Owning Your Personal Brand

Business woman at home using tablet.

In this virtual session, branding professionals Mariela De La Mora and June Caloroso discuss strategies to build and define your personal brand and how to leverage your brand on LinkedIn. Watch the video below to learn more about extracting your personal brand, perfecting and boosting your LinkedIn presence, and more!

Mariela De La Mora is a leadership coach and business strategist that helps women (particularly women of color) break glass ceilings and grow thriving careers and online businesses. She previously spent 15 years as a Director of Marketing at Fortune 500s and startups while leading award-nominated marketing teams across the globe. As a first-generation Mexican American, she was often the only woman of color in senior leadership and is now actively working to change that. Now as a generational trauma-informed coach, she helps women bridge that gap by helping them understand their conditioning and how it’s holding them back at work and in their businesses.

June Caloroso is a Recruiter, Career Strategist, and founder of Build With June Consulting. She has spent the last five years building teams as a Recruiter for some of the world's biggest tech companies, from Tech Giants such as Google to Unicorn Startups like Wish. June has helped hire over 300 people land their dream jobs and have had the opportunity to work and collaborate with over 70-forward-thinking and emotionally intelligent leaders in the Tech Industry.


  1. What Is a Personal Brand?
  2. Extracting Your Personal Brand
  3. LinkedIn Optimization and Networking Tips
  4. Q&A

00:00 Hiba Abdillahi: Okay. Hi everyone. Welcome to this week's instalment of Unity Hour, a series designed to keep us moving together while we're apart, 'cause unfortunately we're still apart... My name is Hiba Abdillahi, I am the Social Media Manager here at The Mom Project. I have Katie here as my back up, and she's also womaning the YouTube chat welcoming you all today. As a reminder, this session will be recorded and it could be accessed via our YouTube channel, you'll also receive an email with the link and some resources from our experts today, we know that things come up, so we got you covered if you missed us live.

I just wanna take a moment to thank each and every one of you who has RSVPd today, who's watching live, who will be watching the replay later, Unity has become increasingly important as we continue to navigate these layers of challenges and surprisingly almost 2,000 people RSVPd today, which is insane. I mean, clearly, this topic is very timely and you're still here with us each week, I can't be any more thankful to you all, so thank you so much.

I also wanna give a quick update about our latest program launch, which is called RISE. RISE is the scholarship program, committed to accelerating equity for moms and women of color with providing them access to 100% funded up-skilling certifications designed to help you break into tech.

1:31 Hiba Abdillahi: So we have our first cohort that launched a couple of weeks ago, we are having another cohort launch soon, so if you're interested in learning more and applying, or if you know somebody that would be interested in RISE, please visit work@themomproject.com/RISE. We’ll also put that link in the chat. Applications are being reviewed, so if you're interested or know somebody, please check that out. 

Also, I wanna get into today's topic, which is all about your personal brand, here at The Mom Project, we know that having a strong brand can help you stand out from the crowd and boost your career. We know a lot of you are transitioning pivoting and owning your own personal brand would definitely help with that process, so we brought in two experts that I'm so excited for you guys to meet so that you can learn all about personal branding, how to help your career and utilizing social networks similar to LinkedIn. 

So let me introduce you to Mariela De La Mora and June Caloroso. Mariela is a leadership coach and a business strategist that helps women, particularly women of color, break glass ceilings and grow thriving careers and online businesses.

2:43 Hiba Abdillahi: She previously spent 15 years as a Director of Marketing at Fortune 500 Startups while leading award-nominated marketing teams across the globe. She's amazing. And then June, whom I've had the pleasure of becoming fast friends with, she's just one of the best people ever, she's a career strategist, a recruiter and the founder of Build With June Consulting. 

She has spent the last five years building teams as a recruiter for some of the world's biggest tech companies, from Google to unicorn startups like Wish. So I'm gonna be quiet now and let them take the wheel. I'm so excited for this session, so... Ladies, jump right in it. 

3:25 Mariela De La Mora: Thank you so much for having us, we’re very excited. Should I just, I can take the reins here, I guess, so... Thank you everyone for tuning in. I'm really, really excited for so many reasons to talk about building a personal brand, so firstly, I discovered Mom Project a couple of years ago when I was thinking about What does returning to the workforce look like as a single mom now and as a director of marketing I saw like, there aren't really a whole lot of part-time roles, especially if you are highly skilled and you're really looking to enter back into the workforce in the job that you left, and so just...this is a cause very close to my heart. 

So I hope that you guys find it useful and any questions we’ll be kind of answering throughout at the end, so I'm Mariela, leadership coach and a business strategist as Hiba said, and today we're going to be talking about how to build personal brands, so a little bit about my professional brand story is... Yes, I spent 15 years in marketing, I led teams internationally between California in the UK, and I was recently featured as one of the top ten leadership coaches by Yahoo Finance.

4:44 Mariela De La Mora: That's not the full story. So part of my personal story that I have woven into my personal brand, which are so much more meaningful, are that I am the daughter of Mexican immigrants that has shaped me tremendously, I am a single mother, and I also weave in the fact that I was generally well, always, the only woman of color in senior leadership, and the higher up I went, the more I found like fewer women looked like me. 

I also weave in part of my story that involved me dismantling the life that I built, where I had the marriage, the house, the six-figure job, all the things that are on the grocery checklist of life, and realized in my 30s, and it was in my 30s... See, it’s never too late. That I had built a life that was based on what I should do and other people's expectations, and so I very much weave into my story that I had these Eat, Pray, Love years where I quit my job and left the unhealthy relationship and found my passion of helping small businesses grow and found my passion of being a team mentor and growing teams from the ground up, and in the process of me doing that, I also healed generational trauma that I now integrate into my work as a coach, so that is meaningful.

