Visibility for women in consulting through strategic personal branding
October 10, 2022
This article appeared in the “Female Consulting” special of the magazine Junior Consultant:
Four success profiles of female consultants on LinkedIn with learning curve for own account
Women are somehow always “too much” – too loud, too quiet, too bossy, too young or too old. Women in consulting also experience this bias. Either they have too much or too little visibility. Your personal branding is too massive or non-existent.
Their visibility – or invisibility – has two consequences:
- Women who want to pursue careers in the up or out consulting model often become “quieter.” To avoid possible confrontations, they refrain from strategic personal branding.
- As a result, they achieve significantly less visibility – both internally and externally. They cut themselves off from contact with current as well as potential clients and multipliers.
In short, they neglect the Jeff Bezos message:
Not vanity is the driver, but professional and personal growth
Only those who are visible are noticed. Only those who are perceived can show their expertise/competence . Only visibility makes relevance possible. And relevance is ultimately what sticks in people’s minds. Without exception, this also applies to consulting.
I hear especially from counselors who are still one to two levels below the partner level they crave:
“Visibility is not for me. This smells of vanity!“.
Add to that the argument that “the domestic price of my visibility is too high.”
In doing so, the career idea of “I prioritize my professional and personal growth” would be purposeful.
Strategic personal branding brings influence and self-efficacy
As early as 1997, Tom Peters used the term in “The Brand Called You “. As he writes in his essay “We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. “
In doing so, he refers to the power factor. “If you want to grow your brand, you’ve got to come to terms with power – your own. The key lesson: power is not a dirty word!“
However, some women are still unfamiliar with this facet of influence and self-efficacy.
If you Google “personal branding” 25 years after Peters’ essays, you’ll find 467 million hits. Half a year ago, the figure was only 415 million – so the trend is rising sharply!
Positioning yourself as a “Visible Expert” pays off measurably
Personal branding helps in internal and external positioning and new business. For your career, it pays offe to be a “Visible Expert”.
Studies prove measurable returns:
- 41% of Visible Experts are seeing increases in sales and new business.
- For 38%, it has increased strengthened credibility and reputation.
Now follow four examples of visible women in consulting. Your success profiles on LinkedIn provide a great learning curve for your own account.
Lara Sophie Bothur, Deloitte “Voice for Innovation” & Consultant
What is currently one of the most exciting profiles of a female consultant on LinkedIn? That of Lara Sophie Bothur (Deloitte)! In just over eight months, she has more than 41,000 followers. By comparison, the Germany CEO of Deloitte, Volker Krug, owns only 7,520 followers.
Her account is about dry tech and sustainability topics such as virtual reality, metaverse, AI and ESG.
Her recipe for success? The “three S’s”: Storytelling, smartness and selfies.
All posts start with a strong hook that catches followers immediately. It is always a one-liner, formatted in bold.
Throughout, the Deloitte consultant relies on selfies – often as a collage with colleagues. Some of my clients (still) protest that this is too Instagram-like. In addition, one is not so photogenic oneself. But that doesn’t go far enough.
Lara Bothur does not celebrate herself, but places smartly packaged tech topics. One example is her behind-the-scenes post at Lilium. She receives around 4,150 likes for this. If she had published a boring text post about the future of air cabs or only launched Deloitte’s “Smart Mobility” study, this reach would have been impossible.
Her call to apply as a working student receives 1,665 likes. A classical post from HR from the corporate account would probably have generated only a dozen likes.
Her title “Voice of Innovation” shows: She is not a normal consultant.
For me, this is a smart move – for both the corporate and personal brand.
Corporate influencer programs in consulting are often built in parallel with organizational charts – that is, by industry and hierarchy.
With Lara Bothur, on the other hand, a trump card is being played: The “one face to the social media” strategy. Her role: To increase Deloitte’s visibility in the tech space via LinkedIn. Her target groups: Clients, prospects as well as potential consultants; i.e. a strong mix of social selling and employer branding.
Julie Sweet, Chair & CEO Accenture
If you’re looking for a social CEO in professional services, you’ll find Julie Sweet, (Chair & CEO Accenture). Already her enormously high number of followers of more than a quarter of a million catches the eye.
By comparison, the CEO of BCG, Christoph Schweizer, only has 33,021 followers.
His counterpart at McKinsey, Bob Sternfels, started his new role with just 332 contacts at the time. He now has 18,094 contacts.
What is the success recipe of Julie Sweet?
She lives the success formula for effective positioning: “Strategy x Congruence x Personality x Concept x Message.“
This is how it engages in persuasive agenda setting. Instead of a thematic hodgepodge, it represents clear focal points. As the top brand ambassador, she draws on Accenture content. In addition, she specifically sets her own accents – for example, by promoting awards, press coverage or podcasts.
