By Kia Jarmon of MEPR Agency for 12th & Broad
My core audience is women; whether they are Executive Director of an organization, marketing or communications director, or a business owner, the woman of the organization usually hires me. Equally, most of my speaking opportunities are referrals from women I have come into contact with. Because I know my audience, I spend quite a bit of time studying the roles that gender plays in the brand process, or gender branding, as I like to call it.
So what does that mean? My definition shares that gender plays a role in the way we present ourselves and the way we receive information.
As women we behave differently than our male counterparts. Well…duh! But one of the areas that I see a huge difference in is the way that (some) women accept and discuss success—perceived or real.
During the auditing portion of my coaching sessions I ask that we list awards and opportunities to be celebrated that we are seeking. There is almost always and sigh of anxiety and look of angst at the idea of being the center of attention for a job well done. It’s as if somewhere in our life we were told we could run a business, lead a team, or make millions but we couldn’t share it with others. That’s just not ladylike, apparently.
Our apologetic and nurturing disposition sometimes overshadows just doing good business—not man business or female business—but business. I recently read an article that says we even apologize in our voicemails saying “sorry I can’t take your call right now”. By nature some, not all, women find themselves stuck between being feminine and being assertive. And quite honestly I have found that those attitudes may not co-exist. You may have to get over that idea.
Think I’m playing unfair. Consider it this way. Recall the last time someone complimented you on a new project that you just secured or an award you won. What was your first response? Well, I haven’t done a formal survey but I’ve been to enough networking events where I’ve seen this play out—and heck, I’m even guilty myself—where you meekly say thank you and downplay the work. You may even share that it was a group effort or humbly share that everyone, even the nominees, was a winner. Like what the heck! Why can’t you say ‘thank you’ and delve into some of the greatness that resides in you?
So how does this affect your brand?
When you don’t share, you lose the ability to control the content. Sounds harsh, I know. But the reality is that you want to maintain that you own your brand. When someone wants to explore your successes go with it. People want to be a part of your success story so that they can share with others. And ultimately these stories deserve to be told over and over again.
Speaking of, when someone is asking about your success, they are opening up the door for you to potentially gain them as a new client or for them to refer you business. What you say in the conversation can directly lead you to another case study of success.
Lastly, you are giving away your power. Every moment of presenting yourself is a test of how you handle certain situations. It may not even be an intentional test, but it is a test. If you can’t present, succinctly, how you were able to land a certain account or what you have been working on to be acknowledged, then how can a potential employer or client hire you and be assured that you can do the same for them? Not taking charge in the moment deduces your work and value.
Does this conversation scare you? Make you uncomfortable? Seem unreal to be having? I get it. But we must be real about the fact that how we present ourselves affects our brand (and our success).
Need help? Let’s chat.
Cheers to removing the (self-imposed) gender barrier(s)!