05/10/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Personal Branding From The Inside Out

I've been a Personal Branding coach for a large part of my working life - I've had the privilege of working with a group of men and women who in many ways have been my teachers. When I began my retail fashion business in the late 70s, the branding aspect of my business focused on what I now describe as Outer Branding. Outer Branding includes attire, grooming, our physicality and the way we communicate verbally.

I've been fascinated by the different ways people communicate with each other for as long as I can remember. And over my many years in the worlds of fashion and retail, my attention shifted from Outer Branding to what I now describe as Inner Branding. Your Inner Brand includes your attitude, values, your behaviours, self esteem and your level of confidence. It also represents the different ways you communicate without words.

Non-verbal communication is massively impactful. Energy level, facial expressions, body language and general demeanour are all important forms of communication. When the positive aspects of these characteristics are in place, words become secondary. That's how powerful your Inner Brand can be.

And when your Inner and Outer Brand are congruent, your Personal Brand conveys authenticity. When someone has an authentic Personal Brand, what we experience is their confidence and sense of purpose. They've little or no self consciousness and they seem to be comfortable in their body. They've developed and honed their Personal Brand so that it expresses itself as something unique to them. In many ways, your Personal Brand is about your reputation - what others say about you.

People we consider to be charismatic or special have managed to develop a strong Personal Brand. Everything about them is carefully thought out. Their attire is important. They choose each item of clothing meticulously, to include colour, type and weight of fabric, shape, and most importantly, a fit that flatters. They will also have a disciplined grooming regime. So, when we see someone who looks special, unless they got lucky, they have spent time, energy and determination to hone these specific aspects of their Outer Brand.

This Inside-Out approach to Personal Branding is the most effective way to create and develop a Personal Brand that's both compelling and sustainable. The benefits of having an Outer Brand that represents who you are on the inside can be life changing. And one of the reasons for this is because once you acknowledge who you really are on the inside, and learn how to express it on the outside, you become more of yourself. When this happens, perhaps for the first time, you feel and look 'together.'

If you think about people who have a strong, compelling, authentic Personal Brand, each will have at least one quality or characteristic that you have, or would like to have. They might have great people-skills, an ability to listen, or perhaps be charismatic. Their physical looks and what they're wearing take a back seat. That's why it's so important to spend time on enhancing and continuing to improve your Inner Brand. It is the most effective way to develop your Outer Brand.

It takes 10-seconds to make a first impression. You only get one chance. Having an authentic Personal Brand enables you to make a positive impression every time. So make sure you are always dressed and groomed appropriately for a specific occasion. Brush up on your manners and handshake, and be super polite at all times. Remember, you will be judged in those crucial first 10-seconds.
Here are a few tips I hope you will find helpful as it relates to developing your Personal Brand:

Inner Branding

1. Reject quick fixes and replace them with patience

2. Be generous to others, both in word and deed

3. Think positive thoughts, even when you feel less than positive

4. Be grateful for what you have, rather than focusing on what you don't have

5. Be prepared to make sacrifices in order to have the life you want

6. Remove prejudices and replace them with openness & learning

7. Offer unconditional compassion and empathy to others

8. Be a good listener

9. Giving is the new getting

Outer Branding

1. Excellent grooming - what a person sees first

2. Upbeat body language - standing tall

3. Good eye contact - steady and alive

4. Attire that is appropriate to the business culture and that says something personal about you - professional polish

5. Smile - it's contagious

6. A firm handshake - certainty... If it's an interview situation, it sets the tone

7. Excellent manners

8. A healthy appearance - taking care of ourselves

9. Communication in person, email or by phone that's congruent