If anyone had any doubt about the power of the Womens Utilities Network, established to encourage and develop women working in the Utilities sector, attending last night’s event Personal Brand would have put that doubt to rest.
With almost 700 network members now registered, more than 120 of them attended last night’s event, generously sponsored and hosted by Elexon. It was a pleasure to welcome Elexon’s Chairman Michael Gibbons, plus a handful of other men to the event, who were there to demonstrate their active support for the Network.
The topic of the evening, was the Power of Personal Branding, and we had a mixture of presentations plus an interactive session where participants could start or continue to build the bones of their personal brand. The evening was topped and tailed by networking and a professional photographer taking headshot photos for everyone who wanted them. The buzz throughout the evening was tangible and the energy in the room was fantastic.
So what were the key themes on how to create a personal brand?
More importantly than anything else – Be yourself. Your brand has got to be true to who you are- your values and your mission. Establishing what these are is central to any personal brand.
Your appearance should reflect your brand so that you give off consistent messages. It is very common as a woman to be the only one in a room full of men. There was violent agreement from the panel that we should not dress to ‘fit in’. Angela had us all laughing about her strategy in the past of wearing trouser suits, collared shirts and cuffs so that ‘she looked like a man and blended in’. Last night she looked like the Angela of today in a fabulous red dress- reflective of her own personal brand.
Brand and reputation are closely aligned. As Joanne highlighted, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck but swims like a dog….it is not a duck. Hard work and demonstrable delivery underpins a successful personal brand. Your brand is only as good as your reputation.
Actively work your brand- social media is all pervading now, make sure you use it well to your advantage. But also a word of warning, make sure that there is clear distinction between your work presence on social media and your off duty life. Manage your channels and connections separately unless you want everybody to know everything- Excess gin consumption was mentioned!
Your brand can evolve as your life evolves- keep checking back that your values and mission statement are still relevant, and if not update yourself.
So what can a brand do for you?
A successful personal brand can create a ‘bigger persona’ for you. If people talk about you, know your opinions, hear you speak, your brand goes before you- and as a result it opens doors to new opportunities and feeds on itself.
Your brand gives you confidence. If you enter a room and people expect to be impressed, it is much easier to be impressive. The ‘bigger persona’ builds confidence too- when you get recommendations, invitations and affirmations you know that your brand is working and your confidence grows.
However, if you’re having an off day, your brand can give you a bit of a security blanket. We’ve all had sleepless nights, either up with children, worrying about life or how to get everything done, and consequently wake up feeling rubbish. You know you’re below par and not performing at your best. In these situations, your brand can help- either by putting on the armour (clothes, make up) or by being forgiven by those who are used to the normal you. Your brand and reputation go before you.
And back to being the only woman in the room. For once, it can work in your favour- It is easier for women to stand out in a sea of grey suits, so take the opportunity to make an impact.
So, should you pour the tea? One questioner had been advised by their (female) manager never to pour the tea in a situation where you are the only woman. The response from the panel was firmly – if it works for your brand do it, if it doesn’t don’t. But in either case make sure you sit next to the biscuits!
The next event is in April and will be focused on Career Development, which will no doubt be as successful as last night – we may just need a bigger venue! In the meantime, there are plenty of mentor opportunities and the start of a series of mini workshops – details contained on the website. The WUN is really gaining momentum and delivering what it set out to achieve- helping women connect with other women in the utilities space, to share learnings and build confidence. We continue to rely on sponsorship and welcome any business operating in the Utilities space to offer support- please contact any of the founder members if interested.