(as it appeared in ColoradoBiz Magazine)
By Lida Citroën
Oh, those awkward moments: You meet someone at a networking event and they soon share the horror story of a mole gone awry… or their son’s recent arrest for MIP while at prom… or their last job, which ended in a grand jury investigation. What happened to boundaries? What happened to not sharing “too much information” or “TMI”?
As we network, promote and market ourselves to prospective employers, clients, business partners and contacts, it is too easy to let our guard down and share information which not only makes the other person uncomfortable (I really did not want to know about that mole on your back) and can easily create the wrong impression about you (are you a bad parent because your son disrespects the law?)
Personal branding is the practice of building trust by creating and managing your reputation with intention and focus. As you build your visibility and your network, the perceptions other people have of you can directly impact the opportunities they assign you. As employers, clients and prospective business partners interact with you (in person and online) they are judging you based on what you say, how you act and how you look. Unfair? Somewhat. Real? Yes.
Consider how these bits of “TMI” can be misinterpreted:
– “My boyfriend left me…” READ: “I have a disruptive home life. I may not be able to function or focus on the job or on your project”
– “I am so stressed out right now!” READ: “I have no time or energy to give you the quality work you are considering paying me for…”
– “Wow! I have so many new clients!” READ: same as above
– “I really need the money from this job…” READ: “I will give you what I can, until a better offer with more money comes along…”
– “My last boss really sucked. Your company sounds so much better!” READ: “I will likely say mean things about your company someday.”
– “I wouldn’t say I ever ‘stole’ from an employer… unless you count paperclips, Post-It Notes and a few company ideas! Ha ha” READ: “I cannot be trusted. Ever.”
– “I live for weekends!” READ: “My focus is on Friday, not my work.”
In our goal to build relationships with our key audiences, to let them get to know us on a personal level so they can relate to us, we often cross the line. These are just a few examples of things we might say that seem innocent and personal, but can send a definite red flag to our audiences.
From your behavior, to your verbal communications, to your online networking, pay attention to how you come across to others. Could your expressions send the wrong message? Is your image consistent with your value proposition? Are you receiving feedback that indicates you have to clean up your act?
Beginning today, become more intentional and thoughtful about what you say and how you say it. See if your message becomes more clear and focused. And limit the TMI – if not for you, then for the rest of us.