Women talk personal brands, best ways to promote selves, firms

Kim Keating, founder and chief marketing strategist of GIVE Marketing in Holmdel, perfectly summed up the powerhouse panel she moderated at the most recent National Manufacturing Day, an educational, networking and awards event hosted by the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program at the Bridgewater Marriott.

“Personal branding not only can help to articulate, communicate and perpetuate a company’s purpose, but also can provide a much-needed platform for women leadership and mentorship,” she said. “Your clients and customers, especially those in the younger generations, want to know what it is that you stand for and what you have to say, because they want to work with people and companies who they like and who make a difference.”

With less than 30 percent of the manufacturing workforce in New Jersey made up of women — and an ever-present and increasingly worsening skills and labor shortage — it is more important than ever for women, especially, to promote and market themselves and their abilities in the industry.

That is why this year’s Women in Manufacturing roundtable discussion at National Manufacturing Day focused on the importance and responsibility
of creating and promoting one’s personal brand while aligning it with the values of one’s company, with powerful input from industry leaders including Sally Glick,
principal and chief growth strategist at Sobel & Co. in Livingston; Donille Perrone, the newly appointed senior marketing manager at LG Electronics in Englewood Cliffs;
and Gail Friedberg, vice president of ZaGO Manufacturing, a manufacturer of sealant fasteners in Newark.

Here’s what they had to say:

On the importance of creating and promoting one’s personal brand … 

A personal brand is not that much different than a corporate brand, and functions in much of the same way by creating a shortcut to knowing who you are and the value that you can add. When people are presented with the image of one’s brand, people will then make an assumption and make a decision. They can form their own ideas about what you are like and what you stand for without ever having even met you. Your brand speaks on your behalf. — Sally Glick

Developing one’s personal brand evolves over time and takes a lot of trial and error. … I could spend an entire day talking about examples of harassment that I’ve experienced in the workplace — but knowing how to address issues like that will also become part of your personal brand. People are going to know not to mess with you when they realize that your personal brand is not something to be messed with. When I was 25, I couldn’t speak to that, but at the age that I am now, I certainly can. — Donille Perrone

We are all aware of how important personal branding is, especially in manufacturing, because, so often, we will walk into a room and be one of very few women. And, when you walk into that room, if you are not someone, you are no one. … Personal branding is simply storytelling — and, if people know you, and they know that story, that is when they will start talking about you.
— Gail Friedberg

On leveraging social media and networking opportunities … 

Influencer marketing sometimes means having a celebrity or someone well known in the community that is willing to speak on your behalf by taking their brand and associating it with you and your organization. It is a huge responsibility and one must be careful in their selection. Remember that there was a time when Hertz thought O.J. Simpson was the perfect representative for their organization because he was clean-cut and honest — all of the values that Hertz talks about — and, now, he is just getting out of prison. So, whether you pick someone from outside your organization or from within, make sure your values are aligned and adhered to, because if something goes wrong and you are not absolutely frantic about keeping the brand valuable, you could potentially take down the entire organization. … If I behave in any fashion that is not pristine, and now you make that same connection to Sobel & Co., that will hurt us. … A brand can speak for you, create loyalty for you and shortcut people’s emotional attachment to you, but it also can work against you and your organization just as equally and as quickly if the things you and your company stand for suddenly are able to be questioned. When you have a powerful reputation, you need to safeguard it for the golden goose that it is. — Sally Glick

There is a quote that I live by that says, ‘Your smile is your logo; your personality is your business card; and the way you leave making people feel is your trademark.’
— Donille Perrone  

On utilizing social impact as a business and marketing strategy …

If you are the president or the owner of a company with a very strong commitment to a topic, you are acknowledging that you are taking a chance when speaking out about it, but it is your chance to take. As I am an employee of a firm, I must be careful of what I tweet or publish on LinkedIn, because it could mean trouble if my values are not aligned with my firm’s attitudes, philosophies and culture. … When you represent an organization that is not your own, you need to recognize when you are potentially being controversial and consider who that may impact besides yourself. — Sally Glick

I’m running for office, but I don’t think anyone who I do business with would know that because I keep my political views and aspirations separate from my business. Then again, everything is political these days. Even the social impact that you want to make as a company can have political implications. For example, if we decide we are going to help promote women within our company or pay our employees a living wage or install a 50-kilowatt solar panel, even if that is just part of what we do as a business, even if that is just adhering to our values, it is politicized — even though it shouldn’t be. Social responsibility can be very profitable, because the people that you work with will appreciate and admire what you do and they will want to do their best for you — plus, you can market the type of impact you are having — but politics are not helpful. — Gail Friedberg 

On the responsibilities of women mentorship and leadership …

Women in leadership have an obligation and responsibility to act as role models, whether someone has asked you to be a mentor or just in the general community. Because there are fewer women leaders at this time, we must be the ones to make sure that young women and young men coming up through their careers continue to understand that it is never about gender, but about one’s capabilities and competencies. When we behave in this fashion it will encourage others to put those distinctions aside, too.  — Sally Glick  

I am a single parent of a 7-year-old daughter who sees how hard I work every day to give her the things that she has in a neighborhood where people have a lot more than we do. She knows how hard it was for me to get here, and she appreciates everything that is given to her because she knows it doesn’t come easy. I can only hope that by me setting an example for her, she is going to follow in my footsteps. — Donille Perrone 

I think that the best way to bring younger women up is to push them out the door ahead of you. If they don’t want to go to that dinner or that event, well, guess what, they must. My biggest regret is that I didn’t start doing this type of thing when I was younger — I only really started networking seriously in the last 10 years, and I’m 55. I want these women in their 20s and 30s to get out there and start now, because if they do, when they are my age, they will be CEOs of enormous companies.  — Gail Friedberg