Shannon’s Personal Branding Diary
I was delighted to " e-meet" Shannon the 3Plus prize winner from our first mini- mentoring event in New York. In our introductory session I asked her to outline what goals she might want to achieve from the 3 coaching sessions that were now available to her.
Shannon started off by saying that she wasn't really looking for career coaching or personal branding! She was happy in her job, didn't want to leave and was also restricted by compliance regulations in her sector in the way in which she could promote herself on online platforms such as LinkedIn. OK – that was a good start!
She suggested therefore that as she was facing challenges in closing some deals in her current role, support in this area could be helpful. As an ex sales trainer I could certainly do that. However, as a career coach I wanted her to explore the possible connection between her need for support in her every day business life, with a reluctance to raise her visibility via a personal brand and to promote herself professionally.
"I had mixed feelings about the idea of personal coaching. It wasn’t something that I had really considered as a necessity to my career or mental attitude. Well let me say here, at the beginning, BOY was I wrong.
Before we had out first meeting over Skype, Dorothy had sent me an e-mail with a request that I spend some time reflecting on my career and life goals as well as the challenges I had encountered, the actions I had taken and the results which had ensued and the skills I needed to do all this.
No messing around….Dorothy jumped right into it. She said that although my CV was fine and that I clearly had a lot to be proud of, I was seriously underselling myself! What she felt was missing was that there was no real selling point in both my CV and LinkedIn profile. For full online disclosure, I am somewhat constrained by professional guidelines, so have a few personal hesitations, but my resume is something over which I obviously have full control. Dorothy explained to me that I was the "CEO of brand me" and I needed to consider how I wanted to be perceived by my professional network. If my professional skills are my product, would I buy me?
The next challenge was to make a list of my professional attributes. Now this might seem easy to some people, but if you are anything like me, which I think many women are, stating professional/personal attributes and skills is not comfortable. We all have different reasons for this. One of my reasons is that I fear rejection, I mentally separate myself from my accomplishments, so that way you can’t really judge me or reject me because they aren’t really me. Well, after a few very awkward, sometimes silent minutes, Dorothy explained she was not going to do this exercise for me because I needed to do the work myself. That was how I would own my achievements.
I listed a few words that I thought described me pretty well; persistent, empathetic, experienced financial professional, etc. Dorothy went through every word I listed and challenged me again on the implications of each one and asked me to really think about what I was really saying. I suggested that I was "an experienced financial professional with 15 years of experience". Ok. Not bad. That’s all true.
But when coaxed on every word I finally came up with “ a dedicated professional with 15 years financial industry experience. Deep functional expertise in direct marketing with $1B in capital raised from institutional quality investors. Strong business acumen with broad based product knowledge and C level experience. Determined self-starter, skilled negotiator and effective communicator”
Honestly who would you pay attention to?
Dorothy explained to me that I needed to “own” the accomplishments in my career. As she said “you are your business”. This concept not only applies to networking profiles and resumes, but also to networking events, how I am perceived in the office, conferences, etc.
We wrapped up the hour with some homework assignments, two simple exercises which I actually found to be quite helpful. The first, The Brain Game shows your comfort zone and which areas of your multiple intelligences can use a ”work out". The brainpower game had my strengths as logical-mathematical (makes sense), visual and intrapersonal and my weakness by far as verbal-linguistic.
The second game, wordle is a neat application where you can type in a bunch of words, hit a button and the application mixes those words into a fun design. Dorothy wanted me to list the skills and accomplishments we had worked on during our session. Being very visually oriented (see above), the wordle game hit home for me, it may sound simplistic to some of you out there but something about seeing your name and your accomplishments like this made me feel like it was more real to me and I felt proud of what I had done. If you get a chance it takes a few minutes and is a lot of fun.
As for something I needed to work on, my verbal-linguistic skills, I had thought about that for awhile. Now it was time to take action. I am terrible public speaker, but I don’t want to be. So my solution was to join a low cost group called Toastmasters. They have many chapters around the globe and who meet regularly, at least once or twice a month. It is a supportive environment where everyone is in the same boat and moving towards the same goals."
So despite a sceptical beginning, I am now a complete convert and couldn't recommend the process highly enough!
Shannon Lewis is Senior Vice-President at R6 Capital G
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Dates for the Diary
JUNE 6-8TH 2019 - OMBUDSPERON EUROPEAN WOMEN’S LOBBY BRUSSELS
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