networking technique to land their summer internship! They met an alumni from their business school at a conference, added them to their network on LinkedIn and eventually sat down for coffee with them a few times. Through this connection, my peer was able to get connected with another alumni who worked for one of the top 4 consulting firms in Canada! After meeting with the ‘connection of the connection’ they were invited to an interview for a summer position. This all happened by leveraging connections and networking!
Although building connections requires some effort, it can be greatly beneficial and help to build your personal brand. My peer was able to help build their personal brand by gaining invaluable experience throughout the summer. Similarly, small business owners or entrepreneurs can use the same techniques to gain new clients, get advice on how to operate their business more efficiently and countless other benefits. You never know who someone may be connected with and how they could impact your personal brand!
Social media is your virtual, personal brand. If someone is curious about you, they will check your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for answers. Social media has the ability to build your personal and professional brand, but it also has destructive powers. Be proactive rather than reactive, and make sure that you do not create any posts that could offend anyone. A prime example would be an owner that founded a small business that promotes reducing waste and preventing climate change. If the business owner were to make a post that claimed climate change did not exist and a customer found it, it could greatly harm their personal and professional brand. For a business owner or entrepreneur, their personal and professional brand directly correlate with one another. They must understand that any personal negative repercussions will most likely impact their company as well. The best recommendation is that when you make a post on social media, would you want your parents to see it? how about your boss? what about the company you are applying to? If your answer is no to any of the above, then don’t make the post.
In a world of technology, individuals must utilize resources such as social media to help build their personal brand. Social media is an edited version of your personal brand, so leverage it! If you want people to think of you as intelligent- post pictures of you reading, if you want people to think of you as athletic- post pictures of you playing sports. People have the power to show the things you only want people to see on social media, so make use of it when building your personal brand.
In the end, one must understand that building your personal brand is a lengthy process but well-worth it. Your personal brand will be with you for the rest of your life, so invest time into building it, nurturing it and changing it when necessary.