On Friday November 8th, 2019, Chatham University’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship hosted their third event in the Women Business Leaders Breakfast Series for the 2019-2020 year. The series highlights regional business leaders and is meant to help both students and working professionals via networking and interactive presentations on topics essential for women in business. Don’t forget that all events held by the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship offer free admission for Chatham Students! The November breakfast meeting was entitled “Why Personal Branding is Key to Your Success” and featured Diamonte Walker, Interim Executive Director & Deputy Director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh.
To start, Walker gave the audience a little background on her experiences in an effort to shed light on the origins of her personal brand. She graduated from Westerns Governors University with an MBA and Master of Science in Management and Leadership and then spent some time working at a for-profit company that was, in her words, led primarily by white men. As an African American woman with a “strong personality,” she discussed her struggles to move forward in a job where she was seen as “too female, too black, too entrepreneurial, and too bold.” She felt stuck, waiting for something bigger and better to happen. Then because of downsizing, she was let go—and never felt happier. Later, she was offered a job in the non-profit sector, largely because of the very qualities that alienated her at her at her last organization. These qualities, Walker discovered, were key to her personal brand and were ones that could drive her career forward if only she embraced them. She shared her “7 Keys to Building a Dynamic Personal Brand” that helped her shape who she is today:
- Seek Stillness and Surrender: Stop wasting time on regret and thinking things like, “I should have done that.” Skills matter, but a strong sense of self matters more.
- Raise Your Frequency. Have faith. It’s up to you to be accountable for your own growth and expand yourself by reaching for what is out there. Reduce self-doubt and reposition yourself to prepare for a change.
- Be Open to the Unobvious: Find out what activities, causes, and initiatives are important to you. Allow your passions to seek you out and be prepared to pivot and take on new projects. Everyone loves getting paid for what they love, but that might not happen at first; be prepared to volunteer. Be open to new talents and gifts you may not know that you have.
- Amplify Ambition and Intensify Service: Service + Solutions = Social Capital. It’s important to pinpoint what matters to you and your organization, find the pain points associated with them, and then alleviate them. Be a solution-seeking person and let service show your hidden gifts.
- Produce, Perform, and Promote: Sometimes we have a hard time bragging about ourselves, but we must in order to promote ourselves. Build a reputation for delivering results and be happy even if those results don’t have your name on them. Have people on your side and build coalitions.
- Vocalize Your Value and Codify Your Contributions: Advocate without apology. Create buzz for yourself, whether that is through social media, your work, or other contributions. The hype will grow, but don’t get distracted and forget about the work itself. Believe in the work, not in the hype.
- Understand Brand Reciprocity: Know your brand and use that brand to your benefit every day. Do not undervalue your brand or sell yourself short; ensure that your brand is bankable, sustainable, and mutually beneficial to your employer, colleagues, and clients.
Networking is a key component of the Women Business Leaders Breakfasts, and true to form, there were many fascinating people in attendance. I had the pleasure of meeting two confident women, Linda Kmetz, PhD, RN and Kelly Ebeling, Project Manager, both from UPMC, the #1 ranked hospital in Pittsburgh and Gold Sponsor the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship. Both women have attended the Women’s Breakfast Series before, but I was curious as to why this topic was of interest to them working for such a large company. Dr. Kmetz argues that entrepreneurship is about more than owning your own business; it’s about utilizing skills one already has to benefit any work environment, including a larger company. Ebling explained that she was interested in learning about how to take one’s current skills and grow them in an effort to stand out in a leadership role. Both women questioned whether or not they had a “brand” but looked forward to cultivating one and leveraging it for their career growth. I also had the pleasure of meeting Jane Offutt, PhD, owner of AccomplishOnline, a reading app that helps students practice the skill of re-reading. She enjoys coming to these events, she said, and loves being a member of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship. Offutt hoped to gain new skills to help improve her business, and thus better support more students.
The next Women Business Leaders Breakfast Series will be held on Friday, December 13th, 2019. This series will feature Lani Lazzari, founder and CEO of Simple Sugars, an all-natural skincare line for sensitive skin. Lazzari will share her story of growing her company, handling the aftermath of an extreme growth spike, and navigating the increased focus on online sales. Click here to register!
Morgan Beatty is a first semester MBA student with a concentration in Project Management. Her work experience includes being a Supervisor at Tim Hortons back home in Erie, PA and an Intern at Clinton County Economic Partnership. Besides being an MBA student in Project Management, talk to Morgan about painting, Disney World, or studying abroad!