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As a woman marketer, entrepreneur, speaker, and CEO—not to mention someone who did their graduate thesis work on why people use social media—I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about personal brands.
Personal brands are critical for people at any point in their career, but they can become even more so as you reach the higher levels of the corporate hierarchy. It’s not enough to be a faceless CEO anymore—your shareholders, your employees, and the public want to know who you are and what you stand for.
Your personal brand is how you tell them.
This is especially true for women leaders, who—let’s face it—still often have to work harder at developing a strong self-image than their male counterparts in order to have their leadership valued. Unfortunate, yes. True? Also yes.
Building a personal brand takes time and commitment. Just like your company’s brand, it’s not something that develops overnight. However, there are things you can do right now that will help you elevate your personal brand.
1.Narrow your focus.
As women, we often fill many different roles in addition to the one we have at work. Personally, we might be mothers, daughters, caregivers, wives. Professionally, we may be executives, but we may also be a mentor, or a teambuilder.
As any businessperson knows, you can’t build a successful company brand by trying to be all things to all people, and the same is true of a personal brand. Spend some time discerning what exactly you want to focus on, and then push that to the forefront.
That doesn’t mean you have to stick to promoting yourself as an executive only. It means, instead, that you’re focusing on specific skills, talents, and values—and those can come from being a mother or a sister just as easily as they can from your time in the boardroom.
2.Expand your networking pool.
While many of us, both men and women, may be great at networking within our own companies or industries, it’s common for professionals to overlook the importance of what Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam calls “bridging capital,” or connections with people who are outside our job functions and/or industries.
So marketers go to marketing conferences, product designers go to design conferences, and executives attend leadership conferences—and we all make lots of connections with people who are more or less like us.
Not only can this lead us to creating less-diverse workforces when it comes time for us to hire someone, but it also means your talents—and, by extension, your personal brand—are being recognized by a smaller group of people. In addition, it can be harder to stand out in a sea of people just like you.
Expanding your network across job and industry lines can open you up to new opportunities to establish your personal brand—speaking engagements, business partnerships, and more.
3.If you’re uncomfortable directly promoting yourself, try alternative ways to show off your skills.
Many women are uncomfortable with self-promotion, preferring instead to do their jobs well and accept recognition when and if it comes.
However, this tendency puts us at a disadvantage in the workplace. It makes it less likely that we’ll get promotions or raises, and it also makes it harder for us to establish a recognizable personal brand.
The good news is that there are lots of ways to promote yourself and your knowledge, some of which can be easier for women who aren’t comfortable talking about themselves. For instance, writing articles that develop your thought leadership, publicly sharing your opinions on important industry issues, or taking a stand on a current event can all be great ways to show what you know, what you can offer, and help cement your personal brand.
4.Pay it forward by sharing your skills and knowledge with other women.
We all want to leave the world better than we found it. As women in leadership, we have lots of opportunities to impact the people around us, especially women who want to get to where we are.
One of the best ways to seize that opportunity is by mentoring other women, either one-on-one or through a women’s professional group. In addition to having a positive impact on the both of you, it will give your personal brand a boost by showing what you value.
Establishing a strong, cohesive personal brand takes time and effort, but by following a few guidelines, you can ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward to the world. For more, read “7 Things You Can Do to Build an Awesome Personal Brand.”
June 11, 2019 at 03:39PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs