How Amanda Nielsen Reframed Workplace Harassment and Owned Her Personal Brand

Cass Polzin
Cass Polzin6 Jan, 2022

This article is part of our Women in Partnerships series, highlighting female professionals in the partnerships space. To learn more about the series and the Women in Partnerships group, check out the series intro.

You may know Amanda Nielsen from her prominent presence on LinkedIn and Twitter as an industry “thot leader.” Amanda shares her insights online from her experience in marketing and her current role at Formstack as a Partner Enrollment Manager. 

Amanda joins us today to discuss her journey into partnerships, what it’s like being a young woman in the industry, and her growing social media presence.

Amanda’s Path to Partnerships at Formstack

Amanda Nielsen started her career in marketing. She explained, “I didn’t go to school thinking I wanted to be in partnerships. I studied marketing, then worked at a marketing consultancy as a generalist. As I grew into my role there, I began to specialize in partnerships with other technology companies. I worked primarily on co-marketing and similar initiatives.”

Amanda continued to grow into the role, discovering her strengths along the way. “As I went to industry events, I realized I had a knack for relationship building and wanted to specialize in partnerships. So after two years as a Digital Marketing Specialist, I was promoted to Partner Marketing Strategist. I stayed in that role for a few months after graduating, before taking a role at Formstack.”

In her role at Formstack, Amanda was already fully remote before COVID. Of her role as Partner Enrollment Manager, Amanda shared, “Formstack is a workplace productivity software. There, I’m responsible for bringing on new partners for Formstack. I specialize in bringing on consulting partners in the Salesforce ecosystem. So a lot of my work is focused on building relationships.”

Putting a Gen Z Spin on Thought Leadership

Amanda Nielsen INBOUND

Amanda has always been into social media. She explained, “I’ve enjoyed posting LinkedIn and putting my own spin on it, being less uptight and professional and more entertaining. When I was working at a HubSpot agency, we’d invest a lot of money in attending INBOUND each year. My CEO tasked me with helping people do pitches for Inbound. I helped everyone put together, film, and submit their pitches. While I always figured I was too young and inexperienced to speak, I applied just for fun. I filmed my own pitch in a closet with my cell phone.”

A few months later, Amanda’s CEO was notified he wasn’t picked to speak. “Then, I saw I had gotten picked to speak. That was a really cool experience for me. I had a lot of imposter syndrome leading up to that. I didn’t feel old enough or experienced enough to speak, but I beat out my CEO to speak in front of hundreds of people. I ended up getting an encore session because so many people registered to attend the live presentation. That gave me the confidence and experience to continue speaking publicly as well as encouraged me to lean into my thought leadership brand.”

While that experience speaking at Inbound empowered Amanda to lean into her personal brand, she had to grapple with how to present herself online and dealing with imposter syndrome. She explained, “That’s always been something that’s a challenge for me, especially with my social media presence online. Sometimes, I question how genuine I should be and how Gen Z I should be within this professional context. It took me a long time to have the confidence to be where I am today. Sometimes I still question if people will take me seriously if I post a TikTok. But really, I’ve seen such positive impact for the most part by easing up and being more genuine.”

Part of the challenge of finding her own identity came from a lack of support from her team. She shared, “When I left my prior job, my online presence was a great point of contention — the fact that I was an intern having just graduated and was making great content. We would go places and people would recognize me, not my CEO. It felt like people were judging me for getting so much engagement when the CEO wasn’t. I always felt like that was a source of contention in a prior role. Now, my boss is super awesome and supportive of my social media content.”

While Amanda seems to have found her footing online, she’s still learning and adapting. Amanda explained, “I’m still kind of learning how far I can push the envelope on those sorts of things. I get really positive feedback, especially in my role, my presence helped me a lot to build influence in the SFDC ecosystem. While there are companies who feel threatened by an individual’s social media influence, it really is such a gift. It’s super hard to measure, but it does create such a positive impact.”

The Impacts of Being a Young Woman in Tech

Amanda Nielsen INBOUND

Amanda started in the marketing industry while she was still in college. As a young woman, there were many obstacles she had to face. Despite the challenges presented to her, Amanda made the most of her opportunities. “Thot Leader Labs, my merch store and online brand around ‘Thot Leadership’ was actually inspired by coworkers who referred to me as the Office Thot. At the time, I was super upset about it. Meanwhile, they didn’t see anything wrong with it.”

Ultimately, her direct manager stepped in and had everyone apologize, but the damage was already done. Amanda knew that the “We’re a family here!” culture wasn’t for her long-term and made the move to Formstack where her coworkers are both supportive and respectful.

Advice for Women in Partnerships

In closing, Amanda shared a few pieces of advice with other women in partnerships. “Don’t be afraid to be unabashedly authentic. Doing so has gotten me really far in my career and I’ve made a lot of connections as a result. I’ve found that the more chaotic I get, the more loyalty I build with my follower base. Lots of people are confident enough to talk about how they feel. Today, it’s more trendy to be vulnerable, I was sharing my trauma on the internet for a while.”

Digging deeper into social media, Amanda shared, “Lots of people are more comfortable using social media in a professional sense, not just to plug blogs, but to connect to people and provide entertainment. Lean into your personal brand.”

Get advice from and connect with hundreds of powerful women in partnerships from different backgrounds when you join Partnership Leaders’ Women in Partnerships group. Hundreds of industry professionals turn to Partnership Leaders for support with their latest projects, answers to burning questions, and general camaraderie. 

If you’d like to connect with Amanda or check out her merch, you can find her on Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok or at thotleaderlabs.com. You can also be inspired by more powerful women in the industry, like Amanda, in all of our Women in Partnerships spotlights.

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