Brand strategist and author Catherine Kaputa gives her tips on how to promote your personal brand.
In my career coaching with busy working mums, the challenge of personal branding is a key topic of conversation – why women resist communicating their brand or how they can find the time for yet another activity.
In talking to over a hundred successful working mums for my new book, Women Who Brand: How Smart Women Promote Themselves and Get Ahead, I learned some valuable tips for success, including these three that all working mums should embrace:
Leverage the power of the Internet to build your brand
You’re busy, but the #1 business site LinkedIn gives you an efficient way to build your brand if you’re pressed for time. Yet virtual branding is an area where women have some catching up to do. A May 2014 report showed that 69% of LiinkedIn users in Great Britain are men while only 31% were female. Other studies that men tend to be much more active on the site, using LinkedIn routinely for networking, posting status updates and the like.
This puts women at a disadvantage. People are going to Google you on the Internet and they’re going to find a strong brand, a weak one or nothing. A poor LinkedIn profile will make you seem less serious about your career or less engaged in the business conversation than others. As successful working mums pointed out to me, putting together your profile on LinkedIn is something that you can do on your own at home and it will provide enormous benefits throughout your career.
2. Don’t hesitate to pitch yourself (and your home back-up plan)
It’s one thing to want a promotion and something else to communicate that goal and pitch yourself for a stretch assignment to your boss and others. Women are notorious for not pitching themselves and undermarketing their capabilities, what a UK social scientist dubbed “The Female Humility Effect”. Meanwhile men are comfortable promoting themselves, even exaggerating their accomplishments and abilities, what the social scientist dubbed “The Male Hubris Effect”.
Getting promoted can be even more complicated for working mums. One global study showed that many bosses assume that working mums didn’t want to be promoted because of their responsibilities at home. So master the art of the pitch and be specific about your goals in your conversations with your boss and other senior managers. Don’t forget to fit in that you have a good support system at home so that you can handle the increased responsibility,
3. Be visibility minded
Despite what we’ve been told that “talent wins out” or “work hard and you’ll be successful”, the reality is more like “visibility wins out’. Hard work is essential, but visibility separates those who are wildly successful from those who are just doing okay. That’s because there is a “Visibility Premium”. If you’re well known in your company or industry, people think you’re better than others who are not so well known. “She must be good since she’s so well-known in the company” is how the thinking goes.
Many women are visibility challenged and focus on the task at hand and do not do the type of networking internally in the company or externally at business functions that men do. The problem can be acute for busy working mums who have to dash home at the end of the day for their second shift as a mum.
That’s why successful working mums target visibility activities that fit into their busy schedules. For example, they volunteer to be part of a cross-functional team or get involved with the company’s women’s initiative – activities that will give them visibility outside their functional area. They also take advantage of the short, informal networking opportunities that occur every day like having a short business conversation when they run across senior managers in the elevator or hallway. Several working mums revealed that they multitask by sharing interesting articles they might be reading online on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook or by emailing them to professional colleagues.
Follow these three tips if you want to brand yourself for success.
Personal branding is not optional in today’s workplace; it is imperative for all professionals, even busy working mums, who want to thrive and succeed.
*Catherine Kaputa is a brand strategist, speaker and award-winning author. You Are a Brand! won the Ben Franklin Award for Best Career Book. Breakthrough Branding: How Smart Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs Transform a Small Idea Into a Big Brand won the Silver Medal, Book of the Year Awards, 2012 (Business category) sponsored by Foreword Magazine. Her latest book is Women Who Brand (Nicholas Brealey, September 2014, www.womenwhobrand.com) To learn more visit www.selfbrand.com or contact Catherine@selfbrand.com.