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Brand You: Building One’s Personal Brand at Work

Brand You: Building One’s Personal Brand at Work

By: Suzanna Thekkekara and Smita Khandai

Ellevate Mumbai, a chapter of the global Ellevate Network for professional women, and Accenture partnered together on a Women’s Day themed panel discussion at ISDI Parsons in February. The panel event focused on personal branding and ways professional women can build their brand in sync with the IWD theme, Be Bold for Change. The panel also discussed organizational best practices that can help support personal branding for women in the workforce. The panelists were Aparna Piramal Raje, Columnist at Mint; Lulu Raghavan, MD Landor Associates; Adrian Terron, Head Customer Centricity Tata Group; Anjali Pathak, Celebrity Chef and Founder of Flavour Diaries; and Nandita Kshirsagar, MD Accenture India. A summary of the panel discussion is below.

[Related: Is Your Brand Relevant or Redundant? Why Consistency in Branding Matters]

Personal brand exists for all — however, it evolves with time. The workplace is increasingly becoming more and more competitive and things change constantly. In this scenario, one can only influence one’s brand.

One needs to build and develop one’s brand and some of the important ways to do this as discussed by the panel are:

1. Being energetic and positive

2. Having a balanced approach and being collaborative

3. Being Passionate

4. Working on that one unifying idea that people can associate with

5. Finding the authentic part about yourself — who you are and what you stand for

6. Identifying what you bring to the workplace that will stand the test of time

7. Amplifying your strengths

8. Differentiating yourself from others

9. Being likable and genuinely nice

10. Being mindful

The panelists shared views on how one can find that key trait and attribute that defines one’s personal brand from their own experiences. Lulu Raghavan encouraged doing a self audit to find out what is relevant and what can differentiate you from others, while being authentic in the process. Adrian Terron said one must do what one is comfortable with. He also recommended finding a mentor who can help you learn the path of least resistance. In the absence of a mentor one can observe what other successful people do and learn from them. Anjali Pathak emphasized knowing one’s weaknesses and being an innovator. Nandita Kshirsagar said self awareness and introspection is key to finding one’s personal brand and staying focused. Aparna Piramal Raje encouraged the audience to take risks and explore varied aspects of one’s brand.

The panel shared means to influence personal brand as well, such as reading to improve self awareness and evolution. Investing in oneself and reflection is key to evolution and defining life goals. Putting content online on Google like writing a food blog or posting videos on YouTube in order to share knowledge with others is important from a visibility and audience engagement perspective. Networking, word of mouth,  and being one’s own PR agent helps people know you and your brand. In addition, the panel said that in the organizational set-up, bosses, peers and direct reports can help mold one’s brand as well. It is important to feed information to bosses on one’s achievements and talk about things that one has done. Being helpful at the workplace is important as well. As a boss, one needs to give credit when it is due and take the blame when things go wrong in order to build credibility. One of the panelists also suggested looking at the Brand Key model that advertisers use to evaluate essence of one’s brand, as well.

[Related: How to Enhance Your Personal Brand: A Toolkit for Female Leaders]

The topic of standing-up for one’s beliefs while considering others’ viewpoints was addressed. The panel’s take here was that at work you should have an opinion and challenge things when necessary. However, it is important to know how to respectfully disagree at the workplace.

Another topic discussed was how to manage one’s personal brand during certain life events, like taking a break for motherhood or caring for an ailing parent. Here, the panel felt that during one’s career, one will have to make certain inevitable life choices. However, one needs to seek support at the workplace and have an open dialogue with one’s boss and colleagues in order to set expectations. Organizations, too, are increasingly aware of the flexibility that women and employees in general may need during certain phases of their lives and are designing policies to support employees during these times. It is also important to share one’s experiences with colleagues to garner a support-base during these times, though over sharing is not recommended.

To sum up, personal branding helps you create your own destiny — use it to your advantage. 

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Suzanna is an HR professional with experience in diversified businesses. She is an Accredited Belbin Team Roles consultant and facilitator for Belbin workshops. She is also the Mumbai Chapter President of Ellevate Network.

A banker by profession, Smita manages relationships for large corporates. She is an avid traveller and a photography enthusiast. She is also a Chapter Officer at Ellevate Network, Mumbai


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