Recap WITI Boston - November 4, 2014

Emily Ubik

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"Define Your Personal Brand to Maximize Your Impact"

WITI members and nonmembers alike met last Tuesday evening to hear Donna Ceriani, founder and CEO of The Real Journey, speak about how to develop your personal brand. The event was sponsored and hosted by Carbonite in their brand new office space in downtown Boston. Networking began the evening, along with a light supper and drinks.

The first step towards uncovering your brand is recognizing your strengths, passions, and values. Donna quoted Malcolm Forbes, who said that, "Too many people overvalue what they are not, and undervalue what they are." It is important to know and be able to communicate what makes you unique. Since only thirty percent of people can articulate what their key strengths are, you will set yourself apart if you can do this. Donna recommended reading an article titled The Brand Called You by Tom Peters. To accurately find out what your top five strengths are, Donna suggested purchasing the book StrengthsFinder by Tom Rath. Your top five strengths are also (probably) what people appreciate about you most. You should focus on highlighting these attributes.

Once you have pinpointed what defines you, it is time to obtain feedback from others. Here it is crucial to note that you cannot decide your own brand, you can only discover it. Your personal brand is the overlapping area between how you see yourself and how others see you. Donna quoted Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, who stated that, "Discovering your brand is what people say about you when you leave the room." A good place to start is to review past performance evaluations from managers. Even noticing the little things, such as how people introduce you, can be helpful. To make sure that all information is accurate Donna suggested using the 360°Reach online anonymous survey. Some questions to consider are 'What do you appreciate about me?' and 'What would you like me to do more of?'. Donna emphasized that you do not need to be well rounded. You should play to your strengths that way your team will be versatile and all weaknesses will be minimized. Remember to ask friends and family for their opinion as well as coworkers.

After you have determined your strengths and received feedback from your peers, you can assess your vision. Making choices should become easier since they will be dependent on your brand. In other words, your personal brand and vision act like a compass. They will help you to consciously think things through. For example, if you are offered a promotion, you should not focus on the pay raise, but instead on how your time would be spent. Will you be participating in something you enjoy? If the answer is 'no', you will probably not get your best possible results. You also might not be as happy either. Before you say 'yes', remember that undertaking things you do not excel at can chip away at your self-confidence.

Now that you have assessed your vision, it is time to design your goals. Donna referred to William Arruda, author of An Introduction to Personal Branding, who declared that, "Personal branding is for professionals who want to achieve their goals while being true to themselves". It is much easier to manage your brand when you have definite goals. This way you have something to aim for. For this step, you should come up with one to three specific goals to focus on in the next six months or so.

Next, it is necessary to manage your brand. A great place for you to proactively and consistently do this is through a LinkedIn profile. Since branding is all about differentiation, it is important to show your personality here and to clearly define your strengths. In this section, you should highlight what makes you unique. Donna said as many as five or even six paragraphs is optimal. Once you know your brand, you can reflect it in every environment - in the office, at home, through your clothes, car or vacations. Regardless of your goals and no matter where you are, you always need to market yourself to some extent.

Lastly, you should align your time with your principles and then plan your next steps. Donna shared an eye-opening statistic - seventy-five percent of jobs are filled through a personal connection. This means that what people think about you, your image and reputation matters. How much time then are you willing to spend working towards your objectives? Donna stressed that what you spend your time on should reflect your goals. For progress to occur, you need to make a commitment to yourself and define how much time you will dedicate and to what. Donna ended her interactive talk by asking attendees, "What step will you take in the next twenty-four hours?"

A wonderful evening filled with good food and discussion ended with an enormous raffle! In honor of WITI's 25th anniversary two annual memberships were given away. Donna had three books to raffle - Susan Chritton's Personal Branding for Dummies, Tom Rath's StrengthsFinder 2.0, and The Passion Test by Janet and Chris Attwood. One lucky person also received a year's worth of Carbonite's back-up application software and a WITI t-shirt!

About the Author:
Emily Ubik is in her fourth year at Boston University pursuing a double major in electrical engineering and archaeology. She comes to Boston from the Midwest and is interested in getting to know women in business and making connections. She came across Women in Technology when she heard that WITI was trying to become more involved with universities. She is now an active member of the local network and is looking forward to writing more about WITI Boston events.

About Women in Technology Boston:
The Boston affiliation of Women in Technology International offers multiple events throughout the year in metro Boston and downtown. Our focus is to provide ways in which women of all ages, skill sets and backgrounds connect with other women both locally and globally to advance their careers and improve the leadership development skills. For 2014 fun events and relevant leadership development content will be provided for members and non-members alike. To learn more and see what's up next, visit www.witi.com/boston

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