How Can Personal Branding Be Used Against Stereotype Threat?

The term stereotype threat refers to situations in which individuals are, or feel themselves to be, at risk of confirming negative stereotypes about their social group. It’s a well-documented phenomenon, particularly in academic and corporate environments. Studies show that these situations result in increased heart rate and decreased concentrations. Ironically, the fear of confirming the negative stereotype leads individuals to perform badly, thereby fulfilling the stereotype due to fear of fulfilling the stereotype.

There are subtle organizational mechanisms that create obstacles for women and people of color in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Personal and institutional bias favors people in the dominant group, giving them the benefit of the doubt, often without realizing it. At the same time, those who are not members of the dominant group have to repeatedly prove themselves. One of the most insidious factors pushing women and people of color out of professional leadership positions is the near constant anxiety caused by stereotype threat. 

Don’t let yourself be defined by other’s perceptions of you; there is a way to take control of your image. You can use your personal brand to help you overcome stereotype threat. Start by identifying the stereotypes that others are likely to impose on you upon first meeting. For Asian Americans, that might be “meek” or “passive.” For women, that might be “pushover” or “flaky.” Now, figure out how you can turn those unflattering, and untrue, assumptions about you into an image that is true and works for you. For example, women are often dismissed professionally because their compassion is seen as a weakness when, in fact, having good people skills, such as compassion, is an invaluable strength. Know your value and lean in

Rewire your thinking from a fixed identity mindset to a growth mindset. People often get stuck thinking that they must simply play the hand they’re dealt. Rather than thinking about your identity and your situation as the result of circumstance and genetics, understand that your potential is infinite. If you want to be successful, you have to believe that you can be. What does this success you look like? Picture her/him and work towards that image.

You must fine tune the resonance between your brand and your reputation. This means identifying the gap, if there is one, and deliberately working to change perceptions about you. If any of the negative assumptions about you are true, tackle them first and actively work to change them. If you are a woman who is submissive at work, work on being more vocal, taking risks, and asserting yourself.

Disprove the stereotypes by showing up and being a whole person and not a label. The best way to disprove stereotypes is to replace people’s ideas of you with the real thing, with your personal brand. Speak your mind, offer unique solutions, and boldly stake out a position that works for you. You are actively redefining yourself. Make sure that you do not repeat the ideas of others. Bring something new to the discussion and, slowly but surely, perceptions of you will adjust accordingly.  

How Personal Branding Can Help You Negotiate Your Salary or Next Promotion

In today’s job market, standing out in a crowd is particularly vital to your career. Establishing and enhancing your personal brand will help you develop a reputation for professionalism, integrity, and expertise that will open doors to getting hired, promoted, and negotiating your salary. If you work for a larger corporation and think that your personal brand is in some way redundant, think again. Due to technology and the growing distrust of corporations, personal brands have become easier to develop, nimbler, and more trusted than their corporate counterparts. Using your personal brand to further company related goals is an excellent way to find new clients, establish your reputation, and earn a promotion. Here are some ways that your personal brand can help you earn that promotion or negotiate your salary. 

Use your personal brand to find new clients and solidify relationships with existing clients. New clients will be drawn to the company by your personal brand which is more, well, personal than the corporate brand; its accessibility will bring in new clients who will have a better impression of the company overall as a result. If client relationships play any role at all in your position, then having a strong personal brand will improve them. And the loyalty of clients you already have a personal relationship with through your brand will increase as you advance to positions of greater responsibility within the company. A large network of loyal contacts radically increases your capacity to generate more business and reach even more clients. 

Having a large, loyal network of contacts gives you, and the company, access to an even larger collective of human resources. The relationships you cultivate through your personal brand will not be limited to clients or customers. If your company needs to find new manufacturing or an independent contractor, you can reach out to your web of contacts; this network is a valuable resource, especially if your new role involves managing external relationships.

Another way that your personal brand can be leveraged to negotiate a salary or earn a promotion is by increasing your company’s brand impact. If you personally have a network of several thousand followers, then every post from your company that you share through your personal network will expand their reach by several thousand. That expanded reach comes with an objective monetary value that you can leverage when negotiating your salary. 

And don’t forget, your personal brand can be used to establish a competitive baseline. The potential loss of the resources, contacts, and expertise associated with your personal brand is a very real factor in your value to the company. Though you should not use this point directly when in negotiation with employers, as it could be perceived as a threat. Let the strength of your brand speak for itself. Employers know that if you decide to leave your current company and migrate to one of the company’s competitors, your personal brand will go with you.  

How Your Image and Style Can Impact Success

Your personal brand and your personal style are indelibly connected in the minds of your clients and colleagues. If you are an entrepreneur or executive at the helm of a business in the corporate or nonprofit sector, personal branding can afford you some measure of portability by distinguishing yourself from the larger company image. Bear in mind the fact that every brand, including yours, has a package. Your packaging consists of clothing, accessories, grooming, and hairstyle choices and it is communicating to those around you, whether you want it to or not. It should go without saying, but your image and style can have a resounding impact on your professional success. As you cultivate your brand, make sure that your personal style is coherent, professional, and purposeful. 

