The perception of style and image are the keys to being appropriate and authentic. Learn about the body language that can benefit you by focusing on eye contact, hands, and posture.
- Personal branding is a lot about perception and judgment. Is that fair? Not really, but it's how we're wired as human beings. We have an instinctive ways of judging other people sometimes just based on what they look like to determine if they're friend or foe or if they're dangerous. It's part of our DNA. Authenticity in personal branding means being mindful about the way you show up. It means being conscious of that first impression you're going to make, which is often going to drive the perception someone else has of you, and that starts with your style and your image. It starts by understanding that your personal brand means you should look like you, not like someone else. Dress to be comfortable, dress to be appropriate to the audience and the situation. So if I'm addressing a large group of financial executives in a business forum, I'm probably not going to wear a baseball cap and torn jeans and sneakers, I'm going to dress appropriate to the situation, but I'm going to dress in a way that makes me feel like me and represents my values and my personal brand. When you nail this part of the process, getting dressed in the morning is so much easier because you stop second-guessing how other people want you to dress and you start putting your style and your image and wardrobe together based on how you feel best about yourself. Being appropriate to the environment, but feeling comfortable in your own skin and your own wardrobe. It also has a lot to do with body language. They say that 90% of information communicated is nonverbal. So no matter what words are coming out of my mouth, if my body language doesn't match, you're going to be skeptical and perhaps not believe what I'm communicating. So, here are three different body language tips I'd like to share with you today. First comes down to eye contact. When you're talking to somebody, look them in the eyes. Show that you have respect for them and that they have your attention by making good eye contact. Don't hold the eye contact so long that it becomes awkward or uncomfortable because sometimes eye contact can veer into a place of intimacy or even threats. So hold the eye contact in a way that's appropriate. And when you need to break contact, eye contact, simply look away for a moment or glance at something else to show a little bit of relief. Also pay attention to how your hands are postured. If you talk with your hands, make sure you're not pointing at someone or being overly directive. Use your hands to show welcoming and show approachability. Use your palms up to show that you're receptive to new ideas and you're inviting. If your fists are closed or your hands are gripped, it might show that you're overly tense, and that might seem unapproachable. Pay attention to your posture too. I've yet to meet someone whose personal brand was to be closed off and unapproachable. So when you walk into a room, show confidence by having your shoulders back and your posture really confident and approachable. It's really important in building that first impression. I'm often asked by people if being authentic means you get to say whatever you feel when you feel it. No, being authentic means you know what's appropriate and that you learn the art of self-editing. Just because I think it, doesn't mean I need to say it. Just because I think it, doesn't mean I need to comment online about it. Self-editing means you know what your strategy is and you know when you can take that leap and be candid and honest and when sometimes you need to reserve judgment. It's always about staying genuine. Knowing what's in your heart and what's guiding your strategy is always about your values. Stay genuine and align your action with those strategies, and you will be successful in matching your body language and your image to the person that you are inside and the person you want other people to see.