Here is part 2 of my blog post covering Brand Me, read part 1 here. What is Brand Me? It is the brand you represent. Like a company or a product, you are a brand, and your appearance, behaviour, skills, and actions all contribute to building a Brand Me. Whether you are starting a company, looking for a job, trying to sell something, or just keep a job, you want to make sure that Brand Me is strong, consistent, positive, and valuable. While it goes without saying that talent, skills, experience, and connections are very, very important in building Brand Me, today’s blog post is covering the little things – that are still very important.
1. Email address. I’ve lost count of the number of times a student (or someone else) has sent me an email from a ridiculous email address. If you apply for a job with the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org then there are two outcomes. The first (most likely) is that it goes straight into junk mail. The second is that your employer sees it, and deletes. A third option, which could happen in the case of both outcomes 1 or 2, is that the person you emailed gets spam for two months because you still have a hotmail. So, take note. Get a normal email address with your name or initials or something professional. Don’t put your year of birth in the address. And get a professional email address that does not get hacked and spam people for years (like Hotmail, Yahoo, or Live.)
2. Signature. Now that you’ve got a good email address, write yourself a nice signature that has your name, email address (sometimes the original sender’s details get lost in a forward) and possibly your phone number. Throw in your website, blog, and/or social media, too. Do it in a nice clean font with no photos or silly quotes.
3. Email language. SMS language is not email language. Remember to write proper sentences and no weird abbreviations or LOLs or whatever. But also remember that people like their emails short, this is not time to write an essay. So be concise and to the point and the person might actually read what you wrote. Do you know the email charter? If you don’t, then read it.
4. Phone Language. If you are nervous about making a cold call, then practice. I know it sounds dorky to do that, but once you practice things (out loud, they MUST be out loud) then you will be more comfortable. It is also good to have some notes written down, in case you are worried you might forget to say something important (I’ve done this when breaking up with someone on the phone – wanted to make sure I pointed out all his faults.) And lastly, don’t be a soft talker. I once worked with a PR company where my account manager was a soft talker and I could barely hear her on the phone. God knows how she managed to do her job.
5. Body language. I’m no expert at body language but I do know that basic things like sitting up straight, making eye contact, smiling, and not crossing your arms go a long way. I once watched a group presentation by some students where one had her head hung down during the whole presentation and was chewing on her sleeve. I almost failed them.
6. Handwriting. Keep it neat if you have to write something down.
7. Pen. Keep one handy. An eyeliner or broken Ikea pencil is not appropriate for taking notes during a meeting.
8. Notepad. And an old receipt from a bar is also not the place to write down pertinent information. Neither is your hand. Get a nice notepad and carry it around.
9. Online and social media presence. This is so so so SO important but I’m not going to address it in detail here as it needs more than a bullet point. So, to sum things up – have your privacy settings set up like Fort Knox and don’t put anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want your Grandma to see.
10. Font. I was always trying to arrange font/typeface classes for my students and they never materialized, which was a huge disappointment as it appears that choosing a font is very, very difficult. And there is no “one size fits all” solution to this – you need to know how to choose the appropriate font, and point size, for the situation you are in. That will depend on what you are writing, and to whom. The only rule I can suggest is never, ever use Comic Sans.
11. Written language. Another issue that is very difficult to address in a bullet point (and I am the last person to address it as I am far from being a perfect writer) but I just want to stress the importance of spell check and proofreading. It never hurts to have someone else look something over for you if you are concerned it isn’t written perfectly. Typos are sometimes forgivable, but mistakes (like fact checking) are not. When I have something really, really important to write, I get someone else to do it for me. A professional.
12. Reliability and Punctuality. I judge people on this, in fact, I’d be more likely to hire someone in Ugg boots who was reliable and punctual, than a well-dressed person who was always late. And this isn’t only about arriving to a meeting on time, it is about returning emails and phone calls promptly, too. This means responding promptly, and if you aren’t ready to respond, then let them know you have received the message and will attend to it shortly. If you are on holiday and you don’t want to look at any emails, then there is this wonderful thing called a vacation responder. USE IT.
13. Manners. You just can’t survive in this world without them. That said, being rude is not necessarily a lack of manner, but know who you can be rude to (people who have screwed something up and aren’t fixing it come to mind…) and who you can’t. If you aren’t sure, then just be polite.
14. Laptop. My friend James is the clean screen freak and every time I notice my computer screen is dirty, I think of him. In fact, I just saw him a few weeks ago and one of the first things he did was comment on the state of my computer screen (it wasn’t clean.) So wipe it down, and make sure your keyboard and mouse are clean. You may also want to make sure your desktop isn’t a huge mess and the screen saver isn’t a photo of you drinking Jack Daniels from the bottle. As far as cases go, check back on Friday – I found a great brand that can do personalized lap top cases so you can get that photo of you drinking Jack Daniels from the bottle, printed onto your laptop case! Just kidding.
15. Portfolio. You may not have a portfolio, you may only have a folder, or a set of sleeves, or a binder. But whatever it is, make sure it is professional and/or stylish. I have a personal hatred for stationary companies (WH Smith, Staples) that print their logos on binders or sleeves. Avoid those like the plague.