Adopt your own personal dress code and follow it every day, whether or not it’s a “workday.” Neglecting your personal appearance communicates self-doubt. Put some thought into your appearance because others are forming opinions based on it, even people you run into at the grocery store or the gym, and those impressions stick. Find clothing, accessories, and a hairstyle that compliments your unique strengths and ethos. Create a unique “look” that really works for you.

There is a verifiable psychological correlation between clothing and confidence. In 2014, the car manufacturer Kia conducted a survey to ascertain what makes people feel confident. They found that, for women, high heels, quality perfume, and a slinky black dress made the top ten list. For men, it was a new suit, fresh shave, and aftershave with a nice smell. Finding the right clothing and accessories doesn’t just communicate competence and confidence to the outside world; it communicates this perception to you. Dressing sharp raises self-esteem, boosts confidence, and can propel you in the workplace. There’s a reason people say if you want a promotion, dress like the boss.      

If you are a little unsure of how to proceed, here are some guidelines to bear in mind. Your accessories should be coordinated with the rest of your outfit. To capture the attention of others in a good way, limit your accessories to one bold item per outfit. For women, this might be a brightly colored scarf. For men, perhaps a red tie. You don’t want your appearance to be confusing or overwhelming. Clothing should, of course, be clean, ironed, and fitted. Go through your closet and remove old, tattered, and outdated items. Replace those items slowly and thoughtfully with items that express who you are today and how you want to be perceived.

Take particular care with personal grooming, choosing a hairstyle that matches your look. Remember, it can always change as you evolve professionally and personally. Don’t neglect proper skin care and manicured nails. It’s amazing what people can take in subconsciously about our appearance in the flash of a second. You want to communicate a certain level of pride in your appearance.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you still feel as though you need help managing your professional image and personal style contact an expert. Waller & Company can assist you in aligning your image with your professional aspirations. After we assess your personal style, we select key fashions that make you look more competitive, confident, and successful.

Global Trends in Personal Branding

The personal branding landscape is always changing. Nothing could inhibit your professional growth like posting tone-deaf self-promotional content online. So, as you carefully grow and curate your persona, check in regularly to make sure you are keeping up with global trends that could impact your career success. The digital bar is raising in 2017; step it up a notch in the multimedia department, keep it socially savvy, and don’t be afraid to take the wheel.  

A picture is worth a thousand words and the undeniable success of image-based social media platforms means that billions of these visual “words” are being posted every second. Text is rapidly being replaced by images in the form of photos, videos, and gifs. Your brand could similarly benefit from a glossy visual upgrade. In 2017, it’s expected that you provide a rich graphic experience for your brand’s online community by incorporating multimedia into your digital communications. A good way to start is by incorporating Instagram into your social media roster. Instagram is currently the leading picture platform. According to eMarketer, in the United States, 51.8% of social network users will be using Instagram in 2017. As of now, 89.4 million Americans access Instagram monthly. 

If you do nothing else to improve your image, at least remove that profile picture of yourself on vacation with your friend mostly cropped out. If you have been waiting for the right time to upgrade your headshot, now, 2017, is that time. In a market that is increasingly virtual, your headshot is the humanizing calling card that you leave on the doorstep of every person in your network. It’s the face that goes with your name. It’s what makes you a real, engaging person that clients and colleagues can connect with online. And the bar is definitely getting higher all the time. It isn’t enough to have one mediocre headshot. You are on your company website. Maybe you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, or your own blog. As a career-minded professional, it is essential that you have a portfolio of several high-quality images that show the authentic you with which your network can engage on a daily basis.   

And engaging on a daily basis is key; 2017 is the year of the socially savvy employee. In 2010, roughly half of companies blocked access to social media. Every year sees on average a 10% drop in companies blocking social media access for employees. Progressive organizations know that individual employees can reach roughly 10 times more people with their personal brands than the company can with its corporate brand. 

Leading the pack for professional networking is LinkedIn which continues to expand as the standard for career management. The professional development platform has been enhancing its customization options and the changes contribute to the platform’s value as a career management tool. You can now incorporate multimedia content in your profile, customize the appearance and background, and rearrange sections of text.   

2017 is the year to claim your virtual turf, engage your community with multimedia and improved visuals, and take control of your career. Gone are the days of being a corporate drone. This is the age of employees as free agents. Take responsibility for building new skills, advancing your own career and, yes, keeping up with emerging trends.  


How to Brand Yourself as a Thought Leader in Your Organization

A thought leader is a person who generates new ideas and drives innovation in a given industry. Thought leaders are objectively valuable human resource commodities for any organization, well-respected, charismatic, and revered by customers and peers within the industry. Becoming a thought leader is a legitimately desirable goal for any professional. But you cannot simply wish it to make it so. To position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, you must navigate a branding process to authentically bring yourself to that level. In short, you need to engage in an ongoing series of personal branding strategies, re-define your skill sets, and dramatically and continually expand your professional network. In addition to all of that, you must constantly generate new ideas and improve your name recognition both in and out of your target industry.