Your Image is your Personal Brand
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” — Maya Angelou
It’s a brand new world and what better time than this to build your personal brand image that is compelling, unique, bold and outstanding. In this fast paced world building your personal brand image is crucial and very important. Your image is you in your eyes first and then in the eyes and minds of others. Your image is what stays back when a personal, professional and a social meeting gets over. Everyone engages in some form of image management on a daily basis consciously or unconsciously. Image management is one of the fastest and most effective ways to build your self esteem, to boost your self confidence, to reflect ability and to increase credibility. Image management is the effective way to attract others, to build trust and command respect. It is all about respect for yourself, respect for others and respect for the occasion.
Ever wondered what the impact of your image is? Have you ever thought about what impressions you are creating when you meet someone new? Do you know that it just takes 3–7 seconds for people to form an impression of you? Yes you read it right, it just takes seconds for someone to know if they wish to be friends with you, if they wish to hire you or work with you, if they wish to buy your product or services, if they wish to continue the relationship with you or no. You must have come across the phrase “never judge a book by its cover” but sadly we all do. We all make assumptions about the content of the book by merely seeing the cover. If the cover is not appealing we think twice to even open the book and read the content, it’s the same with first impression. If you don’t come across as a friendly, approachable, credible or trustworthy person you might loose your chance of creating lasting impact and you will need to wait for that second chance, that second encounter which in some cases never comes eg. Job interview, business meetings, networking events, delivering a presentation and so on.
People perceive us with what meets their eyes, they perceive us based on the impressions we create and the impact we have on them when we first meet them. If you want people to perceive you the way you want them to be perceived then you need to work on your personal brand image. The way you dress, the way you talk, the way you present and carry yourself, your gestures, postures, facial expressions, eye movements everything should be in sync and in harmony. Nothing should be distracting or in disharmony.
There is a saying that ‘You cannot not communicate”. You are communicating even when you don’t say a word. Research says 93% of the communication we have is through our non verbal communication and the tone we use. The words we use have mere 7% weightage. You communicate through your Appearance, Behaviour, Communication skills and Digital Footprint the ABCD of Image Management. These elements are vital to get you the desired job, promotion, business opportunities, even a life partner and helps you in being remembered and get noticed as a powerful personal brand.
Appearance makes or breaks your image
Your appearance says a lot about the efforts you take to dress up and show up. Appearance is the foundation or a base to get those first impressions right. Appearance includes clothing, grooming, body language and etiquette. Make sure the outfits you select are in sync with your roles, goals and occasions. When you appear all well groomed in a perfectly neat and clean attire it shows that you care for yourself and people perceive you in a positive manner. Appearance is the first thing people notice about you and people size you up consciously or unconsciously in those milli seconds on the basis of what catches their eyes first. Your body language is another factor which helps you appear confident and make you look authoritative. By giving special thought to the way you dress and groom yourself, to the way you act and behave, to the way you communicate with your body language and mannerisms speaks volumes about you. It’s the little things that makes a huge difference in how others see us and perceive us.
Our behaviour is more honest than our words
When it comes to first impressions your behaviour and the way you communicate with others or the way you treat others says a lot about you without you saying a word. There is a saying “Treat people the way you want to be treated” respect is earned, not given. Remember the way you treat others shows that you are a person of high values, ethics and morale. The way you think, the way you feel, the way you act and behave is the way others react or respond to you. When you are networking or going to give a presentation or meeting a new client or going for job interview you need to make sure you are in your best behaviour because our actions speaks louder than our words do.
Communication works for those who work at it
The key to success is in the way you can influence others through your communication skills. Being able to communicate is the most important life skill you can have in today’s world where the technology have taken most of our time. It’s not what you say but how you say what you say makes all the difference. Many people think that communication is all about the words you use, the language you speak, the fluency with which you speak with, but it’s much more than that. Communication is making others feel important by just giving them a listening ear, by showing them that you care, by being empathetic towards them. People think that communication means talking more and listening less, but it’s the reverse. Effective communication means understanding and listening without reacting or advising. Remember communication is a two way street, listen more talk less.
Your Digital Footprint is your new resume
In this digital world you are leaving an impression by the actions you take on social media, by the posts you post, by the email you send or use a search engine. You are leaving behind a trace of permanent data on the digital media. Your digital presence can make or break your image and it can become gateway for your success only if you are mindful of how you showcase yourself online. Your online presence and the way you meet someone personally should communicate the same thing, it should be in congruence and in sync with each other. Every picture you upload, every comment you make, every post you like says a lot about you as a person, be mindful of what you are sharing online it matters a lot and is very important in building your personal brand image. Google yourself and see, will you be interested in hiring or meeting a person you see on the screen? If not then it’s time to clean up your social media platforms. In this technical world we are being judge by our online presence and are creating an impression unconsciously, be mindful of that.
These elements of Image Management when taken care of helps you in building your personal brand image that helps you stand out from the crowd. Why do you want to fit in when you were born to stand out? Work on your image to be seen as a go to person in your industry. By projecting the appropriate professional image you gain respect and admiration from the people with whom you connect on a daily basis. Remember you only get one chance to create a lasting first impression.