How to build your personal brand

Personal branding

Been on LinkedIn lately? You’ve witnessed the delicate balance between authenticity and over-eager self-promotion. What you may not realise, is that you’ve also witnessed all the missing voices. Women can’t take up space hiding in the shadows.

Last week, we met a highly accomplished Powrsuiter whose LinkedIn profile was gathering dust. We challenged her to write one post about the event we were at. After very articulately delivering numerous reasons why she couldn’t, she went ahead and did it. Of the six comments (and one repost) she received, our favourite was a request for her to share more. After a quick stalk check this morning, we can confirm, she has.

If you’re afraid of being judged for promoting yourself, that fear may be well-founded! Long-lasting social norms expect women to be friendly, warm, and nurturing. We’ve learned to avoid being ‘too assertive’ and have witnessed women leaders get publicly criticised for being too angry, too aggressive, and too cold

Deconstructing the myth

Personal branding is far from narcissistic or selfish; it’s a strategic tool to convey your unique identity. Endless studies highlight personal branding as a key ingredient in a more satisfying career. It also increases our chances of being hired. 

More interesting work? Yes please

A strong reputation can put you on the radar for interesting projects, clients, and career opportunities. You’re more likely to be tapped for relevant work when your talents are understood. A bonus: Your brand is also a hedge against professional bumps. If there are layoffs or cutbacks, being recognised increases your likelihood of being snapped up quickly.

In a world dominated by faceless corporations, people want to engage with relatable individuals – and that’s where our personal brand can take centre stage. 

Uncover your personal brand

Purpose: As Powrsuiters, you’ve probably defined your purpose. It’s part of your unique value and captures the difference you want to make, what you stand for, and how you want to show up. Your purpose is the cornerstone of your personal brand. Knowing what it is helps you differentiate between opportunities and more unnecessary work

Mastery: What are you good at? Think about your skill sets, credentials, and experiences. If you don’t know, ask your ‘truth tellers’ – people you surround yourself with who want to see you succeed. And quit being too humble; your sporting experiences, travel, volunteering, and career gaps only strengthen your unique brand. They can be a big part of what sets you apart.

Live your personal brand

Be yourself: If you can get through the wall of noise created every time they’re together, you’ll notice Kristen and Nat are very different – and unashamedly themselves. Nat’s always five seasons behind the latest TV fad, or jumping on a new bandwagon. Kristen careens towards any dog within 100 meters and gets far too involved in whatever sporting world cup is on. The things that make us who we are are the things that attract people – it’s ok to be loud, funny, sarcastic, quiet, geeky, or shy. It’s actually a key part of your personal brand, so flaunt it.

Diversity: In a world wired for connections, it’s easy to gravitate toward the safe and familiar. But a well-known reputation lies in casting your net wide and nurturing relationships with people from all corners. A broad network can provide unexpected opportunities. If you find yourself delivering your elevator pitch at yet another industry conference, maybe it’s time to stretch out of that comfort zone… 

Sharing: Knowledge is currency. If you keep a low profile and let your work speak for itself, you might develop a good reputation with the people you work closely with. But that’s a relatively limited number of people! Say yes to opportunities to share what you’ve done, even if they feel like distractions from your ‘real work’. Whether it’s hosting a lunch and learn session, contributing to your company’s monthly update, or engaging in panel discussions to amplify your presence.

If you don’t control the narrative, others will! People are always forming opinions about you, so consider the message you’re putting out in the world. Your goal is to ensure that the narrative about you is accurate, compelling, and differentiated. 

30 second action:

In your next 1-1 meeting with your manager, share a great work outcome and link it directly with a strength of yours (e.g. I’ve been working on my influencing skills and was able to really clearly articulate our value when meeting with [client]. They’ve since booked a follow-up call to talk about a project.)

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