As a teenager, I loved to read self-help books. I remember reading the advice to dress for the position you want, not the position you have. At the time I was working retail, and I’m pretty sure the managers didn’t dress any differently than the cashiers, but I stored away that information and put it to use when I got my first teaching job as a substitute teacher.

I had recently turned twenty-two when I started substitute teaching at an inner-city high school. I didn’t look much older than the students, and I was scared to death. So I put on my highest heels and a dark business suit, and I walked in looking far more confident than I felt. And it worked. The giant football players listened to me and treated me with respect. Unfortunately, wardrobe didn’t help when they put me in a kindergarten class. Those little ones saw through my disguise and saw me as the scared bunny I was. But that’s another story…

It’s hard when you’re getting started. You want to be taken seriously, but how do you do that when you’re inexperienced with no proven track record? You dress for the position you want.

Pick someone in your industry who’s like you, only further along in their career. Pick someone who’s at the top of their game, then study what they do. Look at their website, their social media, their graphics, their advertising. Study their use of color, design, and images. Look at their competitors. What are they doing? Look at similar fields or industries. What could work for you? Take note of what you like and what you don’t like. Then figure out how you can apply their techniques for yourself.

The objective isn’t to parrot them but to glean from them what success looks like, what works, and what doesn’t. Before you know it, you’ll be the model and others will be studying you!

How to brand yourself, branding, marketing


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