In my seminars, I am fond of discussing the importance of perception. You could be the smartest, most talented individual your organization has ever hired, but if people don’t like you or value what you have to offer, you’re dead in the water.
Fortunately, it is relatively easy to project a positive image. When you meet people in person, make sure you have the basics down: nice appearance, eye contact, smile, good handshake, and reasonably articulate verbal communication. Online, establish a consistent personal brand across all your platforms that portrays you as a can-do, dynamic, and successful individual.
If You Don't Tell Them, No One Else Will
Trumpeting your accomplishments so that everyone knows the results of which you are capable is also essential to an ongoing, strong persona. But equally important is your ability to take a small achievement and make it seem bigger. Here are two examples from my own career.
My first book, They Don’t Teach Corporate in College, has sold more than 50,000 English-language copies (it is also published in other languages). This means that the book has sold more than 99 percent of nonfiction titles published. In other words, it’s a bestseller. However, They Don’t Teach Corporate in College is not a New York Times bestseller because it didn't sell a ton of copies in its first week. When I talk about my accomplishments, I don’t get to say I have a New York Times bestselling book, but I DO get to say I have a bestselling book. And not many people understand the distinction. Most clients see the word “bestseller” and stop there. They are impressed, which is what I want and need.
More recently, the American Management Association kindly named me as one of their Top 50 Leaders for 2015. The AMA went on to institute a contest in which they would select the Top 30 through reader votes. As soon as I saw the Top 50 mention, I didn’t care about being voted into the Top 30. After all, what’s the difference between Top 30 and Top 50? I can still say that a prestigious organization like the AMA listed me as a Top Leader.
Be Creative About What You Have to Offer
My point is that to be an effective self-promoter, you have to grab hold of the tidbits of your career that sound remarkable, even if just on the surface. Let’s say that when you were in your teens, you accompanied your mother on business trips all over the world, occasionally tagging along to her conferences and meetings. From this experience, you can easily claim to have global competence, or an understanding of how business is done in different cultures.
Global competence is a rare skill for American professionals, and it’s even rarer if you are young. Reading about your journeys attending business meetings across the globe, many might believe that your own jobs (rather than mom’s) took you there. You haven’t lied – you've simply phrased your experience in a way that makes people stand up and take notice.
Don't Forget About Tone
Communicating your results with confidence and conviction in an interview or presentation situation is also critical. Self-help guru Dale Carnegie once said that the person who can speak acceptably is given credit for far more ability than he may actually possess. In other words, if you look and act like you know what you’re talking about, people will think that you do, regardless of the reality.
Remember, in most scenarios where you must make an impression on someone, you won’t have to provide all the details. The person will quickly form an opinion of you and move on. If they hear or read something that amazes them during their first encounter with you, you will likely reap the benefits forever.
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