6:10 Mariela De La Mora: That is the most meaningful part about what I do, not just what I've done professionally, and so we're gonna talk about how you can bring more of yourself to the table, and in fact, you have to when you're building a personal brand, so... Very excited. So today we're gonna be talking about... So number one, What is a personal brand, what can a personal brand do for you? And we're gonna talk a bit more in context of what it can do for you if you are in the workforce as opposed to like from entrepreneurship, but it can serve you either way. 

How do we now extract what your personal brand is, how to tell your brand stories and I've got some goodies for you guys as well. At the end, there will be a link where you can download a career storytelling bundle. So don't worry so much about the how because I got you guys, and then how to grow your personal brand, and that will transition into June, who's gonna talk about how to blow up your personal brand using LinkedIn 'cause she has absolutely done that this year, so to start... 

What is a Personal Brand?

7:12 Mariela De La Mora: What is a personal brand is the stories people tell about you when you're not in the room now, this is not from a gossip perspective, this is literally like...How would people describe you? Who you are, what you do, kind of what you're known for. And we have a say so over that. So that's what I could describe as like, it's a representation of who you are. It is also... Hang on...did I not share? Let's see, here I just started sharing. Here we go. Here we go. Can you go see this? I just realized I was not sharing previously... It's alright, we're learning as we go. Got it. Alright, so y'all didn't see this here, but that is okay, so we had all of this previously, but you will have this at the end, so we're all good, you're gonna have the presentation at the end.

So stories people tell about you when you're not in the room, so authentic representation of who you are, it amplifies what you believe in, what you wanna be known for, and it follows you everywhere you go, so there's a lot of power in that. So I've seen that it really can be a professional springboard for your career, whether you're building a business or not, and it's something that you can shape based on how you're showing up online, who you're engaging with, what you’re posting, what stories you're telling. 

And that really just helps to build credibility and trust, it can show up in forms of when you're looking for new work, depending on the presence of your personal brand, you really can be that stand-out candidate who is talking about...

8:54 Mariela De La Mora: For example, What's going on in your industry, you are either you're creating content or you're engaging with people and having meaningful conversations over things that are happening in your industry, for example, that's one way that you can build a personal brand and you really can become known as the go-to expert for what you do, and you stand out, not just by talking about what you do, but also bringing yourself to the table, and that can really help you attract aligned opportunities even when you're not looking. 

And I'm definitely a testament to that. So building your personal brand is something that is especially important for everyone, but I'd say especially if you are looking to either change roles, pivot into something new, or if you are kind of building the platform or the case for a promotion. 

So my personal brand in this year alone has resulted in just a lot of opportunities, I even built a personal brand before I knew what I was going to do with it. So I can give you an example like last year, even at the beginning of this year, I was still a director of marketing running a team, but I knew that I was not going to wanna do that forever, I really wanted to be present with my daughter more I wanted to have more flexibility over my schedule, I didn't wanna wake up to a billion text messages, it just...

10:12 Mariela De La Mora: I knew that I wanted something more, but I didn't know quite what that was, so just showing up and talking about marketing and authentic marketing and how to bring more of yourself to the table and... lessons that I learned in my career. And before I knew what I was gonna do with it, like I said, by the time that I figured out like, Okay, I wanna be a coach. I had already built a community around this, around my personal brand that I was then able to more easily monetize because I had kind of done that work before I knew what I was going to do with it. If that makes any sense. 

Extracting Your Personal Brand 

11:00 Mariela De La Mora: So definition of a personal brand. If you were to write out what you really love to do, and some of this is gonna be very unrelated to your profession, that is, Okay, you're going to find some crossover, but what is it that you love? And maybe this could be a little leaning more towards, what do you love about what you do in your career? What are you really good at? There's gonna be some skill sets in here that are actually in your everyday work.

What are your values and your beliefs? What do you feel like your purpose is? Maybe this could be totally unrelated, but it could be like, how is it that you can use part of what you do to advance something or someone that you really believe in? And then how are you different? So this could be, I'd say especially, how are you different in terms of the work that you do? 

How does your life experience or your professional experience offer you a unique lens to what you do? What maybe soft skills do you have that allow you to do what you do differently? Those are all the things that really, really contribute to your personal brand...so just start a free flow, write this stuff out, start to see if any stories come to mind as you go through this exercise because this will guide your career stories, which we're about to talk about after this. 

So next is, telling stories around your brand, so the importance of that is that when you tell a story, you are 22 times more memorable. So the brain really wraps around stories, So if you were to talk about...

12:27 Mariela De La Mora: Let's say if you were asked in an interview like, can you talk to me about a time that something at work did not go according to plan, or are you really good at thinking on your feet? You go, Yeah, I'm really good at thinking on my feet I did it all the time. Okay, that is not necessarily as compelling as... Yes, there was one time that we had this big event coming up, the event marketing manager left, and we just had to get on the phone, do some research, figure out what had been done, and at the end, the event was a success, and we got retweeted by a major brand, and I was so proud of the work that I did. 

That is a career story, so it's something that people will remember a lot more, not only because it's more believable because you have a story, but also because it makes them feel emotions around it, it's almost like you're able to paint a story around the things that you've done. And you paint yourself as the hero of that story. So we are gonna talk more about your career stories versus your personal brand stories. And I have a tool for you guys about career stories that I'm gonna link you guys to the end presentation.

