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In today’s connected world, social media plays such a huge part in both our personal and professional life. And it’s so easy to think that an image portrayed on social media is genuine. But sometimes that image can be all smoke and mirrors.
We recently caught up with Jane Jackson, Career & Life Coach, and author of #1 Amazon Australia best seller, Navigating Career Crossroads, to talk about the importance of building an authentic personal brand.
As Jane explains “without authenticity all your efforts to create a personal brand will come to nothing”.
So how do you know if you’re being authentic? Is the personal image you project a true reflection of who you are?
Jane believes that before you can begin working on your brand, you need to consider the following essential aspects of your personal and professional image.
Your Hidden Image
So your hidden image can’t be seen by others. It’s defined by how you view the world based on your life circumstances such as your upbringing, how happy you were as a child, setbacks and challenges you may have faced. It’s also your cultural values, your religion, your race, and your nationality. All of these elements make your personal brand unique to you and influence the decisions you make in relation to your aspirations and career goals.
Your Assumed Image
This is the persona people expect from you prior to meeting you. To understand your assumed image, you need to know whether people have their expectations met when they meet you. Did they have a positive experience? Or was it a negative experience because you didn’t match their expectations based on your brand perception? It’s all part of being authentic and making sure you’re delivering on what your brand portrays.
Your Visual Image
The visual side of your image – what you choose to wear and how you present yourself – says more about you than your sense of fashion. It reflects your personality and also your attitude towards a job or company. Do you look the part? Consider your company culture and environment, when choosing your apparel. And before you step out for an important event (like a job interview) or any other special occasion, always do some research to determine the most appropriate dress code so your image remains intact. Just remember, first impressions do count.
Your Experienced Image
What do people experience when they are around you – what vibes do you set off? Are you positive and pick people up with your warm and embracing approach? Or are you negative and drag people down? How do you carry yourself in the presence of others – your body language, eye contact etc, what does this convey? All of these things combine to make up your experienced image. When people feel good around you, you’ll be more successful in building an authentic brand.
Your Proven Image
Your proven image is all about whether you actually do what you say you do. Are you reliable and deliver on your promises? Or do you over-promise and under-deliver? Do people trust and respect you? If you fail to ‘walk the talk’ you’ll find it very difficult to build trust and respect among your peers and work colleagues, regardless of how polished your brand might look from the outside.
At the end of the day, it’s about being genuine, kind, and understanding. Don’t try to make out you’re something that you’re not when you’re working on your personal brand. Everyone likes to be around and to work with authentic people – be you.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to branding.