Last week I presented at a leadership forum for nearly a hundred talented and aspirational women leaders. At this venue, I rallied a call to action for women to have their voices heard and valued by creating a “personal brand.”
Even if you believe you don’t have a brand, you actually do have one. In fact, you may have several brands based on the impressions you leave with others. Unfortunately, these impressions may not be the ones you want people to have of you. Having a brand that defines your best elements and differentiates you from others in a positive way is key to achieving your career goals and aspirations.
In SHAMBAUGH’s Women’s Leadership division, we coach women leaders worldwide on how to create their brand, leverage it, and take personal accountability for influencing their branding image. We start by having them consider some questions:
- Why are people drawn to you?
- Why do others want to invest in you?
- What do you want people to think and say about you?
- How do you need to “show up” to achieve that impression?
Here are a few tips to get you started on a more conscious approach to brand-building:
- Deepen your self-awareness. Seeing how you currently “define” yourself is an important first step to personal brand creation. This step involves identifying your signature strengths, passions, and values. Knowing and living your values not only helps to shape your brand, but also leads to self-empowerment.
- Learn about your current impressions. Ask trusted peers and advisors how they perceive your leadership brand. This information will help you determine if outside perceptions align with what you ideally want your leadership brand to be. Consider this feedback a gift to broaden your awareness, so that you can tailor your personal brand to match your vision and goals.
- Know your target audience/markets. Who are the key stakeholders, customers, partners, constituents, and other key influencers in your organization who can impact your advancement? Don’t wait for them to come to you; be proactive. Get under their radar by getting involved in areas in which these key players are working. Develop a relationship with them, and show them your brand in action.
- Make your words count. It’s one thing to know your brand, but it’s just as important to communicate it in a way that’s compelling, understandable, and memorable to others. To that end, be authentic and straightforward with your audience. Be a person of few words, and say those words like you mean them, with confidence and energy.
- Be consistent with your brand. Your brand is revealed through many different situations, including meetings, phone calls, emails, presentations, and conversations. You’re communicating something about your brand even when you’re riding in the elevator with someone! The key is to be intentional and consistent about what you’re communicating.
- Find opportunities to leverage your brand. Do you have the right people around you to serve as your brand ambassadors? Do these people include senior-level influencers whom others respect? If not, build on your network and identify relationships with those who can become your brand ambassadors. Be clear about what you want them to perceive about your brand, and ask for their assistance to get the word out to the right people in the right places.
- Your brand is as good as your “webutation.” Don’t disregard the power of social media to influence branding, either positively or negatively. Prioritize delivering a consistent message throughout all of your social media channels. Project your thought leadership, strengths, and accomplishments through social media to help strengthen your brand and differentiate your offerings.
Your brand is critical for gaining respect, creating new opportunities, and positively influencing the conversation people have about you. What will that conversation be, and when will you begin to create that brand for yourself?
To learn more about how SHAMBAUGH can help you create and share your personal brand or about SHAMBAUGH’s targeted women’s leadership development programs, executive coaching, and other core services, visit www.shambaughleadership.com.
Check out her compelling messages and new topics for Leaders in the 21st Century at:
Rebecca Shambaugh is author of the best-selling books “It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor,” “Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton,” and “Make Room for Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model to Achieve Extraordinary Results”