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Confidence Booster: 2015 Women Of The Channel

CRN's Women of the Channel list continues to grow, with 440 female executives making a name for themselves in the channel in 2015.

Confidence is key, especially if you're a female executive in the channel.

That theme was echoed by many of the 2015 Women of the Channel's 440 honorees, who included it as one of their top pieces of advice for women looking to establish and advance their careers in the channel.

"I think [having confidence] is huge," said Kendra Krause, vice president of global channel sales at Sophos. "I see a lot of people, men and women, who sit back because they don't have that confidence. We all move so fast in this industry -- things happen so quickly, business happens so quickly -- that management doesn't typically slow down [to notice people who sit back]. If you have that confidence and you're vocal about it, you're going to stand out and it's going to help elevate you quickly. I've seen it work wonders for people."

[Related: 2015 Women Of The Channel]

However, building confidence is easier said than done. For women who need to shed their nerves and remove any trace of self-doubt, Jenn McDonald, director of partner marketing at Fortinet, said it's important to constantly challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone.

Christine Bufalini, director of global channel operations at RSA, agreed, saying that young women can build confidence by being prepared and having a sense of self-awareness. While that advice is especially true for those just starting out, confidence is a continuous evolution across a woman's career, even up to the highest executive levels.

"No matter where you are in your career, confidence shines," Bufalini said. "It's something people will look up to, want to follow you, get to know you and trust you. ... I think [confidence] should remain along your career journey as one of your top [priorities]."

This year's Women of the Channel honorees in particular stressed the value of having strong role models and mentors to provide guidance on career moves and perceptions in the workplace. These respected women can act as a road map for how to behave, prepare for presentations and lead successfully, said Erin Malone, vice president of North American channel sales at Sophos.

"If you're really new to it, look to those who are around you and learn from their mistakes, learn from your mistakes, and I think you'll develop your own style and your own confidence by doing so," Malone said.

However, there also has to be a balance between confidence and arrogance, the women agreed, and it is important to regularly check in with trusted people in your network to make sure your approach is being well received in the workplace. For that reason, Fortinet's McDonald said being "authentic" is as important as being con¬fident.

Young women can start building their confidence in the workplace with small steps, according to Malone, but even when they have achieved high levels of success in their careers they should keep actively growing and pushing beyond their comfort zones.

"It's really key when you're brand new to the workforce, but I wouldn't ever lose sight of the fact that you should keep learning and keep looking at others and seeing how they are doing things in order to adjust yourself and be the best at what you do," Malone said.

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