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Leadership Academy explores self-branding

Friday, May 3, 2013   (0 Comments)
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More than 400 Network of Executive Women members tapped into the power of personal branding during the NEW Leadership Academy webinar, "Creating an Influential Brand through Social Media,” May 2, 2013.

The one-hour learning event, moderated by Jo Miller, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, featured Holly Pavlika, senior vice president of strategy for Collective Bias, and Duffy Fron, program director, practitioner outreach, IBM software, rational at IBM, who offered their insights on networking and self-branding online.

"The resume is not the be all, end all,” Pavlika said. "Personal branding is something that stays with you, goes with you from job to job. As a woman, as you get older and businesses tend to want to ‘go younger,’ personal branding gives you longevity in the business.”

"Personal branding transcends time,” Fron agreed. "It’s a reflection of who you are, your life experiences, your background. Branding yourself makes you more memorable.”

The first step to creating a personal brand is recognizing the characteristics that will strengthen one’s presence through social media. Fron advised attendees to consider their passions. "Figure out what your interests are – those are the things that are defining you.” Humor, wit and entertainment value are key elements to incorporate, as they help to "endear people to a brand.”

Ask friends and other people you trust for their opinions, Pavlika said. "They can sometimes tell you what they see you are passionate about, and through that passion you are able to show emotion. Do not be fearful of showing the personal side of who you are.”

Pavlika stressed the importance of defining brand pillars – "guardrails” that guide your  message so that people get a clear, consistent picture of your brand.

Fron and Pavlika detailed their methods of managing online presence through various social media. For Fron, LinkedIn acts as his "suit and tie,” a living resume; whereas Twitter functions as the "mullet” of social networks. "Business in the front, party in the back,” said Fron, referring to the platform’s quirky blend of business and social networking. Slideshare is one of his latest finds, an effective way to disseminate charts and information that can be linked to Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms.

Pavlika started publishing her content "channel by channel by channel.” She considers LinkedIn a business foundation, and began her branding presence with a blog that she published once a week. She now publishes twice a day with the help of writers. After six months, she added Twitter, then Facebook, as well as YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and an page, which she considers "a new version of a resume [that] allows every social media channel to be linked on one URL.”

Visual appeal is crucial, she added. "Be on several channels and use photos and video. Women respond better to visuals.”

"Know where you want to go,” Fron said. "Be social on purpose, share your experience, enable, be conducive and receptive to others.”

Being receptive includes knowing when to moderate. "Don’t pick fights and don’t ‘feed the trolls’ Negativity has a certain place, but not for something like social media that’s perpetually recorded.”

Social media can be leveraged into real-world networking, according to both experts. "As a working mom, I’ve had little time, but I can network through social media at any time of day. I’ve met people all over the world. I have followers in 16 countries on Twitter. I went to Tanzania with the UN and blogged and spoken with congressmen and women.”

Fron rarely gives out business cards anymore. "People say, ‘I know how to find you’,” said the program director. "There are now two ways to network, the online and the offline, ‘analog,’ way to socialize.”

"Your brand is actively being created out there,” Fron said, "whether you manage it or not. It’s up to you.”

Pavlika urged everyone to take their first step this week. "You don’t have to write a long blog post. Two hundred fifty words is not hard. And it gets easier.”

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