I was a 20-something grad student working at Starbucks when the owner of a wealth management firm offered me a job. At the end of the interview we exchanged excitement over the future and then he looked at me seriously and said “Do you need a signing bonus for clothes”? All of a sudden I didn’t feel so swank in my button down shirt and dress slacks from Target. Taken aback and a little embarrassed, I stumbled through a reply. “No…no, I’m good. I think I can manage.” That night I met my parents for dinner and found they were not surprised by his comment. They already knew what I was only beginning to learn: Presentation is an important part of brand.
My future boss knew the way I looked reflected not just on my personal “brand” but on the company’s brand as well. It told our clients how serious we were about taking care of their money. I had to act and look the part. As much as we hate to admit it, our personal presentation in this world counts.
I recently led an Influence Workshop for a group of women at a Fortune 500 company. We discussed principals like:
That last one requires you have a strong personal brand. I break brand into 3 parts:
You must be person of competency and consistency. You can’t just know your stuff, you must do good work. People need to know they can rely on you to represent their brand well. If they spend their relational capital on you they want to know it will pay dividends.
You must be a person who doesn’t just have skills and expertise but who works well with others to achieve common goals. If you don’t play nice, why would they recommend you to people they care about?
The way you stand, dress, and speak in front of others matters. You can be the most trustworthy and EQ rich person on the earth but if you don’t represent well publicly they won’t be inclined to push you out in front. Remember when someone influential recommends you, you’re reflecting their brand.
Of all we said in our learning module, the presentation piece was by far what struck women most. Afterwards women approached me inquiring about how to improve their presentation skills, dress, and etiquette. The truth is, most women I know, no matter how savvy, desire help with these things. And the neat thing is, as they gain ground in these areas it won’t just impact their brand, it will impact their confidence, and that can change their opportunities. I walked away excited for these women about the possibilities ahead.
How is your personal brand? Where do you see opportunity to strengthen it? How can you do that?