Most people dwell on what’s wrong. It’s just a human tendency to discount the positives and accentuate the negatives, whether you’re discussing your childhood, your high school experience or the last job interview (where they failed to see your greatness).
The craziest negativity in personal branding is when you speak about yourself and your experiences. Not that you have to be Polly or Paul Positive all the time, that would actually be annoying and create some animosity among us regular people – but you do need to have a powerful way of discussing what you do, how you do it, the results you get, and why people come to you in the first place.
Then practice speaking positively about yourself and your experiences about 85% of the time you are with ANYONE: your parent, partner, friend, stranger on the bus, and neighbor. Allow yourself 15% of talk time to concede the difficulties in life and mention a dip, lull or mistake in your life: but don’t talk yourself down too long or too dramatically.
Here’s an example. As you may know, I am in the “fixing to start” a renovation of my home in Los Angeles. I say “fixing to start” because I spent a good bit of time in Dallas where this expression was introduced to me by the local citizens. Fixing to go about doing something is the “before I get going” time. It’s the collecting your things, or thinking about collecting your things, so you can get in the car and actually go somewhere.
So, I am in the collecting magazines, pinning Pinterest, asking friends and family for advice, and ideating on how to convert my mid Century modern into something that looks more like a spaceship with Japanese gardens. I know, it needs refinement, but after all I am just fixing at this stage
It so happens that I was standing outside the house ideating, when a neighbor lady came by with a tiny miniature pincher. I leaned down to kiss the dog who was terrified by the 200 pounds of Labrador retrievers standing in my garage. I mentioned that the labs were doing demolition (both are under a year and one-half) in service, I supposed, of my future renovation. The lady said, she was a general contractor, and totally understood where I was mentally, emotionally, physically and probably financially. What a great personal brand, I thought! She totally is focused on her audience (me) and she is letting me know what she does in a very friendly way.
Then, she gets negative and blows me away (in a bad way). “You have to watch out for architects. I’ve had four different architects on my last four jobs, and they each went more than 60% over budget. I couldn’t control them!” The neighbor lady lost the job. Right there. Because right before she went negative, I was thinking: “Wow, she lives in my neighborhood on this hill. She will understand the geology issues, the weather, the building codes, the …”
She ruined my fantasy and her next gig standing on the street while I was kissing her dog, even after she knew I was a qualified prospect.
When are you going negative? Do you get comfortable and too casual? Do you think you are only going after what you want, when you are in the office or on the phone with a referral source or prospect? Don’t you know that all around you are people who could be your next great gig and the job you have always wanted? Or the collaborator or investor you need to jumpstart your venture?
Stay positive. It’s the only way we can connect with the personal brand you want to promote – and we want to hire.
Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers. Read more at NanceRosenBlog. Twitter name: nancerosen