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Personal Branding Bruisers: Paula’s Professional Pet Peeves

Branding Room Only -
Personal Branding Bruisers:
Paula's Professional Pet Peeves
Paula T. Edgar is an attorney, speaker, and CEO of PGE Consulting Group LLC, a strategy firm specializing in professional development and diversity, equity, and inclusion solutions for organizations. She is an expert in personal branding, leadership, networking, leveraging social media, and business development. In the last year, Paula delivered keynote speeches and facilitated workshops for over 10,000 attendees. Paula has written for and been featured in publications such as the New York Times, Bloomberg Law, Business Insider, and US News.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • The appropriate place to wear your nametag
  • How to properly use group chats
  • Emailing as a professional
  • Communication mistakes and their impact on professionalism
  • Using calendars to their full potential

In this episode:

Personal branding is just as much about the minute decisions as the larger ones. Small details can add up to a complete picture, displaying yourself as composed and reliable. However, these specifics are often overlooked or only observable to people on the outside. Paula Edgar has worked with countless people on their brands and has developed a list of these common oversights. In response, she has some easy tips to make sure you appear your very best. In this episode of Branding Room Only, Paula Edgar breaks down her personal branding pet peeves and how to avoid them. She explains the common issues with calendars, introductions, nametags, group chats, and much more. She also talks about communicating if you will be late and the inarguable value of proofreading.
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Resources mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by PGE Consulting Group LLC.

PGE Consulting Group LLC is dedicated to providing a practical hybrid of professional development training and diversity solutions. From speaking to consulting to programming and more, all services and resources are carefully tailored for each partner. Paula Edgar’s distinct expertise helps engage attendees and create lasting change for her clients.

To learn more about Paula and her services, go to www.paulaedgar.com or contact her at [email protected], and follow Paula Edgar and the PGE Consulting Group LLC on LinkedIn.

Paula Edgar: Hi all, it’s Paula Edgar, host of Branding Room Only, where I talk to you about how influencers and leaders in industries have built their personal brands.

Today’s another special episode of Branding Room Only, where I am talking about personal brand bruisers. And this episode is about personal branding pet peeves that Paula has.

It’s a lot of P’s in there. So my pet peeves – especially around office etiquette or in your professional interactions, if you listen to my newsletter, you’ll know that some of these will be ones that you might have heard before, but I wanted to put them all together in a podcast episode for you all to share in my annoyance about when people do these things and why they should not and how it impacts their personal brand in a detrimental way.

So I’ve got about eight things that I’m going to go through. and most importantly, after this, I want to hear what your personal brand pet peeves are that impact your personal brand. Okay, so let’s get to it.

The first thing I have talked about before, which is, wearing your name tag in pictures, but this one is different.

It’s about wearing your name tag at waist level or some other awkward place. So when you’re at networking events or professional events, they want you to wear a name tag so you can know who the participants and attendees are. Okay, that makes sense. You know, I don’t like wearing them in pictures, but let’s get over that piece.

If you have a name tag, and you don’t have an item of clothing that is helpful to be able to be pinned or to be, you know, connected to in a way that works well for you, then don’t wear it. Because so often I see people put their name tags on their waist – which the question is, what is it that you’re wanting folks to do?

Literally look down to your waist level to figure out what your name is when, you know, the best practice for networking and relationship building is to make eye contact with someone, and if you’re trying to figure out someone’s name, looking down there is never a good thing. It’s the same thing when you have your name tags on a lanyard, oftentimes they will give you a sort of lanyard connector that will help you to bring it up closer to your mid chest, as opposed to down by your belly button or even at your waist, please.

I just think that if it’s not going to be feasible for you to actually use the name tag in a way other than to identify that you’re a part of a conference or an event, but actually to be able to see what your name is, then just don’t wear it. Hold it up next to you. But ideally, your name tag should be worn, if you are right handed – which most of the world is – you wear it on your right upper lapel. Right where I’m pointing, if you’re looking at it on YouTube, so that when you go shake, if you shake hands, you shake and you’re leaning in with that shoulder to show that person is then looking at your name tag. If you’re left handed and you shake with your left hand, which I know often people don’t shake with their left hand even if they are left handed then it might be different for you.

But no matter what keeping it up towards the shoulder area is better. Don’t put it in the middle of your chest. Don’t put it on your waistband. Please I beg of you, it is not good for your brand. It does not help with the functionality of knowing your name. None of the things it’s supposed to do is doing other than to have you connected with the conference or event.

