It is indisputable that building a personal brand is key to progressing one’s career. People who have been exposed to personal branding understand that it is not always hard work that helps you get ahead. Perceptions help shape how others behave toward you and if the perceptions others have of you are not aligned to where you want to move in an organization, you may not achieve the success you deserve.
Personal branding, does however pose some challenges for women for the following reasons:
- Women are far less likely to actively promote themselves and their achievements. This is not something that comes naturally to many women – they are far more comfortable staying ‘under the radar’ or giving recognition to the team as opposed to themselves.
- While women do network, their focus when networking is on developing relationships that are relatively deep and meaningful. Men tend to build a broader network of alliances that they are able to leverage to achieve their desired objectives.
- Women tend to be quite perfectionistic and often do not ‘speak out’ in case their view/approach/initiative is not 100% thought through. Men on the other hand may not be as prepared but are able to express themselves confidently.
- Linked to the above point is presence in meetings. It is accepted that men interrupt a lot more in meetings than women. Women tend to be far more polite and interrupt less.
So what can women do to combat some of these challenges and build a robust brand that stands out:
- If woman are uncomfortable promoting their achievements, rather focus on creating a ‘learning opportunity’ i.e. ‘Package’ achievements in terms of a ‘learning’ for the organization that speaks about what was done and the impact.
- Women need to actively network both within and outside of their organization. It is important they develop a network of connections who are different to them. This assists in creating a broader range of potential opportunities as well as a more diverse group of people that understands their talents and opportunities.
- Personal visibility is a key component to achieving personal branding success. Women need to ‘speak up’. If this is difficult, they need to make leaders alert to creating a ‘space’ for them to make their point and need to consciously make an effort to demonstrate their expertise.
- In the context of meetings, women need to ‘speak up’ early in meetings to allow them to play a more active role in meetings. There is no doubt that when you ‘speak up’ first you position yourself strongly; own the direction and develop profile.