By Jon Michail
Is it really necessary to have a personal brand? Well, yes!
There must be very few business people who don’t know that they need a great brand in order to stand out from the competition.
You have to market yourself and your career as a positive brand to “stack the odds in your favour”.
When people look at you, they see a package made up of many different aspects such as your personality, beliefs and values, your work and your achievements. Your brand will be either positive or negative depending on how well you have managed yourself.
Don’t forget, every aspect of your professional life counts, no matter whether it’s your website, Facebook or LinkedIn page, the way you dress or your attitude.
TIP: above all, aim for authenticity.
Your career will be irrevocably affected by your personal brand make no mistake. It defines you, so it must reflect you exactly as you would like the world to see you – an achiever, a leader, a consummate professional and someone who can be trusted.
A positive brand gives you a professional advantage, providing you with credibility and status and increasing your desirability in the job market. And of course, having reached this pinnacle, you then have to maintain it scrupulously.
Sadly, it’s no exaggeration to say that having achieved an effective personal brand, it’s only too easy to bring it crashing down in a matter of moments. Worse still, this can happen in public situations like job interviews, networking functions, TV interviews, the boardroom or social occasions.
You have to live your brand, be vigilant and steer clear of anything that could potentially become a danger.
What can you do to avoid the embarrassment of showing the world that your brand can’t be trusted? There are several important factors that you need to beware of.
Beware of social media. You have heard this for many years now and it’s still true. One of the biggest pitfalls is your use of social media.
By all means use it with caution in alignment with a strategic plan. It’s very easy to dash off a response to a Facebook post, Twitter comment or Intranet email when you believe you’ve been misrepresented or maligned. And never assume that others are somehow inferior to you.
A case study in point was Kelly Blazek of Cleveland, USA who runs an online job board for marketing professionals. Kelly damaged her credibility in an instant when she responded to Diana Mekota’s request to connect via LinkedIn. For some reason, Kelly lost it, and her response went viral.
“I love the sense of entitlement in your generation,” was part of her vitriolic response. “You’re welcome for your humility lesson for the year.
Don’t ever reach out to senior practitioners again and assume their carefully curated list of connections is available to you, just because you want to build your network.”
Kelly later apologised to Diana and responded to CNN, but the damage was done.
Later, her Twitter account and WordPress blog appeared to have been deleted. Who knows how many promising business leads were also deleted by her wholly unnecessary actions?
Remember, never post anything offensive, accusatory or malicious.
Beware the social club photos. Your words – and photos – are out there for the world to see forever, and you will rarely get a chance to recover from that kind of slip-up. People don’t forget.
Beware of your communications. Recently, there was the case of Rani Abraham, alleging harassment and sex discrimination after she read messages between the English Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore and his associates, joking about “g**h” and “big ti**ed broads”.
The PA who Scudamore’s emails in the Sunday Mirror is suing the EPL, after claiming it is “institutionally sexist”.
Scudamore was put under huge pressure to resign, to date he has refused.
Be organised. Something as seemingly minor as an untidy desk or work vehicle will label you as being disorganised.
If you are disorganised, and some of the most creative and amazing people I have met have untidy desks, the fact remains that most people perceive it as unorganised and people will assume that you are unreliable, unprepared and never on time. These qualities are not conducive to being accepted as a valuable team member.
Once you achieve a reputation for being disorganised, you’ve lost a chunk of your positive personal brand value.
Having the wrong attitude does you a big disservice. Are you seen as disrespectful of others?
It’s easy to dismiss the competition or a lost prospect with a few cutting words, but if you do that in the wrong place at the wrong time, people won’t forget
. Having a chip on your soldier will not help your cause, It’s all too easy to be seen as mean-spirited and ungenerous, and if your brand has depicted you as a caring and kind individual, your brand will be seen as phony and self-serving.
Building and maintaining your brand means becoming the person portrayed by your brand… Authentic works best!
Become that masterful, confident and professional person and people will like, trust and respect you for what you represent.
Why risk shattering the image with a moment of thoughtlessness?
Pay attention to your brand – because it’s YOU.
Jon Michail is Group CEO of Image Group International, Australasia’s No 1 image coach. Image Group International supports executives, entrepreneurs and their organisations to become iconic and monetised leadership brands.