How Personal Branding Works And Its Affect On Your Job Search
How Personal Branding Works
No matter how rational or perceptive we are, human beings make instantaneous judgments about people and situations, even when there’s little evidence. It’s evolutionary baggage from 100,000 years ago, when humans lived in nomadic, pre-agrarian societies. One of our critical survival skills was the ability to form immediate, powerful impressions of our environment or other people we ran across. Often, these impressions preserved our lives, telling us to run away because an animal was dangerous, or not to eat a strange berry because it smelled like poison.
Today, we do the same in a more civilized setting: a cocktail party (you may argue a cocktail party is only slightly more civilized than Ice Age North America). A woman is introduced to a man and before she even shakes his hand, she’s judging him by his clothing, hair or posture. If she gets to know him, she’ll make more judgments about him based on his speech and personal background. For her, his Personal Brand has begun to form. We all do this; it’s in our nature to label people, objects and situations based on superficial clues, and we form strong initial impressions in 3 to 5 seconds.
People develop these “instinct reactions” about you based on a vast range of elements. Some of the most common:
* What you do
* Where you live
* Your marital status
* Where you went to school
* Where you’re from
* What you drive
* How you dress
* Your vocabulary
Nudging “Professional Instincts” the Right Way
Instinct reactions in your personal life probably don’t have much effect on your business. But in your professional life, they can be the difference between gaining and losing a job. Those 3 to 5 seconds are critical to growing your job prospects. Why? Because while you can dazzle employers and recruiters with your knowledge once you get them at the meeting table, the instinctive reaction to your Personal Brand determines whether or not you get the meeting at all.
A powerful Online Personal Brand is the door-opener, nudging the professional instincts of your target market in the direction you want. To do this, your Personal Brand needs to affect your prospect in two ways: by conveying the idea you’re the person to provide something the prospect needs in the best way possible, and by suggesting you’re someone with whom the prospect can identify or relate to in some way. Common factors prospects will judge you by include:
* Your appearance
* The quality of your resume
* Your awards
* Whom you know, or whom you’ve worked with in the past
* Your punctuality
* How you dress
Answer the Questions for Them
Based on this kind of information, employers and recruiters will conduct an internal question-and-answer session about you: Is he a professional? Is she successful? Can I trust him to do a good job? Will she understand my business? Is her work high quality? They’ll often answer such questions for themselves before they even ask you. If the answers aren’t in your favor, kiss the business goodbye.
It isn’t fair to gain or lose a client based on these superficial factors. But that’s reality. Complain about it, or build a strong brand, take control of those first 3 to 5 seconds, and answer the questions before they’re ever asked.