23 women are now running Global 500 businesses — the highest number of women CEOs in the Global 500 since Fortune started tracking in 2014. However, the way we define success matters. Women are choosing to redefine the boundaries of success beyond a job title or position. It is about cultivating a life of value and impact.
Growing a career within an organization comes with a set of unique demands aside from what happens in the office. Building your influence as an executive entrepreneur is the lifeblood of your business. Whether you consider yourself an ‘intrapreneur’ who works within an organization or an entrepreneur who’s built a business of their own — creating a personal brand beyond conferences and convention appearances can be intimidating.
But a personal brand strategy done right, through discovering and adhering to your personal path, can foster success and respect in your industry and beyond. To see how brand development benefits our She-Suite community and women leaders at large, let’s break down the “what,” “why,” and “how” behind personal branding.
She-Suite’s Founder, Melissa Dawn Simkins, defines personal brand as the promise and perception of value. Personal branding is so much more than marketing and the number of people in your network. An effective personal brand highlights your impact on your industry and community. It aligns with your purpose path to help you create deeper connections, follow your calling, and create an intimate network rather than a vast one — a network that sees you as a leader.
This is especially important for all women — particularly women of color — who have to reset the standard beyond societal labels. Personal brand leadership is an identity built from a foundation of Mission, Vision, Purpose, and Values. This MVP approach used at She-Suite describes a unifying human identity that enables each person to define their unique value.
Breaking a disjointed personal branding cycle starts with discovering who you are and not being defined solely by what you do. Mentorship, community interaction, and making time for meaningful relationships are all aspects of reinforcing purpose — the defining factor of your personal brand.
The value of influence far transcends your job title and number of people in your network — influence helps you actualize every goal that develops your purpose path. Think of it as what is being said when you aren’t in the room. There are many ways your influence can positively affect your career and personal life as a woman professional, and these are just the tip of the iceberg.
Influence can help you perceive your value as a leader both in your community and industry. When you address why (not if!) you’re valuable and how this value passes and relates to those around you, you create a foundation of influence — the main building block of your brand.
Imagine a runner who’s won every race she’s been in. Those who know her respect her, but others in the industry haven’t yet recognized her influence. If she competes in the Olympics, however, her place is undeniable and demands respect. The same applies to your influence. You can develop your influence more naturally once you’ve identified your purpose, which will help you earn widespread respect within your community.
It’s a fact — negotiations between unequally-leveled employees lead to different outcomes than negotiations between equals. With a personal brand that defines your character and influence, your negotiating power serves as a decider for your future. Keep your purpose path clear of roadblocks for the most fulfilling result.
81% of millennials want to support brands with corporate citizenship. And although you may not see yourself as a brand, personal branding relies on forming positive relationships with the masses. It’s a win-win — others benefit from your help, and you get a boost. Giving back to your community and industry can help your PR, too!
By utilizing your authority, you can develop your own course within your industry and community. This creates deeper connections with like-minded women professionals, increases your determination, and aligns your life with your purpose.
Now that you know the power of a strong personal brand and influence within your community and industry, it’s time to harness this power to build your purpose path.
Consider how others may perceive you right now. What would they say your strengths and weaknesses are? Compare how you want to be perceived by others with how you perceive yourself.
Ask yourself not only what the leaders in your industry are known for, but also what they struggle with. This will help you stand out, increasing your influence and perceived value immediately.
This goes beyond defining a broad demographic or audience. Look into other leaders that speak to your intended audience. Learning how they communicate and ultimately connect will help you develop your own networking strategies.
Check out our article about effective communication (here) for a few pointers.
Socrates’s advice rings true — “True knowledge exists in knowing you know nothing.” Learning from and growing with other experts in your industry, asking questions, and listening to outside opinions will help you define your personal brand, but learning doesn’t end there. Learning shouldn’t end — ever!
Working hard in the office and earning an attractive title are great, but they shouldn’t determine your purpose. Connect with your community, lead by example, stay humble, and share your insights. You’ll make your mark and leave behind a legacy.
This is the only question that matters: “What do you want people to say about you after you’ve retired so that your legacy can live on forever?” Go beyond a brand that is defined by numbers. Achieve a brand that inspires.