Personal Branding is Not a Dirty Word: 3 Strategies for Women to Develop their Brand

As career women, we are our own best advocates. But as women in our society, many of us were raised to feel uncomfortable “tooting our own horn", more so in Australian culture where the "tall poppy syndrome" still prevails.  

Hence the issue of personal branding remains more topical for female entrepreneurs and executives, as women still have to self-define themselves in the world of gender stereotypes and leadership gaps. Research has repeatedly shown that women are subject to a phenomenon known as the “likability conundrum.” Gender norms presume that women should be agreeable, warm, and nurturing, and when they violate these norms — such as when they step up to make a tough decision, share a strong opinion, or promote themselves — they’re often penalized for that behaviour in a way that men wouldn’t be. We can all think of examples of women who have been publicly criticized for being “too aggressive” or labelled an “ice queen” or the “b-word.”

So how can we, as women, navigate this challenge and develop a powerful personal brand?

First answer this question, “Why do I need a personal brand?

For starters, a strong personal brand can open doors to new business and career opportunities. Smart female professionals know that closing the gender gap in the workplace begins with supporting your female colleagues, and putting yourself out there is the best way to make important connections to take your career to the next level.

Savvy female entrepreneurs understand that a strong personal brand helps them craft and focus an (authentic) image highlighting their expertise, the value they can offer, and their company’s brand. More so, female-led businesses experience more challenges in raising capital. So as a business owner, they need to build a personal brand to invite funds or partners who could help to upscale their business.

Whether you're just starting your careers, looking to advance or building your business empire here are a few important strategies women in business need to keep in mind when building your personal brands.

1. Craft Your Authentic Story

The essential detail of a brand is your personal story.

When people introduce you to someone, they choose a single phrase to describe you, which is crucial because it creates an impression in the eye of others. What phrase would you use to describe yourself? To come up with it, try the elevator pitch technique: come up with 20-30 words answering the question about who you are and what is your value.  Context matters because there lies a far cry between self-admiration and stories elevating your status - be authentic.

My personal story is, I want to create more female role models and thought leaders, based on my own personal and professional experiences - growing up with pretty much a single parent, absent father and the challenges through my career and building my businesses, I wish I had more female role models to look up to, connect and learn from which lead me to launch HerWit so that other women and future generation of young girls would have the opportunity to connect with someone who has their story, looks like them, and have achieved success, making them believe they can do it too.

2. Raise Your Voice, Share Your Thoughts and Be Consistent

Who you are and what you value are important parts of your personal brand.

Many women may feel uncomfortable talking about their accomplishments and promoting themselves directly. Share your ideas, advice and opinions on professional and maybe even personal subjects (where relevant to your business and career).  Content creation is a great way to share your ideas and build a positive reputation at scale. This allows readers to get to know your strengths, where you stand and what to expect from you. However, you must be consistent across your message and how often you share your point of view and story.  This will help you build your social bankroll - earning loyalty and trust with your audience, helping you build business connections and grow your network.

For example, we developed a 6 month thought leadership content, social and data strategy for a client, by sharing her ideas and vision, it positioned her as a subject matter expert around her business which we amplified across social networks consistently twice a month, leading her to gain audiences that engaged with her and opening doors to various opportunities from partnerships to speaking events.  

3. Integrity Matters

Pretending to be someone else and idle talks are what kills personal brands, so make sure you are building your personal brand for the right reasons.  

Here’s one foolproof way to tell — ask yourself: “What have I done (or what am I doing) in my career or business that is actually remarkable?”  Plenty of “internet famous” people have come and gone. It’s ridiculously easy for anybody to share opinions online. Hard work, depth and authenticity are required if you’re serious about building a successful personal brand.

Although your online profiles are the easiest way for new contacts to learn about you, your personal brand goes beyond what you post digitally. According to the research from Weber Shandwick, responsibility and recommendations are what makes a successful entrepreneur and corporate career. Your personal brand is a combination of all your real-life interactions. It's about how you build relationships, how you respond to situations, and the impressions you leave behind.

Personal branding has its bag of mixed views and feelings — no one wants to look like a outrageous self-promoter or a Kardashian. Plus with the likability conundrum, building meaningful connections and a strong reputation at work and in business is even more complicated for women.

But if we don’t control our own narrative and show the world what we can contribute, odds are very few people will actually notice.  Building your brand dramatically increase the odds that your true talents will get known, recognized, and appreciated - positioning you as the leader and role model that you are meant to be.

Get in touch at info@herwit.com.au for a free 45 min mentoring session on amplifying your personal brand and/or your business brand.