“Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark.” ~Jay Danzie
In today’s world of digital, it’s become key to create your own personal brand, especially one that will help you stand out when it comes your career. Lipstick & Ink’s® Making Your Mark: Infusing Your Personal Brand into Your Professional Life, brought to you by EvolveHer, encouraged over 30 attendees to start thinking about how to build and showcase their personal brands and exemplify it in their professional lives.
The highly engaging and collaborative event included networking, a powerful panel discussion and group exercise to help guide the women and men on what it means to have a personal brand and how to showcase it in the workplace.
The event, sponsored by Tiesta Tea and SOCIAL Sparkling Wine, as well as Athleta and Two Flower Girls, kicked off with delicious light bites and beverages, fun photo opportunities and a warm and inviting venue at EvolveHer.
Kelly Nash, Founder of Lipstick & Ink®, hosted the panel discussion and gathered differing perspectives on personal branding from Megha Hamal, Founder & CEO of Megha Hamal PR and Branding, LLC, Krystin McDermott, Assistant Director of Talent Acquisition at CapGemini and Neha O’Rourke, Founder and Career Coach of Somewhere in Between Coaching, LLC.
Understanding the “Personal Brand”
Megha, a notable personal branding expert and writer with articles published in CEO World Magazine, Chicago Tribune and Wall Street Journal, kicked off the panel with an explanation of what a personal brand is. She explained that in today’s day and age, we are all walking brands. “Our personal brand includes our strengths, passions and values. Our brand encompasses what people say about us when we’re not in the room. Knowing your personal brand is a critical component in career development and growth,” she said. Neha added that knowing your personal brand is understanding the core of who you are and what makes you, you.
Building Your Personal Brand
So how do you do go about creating and owning your personal brand? Megha recommends starting with having a bio, as it highlights your story in a snapshot. Having a bio should also be a no-brainer to have on your social profiles and personal website. “It’s important to tell your story because the personal elements is what makes you so interesting,” she said. Megha even encouraged attendees to send their bio with their resume and cover letter when job applying.
Krystin built upon that and said consistency with your brand is key. Utilize the same profile picture and similar colors across social profiles and your personal website. “And show your personality!” she remarked. Krystin enlightened attendees with information like how recruiters enjoy seeing the personal elements of a potential candidate. “It’s important for recruiters to find something to connect on instantly,” she said.
Kelly handed out exercise worksheets for attendees to fill out during the event, which included a SWOT analysis and a place to write down their 30 second pitch. This got attendees thinking what their strengths and opportunities are, while also taking into consideration their weaknesses and threats. These are just a few examples of exercises that individuals can do to get to the heart of who they are and what their personal brand encompasses.
And once you do have your personal brand solidified, Megha empowered attendees to promote themselves, especially in the workplace. “Talk about your personal brand and who you are,” she said. “We as women don’t talk about ourselves enough and that can ultimately hurt us in the long run.” (Could not agree more!) She recommended voicing your opinion when appropriate and really showing what makes you unique.
Krystin agreed and said how important it is to play up your strengths. “You need to have your differentiators and you need to show the differences you’ve made at companies in your previous roles. You should be networking on a consistent basis and explaining your story and how you can make a difference in an organization,” she said.
Discovering Your Why
A lot of what your personal brand includes is discovering and knowing your why. “It’s about understanding why you say yes to something or why you enjoy something,” Neha remarked. Kelly and the panelists agreed that discovering your why and your passions is something that can and should happen both in and outside of the workplace.
Krystin inspired attendees to find passions at work and to be open about them to their manager and co-workers. “You never know when a door can open,” she said. Neha agreed and stated that you should be managing up to your manager and letting them know of your goals and passions and how you can rise up in the company. If you don’t like or trust your manager, find a mentor who can cheer you on. “Most people want you to tell your story. They want to invest in you more than you think,” Neha said.
Many females in particular are turning to what we call, ‘side hustles.’ This topic was brought up at length during the panel. Kelly and the panelists were in agreement that it’s okay to share that side hustle at work and to talk about it. “Find a way to infuse it,” Krystin encouraged. “It will help you connect with people and you never know where that can lead.”
Neha agreed and said, “You should feel fulfilled in your career, especially because of how much time we spend working in our lifetimes. Bring your side hustle into work. Share it with everyone around you. Otherwise, you’ll never know who may need your services or who may be able to connect you with someone.”
Kelly shared her experience of working at Salesforce, while having her side hustle in Lipstick & Ink®. “My manager and most of my co-workers know about Lipstick & Ink® and think it’s cool. There’s nothing to hide and I’m glad that I can take the learnings from my side hustle and infuse them into my day job,” she said.
Staying Credible & Being True to Who You Are
A big part of your personal brand is being and staying credible. Megha pressed that this is a critical component of your personal brand. She urged attendees to not lose their credibility as it takes years and years to build a personal brand. “If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Don’t say one thing at work and do something totally different in your personal life. Stay authentic and true to who you are.”
When it’s all said and done, your personal brand is about being true to who you are. Neha explained that when you know who you are and what your personal brand is, you’re able to own it and defend yourself when needed. “Be clear in who you are and don’t ever sacrifice it or let someone take that from you. Be proud of who you are” she concluded.
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, speaker, career advisor, and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. In addition, she works full-time in technology as a Success Manager at Salesforce and has over 10 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, SheFactor, and Six Degrees Society. She is also in the process of writing her first book.