Chief Communications and Strategy Officer for CHC: Creating Healthier Communities, PR, CSR and employee engagement expert.
You are your brand, and your subject matter expertise is an asset. But like a tree falling in the forest without making a sound, to capitalize on your expertise, you need to publicize it. This can advance both your personal visibility and influence, while also benefitting your employer’s brand and reach, which is why many companies invest in executive positioning for their leaders. (It definitely won’t hurt your chances of being noticed by recruiters and executive search firms either!)
For most leaders, the biggest challenge to personal branding or executive positioning is simply getting started. This is especially true for leaders who don’t have the full-time help of a paid PR agency or in-house communications team to provide guidance, ghostwriting, messaging, interview and event scheduling, and general thought leadership support. If you’re a communications leader yourself, it’s even more important to get out there and build your personal brand and positioning to demonstrate your credibility and capability to do it for others.
Start by defining your personal brand.
Select a few topics or themes representing your current expertise areas—or consider how you’d like to be positioned as you transition from where you are to where you’d like to be. If you need help identifying topics, think about the dream job you’d like to have in the next few years or how you’d like your network to think of you and work toward that. Or consider your work history, experience and credentials, as well as what your network asks you for help with. You’ll most likely start seeing a pattern. Then, simply begin sharing content related to those topics, creating a consistent storyline for yourself.
For most business professionals, your personal brand and executive positioning will be related to how you make a living, such as marketing, diversity and inclusion, or IT, versus personal interests and passions, though you can just as easily position yourself as a cupcake connoisseur, espresso drinker and avid traveler. Or you can weave that personal narrative into your professional brand, which is becoming more common these days as leaders increasingly champion social issues and strive for authenticity and relatability by sharing glimpses of their personal life.
Get active on social media.
If you’re a business professional, you must be on LinkedIn. Period. Update your profile with your current role and headshot and complete all sections. Then, post at least once a week on LinkedIn as well other social media channels, depending on the audience you’re trying to reach. Work up to posting at least daily. Connect with your network on social media to increase your followers and reach. Tag your network in posts and use general social media best practices such as visuals (photos, videos, memes, GIFs), links and hashtags. Follow influencers and industry leaders, especially in the areas you want to be known for. Watch and learn from their posts. Test your own posts to see what performs best for you and do more of what’s successful.
Create content, promote and engage.
The biggest challenge for most leaders is knowing what to post. It can seem daunting—and to many, downright impossible—to write original long-form thought leadership pieces or record videos. If you’re up to it, go for it. Create your own blog or videos, post on no-cost platforms and share on social media. Contribute content to your organization’s website or partner sites. If your organization has a budget for executive positioning for employees, consider paying for promotional opportunities. This could be native advertising and written placements or paid social media boosting your posts.
If you’re not there yet, start by curating good content and sharing on social media, adding your unique spin. Examples include sharing relevant news, job opportunities, professional or personal milestones and trends, especially those that tie in with your chosen themes. Be personable and human as well. Post photos of a coffee meet-up with a colleague or client. Celebrate your team, partners and network and comment on their posts. When you engage others, they tend to engage back.
Leverage events and memberships.
If you’re speaking at an event, or even just attending, share event links and photos (share screenshots if it’s a virtual event). Capture relevant speaker quotes or interesting trends or statistics. Use the event hashtag to participate in conversations and ensure other attendees can find and follow you. Tag the event organizer, other speakers and attendees.
If you’re currently serving on a board or advisory group, share updates from those events. Ask the organization to tag you in their updates or consider contributing a quote for their social media or an article for their communications. The same applies to association memberships. Share interesting news and industry updates along with your affiliation with the organization. Plus, the more you build your personal brand and executive presence, the more speaking invitations and groups you’ll be invited to join.
In the end, personal branding and executive positioning is not just for executives. Building your brand is a journey throughout your career and life. It’s important for everyone to consider. And thankfully, easy to get started on today.