Digitalista: Storytelling as a career booster
The second event of the Austrian platform for women in the digital sector dealt with how to employ storytelling as a means to building your personal brand.
In recent years, storytelling has become a buzzword in the world of marketing. By telling stories through their advertising, corporate brands hope to strengthen customer loyalty and answer to the human need to be entertained, as brand consultant Giles Lury wrote. The benefits are clear: stories are easier to remember than disconnected bits of information. Moreover, they can create emotional bonds. But how can this help to build your personal brand?
This was the topic of last week’s Digitalista event, an Austrian platform that was founded earlier this year to connect and promote women working in the digital sector. While men are not excluded from the association and its events, the more than 40 participants were primarily female. This was somewhat unusual for the hosting venue, Sektor5, a co-working space mostly frequented by males with a tech-background.
Sabrina Oswald, the evening’s keynote speaker, has focused on developing authentic stories for companies, products as well as personalities for more than two decades. To the marketing expert and managing partner at agency Futura, storytelling is not a buzzword but something that has always mattered (also see our recent article on how to own your media relations and your story as a startup) and can be employed by brands and individuals alike. “Storytelling is the golden thread from your current position to your vision. Strong stories offer suspense, truth, emotionality and authenticity,“ Oswald opened her keynote.
As for presenting your résumé as a story, differentiation is key. “You have to be aware of your surroundings, but don’t use what other people are saying or doing as a benchmark,” Oswald said. Citing brain research studies, she stressed that emotion is the crucial aspect when making decisions – for instance on whether to employ somebody or not. Using elements of conflict and provocation when telling your story can be a particularly effective tool for “opening up”, thus emotionalising your dialogue partner and coming across as authentic. Relating to authenticity, Oswald’s credo is: “I believe what you say, because I’m seeing what you do.”
The difference between women and men
While the above holds true for females and males alike, the later podium discussion found that certain points seem to be of particular importance to women. Alongside Oswald, the discussants were Nana Siebert, head of digital content at magazine Woman; Christina Müllner, partner at recruiting agency Karriereschmiede; Ranya Abd El Shafy, video producer at Whatchado, and Digitalista co-founder Susanne Liechtenecker.
Women tend to downplay their own assets in the professional field and when they don’t, they are perceived as too assertive or even emasculated, the panellists lamented. Recounting from her own experience at Whatchado, Abd El Shafy said that when she asks to interview women about their professional life, they tend to hesitate at first, but when they are being interviewed they are usually confident. With men it seems to be the opposite: most are quick to accept the offer but often turn out to be rather nervous in front of the camera.
The fact that members of the female gender tend to have a more distinct emotional side – for biological and/or socialreasons – than those of the male one, affects their career decisions: they may not want to stick out in order not to create disharmony in their group or be seen as too assertive, while this behaviour is acceptable or even expected of men. The Digitalista panellistsagreed that promoting examples of successful women, who are asserting themselves professionally, could help to counter this inequality and enforce women. That initiatives like this are still needed in this day and age becomes apparent from Digitalista’s own case – shortly after launching they fell victim to a sexist hack – their website was redirected to pornographic content.
The next Digitalista event is scheduled for September and will deal with the mobile sectors.
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