Archive for April, 2018

Musings about your personal brand

April 9th, 2018 No Comments Tags: , ,

A lot has been written on developing your personal brand. Whether you agree with this notion or not, everyone has one. This isn’t only reserved for corporations.

My professional association, Dietitians of Canada is undergoing a ‘dietitian branding’ exercise. This is a topic that intrigues me not only for my profession as a collective but what this means to each and every one of its foot soldiers. Let’s ponder this more deeply, hmmmmm.

Only one chance folks…There’s a lot of wisdom in the saying “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” Think about it. Recall the last 2 total strangers you brushed shoulders with who exuded a positive image and one who projected a negative one? Jot down qualities and observations you perceived for each of these people: Did they seem happy, confident, funny, smart, witty, polite, disorganized, reliable, honest? Recall details on their posture, neatness, polish, professionalism. Whether it’s right or wrong we pass judgement about people we don’t even know every single day.

Mirror mirror on the wall…. Now reflect on what impression you project to the world. Attempt to stand outside of yourself and peer down with that same judgmental eye. Avoid stopping this exercise and scoffing – ‘well I’m a student, at this point in my life this doesn’t pertain to me’ or ‘I like to buck trends and be my own person’ or ‘I prefer people get to know me for who I am on the inside and not judge me by my outer appearance’. Indulge me and create your list.

Role Models Now, who do you admire? What are their qualities? What is the image they project? Complete the same list for these folks.

My Mom and Grandma always looked polished and presentable and always dressed age appropriately. Any one of my 3 sisters and me would hear a “you’re not going out looking like THAT are you?” from my Mom if we didn’t meet her standard. It wasn’t about being ‘fancy-shmancy’ it was about being presentable.

How do you want to be perceived? What impression do you want to make on the world? Compare that with your current observations and compare it to your role models. Do they match up or are there measures you can take to close the gap?

Define it and refine it! Attention to detail is the name of the game. Although the old adage ‘the clothes make the (wo)man’ might hold some truth, you don’t need to break the bank or even spend one red cent to make change. It can be as easy as starting with 1, 2, 3: good posture, a smile and direct eye contact.

Is your ‘go to’ outfit taken from a pile of clothes on your bedroom floor? Do you hide behind your hairstyle which hasn’t been cut for months? What is your footwear ‘go to’? I have wandered through airports, university campuses, hospitals and offices to see employees sporting tights or PJ’s instead of trousers, scuffing in slippers or flip-flops instead of appropriate footwear topped off with unbrushed hair as a ‘crowning glory’. And don’t get me started with pop tops, tank tops and seeing too much of the skin you’re in…. What if you bumped into someone who was about to interview you? That first impression would not elicit a call back, let alone an interview.

I remember attending a talk decades ago on this very subject and found it eye-opening. The speaker got me thinking about how to project my best self every day. A perfect place to start is taking a look at yourself in the mirror before you head out the door. Is you hair brushed? Is your neck line and skirt length congruent with office policy? Are there spills, stains or tears? I usually find when someone asks the question “does this look ok?” usually the answer is ‘no’. I can hear my Mom saying “you’re NOT going out looking like THAT are you?” Keep it real folks!

Fast forward to today and the same fundamentals apply. It’s not about following expensive trends from getting fake eyelashes, spending hours on make up or donning Chanel’s latest and greatest. It’s about choosing clothes that fit, wearing colours and styles that suit you in your chosen industry that’s updated as you age, ensuring you have that 1, 2, 3 noted above covered. Attention to detail continues to be key.

But wait, what? You might want to emulate your cool, eccentric professor who pays little attention to their physical being. That’s fine and good, but ask them about how their brand evolved as they climbed the “stairway to genius heaven”. I’ll bet they payed attention to some of these unspoken rules along the way. When you achieve super genius status, go ahead and wear what you want.

You’re not exempt by human nature’s rules…I sometimes wish I had a ‘cloaking device’ like the Kling-on’s on Star Trek when I’m not feeling my best. But life doesn’t work like that. Whether you care or not you DO make a first impression out in the real world every dang day. Is your everyday demeanour and presentation what you want people to see? If you want to project polish and professionalism decide what that means to you then make a few goals to achieve it.

Brand extension applies to your on-line presence... This day and age our on-line personas exude who we are as well, so an evaluation of what you project on each platform you ascribe to would be wise too.

911 to the rescue... You can find oodles of tips, tricks and advice on-line. If you want to polish up on your public speaking consider enrolling in a Toast Master’s course. You may also wish get advice from a real life coach. Perhaps treat your favourite role model for coffee and pick their brain on the subject.

I truly wish our world judged people for what’s on the inside. Maybe some day there’ll be a meter we can lodge on our forehead indicating what we want to project be it smarts, savvy, kindness, loyalty, diligence, or whatever. But until then first impressions still rules. The bottom line is, be honest with yourself, only you will benefit from self evaluation.

How does your personal brand measure up? Food for thought, that’s for sure….
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