Is Your Personal Brand Preventing You From Getting Ahead?

If you think wearing flashy designer suits or sky-high stilettos is the key to making a killing in commission in real estate, think again, says Bernadette Berlyn of McGrath Estate Agents.

Having worked in real estate for the past 13 years – and dominating waterfront markets for most of that time – Bernadette says she’s seen a lot of promising agents come undone because of their personal branding.

Some of the biggest offenders include clothes that are too tight, tops that are too low, dresses or skirts that are too short, and inappropriate shoes.

“You’re not going out to pick up on a Saturday night,” Bernadette says. “Similarly, you don’t have to dress masculine to be taken seriously as a female – I’ve seen a lot of women forget that sometimes being a woman is an advantage. Some clients are looking for the empathy and compassion they believe a woman can provide, so dressing in manly shirts and suits defeats the purpose.”

But let’s back up for a minute – what is a “personal brand”?

Career-dressing expert and female entrepreneur coach Wendy Mak says:

“Your personal brand is the lasting impression you leave with someone you’ve just met. When you meet anyone, you’re putting little non-verbal cues out through your dress, your grooming, the way you stand, the way you fidget – it’s these cues that make the biggest impact, more so than what you say.”

No one escapes having a personal brand: “Everyone has one,” Wendy says. “Arguing that you don’t have a personal brand because you haven’t developed one is like arguing you don’t leave a footprint in sand..”

Bernadette says the key to getting your personal brand right in real estate is knowing your audience and being flexible.

“If I’m meeting you for the first time, I’ll sum you up very quickly on your presentation and I’ll make a decision about who you are in comparison to who I am,” Bernadette says.

“The trick is to mirror your market place in a professional manner. It’s a real skill to be able to quickly sum up your prospect and present in a manner that they will be able to relate to and feel comfortable with. But when you do, you’re able to build the connection and trust it takes to be successful in real estate.”

For men, that might mean a full suit and tie will be a barrier to building a connection in some marketplaces, but expected in others.

“You have to feel comfortable too,” Bernadette says. “Or you’ll end up leaving a lasting impression of being awkward and uncomfortable, which defeats the purpose.”

Having helped hundreds of women both in and out of the corporate world to develop a winning personal brand, Wendy Mak has these go-to tips for women in real estate:

  • Don’t forget your shoes: “Shoes can completely change the look of an outfit. Make sure yours are clean and polished, and in good nick. For ladies I tend to advise going for patent instead of matt for a more polished look, and patent tends to look better for longer. For men, keep them tailored, nothing too scruffy but not too crazy either.”
  • Look after your nails and get a haircut you love: “Hands are so visible in our communications – never underestimate the power of polished, clean nails. And a hair cut that makes you look your best can give you amazing amounts of confidence.”
  • Always consider appropriateness: “This goes for both men and women. At the end of the day you need to consider what’s appropriate for the market you’re working in, your body type, your age and also how you want to be perceived. If you want to be taken seriously & professionally then you have to get your A-game on.”

Wendy Mak went from a corporate marketing desk job to being a national fashion expert in just three years. Having made the successful leap into entrepreneurship and developing credibility as a leader in a field she had previously known nothing about, she became a go-to authority and mentor for hundreds of other women looking to make their own career transition and start their own biz. Today she offers a combination of successful business and style tips through and runs the online start-and-grow your business course Smart, Savvy and Rich.

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