13:37 Mariela De La Mora: So, your career stories are notable moments that highlight who you are and what you've done professionally, so these could be things that you're really proud of, it could be an achievement, it could be an obstacle you overcame, [like] me in the example that I shared with you, or it could just be times that you showcased your values or qualities, that could be an example of I said no to a job opportunity because I found that the ethics of the company came into question and I actually said No, or I said no to something at work, because it was in conflict with my values or something, you can kind of see what comes to mind, but you can bring a mix of that. 

Now think of what are three to five things you really wanna be known for, things that you want to highlight about your career that you want people to know, if you are able to extract them using this next process right here, you're gonna be so much more prepared to call upon these stories, if you are being interviewed, if you're having a conversation with a colleague or your boss, if you are being interviewed for a job...

14:39 Mariela De La Mora: 'cause this comes up all the time. Recruiters will remember stories. And so the flow of this, and this is the tool that I have for you guys, so no worries, like you have questions about it, hopefully that will help answer it, but you introduce the story, here's what happened. Here's the role that I had. Then there was a challenge, okay, the marketing, the event person left suddenly and we had this event to put on, the reason that this was extra important was because there was a... Let's say there was a partnership in play and it had to go well and we had no time to get a replacement person in. 

So the action that I took was X, Y, Z, and the resolution was this, so think about those things and start to just drop them into this format. Once you write it out, I promise you, you will not have to remember this, but it will just be so much easier for you to call upon these stories, and it will really like enthrall people and be like, Oh wow, that was awesome that you were able to do that, and you do become that stand out candidate so now in talking about your personal brand, these could be different things.

15:47 Mariela De La Mora: So for me, there's obstacles I overcame, there's things that have to do with my mission, notable achievements, they can be a lot of different things, but I would say it has to do with what are the parts of you that you really wanna bring to the table that really shape who you are and why you do what you do with your unique lens. So when you're growing your personal brand, you really wanna think about who are you trying to reach with your brand, is it a prospective employer, is it potential people you wanna partner with, is it a cause that you're really passionate about, who are you trying to reach and what do you want them to think? Or do?

So I think that for me now, my personal brand is, my audience is from the business perspective, like potential clients or corporate partners that I can help and support, but when I was job searching, my potential audience was other employers and recruiters and hiring managers, and so you just wanna have that unique lens around what shapes the stories you tell, and that will also shape the mix between professional and personal. 

So a few steps that I would recommend to get started is literally Google yourself, like Google your name, see if there's stuff that you can clean up, like you might have some images from 2011 Tumblr that are coming up with in your name that you actually can just...

17:11 Mariela De La Mora: Get rid of... If you don't want them to show up, there might be public pictures on your Facebook that you just kinda wanna clean up and get rid of, and now you can start to say, Okay, now what can I replace it with... So how can I create maybe some thought leadership pieces like writing an article for Medium, writing an article for LinkedIn, something that you want to be found, and you put it there because you want it to be found, and let's say you're writing an article about your industry or what it is that you do and it's your unique belief, create these pieces because they will be found, especially LinkedIn and Medium, they have really really... They come up really high in search. 

So putting a few strategic pieces out there will also help to boost to your personal brand. Some people have asked about, Do you need a personal website? I would say it depends. For me, it was really helpful because I had a portfolio of work, and even if you are not a creative, let's say you're not a brand designer or a website designer, I was... And I was more...

18:07 Mariela De La Mora: I had a creative marketing team, but I myself was not a creative, but I had one because I knew it would be found, and I put it out there because it's like, Okay, I can curate in a way what is found about me, so I had a website that had my professional work, it had a little bit of my story, so I would say nowadays, you could just slap up a template by the domain name, your name as a domain, which is probably a pretty good idea to do anyways and... Yeah, just throw that up there, and it just really helps to shape what is found about you. 

And then also your LinkedIn presence is part of how you boost it, it's what you post, what you talk about, what your actual profile looks like, which June is going to cover as well. And then it's... Yeah, networking, who do you engage with? Who do you comment, whose content do you re-share, who do you... Who are you celebrating in this LinkedIn space online, all of this is really important to building your personal brand, and then if you wanna take it a step further, there are ways you could do PR for yourself, like I was mentioning, Medium and LinkedIn, even though that's not...

19:15 Mariela De La Mora: A publication that's picking you up, there's ways that you can write contributor pieces on platforms that have really high search results, you can pitch yourself to podcasts that are in the industry that you're in, you can apply for speaking engagements, different organizations will actually have forms that you can fill out or you can say, I can speak on these five topics and just start to put those things out there and then see what professional groups exist for what you do and just start joining them participate, see who you can connect with. 

And I think we’re like right on time, 20 minutes, and thank you guys. I wanted to remind you guys, so at this link right here at career stories bundle, what you will find on there is two things, Number one, it is the career storytelling flow of how to extract the three to five stories that you wanna share to kind of highlight your career, the other is how to write your LinkedIn about statement, so when I've helped clients to read out their LinkedIn, one of the hardest pieces to write is you're about statement because you're talking about yourself, and so that is on there, there's gonna be a video that's gonna walk you through how to do that and...

Yeah, and then just some other goodies... I would love if you guys would connect... I'd love to connect you guys on Instagram or LinkedIn, whichever platform you tend to frequent and... Yeah, I hope that this is helpful. 

LinkedIn Optimization and Networking Tips

20:45 June Caloroso: Great, so I guess it's my turn. Thank you, Mariela, that was awesome. And I just wanna mention that me and Mariela met all because of our personal brand, on LinkedIn and Instagram, and so now I'm gonna talk about the importance of having a digital presence when you are on the job market, specifically on LinkedIn. So should I just start with them? Can everyone see this? Perfect, so I'm gonna try to it’s a little bit of a long presentation, I'm gonna try to summarize this quickly so we could have some time to do a Q and A, but let's get started. 

