Why your personal brand matters
by Jackie Mattox
President and Founder
Women in Electronics
Jackie Mattox is the founder and president of Women in Electronics (WE), a national non-profit dedicated to developing professional and personal leadership skills for women in the fast-paced electronics industry. She is also the national director of distribution at Bivar, a leading specialty manufacturer of Enclosure Hardware, LED Indicators, and LED Lighting products and solutions.
Prior to founding WE, Mattox began her career in electronics at English Technical Sales, a manufacturer’s representative firm in Southern California, where she held several distribution managerial roles. Mattox received her B.A. in Communications from California State University Northridge.
You can reach Jackie Mattox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Navigating your personal brand can be overwhelming. From taking the perfect professional headshot, polishing your LinkedIn profile, or fine-tuning your resume until it’s “just right,” there are seemingly endless elements to managing your brand. Oftentimes, however, we leave the most important aspect of our personal brand out of this equation—our outward perception. And here’s why it matters.
Our perception drives responses. The way our actions and behaviors are interpreted by others reflects what we care about and also reinforces our personal brand in an impactful and meaningful way. A classic example involves meeting participation. While you’re listening closely but refraining from adding your own thoughts and ideas to the conversation, your fellow colleagues may perceive lack of verbal response as lack of interest (and often do). Leaving others to assume what matters to you may cause your personal brand to become an inaccurate representation of your true self. Instead, hop in the driver’s seat and make your passions known. When it comes to managing your career, by consistently telling others what you find fulfilling and what you want to achieve professionally, you might be surprised by the opportunities that come your way. Openings for relevant positions that wouldn’t have found their way to you before will appear front and center, all because you made a conscious choice to take control of your personal brand.
When your outward perception reflects your true inner ambitions, you are representing your authentic self and finding a seat at the right table will become a much easier feat. Leave no guesses to your peers and colleagues about how you would like to grow within your career. Ask yourself, “Where do I see myself in five years?” and just as important, “Who can help me get there?” It can be as simple as telling your manager what your goals are and making an effort to continue voicing them. You may assume your goals are obvious, such as obtaining a more senior position or managing a larger team, but diving into specifics is what truly moves the needle and furthers your professional development. Don’t shy away from the details. If your day-to-day consists of client relations, but you find fulfillment in process improvement, speak up! Volunteering to put your skills in motion is the first step and connecting with the right person will help make your desire to lead others a reality. As you attract like-minded “brands” complementary to your own, you’ll begin building a strong network with the professionals who will directly impact your career and contribute to your growth.
The important thing to remember when managing your personal brand is maintaining a consistent focus. You might have a tendency to convey the message of “I can do it all.” However, having a key message that is communicated often to your network will deliver the highest impact. Commit to mastering that focus and prioritize learning as much as you can from those who share the same passion. As you explore resources to expand your knowledge and tune in to the latest and greatest, don’t forget to stop and connect along the way. If you participate in an engaging webinar about your focus of interest, take it offline and reach out to the presenter through a personalized message. Ask about how they stay one step ahead of new tools and technologies or which industry organizations they serve as an active member. Putting yourself in front of the right audiences will not only expand your network, but further fuel your personal brand.
Through each meaningful connection, be genuine in your correspondence. Keep your personal brand direct and concise, while learning about the common ground you share with those in your network. For the Women in Electronics community, being part of the same industry is merely scratching the surface. Each member’s personal brand is reflective of their expertise and specialties, and the electronics industry has more than I can count. Asking the right questions and having a genuine curiosity can help you strengthen your personal brand and, in turn, lend yourself to contributing towards the professional growth of a colleague who shares the same passion.
As you grow and evolve, your personal brand will, too. Unlike a headshot photoshoot, managing your perception does not have a hard stop, it’s a lifelong journey. When you’re going through the daily motions, keep your personal brand top-of-mind and place yourself on a path to finding the leaders who share your focus. Together, alongside your network of like-minded brands, there are no limits to what you can accomplish.