So, you’ve spent some time thinking about your personal brand. You’ve reflected on your core values, you are clear about your lifestyle preferences and have a pretty good handle on your personality. You have even sorted out your (genuine) deal breakers and you feel ready for dating action.
So what next?
It’s time to take your self awareness and internal brand and translate it for the outside world. You’ve done the hard work, now it’s simply about making sure your outside impressions match how you feel on the inside.
This is the essence of authentic communication – making sure your external world matches your internal world.
1. Your online dating profile
Start with your top 3 values. Without mentioning the values themselves, find a way to express your values in the written text of your profile. For example, if you value family you might write about the importance of your family in your life and the fact that you have weekly family dinners and annual family holidays together.
Using behavioural examples like this will communicate a very clear message about how you live your values, and what is important to you in life. This will also act as a screening mechanism; any potential dates who do not value family and have no interest in spending time with your family will probably choose not to connect with you. This is good news for you!
Also, you can use your photos to clearly communicate your values. Rather than randomly choosing photos of your ‘best angle’ select some shots that show you living your values. So again, with family as your highest value, you might highlight a picture of yourself with your nieces and nephews with a caption about family.
2. Your verbal communication on dates
A great way to prepare for dates is to develop a few stories from your life experience – stories that illustrate you living your values. Prepare the stories as if you were preparing for a job interview (I know that sounds weird, but it works).
Let’s say adventure is your highest value. You might think back over your life and identify a couple of examples where you were being highly adventurous. Maybe you took a holiday and went white water rafting, went sky diving or swam with sharks? These are the stories that define who you are, the stories that say ‘this is who I am and I’m looking for someone who can complement me’.
Prepare 2 or 3 stories like this one before your next date and notice how confident you feel when sharing your stories.
3. Your non-verbal communication on dates
Did you know that your non-verbal messages are responsible for around 93% of your communication?
So, you might share some great stories about your values but if your non-verbal communication is inconsistent with your internal brand, you will have trouble building rapport.
Consider your values and your personality, then make sure you reflect these in your:
- Language and tone
- Dress and grooming
- Gestures and posture
Let’s say honesty is one of your highest values. You could make sure that you use open hand gestures, a genuine vocal tone and an open sitting stance on your date.
These 3 tips will help your dating brand come to life. Do some reflection, think about how you want to present yourself and be mindful on dates.
There’s nothing wrong with excusing yourself and popping into the bathroom for a quick chat with yourself in the mirror if things feel ‘off’. Give yourself a pep talk about your values, your lifestyle preferences, your personality and get back out there and connect!
We all do it.
The pre-date Facebook scan, the drink-prep Twitter check, the face-saving Google image search. Conducting our own internet dating due diligence has become a natural and smart aspect of the dating experience. In fact, eHarmony’s recent Relationship Study found that 69% of Aussies admit to performing background checks on their dates (and that’s only the ones who admit to it).
To get to the bottom of this, I sat down with Social Check’s founder and CEO, David Griffiths, an expert in online presence and digital personal branding. According to Dave;
“It wasn’t that long ago that first impressions in the dating scene meant a stolen glance across a bar, bumping into each other in a nightclub, the first time you met a co-worker, or locking eyes with a stranger on the other side of a crowded room. Today, that first impression is more likely to occur online. It typically begins with the first look at someone’s online dating profile and then is followed up by ‘googling’ that person’s name.
“Every day now, more than 1 billion name searches are conducted on Google. With more than 19.3 million Australian accounts across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+, there is a wealth of information out there to be searched. Never before have we been able to find out so much about someone before we even say a single word to them and all the time we are making judgments about them and their suitability to be our partner.”
Manage your online brand
These days, the internet is simply an extension of our daily lives. We use it to progress our careers, to do our banking, to communicate with loved ones and to shop up a storm. When it comes to our personal brand, our online persona is no longer a separate entity but merely an extension of our physical presence.
According to eHarmony research, we are already doing a pretty good job of managing our online personal brands. 85% of Aussies actively manage their digital profiles by making their online accounts private (56%), setting their profiles to unsearchable or limited (39%) and only posting or tagging themselves in photos they believe they look good in (33%).
Interestingly, women are more likely than men to conduct pre-date online checks and Generation Y are more likely than Generation X or Baby Boomers. The message here? Young guys look out, your dates are taking a close look at your online life!
So, how can you make sure your digital profile is working FOR you?
David shares his top 10 tips to help you put your best digital foot forward in your dating life:
Understand what is out there– Start by googling your name and some variations such as your name plus your place of work. What do you see? Is there a lot or nothing at all? Would you be happy for your future mother in-law to see everything?
What does it say about me?– Ask yourself: What would someone think if they had to make a judgement about me based solely on my google results? We call this your “online personal brand” and whether you like it or not, you have one right now. Do I come across as an attractive life partner? Do I appear positive? Thoughtful? Caring? Fun? Honest? Successful? Do the things in my life that I am most passionate about come through?
What would I like my online brand to be? – The next step is to decide what you really want your online brand to be. Are you very career focused? Are you passionate about travel? Is music your life? Your online presence should reflect the things that are most important to you in your life. You can demonstrate this through sharing photos and posts in your social media accounts, through being a member of relevant online groups, through starting a blog or a website.