So I'm gonna do a little brief introduction. I'm June again, I am a recruiter, career strategist. Some fun facts about me, I love throwing Tik Tok dance parties whenever my clients win, the mom of two True Crime fans, and as have mentioned, I had that opportunity to recruit and build teams for some of the biggest tech companies listed right here. And today, what we are going to cover is I'm gonna share a little bit of insights of my own personal brand story and how I incorporate that in my career, and why a personal brand is important from a job seeker perspective, and then also share some tips on how to really stand out as a candidate on LinkedIn.

22:24 June Caloroso: Okay, this is a little bit more about me, of why I'm so passionate about The Mom Project, as well as empowering moms to really believe in themselves and live their lives as the best versions of themselves as they can, because when I became a mother, that's when I actually started developing my personal brand. I really didn't know who I was throughout my mid-20s and when I had my first child, that was... And I actually quit my job, and that was the first time I took a break from work, after working since I was 13. 

I decided to embrace that new journey of being a new mom and volunteer for this non-profit called No Excuse Mom. And this is what it actually exposed me to the fundamentals of recruiting and business development, and the reason why I'm sharing this with you is because although I wasn't currently working during this gap yera in my career from 2014 to 2015, I used this opportunity to really explore myself and figure out what I wanna do next. Because I knew in my heart that if I was going back to work, I did not want to go to a job that I didn't feel passionate about.

23:39 June Caloroso: So when I volunteered for this non-profit and started building different communities within my local area, that really got my interest in recruiting, and I talk about this in every interview, and this is what sets me apart as a candidate, as a job seeker, because it showcases the passion that I have for building community, and this is why I'm always encouraging moms out there, if you don't know what you wanna do next, try to volunteer and try to experiment because for me, when I was all volunteering, I didn't know I wanted to get into recruiting, but that kind of led me to where I am now as a career strategist and recruiter, it actually helped me discover my passion for mentoring and coaching. 

So why is personal... Is personal branding important in a job search, as I mentioned, it sets yourself apart, you can definitely use your personal brand to differentiate yourself from other candidates, it builds your capability and connections, it showcases your skills and experience online that will gain you exposure and connections that could lead to possible opportunities, Mariela mentioned that when you are building a personal brand online, you wanna Google yourself.

I can't stress the importance or I think job secrets don't know this, but Googling... companies actually use social media as part of their screening process, so you wanna make sure that whatever you have on your social media platforms is going to showcase you in the best light, so let's talk about LinkedIn and why it's important as job seekers to have that online presence on LinkedIn because it is an extension of your experience and skills and brand.

25:33 June Caloroso: LinkedIn has reported over 700 million users, less than 40% of those users are actively using that platform, and then in a 2017 study found that 122 million LinkedIn users had been invited to an interview from LinkedIn... All through networking. So why is this important? As I mentioned, a lot of job seekers don't look at LinkedIn as a way to express themselves and showcase their skills, they often look at it as just a job board, but it's way more than that. And I'm going to show you why.

Moving ahead, sorry. Okay, so this is actually a great visual, this picture right here was pulled off from LinkedIn in the summer, and it shows you how many people on LinkedIn that are senior level influencers, opinion, opinion leaders, IT decision makers, 90 million of LinkedIn users are senior level influencers, so that means that you really want to look at LinkedIn as the Yellow Pages or a way for you to access anyone from your dream company, and how you can do this is actually optimizing your LinkedIn profile and sharing content. 

As I mentioned LinkedIn is more than a job board, so 80% of professionals consider professional networking to be important in their career success, 35% of survey professionals say that a casual conversation all through LinkedIn messaging has led to an opportunity, and 61 professionals say that regular online interaction with their professional network can lead to opportunities.

27:28 June Caloroso: So now let's talk about how you could actually use LinkedIn to really brand yourself and showcase your experience, so I'm gonna talk about different tips on how to optimize your headline, you're “about” summary, experience and banner photo. Okay, so this is a great example. So with the headline, you really wanna utilize it to show your skills and expertise and communicate the value of what you bring to a new employer. 

You wanna include at least one job title or phrase for the type of job that you're searching for, include any professional certifications and key accomplishments. And the formula that I use with my clients is, you wanna know who you are, who do you help, and how do you help them? This is a perfect example by Andy, and Andy joined me and Hiba on The Mom Project’s LinkedIn Live a few weeks ago, and she actually joined us and I provided her tips on how to optimize her LinkedIn profile and great news for her, she actually wanted a new job since we last chatted, but this is a perfect way, if you are in a marketing position or account manager, she has a perfect headline that showcases that. 

She says she's a strategic marketing Account Manager of building brand awareness with the wine and spirit industry, the more keywords you have on your headline, the more visibility recruiters will have from your profile, so let's go on to...

29:00 June Caloroso: Oops, this is why I probably shouldn't use Canva, but let's go on to the... About summary. So the About summary is another way that you can actually show how you can be an asset to a company, you wanna tell your recruiters or any viewers that are visiting your profile, how you actually started your career journey, you have about 2,000 characters to go beyond start dates and titles. 

This is a section where you could actually also stand out and showcase your expertise and personality and also show the impact of your work by including quantifiable metrics and data, and then this is also Andy's profile that I helped her with... As you can see here, where it says key competencies, these are different keywords that are tied into marketing and account manager, so the reason why it's important to include as many keywords.

