By Althaf Ahmed
You probably hear the phrase "just be yourself" more often than you like.
But being yourself is hard, right? In a competitive world where people seem to work their way up the ladder by being professional and perfect for the job, is it really smart to be your goofy or sarcastic self? Didn't all those other successful people drop those characteristics to get ahead?
When it comes to succeeding in the digital age, being yourself is what it's all about. It's not about who you think you should be to impress others, it's about being your – buzzword alert – authentic self. You may not be perfect, but no one actually is. In fact, that's what's so great about personal branding: you're better off being yourself than being perfect.
Figure out who you are
Yet to be yourself, you have to figure out who you actually are. It may not be easy, but it's critical for establishing your personal brand.
There's obviously a fine line between being rude and being honest with what you think and how you feel. Tread that line carefully, but at the end of the day, voice your opinions without worrying about what other people think of them – that's the type of confidence that's missing these days.
Don't be afraid to speak your mind, no matter how crazy it might be. Don't be ashamed to admit at the next dinner party that you think all of the pomp and circumstance is a bit unnecessary, or that you think the food could be better.
Pride yourself on being different
When a potential employer is sifting through a pile of resumes on his desk, which one is he going to remember the most? The one with the green cover letter that has your name and credentials in big silver font, or the one that's printed in standard Times New Roman on an expensive piece of cardstock like all of the other resumes?
Now, if you're not the type of person who would get enjoyment out of sending a green resume to someone, then don't do it! Do things because you want to, not because you think you need to.
By being yourself, you stand out from the crowd and become more memorable. That offensive joke you told at a party may have upset a few folks, but others may have loved it and thought you to be truly creative and worth keeping around, simply because you speak your mind.
By trying to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. Stick to your guns and do things a little differently from time to time. Remember, what will help people remember you is just that: you.
Don't rehearse your next speech
If you've ever had to go into an interview or give a speech, I can almost guarantee you practiced a little bit beforehand (read: a LOT). Stop that right now. Stop practicing your interview techniques. Stop practicing your speeches. Stop trying to prepare for how you think you should sound when giving a presentation.
If you don't feel ready for the presentation, you shouldn't try and memorize what you're going to say. Instead, learn more about what you're presenting. By understanding who you are and what you're speaking about, you'll have a lot more confidence to go into an interview or conference room and simply talk. Talking about what you're an expert in shouldn't be difficult, so long as you let your authentic self shine through.
Rethink that dress code
Finally, how should you dress when you go out to meet people? A suit may give off an air of professionalism, but it doesn't always communicate who you are as a person. Since whether you're likeable is what really matters when you meet someone, don't wear something or be something that you're not.
Wear the clothes that you feel the most comfortable in, and ignore anyone who says you should dress "nicer." If nice clothes don't help you achieve anything other than feeling nervous and antsy, then don't wear them. The trick is to just be you. That means that if you're a jeans and polo shirt kind of guy, then by all means, go for it.
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