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A Place at the Table – Part 4

March 31, 2016

I recently attended Louisville’s second annual conference, Beyond the Boys Club: Breaking the Mold of Women in Technology. The speakers were first rate and the content was valuable. 

There was a reoccurring theme throughout all of the presentations. The concept of personal brand was discussed in different ways by at least four of the speakers. How would you define your brand? It is an interesting concept and if you look around at the successful people you might want to emulate, you might recognize their brand. 

Vivian Blade, author of FuelForward, gave a wonderful talk about what she refers to as “fueling your career forward,” and was the first to speak about personal brand. In her book she refers to brand as reputation and how having a positive reputation is something that is mandatory in achieving success. I appreciated the fact that she spoke specifically to the importance of other people’s perception of us. Some people tend to devalue perception, but I’ve found that perception is critical and we need to manage other people’s perceptions of ourselves. Whether we like it or not, human beings have a tendency to judge one another and that can play a key role in the ability to advance in our career path. She sums up the importance of brand perfectly, “The more a brand is perceived as valuable, the more the brand is worth, and the more attention it gets… A brand with a high perceived value has earned the trust that performance is there, that it has the potential to handle future opportunities and challenges you may face.” If you follow this blog series, Vivian’s name and ideas are sure to pop up again. Her book is a wonderful reference guide to a successful career.

At this same conference, Lisa Spears and Sue McPherson also defined brand, but touched on ways you might be hurting your personal brand without realizing it. They illustrated through video examples various personalities we have all experienced in meetings. Are you the person who sits in the corner unnoticed? Are you the one at the table who speaks so quietly that nobody can hear you and thus you are constantly asked to repeat yourself? Are you the consummate cheerleader who is overly positive or maybe the person who is so agreeable that you agree with each and every opinion no matter how they oppose each other? Heads bobbed around the room with recognition of all of these various personalities. It was an entertaining way to encourage self-evaluation. Lisa and Sue also gave insight into their own personal journeys and how they got to where they are today. Both ladies admitted to experiencing self-doubt and by pushing through, accepting challenges and incorporating hard work, they achieved new opportunities.

Desiree Thayer, an IT technical recruiter, also spoke about personal brand. She brought a unique perspective to the branding concept since she does get a wide view of applicants in our space. Some people don’t look to be the perfect candidate on paper and that’s okay. She said that people should concentrate on allowing their passion and their drive to show through. Excitement and potential for bringing something productive to the table are what attracts her to the candidates she wants to endorse. She advised that taking the job opportunity offering the highest salary isn’t necessarily the best way to go about choosing a place to work. The most important part of choosing a new position is finding a place to work that matches or compliments your personal brand. Finding an organization with a culture that meets your expectations and is attractive to you as an individual is where you will flourish and thrive as an employee. 

Stay tuned for the next blog in the series. There is more to come.

Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Read Part 3

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