A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to present at the first meeting of the Victorian chapter of Women in Drinks. I spoke to these successful leaders (70 women and one token man) about personal brand and the role it plays in our workplaces and lives.
I always start these presentations with contrasting visuals. Asking attendees which accountant, lawyer or doctor they would choose based on what they saw. On this occasion, I shared two pictures of doctors and asked them which doctor they would choose. This wouldn’t have been unusual, until I added, “Especially if he was their gynaecologist?” Aside from the audible and somewhat pained cringing by our token man, the audience all agreed they would choose the handsome, confident doctor over the confused, less attractive doctor.
As entertaining as this moment was, it brought home an important truth, we all judge people on first impressions. We all look at superficial markers like appearance when making decisions. This will sound unfair, but because of this, women must work harder when presenting ourselves in the workplace. Unfair, yes, but unfortunately it is the truth.
We all make snap judgements based on appearance, it is just part of human nature. Women can be particularly harsh, towards themselves and towards each other. First impressions matter more than ever and having control of how people view you is critical to success in business, not just as a woman but for everyone. One statistic claims that a first impression is created in 7 seconds and it takes 20 more interactions to change that first impression. This means that online profiles and personal brand play a significant role in how we are viewed by our colleagues, peers and potential employees.
So, here are my takeaways from this event. These are important for everyone, not just women.
1. You will never be perfect.
Only female CEO’s have ever said to me that they won’t get their profile photos updated until they lose 5kgs. Seriously! Are there no fat male CEOs out there? Of course there are! Women however, can be more focused and have a much harder time overcoming this issue than a lot of men. Why does it matter? Profiles with professional photos are 14 times more likely to be clicked on.
2. Social media is dangerous.
What you post will be seen and no matter how harsh this might seem you will be judged for what you post. Drinking on the beach, partying on the weekend, dressing up in medieval costume and jousting on a Sunday… everyone will make a judgement. Often women are judged on a stricter scale then men, after all boys will be boys.
Our tip? Security, security, security. Make sure you have your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram security settings tight. Recruiters aren’t just looking at you on LinkedIn, if your security isn’t set they will see that photo of you from Friday night’s pie eating competition.
3. Acknowledging your achievements isn’t arrogance.
Your profile should highlight your achievements and successes throughout your career. This is a difficult thing to do, particularly for women who don’t want to sound boastful or arrogant. However, it is incredibly important. It is hard to write objectively about yourself, even for professional writers. So, if you can’t do it, get help.
4. Investing in you isn’t being selfish.
It can be hard to justify spending money or time on yourself, especially for women. There is always someone or something else making demands on our time and wallet. Our advice? Invest in making you your best self. Take time to think, time to recuperate, take time to learn. Don’t rely on others to provide a career path for you… You need to create your own.
5. Get over yourselves!
There will be people in the world who will not like you or approve of what you say and do. That’s ok. Get over it and focus on the ones who do! It is essential that to attract the best talent, sales and job opportunities you need a great profile. Put in the time, if you can’t, get help.
As I said at the beginning, having control of how people view you is critical to success in business. Your online brand can have an impact on your career, your hiring and your overall success. Human nature won’t change, but your brand can.
Want to find out more about Personal and Leadership Branding? Contact us and we will put you on the registration list for our next Leadership Branding Seminar.