Early in my career, I learned one of life’s toughest lessons: if I didn’t define myself, others would do it for me. Like many women of my generation, I grew up a people pleaser. I was taught to be a team player and that boasting was impolite. I learned that I shouldn’t take credit for every idea, even if they were all mine. So, that is exactly how I packaged myself—the nice girl with creative ideas that you wanted on your team.
But, do you want to know the problem with being the “nice girl?” They often get stepped on and are afraid to say ouch!
I spent years coming up with stellar ideas that others took credit for, I spent years nicely advancing my career but watching others advance theirs at mach 10 speeds. Then, one day I woke up. I mean I really got it. I was never going to have an advocate stauncher than myself; no secret genie. I was it—the Publicist and Chief Marketing Officer of Jennifer Ransaw Smith, Inc. — and it was time that I earned my titles. So that’s precisely what I did.
I learned the hard way that a “job well done” doesn’t speak for itself; I had to speak for it. And, so do you. Here are a few tips to help you along your own personal public relations evolution and journey as an entrepreneur and as an author:
Uncover your differentiators and highlight them: Just as companies spend millions of dollars and heavy brainpower to highlight what separates them from their competitors, so should you (minus the million dollar investment of course). Take the time to find out what makes you you. Are you funny, resourceful, a person with an innate ability to immediately put others at ease. Whatever your "it" is, bring it out and use it to your advantage.
What are your long and short term goals and what is standing between you reaching them? Do you need more training and education, or maybe another certificate or two? Get clear about where you want to go so that the path becomes more evident and the coaches along the way more obvious.
Know the industry players: It doesn’t matter if they work inside or outside your organization, you should know them and they should know you. Keep a file of who’s who, subscribe to the industry publications and highlight the key players. Drop them a congratulatory line on their latest achievement, acquisition or award, or send them an article of interest and introduce yourself on personal letterhead. Be strategic and fearless. Recognize the value of creating relationships with superiors who have the power to promote you.
Toot your own horn regularly and loudly: Look for opportunities to sing your own praise both internally and externally. Send updates to your company newsletters; send releases about your accomplishments to your local paper and business journal. Keep the higher ups in the loop through frequent updates.
Network, network, network. Women need to realize the importance of networking with everybody—junior, senior, and even people you don’t like. By strategically planning your career, there are going to be many people you wouldn’t necessarily want to hang out with, but who will prove to be extremely beneficial to your career advancement and positioning and that’s okay. It’s just business.
Once you take complete charge or your career and manage your personal brand accordingly, the sky's the limit.
Jennifer Ransaw Smith is CEO and Chief Visibility Strategist for Brand id│Strategic Partners, a full-service personal branding agency that helps women entrepreneurs and executives leverage their skills and talents and position themselves as Industry Rock Stars. She works with clients who are ready to “be known.” You can find out more at http://www.thenextindustryrockstar.com