The Image You Project 2

Sometimes I really wonder what people are thinking. If they’re thinking at all. In case you weren’t aware, people look at what you do both inside and outside of work to determine just how trustworthy you are. Yes, that includes your MySpace and Facebook pages, blog posts, comments, “recreational” activity and other random stuff.

Why? Well, it’s pretty cheap (read: free), and it gives a lot more information about who you are (or who you want people to think you are) than a standard background check. Oh yeah, and it’s easy to find.

It gets worse the higher in leadership positions you go or the more public your image is. Ask Eliot Spitzer and Britney Spears.

Remember, your words and actions say as much, if not more, about the brand you represent as the brand itself. You become a spotlight for it. Which means one of two things:

  1. You can represent a brand that matches your behavior or
  2. You can modify your behavior to match the brand

Yes, have a personality. We are not robots or clones. That would be far too boring. But allow the image of your personality to support and enhance your brand, not destroy it. What may seem like harmless fun or a private matter really isn’t any longer. Especially if outside people looking in might not understand the context.

You also are subject to the halo effect. When you are part of a successful, respected brand, it boosts your own image. The flip side is true as well. Bad acts on the part of one or a few taint all those around them. This profile of Ronn Torossian is an unfortunate example (warning: this story is not for the faint of heart).

Is it fair? Well, yes. And no. Yes, because we willingly participate in these activities. No, because something that we did back in college, or that bender we had over the holidays, may come back to haunt us.

The solution is simple, in an easier-said-than-done kind of way:

  • Project your best possible image, with your unique personality, in public spaces
  • Keep things that should be kept private behind closed doors (and without a way to be archived online)

You are a brand unto yourself. Protect it with all your might.

add to :: Digg it :: Stumble It! ::


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