When you think of Sheryl Sandberg, Arianna Huffington, your best friend, your mother or the best manager you have ever had, what do you think?
Hopefully you think something different and unique for each person, something that sets them apart from the others. For these people I am guessing it is something that you value highly, but for others it might be something that is perhaps the complete opposite.
Whatever it might be, it will be something that constitutes part of their personal brand, something they are known for, something that they consistently deliver on. Some would say it is their reputation, I would say it is more than that.
Love it or hate it, people have an opinion of you too. What many women don’t realise is that it is not a passive thing, they can be proactive and build their reputation, build their brand. I have already talked about why brand is important here, but today I wanted to share some tips about HOW you can build a positive reputation and brand for yourself.
Remember Number One
It is a competitive market place, especially for women, and especially the further up the ladder we go. And whilst it might not come naturally to many women, it is important to remember that you need to look out for yourself, because nobody else will do that for you. Making sure you treat yourself as number one is the first step in building your brand. So, once you have decided you are up for this, what do you need to actually do?
1. Be true to yourself – take the time to really identify what it is that makes you tick, what sort of person you are, and what is important to you. Once that is established it is easier to start building your persona around that. For example are you consultative or authoritative? Are you a subject matter expert or passionate about a cause? It doesn’t matter what the answer is, but you need to be clear what it is you want to be known for; otherwise you cannot promote or build on it. More importantly it has to be true and authentic, otherwise people will see right through it and you will tarnish your reputation and damage your brand.
2. Your opinion counts – many women often feel the exact opposite of this, but that is just not true. There is always an outlet for sharing your opinion. Just look at the rise in popularity of sites like Mumsnet, or see how many groups there are on LinkedIn covering every subject you could imagine. The big question is though, what is your opinion? What is your passion; what is it about your profession that excites you; what is it, outside of work, that fires you up? When you have established what your passion is, consider what your position is. What do you know already? Start to get more involved and join virtual or actual groups of like-minded people and share your views, building your brand every step of the way.
3. Get social – if you are not already signed up to social media you need to be. But don’t rush out and sign up to them all - you need to establish where the best place for your voice is. Perhaps it is in a LinkedIn group about your profession, but it might also be Instagram or Pinterest if you have a more visual passion. Once you have picked your platform learn how to use it effectively and check out if there are any tools that can help you manage it (rather than it overwhelming and managing you!).
4. Make every moment count! - Lean in; Step up - whatever term suits you best. You have to be in it to have any opportunity of making an impact. Seize every moment to say your piece. Reinforce your key messages and be noticed. If no-one knows you exist then you won’t have a brand or a reputation.
5. Be discerning - by this I mean stop saying yes to everything or trying to please everyone and start choosing the meetings you go to, the contribution you make, and the help you provide. Of course you have to do your job, but the extra mile only needs to be taken if it reinforces your brand, not if it just exhausts you and burns you out. Having boundaries and managing them is a crucial to building a brand as any of the other points. Quite often we judge people more favourably by what they won’t do, as it gives us greater insights into their values and principles. If brand is anything it is definitely about your values and principles.
So take some time out of your day and ask yourself, what is important to you and how are you going to make an impact today?