“Authenticity is a collection of choices we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen” – Brené Brown
We work hard, and we contribute a lot; many of us hope that our good work will be enough to build our professional reputation – but it doesn’t work that way. You are often overlooked and miss opportunities that you deserve when you’re not making a conscious effort to ensuring that people know your talent, your experience and the great work you’ve done. Which is really frustrating! The problem is that the world of “personal branding” can feel contrived and pretentious, so we often shy away because it feels superficial or self-promoting. The real opportunity here is to let others see more of who we truly are; to share what we care about, what we stand for and to authentically own and position our talent and contribution. Taking control of your personal brand could be the difference between being invisible and achieving the career and life you were destined for.
The 5 Ps
There are 5 key areas we like to focus on when we think about authentically building personal brand and profile:
With the work we have done with thousands of women, we know that the most powerful way to cultivate your personal brand is to reveal more of who you truly are to stakeholders and decision-makers. When you rely solely on your loyalties and work ethic for visibility, you are often hiding your real value and true self.
Start to recognise where you may be holding yourself back by asking:
- How am I visible to stakeholders?
- Am I known and recognised for my great work?
- How can I cultivate a personal brand in a way that feels congruent and authentic to me?
Many of us feel a lot of discomfort in being seen and standing out. This is a normal response when having to advocate or promote yourself and your capabilities. We know that working hard is not enough and rarely leads to the recognition you’d like. Although knowing your stuff is still important, showing up authentically is the golden ticket. Stakeholders are often extremely preoccupied, so you have to be prepared to speak up and overtly communicate the contributions you make and the impact you have. Make being visible and recognised a priority to ensure you are recognised and able to secure promotions and pay rises.
Showcasing your personal brand can feel uncomfortable, we often feel anxious when it comes to advocating and promoting ourselves. We know the more you get in touch with your authentic self, the more willing you will be to speak up and position yourself; opening and attracting new opportunities into your life!
There are two steps that will support your ability to promote your authentic personal brand:
1. Get clear
The first step is getting clear about who you are. Get clear and make decisions to connect with what you desire and what your authentic self looks like.
2. Articulate and share your value
It is important to have good, strong language to specifically share the value you bring, the problems you solve, the impact you have, and the contributions you make to your organisation. When you are comfortable communicating your value, opportunities will find you faster!
Being visible takes conscious choice; it is how you make yourself visible and your contributions known to stakeholders in today’s hectic world. This is about cut-through, getting your message across to the people that matter.
It is important not to get caught up in the stories you tell yourself – these narratives are typically plagued with self-doubt and may sound like:
- What will they think?
- How will I be perceived?
- Will I be seen as self-promoting and greedy?
It’s time to rewrite these stories! What we’ve found with so many women, is that the most powerful way to share more of yourself with stakeholders and decision-makers is to embrace and reveal more of who you truly are. You can do this by reflecting and asking yourself:
- What contributions do I make?
- How do I do that well? (what are the specifics?)
- How can I share this in a way that is meaningful to me?
- How can I involve people in my accomplishments and express the impact I made?
The biggest barrier that hinders our ability to build personal brand and profile is confidence. Unfortunately, our inner critic and self-doubt can overwhelm our thoughts and convince us why we shouldn’t show up, speak up and stand out. But the truth is, the risk of being invisible is far greater than the risk of being judged or not being liked. A key step is to deal with the roadblocks that will stop you from leaning into conversations and speaking up with authority. If you don’t actively work on taming your inner critic, you will allow fear to dictate your decisions and procrastinate rather than taking action.
The cost of being invisible
By recognising where you are not being seen and with whom, you can evaluate the cost to you; the missed opportunities, promotions and pay rises for a start! If decision-makers can’t see you, the value you bring, the problems you solve, on some level, you are invisible and you are less likely to have access to career progression opportunities. Once you start reflecting on this, you will begin to understand the extent and impact of this cost; which is a really cool motivation to change things.
Overcome these barriers.
You can overcome these roadblocks by redefining your relationship with fear. Many of us create stories in our heads, predominantly following one of two narratives; the fear of judgement or the fear of being perceived as arrogant or egotistical. But these stories are actually protective mechanisms that hide the fear, reinforcing why we shouldn’t need to do it, why we don’t want to do it, or why we can’t do it. It’s time to stop procrastinating and sitting in our comfort zone and overcome the fear of failure. Only then will we be able to share and lean into the new conversations and opportunities.
Remember, the more you show up, the more willing you are to take action.
Developing the 5 P’s of building brand and profile is something that requires daily attention and action. Start by committing to one small Act of Confidence you can do weekly to reveal a little bit more of yourself and boost your visibility in the workplace. When you are prepared to experiment and try new things, you will gradually find it easier to show up as your authentic, true self over time.
“If we are prepared to make small efforts towards revealing our authentic self each and every week, you’ll be surprised by the ripple effect” – Fiona Pearman