In two weeks, I will go to spend time working on personal branding skills with candidates in the Wall Street WarFighters program. This program selects bright, talented and motivated US military veterans who were disabled in duty, and who are now pursuing a new career in financial services. Through WSWF, these veterans receive training and skills to successfully land jobs in prominent Wall Street firms.
When I have worked with US veterans in the past, the issues around wardrobe, style, personal presentation and appearance can dominate the workshop. After all, these brave men and women spent their military career wearing a uniform!
In personal branding, a lot of attention is given to the image one projects in trying to convey a certain impression. Similar to how a company will express its brand through a logo, icon or color scheme, how a person dresses and grooms himself or herself reveals a lot about what others can expect to feel about him or her.
Here are some general tips for leveraging your personal style and image in promoting your personal brand:
1. Your personal brand should drive your personal style, so they work together and reinforce your desired image. If your goal is to be seen as credible, approachable and smart, you’ll likely chose to reflect those qualities in your appearance and tone. You’ll make good eye contact, dress in a relaxed but professional way, and leverage a more elevated and intelligent language.
2. What you wear can say a lot about your confidence, professionalism and sense of commitment to the job at hand. People who dress down (and are more casual) convey a more relaxed, less serious tone. Is this your goal? If you desire to have people view you as polished and serious, be sure to dress with attention to detail and professionalism. Likewise, sloppy dressing conveys a lack of care – as if you couldn’t be bothered to spend time on your appearance.
3. People with height and weight issues – i.e. very tall, very short, large- or small-framed – should use those traits to their advantage whenever possible. If you are tall, embrace your height instead of shirking from your stature. Men and women who are shorter should assume a confident posturing to display their presence. There are numerous style guides online for advice to those who navigate weight issues.
4. Do you have a signature piece that speaks about your brand? I know a speaker who wears a special pin on each suit – it is part of her daily wardrobe and is easily identified with her. How about a signature color that not only makes you feel happy and powerful, but lights up your eyes?
5. I ascribe to the belief that you should dress above your target audience. If your audience is relaxed, you should dress in a casual way, but still say true to the direction and values you project.
6. There is no excuse for poor grooming. Not only do we find it distracting when someone is not groomed, but it can destroy credibility and create a lack of confidence. Confidence in yourself means you take care to present yourself in a way that is consistent with your values. Cleanliness and appropriate attire signals confidence and self-respect.
What you wear and how you wear it can say a lot about how you feel, and how others should feel about you. Personal branding comes from within – from a place of authenticity – which means it is not about putting on fashionable clothing if you don’t feel fashionable. How you feel on the inside sets your direction for the “packaging” outside.
You know what makes you feel confident and empowered. Start there. What are your personal image questions? Ask and I’ll answer!