Women over 40 have a confidence issue when it comes to creating a brand for themselves online. Not everyone, mind you. Still, the majority of the female entrepreneurs I speak to on a day-to-day basis will invent all sorts of reasons not to share their stories or brand themselves on social media.
They’ll feel reluctant to post an image of themselves, share their wins much less talk about their vulnerabilities. I can go on and on about all the stuff, the negative self-talk, and doubts that they cast upon themselves, but that would take all day.
And yet, I get their whys. I totally do!
If you are a woman of a certain age, it means that you didn’t grow up thrusting a phone in front of your face, talking into a little hole in the camera telling people about your life. You quietly went about your business and you did alright. So as I said I get the reluctance most female entrepreneurs over 40 feel to brand themselves on social media.
But just because I get it does not mean I agree with it. In fact, I don’t.
Self-promotion is hardcore marketing. It is the way that you, regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business you happen to run, ought to see yourself first and foremost as the President of Me Inc. Tom Peters says that to be in business today, you have to learn to brand yourself and your most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”
Sure, promoting yourself, especially if your female entrepreneur over 40, can feel a bit disconcerting but it can be learned. Most of the time, it requires you to step out of your own darn way. The biggest problem I keep seeing is that people forget how to market themselves, market who they are and what makes them different. More importantly, they forget the benefits, which I want to get straight to.
Photo: InStyle Magazine.
1. Developing A Personal Brand Allows You To Find Your Tribe
A while ago I had a major epiphany. It allowed me to take a step back and assess how I was showing up online. Instead of constantly talking about what I did, I wanted to share a bit of who I am. I wanted other female entrepreneurs to see my heart, to see what brought me joy, the challenges I faced running a business. I invited them into my home and my life by way of images and stories and in doing so I was inviting them to let me into theirs.
And guess what, they did. The result? I started to attract authentically like-minded and like-hearted people, at the same time I also started to repel the people who weren’t the right fit for me and the personal brand I was growing online On some platforms, I grew fast, on others slow. But in the process I grew comfortable with the notion that I didn’t need to be the right fit for every single person, in fact, I only needed to be the right fit for a niche audience: female founders, mostly those of color and particularly those from the Caribbean and the diaspora.
The moment I stopped talking and sharing my wins and losses, promoting my personal brand to everybody, and started just focusing on the women who appreciated my sentiments, my advice, my way of seeing the world, and who I was as a human even beyond being an entrepreneur was when I actually felt the happiest. It is would become the guiding principle of how I intended to shape the success of my business model, Simplify
2. Promoting Your Personal Brand Inspires Others
Maybe it’s a thing that women over 40 believe they shouldn’t talk about their wins too much. It’s bragging they’ll often say. No, it’s not. It’s marketing. When I share a win I do it to inspire and you should too. Your wins can be INSPIRING to others who are just a few steps behind you.
When you’re motivating others you can stand firmly in your own light and share your stories and the ways you have succeeded. You can take that same tribe I talked about before and show them your behind the scenes work. You can share your back story as you talk about your passion and your Whys. Think about how you’d react for a moment if you stopped scrolling and read about someone else’s wins.
Do you ever look at another small business owner for example who is showing up authentically and sharing their customer reviews, client testimonials and say: ” SHOW OFF. SHE’S SUCH A BRAGGER.” or do you say: “Wow, she’s really working hard to win!”
My bet is on the latter because they are, and so can you. Sure self-promotion, stamping your personality on the business you’re building might feel weird, especially if you’re not used to it. At times you may even feel strange doing it but growth never happens in spaces where you are comfortable. The good thing is that you can learn how just by stepping up in small ways.
3. Do You, Without Apology
Women over forty have the most amazing stories to tell. We have stripes on our hips, crinkles around our eyes and so much to share from our hearts. Social media allows us to do that, to shine, to show instances of vulnerability, to declare ourselves as survivors of the passage of time, and the success stories we have because of it.
How is all of it possible?
For one, by being you and sharing what makes you different. You’ve got to remember the things that make you stand out, celebrate the unique traits you’ve been given. Social media gives us the space to do just that.
When we celebrate ourselves, when we share our stories, we give ourselves permission to stand on our own paths, unapologetic, and no longer concerned about what others think. When I think back to the scores of personal brand accounts I used to watch and learn from, the only ones I remember were the women who stood out to me, the true, authentic female folk who celebrated what they could bring to the table.
I always want you to think about the things you can offer, the person you are, the strengths you have, and the assets you can be for others. I want you to talk about yourself more, your whys, your reasons, your passions. Focus on being the first-rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of anyone else, and don’t ever dull your shine!
The best way to market yourself is to be yourself. Never forget that. Now go let your personal brand shine!