This article first appeared on Forbes
As a woman, there are many reasons you may want to think about personal branding. You might be in a workplace where you feel you’re not getting the credit you deserve. You may be returning to the job market after taking a break to be home with the children. You may be reinventing yourself as an entrepreneur to live life on your terms.
For those of you new to the idea, personal branding evolved from the realization that corporate branding is integral to the success of any company. When done well, it helps us know what the company does well enough for it to be at the forefront of our minds when we need the kind of services it offers.
Personal branding is no different. And yet, the concept feels a little uncomfortable, especially for women because we tend to see it as self-promotion and even self-aggrandizement. I know I struggled with it for the longest time. I preferred to work my hardest and let my work speak for itself. Until I realized that few people are walking around with a tiara to place on my head!
In my coaching work, I’ve found that so many of us struggle for the same reasons. It’s because we’ve spent a lifetime learning to be modest, to not talk about our achievements, to hope that others will notice our efforts if we strive long and hard enough. And we’re suffering the consequences.
Often we are unable to fully appreciate our own abilities. We downplay them and minimize our successes. And we let our failures shine bright on our mental bulletin board. In addition, we’re also unable to draw the attention of those who can help us in our efforts to rise to our full potential. Because unless we shine the light on ourselves, the world is too busy to do so for us.
That’s where personal branding comes in. At its core, personal branding is about giving people the words to talk about you when you’re not around. It’s how people refer you to others or tell them how you can help them. Unlike what most of us believe, it’s not about projecting yourself or becoming an obnoxious self-promoter. Instead, it’s about letting others know how you can best be of service. And that’s an idea that women can live with!
To get you started on your own personal branding, here are 3 steps that will guide you:
Begin by doing a little self-audit exercise. Reflect on your strengths, values, and passions to know who you really are. Reflect on your expertise, experiences and leadership vision to get clear on what you do. When you do so, you’ll find it much easier to market yourself because you’re coming from a place of authenticity and purpose.
Once you’ve done that, start creating a positioning statement. Some people call it an elevator pitch – it’s what you would tell others about yourself in 2 minutes or less. Have a few positioning statements depending on how long you have to talk about yourself. Include who you are and what you do, but don’t forget to say how it helps others.
Now that you have an authentic brand that feels true to you, go out and let the world know about it. Network with those in and also outside your organization or business. Update your social media profiles and use its power to connect with people around the world. Women work best when they work together – who knows what synergies you may find.
Sheryl Sandberg wrote in her book Lean In that women’s career trajectories are less like a ladder and more like a jungle gym. We leap up, we step aside, we take a break, we explore different vistas, different passions.
It’s up to us to keep the world updated with where we are on our journey so we can be of service at every stage, and find meaning and fulfillment every step of the way.