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Brown tells women to build a ‘personal brand’

NEW ULM — Kristen Brown, author and action-focused speaker, said she’s an introvert.

However, her claim wasn’t evident as she walked among and interacted with the 75 women attending her leadership development workshop “Digging Deeper with Our Red Heels” at the Best Western Plus Friday.

Brown’s workshop is a follow-up of Thursday’s sixth annual women’s networking event, “Mingle with a Purpose: Heels and All” at the New Ulm Event Center.

New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Audra Shaneman said Friday’s event is the first year the Chamber of Commerce has hosted an additional event following the annual networking event.

She said the women’s networking event is becoming increasingly popular each year and Brown had proposed they host a leadership development workshop as a follow-up.

Brown engaged attendees individually at their tables asking questions about their thoughts on workplace leadership and communication. A common response amongst a few attendees was they felt the need to be more involved in networking and the workplace.

Throughout her workshop, Brown stressed three key factors for women to build a “personal brand” through experience, exposure and excellence.

She said three aspects that exist within experience are personal, professional and presentation.

“Your LinkedIn profile is the place to brag about yourself,” Brown said during the workshop. “How comfortable are you and how good are you at really showcasing what you’re good at.”

LinkedIn is a social network specifically designed for career and business professionals to connect online.

She said every working professional should maintain an updated LinkedIn profile and professional social media presence. Appearance, both online and in public, is vital to maintaining personal presentation she said.

“Act, dress and appear as the person you want to be,” she said. “How are you pulling yourself together in your appearance so that you look like the role you have, and even better you look like the role you want?”

Brown said exposure through a variety of media is also important for building a personal brand — whether it be through public relations within a company, an online presence, partnerships or workshops.

She said building professional business relationships is also a key to success in the workplace and a vital component of managing a personal brand.

Brown said the best way to build these relationships is to find a platonic or personal interest that a coworker possesses and periodically engage them in conversation about this interest. She said asking about someone’s family is the simplest or most common way of going about managing workplace relationships. Once you gain more knowledge of this interest, the relationship expands further.

“When you hear or feel those things in your head – say it,” Brown said. “Create the connection and create the emotional resonance with the person.”

Attendees engaged in a networking exercise where they discussed what they felt is most important in the workplace; particularily while in a leadership role.

Brown facilitated conversation as attendees discussed their thoughts and chose a single word to compile what they felt was most important. They elected one person from each table to present these words and thoughts to the workshop.

Brown also spoke about body language and communication in the workplace. She said body language and awareness of how people present themselves is important.

She offered examples of how to positively handle coworkers who may be performing negatively or be stressed. She said awareness and empathy are useful skills to help redirect negativity.

“When you start to notice peoples’ body language, their facial expressions, and notice them in yourself,” she said. “You can start to pull people back up into the right end of the spectrum of awesome.”

She said having this ability can help improve communication in the workplace and in meetings.

Brown ended the workshop asking attendees to know their self-worth and always seek impovement.

“I want you to leave here with one last thing,” she said. “And that is your three words. Your three words are the words people say about you when you’re not in the room. We want your three words to be ideal.”

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