Your brand is one of the most powerful tools in your toolbox. It becomes the most powerful business card/handshake/first impression you will ever have. Think of someone you know with a strong personal brand. I bet someone popped in your head immediately and now you are thinking about their characteristics. Hardworking. Determined. On-time. Kind… the list could go on and on. These people have got it going on!
Your brand can be broken down into two different parts. One part is your skills, competencies and attributes. The other part, that often is overlooked, or undervalued, is our non-verbals. Things like, how we dress, how we show up in the workplace, how we present ourselves and what we say without speaking.
Below are three ways to help boost or build your non-verbal professional brand.
Identify your “go to” work style. Moving beyond dress code basics (clean, wrinkle free clothes that fit and are “work appropriate”), an easy way to build your non-verbal brand is to come up with a “go to” work style. For me, it’s usually black skinny pants, Express Portofino shirts (preferably white ones), simple jewelry, statement shoes and a blazer for when I’m feeling extra sassy. Whatever your “go to” style ends up being, the end goal is visual consistency. Another reason for a “go to” or consistent style, is that when you need to really dress up to impress the head honchos you’ll stand out even more. They already thought you looked professional and ready to go, but when you do show up in something more formal, it will reinforce what they already know about you. A word of caution for those in really casual offices - the concept of “dress for the position you want to have” still exists. Just because your office is casual DOES NOT MEAN your personal brand has to be too.
Treat your desk like a business card. When people show up at your desk are they thinking “since when did tornados strike our office??” or are they thinking “wow, she is always so organized”. Whatever condition your desk is in, try to start getting the impression to be more toward the organized side. Having a messy desk DOES NOT send the impression that you must be really busy and working really hard. It actually sends a message that you are either behind, late or unable to fulfill the expectations of your job. Also, your business card doesn’t need to be decorated like the cover of an interior design magazine, but don’t be afraid to bring your personal flair to the office! Some of my favorite ways to decorate my desk at the office are with 2-3 photos of my family, friends or adventures. It usually gets people to stop and chat, and friendly networking always adds money to your brand brank.
Leave your phone in your purse. I will admit, I am guilty of not always following this one. Let me paint a picture for you. People in our workplaces that are older than us, think of our generation as having our phones glued to our hands and unable to engage in face-to-face conversation. Whether this is right or wrong, it’s a perception they have of us. You will stand out as a millennial employee (or any aged employee for that manner) if you just leave the phone out-of-sight. Even keeping your phone out and face down sends a message of “I might check this”. Also, if a senior executive walks by and sees you on your phone, they have no idea if you just grabbed it to text your grandma or if you’ve been sitting on it for an hour. It simply sends the wrong kind of message.
I created a worksheet to help you think through your overall brand. It identifies the top three characteristics you want your brand to represent, how they are currently showing up in your work and how they are falling short. There’s even a place for an action plan to help get your brand back on track! You can download it by filling out the form below.