When we talk about branding, we often think purely of a company’s brand, not a brand in relation to ourselves. Personal branding though is hugely important and ultimately defines how someone else perceives you. A strong personal brand can help you make the right connections, influence the right people and climb that corporate ladder.
So, how do you go about building a strong personal brand? We talked to Alice Katwan, Senior Vice President of Sales, North America, Genesys.
What Are Your Biggest Tips On Building a Brand?
My biggest tip is to get out there and network. And by that I mean get to know the people around you and push yourself to expand that circle at work and outside of work.
Ask your friends to help you by introducing you to their friends. If you’re a parent, introduce yourself to other parents at every opportunity.
A lot of people are uncomfortable with getting to know new people, but it’s a skill we all need to build our brand.
My network is key because I’m in sales, but it’s also helped me advance my career. I’m known for building strong teams and a culture that breeds success. To do that, I have to take time to be with people.
As I’ve worked my way up and gotten to know the different sides of the business, I understand what people are going through because I’ve been there too. If you move too quickly to the top, you don’t have the same understanding.
I’ve built my personal brand by taking the time to talk and get to know people, and it has worked for me time and time again.
What Else Have You Done To Build Your Personal Brand?
You need to get involved in a ‘community’ that puts you outside of your comfort zone. A few years ago, I realised that I needed to get outside of the company I worked for, to be part of another community.
I joined The Club of Silicon Valley [an incubator for women leaders] and have served on the board for the past two years. This allowed me to help support other women. It feels great to have given back to this community that welcomed me.
I also do a lot of public speaking, participate in webinars and publish on different blogs, which has helped me as well.
I Hear You Won The Silicon Valley Woman Of Influence Award.
Yes, I didn’t know that I was nominated. This goes back to your brand being known and noticing the impact that you are making. Someone who had attended one of my speaking events was inspired and nominated me.
It was such an honour to get that award. And now every year, I give back and nominate someone that I think has made an impact.
How Do You Get Comfy With Networking?
It’s all about building confidence. It took me a long time to do that.
Look for something that influences your ability to feel confident. For me, there have been several milestones in my career where I have had that ‘aha’ moment. Where I’ve thought, ‘Wow I can do this.’ Once you prove it to yourself—you build that confidence.
It takes you standing in your shoes, holding your head up high, and believing in what you’re saying. With confidence, you’ll be able to take your career to the next level, build that brand and take it where you want to go.
How Do You Get Over The Lack Of Confidence If You’re Doing A Lot Of Public Speaking?
It took time. It doesn’t happen overnight. For the first couple of years, I was very nervous, but as you start doing it more often, it becomes easier.
Part of it is being comfortable with your content. When I listen to people talk, I remember the stories they tell, not the bullet points – that’s what resonates with me.
I hired a public speaking coach early on and she taught me that it has to be your story—no one else could possibly tell it because it’s your personal experience. And you can get up there and tell your own story really, really well.
I started getting comfortable with story-telling and making the content my own – not what other people said it should be – and that’s where the confidence came in.
And then when people started forming lines after I had spoken, because they wanted to talk to me, I thought, ‘Wow this is great. People do care about what I want to say’. This helped me build confidence as well.
Did You Fake It Till You Made It?
No, I didn’t fake it. I just got a lot of help. Sometimes people will coach you to say certain things that aren’t the things you would normally say. I struggled with that.
I started to get more comfortable by saying, ‘No, that’s not me and that’s not what I would say’. Then I started to put everything into my words and it made it so much easier.