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Sassy Mama in Business: Leveraging your Personal Brand during a Career Break 

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Ever wondered what it meant to create your own ‘Personal Brand’, mama? Whether or not you’re working, self promotion and a sense of identity do every mama good.

I recently attended a women’s leadership summit here in Singapore and was thrilled to hear some wonderful, deeply experienced panelists offer their advice to the audience.

One great example of this was Nancy Kielty from Walmart talking about ‘personal branding’. I’ve been hearing a lot about personal branding recently in the context of the entrepreneur world and I really liked Kielty’s way of connecting personal branding with the corporate world.

Her advice: create your personal brand early in your career. Choose three things to be known for – for example: being a dynamic presenter, a top negotiator, a leading marketing strategist.

Consistently set career goals around these three things. Constantly study and learn more in these areas. Read the leading books, subscribe to podcasts, attend workshops. Start tweeting and writing your own content around these things. Get active on LinkedIn and in relevant, offline networking circles. The goal is to eventually become known in your industry for being a thought leader in these areas.

I particularly like this article by Glenn Llopis on personal branding and the seriousness with which it should be taken. This comment stands out:

View your personal brand as a trademark; an asset that you must protect while continuously moulding and shaping it.  Your personal brand is an asset that must be managed with the intention of helping others benefit from having a relationship with you and/or by being associated with your work and the industry you serve.”

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Leveraging your brand on a career break

The benefit of having a strong personal brand? It will help carry you through a career break. Keeping your brand strong and relevant while you are out of formal employment doesn’t take a lot of time. Check in on social media a few times a week to carry on conversations, listen to podcasts, subscribe to industry magazine or e-newsletters. Commit two hours a month to more active participation in things like:

– Join a relevant group like Toastmasters to keep your confidence and communication skills sharpened.

– Write articles, post them on LinkedIn, and share them on Twitter.

– Volunteer your skills for a local charity.

– Mentor a start-up.

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– Continue going to networking groups. There’s nothing wrong in saying “I’m a financial analyst taking some time off for motherhood right now, but I love meeting new people and expanding my network.”

– Start your own blog, tying in your personal brand with your current experiences.

Being confident in your own skill set, committing to improving that skill set and authentically sharing your advice and experience with others can go a long way to create the kind of personal brand that will attract opportunity and expand your network.

Career breaks are a wonderful ways to pause and grow in different parts of our life – whether for parenthood, travel, medical reasons or extended family care – but they don’t have to create a ‘career penalty’. Find a way to re-enter the workforce from a place of strength and confidence, harnessing your personal brand.

Lead image sourced via Pinterest. Image #2 and #3 sourced via Pinterest.

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