This article is the second of our 7-part women’s leadership series on creating leadership identity.
In the first article of this series, I defined leadership identity and its importance to your career path, and the seven building blocks for creating and cultivating it. One of those seven is how you brand and market yourself.
“Branding and marketing yourself” is a fancy phrase for how you choose to project what is unique, genuine, and quality about you. I purposely use the word choose , because it is your choice to actively design and build awareness for your personal brand, or passively allow others to do it for you. Your brand and how you cultivate awareness of it can determine what leadership opportunities you have in the future.
One of my mentors, Dr. Lois Frankel, describes it this way:
“Brand names get a reputation as a result of two things: consistent quality and marketing. One without the other doesn’t equate to staying power or success in the marketplace.”
If you take a closer look at those two things, consistent quality and marketing, I’d say many emerging women leaders have consistent quality down cold. If anything, you may be so busy with consistent quality that you don’t invest enough in the second thing, marketing. Why is that?
The “why” is a blend of some complex factors built over time – some external and some internal. External factors being messages we’ve received, conditioning us to be seen and not heard, or reinforcing the idea that putting ourselves out there is incongruent with being feminine. Internal factors might be fear, feeling like an imposter, or believing that we will get noticed if we just keep working harder. I’m sure you can add more to this list.
But like Dr. Frankel suggests, the best brands have both consistent quality along with consistent marketing and awareness. In fact, if you examine those brands that you are most loyal to, they likely have those two items in spades.
Let’s break the equation down into its parts, starting with consistent quality. They are your foundation, the factors that drive you to create the best product possible (you being the product), such as:
- Talents and skills
- Unique expertise
- Overall presence: dress, presence, posture, voice, articulation of thoughts
I will often take groups of emerging women leaders through exercises to help them better pinpoint these “consistent quality” areas.
Into the Marketplace
Consistent marketing is often where the big leap for emerging women leaders comes into play, and I can relate. Intrinsically I’ve always known that I brought consistent quality to my work. I joke that I’m a recovering perfectionist! I had to learn the mindset and actions of consistent marketing. Was it uncomfortable at times? Yes! But if I didn’t get past that barrier, it’s likely I wouldn’t be sharing this article with you right now.
If you have leadership aspirations, it’s a must that you learn to market yourself and get comfortable with it. Often the actions come first to help cultivate the mindset.
Below is a listing of concrete ways you can take action, and many of them I have used myself. When creating your own list, keep in mind the things you are naturally good at and enjoy. For example, writing is one of those things for me, and I use it regularly to market myself and the company.
- Becoming a guest writer for your company newsletter
- Writing articles for your professional association newsletter or blog
- Joining and participating in a relevant group on LinkedIn
- Doing a breakout session or presenting research at an industry event, seminar, or conference
- Volunteering to do a key presentation for a leader or executive
- Tracking your list of accomplishments over the quarter and presenting them to your direct manager
- Asking your clients to provide feedback on your work/services, and forward positive feedback to your leadership
- Joining a professional association and volunteering for a committee with visibility
- Showcasing your expertise by participating on a panel or giving a speech at a local organization
- Joining a group dedicated to improving public speaking, such as Toastmasters or National Speakers Association
I challenge you to put one of these actions into play in the next 30 days. See what happens as a result of getting yourself into the marketplace!
Look for the next article in this series to dive deeper into the next building block.
Visit https://amyfranko.com for more information about custom training solutions and professional development services offered by Impact Instruction Group. Amy Franko works with emerging women leaders, teaching concepts from the international best-sellers Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office and See Jane Lead to many national companies and organizations.
© 2014 Impact Instruction Group
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