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Personal Branding — Women in B2B

Women in B2B

I have been advising executives on their reputation for almost 30 years – I love taking a newly hired exec from zero to thought leader hero or guiding them through the choppy waters of an issue. Alongside my amazing team, I have been called on to advise execs on everything from reorganisations to a door-stopping tabloid journalist. 

I am also passionate about helping women who are rising through the ranks of seniority, and who might not yet have started communicating externally, to find their voice and shape their story. With has media trained over 100 women leaders in the last 12 months alone. 

But despite this familiarity with the topic of personal branding, it was back to school for me at a Women in B2B event hosted by With at Chief recently. With’s MD Lizzie Jones was joined by experts in sustainable business, social marketing and fintech on a panel discussing best practice in personal branding. Here’s 3 things that made me stop and think. 

Mates vs Mastery

We all know LinkedIn has changed exponentially over recent years, and the kind of content people share has too. So you might now see fairly everyday content that touches on people’s personal lives getting loads of likes. It definitely plays to the increased humanity we have seen in shared content since the pandemic…but beware. Our panel warned of ‘chasing the likes on LinkedIn’. The insight is that people readily like a post that feels less stiff and formal than the usual explainer video or ‘5 reasons why’ post. But do those likes always link to influence? Many execs on LinkedIn have built up their fanbase over several jobs and a long career. And there will be a quorum – sometimes even quite a large one – that likes most of what they post. The only way to really see if your content is is really bearing fruit (or influence) is to analyse your followers and measure your impact in commercial terms. 

Authenticity – not just a buzz word

We always advise clients that their personal brand and the content they produce has to be authentic to them. Being clear on this authentic tone of voice also means an external agency like us can ultimately ghost write content for an exec and deliver content they feel comfortable with (we don’t know many CEOs who have time to pen their own pieces these days). But authenticity doesn’t just lie in what you think of yourself (and can even sometimes be quite far from it!). It also lives in what people already think of you. So ask them. In real life conversations. See what they would come to you for advice on. Seeing your personal brand through the authentic lens of your inner circle is a great piece of advice from the panel.

Opting out is not optional

As a senior leader, having a personal brand is not optional. You are visible and you can either leave your personal story in the lap of the gods or grab it by the scruff of the neck.  Being active in shaping your personal brand so gives you the chance to make it both as accurate and as engaging as possible. And don’t be tricked into thinking that getting your personal brand out there just means being the leader to shout the loudest. If you comment on everything, promote expertise on every topic, no-one will know what you stand for. So pick your personal branding battles. You might want to talk about the sector your business is in, a big business priority (culture, sustainability or inclusion for example) and then something else that talks to a personal value. Once you have three topic areas in place, don’t be tempted to deviate from them. Use them as your personal branding north star.

Oh and one of the best bits of advice: if you wouldn’t read, watch or listen to the content you produce, don’t hit ‘post’.

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