By: Anja Uitdehaag
The first thing we do if we want to find out more about a first date, a potential employer or a new colleague is googling the person concerned. And what we’ll discover is his/her personal brand.
A ‘personal brand’ is in many ways synonymous with our reputation. It refers to the way we are seen by the world, including clients, investors, peers, boss, friends, etc.
If you are not conscious of what your personal brand is and not deliberately branding yourself, the outside world is branding you.
Thus, if you are quiet you could be branded as passive; if you’re too caring of others’ feelings you might be branded as weak; if you’re too open to learning new things, you may be branded as naïve; and, perhaps most unfairly, if you’re aggressively proactive, you could very well be branded as “mannish.”
Women struggle with self-branding more than men.
At the core, women in business suffer more from feelings of self-doubt and a lack of confidence than their male counterparts. A study released in 2011 by Europe’s Institute of Leadership and Management revealed that women report having lower confidence in regard to their careers. Here are some findings from the study.
|•||Seventy percent of males have high or very high levels of self-confidence, compared to 50 percent of women.|
|•||Half of women managers admitted to feelings of self-doubt about their performance and career, compared to only 31 percent of men.|
|•||Men are more willing to take public credit for their successes. Women believe their accomplishments should speak for themselves.|
According to Jill Flynn, author of “Break Your Own Rules: How to Change the Patterns of Thinking that Block Women’s Paths to Power”, one issue keeping women from self-branding is their desire to blend in. “Some women go to great lengths to avoid attention. They don’t want to stand out—in meetings, in the boardroom or even in the elevator. But blending in means you are missing opportunities—every single day—to stand out and sell your ideas.” (HBR.org, 2011)
The challenge for businesswomen is to stand up, “lean in” as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg advises, and proactively advertise their worth to their bosses, their co-workers and their clients.
Peter Montaya, one of the best personal branding specialists, defines the personal brand in this way:
“A personal brand is a promise of performance that creates expectations in its audience. Done well, it clearly communicates the values, personality and abilities of the person behind it.”
According to “Personal Branding for Dummies” creating a personal brand involves:
- figuring out who you really are (your skills, values, passions and personality),
- what you are “selling” (perhaps your skills as a great organizer, an exceptional motivator),
- who you are targeting (your customer base, your superiors, your peers, etc.) and
- how you differ from your competition (what is unique about YOU).
Thus, building a recognizable personal brand starts with developing an understanding of your true self, focussing on the things that make you different, concentrate on the positives on a personal and professional level and then sharing that with the world.
Regardless of your role or the stage of your career, the way you project yourself at work will go a long way to getting you noticed for all the right things – your ability.
Being confident about who you are and what value you bring is a brilliant personal branding strategy.
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