Look Sharp, Be Savvy – Be a Better Version of You in 2017

We all want to be, and communicate, a better version of ourselves.

In fact, it’s one of the most common topics I deal with when someone is actively looking for a job – how to create a better face-to-face and online impression. The good news is that rarely is this about improving a skill set, but more so about improving the communication of a skill set that already exists.

Yet, for most finance leaders, defining what is essentially a multi-channel marketing and PR strategy for yourself, can be daunting. Don’t be put off, as there are some small, simple steps you can certainly take to becoming a ‘better version of you’ in 2017.

#1 Sharpen your visual image

A professional photo might not be in everyone’s budget, but it is recommended. A sharp looking image that reveals your value-set and portrays your ‘work’ presence goes miles towards creating the right first impression of someone clicking on to your LinkedIn profile. If it’s not in the budget, ask a photo-savvy friend, colleague or partner to take a picture of you in some plain, smart work attire against a white/grey background and keep going until you feel you have one with that professional edge. You can smile!

#2 Take your online presence seriously

No matter what your view is about the intrusion into our personal lives of social media, you’ve got to accept that if you post publicly, or let someone else post publicly, a picture of you looking rather worse for wear, out on the tiles, this might not be the best image to support your brand for 2017. Close down your privacy settings as much as you can, and take any online ‘versions’ of you – even personal – seriously. Always be conscious of who might be looking online for you – customers, bosses, reports?

#3 Get your grammar straight

I can’t tell you how much a badly written email, CV or Linkedin profile can destroy a first impression. Just as if you were preparing a business case, proof, proof and proof again anything that is a professional representation of yourself. What are the most common mistakes I see? Sloppy sentence and paragraph construction; spelling mistakes; ‘text’ language; creating plurals using an apostrophe, and incorrect their/they’re/there usage.

#4 Define your USP and create a kicking elevator pitch

We all know that you can’t just ‘sell’ yourself on your skills these days. You have to provide a value that differentiates yourself in a competitive market. For example, if you are an FC with 5 years’ experience in FMCG, what makes you different to one of your peers who has had a similar career progression to you? This isn’t an easy question, but it is one you need to think through with some clarity. Think about what others rely on you for, where you have been commended in the past, or where you have your most success in work. This point of difference is your defining strength, or USP – be clear on this, as this is your elevator pitch.

Above all, be conscious that often people’s first port of call is now to ‘google’ you. Search your name online routinely just to check all is as it should be. Although I advise caution to when it comes to sharing ‘personal’ activities on social media, don’t for one second think you must hide yourself away professionally; shine bright and be confident in your presence. Actively share links and mentions of things you are doing in your work life – that way when people do search for you – they’ll see positive messaging and an engaged, contemporary personal presence.

Good luck!

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