Have you ever met someone for the first time and instinctively felt uncomfortable as something didn’t quite ring true? Authenticity is of vital importance when it comes to creating a positive, professional and authentic personal brand.
Without authenticity then all your efforts to ‘brand’ yourself will come to nothing.
Do you project a professional image that reflects who you are? How do you know if you’re being authentic?
With social media playing such a huge part in our personal and professional life, it is easy to slip into thinking that what you see on social media is what you’ll get. But that ‘image’ you’ve become used seeing to online might be all smoke and mirrors – and isn’t it a disappointment when you discover that someone who projects a strong brand just doesn’t live up to expectations when you meet them?
Most personal branding articles suggest that you focus on these areas:
· Building your reputation online through social media and a website
· Identifying your unique strengths
· Owning your space in your niche by becoming the expert in your field
· Sharing your thought leadership
· Projecting your own style
· Identifying your values and priorities
· Crafting your brand persona
All of the above are important however, as a qualified Image Consultant and Career Management Coach, I know that BEFORE you work on your brand, you must consider the following 5 KEY ASPECTS of your personal and professional image. When these are congruent then you will know that you are projecting an authentic brand.
The 5 Essential Aspects of Your Personal Brand
1. Your Hidden Image
This is what others cannot see. It’s what makes your personal brand uniquely yours. Your upbringing, your culture, your religion, your race, your nationality, how happy you were during your childhood years, the challenges you’ve experienced in your life so far, all this places a filter over the way you view your world. This affects what you expect out of life, your hopes, dreams, aspirations and career goals.
2. Your Assumed Image
What do people expect even before they meet you? Does your reputation and/or the reputation of your organisation precede you? Is this reputation a positive or negative one? And when people meet you, are their expectations met?
3. Your Visual Image
Do you look the part? Have you dressed appropriately for the occasion? The visual side of your image is one that is easily dressed (pardon the pun!) Do your research to be sure you turn up dressed for success.
4. Your Experienced Image
What is it like to be in your presence? Is it pleasant? Or do people find it a struggle to enjoy being with you? Do you build people around you up or do you drag them down? What’s the tone of your voice when you speak? Does it convey warmth and understanding? Are you aware of your body language and the hidden messages your stance and eye contact (or lack of it) conveys?
5. Your Proven Image
Over time, do you say what you mean and mean what you say? Do you deliver on your promises? Can people rely on you and over time, grow to trust and respect you?
How do you manage the 5 aspects of your image and brand? We all like to work with and be with people whom we know, we like and we trust. Take the time to understand yourself so that others will embrace your for who you are.
This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to branding. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below too.
To book Jane to speak on Polishing Your Professional Image at your next event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org