And, you can do that by holding it. That’s one of my pet peeves, because it really, literally impacts the first impression that you want to make. It’s just not happening when you’re like figuring out your name based on looking down at you. So, anywho, next. Oh, taking a deep breath.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to person brand. If I don’t know you, and, or I don’t know you well, or we are not connected in a way that, that you would even have an assumption that this would be okay. Please, I beg of you, do not send a group text. So there are certain people who I’m in group texts with that I have chosen to be in that space with them, and I’m okay with how I already navigate.

But if you put me in a group text without my permission, with people who I don’t know, with people who I don’t necessarily want to have my phone number, it’s disrespectful. It’s unprofessional. It’s disruptive. And again, it’s privacy. I don’t want people to know my phone number unless I choose to give it to them.

And also, whatever you’re talking about may not be relevant to all of us. And then, because I know that most of you who are listening are probably going to be folks who use an iPhone, I am an Android, proudly so, it’s a part of my brand. But, number one, when you do that little likey thing or how you respond, it shows up for us Android users – again, I choose the Android because I prefer pictures over text – it shows up as another text, so it makes a lot of noise and it’s just annoying. But moreover, you can’t get out of group text. I want to not be in the text anymore. So what I will often do is send a message to the person who is a sender saying, please don’t put me in group text.

Like that is a place where I do set a boundary unless I have chosen to or I want to connect in that space, don’t. There are apps for that. You make a WhatsApp group, create a, you know, a GroupMe, something else, but not group text. So, as you can tell, I get a little bit passionate about that, because the time that it could take you to just send those individual messages to each person, you could just do, and, save us all a lot of frustration, because even the folks who I think aren’t saying anything are probably still frustrated by the fact that you thrust their number into a group text with people who they don’t know.

And even people who I do know, sometimes I just don’t want to be to interact with them that way. So that being said, that’s one, that’s part one. Part two is, I love introductions. I do. And we’re going to talk about that next.

I love introductions, but I do not like when someone introduces somebody via text without asking me, one. And two, it’s just an awkward thing unless it’s a very informal connection, but for the most part, for business, I don’t think you should be introducing folks via text message. So please, ask first if that’s what you plan to do, because you may have a preference in that space, but don’t assume that everybody’s comfortable with that or even wants that.

Can’t wait to hear what you have to say about that.

Okay, next up, very much correlated to what I just said. This is something my friend Sonya and I talk about all the time. When you send an introductory email I think it’s important how we build our networks and how we build relationships and create opportunities for each other, for connection and collaboration.

People should be introduced via email. But, however, please don’t send an email introduction without checking in with both parties first. There are multiple reasons why. Number one, again, I just may not want to have an email connection with the person. So say, hey, there’s somebody I think would be great for you to meet with, can I make an introduction via email? I might want to know more context about why you think it would be great. I want the opportunity to interrogate a little bit before I say yes. One. Two, if you send it without the, sort of pre warning, pre requisite, exchange with me or whomever else you’re connecting with, I might be busy, sick, on vacation, any of the, or just not want to deal with it at that time.

You know, it is a challenging time in the world for the most part, just in general. And having to do things that are outside of, what my daily is, is maybe not something that I want to do as a priority. So, to that end, check in. Hey, how’s it going? Paula is somebody I want to introduce you to. Is it okay?

Is it a good time for that to happen right now? You know, how’s your workload, right? It’s a good way for you to check in with someone and also ask permission. When you do it without that, number one, it’s hard for you and it can be hard on your brand because if you have not asked me, you may get … it may be delayed, the person who you think who thinks that you have these connections with me or whomever you’re reaching out to may realize that you don’t necessarily have a pull that you think you do, because I might not respond in the time frame that you’re looking for, or if at all, because it is not something that I’ve asked for or maybe even have the bandwidth for, again myriad of reasons. So please do check in first. It is a good relational thing to do. And that way you can also ask how does the person want to be introduced? Is there a blurb that you already use that I can include in an email?

Are there links that you would like me to share in order for that person to get more information about you? And then this is a sort of subset. What I tend to do when I do those introductions after I have asked permission, right, check the people are comfortable and ready in terms of timeliness. I will say I’m introducing you.

I’ll include a blurb or if they both know about each other. I will just say subject line introducing you and you right and then inside, I said, as per our conversation, here’s the introduction to the person. I usually will link their LinkedIn, because everybody should have one or their relevant website. And then I say, once you’ve connected, please feel free to drop me to BCC.

