Within 15-30 seconds of someone meeting you, he or she has already sized you up and decided the kind of person you are.
What if the impression you’re making is not so good? It might be time to change how people see you by branding, or marketing, yourself differently. From job interviews to social networking sites, we all market ourselves. The way you promote yourself and how others view you could greatly impact your success.
“Branding is simply the representation of your authentic value,” says Melissa Johnson, CEO and President of Velvet Suite Marketing Consulting Group, Inc. and author of Brand Me. Make Your Mark: Turn Passion into Profit.
“These days, branding is essential for survival. Think about how many emails you get in your inbox, think about billboards, advertisement, things that clutter your attention every day,” Johnson says. “Branding is having that stopping power, that ability to make people pay attention and command respect.”
Image and appearance
“We are often attracted to those things that get our attention,” Johnson says. “So no matter what you have, you always want to package it in the most attractive way. To package ourselves we need to ask, ‘what are our unique qualities and how do we leverage those in a way that attracts the right type of attention?’”
Gloria Hill, a supply chain management analyst and entrepreneur, agrees. She believes that presenting the best image shows potential employers that you’re serious, flexible, and that you have business sense.
“When you don’t blend in with everybody else, it’s a psychological thing. When you see a person in a suit, you know that’s a business person, and they’re focused on whatever that initiative is,” says Hill.
She also remembers personal things about people and coworkers. “If you hear someone say they were a little late because their child was sick, remember that. A week later, drop them a little note: ‘how is your child doing?’ Those are little ways of branding yourself; people remember you.”
Visibility: everything matters
When you’re marketing brand “You,” everything you decide to do and not do conveys the value and character of your brand. Everything from phone conversations to email messages is a component of the bigger message you’re sending about your brand.
The key to any personal branding campaign is “word-of-mouth marketing.” Your network of friends, colleagues, or customers is your most important promotion method. What they say about you and your roles is what the market will ultimately determine to be the value of your brand.
The authentic you
Being truly authentic is probably the most important thing you can do when building your brand. Johnson encourages youth to be bold about who they are and what they value and to find creative ways to do anything they want. In short: create a path, be a pioneer, be innovative.
“To me, being authentic means everything about me, my experiences, the times I had great successes and the times I’ve missed it,” says Johnson. “I think it’s so important to strive for excellence in whatever you do because if you can be the best you at that, then you’re clearly going to make your mark.”
Jamie Fleming is a freelance writer from Athens, GA.