Positioning is Yours; Perception is Theirs

What triggered this was a simple question from a friend – “How do I change how people perceive me?

You can’t control how people perceive you – but you can control how you position yourself. It’s a little bit convoluted if you think about it. The biggest feedback you get about your positioning is from the perception audit – a quick poll of how people actually perceive you. How do you do that? Well for starters, you can LISTEN!!!!

Honestly, in the new world, it’s easy. All you have to do is to keep your eyes and ears open. As an example, a quick look at the lists that I have been put into on Twitter gives me a sneak preview of how people perceive me. I can agree or disagree but everything I have said and done has resulted in a set of perceptions for now.

Before we go about how to change perceptions, there is ONE way you cannot change someone’s perceptions of you – and that is by asking them to change it.

Perceptions are created by assessments and even when people hear what you tell them, they hear what they want to hear – based on your past history, your accomplishments, your actions and your intentions to start with.

With that in the background, here is a quick outline of how you can go about your task:

1. Change the conversations:

If you are switching from being a technology person to a marketer, then your conversations have to move towards marketing.

2. Change who you are having conversations with:

The old network already have a biased opinion about who you are what you bring to the table. Change the scene.

3. Reframe the earlier experience:

The old experience is not extra baggage especially if you can reframe it to see how this serve as a foundation or a launch pad to your new life. In the above situation, make a case about why you are unique using the blend of old and new experiences.

4. Create valuable assets in the new space:

You can talk however loud you want but your work will speak louder than that. Rather than saying that you have a new life, show them by creating assets that will create those assessments in people’s mind.

5. Go the distance:

Changing perception is more like running a marathon than participating in a sprint. People are jaded listening to hollow claims. They have heard a lot of promises about so many things – only to see that things fizzle out very quickly. If you make a premature announcement about your new life, most people are skeptical about that claim. Many think that this must be “another flavor of the day” initiative from you. But when you go the distance, people slowly start believing in what they see.

6. Invest to Accomplish:

It seems simple but it’s not. It’s a chick-or-egg situation. You don’t get a project to work in the new world until you have the experience and you do’t get the experience until you get a project to work on. So it’s complicated. But you can break the cycle but “investing to accomplish.” This means you start giving yourself for FREE to help someone on a project (in the new space) to gain experience. You will have to work twice as hard but it will be well worth the time spent.

and, last but not the least:

7. Believe in your new avatar:

If you don’t FULLY believe in your new avatar, people will see through it. It has to first happen in your mind and then it will translate in your actions. If it does not happen in your mind, your actions will always be diluted or watered down.

All the best.