Right? Even if I didn’t say that, what you should do is say thank you for the introduction. I’m taking you and moving you to BCC. Unless there’s a reason for that person to stay within the email, then you can go ahead and connect with the person and go back and forth. Scheduling or sharing information, etc. without clogging up the person who’s done the introduction’s email. Please, I beg of you, this is a big one. I almost did a podcast episode just about this because it is such a brand damaging thing because so often people think they can leverage a connection and there’s only certain people who can do that without any preference.

There’s certain people whose names they can say, this person said to reach out or I’m sending this introduction, and I know because they always have my best, you know, my best, they always think about me and in the best ways and always have my best success in mind, that I know that it’s something that is good for me. But, and like Sonya and I, when we talk about this, we always say, most of those people don’t actually do this. They will ask for permission. The folks who don’t have to, do, and the people who do have to, don’t. So, please don’t let it be something that damages your brand with both parties because of how you’ve done it incorrectly.

Okay, next is this one. And I’ll just say this. We are all human, right? So we all have challenges, we all make mistakes, etc. But, and, when you have a meeting, and you arrive late to the meeting without notifying the people in the meeting, it’s as if you think that your time is more valuable than their time.

I’ve been at times waiting on Zoom or in a room for someone who was supposed to have been there minutes ago, et cetera, and I’m wondering, ’cause I haven’t heard, I’m checking my email, I’m looking at my texts and nothing. And at a minimum, even if it’s right down to the minute to send something saying, Hey, I’m running late. I have a call that is overlapping or I got stuck in traffic, whatever it is, it’s not the lateness that’s the issue. Of course, it’s an issue. We want to make enough time so that you’re not late if you can, but it is the lack of communication about being late. It shows a lack of respect for the other person and their commitments, right?

They may want to use that time to do insert thing here. So you don’t want to damage your reputation and your brand by seeming unreliable, and inconsistent when it comes to showing up for your time. Okay, next. This one just happened to me recently and I was infuriated. So I know that we are in a space where most people will text or send emails, more than they will pick up a phone and call someone.

However, phones still exists and it’s still a method of communication. And so are voicemails. Now I know tons of people who are like voicemail, what is that? However, If you have it, and it’s a thing, then take care of it, because having a voicemail that is full, where someone can’t leave you a message… Number one, I could be calling to tell you won an award, I could be calling to tell you tons of things, so you should be checking and clearing your voicemail so that it’s not full.

It just seems to me when that happens that the person just doesn’t care, or they’re not paying attention to their communication and to their community because they’re not being able to be connected to. I know that some people might do it on purpose, but there are other ways to do it on purpose, like disabling your voicemail, if that’s a possibility, I think it is, rather than having a full one, which makes it just seem like you just don’t care at all.

Right. And you’re going to miss out potentially on opportunities, emergencies, all kinds of things. Right. So I think it just shows a lack of responsibility and attention when you don’t do it. So another pet peeve that I have there and it just happened to me the other day. And this person and I were going back and forth and it’s like, I can’t even leave you a message to tell you that there’s something I need to speak to you about because you don’t have a voicemail.

And then you weren’t responding to my email. Anyway, long story. Anyhow, yeah. Coming back to the humanity piece of this all, remembering that we all make mistakes, and that your brand is not ruined by a mistake, but it can be damaged if you consistently make mistakes. So, couple things. When you are posting on social media, when you’re sending emails, et cetera, I think it’s important to proofread.

Now, like probably all of you at some point, I have made a mistake, right? When it comes to posting or even, you know, sending something via email, right? But particularly on social, I think, well, actually in both places, it looks as If your attention to detail is not there, and it also makes the content that you’re putting out less credible.

So whenever I see somebody who posts something that has a misspelling in it or something grammatical, I will send a message. Those of you who are my friends, I will send a message saying, hey, you want to edit that because it’s misspelled or, you know, you did the wrong thing in the hashtag with in terms of your spelling, something to that effect.

Just to make sure that you are thinking about your brand, because folks will see it. And what I found about visible and visual things like that is that sometimes people will just make an assumption and disengage, just because of that. And you remember like, well, for those of you who are in any sort of, postgraduate program, et cetera, this might sound familiar to you.

