The struggle for gender equality is gaining more grounds as many movements are emerging and more and more people are getting engaged. Recently the #Me-too campaign swept across Hollywood and that spurred action across the world. The phrase “Me Too” was first used by activist Tarana Burke 10 years ago in a grassroots campaign to reach underprivileged girls dealing with sexual abuse. But it became an overnight phenomenon after actress Alyssa Milano encouraged victims of sexual abuse to tweet #MeToo as a way to show the world a “sense of the magnitude of the problem” following the Weinstein scandal. By the time she woke up the next day, thousands had responded. Within weeks it was more than a million.
While the campaign for change has opened up discussions, the several issues faced by female professionals and entrepreneurs in the workplace still remain very present.
For women looking to move their careers forward in spite of gender-biased obstacles, it can be difficult to create the right opportunities to ensure your talent is noticed.
One way to achieve your career goals and make sure that your potential isn’t overlooked is to develop your own recognisable personal brand. We have over the years seen women develop very strong brands that have made them indispensably visible in the market. Women like Oprah Winfrey, Madonna, Princess Diana, Winnie Mandela etc are examples of women we have in one way or the other heard or seen or read about their influence. While a personal brand may seem not so convenient, it’s incredibly important. Having a clearly defined brand helps you make that all-important first impression, formed within eight seconds of meeting. Research has shown that it can take as many as 20 further interactions to change someone’s first opinion so it’s vital that you make every second count.
Your brand affects how people perceive you professionally; having and projecting a strong personal brand can give you greater confidence and open up more career opportunities. It also has important business benefits too. These include more productive teams, more effective relationships with clients and improved customer service.
So, how do you go about creating one?
It’s important to identify what makes up your personal brand. Assess everything from your style, body language and tone of voice, to how you communicate in person, on email or by phone.
When crafting your brand, it’s essential to focus on your key strengths. Once you have identified these, build on and make the most of them by seeking out opportunities to demonstrate your skills in these areas. That may means putting yourself forward for a specific role on a project or working with someone who brings out your strengths
Decide exactly what you want people to know about you. A good place to start is to think about why someone would want you in their team. Ask yourself: what are my values? What motivates me? What are my key skills, strengths and achievements?
Focus on the things that make you different and concentrate on the positives on a personal and professional level. Consider the way you react in everyday situations, from how you manage people and deal with stressful situations, to your creativity and the way you think and process information. Write your answers down so you have a clearly defined set of objectives.
Finally, Look back at what you’ve written and remove any irrelevant or unnecessary detail and make sure that you’re using simple, language that has impact – no jargon. Once you’re happy, seek feedback from others. Talk to friends or family, or if you’re comfortable, other colleagues. It’s important to ask people who will be honest.
Once you have identified what makes up your brand identity, you need to put it into practice.
Here are some tips:
• Use networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook to make connections with new people and build your network of influence or tribe. Do this by joining groups – or set up a group if there isn’t one already – and participating in online discussions.
•Who do you admire for their personal brand? Could they mentor you to help you build your brand, without becoming a replica of theirs? that is the very first thing i did. i knew i needed people i admire and so i sought them and asked to be mentored.
• It’s important that you keep reviewing your brand at regular intervals. Are you portraying yourself the way you want to, consistently? Are you achieving your goals? What skills/knowledge do you want to be known for?
Regardless of the role you play or the stage you find yourself in your career, the way you project yourself at work will go a long way to getting you noticed for all the right things –your expertise.