How You Live is How You Are Known

October 9th, 2007

How often do you take the time to assess the impression you are making in your every day life?

Of course, you dress and you are on your “best behavior” during presentations, meetings, official events when you know you are being observed and judged. But, in your every day dealings–in the elevator, talking with the receptionist or lobby guard, answering the phone, walking on the street or down the hall, answering the phone (particularly when distracted or in a hurry), how aware are you of the impression you are making?

It is in these unconscious micro moments that we create our personal and professional “know-ability”. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Blink calls this phenomenon “slicing.” Others create inferences and conclusions about the most subtle body language and voice tone and then develop their own response to what they perceive quickly and unconsciously. These reactions lead the observer to experience feelings, conclusions, responses, and reactions that we might do well to consider before we act.

This is particularly true when we consider the contrast between expectations and experience. In marketing terms consistency between what the buyer wants and what he gets is called “branding.” And now in networking and career management, we have become used to the word “branding” to help corporations and individuals be more aware of how they want to be perceived and ways to support that goal.

In her recent newsletter, “Tip of the Month”, Andrea Nierneberg, who is one of my very favorite networking experts, recommends that we make our self-branding conscious. She writes:

Think now about your own branding as you network:

Write down Your USPs – Unique Selling Points-we all have them.

Define what makes you “unique”, for me – I “follow up fast and efficiently”

Your positioning strategy – how do you like to be positioned? How do you “live” your brand? What do people think of when they hear your name?

Put together your positioning statement and continually upgrade it. It answers the following:

  • Who you are?

  • What business are you in? Or what business do you WANT to be in…

  • Who do you serve?

  • Who is your competition?

  • How do you differentiate yourself?

  • What unique benefit do you provide so that someone says-he/she is the one for you on this project, job, etc.

I commend you to read the Andrea’s newsletter and blogs regularly. Her writing is engaging and her tips very actionable.

Tips and Tools

Here is a very simple five step way to make your own “brand” consistent and conscious.

I call this activity “Your Brand Reminder”
1. First, think about the impression you want to create around you–how you want to be known, remembered, spoken about.
2. Write down 5-7 adjectives that you want others apply to you in every interaction, in a “slice”, when they talk about you to others, and particularly when there is intensity, change or conflict in the workplace.
3. Envision the behaviors that support these descriptors. How do you need to speak, act, interact to elicit your colleagues’ conclusion that you are operating within your “brand?”
4. On one of those very convenient Post It notes, or in your to-do list, memo or note book, write down your adjectives. Some of my clients like to create a secret code word, anagram or mantra. Place your Brand Reminder someplace where you will see it several times a day.
5. Particularly when stretched, stressed, tired or busy, take a moment before reacting to “reset” your behavior in line with your desired impression.

Try it and let me know how it works for you!

One comment on “How You Live is How You Are Known

  1. Chris Feeley on said:

    Hi Sheryl. Thank ypu for the great entry.

    Realizing how you are perceived is always valuable but even more so when we are in other countries. I’ve spent the past year living and working overseas and had numerous occassions to understand how colleagues perceive me (and Americans). It varies from colleagues in the U.K. telling me I am too assertive, ‘which is expected in America but not here’, to having collegues in India comment to me that they had started to say thank you when they saw how positively our people responded to me. A simple thank you, which is routine for me, was seen as extraordinary in Chennai.

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