When I was in law school, I remember, they would talk about how if you made one mistake on your resume, that’s that would be how they would sort through to do the initial sort of whether you would get accepted in terms of having an opportunity to be a candidate or not. And I just think this is ridiculous.

One mistake is going to be a big issue. Again, if you are being considered for a role or an opportunity that speaks to your attention to detail and your ability to communicate well, yeah, people are going to think, okay, you might do that with a client of mine, or you might do that, in a high stakes situation that might cost us reputationally and maybe even financially.

So be really thoughtful. Again, not to the point where you’re stopping yourself from being productive, but try your best to make sure that you don’t have typos, etc. Also thinking about how things are formatted, right? And that could be, you know, PowerPoints or graphics or signs, etc. Make sure those things look the way that you want them to, you know, another, when I used to work in career services at different law schools, one thing that I would tell students and I tell professionals this as well, is that when you’re sending a document via email or to post somewhere, to the extent that you can put it in a PDF format, because then you’ll be sure that it’s formatted in the way that you want it to be seen. You know, depending on the version of computer or software that folks have, things can show up differently. Depending on how things are being projected, they can show up not in the way that you want.

So, because people will make assumptions about you and your professionalism and your ability to add value and show up based on your brand, how you show up, you have to be really thoughtful about this. So you might think I went off a little bit about that and yes, I did on purpose because I know I’ve seen it and I’ve also heard people talking about folks who have done it.

Okay, another pet peeve. So we often will get emails that will have like, Hey, I’m responding to these questions, question one, two, three, and four. I’m responding to questions one, two, three, and four. One of my pet peeves is if I send you a one, two, three, four, an ABCD sub email and you only respond to A or B, I am frustrated. I am frustrated. I am frustrated. And it is harmful to your brain as well, because if you don’t specifically at least acknowledge, right, like to say, right, I know that you talked to me about part, you know, you said parts one through four, I have answers for you for two and four right now, but I’m going to get back to you about for one and three, the acknowledgement at least shows me that you are recognizing that you’re not responding to it.

But so often, it will just be email being like, here’s the answer to this. And here’s the answer to that. And just totally not addressing the other pieces. So if you’re going to not be responsive to each thing, at least acknowledge that it’s there and say, why, or when you’ll be able to respond, what you need in order to respond, because if not, it seems like either you’re rushed or you’re not interested or care because I have put thought and thoroughness into creating this piece of communication, whomever’s interacting with you, and that same thought is requested when you respond. Okay.

This last one is one that drives me crazy. So in most professional settings, and because of the way technology is, most people will use a calendar to know where they’re going to be, to know what is happening, right, just to kind of run their lives.

And by most people, I mean me. Everything I have, my family’s things, my personal things, my business things, they’re all on a calendar. So if you send me an email saying, okay, let’s meet at three o’clock on Friday for 30 minutes, thanks, then you’re asking me to then do the next step, which is to create a calendar invite.

It would be great if you said, okay, this is great. Hey, I’m sending you this email, and I am also following up with a calendar invite, or just say in the calendar invite, per our conversation, I’m sending you this invite for the thing that we’ve talked about. Instead of sending an email with the save the date or telling someone something, take it off of both of your spaces by just saying, Hey, I’m going to utilize this tool that we most for the most part, most of us have, to hold a time, and then if there’s any update, you can use that same calendar to add an agenda, to add additional people, to cancel if you need to. It is such a robust opportunity for us to connect and to do things properly, to make sure people show up on time, that they get reminders, that they can check and forecast what they need to do and when, that not using it, number one, requires people to do an extra step and I don’t want to, I have enough steps. People have enough steps. We’re busy enough. And number two, makes it more likely that folks won’t actually show up when you need them to show up with what you need them to show up with.

So that being said, I can’t wait, because I want you to email me – you can either go to my website, to paulaedgar.com/podcast, and there’s a link there for the Ask Paula questions. You can submit additional questions, or pet peeves that you have that I can talk about on another podcast or just respond to this one or respond to me on social media, or just send me an email [email protected]. And I want to hear your thoughts about these pet peeves. I know that I missed some. This is just the ones that are top of mind for me right now, I have a ton of others and I will continue to do this series of Personal Brand Boosters and Bruisers, and this one, Paula’s Pet Peeves. With that being said, I appreciate you taking the time to sit and hear me complain about things that impact my interaction and people’s personal brand on this special episode of Branding Room Only. I look forward to seeing you. Please make sure you share this so people can start doing things better. Bye!