Crafting Your Personal Brand
Whoever thought we would need to think about our personal brand in the workplace? In the world of tweets that will never die, digital footprints that will follow you forever, and personal opinions and records available at a quick click, the online world is now greatly influencing what we do in the business world. While we have always understood the power of personal and professional reputation, there was a time when we could keep our professional life clearly divided from our personal one, which is not quite as easy to do today. With the advent of the internet, suddenly these two worlds are colliding, for better or worse. Furthermore, the online tools can greatly influence how people treat, judge, assess, and even trust you, with their business.
We often think of personal branding as being a necessity for those associated with an online presence or digital business. However, in today’s rapidly changing and ever-evolving business world, the footprint you leave online, and also in the hallways, boardroom, and email threads, is not only important but can have a career-altering impact on your trajectory. For women in particular, a strong personal brand can open the door to new business and career opportunities, which also allows you to build a strong network of influential allies.
As female leaders climb the corporate ladder, they often find themselves among a few women in upper-management positions. Crafting, understanding and using a personal brand effectively provides an opportunity for you to not only strategically plan your ascension in your career development, but also gain support by connecting with other female leaders. By sharing your own experience through personal branding, you can connect with other professionals who can play a vital role in your success.
Your brand affects how people perceive you professionally. Creating and projecting a strong personal brand can give you greater influence when building more productive and high-performing teams, growing more effective relationships with clients, and improving customer service experiences. One way to achieve your career goals and make sure that your potential isn’t overlooked is to develop your own recognizable and unique personal brand.
Whether you’re just starting your career or looking to advance, here are a few important things for women in business to keep in mind when building a personal brand:
Start with your key strengths.
When you look at your noteworthy accomplishments and compliments, what is the strong thread that weaves through your biography? When you are introduced, evaluated and admired, what are the traits that are consistent and recurring? Assess everything from your style, body language and tone of voice, to how you communicate on email or by phone. When you think of Oprah Winfrey, you understand that she represents depth, stability, wisdom, and intelligence, which is a personal brand that has been expertly crafted over the years. We see this brand solidified through an authentic and consistent expression in her business, speeches, productions, and publications. Conversely, what are the misperceptions that need to be corrected or amended about you, which may be blocking your progress? Understanding how to amplify your key strengths is how you begin to increase your influence and reach.
Identify what sets you apart.
Focus on the things that make you different and concentrate on the positives on a personal and professional level. Consider the first impression that you make with others, the way you react in everyday situations, how you deal with stressful occurrences, and even your creativity and the way you think and process information. How do you see the world? What’s your unique super power? Where do you divert and go against the grain? The very skills that seems strange and different may be the exact strengths that propel you and set you apart from the pack. Think Steve Jobs; he was a socially awkward genius that “punched a hole in the sky” and brought us some of the most unique and groundbreaking products that the world has ever seen. Some of the most recognizable figures in business were often marching to the beat of their own drum and slightly off-center. Own your quirks—they just may be your golden ticket.
Understand the players.
It is essential to know who the movers and shakers in your business or industry are. Who makes the decisions? Who influences the trajectory of the business? Who leads and inspires? Who disrupts and creates growth? These are the people who should see you as an indelible asset to their process, which means that you must expose, extend and sell your skills to them expertly. Regardless of your role or the stage of your career, the way you project yourself to these key players will go a long way to getting you noticed for all the right things—your ability. As Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook says, “Women need to take their seat at the table.” Show up. Be prepared. Come with new, compelling, and stimulating content to share. Ask questions. Dig deeper. Sandberg says that women should lean in and use their assertive voice, keep their foot on the pedal, and understand who their potential partners are. There are some common issues that women may face in their careers and for those looking to move forward, its necessary to find allies who will help create the right opportunities to ensure your talent is noticed.
The concept of personal branding—succinctly communicating the value others will experience by working with you—is as important as any degree, leadership course, or certification and should be prioritized in your career development. Crafting your personal brand and articulating your value to others are not “necessary evils,” but the keys to your professional development. It is important to remember that there are some fantastic benefits to personal branding that will catapult you into an exciting, fulfilling and compelling career space. It is about who you are and how you resonate with yourself. It’s about the way you make others feel. In a world saturated by companies and individuals advertising their uniqueness, it takes a well-defined personal brand to really stand out. Knowing your strengths, owning your quirks and aligning with the key players are the steps that will get your super powers recognized and allow you to be the very best version of your professional self.
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