The following post features highlights from the Brand You workshop for women leaders hosted by the MetroHartford Alliance on July 21, 2017 featuring speakers Jessica Lyon, EVP & COO of Co-Communications, and Allegra Anderson, owner of Allegra Anderson Photography.
Lucille Ball. Michelle Obama. Ina Garten. Oprah. When you think about these women, what first comes to mind? Whether you associate these public icons with their personal missions, professional accomplishments or the trajectory of their careers, one thing is certain – each has a clearly defined personal brand.
First popularized by a Fast Company Magazine article authored by Tom Peters 20 years ago, personal branding encapsulates how you present yourself to the world. Everything you choose to do – and choose not to do – plays a role in communicating the character and value of your personal brand.
Reputation Matters: While it may sound silly, taking the time to Google yourself is important. The matching search queries – both content and imagery – impact how your personal brand is perceived by the world. Take the time to ask your colleagues and connections how they perceive you as these insights are also invaluable in honing and monitoring your personal brand.
Think Beyond Headshots: While a traditional headshot may be the best way to convey your brand in the business world, environmental portraits and candid photos can be equally appropriate and impactful.
Build Strong Relationships: Eighty-four percent of decision makers start their buying process with a referral and we are living in what has been deemed “the relationship era.” Data suggests that women’s high levels of emotional intelligence give them a brand-building advantage with their natural ability to build relationships.
Own Your Competitive Advantage: You may have grown up hearing the adage, “the proof is in the pudding.” When it comes to cementing your personal brand, backing up broad statements with objective proof is key.
As Lyon noted during the workshop, we all have roles and responsibilities that we take on in our careers. This list – which often comprises a job description – is not your personal brand. Think about what you have accomplished in the role, which skills you have leveraged most successfully and what attributes allow you to excel in your role.
It’s Personal: Research shows that brand messages shared on social media by employees have greater reach and generate stronger levels of engagement than those shared via a brand’s social media channels. As an ambassador for your organization and leader in your field, maintaining a strong, well-respected personal brand is key to success.
Plan Photos Accordingly: What do you want your photos to say about you? Is a professional, more corporate image the best representation of your personal brand? Or, is there an edginess that is important to convey? When assembling a bank of photography to communicate the visual side of your personal brand, focus on quality over quantity. Know when professional photography is the best approach and when a smartphone photo or piece of stock imagery may be appropriate. Most importantly, ensure all imagery is authentic to your brand.
Looking for more personal branding insights? Check out Co-Communications President & CEO Stacey Cohen’s personal branding blog on The Huffington Post.