Aug 9, 2017

Event Recap: Creating Influential Word of Mouth

The Riveter delivered another inspiring event for women in business last week on Capitol Hill that focused on personal branding and the power of building your tribe. The evening's speakers included Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm, Jane Park of Julep, Emily Carrin of Apptentive, Jill Donnelly from Baby & Co., and Linda Derschang of The Derschang Group. The discussion was moderated by Jennifer McCullum, Editor of Gray magazine, and focused on the epic task of building your personal brand and learning how to navigate obstacles along the way. Nothing was off limits- speakers shared their most intimate failures in business- and most importantly, they shared how they got back on their feet.

Linda Derschang told the group about the early day's of Linda's Tavern when the beer suppliers were reluctant to sell her beer because she was one of the only female bar owners in the city and didn't belong to "the boys club". Sue Bird spoke about a PR crisis in the early days of her career that forced her to re-think her communication style and put out more meaningful messaging. She spoke openly about the importance of truly knowing who you are and what you stand for so that in moments of chaos you can quickly come back to center.

From a fashion perspective, I enjoyed hearing from Jill Donnelley, who bravely took ownership of Baby & Co. back in 2008 at a time when many small shops in the city were closing their doors. She spoke about her early days in retail, learning customer service from Nordstrom back when the company had only eight stores and talked about the importance of staying on-brand and being laser focused on the task at hand, regardless of what the competition is doing.

Jane Park, founder of the cult nail polish and beauty brand Julep, acknowledged that putting your brand out there can be hard because it opens the floodgates for feedback, both positive and negative. This can be tough for new brands who are trying to figure out their place in the world of social media but it's important because it allows for an open dialogue between the brand and the customer. Jane also encouraged women to focus on the talents they possess rather than dwelling on the things they still have yet to learn. If you're passionate about something go for it and play up the skills you do have and be willing and open to learning the rest.

The women on the panel also discussed the importance of forming your tribe to help you succeed. Surrounding yourself with like-minded women that you can bounce ideas off of and seek advice from is crucial for success. Women in business need other women in business, end of story. "Have women business friends," said Linda Derschang, "Tell each other things. Build your tribe." Jill Donnelley echoed that sentiment and added, "Given the current political climate, women are looking for a tribe." Band together. Do something meaningful.

Creating influential word of mouth and shaping your own personal brand isn't for the faint of heart, but it is an important step for women in business, regardless of where you are in your career. The panel featured a wonderful mix of women who "live their personal philosophies in their professional lives", as noted by moderator Jenny McCullum. I couldn't have said it better myself. Although I did enjoy Sue Bird's last words of advice about personal branding, "Don't be a douche."

Photo Credit: Jenna Lynn Photograhy


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