In under a few seconds, people will make observations about you and turn those observations into an opinion. So, that first impression can be quite powerful and impactful.
Jenni Flinders, a veteran of Microsoft's channel, explains that the way you show up, the image you project, the first impression you create, will ultimately inform people how you want to be treated. Because they are going to look at your "nonverbals": your body language, your attire, your eye-contact or lack thereof, your listening skills, your tone of voice.
And you may be thinking "this isn't completely fair.....people are thinking of all of these?" As Flinders explains, "we all do it, it's human nature, and the reason being is our imagination is so powerful that our brains are filled with these data points that become these preferences for how we perceive others in that first encounter. As humans, we will take an image and we will start to fill in the blanks based on what we see, what we don't see, and what we want to see. It's human nature and we all do it."
So, first impressions matter, but your personal brand matters even more. And what is a personal brand? It is the intellectual, visual and emotional impression people have when they think of you. It is their summary of you in their mind in an unspoken instance. And we are all a personal brand, whether we are consciously building it or not.
Your personal brand can be so powerful and impactful that it can sell you, differentiate you, set you apart from others.
We can all fake the first few seconds of that first impression but don't ever fake your personal brand. That has to be authentic to be accurate. And all the experience you gain through life is only going to add to your brand.
You need to ask yourself: is the personal brand I have of myself today the most accurate of me?
- Research yourself - what are you really passionate about?
- Then start thinking about:
What are your strongest attributes?
What sets you apart?
What do you rock at?
How would you summarize yourself in a two-minute story?
How do others perceive you?
How would they describe you?
What is the "mark" that is created around your name?
People often describe me as edgy or bold and talented because of the strong jewelry I create and wear. What words are often used to describe you? And why do you think people are attracted to the brand of you?
Once you've identified your uniqueness and strengths, perfect them. Learn all that you can and become the expert in that area. Then, start describing yourself as a known brand and start living it.
P.S. Building a personal brand takes time and effort, but it’s worth it.
It’s the one thing that no one can take away from you.