More reflections from the NAWMBA Annual Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, Arlington, VA
A common theme throughout our day was that a large part of knowing how to best represent yourself to others is to have an accurate self-perception. This includes staying relevant to the times, continuously learning by taking courses and having new experiences, and, interestingly, adapting your behavior to where you are in your career. An audience member asked, “When you are in your 20s and 30s, and you are working on finding yourself, how can you position yourself for the future?” Davis answered that it is important to make the most of where you are in the present moment; when business women are young, they don’t have much power, but can get away with some things. Once older, they may have more power but they can’t get away with the same things but can get away with other things. While she didn’t specify with examples, it was clear to all of us that a woman’s power shift with time within corporate hierarchy clearly affects her perception and brand. Davis’ method of adapting and staying relevant was to constantly re-brand herself, by keeping up with media and technology as well as clothes and makeup. Though this last part is seemingly shallow advice, she made the important point that as we take on more responsibility, we must grow into our power and must adjust our image accordingly. The business world will not take you seriously, if you dress and behave as you did in your 20s, when you are in your 40s.
Women and Power
Meeta’s favorite speaker was Jennifer Way who spoke about Women and Power. Walking away from the session, she took away some key lessons that apply not just to women in a professional context, but to anyone on a personal or professional level. Way encouraged the audience to be proactive about recognizing opportunities and asking for them and to shy away from setting higher goals. Her advice was to take on assignments that are a stretch and will provide opportunities for development – jobs should be like children’s shoes, always one size too big and with room to grow. Like Davis, she encouraged international work and travel as excellent opportunities to learn.
Way also advocated making self-confidence a part of a personal brand and to find good brand ambassadors for yourself in the form of powerful mentors through networking. Finally, when all else fails, take the time to consider any issues and practice, practice, practice to get better.