Hi Jan! Firstly, what is an individual’s personal brand?
Put simply, personal brand is packaging ‘you’ up - your skills, experience, personality, values and beliefs. It’s about the messages that you want to convey.
Sometimes, we think we are coming across in a certain way but what other people actually see and experience is completely different.
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, once said ‘your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room’. The question is what are they saying about you at this very moment?
How relevant is image in the corporate environment?
We all know that first impressions are hugely important – there are various elements that come into play when we meet someone for the first time and that includes our appearance and our visual packaging. As such, it is important to ensure that what we wear is congruent with both the environment and the industry we are working in.
I’ve worked with clients in the past who have moved sectors and have needed support changing their image to reflect this. One particular client springs to mind - he was transitioning from a senior global role in the City of London to a senior role within an academic environment. His image needed to be adapted to the role – he needed to appear less formal and more approachable to help him fit into his new workplace and build rapport with his new colleagues.
In many instances, I am asked to work with teams or individuals to help them develop their own personal image in line with both their own personal brand and that of the organisation. It can be a fine balance to reflect and represent the organisations brand whilst taking into account what works for the individual.
How can an individual stand out from the crowd?
Firstly, it’s important to think about whether you want to stand out from the crowd - whether it is appropriate and whether you are ready for it! You’ll gain more visibility and more attention and you need to be sure that this is what you want – or is what’s required.
I work with Graduates - many of them tell me that they don’t feel it’s appropriate to stand out, particularly when they first start, and I think they’re right – it can mark them out for the wrong reasons.
Being comfortable in your own skin, being authentic and being yourself can make you memorable. Decide upon your unique selling point (USP) and ensure that your image supports this – make sure that everyone you meet can clearly see your USP through your image and brand.
If we are talking about a person’s image for ‘networking’ events, it’s worth thinking about wearing some colour – it stops you from disappearing within a sea of black and if someone is trying to pick you out of a crowd it makes it easier! The cut of an outfit can be enough to make you stand out - something just a little different, if appropriate of course.
How can you support individuals to enhance their personal brand?
I design, develop and deliver workshops to help individuals to maximise both personal impact and brand. This is often as an integral part of a Leadership Programme or Graduate Orientation Programme. The workshops are thought provoking and practical - I provide an opportunity for the audience to identify their authentic self, capture the essence of who they are and ensure that they convey the right impact for their business environment. Within the workshop I always create time for group feedback - an integral part to understanding the reality of the impact you are having is to ask for feedback from others.
I work with clients on a one to one basis. As part of the consultation process I provide a questionnaire to enable the individual to identify and focus on specific areas that they would like to cover and further develop.
I also work with Women’s Network Groups - mainly on the area of gravitas and presence.
How important is an online presence?
As part of our self- marketing strategy we need to be visible and an online presence supports this. After all, what is the point of having a brand if nobody knows you exist? How many times have you googled an individual you are about to meet? Guess what - they are doing exactly the same prior to meeting or connecting with you. How may it be perceived if you don’t have an on-line presence?
In business it is recommended that we have a LinkedIn profile so that others can review our worth and brand. We need to carefully manage our on-line presence, take ownership and connect with those that will add value to our brand and not sabotage it.
The recent election was a good example of the importance of a strong online presence. The Labour Party wanted to connect with the younger generation and knew that they simply were not reading traditional newspapers - everything was through the internet. They created a digital campaign that utilised the media most relevant to these individuals and created content that spoke to them in their language. The results spoke for themselves!
What single action has the biggest impact on personal brand?
I would say there are a couple of areas to think about. Firstly, it is about being authentic and true to yourself. If you try to be something you’re not you’ll inevitably slip up and this will have a negative impact on rapport. Put the best ‘you’ forward.
Secondly, be truly present and outward looking rather than internally focused. We all like to feel listened to and valued so when you’re interacting with another individual try to be fully with them in that moment and give them all of your focus. If you’re speaking on the phone, don’t be reading your e-mails at the same time – it may come across as being disinterested and disengaged.
The subject of ‘mindfulness’ has grown in popularity and is practised within many organisations. It’s so important to be present even within this frantic world!
What advice would you give to maximise impact at interview?
Of course, we know that preparation is vital – research the organisation’s values and culture to ensure that you make that all important first impression. Dress to respect the environment and industry.
Again, be present – you probably have 45 mins to convince the interviewer of the value you can bring to the role. Listen and focus on the interviewer and the questions you are being asked rather than what’s happening internally – your nerves for example.
Finally, be true to yourself and your values – this will demonstrate that all important authenticity!
To find out how Working Transitions can support your organisation visit www.workingtransitions.com