The Utah Women in Leadership Project teamed up with Utah Education Network (UEN) for the Utah Women’s Speaker and Dialogue Series, an event which hosted four speakers tackling issues pertinent to the success of women and girls around the state.
This post will highlight Sui Lang Panoke and her presentation on social media and finding your voice. Sui is the founder of Women Politics Media, and RE-Think Tank. Through these organizations, Sui works to train leaders, primarily women, emerging leaders and people of color in communication and advocacy through personal empowerment. Sui is an expert in personal branding and branding strategy. She shared tips and inspiration for finding your voice and creating a personal brand. Social media in all its forms have permeated daily life. The necessity to engage online has increased as business, advocacy and sociality have become more dependent on connecting to others virtually. Sui outlined the four C’s of social media:
- Connect – social life
- Courtship – finding romantic connections
- College – educational engagement
- Career – forming professional connections
Each category of online usage may have both positive and negative impacts, depending on the content posted. For example, it would be beneficial to have and maintain a professional profile online for potential employers to view. However, you may make a negative impression if your other social media profiles demonstrate unbecoming behavior. The key to rethinking your social media presence is to understand your unique power. You have the power to choose how and where you engage online. You control your image, voice and identity on social media and not the other way around. If you want to get the most out of social media Sui recommends developing a true, authentic voice that fuels your personal brand. To do this you must answer some tough questions, broken down into three categories.
Who are you? How do you see yourself? Identity is difficult to define and often takes on aspects that others have given to us. Try to look a little deeper and think who you are if all your labels were stripped. Are you intensely passionate about education? Are you, at your core, a creative leader? Write out three “I am…” statements and see where it leads you.
Now that you know who you are, what exactly do you have to say? You have a chance to project your message to the world so what will it be? Think about how you see the world and how you can mold that perspective into a succinct and consistent voice. Developing a strong personal brand starts with projecting your best authentic self. Spend time deciding who you want to be heard by. How can you tailor your authentic voice to resonate with you your preferred audience? How do you fill in the statements, “I see…” and “I think…”?
Let your unique identity and authentic voice inform the image of your personal brand. Personal branding answers the question, “How do others see you?” Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Engage with a diverse range of allies in the process of determining your brand. Let your identity, voice, images, behaviors, and connections paint the picture of your personal brand.
It is extremely easy to compare yourself, especially your faults, to others on social media. Avoid this by prioritizing your identity first and your social presence second. Do not chase an image you can’t live up to that is inauthentic. Remember, you are empowered to create and control this image.