All of us are looking to make a good impression when it comes to advancing our careers, and thanks to the digital age, there are all sorts of techniques to embrace if you're looking to stand out from the crowd.
Yet, one of the fundamental attributes you should have at your disposal is knowing how to market yourself effectively.
"Your personal brand is your business armor — it's how you get recognized and remembered. It is shorthand for everything you stand for," writes Anna Jones, co-founder of networking club AllBright, in the recently-published book she co-wrote called "Believe. Build. Become."
Ultimately, this concise rundown of what you represent professionally allows you to showcase your personality, values and unique selling propositions (USPs).
In "Believe. Build. Become.", AllBright co-founders Anna Jones and Debbie Wosskow, offer practical advice for those hoping to develop their skills and mentality, to thrive as leaders and entrepreneurs — including how to construct your own personal brand.
Perfecting your USPs and elevator pitch
Whether you're selling a product or pitching an idea, having a unique selling point is paramount if you want to be memorable — and the same goes for creating a stellar personal brand.
Consider what makes you stand out — whether that's certain skills, achievements or characteristics that make you who you are — and then refine it into a succinct summary.
For AllBright co-founder Debbie Wosskow, who launched three businesses prior to establishing the networking club for businesswomen, the serial entrepreneur has her own way of crafting an elevator pitch.
"For me, it's always (about having) three key messages and practice this in front of the mirror. And I would really think about what that is," Wosskow told CNBC over the phone.
She added that it's important to play this pitch out with your support network and ask for feedback.
"It's something Anna and I do a lot, asking 'How did I come across?' and 'What do you think?' And use that to define your USP and construct your personal brand," Wosskow said, adding that jotting it all down is essential.
Power of communication
You may have an excellent personal summary, but if you cannot effectively communicate it, success may be a lot harder to obtain. As Jones notes, your communication style can illustrate a lot about who you are, and in the book, she recommends assertive communication, over passive or aggressive.
"You can be forthright without being a bully, but equally you need to be empathetic without being submissive," Jones writes, adding that it's important to gauge how others will respond.
Consider your body language and what signals it gives off to others. One way to go about this is power posing, which involves various parts of the body, like posture, maintaining eye contact and delivering confident handshakes. Meantime, listening to what others say and don't say, can help boost relationships and potentially provide you with more insight into the other person's intentions.
Another aspect to consider is how you communicate through what you write. As Jones states, "everything you write down should follow the same rules." A CV for instance is the initial window into impressing a potential employer, so this professionalism and choice of language should be upheld throughout other work activities, whether that's penning an email or report.
Finally, practice makes perfect. To refine your communication style, keep speaking up.
Being true to who you are and your values while owning your actions not only offers others an insight into what to expect from you, but also can establish trust.
In "Believe. Build. Become.", Jones notes that while authenticity is essential, it should align with professionalism, meaning "acting in a way appropriate for the job." One example Jones offers is being "a loud joker" — this behavior may help you bond with colleagues, but it's unlikely that it'll be appropriate for boardrooms.
Another key point: Don't undersell yourself.
"What we can see with women and from what I've seen from being on the other side of the table as an investor, is women being apologetic or underselling themselves and their vision. A lot of this is around language and how they feel about themselves," Wosskow tells CNBC, explaining the importance of having clear focus, while not being apologetic or unauthentic.
In 2006, Princeton University researchers Alex Todorov and Janine Willis, conducted a study which suggested that our brains can decide whether a person is trustworthy or attractive within a tenth of a second.
So, if you're trying to impress a future employer or investor, it's important to consider dressing the part.
One key example is the job interview, and management expert Suzy Welch has several tips on dressing the part, including doing your homework beforehand, not fretting about being overdressed and wearing confidence-boosting clothes.
"During an interview, you should feel good about yourself," Welch previously told CNBC. At the end of the day, it's not only important to dress the part, but to feel comfortable — and let your confidence shine through.
Standing out online
How you present yourself online is important now, more than ever. Whether it's your professional LinkedIn page or personal networking accounts, your online profile is "a very clear, very instant representation of your personal brand," Jones writes.
If you're looking to win over a prospective employer or a future work contact, keep your online profile updated and professional. According to a 2018 survey by CareerBuilder, 70 percent of employers polled admitted to using social networking sites to research candidates who applied for a role.
In addition, half or more of those bosses were checking to see the candidate's qualifications matched their resume or if they had professional online persona.
After you've created an online profile that reflects you, make sure it sells you in the best light. Think of it this way: you are the best person who can pitch yourself to others. For Wosskow, the most crucial tool to have in your personal brand toolkit is "being memorable."
As Jones notes, everybody can be searched for online, so make sure that "your digital footprint is one that you are happy with. If it's not, change it, now."
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