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Grow: Mia Wedgbury

Why women execs shouldn't slink away from the spotlight Add to ...

I’ve spoken with countless executives over the years and I’m inspired everyday by the women I meet who are truly making their mark on the business world.

That said, I’ve noticed a surprising trend among these women. I’ve heard it from editors of major publications and I’ve heard it from the women themselves: no matter how talented, hard-working or respected they may be for their leadership skills and business acumen, they prefer to avoid the spotlight.

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For some women, self-promotion is a dirty word.

I’m not trying to make a blanket statement. Every woman leader who declines being on the cover of a magazine or the focus of a feature has her own reasons for doing so. However, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that, after years of being treated differently than men in the same position, the prospect of being the centre of attention may seem a little scary.

But as daunting as the limelight may seem, it’s important that you fight your fears.

I’ve written before about just how important it is for CEOs to invest in their own personal trademark. Cultivating a strong personal brand that the public will be interested in will only benefit your business.

Perhaps even more to the point, it’s your responsibility as the head of your company to share your personal story. Engaging in public relations and personal brand development isn’t an option if you’re the CEO: it’s the price of entry.

From what I’ve seen, many women executives tend to shuffle the attention away from themselves and direct it towards their teams. Credit is certainly due, but we can’t ignore the media and public’s desire to get a unique and personal angle on business success stories. Readers want to connect to the issue, and the best way to facilitate that is to give them something to connect with.

A journalist might ask you: How did you arrive at this position? Where do you see the company going? What are your personal and professional passions? What are your greatest achievements?

These types of questions give you the opportunity to share your story, but just remember, it’s important to be prepared. You can do this by seeking the assistance of your communications team, the expertise of a PR professional, or even engage in formal media training sessions.

When you are ready to take the leap, the benefits to your business will be huge.

Sharing your personal story is crucial to developing a relatable identity with the public, your teams and your stakeholders. Small companies often can’t afford big advertising campaigns and this is one of the most cost-effective and credible ways to get your message out, raise the profile of your business, drive sales and aid in the recruitment of top-tier talent.

Whether you’re a man or a woman entrepreneur, if you are armed with a solid communications plan, taking the stage won’t just be a simple exercise in self-promotion; your personal story is an essential component of your company’s corporate branding – you just need to share it.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mia Wedgbury is president of the Canadian region for Fleishman-Hillard Canada and its sister company, High Road Communications. She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing award-winning communications agencies. Her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle. She works in partnership with her clients to build brands, mitigate risk and shape communications strategies.

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