Personal branding: reputation, image, and attitude

Whether we realise it or not, we’re building our reputation and our personal brand through our every interaction. As you enter the working world, it’s important to develop an awareness of how you portray yourself.

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The way you dress, speak, and carry yourself, and the pictures and posts on your social media profiles all tell a story about you to both friends and strangers. But is it the kind of story you want to tell your future employers?


Manage your reputation  

Do a social media overhaul. Go through your Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter accounts and delete any inappropriate photos and posts. Employers often use social media to check out possible employees. Don’t let them see something you’d rather they didn’t. If it’s digital, it can and probably will be distributed beyond the first interaction, and you can’t separate the personal and professional in the online world.

Everything you put out there must give the same impression. Decide who you are and what image you want to project and portray it consistently. The best way to do this is to be authentic.  


Create your image

Ladies should buy a few basic skirts and pairs of slacks, and one or two jackets that you can jazz up with tops and accessories. Guys, on the other hand, ideally need one suit, two or three pairs of slacks, neutral shirts that go with everything and a jacket.

Invest in a good bag that can hold a laptop. It pays to have several shoe options, but keep them stylish, timeless and comfortable. Try to dress for the industry you’re entering.


Portray the right attitude

Also consider the interaction norms within South Africa’s working world. When you meet someone, make sure you stand up straight, look him or her in the eye, shake hands firmly and speak confidently. Show respect for them but also for yourself. 

Everyone’s personality has many aspects. Fitting in doesn’t mean you need to be false and hypocritical. It just means that you bring the grown-up, professional side of your personality to the workplace.  


Understand emotional intelligence  

Emotional intelligence, sometimes referred to as EQ, is how we behave and react in various situations. Understanding what EQ is and how you can improve yours will help you manage your overall image, reputation and attitude.

People with a high EQ can work in a team, are open to change, and bring out the best in others. They’re also strong enough to accept criticism.

The good news is that EQ is a skill that can be learned and improved. The basic building blocks are:  

  • Self-awareness: You can recognise your own emotions, understand your strengths and weaknesses, and have faith in yourself.
  • Self-management: You have emotional self-control, are adaptable, and take initiative and responsibility.
  • Social awareness: You show empathy, and awareness of how you are being perceived or understood.
  • Relationship management: This is the ability to motivate and influence others, to settle disputes and encourage change.

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