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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Akien

Five steps to developing a personal brand this International Women’s Day

All too often, International Women’s Day becomes a tick-box exercise for internal comms in corporate organisations, and an opportunity to post content across social media channels. The #IWD2021 trending that fills our social media channels raises awareness, but is ephemeral.

I find International Women’s Day (IWD) a good time for reflection. After all, the day is steeped in history and can be traced back to 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York City, rallying for voting rights, shorter working hours and better pay. If I was a woman back then, I’m pretty certain I would have joined them!

So, this IWD2021, I #ChooseToChallenge my personal brand, and in doing so, I’m taking a look at how women can best market themselves in 2021. I consider how women can develop and promote their personal brand in five simple steps.

How can women market themselves in 2021?

Of course, there shouldn’t be any difference in marketing yourself as a women, a man, gender fluid, non-binary or whoever you want to be in 2021. However, it cannot be denied that personal branding presents unique challenges for females. Research shows that women are subject to the ‘likability conundrum’ phenomenon. Gender norms presume that women should be:

  • agreeable

  • warm

  • nurturing

when women disrupt these norms — such as when they step up to make a tough decision, share a strong opinion, or promote themselves — they’re often criticised for that behaviour in a way that men wouldn’t be.

A few years ago, an article in the Harvard Business Review, which looked at 200 performance reviews within one company, revealed bias in feedback. The results tallied the number of references to being ‘too aggressive’ in the reviews and, not surprisingly, 76% of the instances were attributed to women, while only 24% of men were identified as having such a communication style. Appearance comes into play too, as in 2016, a receptionist at PwC was sent home for not wearing heels.

What is a personal brand?

Personal branding is the practice of marketing people and their careers as brands. A personal brand refers to how you want to promote yourself. It is your expertise, experience and personality that you want others to see.

Why is a personal brand important?

Developing a personal brand is valuable. It helps others see your true talents, so you’re more likely to be contacted for relevant and interesting career opportunities or projects — and it helps you stand out in the field.

You can use your personal branding to set yourself apart from others. As the famous 19th century author and poet Oscar Wilde so brilliantly stated,

"Be yourself, everyone else is already taken."

Has personal branding changed in the COVID-19 pandemic?

Studies show that it takes three seconds for someone to make a lasting and complete impression of you. In BC times (before Covid and pre-pandemic), this has been reserved to how you dress and what you look like, your energy level, and sometimes a firm handshake. In today’s digital world, you make an impression with a quick LinkedIn profile glance, a few image swipes, and maybe a posted tweet.

Five steps to developing a personal brand

1. How do I get started on my personal brand? If you haven't created a personal brand yet and are looking to create one, here are some questions to think about:

· What do you want to be known for?

· How will your brand make people feel?

· What makes you different?

· What are your core beliefs and values?

· What skills can you offer?

· What problem are you trying to solve?

· What's your niche or USP (unique selling point)?

· What does success (and failure) look like for you?

2. Use marketing tools! A SWOT analysis comes in handy when building a personal brand. Write down what you’re good at, your weaknesses, what opportunities are there for you and consider potential threats. Once complete, undertake a competitor analysis. Research people similar to yourself, as you need to know how many others there are with similar skills or experience.

3. Who should hear about you? Whether you’re a freelancer who wants to attract new clients, or you want to develop your skills inside corporate organisations, the right people need to hear about you. Research by Sylvia Ann Hewlett at the Center for Talent Innovation in the US shows that refining your personal brand is one of the best ways to attract a sponsor — and professionals with sponsors are 23% more likely than their peers to be promoted. In the current climate of COVID-19 pandemic job insecurity, your brand is a powerful weapon against professional misfortune. If there are redundancies at your company, being known in your field increases your chances of being headhunted.

4. Speak up! Even extroverts can find it tough to put themselves out there. It is easy to naturally default to being self-deprecating, or deflecting the attention when being praised for your expertise. Building yourself up is all about brand positioning. You've got to show your customer base that you're the ‘go-to’ person. Some women may feel uncomfortable talking about their accomplishments and promoting themselves directly. But there are other ways to show your areas of expertise when building a brand. Content creation is a good way to share your ideas and build a positive reputation.

5. Get Social! When you consistently tell your story and share aspects of your personality with your audience across social media, you will notice more people actively engaging, following, and sharing your content. The more personality you can add to your brand, the easier it is to find your tribe. Over time, you will build this community of like-minded people who value your skills and see you as an expert in your industry.

So, this International Women’s Day #ChooseToChallenge your personal brand. If we don’t control our own narrative, and show the world what we can contribute, few people and/or clients will notice. By following these marketing strategies, your true talents will get known, recognised and appreciated.

My next blog will cover how to create a marketing plan for yourself in 2021. However, in the meantime, if you are looking for assistance with brand building your business, services or products, get in touch with Moo Marketing & Copy.

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