Who Do You Think You Are?

In business, we all need to tune in to what people say about us.

Whether we are in the beginning of our professional careers or have been at it for many years, we are all in a constant state of building our professional reputations. Savvy, career-minded people are vigilant about how they portray themselves in the business world. This is often called building your own personal brand.

Adii Pienaar is the author of Branding, a Practical Guide to Content Strategy and Branding for Business. In his book, he talks about simple ways in which you can take a process-driven approach toward building up your professional identity. One of the quotes from the book that stuck in my head was, “Anything you do is everything you do.” This means that in business, all of your activities impact how you are viewed in the workplace. Both your personal and professional actions reflect on how you are perceived by your colleagues, superiors, and your industry as a whole.

I often wonder if we had this thought in the front of our minds, if we’d think twice about posting that Facebook picture or tweeting that off-color comment.

What many of us fail to realize is that our actions speak louder than words. Even more, we’re often guilty of misinterpreting how our actions are be received by the professional community. Which leads to this revelation — In business; we all need to tune in to what people say about us, not just what we’re saying about ourselves.

Too often, we think we are projecting the right image, when we may be off the mark. It’s only through listening to others and gauging their responses to our actions that we will gain a deeper understanding of our reputation. On a personal level, we’re always encouraged to not worry about what other people think. But in business, that attitude is counter-productive and can often mean the death of a career. Fair or not, in the professional world, perception is reality.

If you’re not acutely aware of how others view your skills, competencies and business acumen, you risk fooling yourself into career oblivion.

So, as you move forward in your career, you should always be conscious of the image that you’re projecting, as well as heightening your awareness to the reactions of those around you. The key to career success comes through aligning what actions you take to progress with how those actions are perceived.

When those two things align, good stuff happens. When they don’t, you may find your career in a tailspin.

And no one wants to crash and burn.