If I mention the name Tiger Woods, some may think, “What an idiot,” others associate the name with “the world’s greatest golfer,” and others are left in bewilderment thinking, “I just don’t get it.” Tiger is an icon, a corporate brand for the game of golf, and everything the sport represents. His was a personal brand portraying character and achievement, almost at hero status for his seemingly boyish charm, his determination to overcome injury and be the best, and his media savvy to not let fame and fortune change that boy-next-door image. And then, Tiger fooled us all. Tiger’s current state of affairs demonstrates how quickly your personal brand can ruin a career and destroy respect.
Climbing the corporate ladder on a hot streak is the career buzz phrase “personal branding”—but do you truly know what represents personal branding? Generally we understand the significance of corporate branding. As an employee we follow the corporate rules to represent our company in the best light possible; but when we leave our office at 5:00 p.m., are we still held responsible for branding? The answer is, absolutely! Tiger lost his corporate sponsorships not because his golf game was suffering, but because his personal brand did not match the image he portrays when out besting the competition for the coveted green jacket.
Let’s consider another example that hits a little closer to home: You just graduated in May and are starting your new job at an accounting firm. Friday afternoon you have a meeting with your biggest client. This is the first time you introduced yourself to him and you are a little nervous. The meeting goes well and you end your Friday on a confident high knowing you impressed him. You’re anxious to start your Friday night so you and some girlfriends decide to go out and relive those college days of drunkenness, a little stupidity without a care in the world. You’re dreading the Monday morning wake up call and when you sluggishly walk into work, you read an email from your big client you met on Friday. He saw you and your girlfriends out and was surprised at how unprofessional your behavior was. Now I know you are thinking, “Am I never allowed to go out and have fun again,” and that is not what I am saying. You need to remember that your personal brand is extremely important in the business world and how you act outside of work is just as important as how you act at work.
Dos and Don’ts of Personal Branding:
Do: Always look put together whether you are attending a networking event, client luncheon, shopping at the mall or grocery shopping. You never know whom could be your next client standing ahead of you in line at Starbucks.
Don’t get wrapped up in office gossip. You then become a person that cannot be trusted by other employees for fear that what they tell you will become the hot gossip around the office water cooler.
Do make sure that if you have a Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn account or a blog that no matter which one I find, they all represent you in the same way. I should never be confused about the person you are when I find you on social media tools.
Don’t use Facebook as a way to let the world know that you can still party like you are nineteen. We all like to go out and have a good time however pictures of you dancing on a bar should be left up to the imagination. Facebook is a powerful tool that can get you in a lot of trouble. Be sure you are checking your profile for pictures and comments that could damage the way people think about you.
Do your homework before meeting with a client, a connection you met at a networking event or an interview. I always remember the people that have taken the time to look at my magazine. It shows that you value my time and my expertise.
Don’t be a Tiger Woods with skeletons hiding in your closet. One way or another, secrets get out.
Do follow up. Your follow-up becomes a lasting impression so follow up on business cards, meetings, and connections. You always want to be top of mind, the one that’s remembered because you extended the effort to show interest in the product, the business, or the person.
Don’t bring your personal drama to work. No one likes listening to a really put-together employee talk about his/her dysfunctional dating patterns.
Do and I mean remember this, always treat people like you want to be treated. Even if you are having a bad day, you lost a huge client, your boyfriend and you just broke up, or you are irritated because the line at Starbucks is extremely long, put a smile on your face and take a deep breath. You just never know whom the barista knows, who the person behind you is, or the person just walking in the door. You always want to be thought of as a person with a positive and genuine attitude. That’s the brand you want to project and protect—it’s fun to be known as a spitfire as long as it’s an acronym for sincere, professional, intelligent, trustworthy, faithful, in-style, reliable and empathetic!
So the next time you are battling the devil or the little angel sitting on your shoulder, remember these simple tips and your personal branding will be off and running.
By Amanda Guralski for WorkHerWay