Julie Sweet demonstrates CEO activism and attitude. Because even for management consultancies and the Big Four, Friedman’s claim: “The business of business is business “has had its day. For example, their feed contains statements on the war of aggression on Ukraine, Afghanistan, 9/11, COVID19 or LGBT. And of course, as one of the few top women in the industry, she comments on Women Empowerment.
When it comes to topics that are important to her, she sometimes deliberately avoids images – for example, in her post on the death of Madeleine Albreight. For this she receives 4,165 likes – although the LinkedIn algorithm otherwise prefers images.
She proceeded in the same way to the death of the icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Julie Sweet needed only 5.5 lines to prove her respect and lessons for Gender Equality.
Both clear signs that not only loud, but also quiet posts can be successful.
Barbara Schafarczyk, Alliance Manager for SAP at Capgemini
Even colleagues now only call Barbara Schafarczyk “B” – as the Alliance Manager for SAP at Capgemini calls herself on LinkedIn.
The power woman from Poland has created a “made to stick” personal brand for herself.
A training including an award as “Outstanding Woman in Leadership” led to her inner breakthrough back in 2019.
Since then, her Instagram and Facebook accounts have been dormant. Instead, she interacts with her community on LinkedIn – and does so with passion. Barbara Schafarczyk’s feed benefits from clarity. To do this, she activated the “Creator” mode on LinkedIn.
At first glance, she signals her heartfelt topics to her followers: #csr, #sap, #diversity, #socialmedia, and #personalbranding.
Like corporate influencer Lara Bothur, she relies on the “three S’s”: Storytelling, smartness and selfies.
“B” demonstrates high continuity of two to three posts a week. To do this, she creates a monthly content plan.
Barbara Schafarczyk describes herself as an “activist.” As evidenced by their powerful video on the “Global Gender Gap Report 2022.” Her employer branding posts, such as the one for the Hannover Messe “But B, job is just a job!? Or not?“ also receive over 100 likes. Why? People believe her, trust her.
Barbara Schafarczyk’s feed lives from authenticity. If you want to read her post on Oscar Wilde’s advice “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken “, you’ll notice that no one is jumping on the authenticity hype. She is real.
The tips she gives on personal branding reflect her long professional and management experience. And because it’s “real,” it can afford to be ironic and sarcastic – something that’s otherwise rather difficult on LinkedIn.
She shows that she loves her home country Poland. Her post “So B, why do you always spend holidays in Krakow / Poland, and don’t visit all these amazing places in the world?” manages the triple somersault. It not only builds emotionality, but integrates her Female Empowerment conviction and the call to apply to the Krakow office.
Chapeau – because she manages her feed, including video and collage production, completely on her own. The six to seven hours she spends each week on her visibility on LinkedIn is her private investment.
Julie Teigland, EMEIA Area Managing Partner of EY
The account from Julie Teigland, EMEIA Managing Partner at EY, impresses with its clarity of content. Of course, she also posts corporate classics. Otherwise, her pointed focus is on Climate Change/ESG and Women in Leadership/Diversity.
For the industry, it is conspicuously reluctant to post EY studies. Instead, it remains maximally consistent and consistent thematically. That resonates with her followers.
What also makes their feed stand out? Your understanding of the power of images – just “A picture says more than 1,000 words“.
Julie Teigland uses imagery as a powerful tool against abstraction and interchangeability on two levels. First, on the power level, by presenting in her EY role at meetings such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos or #VivaTech in Paris.
On the other hand, it emotionalizes geal. Examples are their individual Easter or Mother’s Day greetings. She uses aesthetically staged selfies with her family. For these, she receives more than 1,240 and 690 likes, respectively. You plays with personal elements to create closeness. She never crosses the line into the private sphere.
Conclusion: Personal branding pays off measurably for female consultants
No matter whether consultants are extroverts or introverts: Visibility and clear positioning always pay off. Those who rely on role-authentic content and approachability achieve a high level of credibility. And trust – confidence – is a strong currency.
Because the “war for talents” in consulting is currently raging so fiercely, now is a good time to start.
If you want to reach the top as a female consultant, you can’t avoid strategic personal branding. Let’s have a call if you need a trusted advisor at your side!
Author: Susanne Mathony
The positioning of brands and people are my passion. For more than two decades, I have lived out my calling with CEO positioning, strategic marketing and communications consulting, PR and business storytelling.
Added in 2014 was the Social Media Consulting. Here, the focus is on #SocialCEO and personal branding and positioning of boards and teams on LinkedIn.My home is Professional Services. At GSA and EMEA level, I worked for AlixPartners, Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), Strategy& as well as Russell Reynolds Associates, among others.
As a political scientist and trained journalist, I started my career at a Washington, D.C., think tank.