It's going to pop up in different recruiters search strings when they are looking for account managers and marketing managers that, for example, have grad management or key account management, so it's really important to include as many keywords as you can, 'cause as a recruiter, if they know that they are working with a hiring manager that's looking for all of these key competencies, Andy’s profile is going to come up, so again, I can't stress the importance of having as many keywords in your LinkedIn profile.

30:33 June Caloroso: Okay, and then there's also a great section, I definitely want to, if we have time, share Mariela’s section because she utilizes her feature section to showcase different articles and blogs that she has been published in, but this is another way for you to highlight your strengths, show your work and show anything that you've been featured in and published in, and I wanted to show you an example of what a Boolean search string looks like that recruiters use to find candidates... 

Oops, I am going too fast here... Okay. So I'm sorry, I'm having technical difficulties, guys. Okay, so the banner photo is another way for you to showcase who you are, and it's another great way to personalize your brand. You can do this by including different hobbies, any favorite quotes... Anything that you've been featured in, Mariela does a great job here. She's been published in Yahoo Finance, she's one of the top 10 leaders based on Yahoo Finance, and these are the different publications she's been on, and then if you can see on mine, these are the different companies that I have had the pleasure to work for, and then this is also a great opportunity to make it very simple for someone to reach out to you, you could either include your website or email...

32:15 June Caloroso: Give me one second. Okay, so I wanted to share what LinkedIn did for me and my personal brand. I got laid off unfortunately because of Covid in April, and I never really utilized LinkedIn to really promote my personal brand, I only really use LinkedIn as a way to recruit and source candidates, so I decided to challenge myself to post on LinkedIn every day for 30 days straight in July. 

And this is what it’s done from me. So in July, I gained all of these connections, I've had all of these views, but it's not about the numbers and metrics, that's important, I wanna showcase the opportunities that my post led me to...it let me to a couple of podcasts interviews, invitations to do LinkedIn Lives. And then I was reached out to in July by five different job opportunities, and then also opportunities to get... This was actually when I was just starting my business, I had the opportunity to get new clients and new mentors, and then since then, this is the data. 

I always like to leverage data to showcase the amount of exposure you can have as a job seeker. Since June, these are the amount of views that I've had, but again, it's not about the views, it's about the opportunity, so if you have a strong personal brand on LinkedIn, it could lead to opportunity, since then I started my own business, LinkedIn is a great place to build community and surround yourself with other like like-minded individuals, it's a great community where if you're lacking inspiration or motivation, you could definitely go on there and read different blog posts, I have built so many friendships, gained mentors, partnered with great organizations like The Mom Project, Career Therapy, Level Up in Tech and Growth Academy, and because of my strong personal brand on LinkedIn, I've had the opportunity to since July, been invited to multiple podcast interviews and launched my LinkedIn Live Show.

34:34 June Caloroso: Okay, so some key takeaways, so we went over LinkedIn optimization and why it's important to really share your story and utilize each section on your profile, include keywords, also show your work in the experience, actually, I'm not sure if it popped up, but the experience section of your LinkedIn profile, many job seekers think that It's okay to copy and paste whatever you have on your resume for each position on your experience section. You don't wanna do that, what you really wanna do, just really quickly summarize what you did in each role, and then highlight maybe two or three different accomplishments and milestones, projects that you're most proud of, and then also to definitely use LinkedIn as a way to network for opportunities. 

If you are a job seeker and if you are applying to positions, you need to have networking as part of your routine, because at the end of the day, you're competing for that job with maybe hundreds of people and job seekers, networking is going to lead you opportunities to have informative chats with either recruiters or hiring managers or people in the industry that is working in the company that you're interested in it.

35:49 June Caloroso: And I always say this, I always say this multiple times, all over LinkedIn, LinkedIn and network, networking is your currency, but before you start networking, make sure you take the time to optimize your profile and then go from there because you wanna make sure you build your brand story and career story in a compelling way to really to attract people that are... Are going to wanna speak with you. 

And I have a LinkedIn optimization checklist on my website that we will be following up with you that will go over how to optimize your LinkedIn profile, as well as I do have another freebie where it's a five, five game-changing strategies PDF, where it shows you different tips on how to optimize your profile, networking resume as well as networking strategies. So this is where you could find me, guys, please connect with me on LinkedIn, that's my website. But yeah, that's it.


36:56 Hiba Abdillahi: Yay, I mean, how amazing. Your story is just so amazing. I've told her that so many times, I told you guys, she's like my best friend in my head, so I am going to jump into the questions portion with you guys and then... 

June Caloroso: Let me stop sharing, okay. 

Hiba Abdillahi: So let’s get into that. So we have quite a few questions, we had questions that we got before, and then the chat has been buzzing and just so much praise to both of you guys, your stories are amazing. So one of the first questions that we received from the chat is, how do we tie in our personal brand with our elevator pitch? So when you're networking and there's just so many things that you have to add, your cover letter, your resume, your pitch, and now when you think about your brand, how do you weave that into all of those other things and either one of you could take that one...

38:02 Mariela De La Mora: I can start... I think for me, I can give you an example of like how your personal and professional can blend. So when I hired folks for my team as a marketing manager, so probably like 10, 10 or so, I always would look for... I'd look at their social presence, but I would look at, do I get a sense for who this person is and that they're really passionate about this, are they creating outside of work, do I get a sense for this person's personality? 

Because I looked at it and I was like, Is this a person that I'd wanna work with? Is this a person who has passions, even if those passions are not related all to marketing or let's say if I was hiring a social media manager, I wanted to get a sense of who this person was, and so I wanted to feel like they were... They had beliefs that they had values, that they have passions, and so it doesn't always have to be related to the job that you're looking for. But at the end of the day, companies hire people, they do hire your skill set, but they hire people and they think about, Do I wanna be co-workers with this person, you know what I'm saying? So those things really, really matter...

