What a Picture Tells Us About Your Personal Brand
As I’ve planned for 2018, I’ve toyed with the idea of inviting guest writers to the blog. While I love writing my weekly blog, I also enjoy the insights from many of the clients I work with. I inadvertently end up discussing blog topics suitable for them to write about on their own blogs or via their own LinkedIn profile and, in many cases, am engaged to help them brainstorm blog topics and wordsmith their drafts.
One of these clients is Louise Weigall from Style with Substance. Louise is a stylist, amongst other things, and was the person I asked to style me for my branding photo shoot with Fi Mims earlier this year. Importantly, I didn’t know Louise when I gave her my brief on how I wanted to approach the photo shoot. It mattered to me that I was styled by someone who did not try to get inside my head.
I work with a number of fabulous stylists (as clients and referrers) and asking them just felt too close to home.
Since working with Louise on my own wardrobe, I’ve also had the privilege of being her guide for both LinkedIn and her career journey.
Personal Branding Series with Louise
Personal Branding is an important tool once you’ve thought about who you are, what you want to be known for and who you are trying to influence.
And working this out takes time.
I’ve invited Louise to share her insights from time to time here on the blog to talk about personal branding.
I’m intrigued by Louise’s perspective and her story. She thinks deeply about what she will do before she takes action. This can in fact slow her down and so I am hoping the opportunity to share her insights here will create an accountability for her that will help keep her momentum going and also add value to you as you consider your own journey with personal branding.
My brief to her has a wide scope, as it is my hope that this guest writing opportunity will be a key step in helping her find her voice and tell her story. In a recent consultation I set her the challenge of thinking far beyond her current form (in terms of what she is doing). I can see she’s already had these thoughts. This is so often the case, and one of the reasons I love what I do. We are all capable of great things. We just need to get out of our own way, put a line in the sand, say our thoughts out aloud and reach for the stars. This is easier said than done. And it takes time.
Seven years into my own business I feel like I am only just stepping into a space where I am more powerfully tapping into my strengths and the opportunities I see before me. Rome was not built in a day and I’m learning the journey is in fact my home.
So here it is . . . Louise’s first in this personal branding series. I was given permission by Louise to wordsmith her words, and apart from changing the &s to ands, I decided my introduction was all that today’s insights required. I’d like you to enjoy coming on the journey as Louise steps into her power and shares her valuable perspective. In her own words.
How I learnt to embrace Personal Branding
‘We are moving into an era where personal expression is going to trump the desire to create a corporate identity. It’s a huge power shift”. And it’s already begun.
Professor Susan Scafidi. (NY Times article 2016, “The end of the office dress code”)
I really like this statement. I came across it earlier this year, and It’s been a key factor in helping me understand the relevance and context of the personal branding movement. It gives permission to put personality and human-ness into our work life.
Before I continue though, let me introduce myself. I’m Louise Weigall from Style with Substance.
I’m a business mentor and product sourcing consultant, as well as a personal stylist. This week I’m honoured to be a guest writer on the Think Bespoke blog, and I’m sharing my own learnings from just one photo and the impact it’s had on owning my personal brand.
Looking at photos of ourselves is not easy. It takes practice to detach from the critical voice that usually shows up. As a stylist, I’ve had to get comfortable with photos of myself for social media and marketing on a regular basis, in order to show my knowledge and experience with clothing and design. It can still feel odd, but it’s getting easier.
I’ll never forget the first selfie I put on Instagram about 2 years ago. To put some context around my relationship with social media, I had only started using Facebook 12 months earlier. In fact, just considering the word selfie was hard to accept. At first, I refused to include my face. The thought of it made me feel so exposed. But when I finally did show my face with an outfit, the connection (and enjoyment) was significantly higher than when I didn’t. And it has only continued to grow since.
Selfies are fine for some types of social media, but a business profile needs professional photos. After seeing Karen’s curious expression and raised eyebrows (with delight) upon seeing this photo, I knew it would make an interesting case study in the subject of personal brand. It’s not until you put yourself out there, that you’re forced to ask the questions about your own identity.
When I look at this photo, I do a double take and ask myself; is this really me?
As someone who sees themselves as an introvert/ ambivert personality type, there’s a tension I sit with when I look at this image. It’s an assertive and confident pose and I’m looking directly into the camera. It completely took me by surprise as I don’t identify as this person all of the time. It’s not to say she’s not there at all, it’s just an unfamiliar version of myself, and one that I’m still growing into.
What I see when I look at this photo is a more ‘extroverted’ me, perhaps even my alter-ego. What’s interesting is that I used this photo session to experiment with tapping into that alter-ego and I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I’ve shown myself it is possible.
In this instance, stepping outside my comfort zone felt exaggerated, but in the overall scheme of things, it’s not. It’s a great photo showing my confidence and helps me make a strong impression for the field I’m in. It helps me look the part.
Above all else, this photo gives me permission to own the alter-ego and be comfortable to draw on it when I need to. It’s helped change how I perceive myself.
It’s really interesting, as I see this in my clients on a regular basis too. So often what suits them is reflected in their wardrobe, they just haven’t been able to articulate it in a visual sense. Or they themselves haven’t made the connection with the theme that’s all there. It takes a fresh pair of eyes to draw out that personality and give permission for that identity to be embraced.
Putting aside my own take on this photo, there are other things at play here, such as expectations. I’m not a psychologist, but based on my research, the expectations we’ve come to learn through our education, societal norms or culture help us see the appropriateness of a thing, or person, or behaviour in any given context.
If what you see doesn’t match with your expectation of me you might be less inclined to trust me, without even realising or knowing why. Our senses are at play when we’re trying to make sense of a personality for the first time. We listen with our eyes as much as our ears and draw on our experiences of the outside world to come to educated guesses and conclusions about others.
Based on this experience, I’ve learnt that personal branding has the power to manage expectations and shape the opinions of others. But more importantly, it has the power to shape our own opinion of ourselves. Seeing a physical change is a strong reminder to help us feel the inner change that needs to happen to match the outside.