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The Importance of Personal Branding

How's it going guys?

For this Wednesday's Lunch-n-Learn, the other interns and I were spoken to by Cat Manion of The Paige Group about personal branding, and why it is important. We first took a look at what personal branding is, using examples like McDonald's and even our caterer for lunch, Moe's. We discussed what people initially think when talking about these places. As for McDonald's, people usually think of the golden arches, fast service, or even the playhouse slides. Essentially, this is what personal branding is; the way you sell yourself in order to give people a certain thought about you.

Personal branding is key on all levels of first impressions. First, how one dresses will give someone an immediate initial thought about them. Knowing your setting and how to dress appropriate for it is vital in creating a good first impression. Overdressed is better than underdressed. In the business setting, wearing very casual, or street clothes, can cause one to not be taken seriously or even be asked to leave the premises in some cases.

The next step in making a good first impression is actually a combination of three things: handshake, smile, and eye contact. Let's be honest, does anybody really like shaking a hand that feels like a fish? What kind of message does that send? I believe it sends not only a message of disrespect, but also incompetence. Along with respect, eye contact not only gives mutual respect between parties, but also gives a sense of professionalism. And lastly, a smile gives a welcoming and friendly attitude. With respect comes trust. And being friendly, and kind, is the way to build this trust.

Now that the bases of in-person personal branding are covered, we need to look at the more personal, yet most public aspect of it, social media.

It’s amazing, some of the things that people, especially young adults, put on their social media accounts (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc…) that they would show the world, but not somebody like their mother! Granted, who doesn’t like having fun with their friends, and then wanting to post about it? But, there is a fine line over what is and isn’t appropriate. The golden rule is that if you would not show your mother or your boss, don’t post it. However, feel free to post as much or as little as you like about your favorite sports, hobbies, and other interests. Employers also like to see posts about loved ones as well.

Another thing to steer clear of, or at least be considerate of, is posting about politics. It’s evident, especially in today’s political climate, that not everybody is going to agree with each other. Debate over certain issues is fine, but it needs to be done respectfully and appropriately. This is done by highlighting common ground, not being slanderous toward the opposite party, and trying to see things from all perspectives, not just your own. Along with this, it’s important to know whether sources of information regarding these issues are credible or not.

In the professional field, we have to be consistent with who we are at work, at home, and online. One of the main reasons a person will be hired is because that company trusts that certain person to not only do their job, but do it well. But if the way that they brand themselves is different in every place, then how can that trust be built?

Stay tuned,

Steve