Meet Ashleigh Streeter-Jones - Activist, Advocate, Writer, Speaker and a proud Intersectional Feminist
My name is Ashleigh Streeter-Jones, and amongst other identities, I’m an activist, advocate, writer, speaker and a proud intersectional feminist.
I started my activism journey eight years ago, working mostly with young people (my favourite cohort) initially in international development, and more recently in the realm of intersectional gender equity.
I’ve worked hard and have been fortunate to have some great wins - and some lovely recognitions!
While starting out felt a bit daunting, it felt so good to find my voice and be able to stand up for the values I hold, and work towards the world I want to live in – which in no small way involves challenging existing systems of power (also, no small feat).
My personal brand helped me engage in successful ACTIVISM - action to bring about change, and ADVOCACY - public support for a particular cause, because it’s allowed me to be seen as credible and trusted, someone who knows their sh*t, and someone who people want to follow.
Now, if the term personal brand makes you squirm, that’s okay – it makes me squirm too!
In a society that doesn’t encourage women to promote themselves, it is uncomfortable to be strategic and intentional in developing your image.
However, a personal brand is important, because your brand is what people think of when they think of you.
It’s what sets you apart, and can be particularly important in areas such as campaigning for change, starting a business, promoting your existing work, or even being hired for a job. People want to associate with those they respect, trust, and are familiar with – and part of this is knowing who you are, and what you stand for. Your brand will also attract like-minded people who you can learn from, mentor and even partner with.
So, where do we start?
What do you want people to think of when they think of you?
A good place to start is by reflecting on what you stand for. What are your values? What causes or skills do you want to be most strongly associated with? What sort of tone do you want people to use when they talk about you? What’s your unique value add, what can you offer people?
There’s a misconception that a personal brand is a persona, which isn’t quite accurate. The key factor in building a personal brand is authenticity, so it’s important that you are honest in these reflections.
What have you done so far?
It can be helpful to do a stocktake of your current skills and achievements. What are your existing credentials? How do people perceive you currently? And what do you think you’re already known for?
And how have you shared these achievements?
Do a separate stocktake of your online/ offline footprint. Where are you sharing your information? What might people already know about you? Don’t be afraid to Google yourself (both a regular search and a news search) to see what’s out there.
It definitely helps to think about the platforms you want to be on – it’s better to do a few things well instead of multiple things badly. I’d recommend focusing on one or two platforms (ideally platforms that your existing or desired networks use) and be sure to do those well.
Who are you connected with? and who do you want to connect with?
Look at who’s already in your networks, and reflect on the kind of people you want in your networks. It’s useful to narrow this down. And don’t forget, in the same way you don’t want to be connected to everyone, not everyone will want to be connected to you, and that’s okay! You might find it helpful to break this down into categories depending on the direction you’re moving in. For example, who might you want to work with? Who might you want to learn from? Who might you want to influence? Similarly, it might be useful to look at the online profiles of people you look up to and use them as a guide for your own thinking.
Don't be afraid to share - you're in charge of your own story!
Again, sharing and promoting yourself can feel incredibly daunting, but don’t forget that people are interested in YOU! Don’t be afraid to share your voice, share your thoughts, share your achievements and share yourself. Plus don’t shy away from selfies or Instagram videos because people want to see things from your perspective. Depending on where you’re at, this may be best done on Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, a Facebook page or even a personal website.
Make sure that the information section of your personal profiles reflects who you want to be. For example, if you’ve previously been known for a particular cause such as sustainable fashion but want to change to be recognised more as a climate activist, don’t be afraid to change the about section on your profiles to reflect this. Take the reins and start leading the conversation.
Think about the type of information you’re sharing, and which platform it’s best suited for. For example, an article is much better suited to LinkedIn but a photo might be better suited to Instagram. Also, make sure you’re using the right sort of voice - you will need to use a more serious tone for LinkedIn while you can be a bit more fun on Instagram. It can also help to have a strategy (particularly if you’re doing something such as growing a personal business) and post regularly, but the key here is your authenticity. As long as you stay true to who you are and the values and beliefs that you identified at the beginning of this thinking, the rest should follow.
Engage with those who engage with you
Replying to messages and comments is a key part of being connected and building relationships. Make sure you take the time to interact with people who want to speak with you! Plus, on platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook, comments and engagement are essential to the algorithm and will work in your favour.
Finally, just have fun!
Personal branding definitely doesn’t have to be serious! At the end of the day, we’re all human, and it’s okay to share mishaps, mistakes and learnings. Being able to laugh at yourself reminds people that there’s a person at the centre of everything you’re doing, and inviting your followers to have a laugh with you is a great way to build your community.
It can feel like a lot, but building a personal brand really can be fun, so enjoy the journey, and know that you’ll meet some great people along the way!
This article originally appeared on girledworld, and can be viewed here.