Tom O'Neil: Online vs offline personal branding

Making sure the real you is professional at all times, can pay dividends.
Making sure the real you is professional at all times, can pay dividends.

The authentic you

We all know those people... The ones who present a positive "brand" during working hours, then turn into a completely different person once they feel they are not in the professional spotlight.

Nothing shoots down a personal brand faster than double standards, arrogance or a sense of entitlement.

Many of us are used to crafting a strong online brand through social media and our online presence through portals such as LinkedIn. However is your message consistent with how you live "off-line"?

Living a lie

A friend of mine was, 20 years ago, a junior Customer Service Consultant at a retail store in the city. Regularly a well-known corporate training professional came into the store and was rude and arrogant. My friend was blown away that a person who was so respected in their field, could treat him consistently in such an unprofessional way.

Two decades later, my friend is now a senior sales leader in a national media company, and would be highly influential in generating this corporate trainer tens of thousands of dollars of work annually, however due to their earlier interaction, this will never happen.

Interesting that a few abrupt conversations that took place in 1996, is costing this person potential income today.

Be nice on public transport

Another great example of poor off-line branding was an experience UK-based recruiter Matt Buckland had recently. Standing to one side to let a person get by when his train had reached the station, he inadvertently and temporarily blocked someone else from getting off. This person then responded by swearing at him and shoving past, almost knocking him over.

However later in the day, guessed who showed up for their interview with Matt? You can guess the rest.

100 per cent authenticity

The key to a successful off-line brand is consistent authenticity. Understanding that we are "on show" almost as much in our private lives, as we are in our professional lives, helps us to realise the importance of developing a professional and sustainable personal brand over the long term.

I think it would be fair to say that most people in New Zealand know each other by two to three degrees of separation. The New Zealand business environment is too small to damage your brand and long-term income potential by being ill-disciplined, arrogant or rude whenever you feel like it. How you treat others when you think it doesn't matter, is probably when it matters most.

Get a copy of Tom O'Neil's Personal Branding Continuum by emailing him at tom@tomoneil.com. Contact Tom to speak at your next event www.TomONeil.com & www.CV.CO.NZ

- NZ Herald

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