Sculpt your reputation. Take charge of your personal brand. Send out a clear message about who you are and what you stand for.
These were the messages that kicked off BET’s fourth annual Leading Women Defined conference during an early morning panel for female students from Dunbar High School and Howard University, both in Washington, D.C. The mentorship panel is always a conference highlight and spotlights BET’s commitment to helping young African-American women as they move into their professional lives.
"This moment is the most important moment of this gathering,” noted Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO of BET Networks, as she looked out at the smiling faces of more than 60 aspiring lawyers, entertainers, doctors, entertainers and media moguls in the audience. “Being able to talk to these young women and mentor them is what Leading Women Defined is all about."
Actress Tracee Ellis Ross, who was on hand to introduce founder and president of Leadership Strategies for Women Ellie Nieves, asked the women in the audience to "take the time to really see each other and be present. This is your community, and one of our goals is to inspire you to maximize your personal success.
"I've really come to understand that none of us do this alone," Ross said.
Nieves, a corporate lawyer and founder and president of Leadership Strategies for Women, gave three personal branding strategies: show up, speak up and step up.
"Personal branding is really what we used to call your reputation," Nieves said. "It's the message you send out; it's what you foster. It sends a clear message about who you are. Your brand makes people say, 'I want this person on my team; I want to rub shoulders with this person.’ "
Being able to rub shoulders in that particular room was an honor, said Jessica Holmes, a junior at Dunbar. “Everyone here is so nice,” she said. “It’s so nice just to be here.”
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(Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images for BET)