Olive Gachara is a branding expert and a publisher. She shares what women in business and career circles should know about personal branding:
Personal branding is the impact and impression you leave with people after an interaction, no matter how small, and the perception people who have not met you have about you.
Whether in business or career, your personal branding is so important. Ninety five per cent of the people who know you do not get a chance to interact with you one-on-one.
All they have to go on is the perceptions and biases they have and hear about you from others, from the press and from your social media activity.
Most people know not to judge a book by its cover. However, the fact of life is that we live in a superficial world where people will judge a book by its cover, just like you do too.
I like to say, ‘your clothes speak so loud that they cannot hear what you say’.
Based on how you are dressed, people will already start judging you, even before you speak and create a split-second first impression that will create a bias on how they will listen to you and internalise the information you are giving them.
This does not mean you have to be dressed to the nines every day, but every day, you have to be aware about the message your outer appearance is sending and ensure it is aligned with the way you want to be perceived that day and the message you want to send.
Want to develop your own personal brand? Focus on authenticity. At the end of the day, personal branding is about developing your strengths and creating the best version of yourself, and then communicating that to the world.
And by world, I do not mean the whole world, but your world; your audience, the people who need to know you for who you are, and whose favour you require in everyday life and business.
A woman in a position of leadership does not need to acquire masculine characteristics to stand out and be heard.
If anything, women have the innate capability to be more intentional about how they want to be seen and heard. Because of the way women are socialised, it is easier for us to build a strong authentic following and connection at a grass-root level and get deeply-rooted within the community.
The community could be the workplace or business circles. Remember, when roots are deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.
We all have a personal brand, intentionally created or not. As long as you interact with other people, you are leaving impressions on what and who you are about.
Social media is an important tool to develop your personal brand because it has become a channel for people to interact with you on a more personal level.
It is an opportunity to show the masses what you are about without the constraints of formal media and structured interviews. I actually think social media is one of the best ways to grow your personal brand.
Parting shot? I believe, life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself. I have a lot of people asking me how they can find their true purpose, which is a critical step in the personal branding process.
It’s really not an exact science, it is just deciding who you want to be, and what you want to do and focus on that, build on that. Our inherent nature will automatically draw us towards things we are naturally passionate about.
So do not over think it, just find a thing – anything – that captures your interest and start building on it.