Ways women can jumpstart their personal brands
I believe that building an effective personal brand is critical for business success, whether you’re a man or a woman. There are certain areas, however, where women in particular need to focus to ensure their personal brands create a lasting positive impression
I often say that we are all brands, whether we like it or not, and if you don’t take responsibility for branding and marketing yourself, others will do it for you.
Personal branding is about being deliberate in cultivating how others see you.
Personal branding focuses on your USP (unique selling proposition), how you position yourself relative to colleagues and competitors and how you ‘package’ yourself in an authentic and noticeable way that makes you stand out.
The foundational principles of personal branding apply to both men and women. For example, everyone should start building a personal brand by identifying his or her strengths and talents and defining his or her USP.
The next step is to get feedback from people, look hard at the results, and find ways of bridging how you want to be perceived versus how you are being perceived. Men and women should find ways of showing the value they can add in their organisation or position, and spend time building their visibility.
Generally though, in my work with women, I have found that there are certain areas where women are not doing as well as men in building their personal brands, either because of a lack of confidence or because they’re not aware of where they’re missing out.
For example, men tend to be better at speaking up and attracting notice in the workplace than women. Men seem too find it easier to present their views and opinions and highlight their own achievements.
While women are often gifted at making emotional connections and building relationships quickly, we sometimes miss out on mobilising our connections to our advantage
As women, we need to learn that it’s not arrogant to share one’s thoughts or one’s achievements in the workplace. In fact, you may be depriving your colleagues of valuable insights if you hold back your knowledge and expertise. You don’t have to shout about how fabulous you are, but by making it known where you have expertise and where you’ve achieved, you will open new opportunities for yourself by boosting your credibility and visibility.
Furthermore, I find that whereas men are often happy to go out and talk about their achievements and the projects they’ve worked on, even if they weren’t 100% perfect, many women aren’t. They may think they’re doing themselves a favour by being perfectionists, and only wanting to share what they’re 100% happy with, but actually it may mean missing out on opportunities to showcase their work and attract attention from the right people. It’s better to accomplish something good and show it to people than to create something great that never sees the light of day.
Women can also improve in the way we network. We tend to make networking more complex than it needs to be. While women are often gifted at making emotional connections and building relationships quickly, we sometimes miss out on mobilising our connections to our advantage.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone you’ve met and developed a connection with for advice or help. Generally people are very happy to assist each other with contacts or access to resources.
Lastly, when it comes to confidence, the best way to boost yours is to have a thorough understanding of your own personal brand, based on your strengths and talents. That way, you’re basing your confidence on what you stand for and where you know you will make an impact, rather than coming across as arrogant because you’re pretending to know everything.
ABOUT DONNA RACHELSON
Donna is a branding and marketing specialist who uses her passion and 25 years of experience in strategy, marketing and change management to empower people and teams to achieve breakthrough results. She is also author of the best-selling book Branding & Marketing YOU, the first South African based personal branding and marketing book, and her recently released second book, Branding & Marketing You through Teams. For more information, visit brandingandmarketingyou.com.