Remember that movie, Face Off, in which John Travolta and Nicholas Cage had each other’s faces transplanted onto the other’s head? It was confusing to watch one person acting like the other, instead of seeing them behave according to their characters’ own personalities.
The same thing happens when who you are in your personal life differs radically from who you are in your professional capacity. It’s understandable that there be a time and place for everything. We obviously don’t act the same way during a happy hour than we would at a business meeting, but if you show up as one thing during your front-facing engagements but are completely different from the actual real you, it will eventually affect your personal branding.
Whether by not generating any meaningful impact, or prematurely falling out of grace, it’s best to just keep check of who you are, and pay attention to how that might reflect on your image in business.
Perception Vs. Reality
Think about someone who’s known for their charitable contributions to society. Let’s use the late Princess Diana as an example.
She became known for hugging people living with HIV during a decade where it was taboo to do so. She spent time with victims of land mines. It was this image that gave her the nickname of Queen of People’s Hearts.
The worldwide perception was that she was genuinely altruistic. We didn’t see a “private” Diana vs. her public persona. Had it turned out that she lacked compassion, and that news became public knowledge after a leaked private conversation, her image would have been tarnished.
By the same token, if you’re doing the rounds within your field to market your business, how you act during your down time could have an impact on your efforts. Almost everyone these days has a smartphone and their own social media accounts. If you treat people with respect both on a personal and a professional level, no matter where you are or who you’re with, people will notice. At the same time, if you become belligerent at the slightest provocation, or are condescending towards others, people will also notice. Fundamentally, there has to be a synergy between your personal and your professional personas.
In this age of ubiquitous information, you can no longer bet on the safety net of anonymity. No matter where you are, you are always branding yourself. Who you really are will always shine through. Make sure you are sending the right message.