Reflections on the Leadership Mentoring Session

The Mentoring Program at Women Accelerators features monthly group learning sessions in addition to pairing mentors with mentees for one on one personalized professional development. 

The session this month focused on LEADERSHIP. This panel style discussion featured three of our mentors who have much experience on this topic: Szifta Birke, Robin Rose, and Deirdre Pierotti. You can learn more about these women on our mentoring page

Robin highlighted the opportunities that can come from volunteering at your company. A general event or fundraising planning committee can allow you to meet members across your organization that you wouldn’t normally interact with on a day to day basis. The more exposure you have to different functions and their operations, the more valuable you are. It could get you considered for new development projects that you didn’t even know about. Think of this as a way to network in your own company! I’m kicking myself because I worked at a large company for 2 years that had so many different employee engagement groups that I never joined. Truly a missed opportunity. Now working at smaller companies that don’t have those options, I realized- why not start my own group

Leadership is all about continuous learning– Szifta has a lifetime of experience and yet has enrolled in a class that is teaching Crucial Conversations from a different lens. This really resonated with me. If you aren’t constantly reading articles about leadership, reading professional development books, or listening to podcasts on the topic, then what you’ve learned in the past fades. Leadership is a muscle and you need to work on keeping it in shape. For anyone who hasn’t read Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler, I HIGHLY recommend it. The first time I read it was 4 years ago. With 4 more years of industry experience and taking on more responsibility, I think it’s time I reread it with a new perspective!

Another key point that Deirdre stressed was knowing your value (also a book). I think this is especially important for women in the workforce. How often do we hear about male coworkers making significantly more in the same role? Being able to recognize how much you offer your company and asking for your value is a very different aspect of leadership. It’s speaking up for yourself, which is always the hardest. Circling back to the previous point, Crucial Conversations, has personally helped me navigate those conversations! This topic has come up a lot recently with my girlfriends. Two of my close friends, and myself, have quit our jobs for better opportunities. Making change is difficult, but when you know you’re overworked and undervalued, it’s time to make a change. Talk about this with your friends- too often we say everything is fine and portray the #bossbabe lifestyle on social media. We need to normalize talking about career dips, changes, and not being happy in our current role. Knowing your value and demanding it is easier with a support system.

This was a great session with valuable insight from women who have decades of experience. I can’t wait for next month’s session! The program runs January to June, with the application process beginning each fall. If you have FOMO reading this, join us next year! In the meantime, we’ll keep our resources page up to date for you. 

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Personal Branding for Your Success

This blog is based on “How to Brand Yourself for Success (Without Selling Out)” event in May 2018

Personal branding is a concept that has become increasingly popular with the rise of social media, but what does it actually mean? And more importantly, how can you use it to be successful in your career and life in general?

Whether you recognize it or not, you are already a brand.  You have certain characteristics that make you unique and establishes an image for yourself.  Branding is a way of marketing to formally “claim yourself” as an individual, and not fall victim to stereotyping. This can be accomplished through social media, developing products, creating content, etc.

Now that you have an understanding of what personal branding is, grab a pen and paper and see if you can answer the following questions.  This is a good starting point to build the foundation of your brand:

  1.      What are you passionate about?

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  2.      What are your unique skills?
  3.      Where do you see yourself in three, five or even ten years?
  4.      What are your goals in life?
  5.      What do the people around you currently say about you?
  6.      What does Google’s search results say about you?

SWOT Analysis

With the answers to these questions in mind, you can also do a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. These are usually done for businesses but are easily applicable to an individual.  What are you good at? What areas of your life could use some work? Where are the areas for growth and opportunities? And finally, what is your competition doing in the field you’re interested in?

Brainstorming exercises for your personal branding

All of this information may seem overwhelming, but these exercises are simple to make you think about what you want out of your personal brand and forecast where you want to be.  Using the answers to your brainstorming exercises, check out these three steps to get started:

  1.  Choose your platform, whether that be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even starting your own website.  Choose a medium that aligns with your personal branding goals.
  2. Create original content and share it with the world.  Take photos, write blogs, post videos, and make a name for yourself.
  3. Engage with your community of influencers by sharing, liking, and commenting.  Developing content for yourself is great, but if you don’t acknowledge what else is out there, then you will lose your competitive edge.

In a world comprised of billions of people, it’s too easy to blend in with the crowd.  But there are numerous advantages to making yourself stand out among your peers or competitors.  In an academic setting, branding yourself allows you to take advantage of great opportunities that may propel you in your career.  The goal is to be eye-catching to employers. In a work setting, defining your individuality means you’re not simply a person in the workforce, but a colorful individual with deep passions and motivations.   Let yourself shine for the rest of the world to see!

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