Posted by Crystal Lee, Co-founder and Director of Product and Customer Management, LifeSite Last night I sat on a panel with three incredible women who’ve expertly sculpted their own unique personal and professional brands: Lisa Fetterman, CEO of Nomiku; Laura Spaventa, Senior Public Relations Manager at AppDynamics; and Devin Blase, Head of Global Talent at WalkMe. The topic on hand was improving your individual brand, personally and professionally. Jointly organized by Women in Tech and WalkMe, the event was comprised of mostly-women attendees and quickly grew to standing-room only. It was refreshing and inspiring to be part of a moment in Silicon Valley, the birthplace of “brogrammer” culture, where over 200 smart and ambitious women gathered for a frank, face-to-face conversation about issues affecting them. Here are five takeaways that can help you build a stronger brand and be a better workplace contributor. 1. Be yourself no matter what A strong brand is an authentic one. Don’t attempt to change yourself to fit a role, or overemphasize a skill to appear different from what you really are. Even if you don’t get the role, chances are it wasn’t a good fit anyway. Take a logistical look at the things you do to maintain and improve your brand. Are you using social media tools? Going to networking events regularly? Create habits and goals that are sustainable for you and work with your schedule, your social style, and are manageable within your bandwidth. 2. Don’t be too humble “Women often times are the first to shy (away from) their accomplishments… Lead with it, don’t leave it until the end,” Devin Blase, Head of Global Talent at WalkMe, told us. Part of the solution is encouraging women to be more assertive in asking for what we want, but it’s also a culturally embedded, systemic habit that will take generations of role models and increased numbers of female managers and mentors to fully unravel. Some of the things we can do now to expedite equitable change is to become a mentor, openly talk about these issues so hiring managers and recruiters are cognizant of these invisible barriers, and foster diverse work cultures to retain excellent women. 3. Stay level-headed If being true to yourself is important, what should you do when the most authentic emotional response is a strong one, like becoming visibly upset or frustrated? Laura Spaventa, Senior PR Manager at AppDynamics, had a great response. “Take a step back before reacting… It is important to be authentic, but it’s also important to recognize who your audience is and who you’re speaking to.” By taking a moment to recognize who you’re with, you give yourself extra time to respond and are more likely to behave in a way that you’ll be proud of after it’s all over. 4. Say Thank-You Whether or not an interview went swimmingly, a follow-up Thank You card leaves behind a significant lasting impression. Lisa Fetterman, CEO of Nomiku, said “The best thing that’s ever happened was people who write thank you notes. I’m always shocked…That resonates with me harder than any CV I’ve ever read.” Here’s a tip: keep a pile of stamped thank-you cards ready to go. You’ll find it much easier if all that’s left to do is write the note and address, and drop it in the mail. 5. Find your advocates Imagine you’re the only woman on a team that prefers to bond socially over beers, but it’s not really your thing. How can you make sure your work is recognized? Keep in mind that like cream rising to the top, good work stands out and speaks for itself. Try to find and surround yourself with advocates, whether it’s your manager or other employees in the company you gel with. Companies also need to meet you halfway by honoring their responsibility to hire and promote diverse individuals to make coming to work a desirable and productive endeavor for everyone.I encourage you all to join the SF Women in Tech Facebook group, and become a part of this amazing and inspirational group of women who are helping us succeed in the technology sector.