Ever considered what people say about you behind your back? How they describe you in a few words, how they recommend you to others? asks Lesley Everett
If not, you’re missing out on a vital tool for managing your career opportunities as effectively as you can. What people say and feel about you quite simply IS your personal brand. Much the same as any product brand – how we feel about a branded product makes us buy or not. Take Apple as an example – many people say positive things about their experience of the brand (service and products), this reputation spreads and creates a very powerful and positive brand image for the retailer and their product range and service.
Perhaps you consider that a personal brand is more appropriate for entrepreneurs, high profile individuals or senior management? No – it is becoming an integral part of career progression for anybody wanting to maximise his/her career and opportunity potential.
- Do you get appreciated or recognised for the strengths you bring to your role?
- Do others really understand what you bring to the table?
- Do you get overlooked for promotion or exposure?
- How visible are you? Do people really know who you are, what you do and what you’re great at?
- Are you considered and referred to as “the Managing Directors PA” or as a brand in your own right?
See how honestly you can answer all these – how well are you managing your Personal Brand and Profile? Is there room for improvement?
In our business world today, it really is about people – employees who count when it comes to customer loyalty, market share and profitability. Some organisations recognise it more than others, even though many say they do. The smart ones are putting significant effort into providing employees with programmes to ensure they are the best they can be.
However, for these programmes to be really effective, they have to be focused on the individual and provide tools for them to be authentic also. Nowadays, the famous McDonalds “have a nice day” slogan, would just be laughable. It’s mechanical and not genuine. Today we look for trust and credibility and authenticity when dealing with people, and studies show us that many people are still trying to be someone they are not in the workplace.
I believe that the only way you can provide effective coaching and training tools to individuals, is to make it about them; relevant to them and practical to them. That’s why I developed Walking TALL as a methodology for personal branding for today’s business professional.
I have captured here an abridged version of the methodology to give you some tools to use to define, package and project your personal brand.
We have developed 7 Big Strides to Personal Branding
Stride 1 – Who You Really Are
Sounds simple, but let me challenge you to compile a short sentence that defines what it is you stand for and bring to the table. What is your real value set? What are the principles you stand for in life? What strengths do you have – remember what you are good at is invisible to you therefore you don’t value it. Think hard….. Imagine a hypothetical mirror in front of you – how would you describe what you see? Keep it positive! Write a few words down.
Stride 2 – First 7 seconds
It has become a cliché that we never get a second chance to make a first impression. It has therefore disappeared into forgotten depths with most of our communications. But it is powerful and lasting – in fact it will be there long after you have delivered your presentation, spoken in a meeting or been questioned in an interview. Take time to consider how you come across in the first few seconds – it is time well spent. Take time to think about how you will appear when you enter the room… handshake, smile and great eye contact for starters!
I often refer to the halo or horns effect for first impressions. If you have a positive impression of somebody on first meeting, you will sub-consciously look for other positive things to back up your initial impression or intuition. So it will gradually grow. However the same will happen with a negative first impression….. so beware.
Stride 3 – Dress like you mean it
Whether you like it or not you are judged on the clothes you choose to wear. Not fair I know, but a fact. Your clothes should be an extension of you and your personality and not get in the way of your true qualities and abilities. How do you come across on those dress-down days? Still retain your professional credibility? Take your work wardrobe as seriously as you take your career and reputation, and dress for the job you want.
Stride 4 – Silent Indicators
Have you ever been told you look “detached” or perhaps “disinterested”? And in fact you feel energised and engaged? This could be to do with the silent messages you are giving off with your body indicators and facial expressions. Be aware of your non-verbal communication and get feedback. How is your handshake and your eye contact? You will be judged…….
Stride 5 – Speak Easy
Have you ever considered your voice to be part of your brand? People judge you on this every day, and in your role I would bet you spend a lot of time on the phone to internal staff and external clients. How is your brand being projected over the phone? The only way you can really know this is to ask – get honest feedback and act on it if necessary.
Stride 6 – Be Interested and Visible
Simple tip – being interested in other people will make you a more interesting person. People always love you to be interested in them, so it’s a great way to build your visibility and be memorable. I’m not suggesting you’re not authentic here however.
Ask yourself this question – how visible am I? do the people who need to know who I am, what I do and what I’m great at, really know? If not, you’re not managing your visibility as well as you need to. You need to manage your exposure and visibility more consciously and effectively if you are to maximise the opportunities around you. Think about how you might do that update presentation in a meeting; write that article for the intranet or your sector media. How well do you know your communications department? Make sure they know what you might be able to contribute to publications. How about putting yourself forward for panels at conferences for example?
Build your own visibility plan and work with it.
Stride 7 – Each time, All the Time
Consistency is vital – without this people don’t know clearly what your skills and strengths are, and how to describe you or recommend you. You cannot be consistent 100% of the time, however unless you are clear what your brand is you will be missing the mark and off-message most of the time. When you don’t quite deliver to normal expectations it should be considered a blip rather than another example of inconsistency.
So what are you going to do today to start building a strong and consistent personal brand? Think of it as an essential tool to get you to where you want to be in your career and life in general. Good luck and remember to Walk TALL!
We have provided Executive Secretary with a great discount on an additional tool to help you: Walking TALL video e-course – 12 fabulous 10-minute modules to energise and remind at the beginning of the working day – normal price £47, Executive Secretary price just £30 for the first 25 subscriptions only – drop us an email to see how to register and claim your discount to firstname.lastname@example.org