39:16 June Caloroso: Yes, I agree. I have said this too multiple times, companies hire people and not robots, they wanna know who you are, what are you passionate about outside of work, also to... It could definitely blend it to the work that you're actually doing in any profession. Right, so this is also a great time because so many people are being laid or laid off right now as an opportunity to invest in yourself by learning different things or take different courses, and you can talk about this during your interviews, saying... 

During this time of my job search, I'm taking a coding class, like wouldn’t you say that Mariela it’s a great time to share this in your interviews, because that's going to set you apart as a candidate and it's gonna showcase you're not only motivating, but you're proactive as individual. 

Mariela De La Mora: Absolutely. 

Hiba Abdillahi: Perfect, okay. Makes 100% sense. Like that you guys just really put that in perspective, so another question that we got was, how informal or formal does your personal brand have to be... What is okay to post? What's not okay to post? What do you guys think about that?

40:32 Mariela De La Mora: Yeah June, 'cause I have a way of doing this now because I came from corporate and now I'm like, I get all super personal with my brand than I was before.

40:42 June Caloroso: So I...and I told this to Hiba before on our LinkedIn Live. I show up on LinkedIn as I would show up at work. As I would show up in everyday life being authentic, because why am I gonna hide behind a screen and not be who I am you know? And I'm telling you, the more you stay true to who you are and your own values, you are going to attract the companies that want to hire you. So if people don't like you, whatever you're posting on any social via platform... Do you really wanna work for that company? 

41:16 Mariela De La Mora: That's true, that is absolutely true. And I feel like we... It's almost like we tend to forget sometimes that when we're looking for a job, that we also should be asking ourselves, am I excited to spend 40 hours a week with...at this company, with this team? With this hiring manager. And so the more of yourself you put out there, and again, yes, there's a line of maybe what is like two person in which I'll talk a little bit about, 'cause I had to make that pivot, but it does, it's a magnet, you and your authenticity and your stories and all of those of your beliefs become a magnet... 

I shifted a little bit because I would put out a lot more of like, let's say, marketing thought leadership before when I was kind of in corporate and I had to make that pivot to sharing more of my personal story and the starting over and the Eat Pray Love and the quitting my job and all of that because it became more relevant to who I was talking to, so that comes back down to, who is your audience? And what do you want them to know? What you want them to know about you.

42:26 Mariela De La Mora: And so the personal is so much more important than the professional, and that's the reason why the stories that I tell, I become more personal, because I want them to see themselves in me and know that it's not too late to start over. And all those things. So I think it depends on what kind of... Your audience and what you want them to know about you.

42:46 Hiba Abdillahi: Perfect, I mean, take those notes, Ladies, be authentic, and it really does depend on what you're trying to convey, so on that note, What advice do you both have for women that aren't as confident, struggle with their self-confidence and really do want to build up their brand? What advice do you have for them?

June Caloroso: I would recommend doing the internal work first as far as a mindset, because how can you start interviewing or putting yourself out there on LinkedIn if you don't feel confident about yourself and experience, and I think... I've had this asked so many times, June, I don't know what to do about my resume, I don't know what to say about myself on my LinkedIn, it's very... 

As Mariela said, it's hard to like write about yourself. Right. I think the best way you can do this if you're trying to figure out your personal brand is asking your co-workers, asking your managers or people that you work closely with and say, Hey, Hiba What are the first five words that come to mind when you're thinking about me, and then use that as a way to craft your brand and boost up your confidence too. I always like too, it's great to look at different performance reviews in the past any recommendations, and then start building a personal brand that way.

44:11 Mariela De La Mora: I love that about asking people kind of like what your superpowers are, 'cause that was one of the first steps that I took when I didn't know what I wanted to do, when I knew I wanted to start my own business, is that you might not give yourself the credit, 'cause rarely do we give ourselves most of the credit. 

When you ask people like, What would you come to me for? What do you think that I do really well? Kind of naturally. And what do you think when you think about me and what you would trust me with, what advice would you ask for from me? Like, what are those things? So it kinda has to separate you from how you see yourself, and I think that's a really good thing to start with. The other thing that helped me was like, I just started showing up and seeing who I could help, even if it was just someone else in my industry that I was talking to, I feel like then the focus is not necessarily on you just yet, but once you start to kind of show up from a place of service and June, you did so much of that.

45:07 Mariela De La Rosa: 'cause I think that's when we met, it was in July, when you were posting every day, you were just showing up and sharing your knowledge, and I feel like that made it less about like... Look at me. And more about How can I serve and how can I help? And that also has the double effect of reinforcing the fact that, Hey, I kinda know what I'm talking about, and I'm really good at this, and people trust me, and also showing up too is not necessarily because you don't feel confident, 'cause I still struggle with showing up it does not matter how many accolades I have.

I still have a life coach who I talk to, who I am like I am having a really bad day and I do not wanna show up and I'm comparing myself, so I just wanna normalize that too, that I feel like No amount of external accolades are ever... You're ever gonna reach this point where you're like, Cool, I'm like the bomb and I have no flaws, you are still gonna compare... And to me, that's the sign of like, Hey, maybe stop looking around and just tune that out and see what do I need right now, so I just wanna normalize that too...

