Her approach to the subject in I Incorporated has been to illustrate the theory of personal branding with anecdotes and analyses of the brands of local and international stars, from Edith Venter to Gareth Cliff to Lady Gaga. Readers of her accessible and engaging book will find valuable advice on preparing a winning strategy for personal branding. Kate has even included a chapter on creating a powerful virtual brand, which is key to a successful career in this hyperconnected world we inhabit.
“Throughout my career, I have come across many young women who have taken ownership of their career, but there are many young people who don’t. Given that today’s younger generation isn’t going to stick with an organisation for a long time, the accelerated building of an individual and powerful personal brand is crucial. Young women already need to start thinking about their futures while in high school, and take great care with the lifestyles and organisations they affiliate themselves with. They don’t have a long time to build their personal brand, like our parents perhaps did,” she continues.
Her advice for building a powerful personal brand can be crystallised into the following points:
1. Don’t be shy to promote yourself. Of course, there’s a fine line between arrogance and confidence. Much as no-one wants to deal with an arrogant colleague or boss, there’s no use in being the world’s best-kept secret either.
2. Your value system has to align with your brand. Uniformity and authenticity are critical in your branding, be it at work, on your LinkedIn profile or on Twitter.
3. Portray yourself in the best possible light. Chanel said it best: “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” Show self-respect by looking your best every day, no matter the circumstances.
4. Master the art of conversation. There is much to be said for being able to present yourself confidently by being well spoken, be it over the phone, in your interactions with clients or even how you relate to family and friends. This is how you will command respect for yourself.
“Few of us are born with all these skills or aptitudes, but there is a wealth of consultants and organisations you could go to for help. I have issues with public speaking, for example, and am soon to go on a public-speaking course to improve in that regard. Don’t be reticent about going on courses to learn to speak or
write or dress better, or to get help with planning your branding strategy. There are so many opportunities for improvement out there, so Google it or get referrals from friends and colleagues, but make it happen. Remember, personal branding is a culmination of factors – it’s how you look, how you speak, your expertise
and your history of success, among other things, so each aspect of your brand needs to be developed,” elaborates Kate.
Continuous development is a recurring theme in her thought processes. Her advice for businesswomen is also never to become complacent, even when their businesses do well. “It is very easy to become profit-focused; once you are making a profit, what you then have to focus on is taking yourself and your
staff to the next level, both personally and professionally. That is the difference between mere management and true leadership,” maintains Kate. She insists that, whatever their role or environment, women need to educate and challenge themselves and create the environment they want to work in. At the same time,
successful women should ‘pay it forward’ by helping other women to develop financially, physically and spiritually in the process.
Kate is an avid practitioner of this advice. Despite her success as an authority on personal branding, she remains very devoted to her career within insurer Discovery and improving the lives of the women she works with. “Discovery wants to create wealth and opportunity for others, particularly its own employees. Their franchising model was a first in the industry and has worked well for them for about a decade now. I am taking responsibility for my future and I have great plans for my career at Discovery. I am determined to be the best at what I do, and to continue associating my personal brand with such a strong corporate brand,” she concludes.
A lawyer by profession, Kate was well into a successful career as a general manager at Momentum when she began to understand the impact of her personal brand on her life and career. “I think that, like many young professionals, I contemplated running my own business, but, with my success at Momentum, I eventually came to appreciate that opportunities would come my way because of my unique personal brand.
Then, about a year-and-a-half ago, this opportunity to become Franchise Directer at Discovery landed in my lap, and I’ve not looked back since. I really have the best of both worlds now, because I essentially run my own business, but under the aegis of a well-known and successful brand like Discovery,” explains Kate.
With her growing interest in the subject, she researched personal branding extensively and realised the dearth of local literature on the subject. “I had always wanted to author a book, and so I decided to write my own book on the subject. My book was launched in early 2012, and I have been very pleasantly surprised by its reception. I’ve already been invited to lead discussions on the subject at several companies,” reveals Kate with obvious pride.
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