No topic has received as much attention recently as did the topic of “women”. Leading female activists, Hollywood superstars and powerful female CEOs have united in various movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUP in order to advance the same agenda: the empowerment of women. Since last week we celebrated International Women’s Day I simply could not stand aside without contributing to the narrative.
Whilst celebrities and public figures have an army of PRs carefully planning their every move, the individual woman who does not spend her days on the red carpet but rather in an office, can be distraught by the overwhelming process of managing her reputation and building an empowered image.
Personal branding refers to the strategic process of building the right reputation both online and in real life in order to achieve status and to advance professionally. The personal brand must be perceived as an ensemble of elements (business cards, social media profiles, websites, dress codes, publicity, visual image and many more) carefully crafted in order to manage perceptions about the person. Oprah, Michelle Obama, Ivanka Trump, J.K. Rowling, Barbara Corcoran – are all personal brands. In the past “brand building” was only meant for politicians and celebrities. However, nowadays it is meant for everybody.
Even if you are merely beginning your career the way you convey yourself to the world will impact how far you will go and how long it will take for you to get there. Your personal brand will prove to be your most valuable investment when developing a business partnership, attracting clients, searching for a job, and even when networking or building relationships.
It is not easy to create the personal brand of a professional modern woman. Especially, whilst walking the fine line between society’s expectations, the influence of celebrity culture and managing one’s own insecurities. However, there are a few key aspects that should be considered:
Know your personal brand
You cannot manage what you do not know. Firstly, you must have clarity on your goals as well as on how you wish to be perceived. Secondly, you must learn how others perceive you and how your behavior impacts your goals. Often times, there seems to be a discrepancy between these two. When there is clear congruency between your goals and your actions you will be on the right path towards success.
Invest in yourself
There is nothing more empowering than for a woman to invest in herself and for others to see her doing precisely so. Investing in yourself does not refer to buying material things, it refers to spending your time and your money on things that really matter and change your life for the better. On the one hand, it implies receiving a formal or an informal education, partaking in various courses, getting cultured or grasping the macro trends that influence the world. On the other hand, it entails taking care of your health and your body; bad habits are not only disastrous for your personal image but also act as an open door for others to take advantage of you.
Invest in your image
Your image is represented by the way you portray yourself in real life as well as in the online world. Invest in high quality photo shoots, well-crafted logos and folders, elegant business cards, professional websites and in working with experts and esteemed consultants. Such an approach will immediately get noticed by the right people. You cannot expect to be handed a million-dollar deal when your image says you are not worth that deal. It might seem superficial at first but in fact it is ingrained in our nature. We pay for what we perceive to be of value. If your overall brand, style and reputation do not appear to be of value you will surely not to receive your worth.
Your online reputation is permanent
Remember that everything you post (including messages, shares and check-ins) remains on your permanent record. In a world where everything is public, privacy is the best defense. As an overall rule of thumb, I always recommend for the individual to ask oneself: “would I want my mother to see this picture?” If the answer is no, you should not want your co-workers nor collaborators to see it.
Control your message
You cannot control what other people say about you. Yet, you can control what you say. If you don’t share your story the right way other people will share your story the wrong way. There are numerous things you can do to ensure that you stay on the message. One of them is to limit gossip as well as stop over-sharing information.
Your entourage matters
You become who you surround yourself with! It is scientifically proven that as time goes by we become more and more like the company we keep. Moreover, you are constantly being evaluated by comparison with the company you keep. If you are constantly seen with people who are known to party you will be perceived as a party animal too. On the other hand, if you are seen people who are experts in your field you will be perceived as a professional. Choose wisely!
Truth be told, it is a great time to be alive and to be a woman. However, be sure that the world is not ready to treat you in a manner in which you are not ready to treat yourself!
On March 14, 2018