The covid-19 pandemic has us all in a flap! The professional landscape has changed instantly, and your online professional image is critical! Now billions of people, businesses and organisations are all doing big business with each other online!
Welcome to the world of video conferencing where online video apps are now your essential go-to business tool!
Once primarily used to connect you with remote teams and global clients, today it’s point critical for every woman in business to be ready to show up and shine ‘on camera’ every day.
Thanks to self-isolation, today it’s more important than ever before to have the necessary communication skills to protect your professional image, represent your brand and business and better be seen, be heard and be noticed without any real-life human-to-human contact!
Wow, if it wasn’t hard enough for women to have a voice and be heard in the ‘real’ world, right? Now we’re expected to show up and shine in the virtual world with few rules to guide us for professional behaviour.
So, here’s your new reality… it doesn’t matter if you’re a professional woman, CEO, employee, entrepreneur or a business owner you must master the art of building your personal brand, reputation, authority and presence in the virtual world…fast!
After all, you’re popping up on people’s screens all across the globe – live and in full colour!
It’s time to sharpen your pencil and discover how to leverage and maximise your personal brand and online professional image to rise above the virtual crowd and keep your leadership goals on track!
Having built my own thriving brand and online coaching business for women, largely by connecting with people across the globe via video conferencing and virtual meeting rooms, I understand how critical establishing a powerful online presence and professional image is to your developing your online reputation, brand and business.
In fact, …
If you’re not considering taking measures to become ‘brand’ savvy online, you risk damaging your professional image, diluting your personal brand value and losing the edge on your competitors.
Don’t be tricked into thinking that how you present your personal brand and consistent professional image aren’t absolutely critical for your continued career success and leadership development!
Hmmm, am I sounding a little harsh? Well, the flip side is this new age of influence has its advantages!
A more relaxed, authentic style of leadership and communication is emerging and being accepted by businesses, organisations and the corporate hierarchy.
This is YOUR opportunity to make a greater impact and craft an online professional image that empowers you with the energy and extra self-confidence to succeed as a leader in both real life and the virtual world!
So, before you even contemplate showing up for your next professional meeting online with your client, team or colleague in your active wear… Stop, breathe, pause… and please read on!
By adopting smart strategies and greater brand awareness, you will maximise your professional image and positively impact your career, so when the shock waves die down, your integrity, leadership and authority will be preserved with a consistent online brand presence, professional image and digital footprint.
Get the knack of the following personal branding tips and harness the power of perception to transform your online interactions into a positive opportunity for your personal brand professional development.
So, are you ready?
HERE ARE MY TOP 10 PERSONAL BRANDING TIPS TO ELEVATE YOUR PROFESSIONAL IMAGE ONLINE.
Look your best and radiate greater energy and presence!
1. Show Up And Shine! Dress To Empower And Elevate Your Self-Confidence!
First impressions count in real life and online is no different! Enter the virtual room with energy and presence!
“1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7” …
It takes just 7 seconds to make an impression and get it right. To make an instant connection, an impact, and a bond with the people you meet. But this is amplified to two tenths of a second when someone meets you online!
How’s the pressure?!
Your appearance, your body language and your energy all come into play and can be your magnet for opportunity or a lost moment.
So, what impression are you making when you join your virtual meeting? What energy and professional image are you projecting?
What exactly is the right professional image for the armchair executive? Is your activewear ok? Can you wear a blouse fresh out of the laundry basket, a T-shirt, jeans, no makeup?
People will make considerations temporarily while it’s new and novel but the image you project will still make a lasting impression. If you’re turning up constantly to important virtual meetings in your activewear or sweats – this image will be imprinted in people’s minds.
So, here’s the deal.
You should set the professional standard you wish to be remembered for and seize the opportunity to stand out positively.
2. Create An Online Brand Persona.
Do you have a brand style that is quintessentially you and recognizable?
Create an online persona to suit every ‘virtual’ occasion just as you would for normal face-to-face ‘real world’ consultations, conferences or business meetings; from casual ‘in-house’ discussions to a more important client or stakeholder appointment. Your virtual online persona will become one of your most valuable assets.
Although there are no ‘formal’ rules or guidelines, you must create your own style guide.
Curate a unique blend of self-expression and professional attire that gives hints about who you are, your leadership style and your professionalism.
- Select a few ‘go-to outfits’ from your wardrobe that looks great on camera, are easy to throw on for important scheduled meetings and has a pop of colour to stand out to help you feel both professional and empowered.
- Choose warm solid colours rather than patterns and it’s a good idea to keep jewellery simple as large statement pieces as they can be a little too distracting. (Unless it’s part of your signature look, then go-for-it!)
