I wear mismatched socks. It began out of laundry-folding laziness, but secured implicit intent when I learned that my wardrobe mishap became a conversation piece with a simple cross-of-the-legs and flash-of-the-ankle (hubba-hubba).
Intrigued by the many comments and attention, I began to get creative with my sock combinations: A jack-o-lantern on the left foot and a snowman on the right?!? Tim Burton made millions with a similar stroke of genius, and as I often feel kindred to his artistic insanity a ten-toe salute to Nightmare Before Christmas seemed only natural. The conversations that ensued were humorous and insightful. My socks were sparking department-wide innovation in the form of laughable suggestions and guesses of what I might do next.
I had realized that my colorfully clad ankles had gained true momentum when they became my identifier: “She’ll be wearing two different socks. You can’t miss her!” My socks became an icon for my personal brand.
In my line of work, where socializing is a MUST, my socks were an easy icebreaker. The creativity, the light-heartedness, and the sheer silliness advertised to my audience that I was approachable and easy-going. In essence, my socks helped me get my foot in the door (pun intended).
I’m not suggesting that anyone follow me down the path of footwear tomfoolery, however, the take away from this little anecdote is that how you are perceived is a critical component of your personal brand:
- What’s on the outside is just as important as what is on the inside. A personal brand is how we market ourselves to others. It is the whole package—our skills, attributes, our product, as well as packaging. It is human nature to judge a book by its cover, so consider what messages you want to project when making a personal first impression.
- Find something that identifies with a key quality of your persona, and amplify it. For me, my socks projected my inner geek, my easy-going nature, and my creativity as a subtle yet noticeable addition to my office uniform.
- See your personal details as opportunities to market yourself. Own it. Don’t be a passive listener in the conversation about your personal brand. Be the leader. If you don’t own your brand, someone else will.
Whatever it is you’re “marketing,” your image is the first and usually lasting impression that you have complete control of. This is your billboard. Make sure you’re sending the right message…even if that message is, “talk to me about my socks.”
How do you wear your brand?
by Melissa Pardo
image from Senesense
by Melissa Pardo
I’m in the processes of transitioning jobs, leaving behind the only family I’ve known in LA. In the last year-and-a-half I have been very lucky to work with a team that felt more like a family than they did co-workers. Leaving them is probably the hardest thing about leaving this job, but Karen, Sarah, Lauren, if you’re reading this, you know that I’ll always be there for you…no matter what.
I’ve spent the last two weeks imparting my wisdom on my two littles, but to be sure they never forget, I’ve been working on getting some of it down here:
1-To and From—Sometimes in a rush to respond, we forget to add proper salutations and closings to emails. Tone is hard enough to decipher in virtual communications. Properly addressing your audience and closing with clear next steps or a thank you can go a long way to help your reader understand your message and your intentions.
2-Know Your Audience—Some of your best relationships at work may be with people of all levels in the company. That doesn’t mean that you should address the director or VP you were chilling with at happy hour last as if they are your drinking buddy in the office. With rank comes a level of respect, and it’s your job to mind this while you’re on the clock.
3-Question Everything—If you see something that doesn’t look correct (improper grammar, a miscalculation, a broken link, etc.) don’t wait to see if someone else catches it, and never just pass the incorrect information along as if it were accurate. If you have any doubt, do your best to check the error yourself, and if you can’t find the answer, just ask for help.
4-No Man is an Island—You’ll never be a rockstar if you try to do everything on your own. You’ve got an awesome team to support you, so let them and don’t be afraid to collaborate! Collaboration not only provides you with the opportunity to learn another side of the business (SO valuable), but it can only make your brilliant ideas into bigger and better programs. It’s also a great way to meet people outside of your direct team, and if you’re lucky, you might make some great friends in the process.
5-Keep Reading!—With the digital scape rapidly evolving, you can’t depend solely on your personal experience and the experience of your leaders to keep you on top of your game. Invest in yourself and in your future and always keep up to date on what new technology is offering. Experts and thought leaders are always sharing their knowledge—and it’s FREE! Take advantage of it.
6-Know Who Your Friends Are—And they may come in very unexpected places. Your best friends at work aren’t necessarily the people you have lunch with every day, and they might not always be the people that “everyone” likes. They will be the people who will set you straight when you’re going down a crooked path, guide you when you’re losing your way, and tell you—discretely—when your skirt is just a little too short for the office.
7-Proof Read-—I’m not the only one that cares about spelling and grammar errors, and my insanity over this goes beyond responding on Facebook. The quickest way to make someone think you’re an idiot is by misspelling their name or using poor grammar in a communication. Now, don’t go overboard. Not every email you send will need to be proofed, but if you’re sending something important, especially to executives, or something (like a press release) officially representing the company, it doesn’t hurt to have a second set of eyes look it over before you hit send.
8-Find a Mentor—Almost all of my greatest professional accomplishments were enabled by my position, and supported by a fantastic mentor. I’ve been lucky enough to have two. A mentor doesn’t have to be someone you work with directly, but someone you respect professionally, whose experience can help guide your decisions, or lend some insight or creative thinking to your endeavors. If you find a good mentor, you can trust them with anything—good or bad—and never worry that they will use what you share against you or to personally benefit themselves. Think of it as a professional Jiminy Cricket.
9-Think Big—Don’t be afraid to share your big ideas. Even if you can’t make them happen now, you will someday, and so many people can benefit from your creative thinking. One crazy big idea can inspire 10 other ideas that may be a better fit for what you’re working on. So speak up!
10-Focus on the Work, Not the Gossip—No work space is free of gossip, and not even a trained Jedi Knight can escape its toxic effects, but if you keep your focus on your task, you may be able to dodge some of the unnecessary drama that may tempt idol hands. And keep in mind, if hurtful gossip should reach your ears, that does not mean that it need leave your lips. You may not be a roadblock, but you don’t have to be a conduit.
11-Don’t Be So Quick to Judge—Give other people the benefit of the doubt and assume that most people (unless they’ve burned you before), like you, are just trying to do a good job. So, if you get an email that seems offensive or has a totally heinous idea, take a minute before you spurn the writer and ask for additional information.
12-Challenge Yourself--And don’t be afraid to make mistakes! If you only do things that come easy to you, you will never grow. We learn from our errors and the greatest feelings of accomplishment come from completing something you never thought you’d be able to do.
13-Take on The Work that No One Else Wants—Take it, make it yours and make it valuable. Owning some of the more tedious tasks can give you the opportunity to really stand out. No only will you be able to own it, you’re proving that you’re a team player. If you’re brilliant, and I know you are, you will be able to turn unwanted work into something new, something that others WILL want to do…just SNAP! the job’s a game!
14-Do a Great Job and People Will Notice—You’ll come across people during your career that put their name on every single document…even on things they print out from websites (check the bottom right corner). Don’t be worried about getting credit for your work. If you’re doing your job, and you’re keeping busy, people will notice. If you’re killing it, people will ask you to do more…which is a good thing.
15-Be Friendly!—Ever feel the burn of a “hi” left hanging in the stale office air, waiting for a return that never comes? awkward! When trying to establish yourself, it’s important to come across as friendly and approachable. Acknowledging people in casual encounters is PR for your personal brand.