Never Have I Ever… Seen My Coworkers from the Neck Down

Aug 25, 2021

By Meredith Duffy, Junior Strategist

From the desk of LBB’s most recent Pandemic Newbie

Starting your first job? Nerve-wracking. Starting your first job virtually? Even more challenging. Starting your first job, virtually, for a top branding agency in New York? Absolutely terrifying!

In college, we’re taught about the importance of building your own personal brand, especially in creative fields. Of course, that makes sense, but did I mention COVID? Friends that began their jobs before I did shared their challenges:

One friend struggled to express her personality through a screen. Meeting virtually can feel disconnected, and she wished she had the opportunity to lean over and crack a joke with her next-desk neighbor. Since everyone is feeling the effects of screen fatigue, pre- and post-meeting chitchat have fallen to the wayside. It’s become common to get straight to business in hopes of logging off sooner, decreasing opportunities for casual, water cooler conversations and personal brand building.

Another friend raved about being able to work in pj’s… until she got up to close her door during a Zoom call and everyone saw her Cookie Monster pajama pants. What we wear helps people form impressions of us. Our clothing expresses clues about our personalities, backgrounds, levels of confidence, authority, and values. As comfy as pajamas are, Sesame Street may not have been the best look for my friend to convey to her new team. 🥴

Despite these challenges, it’s important to share “brand you,” even if you don’t work in branding. So, if you’re a confused twenty-something wondering what you should be doing, here are some of my humble tips:

  • Zoom backgrounds are great for storytelling, and great for breaking the ice, too. Love pups and craft beer? Look no further:
  • Log into meetings a few minutes early to get some personal facetime. We’re all guilty of joining a 10:00 o’clock meeting exactly at 10:00, but catching coworkers for some pre-meeting banter can go a long way.
  • “Wear” your brand from the waist up, but ditch the Cookie Monster pj’s!
  • Ask questions – the only dumb questions are the ones you didn’t ask.
  • Keep in mind, there’s a time and place for everything. Read the room before convincing your team to partake in the latest TikTok trend.
  • Schedule one-on-ones with your new team and others you’ll be working closely with. A quick chat can make you feel more comfortable in your new role, and one-on-one time lets your personality shine through.
  • Energy and positivity can still be felt through the screen – watch out for RBF (it’s a thing). Grab a screenshot of yourself during a Zoom meeting and ask your roommate for honest feedback. Don’t get mad if you don’t like what you hear! 😝
  • Go the extra mile – add a personal touch to your POVs.

Some good news: at two months in, every day gets easier. More good news: your personal brand is ever-evolving as you grow and change, so no matter where you are in your career, it’s always something you can refine.

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