Remove any “digital dirt”– Lots of us have posted things online at some stage of our lives that we might wince about later. It might have been a drunken photo at a party, a late night tweet, a comment we made at a time we had different beliefs. Now is the time to clean these things up. You should also be careful about things like spelling, swearing, your tone (e.g. is it particularly negative?), and expressing controversial views. People viewing these things online will make snap judgements about you, whether it is fair or not.
Don’t be “the invisible man/woman”– Part of the reason people are searching for you is to be reassured that you really are everything you claim to be. So if someone can’t find anything about you online, it is going to raise some questions and they may begin to wonder what you are hiding. It is important to have an online presence. Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, are all great options to quickly and easily build an online presence.
Stand out from the crowd– There’s no denying it, dating is a competitive sport. When someone googles you, they will be asking questions like: Does the person have a good job? Are they educated? Do other people have good things to say about them? LinkedIn can be a great tool here to showcase your career and education achievements.
Be authentic– Everyone wants to be with someone who is authentic, genuine, and trustworthy. So make sure that what someone sees when they google you is consistent with your dating profile. This goes for things like education, profession, profile photos, interests…all these things can be checked online so easily now.
Check your privacy settings– Everyone has the right to a private life, you don’t have to have everything on display. So make sure all your social media accounts have the right privacy settings.
A picture says a thousand words – It’s so easy now to google images that there is no point using very old photos or heavily photo-shopped ones in your profile. Look at the photos that are online of you at the moment and ask what these say about you. Do they suggest someone who has a lust for life? Various interests and passions? Someone who is happy and fun to be around? Using sites like Instagram and Flickr can be a great way to get these sorts of photos out online.
Devote some time and effort– Building a strong online personal brand does require some consistency and effort. Make sure you are adding new content, keeping things up to date, adding fresh photos. Believe us, this small investment will pay big dividends.
Take it from Dave, it pays to invest some time and energy in your online brand. Remember, your eHarmony profile is just the starting point, the first place a potential date will ‘see’ you. This will inevitably lead to a Google search and a full review of your social media accounts so step up, take accountability and be mindful in your posts. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun.
Personal branding has become a popular area of focus in our careers and business life, but what about our dating life?
There is a fantastic opportunity here to learn from (some) celebrities and high profile business people, and apply this to the way we operate in our personal lives.
So what is a personal brand?
Your brand is made up of two components:
– The way you present yourself to the world
– The way others perceive you
You have control over the way you look, act, communicate and behave in your dating life, and these factors, in turn, influence how others will perceive you.
Whether we chose to or not, we are constantly communicating our brand to the world. When this is an unconscious thing, we can be unaware of the messages we are sending or the way others perceive us. This can be particularly disastrous on a date.
With a big dose of self-awareness and these two simple steps, you can become conscious about your brand and have more influence over the way others see you.
Step 1: Define your brand
Firstly, it’s important to become very clear about who you are. A simple way to define (and remember) the essence of your personal brand is to apply this three-word formula:
1) First word: your highest value. E.g. honesty
2) Second word: your lifestyle preference. E.g. adventurous
3) Third word: your personality style. E.g. outgoing
Let’s apply this to Lady Gaga. She may have a three-word brand that looks something like this: equality, busy, spontaneous. Michelle Bridges may be something like: health, active, assertive.
To apply this formula to yourself, use these questions as a guide:
– Value – what is the most important thing to you in the world? If this thing was missing, life would be meaningless. This is the thing that defines who you are and underpins everything you do in life.
– Lifestyle – how would you describe the way you like to live? Are you a home-body, a world traveler, a hard-worker?
– Personality – what type of personality do you have? Are you outgoing, shy, friendly, funny? Be sure to choose a word that reflects your strengths rather than weaknesses.
Step 2: Communicate your brand
Once you’re clear on the definition of your personal brand, there are three key ways to communicate this to the dating world:
1) Written – your online profiles and social media accounts are the perfect places to reflect your three-word brand. Find a way to weave your three words into your profile and notice what happens. You can also align your emails and instant messaging with your brand to ensure you are sending consistent messages.
2) Verbal – when speaking with dates on the phone and in person, remember who you are and the way you want to be perceived. It’s a good idea to think about a story from your life that demonstrates each of your three words. If you can tell each of these stories on a date, you’ll be confident that you have shown the best version of yourself.
3) Non-verbal – this one is a bit harder to manage as most of our non-verbal communication happens unconsciously. But, with a little practice and some feedback from a trusted friend, you can start to become more aware of the messages you are sending non-verbally. Research suggests that up to 90% of our messages are communicated non-verbally, so it’s really important to make sure your body language is consistent with your brand. For instance, if your highest value is honesty or openness, but you are demonstrating closed or defensive body language, you may be sending inconsistent messages.
It’s a good idea to practice communicating your three-word brand in ‘low stakes environments’ such as dinner with close friends or family. This way, it will be safe to make mistakes and hopefully, you’ll receive some honest feedback.
What if you make a branding blunder?
We’re all human and don’t always behave in consistent ways. It’s very common to make branding blunders or to do or say something that sends the wrong message. The good news is you can recover!
It’s not about the mistake you make, but how you manage the aftermath.
The best advice is to communicate in a direct and honest fashion, to own your mistake and to show some integrity and humility.
I’ll leave you with a fantastic example by Hollywood celebrity, Reece Witherspoon, after she was arrested for disorderly conduct back in 2013, which was inconsistent with her brand: Reece Witherspoon recovers from personal branding blunder.