How to be your own brand manager, tips from women leaders ahead of International Women's Day
The last few years, specially the pandmeic year of 2020 has given to a rise to a number of women entrepreneurs. The Government too is supporting initiatives to deepen regional entrepreneurship by women.
Women entrepreneurs and communication industry leaders share their best branding tips and more importantly hot to make your voice hear in male dominated spaces.
Covid Impact on spaces for women entrepreneurs
"Given that the entrepreneurship ecosystem is largely male dominated, many women entrepreneurs find it rather challenging to penetrate the various exclusive spaces." agrees Sukriti Somvanshi, communications lead, Project Her&Now, GIZ. This is a project run by the Germany headquartered international development cooperation agency, and the government of India. Project Her&Now, GIZ encourages women entrepreneurs in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities."
However Somvanshi points out that "Covid-19 has disrupted this scenario heavily and actually in the favour of women entrepreneurs. There is less of a burden to navigate these exclusive spaces physically anymore. With a lot of networking now happening virtually, women can get themselves out there more easily, and access apps like Lunchclub, Leap Club (an exclusive network of women leaders that I am a part of, and would recommend) to build and leverage a professional network efficiently."
Sharing the challenges in doing so Melissa Arulappan, communications professional and founder member, Global Women in PR, India Chapter says, "I don't believe women entrepreneurs and leaders can mainstream their voices without an acceptance and recognition by men and the media that women's voices are marginalised, whether as journalists or spokespersons, and that this need to change."
The 'I Lead' Survey for communication and media
In order to set a baseline survey decipher the roadblocks faced by women professionals, the Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s PR & Digital Marketing National Council (WICCI) and Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode (IIMK) have collaborated to conduct the ‘I Lead’ survey, tailor-made for women professionals in the communications segment in India.
Kavita Lakhani, national president of WICCI PR & digital marketing council stated that the “Women must feel encouraged to take the first step with their participation with ‘I Lead’ survey as we are ready to hold their hand to bolster their leadership aspirations. As a step to welcome diversity of opinions, all responses recorded will be kept strictly confidential and anonymous. "
Tarunjeet Rattan, managing partner, Nucleus PR, urges women to step out and be seen and heard, "I have often seen most relegate their own personal branding so down on their to-do lists that after a point it falls off it without being missed at all. Your brand will be with you forever. This is the first and last brand you will work on."
Work your voice : Sorry not sorry!
Hemlata Mishra, founder, MADnext recommends, "Choosing a social network where your target audience lives, update it regularly, tell about your projects and publications, share the information about your professional events. Invest in yourself, in this fast-moving world of content shock, information gets out of date rapidly."
*Bhavna Singh, associate director- communications, MSD India, "Begin by being non-apologetic. Ever wondered why women apologise more than men!! Let’s stop apologizing for our choices, our preferences and our presence. Sorry! We are not Sorry. Be an ambassador for other women: Women need more ambassadors. Wherever possible, create an opportunity for other women to grow."
* (Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.)
Branding Tips for women leaders
One way of making your brand count suggests Shobha Vasudevan, head- ISG Communication and PR, Dell Technologies is by networking outside your comfort zone, "While women leaders or entrepreneurs would have good connections within their organization and their industry, it is also important to expand your network to people who are outside your job function or industry."
Ritu Tanwar, assistant director- PR, Global University Systems, India says not bringing gender into the equation is key to building your brand as a lead, "Remember that you are an entrepreneur or a leader first- something you have accomplished through your hard work, commitment, knowledge and skills. When you have a seat at the table and a chance to voice your opinion, be cognizant of the fact that you have earned it because you are a professional.
So, speak what the situation demands and what you want to achieve by sharing your opinion. If your male counterpart has an impressive way of making his point, go ahead, get inspired and learn but make your own way. You may end up inspiring him too."
Shalu Jha, co-founder and director, PRandit also believes in," Not getting intimidated easily and not letting a patriarchal society tell you what to do and what not to do, especially when it comes to decision-making for your business and personal brand. So, the plain and simple formula to remember here is: break the glass ceilings and gender stereotypes every day, by taking one-step-at-a-time and then switching to the next one."
Moushumi Dutt, senior communications consultant says, "Be very willing to talk beyond your venture and be seen as an entrepreneur who has a lot more to contribute. Make the start up story, your story, that is what adds and brings out the strength of the ventures.
Women often fear being upfront with their true self in a professional setting in case they are branded as emotional or by any other stereotypical phrase. Khushboo Gupta, lead - PR, Kia Motors India, believes," Many women are often not comfortable showcasing their personal traits to the world. If something makes you unique, you should embrace it and let your individuality work to your advantage. However, your beliefs and ideologies should not keep changing, because when people follow you they follow you because they identify with your thoughts."