I used to think the term “brand” only applied to businesses or goods. However, with the surge of online platforms made for individual expression, the term “personal brand” has appeared to name the obligation we have to identify ourselves in this connected world. Of course our online presence is important, but as I first began networking and meeting new people in the Cincinnati area, I began thinking more about the personal brand I reflect when I’m making first impressions outside of cyberspace, in real life. I’m a sociable person by nature, but I wondered if there were any other steps I could take to make my personal brand clear in my daily interactions. (And it turned out there were, one of which involved where I pointed my belly button.)
First, to be clear on what I mean when I use the term personal brand, I’ve made a definition, (drumroll please:)
Personal brand is the consistent behaviors and messages an individual expresses that constitute his or her identity and create expectations from others that perceive these behaviors and messages.
I’d like people to perceive me as an approachable, confident, respectful and likeable person. In a way, I’m selling myself as a friend, helpful business contact and effective marketing account associate. So I picked up the book You Say More Than You Think by body language expert Janine Driver to learn more about using body language effectively. Here are three of my favorite tips:
Belly button rule: Studies have proven that belly button direction is the most important characteristic of reading a person’s intention. If you turn your navel to the door or away from someone, you’re subconsciously giving the cold shoulder and saying “I want outta here.” Turning your navel towards someone shows loyalty and interest.
Width of stance: The more space you use, the more confident you look. Therefore, a wider stance shows more confidence than a narrow stance.
Move to the right side: Every person has a side of their body where they prefer you to stand. Observe her behavior while you talk to her to see which side she prefers. Does she look away or hunch her shoulders when you’re on her left? Does she give you more eye contact and seem more relaxed when you’re on her right?
I can say through experience these tips are great for building rapport and enforcing a friendly personal brand. It’s also interesting to learn more about a person by reading their posture and gestures, too.