What to be aware of...
You only go to networking events with your friends and usually spend the entire time with them taking advantage of the free bar. Or, when you’re out networking your engagement style makes it difficult for others to connect with you:* You engage in conversations that make it hard for other people to join in. Maybe you’re discussing a mutual friend’s personal dilemma, or you’re chatting about a shared experience with someone that no one else can comment on. * Your body language says “you’re not welcome”, “leave us alone; we’re having a personal chat” * You take no interest in others and talk about yourself all the time* You make it obvious that you’re working the room* You make people feel inferior in some way
Any of these actions will hinder your success at networking which in turn will limit your potential to grow your network of contacts and hence your reach.
A sign of a strong personal brand is that there are many people who are happy to speak positively about you unprompted. These are your brand ambassadors and it is these lovely people who will send business your way, either knowingly or not. But, you have to give them good reason to. Engaging with them, being nice, taking an interest and making them feel good are all important to help generate positive word of mouth.
This doesn’t mean scruffy, because in certain industries and sectors, the scruffy look equals cool/desirable, and to achieve it successfully takes a lot of deliberate planning and care. I mean lazy; either you let your hair grow out of shape, your outfits are mismatched or not appropriately looked after, or look like you’ve wrestled a dog in a hedge. How you present yourself will say volumes about how you perceive yourself. Some people think that the lazy look says “I don’t care what you think”, when in fact the opposite is true and really what they’re saying is “I have a low opinion of myself and I don’t believe in myself enough to present myself well enough, so why should you?”.
If you’re not confident with your appearance, then it’s worth seeking the help of a stylist as it you might just need to make some small changes to the way you present yourself to create a better impact. Working with a stylist can also boost your confidence; by helping you to find clothes that work with your body shape and so make you look slimmer, younger, etc.
Your business card forms part of that first impression that people have of you. And it is that little tiny piece of you that they take home. The bit they remember you with – it’s like your souvenir. Have you opted for the cheap tacky variety or the classy memento? In the same way that your appearance can let you down, so can the stick-of-rock approach to your business card.
Alexia Leachman is a Personal Brand Coach and Head Trash Liberator at Blossoming Brands. She helps entrepreneurs find their mojo by helping them to tell their story, raise their profile, build their digital presence and manage their reputation.