3. Be Consistent With Your Online And Offline Professional Image. (At least from the waist up!)
Select a good professional profile image of you and replace it with your social media image. If you are conducting business online – a consistent image with your other professional social media profile pictures will offer a consistent and ‘on brand’ preview.
Remember there is such a thing a ‘screenshot’ and often individuals are permitted to record your video chats and online meetings! So, if you don’t want your personal brand, public profile, professional image and online presence damaged by breaches of privacy – take control of your professional image at all times and avoid any nasty little surprises!
When someone googles your name, you want your best ‘digital footprint’ put forward!
4. Make-Up Or No Make-Up?
Relax…you don’t have to go full on glam! But keeping your live video chat persona consistent with your in-person professional image and professional profile picture is a must.
Brand consistency is no accident and your efforts will be rewarded with greater personal brand recognition.
My advice is to keep it fresh and light with a pop of lip colour! And check yourself on your monitor looking into your camera before you ‘show up’ live.
Again, consistency is key to presenting a high-performance personal brand presence. If you wear make-up to the office or to meet clients, then wear make-up when you chat from your home office too!
We can look quite different when we are make-up free. So, if you want to build a credible and recognizable personal brand and professional image, then you must be recognizable!
5. Choose A Professional Backdrop To Elevate Your Brand And Presence In A Meeting.
It doesn’t matter if you are streaming live from your office or lounge room, check your environment and what people are seeing in the monitor behind you!
Your environment reflects your brand and people perceptions of you. Thanks to video chats, we have an entirely new way to assume someone’s entire personality and level of professionalism.
Video chats provide a window to your world, so be careful what you are inviting people into! You may not realise it, but a cluttered office or workspace can speak a thousand words and say a lot about you!
- Hide unwanted mess or clutter. Prevent yourself from holding your meetings in front of messy shelves or cluttered desks! This can be a poor reflection of your mindset, leadership style or work ethic.
- Zoom video conferencing has a selection of backgrounds you can choose from if you are stuck for an appropriate professional backdrop. (Oh an I might just mention here….if you want to be perceived as a leader or authority, please don’t do your social media video or video chats in your car with your sunglasses on!)
6. Find The Most Flattering Lighting.
Choose your lighting wisely. The best and most flattering lighting is when you are looking directly into soft, diffused natural lighting like a window.
- Avoid downlights directly overhead, from the side or behind you as this causes unflattering shadows or troublesome backlighting.
- If your office doesn’t provide natural lighting, investing in an additional light source for your video conferences will help you look your best. There is also soft filter in apps such as zoom to help lessen the harshness of unflattering lights!
7. Look Into The Camera Lens And Choose The Best Camera Angle
The closer you are to the screen, the clearer you will appear on camera and the better your eye contact. Look into the camera so you engage and connect just as you would in a real-life meeting. Remember not to crop yourself too close to the camera. You want to appear as more than just a ‘head and shoulders’ in frame and have people benefit from seeing your natural hand gestures.
This will also help you to connect in a more authentic way.
Avoid positioning your camera too low so it is looking up at you from below! This is the worst camera angle for you, as it will show off unwanted wrinkles, double chins or worse …up your nostrils! So feel free to use props under your laptop (if you’re using one) to give you more height so your camera is at eye level.
8. Promote Brand You!
If you are an entrepreneur, small business owner or want to position yourself as a leader in your niche market, consider displaying subtle product placement, signage, relevant industry books, pull up banners or other brand placement in the background to reinforce your visual brand, profession, interests, leadership and professional image.
This is a brilliant way to promote your personal brand and business without saying a word.
9. “Houston, We Have A Problem!” Pre-Test Your Equipment, Connection And Set Up!
Avoid professional embarrassment by preparing and pre-testing your audio and camera settings in advance of joining a meeting!
There is nothing worse than hosting or joining a meeting at the scheduled time, only to have to wait for the other person to figure out how to activate their microphone or video camera.
This makes you look ‘techno challenged’! It’s also hugely impolite and distracting to the other meeting participant/s who are investing their time with you!
Logon early to pre-test your mic and camera and resolve any technical issues, to join the business meeting or conference on time and with confidence!
10. Don’t Cover Your Camera During Meetings.
Privacy is an issue. I get it. But please turn your camera on during video calls if you have one!
I recently engaged the services of another professional from interstate who refused to turn on her camera during video calls. It was not only distracting, but I instantly felt like she was hiding something, and it made me questioned her experience and professionalism. It made me feel uncomfortable and I felt I was giving more than I was receiving.
It is a big lesson in the power of perception! I felt let down as I didn’t connect on a level that I felt I could really get to know, like and trust her.