You may not realize you have an image.And the image that exists for you may not be ideal. The goal of reputation management and personal branding is to intentionally and authentically put together an image that is coherent, consistent and compelling.
What distinguishes your image from your personal brand or reputation? Your image is more diffused. It encompasses much more about you, although it plays a big role in your personal brand and reputation.
You may be very surprised that how you earn your living is the LEAST important aspect of your image.
I have described my new concept to many of my coaching clients, and they are surprised at what matters to recruiters, hiring managers, and even their bosses and co-workers – much less all their contacts.
So I created a simple way for everyone to think about the image we hold in our heads about you and the other people who pass through our lives, businesses, networking events and more.
I – What are you IMPROVING? What can you say you are actively learning about, studying, seeking more information about, and otherwise trying to add to or modify about yourself? Could be something like learning a language. Or something smaller, like learning good manners for cross-cultural business etiquette.
M – What are you MANAGING? What financial matters, education courses, workload, community commitments, family circumstances, and more are under your control? You are your Chief Life Officer, after all. What would we be impressed to know you manage now?
A – What are you ADVISING other people about? What expertise, knowledge, or special skills are you imparting to others? Do you do some informal or formal mentoring? Could you be a resource on a topic that another person or business needs to know about? Do you use social media to get out that information for free, or perhaps do you exchange services or even do it for free (right now)?
G – What are you GIVING? Where is your social philanthropy, your cause-oriented work, your support for people in need, pets in need, the planet itself or simply in your own family and community?
E – Finally, how are you EARNING your living? What are the large (and small) jobs you have and have held in the past? Do you do more than one thing? That’s so good for us to hear. Perhaps you hold down a full time job and do freelance work in another field. I have a client who manages a small business, she does bookkeeping for it and another company, plus she is a dance instructor. How impressive is that? That’s real multi-tasking.
When you fail to let us know these great things about you, something’s missing from your image. We may overlook you, just because someone else IS prepared to talk about these major dimensions of their life and personal brand.
Pepper your conversation with all these dimensions of your image. If you want to try out this formula for yourself, just jot down your thoughts for each letter, and send your IMAGE to me at Nance@NanceRosen.com. Subject line: IMAGE.
Scientific American cites some shocking news about time. The more quickly you have to respond to a question or report results, the more likely you are to lie. Or, consider the reverse. The more time you take, the less likely you are to lie.
Lying is in the air. Literally, the fewer breaths you take, the more lies come out of your mouth.
Mentally hitting pause is your secret weapon!
Want to tell the truth, so you don’t have to remember what you pretended to know? To quote Faith Hill: just breathe.
That is the only way to avoid the “lying bias.” That is the tendency to lie when put on the spot. Keep in mind, lying undermines everything else about your personal brand. I’d rather have an employee who’s slow, mediocre and annoying, than a liar who’s fast, talented and charismatic.
So, take your time before responding to your boss or a co-worker who appears to be pressuring you for something. The question might be as simple as: “Do you want to go to lunch with us?” “Do you want to put in $25 for Penelope’s baby gift?”
The question might have bigger ramifications for our trust in you. Your boss might ask: “Did you visit all of competitors when you were at the trade show?” “When was the last time you called on your prospects?”
The problem with lying is not just a moral one. The problem with lying is what happens to you when we find out the actual facts. You aren’t just wrong, you might be fired. Demoted. No longer sent on those special projects. Experience a seriously stalled career.
How do you prevent a neuro-chemically induced, reflexive lie?
I advise my clients to frame their brain before responding to ANY question. I use two techniques:
Silently repeat this mantra when you know you’re about to be questioned: “Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it.” That gives your brain ready to open its file cabinets and come up with the true answer.
Have a trigger word or phrase that allows you to speak while you are thinking. “On trigger” is an expression I use to describe automatic words and phrases that come out of your mouth with no thought at all, so it appears you are responsive, and not just stalling.
When you are asked a question, say aloud, “Let me think for a moment.”
This not only lets people know you heard them, it also commands your brain to do exactly what you said. After all, your brain only needs a moment to actually find information that it stored awhile back.
There’s an old expression. When in doubt: deny, deny, deny.
Let’s change that. When in doubt, breathe.
You will not always do what you are doing now.You will go on to as many as seven distinct careers, ten to fifteen different jobs, perhaps a dip or dive into your own entrepreneurial venture and hopefully, some significant philanthropy.
That’s why the thing that you do, what you actually accomplish at work, may not be all that interesting to the people you’ll meet in the future.
It’s likely the job you have now won’t even exist in the future.
What will exist into the future? Your character, intelligence and persistence.
So, if you are seeking something grander than the job you have now: don’t focus on the nuts and bolts of what you do when given the chance to talk about yourself. Recruiters, hiring managers, investors and graduate school interviewers are listening to your stories to ascertain your core values and evidence of your curiosity, focus, friendliness, good manners, and empathy.
We care about the inspiration for your aspirations.
We want to know what’s in that portable device you carry with you all the time: your brain.
So, when you’re asked, “What do you do?” or “What did you do at Acme Insurance?” make sure to follow up your job title, with HOW you do your job. That’s where the secrets about you are, when it comes to your character, intelligence and resilience.
More than any special skill or vast amount of knowledge you’ve accumulated in a field like engineering or a function like social media manager, it’s your ability to articulate your analytical process and decision-making that’s really important.
The big winners in any occupation, profession or venture are people who can crisply say why they act the way they do, and how their behavior has changed as they learned more and held greater sway.
Simply put: the most desirable candidates are brimming with personal insights.
So, spend some time reflecting on the how and why of what you do. Then, be ready to explain how your thinking and working processes – not your duties – are your real assets.
Those of us in your future, want to welcome you to it.