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How many times have you found yourself walking through a store, scanning hundreds of items a minute, disregarding most of them but occasionally stopping to touch something or pick it up to get a closer look? Now picture that same store – a supermarket, department store, warehouse or club store – and replace the sea of products with people. You heard me. Imagine every box, can, pair of pants, video, book, and bag of candy replaced with a person just like you. Visualize thousands of them…maybe more…maybe a million in any given store. Now, do that visual walk through again. Would you notice you?
With a billion young people entering the world of work in the next 10 years, let’s be honest, most of us look a heck of a lot alike. While we’re all certainly different and special in our own ways, at first glance we blend into the sea of hundreds, sometimes thousands of others. When you’re looking for a job, a promotion, a great new client, or to be considered for a special opportunity, standing out (in a positive way) is essential. But what do most people see if they come in to take a closer look? How often are you putting your best foot forward in person, or online?
Now that the economy has taken a downturn and great opportunities are getting harder and harder to find, this is the perfect time to build (or refine) your professional brand. Odds are, when someone goes to look for you online or learn more about you, they come up with little if nothing, but all too often they discover juicy little photos, online posts or fun facts that you certainly never intended them to see!
Do yourself a favor and conduct a personal and professional brand audit of yourself. Analyze everything that the outside world can see or find out about you with a simple search online. Consider, from a totally objective perspective, what kind of impression you’re portraying, then clean it up. Then do the same with your physical appearance. Start to be more intentional, purposeful, and proactive about what kind of image you’re projecting. Don’t assume others are going to take the time to “get to know you”. Make it your responsibility to grab and hold their attention. Because just like being one in a sea of products on shelves, you too often have a matter of seconds to impress upon others that you’re worth a closer look.