Abraham Lincoln once said something that applies here: “Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.” The idea of constantly striving “to be worthy of recognition” captures the essence of creating positive personal impact.
As I point out in Success Tweets, I have found in my career success coach work that people who create positive personal impact have three things in common:
- People with positive personal impact develop and nurture their unique personal brands.
- People with positive personal impact are impeccable in their presentation of self.
- People with positive personal impact know and follow the basic rules of etiquette.
If you develop and nurture your unique personal brand, present yourself well and use the basic rules of etiquette consistently, you will become recognized as a person with positive personal impact. There are two keys here. First, work constantly and continually at creating positive personal impact and on building your personal brand. Second, realize that this won’t come overnight. You have to work at it. That’s the idea behind the first part of Mr. Lincoln’s quote – “don’t worry when you are not recognized.”
I’ll use myself as an example. I have been working on my personal brand, The Common Sense Guy, for over ten years. Yet, I never miss an opportunity to reinforce it. My business card says, “Bud Bilanich, The Common Sense Guy.” As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I tend to end most of my blog posts by saying something like, “The common sense point here is simple…” When I speak, I always make sure that my audiences know the career advice I am dispensing is based in common sense. When I complete on line forms, I always enter “The Common Sense Guy” for both my company and my title.
It’s the same when it comes to attire. When I pack for business trips, I pull out two or three pairs of dark charcoal gray slacks, a black or blue blazer, several white shirts and striped ties. I always wear white shirts and striped ties when I visit my clients. Often, they tell me that I don’t need to dress up as they are a business casual office. I always reply by saying, “I put on my tie today because I knew I would be seeing an important person – you.” This comment always gets a smile – and from what I can tell, people are flattered by it. It helps me create positive personal impact.
My white shirt and striped tie look has become so well-known among people whom I see regularly, that they are surprised when I deviate from it. A couple of months ago, I was getting dressed and noticed a favorite foulard patterned tie on my tie rack. I decided to be a little wild and crazy and wear it. Sure enough, one of my clients asked if I were changing my look – from striped to patterned ties. This little story illustrates the power of consistency. I had never discussed my preference for striped ties with this woman. However, at some level, she noticed my white shirt and striped tie presentation. It must have registered, or she would not have mentioned it when I deviated from my normal tie selection.
What is your personal brand? What do you do every day to reinforce it? What else can you do? If you want to learn more about personal branding, Dan Schawbel and William Arruda are the two best sources I know. Check out Dan’s personal branding blog, and William’s site. William was featured in the August 2010 issue of Money Magazine.
When it comes to etiquette, I have one simple piece of advice – do whatever it takes to make the people around you feel comfortable. I have an acquaintance who is an etiquette nut. She can quote you chapter and verse from Emily Post. Unfortunately, she is so correct in her behavior, and her expectations of others, that dining with her is an unpleasant experience. I am pretty well versed in dining etiquette; yet when I dine with this woman I spend way too much time worrying about the more esoteric dining etiquette rules. I spend so much time worrying about the rules that I never enjoy my meal. This is probably more my fault than hers, but she contributes to a general feeling of discomfort in these situations.
Polite people never call attention to social faux pas. In fact, they do just the opposite; they do whatever they can to avoid making other people feel uncomfortable. A few years ago, my niece graduated from college. Cathy and I were at a dinner in her honor. The man sitting to my left used my bread plate. Like a lot of guys, he didn’t know that his water glass was on the right, and his bread plate on the left. I said nothing and placed my roll on the edge of my plate. Cathy noticed, and whispered that I should be using my bread plate. I whispered back, “I would but Joe is using it and I didn’t want to embarrass him.”
The common sense point here is simple. Follow the common sense career advice in Tweet 64 in Success Tweets. “Build your personal brand. Do whatever it takes to make sure that people think of you in the way you want them to.” Heed Abraham Lincoln’s advice – strive to be worthy of recognition. I love this career advice. If you strive to be worthy of recognition, you’ll be doing the right things. If you strive merely to be recognized, you may take some short cuts and do damage to your personal brand. Be worthy of being recognized by developing and nurturing your personal brand; being impeccable in your appearance; and helping the people around you to feel comfortable in social situations. If you do just three things, you’ll create powerful positive personal impact and build a solid personal brand.