46:07 Hiba Abdillahi: Yes, normalize that. A lot of people get into their heads and you think that they're the only one, but... No, we're all going through that. So both of you have made career pivots, you've done it all, honestly. So one of the questions was, How do you go back to fixing up your personal brand when you're coming back off of a huge career gap, what steps... You guys went through a lot of really great steps, but what do you think would be the first thing this person should think about or should do coming off of a career gap and they wanna work on their personal brand…

June Caloroso: I can talk about it 'cause I just recently experienced this. So when I got laid off, I didn't know I was gonna start a new business. I didn't know I was gonna do that, I just started experimenting. That's my biggest advice: experiment. I was always interested in social media and marketing. Didn’t have a degree. So I just started researching on Google...Google. I said Google really weird haha... Google.

I just started researching the different marketing strategies and digital marketing and the importance of SEO and all of that, and then I just started experimenting and creating different videos for my own community just to appreciate, and I just did what I did best as a recruiter when I got laid off, I just started interviewing people, and I had this interview series and asking people, how has your experience been from this covid experience this social distancing? 

And then I just started helping people because I was always known as the go-to person, June, can you look at my resume? Can you look at my... Help me for my interview. And then that's when I was like A-ha. This is my superpower. This is time for me to launch the career coaching business I've always wanted to launch. So sometimes you don't know.

48:05 June Caloroso: And it's like, especially right now, if you're going through a layoff and you've lost your job or you have to quit your job because of homeschooling, I would just really just take that time to reconnect with yourself and your old passions, and then go from there.

48:23 Mariela De La Mora: I love that June. I feel like there's so much of your career pivot where you kind of tap back into your passion, so that I had to tap into... So I quit the job and it was kind of like hard on me, I was like, How am I gonna explain this, but this was the job where I was like, Okay, I'm in insurance... I'm marketing for an insurance agency, this isn't my passion even though I was making a lot of money. 

And I quit my job to travel the world, and I was like, How do I explain this to someone that I was like, Okay, but what I really did during that time was I created... And so for me, in particular, because I was in marketing, I found brands during my travels to support and do social media management for, I taught myself or I learned how to be a videographer, I learned how to do PR and brand promotions.

I started writing for publications that allowed contributing authors, so I started just sharing my blogging experience, like how I left this marriage and started over and all of these things, I just started blogging both for myself and finding other publications I could write for, so when I moved to the UK, to kind of start over, I got married and I moved to the UK and I was looking for a job.

49:35 Mariela De La Mora: I hadn't worked for a year and a half, a year and a half, but I had something to show of what I had been doing with my time and how I had grown and what I had created, and so it... And it helped because it really, it didn't take a lot of time, because I had done something with that time, but I was able to talk about it with passion of like, why this... Why this role? What have you learned? Rather than just kind of staying stagnant, even though I don't know what I was gonna do with it at the time, but... Yeah, absolutely. Connecting with your passions.

50:08 Hiba Abdillahi: Yeah, and I think sometimes a lot of us, it's there, you just don't know it, and it's right in front of your nose and you're like, Oh my God, this is what I should have been doing on a long... So amazing, amazing tips. June, we have a question for you, through your journey as a recruiter and then going into marketing and building your personal brand, what are some common pitfalls that people make while building their brand?

June Caloroso: Common pitfalls. Oh man, I could... I would probably say not knowing your why, understanding your why. That's the biggest thing for me, my why is my family. My children... And this is why it goes so hard on LinkedIn, and I think it's before you start anything, whether it's writing yourself or networking, understand your why and work on your elevator pitch. What are you known for, what can you help people with?

If you don't know how to brand yourself like Mariela...Mariela says...sorry I’m getting tongue twisted because I’m so passionate, but ask people what do they go to you for? And build on that, and then you could start sharing what you know and being an expert in that niche or skill and go from there, I think it's like the first two things I understand your why and motivation, why are you putting yourself out there on LinkedIn, and why are you interviewing and then understanding what you wanna help people with is like for me, I didn't know...

51:40 June Caloroso: Like I said, I didn't know I was going to start a business, I just started showing what I knew as a recruiter, and then just led me to the opportunities to start a business and to partner with The Mom Project, and are there amazing opportunities that I have lined up. So yeah, I would just go with what you know and making sure your why and motivation behind it. 

Hiba Abdillahi: I love that. And then one quick question, how important is it to have some really great designed LinkedIn banners, both of yours look amazing, but for some of the people that are watching or people in our community. They might not have access to that. Like how important is it to have those highly developed LinkedIn pages

52:22 June Caloroso: You can use Canva. Canva is free. You can just go google yourself, like a nice... A little banner. The landscape banner, it's not important. It's like you wanna make sure that you have a focus on the bulk of your experience and accomplishments... 

Mariela De La Mora: Yeah, and you don't even... It doesn't even have to be a branded banner, so even not too long ago, I just had an image that was very on-brand for me, so I feel like if you are a creative or your whatever, you could pick a high-end stock image that you just wanna have as the background, so I'd say anything is better than just the placeholder on LinkedIn. And even that one, that could be it, and it's just something that maybe looks like your colors, it just looks like you're aesthetic, and that's totally fine too.

53:09 Hiba Abdillahi: Okay, so to the person who asked that, just so you know, it doesn't have to be the bells and whistles, you could definitely work what you have and Canva... Like June said, is free! Did you have something to add, June?

June Caloroso: Can you actually show, cause I referenced this, I wanna just show Mariela’s feature section? This is a great way to...'cause I work with a lot of stay-at-home moms that because this is like, if you're having a hard time looking for work, this is a huge opportunity to get to join the gig economy and freelance where it's blogging or copywriting or social media, and this is a great way to showcase that on your feature section.

