Living in Texas, my husband and I are huge football fans so naturally we love all things Dallas Cowboys and that includes watching “Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making The Team.” Now before you go rolling your eyes at our reality TV guilty pleasure, I want to share some serious personal branding lessons from this show that we can all learn from.
But first a quick question: Do you know what your current personal brand even says about you? If you can’t answer this question quickly and confidently, you are not currently in control of your brand, and that could be hurting your future opportunities whether you work in the corporate world or have a business of your own.
You may be saying to yourself right now, “But, I’m not a brand?!”, and I am here to tell you friend that nothing could not be further from the truth. If you have not been deliberate with building your personal brand, then what you have been doing is building a brand unaware of the impact you are not only making on other people, but your own reputation.
What exactly is a personal brand? It’s your energy, your vibe. It’s that first impression you give when someone lands on your Facebook account. It’s everything from your appearance to the way you conduct yourself in a meeting, to how you treat the people around you.
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, defines a personal brand as “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
What has intrigued me about watching young women pursue their dreams of becoming a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader is how many of these young women while talented and have worked very hard to make a team of elite few are so unaware of how much their personal lives plays a role in whether or not they will land a job for an NFL team.
Many of these young women are entering their final stages of making the cut; their dreams are just within reach when they are called into the Director’s office to explain their online activities. A simple search of their name has revealed explicit sexual photos, binge drinking on a college campus and public tweets that are distasteful and crude.
One by one they are each informed that they will not continue on as a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader despite passing all other requirements because as a national brand and franchise, the Dallas Cowboys have a reputation to uphold and they can’t risk a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader’s past tarnishing their own brand.
One by one they are dismissed and asked to clean out their lockers. One mistake. One moment of lapsed judgment stopped their dreams dead in their tracks. What a shame, right?
What does a simple Google search reveal about you and your personal brand? What do potential clients or employers find when they search for your name? Have you been passed over for opportunities and didn’t even realize it?
Here are three ways your personal brand could be sabotaging your future opportunities:
1. Online Persona
Are you constantly complaining online about politics and voicing your opinion in a negative way about world events? Are you getting smashed at parties and taking selfies to post online?
Someone landing on your social media will form an opinion of who you are just by looking at your first few social media posts. Are you condescending? Disrespectful? Have a harsh tone? Appear to lack good judgment in the company you keep?
While you should always be authentic and true to yourself, there is always a way to voice your views with respect and kindness without isolating everyone in your space, and there are lots of ways to have fun without it getting out of control and becoming a permanent part of your online brand.
Think about it: would a potential client or employer hire someone who is always ranting on their social media pages and seems to have a hard time controlling themselves in public? Hardly the type of person that looks or sounds attractive to hire or work with.
2. Personal Appearance
Do you show up for work or networking events neatly put together? You don’t need to wear the latest Prada fashion or look like a super model but being clean and tidy speaks volumes especially if you want to be paid what you are worth. When you value yourself, others will too. Do you follow and respect the dress code at work? Do you show up for meetings with clients on time, well rested and on your A-Game ready to contribute?
Think about it: is an employer more likely to promote an employee and a client more likely to re-hire or refer someone who is well put together, takes pride in their appearance and meets expectations?
3. Personal Interactions
How you treat others online and in private conversations is a critical piece to your personal brand. Are you respectful and helpful? Are you argumentative and defensive? Are you commenting on social media posts trying to drive your point home?
A simple screenshot of your comment or private message and it can be shared and posted thousands of times. Our words matter and they can leave a lasting online footprint and impression on people’s minds. They can strengthen our personal brands, or they can tear it down. When communicating online, through private message or text, it’s important to use discretion and discernment in how you react. The online world becomes a very small one very quickly.
Think about it: While I don’t condone these types of actions, there are people who will put others on public blast. Once something is online its hard or nearly impossible to remove it. The next time you want to react defensively to another person, take a step back and ask yourself if you would be okay with what you have to say going public for all the world to see. You may think twice and spare your brand from any negative backlash.
Guard the brand of you, for it’s the greatest asset you have. Your personal brand can work in your favor and bring incredible opportunities your way, or it can sabotage your dreams and hard work. Like so many young women who have been so close to fulfilling their dreams of becoming a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader, you could find yourself being turned down for a dream job or working with that dream client because a Google search led them to a moment of bad judgment.
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