When we talk about “investment” we usually just think about a financial cost.
There’s no denying that when it comes to your personal appearance, money needs to be spent on clothes, accessories and grooming, however spending time and energy creating – and showing off – your best self is an investment that pays dividends.
We’re so fortunate to live in a time when we have instant access to a global audience, and we’d be crazy not to leverage the power of Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram when building our businesses and progressing our careers. In the digital age, personal branding is everything - you have the opportunity to put the “real you” out there, so don’t miss out!
In my blog What Does Your Image Say About You? I talked about first impressions and the fact that it only takes 7 seconds to make a judgement about a person – and how, most surprisingly, the human brain can’t tell the difference between meeting someone in real life and seeing them digitally. This means that your online image is just as important as your in-person image.
So, does your digital image reflect your real life image? Are your social media profiles having the impact you want them to? Follow these five steps to ensure that your online audience is seeing the very best you.
Step 1: Dare to put yourself out there.
I have a background in recruitment, and it really is true that recruiters check out candidate’s social media profiles before interview.
Old habits die hard, and before buying from a company or individual, I still like to take a look at their Facebook page to learn about the story, and the people, behind the company. I love to put a face to a service or product!
If I don’t find anyone on the website, LinkedIn or social media accounts, I’m likely to leave the page and “walk away” from the purchase.
People make up their mind based on emotions - they connect to stories and buy into people that they find likeable and trustworthy. When you don’t show off who you are – whether that’s because you’re not confident about your appearance, or you’re simply too shy to put yourself out there - you risk losing customers.
Step 2: Choose the right images.
When a potential client sees your website, your Facebook profile or your latest YouTube video, so many things go through their mind.
Many of these are practical questions about your product, service or company, but I can guarantee that if they don’t like you at first sight, they will not give you the chance to prove your worth to them.
Your personal brand is the most precious of all your marketing tools. It takes time to build - and only seconds to destroy. In the online world, you need to consider EVERY SINGLE THING that you ever do or post.
There are many ways to brand yourself, but your strongest asset will always be your authenticity. Your personal story, your enthusiasm, your commitment to creating value and serving your customers - these are the foundations of a successful personal brand, however, what makes the real difference is how you present it to the world. Your appearance, your style and your behaviour are vital.
What do you do when someone reaches out to you about a business/career opportunity? Do you check who they are before you accept anything? Yes, of course you do. And the same goes for your clients - the first thing they will do is to Google your name and/or your company name to see what they can find about you.
They’ll look at your website, your LinkedIn profile and even your personal FB profile! If you’re lucky they won’t find any crazy party videos on YouTube, but they will definitely check out all your photos – and maybe even the profile of your partner!
Do you want to risk losing opportunities just because you didn’t use the right photos - or worse, because you decided to use a photo of your pet or your baby instead of yourself?
Step 3: Declutter your social media profiles.
Share your life and be yourself - but keep your good manners.
It’s wonderful to accept yourself, and I do encourage you to embrace your body and your personality, but don’t disrespect your prospects, your friends or even your family by not putting effort into how you look and the things that you share about yourself.
Image is everything nowadays, but not like how it used to be. It’s getting more and more popular to be authentic and learn to embrace who we really are, but it requires a significant amount of emotional intelligence and self-awareness to be able to project a professional yet unique image.
Step 4: Get out of your comfort zone.
Your style, your image, your personal brand and even your personality are all ever evolving, and need frequent attention and constant nurturing.
Keeping your social accounts up to date and regularly refreshing your images ensures that your personal development and growth is there for all to see (Marie Forleo sure isn’t using photos from seven years ago – and neither should you!!)
Professional photoshoots are great not only for having beautiful pictures but also for helping you to step into to the person who you want to be.
They are a fantastic way to experiment with different styles, and experience how dressing differently (more elegantly, more femininely, etc.) can instantly change how you behave, carry yourself and obviously how you feel about yourself. This will show in your photos, and your clients, prospects or whoever you come across will pick up on this energy and will respond to it positively.
In my last photoshoot I played around with this concept a little and tried out a few different styles - and the results were surprising, even for me!
Just putting my stilettos on immediately changed my posture and my body language - they made me feel like a “real woman”. But easing into the “role” and having fun stretching my usual limits made me feel really good about myself. It boosted my confidence and showed me what’s possible.
Step 5: Be yourself - but always be your BEST self.
If you’re online, you’re creating a personal brand whether you realise it or not. The questions is - is the image you’re creating working for you or against you?
It’s not only celebrities and politicians who can, or need to, create a winning “public image”. In the social media age, it’s possible for anybody to do, no matter how big or small our audience is.
Things like using your own face to represent your brand can seem uncomfortable at first, but it’s definitely the future for all of us. We are only at the beginning of a digital age where everything we do will be traceable and documented. The line between personal and professional life is already slowly being diminished.
We are constantly under the spotlight, and if you want to get a head start in your professional life or business, then you need to start paying attention to how you appear and what it is that you are projecting with your image.
I’m not saying you should change or alter your style/image to fit your business needs, but I’m definitely suggesting that you up your game. Stretch your comfort zone, experiment with things that you’ve never done before and keep both your online and offline image up to date.
Projecting what you really stand for and sending the right brand message will help you to attract your ideal clients and will put them at ease when it comes to making a decision.
If it’s clear that you haven’t invested in yourself, how can you expect anyone to invest in your services?
If you’d like to find out more about how your image and personal brand affects the way you feel about yourself and the way that others respond to you, book in with me for a Complimentary Image Evaluation. We’ll discuss how you can create your own unique and authentic style and how this will not only transform your wardrobe, but also quite possibly your life!
Veronika Nemeth is a Personal Branding & (Life)Style Coach, based in Milan, Italy. Her mission is to inspire and empower women to live their own truth and become the best version of themselves inside and outside.
She works with women who are ready to step into their power, break free of old limitations and create a life and an image that is true to them.