By Editor-n-Chief Shawn Chavis
Have you ever wondered what a Branding Expert is and what they actually do? Just ask Certified Branding and Online Identity Strategist Tonya Smith. Through her company Be Promotable, Tanya shows professional women who are solo business owners how to use practical, step-by-step personal brand building strategies to confidently promote their business and increase visibility with the people they want to serve. Bronze Magazine sat down with the dynamic Brand Expert to find out more about her….
BM: Hello Tanya, it’s such a pleasure to finally chat with you. You have had more than 10 years of experience in helping people get more clarity and visibility with their personal brand. How did you find your passion for brand work?
TS: Shawn, I know a lot of people are out there seeking their passion so this is a great question. I found my passion for branding by experimenting with different paths at first. When I started to really think about what my experiences had been, what I loved the most, and when I was most happy, I came up with the answer- I really enjoyed helping people feel powerful when they respond to the question, “So…what do you do?” Too often, we shortchange ourselves because we feel like we’re bragging or boasting. Branding is not about that- it’s about being able to confidently express who we are and how we provide service to the world. That’s a gift!
BM: What is one of the most memorable things that a client has said about you and/or your services? How did it impact you personally? professionally?
TS: I had a client once tell me that she felt powerful- like she could do anything- after our calls. At that particular time, I was being very self-critical about my business; even considering a change. But after I heard that, I knew that I couldn’t question my ability to change lives through coaching and consulting. Personally, it gave me affirmation and professionally, it gave me endurance for what lies ahead.
BM: You are always so visible and active in social media (Faceboo, Twitter, etc.). Can you provide a best practice for establishing your brand utilizing social media tools? What is your favorite social media tool and why?
TS: Wow. I do love social media. If it weren’t for the internet, I would not have the business I have today. I call myself a geek- I used to despise the term when others gave it to me, but now I realize it’s a part of my personal power. A best practice I’ll share is to understand your own social media personality (I think everyone has one) and fully embrace it. People used to tell me to use LinkedIn “because it’s for professionals”, but I realized how I absolutely love how Facebook lets me share my personal and business side equally and without judgment. Facebook is my all-time favorite, with Twitter a close second.
When you find your social media place in the world, you will find that you connect deeply with your circle, you’ll be more consistent in your messaging, and you will enjoy it vs. making it feel like a task you have to do.
BM: How do you manage to balance motherhood and your career so successfully?
TS: Another great question. You’re good at this! 😉 I know this is another area for which many of my clients seek advice. I’m faithful to my priorities and I know what fits in what place- Faith first, Family second, Career/Business third. So when I have a conflict, I can always move what’s most important ahead. The other thing I do is automate as much as possible- scheduling appointments, marketing and promotion, and reminders for the kids soccer appointments! Google calendar is a huge lifesaver for me and dI integrate all my business tools with Google Apps.
BM: What are some of the challenges (if any) that you have met as an African American woman in your industry? What lessons have you learned from such challenges?
TS: One of the biggest challenges I faced was not having a clear model of what it takes to own a business, to market, to balance your financials, any of that. It took a lot of hard knocks, being embarrassed and learning the wrong way first before I picked up tips on my own. Example- I didn’t even know the right way to choose a fork at a business dinner. Things that some people would take for granted were not part of my lifestyle or mentality growing up. I’ve learned now that I can be educated by anyone, no matter what color. I watch what successful people do and that’s how I’ve grown professionally. AND I’ve learned to generously pay for that knowledge, when it makes sense.
BM: Can you provide some words of wisdom to other women who are looking to perfect their brand?
TS: I’ll do my best. Someone tole me once “run in your own lane”. There are lots of great brands out there, but the most powerful one you can create for yourself is the one born out of your own experiences, passions, and gifts. Instead of competing with other people, try competing with the best you’ve ever been and you’ll always come out a winner!