Part 1: Your Brand
You walk into the room. Your palms are sweaty. You tug on the back of your shirt, hoping it’s not bunching up. The butterflies are fluttering through your stomach. This could be it. You’ve landed the interview. Now, your nerves are shot, and you feel awkward in the suit you’re wearing. You know, the one you bought four years ago for Uncle John’s wedding, that you haven’t worn since. You walk up to the front desk and say: “Hi, I’m here for my interview…?”.
Whether you like it or not, whether it is right or not, you’ve already created your lasting first impression. This month, we had the privilege to speak with Lazina McKenzie for our monthly Advice from Leaders blog, and we learned that ‘what to wear to an interview’ goes far beyond the clothes you pick out the night before.
Lazina started her career in management consulting. One day, while standing in the elevator, she watched a lady tugging at her clothes and looking at herself in the reflection. Lazina could see the woman was uncomfortable, and not very confident. Lazina thought to herself: “That can’t set you up well for the day”. She wished she had a card she could have given the lady so she could provide her with some help. Not long after, Lazina quit her job to start L Squared Style, an Edmonton based style consulting company, aimed at empowering people and inspiring confidence.
The concept of dressing for success is rooted in behavioural science. Lazina explained that throughout her career she didn’t only care about style and clothing, she is more concerned with how a person’s attire affects them personally and professionally. In her research, Lazina found that looking good equates to feeling good, and when you feel good you are more confident. This confidence permeates through your work and leads to higher performance and increased productivity. Looking good, according to Lazina does not only involve the clothes you wear. So, if you are looking for your next professional challenge, whether it is a new job or a promotion, start with understanding how others perceive you to start building your personal brand.
How do you build a personal brand? Lazina points out, “you already have one”. Whether you have consciously tried to do it or not. Your brand comes across in your behaviour, your posture, your speech and your gestures. It is how you represent yourself to those around you. As an example, Lazina suggests thinking about a few celebrities. You will have a different perception of Jennifer Lawrence, Lady Gaga, and Steve Jobs. While each of these celebrities have created a personal brand on purpose, you will have a different feeling or impression of each of them including who they are and what they value. The goal, then, is to create a personal brand that is reflective of who you really are. So how do you do this?
3 Steps to Build Your Brand
Identify your personal values
Take some time to reflect on who you are. What do you value? What do you believe in? These should guide your style and your behaviours. Lazina stresses that this is something all brands do. They are aware of what is important to them. If you think about Nike or Lululemon or WestJet, Lazina says, you can wear anything or take any type of transport, but why do you choose these brands? What does their brand say or represent? How do you feel when you use those brands? How do people feel when they meet you or spend time with you? Lazina suggests reflecting on what values guide who you are and understanding what that looks like to you.
Understand your motivators
Think about why you do what you do. Why you act the way you do. How you behave should be consistent says Lazina, because it should be driven from the same motivators. People should know what to expect regardless of where they meet you – at home or at work.
Do a 360
If you’re not sure where to start, ask. Lazina suggests asking friends, family or close colleagues for feedback. Be open to the responses, and don’t take them personally, these are stepping stones for you to build your brand and change how you are perceived. Think about how you would describe yourself, and how you want to be described and write down the key words that come to mind. Then, ask people you know how they would describe you, at your best, worst, and maybe their first impressions. Compare the descriptions you made, and the descriptions others gave you. If there are any gaps or major differences, these are the areas you can work on.
Next month we will post Part 2 of our interview with Lazina and share her tips on: How to have presence and what to wear to feel empowered. Don’t miss it!
How would you describe your brand in three words? How do you convey your brand?
Share with us in the comments below!