I'm gonna put Mariela on blast here, but this is the feature area right here, so you can write blogs, things like you're passionate about, if you're looking to pivot into tech from healthcare, start writing articles that are things that are relevant, and you could actually feature this right here on the feature... I’ll show you mine really quick too, I've done the same online... Actually, when you put Andy... 'cause I think Andy's watching, but Andy has done this too.

54:26 June Caloroso: She has a passion project, and she started this during covid: keeping wine fun, where she's educating millennials on the different flavors of wine and how wine is made, and she talked about this on her interview, Hiba... Remember, we were talking about this and she got the job, so this is another great way to feature your passion projects and showcase what you're doing during this time right now that you're on the market, so I just wanted to share that really quick... 

Hiba Abdillahi: I love that. Okay, so we have five minutes left. Every week that I do this, I'm literally like, How does the time fly by, but you both are just so amazing, the... That chat just been buzzing with just the amazing, amazing responses from both of you, so I wanna ask you guys just one final question, and then you each can go.

So many moms right now are doing it all, they are working, e-learning with their kids, working full-time doing housework all of that, and then by the time that they do have that free time, they're tired, they wanna go to sleep, and I know you both can identify with that, what advice would you leave with everyone that's watching non-mom or mom that…

You have your full-time thing, but working on your personal brand could seem like a lot and you're pushing it off and you're pushing it off, what would you leave with the community here today with that one piece of advice on just making that time for yourself and for your brand, June, we can start with you. 

55:51 June Caloroso: Okay, the reason why I think working on yourself as far as self-care and your personal brand is if you don't take care of you mentally and physically, how are you going take care of everyone around you, especially your children, right. And it's really important to carve out that time where you are learning and growing and doing something that you enjoy, because you owe it to yourself and to your kids, the reason why I'm doing this because I wanna show my kids... This is what you do when you lose your job.

During a global pandemic, and this is how you're gonna do it too by following what I'm doing, right? So I'm leading by example. So you owe it to yourselves, to dedicate, I would say start off in increments, if you were feeling very swamped, start off maybe 30 minutes a day. I wake up between 5:00 AM in the morning, five AM and six...Hiba’s eyes are like what?

57:11 June Caloroso: Because that is my quiet time, that it's my time, I always start my morning off with meditation and journaling, it may not happen every day, but I try to do it at least three to five times a week. So start small, 30 minutes a day, or even 10 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, and build on that. But yes, it's very, very, very, very important.

57:32 Mariela De La Mora: Yeah, and I know that this is hard, you guys... There's just days you just don't feel like doing it. I think, I feel like it's probably very common to feel like no matter what you do, you're not doing enough, because I definitely feel like that where... 

When I chose to leave corporate, I was like, Oh wow, I'm doing this so I could have more free time with my daughter, but I realised, Oh gosh, when you're building a business, guess what, you're actually working more, and I'm not doing enough for my daughter, I'm not being present, I'm checking my phone too much, I'm not working enough, I'm not showing enough on Instagram stories, and so I think part of what I had to do was like...

How can I make me working on my personal brand feel like not another chore, because everything... Feels like, gotta get her up and I gotta get ready. I gotta keep cool and I gotta do this. And I was like, I just don't want it to feel like personally, don't shame yourself, 'cause we already do that enough... The second thing is like, How could you make it an enjoyable thing, it wouldn't be enjoyable to have to...

58:38 Mariela De La Mora: Let's say call your girlfriend on Zoom and be like, Hey girl, could you just like, Can we just drink wine? Get on Zoom. Can you help me? Can we maybe make this like a Zoom session, then we can just talk about life, right. Maybe that's enjoyable 'cause you're lonely and you just wanna talk to another adult cause you’re with the kids all day, or maybe it's enjoyable because you take a bath and then... Or a shower, 'cause we don't have time, and you light a candle and you put music on and you make it enjoyable, so I'm like, How could you make those... Even if it's 15 minutes, how can you make those 15 minutes of you writing about stories, maybe your career stories, how can you make it enjoyable and not feel like a chore? 

That would probably be the best thing and just letting go of the guilt and the shame because that's not been very effective for me, even though I do it to myself all the time, so it's okay, you're doing the best you can to think that I would say as well but make it enjoyable and small promise to yourself, it's better to try to meet a very, very small promise to yourself every day, then to say, I'm going to do an hour a day and then not do the hour every day and then feel bad about yourself, so I'm like small, small, small promise, even if it's five minutes, you're like, Okay, I did the five minutes today of writing, or I did the five minutes today, or I didn't do my personal brand, but I just journaled, I did...Whatever that thing is, and then you start to build on it over time, so... 

Hiba Abdillahi: Amazing. You guys are just so amazing. I can't thank you enough, I mean, I got connected to Mariela through June.

1:00:10 Hiba Abidillahi: I got connected to June through LinkedIn. Like these connections, they really matter, guys, and I'm just so fortunate to you both for dropping these gems on this Friday to us today and taking time out of your day to do this Unity Hour, guys, If you RSVPd to this session, an email will be coming to you right after we're done with both of their contact information, so you could reach out to them for any other questions... 

I know there were so many questions that we didn't get to about personal branding, but I hope that this could be like a starting point for you, and then whatever else you need, we got the experts for you, so they would definitely be able to help. Thank you both again for joining us today. Thank you everyone for joining our Unity Hour today. It was amazing. So many great tips. I was writing things down myself because I need to work on my personal brand too... So I hope you all enjoyed our session, I will see you again next week until then, have a great Friday, everyone, bye guys. 

Mariela De La Mora: Thank you!

▶️ Watch next: Career strategist Laura Honeycutt discuss how to cultivate confidence.

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