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Whether you like it or not, when others encounter you they form a perception of you. Whilst you cannot control what people think about you, you can influence it through your Personal Impact.
The best professionals understand that creating the Personal Impact they want is crucial to career success. This doesn’t mean ‘faking it’, rather it means carefully deciding which elements of yourself you want others to notice – and remember – then making sure you present those elements consistently.
To help you get started, here are five crucial elements to think about to create the Personal Impact that does you justice. Focus on these five first, put into action my practical tips and watch how much more positive your Personal Impact is and, as a result your professional relationships.
What would people say about you after they’d just met you?
I don’t like the term ‘personal brand’ but the concept it captures is essential; it helps you to consider what you want others to think of when they meet you.
I help my clients distil this to 3 words so they can weigh their decisions, behaviours and actions against these simply.
Practical tip: What are your three words?
One key theory behind a first impression
First impressions are made in less than 10 seconds and they’re difficult, although not impossible, to change. A key theory is that when we first meet someone our brains are assessing their strength and warmth.
Practical tip: Write down what first impression you think you convey.
Visual counts most when you meet people in person
When you meet people in person, it is the visual ‘tools’ which most affect the impact you have on them; that means body language and appearance.
Body language is often read intuitively. You need to master two skills: what your body language communicates and reading others’ body language.
Body language communicates emotions rather than facts. Where there is a discrepancy between body language and words, body language will always be believed.
This short video (just over a minute) shows the importance of just one body language element in what we communicate about ourselves. No sound required!
Practical tip: Consider your body language in different scenarios at work – what are you actually conveying?
While professional ‘uniform’ is far broader than it once was, appropriateness is key.
If you aren’t dressed appropriately for the context of your day – environment, what is happening and who you are meeting – then your appearance distracts when you want others focused on what you’re saying and doing.
Practical tip: Assess your most recent work outfit to determine how appropriate it was for whom you were meeting that day, what you were doing, and if it helped you convey the ‘three words’ impression of yourself.
Your virtual impact
Often, we don’t meet people in person in our professional lives. Yet you are still creating an impact as people perceive so much from your email style and your voice on the phone.
Practical tip: Consider what impact you want to have and what you might need to do to create it.
For example, do you use teleconferences to do something else at the same time? How does that affect your voice when you have to suddenly ‘re-engage’? What impact does that have on other people?
This article has some top tips regarding what to consider in terms of your voice.
What does your online presence say about you?
Have you Googled yourself? If you have an unusual name like mine, it’s worth knowing what’s out there about you. Do your social photos from outside work appear in the search? What impression do they convey of you? How do they relate to your three words?
Professionally, LinkedIn is the most important representation of you online.
Practical tip: If people look you up, you want them to see there is consistency between the person they met and the profile. Check that your photo and profile are up-to-date. No photo and a few lines about the role you were in 7 years ago don’t do that.
Read more here on the value of LinkedIn.
Personal impact is just one of the key skills to move your career forward. , If you’d like more detailed advice on that topic and the eight others, then sign up for my Nine Neglected Skills for career success emails and Booklet. Packed full of information, advice and actions for you to take, it’ll help you improve your skills significantly.
About the author
Joanna Gaudoin, Inside Out Image specialises in helping ambitious professionals and their organisations improve performance and achieve their goals.
She does this by helping them master and strategically use the business skills of Personal Impact and Relationship Management. These skills are required for professional success.
Before establishing Inside Out Image, Joanna worked in marketing and consultancy in large corporates. She understands the business world and its challenges. She now helps organisations and individuals understand how to succeed in it.