We can’t help it. Whether we hear Apple, BMW, Coca-Cola or Wal-Mart, we automatically create very specific images in our head about each one of those brands and what they represent to us. Likewise, very specific images come up when we hear names like Beyonce, Cher or Michael Jackson.
Brands don’t only pertain to businesses, but people as well. So, it’s important to understand that whether you are trying to or not, YOU represent a brand. And whether you want to accept it or not, there is absolutely no way to separate your personal and professional brand. Just think of the late Whitney Houston. What she may have considered “personal business” still managed to impede her professional brand when it was all said and done.
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So, if we know this is true, let’s tackle three areas where your personal life DOES impact your professional brand.
1. Your Appearance and Attire:
What does your appearance say about you? Remember that getting up and getting dressed is not just reserved for the days you go into the office. In today’s society, anyplace you set foot in has the potential to produce an ideal client, business partnership or new contract. The question is, “Do you enter each day expecting opportunities to come your way?” If so, there’s no such thing as just “running out.” You never know who you might run into. Remember, you may not always physically see someone, but there’s always someone watching you who has the potential to bless you. I teach personal finance classes weekly and it’s impossible for me to remember every face in a room of eighty people. But, it never fails; I’ve run into former students at Target, a random nail salon and the Z-Gallerie and not one of them can say that I had to apologize for my appearance.
2. Your Social Media Profiles:
What do your tweets, pictures and status updates say about you? If you’re an attorney, but every picture of you on social media portrays you as a drunken party animal, how seriously do you expect potential clients to take you? People who may want to do business with you are searching far beyond your LinkedIn profile. Yes, we see your crisp collared shirt and blazer on LinkedIn and yes, you’ve managed to scrape together a pretty impressive paragraph or two about your experience, but consumers are smarter these days. And we know that the truth about your lies within your late night tweets and the Facebook albums you refuse to restrict to friends and family. As far as we’re concerned, that’s the REAL you. And, at the end of the day, potential clients and employers alike want to do business with YOU – not your LinkedIn representative!
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3. Your Associates and Extracurricular Activities:
What do your friends say about you? Again, accept it or not, your network determines your net worth. Period. When you’re out and about, who do people see you hanging out with? Remember, whatever perception others have of them, they may begin to have of you. Like grandma always said, “Birds of a feather flock together!” If you’re investing a lot of time in being around folks that aren’t going where you desire to go then really you’re wasting a lot of time and setting yourself back. Make sure you’re seen at networking events or associations that have to do with your industry. Invest your time in people and activities that support your dreams and goals, as well as, put you in front of and around people who have brands that can lend credibility to the brand you’re developing.
Building your personal and professional brand may take time, a little maintenance and even resisting the urge to show off some of your best midriff shots on Facebook. But regardless of the sacrifice, it should also be a part of the process that prepares you for your destiny and a few extra dollars. . . . Now what’s more exciting than that?
Until Next Time,
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