May is back and with it a need to change some things in your life ! Well, maybe it’s time to lift up your personal image !
“Esse est percipi” — “to be is to be perceived” said Irish philosopher George Berkeley 200 years ago already (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/berkeley/). This is more than ever true today. In our society perception is more important than reality, each of us is getting about 5,000 info per day and our average span of attention 8-10 seconds (Hugues Rey, HAVAS group). So, how about you ? How do people perceive you ? What is your personal image ? As seen by others and…as seen by yourself !
The issue is not limited to business situations. It’s also related to your personal life. A number of studies have been done on the way how we think about ourselves affects our performance, in work and life. See for example American psychologist Barbara Fredrickson (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Fredrickson). there is a strong connection between how people perceive us and how we perceive ourself (self-image).
Anyway, it’s all about perceptions !
But let’s be practical: how should you go about working on your personal image. Actually, it’s about marketing yourself. YOU are the product. Now YOU need a brand ! So here are 7 phases you should go through.
- Start by a vision. A vision is how you project yourself in the future. Write a scenario.Imagine you’re in a movie. The title is: “Me in 10 years”. Close your eyes and dream. Forget about constraints of day to day life like money, family, your boss or else. Imagine, then write ! You can imagine various scenarios. In strategy, we call that “scenario planning”. It’s important to write it down. Let it sleep for a few days, then come back to it and choose one. You can keep is secret. It’s between you and you. Or You’d like to share it. Whatever, it will be your driving force, it will give you a sense of direction and scope your ambition.
- Know who you are.What are your points of excellence ? Don’t spend time on your shortcomings, you’re never selling a defective product ! If you’re not sure, survey the market 🙂 Ask some friends or colleagues to mention 3 of your skills, or 3 words that come to your mind when they think of you. It’s full of interest. it will give you some insights on how you’re actually perceived now.
- Define your targets. If you’re in a business setting, it can be your management, peers or the team you’re managing. It can be your customers. It can be your funds providers. In life, it can be a social group you’re part of. People you want to seduce. Avoid it with real close friends: they like the real you ! Define your target(s) based on your long term vision. Set priorities: it’s never effective to communicate to several targets at the same time. So, go step by step.
- Have a brand. This is a tricky choice and most of you could be shy about it but it’s actually a great advantage for getting recognized. I have a Vietnamese friend called Huong. There are many people called Huong in Vietnam. But she’s different: she calls herself Bailey. Everyone knows her under that name, actually a brand name of a coffee liquor. It fits her personality. People remember ! So, think about a special name. Or stick an adjective to your name (Smart John, for example) but HAVE A BRAND. And why not a logo ?
- Choose your brand positioning. A brand is to be remembered but you will be more remembered if it means something valuable for others. Brand positioning is a classical strategic marketing tool. You can use the Unilever brand key model if you’re a sophisticated marketeer 🙂 Or just think about what you want people to think about you and write YOUR positioning statement. (http://cvg220.wix.com/marketing-basics-jpb#!positexemple/c7uy on how to do that)
- Be different. A the end, the most important is to know how different you are and how to promote your difference. It may be a unique competency (I’m the most creative accountant in my city) or a specialty (I’m the most specialized accountant for sports clubs) or something about yourself (I’m the most funny accountant to work with) but something should be unique about you and consistent overtime.
- Dress as how you want to be looked at. Dress for success is not a new statement but it’s consistently overlooked. Big companies seem to like employees who all look the same. Like kind of robots ! But we are humans ! Our way to dress, to speak, to appear sends signals ! It can be little things. I have been teaching a lot and for years I didn’t know what to wear so that I could feel relaxed and appear serious at the same time. Then I decided to signal my identity of “marketing prof” by wearing colored watches. Strangely enough, years after my classes, people don’t remember my teaching content but they remember the watches. Recently, I discovered an American couturier living in Saigon. He taught me how to think about my style after he asked me questions about my personal objectives. I became his client. He’s a master in business attire strategy (https://www.facebook.com/paths.to.success/)
Don’t forget this, as written in a Forbes article, developing your personal brand is essential for the advancement of your career and development as a leader (http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2013/04/08/personal-branding-is-a-leadership-requirement-not-a-self-promotion-campaign).
After all, you’re the most important person on earth, aren’t you ?