GMX, a free email service, released the results of a survey of over 1,000 American adults who use email for professional and personal communications. They found that more than 50% of email readers will judge people personally and professionally based on the format and content of their email. They also found that 58% of email users confessed that they judge the writer’s intelligence on the language used, tone of email and writing style.
Previously, I wrote an article about how we communicate with and relate to a recruiter or hiring manager has a greater impact than what we say or what our resume says who we are. I am compelled to continue on a similar topic because HOW WE COMMUNICATE with people (regardless of the relationship) has a direct impact on the results of our personal brand and how people perceive our intelligence, leadership and character.
Joseph Jaffe writes a blog for Marketing Profs Daily Fix and recently wrote on the topic of Twitter taking the place of blogging. His article inquires into society’s seeming MDD (Media Deficit Disorder); his theory is that because we are juggling multiple tasks, actions and conversations at the same time that we cannot seem to do any one of these well. It appears that our attention spans are at full capacity and possibly have decreased in ability while at the same time the results we produce because of this MDD (emails communication for example) are less than satisfactory while at times simply idiotic.
As I read his blog and the results from GMX’s survey I asked myself if it is worth being so accessible on-line that our half-done results appear to make us seem less intelligent than we are? Are we willing to sacrifice our leadership standing just for the chance to quickly be heard above the common noise? Are our social media addictions sabotaging our personal branding efforts?
All are valid questions when we take a look at the impact our efforts have on our results. Jack Canfield, author of Chick Soup for the Soul, recently published a blog titled "The Most Important Leadership Principle". Canfield points out that leaders often produce results consistent to a common formula: How we respond to an event produces an outcome.
A similar interpretation would be that we are the cause for the results we produce in our personal and professional lives which includes the relationships we cultivate within these areas. How we manage and handle situations has a direct impact on how our lives turn out. Similarly, how we communicate through verbal or written words has a direct impact on how the world perceives us. This concept is similar to the vein of Albert Banduras’ observations of self-efficacy as referenced in "What Personal Interests Say About Candidates".
One of my recruiting candidates demonstrated these three topics in such a way that inspired me to write this blog. To protect this candidate’s innocence all personal attributes have been scrubbed, but the actions of the candidate are what is on point.
I received “Pat’s” resume and cover letter and while not that impressed with Pat’s writing style and tone, Pat’s resume read like a direct match for a position we were considering to fill with a new hire. I pursued Pat for a phone screen because his resume was impressive, however setting up the interview was similar to herding a deaf cat. To schedule a 20 min. phone screen took 10 minutes of emails and voice messages.
Pat’s email responses were written from a hand held device (as advertised on the bottom of Pat’s emails) and Pat either was distracted when writing or did not have formal training in areas of spelling, grammar and when/how to use correct sentence structure (upper versus lower case letters; punctuation; the appropriateness of using symbols instead of words; etc.) However, I wanted to give Pat the benefit of doubt because his resume was impressive.
Pat’s interviewing style was just within margin to consider Pat for a second interview. After passing Pat’s info onto a senior consultant Pat’s communication style declined. Not only did Pat not communicate promptly, Pat didn’t respond to calendar inquiries with accurate information and continued to use questionable and too casual content and format.
Needless to say the senior consultant was not impressed and by the time the interview finally rolled around, Pat’s brand within our firm was a joke. How could we take Pat seriously? If this was Pat’s level of personal success and communication with a potential employer, what would Pat’s level of professional success be in our firm and especially for our client’s?
I use Pat’s story as an example of distracted and poor communication skills with a lack of leadership agility driving one’s personal brand. Pat may be an exceptional person, but Pat came across as less than suitably intelligent without the evidence of leadership and focus. When we communicate with anyone (verbally or written) our style, promptness, sentence structure, spelling grammar, punctuation, professionalism, etc. speaks volumes about us.
I come back to the questions inspired from Jaffe’s blog: in this age of social media, MDD and juggling multiple topics of interest what is the quality of the results and outcome we are producing? Those of which could directly impact our personal brand in the eyes of our colleagues, network and future employers? Are we powerfully causing the success of our personal brand with our efforts to be known and heard respectfully?
Canfield points out that if we do not like the results or outcomes we are producing then we have choices. He states that the two most popular are blaming someone or something else for our results and outcomes, or changing our response to an event to alter the outcome or result. Leaders make the latter changes and improve their personal brand and leadership agility in the eyes of their networks.
In this age of instant contact, social media and personal branding what is the level of success you are willing to commit to on an on-going basis? How will you be responsible for providing an accurate perception of your intelligence, leadership and agility to be considered as a valuable contribution in any relationship, professional or personal?
I invite you to share your thoughts on these topics as I will be writing a follow-up article on your responses. Thank you and I look forward to reading what you have to say.
Copyright. Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009.