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How to Enhance Your Personal Brand: A Toolkit For Female Leaders

How to Enhance Your Personal Brand: A Toolkit For Female Leaders

How we view ourselves is not what defines our personal brand. In fact, our perception of ourselves matters very little.

Our personal brand is how others perceive us. It is very important to understand that it is up to each and every leader to control their brand. If you don’t, there is a strong risk that someone else will.

Your brand is defined by three components: your value set, what differentiates you, and your marketability. These components emerge when we communicate verbally, non-verbally, and through our digital footprint.

It has been demonstrated time and time again that leaders with strong identifiable brands excel at emotional intelligence (EQ). As female leaders we have a fantastic advantage when it comes to EQ. First off, neurologically, women’s brains are wired with a larger limbic system leading to a natural predisposition to be aware of our own emotions and the emotions of others. This positions female leaders to connect readily with others.

Additionally, as young girls we are socialized to value empathy, diversity, and inclusion. So, from both a nature and nurture perspective female leaders have an ability to create a strong personal brand through the relationships they cultivate, and these relationships contribute to our brand currency.

[Related: Your Leadership Brand will Make or Break You]

Here are some tips that women can employ to even further enhance and promote their brand.

Make Declarative Statements

There are times when women state their opinion in the form of a question. “That’s a great idea, isn’t?” The intent is to be inclusive, however, women need to declare their point of view. Statements shouldn’t be in the form of questions, otherwise we inadvertently appear as though we are asking for permission.

Stop Apologizing

Women tend to apologize even when things are not their fault. If someone else interrupts, bumps into us, cuts in line, we say we are sorry. We do this because we are showing empathy. By doing so, we suggest that it is okay for someone else to usurp our position. But it isn’t okay, and we should make sure we stay front and center.

[Ellevate Insights: Do You Apologize at Work?]

Self Promotion

Female leaders often view self-promotion as a bad thing. Women see the marketing of themselves as inauthentic, political, or managing up. Despite these misgivings it’s imperative to promote yourself. Your brand is dependent upon the opportunity you create to pursue visibility. By profiling yourself and your unique capabilities you create leverage. This leverage is equated with success and confidence that encourages others to bet on you.

Active Negotiation

Women tend not to ask for greater pay, increases in salary or vigorously raise their hand for stretch assignments. We need to challenge the status quo and demand what we deserve. Women must view their skills and expertise as transferable. Promoting past experiences and successful wins gives great credence to a leader’s personal brand. This maximizes leverage to negotiate for greater scope and profile.

Jump In

Research illustrates that men interrupt significantly more often in meetings than women. Female leaders take social etiquette into the world of business and wait their turn before speaking. In the corporate sector it is de rigueur to cut into a conversation. If you don’t jump in then, before you know it, someone else steals your thunder. Speaking up early allows you to own the direction and create a profile.

Use of Social Media

Your digital footprint is your public profile. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then make sure your photo, as well as your tweets and statements, are aligned with your value proposition. Social media platforms are an opportunity for you to showcase your unique capabilities.

[Related: How to Keep Social Media from Hurting Your Job Search and Career]

Strategic Networking

Personal brand is all about how you strategically promote yourself. Seek out an active network that is comprised of individuals who really know your brand. These leaders should be prepared to advocate upon your behalf and be a sponsor for your career advancement. Once you have established a strong identifiable brand then you create confidence in these decision makers. They are now keen to provide you with an even greater platform to elevate your brand.

A version of this article originally appeared on Brand Quarterly.

Cindy Wahler, Ph.D., C.Psych. is a leadership consultant specializing in executive coaching and talent management. She can be contacted at cwahler@cindywahler.com


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