Becoming Your Own Brand

February 3, 2016

On Feb. 2, 2016, NYWICI hosted "Marketing Yourself at Every Age" — on standing out, staying relevant and navigating bias.

Panelists included (left to right): Jamie McLaughlin, founder and president of Capstone Hill Search (@CapstoneHill); Celia Currin, executive career coach (@celiacurrin); Alyssa Gelbard, founder and president of Resume Strategists, Inc. (ResumeStratgsts); moderator Robyn Hatcher, author and communication skills expert and founder of SpeakEtc (@SpeakETC) and Soniya Monga, global agency partner lead at LinkedIn (@soniyamonga).

Here are key takeaways of a very lively discussion:

What goes into a personal brand?

I don't like the term 'personal brand' — I think it's cheesy. It's really about reputation. How do you want your clients, colleagues and others to see you? How do you figure out a way to be yourself? You need to have a point of view and something to say. (Soniya)

One of the key things in building a brand is to be consistent. Building familiarity and repetition across channels — from your message to your headshot — will help people remember you. (Alyssa) 

You want to have one thing that makes you the go-to person, even if it’s knowing the best golf courses. The passion you let out can show up on the personal side. (Celia)

People mistake standing out for being controversial; you don’t need to do that. (Jamie)


How important is passion in marketing yourself?

When you can match your passion with your skills, it’s magic. I would also hire someone more passionate and excited about the job than someone with a great resume but no passion. You can be successful without being passionate, but at some point that's going to catch up with you. (Alyssa)

All interviews are about three questions: Can you do the job? Will you love the job? Can I stand working with you? The third question may be the most important: People want to work with others they enjoy being around. (Celia)

Find something in the job you are passionate about — whether it’s the outcomes or the flexibility, which leads to a better work life balance for example. (Jamie)


What are things you want to pay attention to or avoid doing?

You have to be aware of who you’re marketing to. (Jamie)

Don’t just limit yourself to behind the screen. Get out there face-to-face, go to alumni events, meet with people. When you’re thinking about your online brand, be careful that the brand you’re putting out there doesn’t make you sound like you have more experience than you actually have. (Alyssa) 

A mentor once said to me, “Say yes to everything.” Go to every networking event, set up coffee with people. There’s a difference with people who do their research, know the background of the person they’re meeting with and follow up with a personal note. People often forget about this, so it stands out more if you take the time to follow up. It's easier to build your brand that way. (Soniya)

Do your research. Google yourself periodically and see what comes up. Keep things private and don’t share anything you wouldn’t tell your grandmother over dinner. (Jamie)


How do you craft your message?

Short and brief messages grab the reader’s attention. Have one thing that you are the go-to person for. This opens up opportunity to reach more people. It can be a professional specialty or personal specialty. Let some of your personality out! And use the summary space in LinkedIn to talk about your brand. (Celia)

Be yourself and have a specific point of view to craft your brand around. People are drawn to stories. Craft a story of who you want to be perceived as and have a sense of where you want to go. (Soniya)

In your written communications, proofread everything. Don’t be sloppy. (Alyssa)


Does appearance play a role in your personal brand?

When you think about appearance, there are so many aspects to it — your hair, clothes and accessories. Think about your environment, who you’re meeting with and be consistent with your brand. (Alyssa)

You need to come across as a trusted advisor with expertise. If you're not sure about the dress code, ask. (Jamie)

Get a couple of interview outfits that you feel and look great in. (Celia)

— With reporting by Kathleen Brady, Jessica Kleiman and Angela Morris.
Photos: Jan Goldstoff 


You may also be interested in reading transcripts of past NYWICI Twitter Chats on the same topic: Positioning & Personal Branding with cohost Selena Soo (@SelenaSoo) and Personal Branding with cohost Joanne Jombrakos (@joannetombrakos). 


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