How women can strengthen their personal brand
28th, Feb 2022
In honor of Women’s History Month, I am dedicating this post to helping women with their personal brand. That’s not to imply that men don’t also need a strong brand and these tips work well for them too. However, I think that women need to pay extra attention to shaping and promoting an effective brand. The reality is that even in professions where women are well-represented, as you go up the food chain into senior management there are fewer and fewer women. For example:
- Women have made up at least 40% of U.S. law students for decades and today, about 48% of law firm associates are women, but only 23% of equity partners are women.
- Approximately 62% of accountants and auditors are women, but only 23% are partners in accounting firms and 14% are CFOs of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 firms.
- Among entrepreneurs, 39% of businesses are women-owned, but only 2% achieve $1 million in revenue.
By strengthening their personal brand, women can raise their profile both within their companies and to a broader network to help position themselves for advancement and better opportunities.
Here are a few tips to get started:
1. Figure out your current brand. Your brand is your reputation and identity. It’s what you are known for and what people expect from you personally and professionally. A good way to think about it is that your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. To determine your brand, talk to people you know – colleagues, clients, managers, and other contacts to learn more about how you are perceived. There are ways you can couch your questions to make sure you are getting helpful and accurate feedback.
You should also ascertain your online brand. Google your name to see what shows up about you. Review your website and social media profiles and compare them to your competitors. It’s important to have a strong online presence with lots of positive information appearing when people search for you.
2. Identify any problems with your current personal brand. Do others have a negative or incorrect impression of you? Or is it that you have a good reputation but you are barely known beyond a small circle of people? Are there aspects of your brand you (dis)like and would like to change? Is lack of confidence, cultural conditioning, a bad work situation, bias or other circumstances affecting your personal brand or inhibiting you from promoting your brand? It’s hard to fix a problem without determining what it is.
3. Create a personal brand story. You want to highlight your personality and values along with your expertise. To do this, it helps to create your personal brand story – consider how your background and past personal and professional experiences have influenced your choices, work and relationships. Why do you do what you do? What do you enjoy most about your work? What unique value do you offer that your competitors don’t? What examples do you have? Your brand story should piece together the different aspects of your personal and professional life to tell a concise story demonstrating that you’re not just knowledgeable, but people can trust you and know what to expect from you.
4. Find brand champions. It’s always better to have other people talk about you in positive ways than talking about yourself. Ideally, you’ll have a few people that are true champions, but anyone you’ve dealt with can be helpful. Regularly request feedback from those you work with and when it’s good, try to document it publicly. (If it’s bad, make sure you address the problem or you’ll develop a poor reputation.) Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations/reviews. Also, ask happy clients for referrals and introductions. If you are praised by your boss, try to make sure others know about it in appropriate ways. Seek promotions, raises, desirable work assignments or even just a public thanks. Women often downplay their accomplishments which can significantly hurt them when they are looking for new opportunities. It’s also a good idea to develop a diverse support network to give you the most options in the future should you decide to take a different professional path.
5. Leverage all channels to promote your brand. Unfortunately, people have short attention spans. You want to be the one your contacts remember so you have to promote yourself. Obviously, networking is important both within your organization and outside of it. However, also take advantage of digital marketing channels like social media and email marketing, your website, blogging, writing and speaking opportunities, publicity and other owned, earned and paid media outlets. You want to share your ideas and expertise publicly so people know about you and you take control of your image.
6. Take small but well-planned steps. Random acts of marketing are a waste of time. Before you take action, it is important to develop a plan. For example, write down your brand message, who you want to target with that message, what you want to accomplish and what steps you will take to improve your brand. Start with a small targeted plan and commit to at least one or two marketing tactics or a set amount of time per week and then expand from there. Marketing is cumulative and the longer you keep at it, the more successful you will be.
If you are looking for help with your brand, contact us for a free consultation.