September, 2010


Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia takes soft skills seriously! The 2010 ‘Ignite’ Conference held at the Four Seasons Hotel on September 24, 2010 was dedicated to the development of soft skills which are critical to success in today’s workplace. Keynotes, workshops and case competitions at the conference were all designed to help understand and equip the students with the pertinent soft skills necessary for career success in the 21st century! Kudos to the organizing committee who did a fantastic job at bringing together industry leaders and ambitious Sauder students!

Teg Brar at UBC Career Conference, Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver

I had the pleasure of leading the ‘First Impression’ workshop at the UBC career conference and here I share 5 fundamental principles that play a significant role in influencing first impressions and building a remarkable personal brand. How you are perceived by people dictates your destiny!  Many times we come across smart but not so successful people! The thought nags us…this person has too much potential to be doing this! At the other end of the spectrum, some people leave us no choice but to wonder…how could you possibly get this job?

Give people a compelling reason to believe in YOU
In a noisy and crowded world, you must differentiate! What is so special about you? What makes you irresistible? What sets you apart from your competition? What do you do differently? Stand tall for something that is valued in your marketplace can create a powerful and long lasting impression on people! To compare how YOU see yourself and how others see YOU peek through the Johari Window.

Passion Shines
If you are doing something that you really care about, it shows! There is no doubt about it! When Gary Vaynerchuk talks passion, we know he is passionate about it! I know too many people doing meaningless work that they don’t care about! You will really have to work hard to impress someone about your work if you don’t care about it in the first place! $$/stability always comes up, I suggest you pursue something that you are passionate about 15 minutes a day, do it for yourself!

Have a Personal Brand Mindset
Because brands are perceived far more valuable and superior in quality than generics! Otherwise why would do we pay so much more for an Ipod than an MP3 player while both serve the same purpose? Why does Coke win despite people preferring Pepsi in blind tests? Think of yourself as a product that delivers value (identify what value) to the marketplace. YOU answer to yourself! How are you different than your competitors? What can you do to enhance your brand experience? Ze Frank expresses brand ‘as an emotional aftertaste of a set of experiences’. What aftertaste do you leave when people interact with you?

Think Digital
Digital is the new real! Your first impression may be already formed even without you knowing it! Managing your online identity is a key step in creating a strong first impression! What first impression does the internet communicate when people do a search on you? Managing your personal brand online takes effort and commitment.

-Do an Image search for your name on google images

-Do an image search on Flickr

-Do a vanity check for your name on Google

-Do a search for your name on Twitter

-Set up Google Alerts for your name in Google. Anytime someone mentions your name in an online conversation or post, Google will alert you!

-Set up a Google profile

-Set up Blog (for free at Blogger, all you need is a google account.  Or you can set up a hosted blog such as the one that you are on right now.

-Set up a Linkedin profile. This is non negotiable as major companies in North America use Linked in as a primary source when recruiting candidates.

-Set up a Twitter profile. Twitter is a micro blogging platform which limits messages to 140 characters! It allows you to interact and share information with other members. Widely used by professionals.

-And oh yes Facebook! If you are on it, manage it! If not it’s time to get on…people might think you don’t exist! Employers love this site… Inappropriate photos and posts can severely impact impressions in a wink. If someone else posts something about you that you don’t like, have it removed or untagged immediately.   

Think Emotions
First impressions are emotionally charged! How can you create strong feelings in the minds of the people that perceive you? When we think of people very close to us, people that we have strong relationships with such as family, we are overcome with strong emotions! In order to create strong emotions in the minds of our desired market, we have to begin by creating strong relationships which is only possible through a deep understanding of the desires, likes, dislikes, needs and interests. A great example is President Obama who connects with the youth in America by playing basketball.

The above 5 principles will have you well on your way to creating powerful first impressions and a strong Personal Brand for career success.

By Teg Brar, Msc.

In today’s connected and transparent world, reputation, relationships and alliances are highly regarded! How you are perceived by others is a key factor in influencing stakeholder interest in your services. Personal Branding is the art of marketing yourself and creating positive impressions in the minds of other people in such an organic fashion that makes you irresistible! In a highly competitive global business environment, realizing your full potential means defining yourself and showcasing your talents, abilities and work!

The 3 pillars of Personal Branding…

1. Define yourself.
You have to give people a compelling reason to care about you. What accomplishment are you most proud of that makes you different from your competition? What is your unique selling proposition and what value do you deliver? The brand is in you! Before you can begin marketing your brand to others you have to know your beliefs, values and what you stand for.

2. Manage your digital footprint
The internet has become firmly embedded in our lives. The boundaries between digital and real are becoming more blurred by the day. There is no disputing the fact that your online persona has an impact on how you are perceived. People frequently conduct vanity checks or look up others before starting professional relationships. What does Google say about you? Similar to consumer reviews that influence purchase decisions, online identities have a significant impact on peoples’ impressions. Research conducted by Execunet & Career Builder indicates that recruiters did not hire between 35% & 51% of job candidates they checked out online! Never publish photos or content that you would not feel comfortable sharing with your family and business associates. If an improper image of you somehow does show appear online, politely ask the owner of the page to remove or un tag it. Pay close attention to privacy setting in social networks such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. Search your images at http://images.google.com and http://images.search.yahoo.com. Monitor your reputation and get notified each time your name is mentioned online by subscribing to an alert at http://www.google.com/alerts. Get acquainted with Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

3. Adapt a learning attitude
The fast evolving business environment demands that you adapt a learning mindset and keep yourself up to date with new developments in your area. Reading as much as you can is the best way to stay abreast. Online Blogs and Twitter are a great resource for latest developments and trends. Being relentlessly good at what you do is the foundation of your personal brand.
Teg Brar, MSc.