In this second article we look at communicating your Personal Brand. The way you conduct yourself, the way you communicate with others and the extent to which you believe in yourself will influence how others perceive you. Perception is generally sub-conscious and is based on what you project. As with everything else in life you have choices and you can choose what you want to project visually, verbally and non-verbally depending on the personal brand you want to create.
Let’s take some practical examples. These days when I ask people if they have done something the response I often get is ‘Yes, I sent an email’. Ask yourself how good are you at written communication? Are you able to write clearly, succinctly and unambiguously, or do you waffle, use acronyms, colloquialisms? What would a recipient of perceive from your written communication, what would it say about your personal brand. Do you talk to your colleagues face to face when you need something, or are you the faceless person behind an email? Why would it be better to meet face to face with someone? Well quite simply communication is more than words. People are constantly giving away free clues as to how they are processing what you are saying. Their eye contact, facial expression, posture, breathing and skin colouring can often say more than words. You will be able to see how they are responding to your message and you can adjust your communication accordingly. Remember the way you communicate will influence how your personal brand is perceived.
Next time you are in a meeting observe the following: Eye contact – the amount of eye contact will signal whether someone is listening to you and engaged with you. How do people use their eyes to communicate? Looking away, looking down, rolling their eyes, staring, looking distant are all forms of communication, what are they telling you? Facial expression – look for smiles, frowns, sulking, eyes screwed up, eye brows raised, nose wrinkled, pursed lips, grinding teeth. Posture – is it open, relaxed and engaged or closed, tense and defensive. What about proximity have they positioned themselves close to you or are they keeping a safe distance. Is their skin colouring and flushing, is their breathing relaxed and slow or quick and short? Look at how these factors combine with their voice to give you a real feel for how they are processing. Speaking quickly and raising your voice is either a sign that you are excited and passionate about something or that you are angry and frustrated. By observing and perfecting your skills in reading people’s body language you will improve your communication skills.
How is your Personal Brand influenced by your communication skills?
If you can’t meet face to face to face with someone then the next best thing is to speak to them on the telephone because although you can’t see them you can hear them. Here are some tips for effective telephone conversations that will improve your personal brand:
- Plan your call, why are you calling, what is the outcome you want? Decide on your primary objective and ideally have a secondary or fallback objective.
- If it is someone you don’t know plan your opening lines. Who are you, why are you calling and what do you want from them.
- As with all communication be prepared to tell them ‘what is the benefit to them’.
- Listen to what they are saying and take notes.
- Listen to their tone of voice and changes in voice pace, pitch and tone, , what do you perceive from it?
- Listen for pauses. Don’t be afraid of silence, give people time to think.
- Listen for: hesitation, sighs, frustration, humour.
- Always re-cap on the conversation and confirm next steps e.g. another call, a letter, a contract, an email.
If a meeting or phone conversation are not possible then send an email. Here’s some guidelines for sending emails:
- Generally the less you send, the less you will receive.
- Only copy people if they really need to know, not to cover your backside.
- Ensure it is spelt correctly and is grammatically correct (these things still matter).
- Send data and information e.g. reports, graphs, charts as attachments.
- Keep it simple and professional.
- Never send emails in anger.
- Never write anything down that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
- Don’t hide behind email, you are missing out on so much.
- If you want to save time remember that a trained typist types at 60 words per minute and we talk at approximately 120 words per minute.
Having observed how others communicate you will become a lot more conscious of what you are projecting. Think about the way you conduct yourself: when you meet someone, in small meetings, in large meetings, when presenting or even in an interview situation. What does your message say to someone about your personal brand? communication skill do you need improve?