Sticky solutions to your everyday business challenges
Question: I’ve been hearing a lot lately about developing a personal brand, but I’m not sure how to do it without coming off as self-promoting. What advice can you share about how women in business can build a personal brand?
Answer: In her 2013 book Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor, author Sylvia Ann Hewlett wrote that professionals with sponsors are 23% more likely than their peers to be promoted – and cultivating your personal brand is one of the best ways to attract a sponsor.
But personal branding for women in business comes with certain challenges. Research has repeatedly shown that women are more subject to success-likability penalties than their male counterparts. a phenomenon known as the “likability conundrum.” Women who step outside of gender stereotypes (nurturing, agreeable, warm) are often penalized for dominant behaviors in ways that men are not.
You shouldn’t let this deter you if navigate your brand building with these tips:
1. Grow your network. Step outside of your circle both inside and outside of your organization to build your connections. The more people who know about you and your talents, the more people you’ll have to help champion your project or secure your next career move.
2. Practice your pitch. Don’t assume that people know your work history and the successes that you’ve accumulated along the way. Take some time to make explicit connections between your career path and professional success. Then, write a brief, personal elevator pitch that explains those connections.
3. Be your own PR agent. Who inside and outside of your organization (other than your immediate colleagues) might benefit from something you have become proficient in? Could the Vice President of Talent Development gain insight from your ability to correlate turnover with data from the organization’s learning management system? Schedule a meeting to share. Could you speak on your area of expertise at an upcoming networking event? Reach out to local event schedulers to share your knowledge.
In truth, you already have a personal brand. Whether you’re known as a doormat or a valued contributor depends on your ability to shape and share your narrative at the right time in the right place.