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While the marketing and public relations teams will be working hard to promote the organisation’s ‘brand’ to its various stakeholders, it is the people at the very top of the organogram whose influence is exerted most.
Yet too many business leaders shy away from working on their own personal brand despite the impact their ‘personality’ has on the organisation’s bottom line. Take the case of Thomas Cook.
The travel operator was on the verge of bankruptcy until the company appointed a new CEO, Harriet Green. Within 24 months Green had brought the company back from the edge to return a profit. Such was her impact on the business that when she announced her decision to leave in 2014, the share value of Thomas Cook dropped by £400 million overnight.
Alexandre de Juniac, former CEO of Air France-KLM, is another great example. When news came that he was to leave the business in April 2016, the company’s share price dropped by 8.6% or €2.4bn.
Most CEO’s and managing directors believe that when it comes to branding, the company should always be the focus. But as someone who is the figurehead for the organisation, your personal brand and the influence it exerts is just as important.
Indeed, recent research has found that senior business leaders who maintain an active social media presence, for instance, see the way in which they are positively perceived by stakeholders increase from around 45 to 75% within 12 months.
So how can leaders cultivate their personal brand in such a way that it not only elevates their own profile, it positively impacts on the organisation that they represent too?
Here are five key ways to do just that.
1. What does brand You look like?
What do you want people, clients and colleagues to think of you when they hear your name? Are you looking to be considered an expert in your field or associated with certain skills and qualities, such as being someone who gets things done and achieves positive outcomes in challenging conditions?
Once you have an understanding of the way in which you want to be regarded both inside and outside the organisation you can then begin to work at promoting your ‘brand’ to the right people, in the right way and at the right time.
2. Empower your people:
The 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer found that employees see their leaders as focusing too much on short-term financial results (67%), and not enough on creating a positive long-term impact for the organisation (57%) or on job creation (49%).
By focusing on the longer-term aims of the organisation, clarifying its vision and – more importantly – communicating the contribution each individual will be making towards achieving this vision (the mission), staff become more engaged, more productive and more motivated. This by default sees leaders exert greater influence and ‘buy in’ from their teams, which in turn enhances their profile as the head of the organistion.
3. Get social:
If you think that social media sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn or blogs are the reserve of millennials or those lower down in the food chain, think again. Business is about people and in an age of greater connectivity consumers are increasingly looking to get to know the people running the organisations they do business with.
Social media is not just great to real time news consumption. It enables you to better engage stakeholders and get on the radar of key influencers, such as possible partners, potential and existing clients, investors and even the journalists and editors with the power to put you in front of your target audience on a mass scale.
4. Get writing:
Got an opinion on something that affects your customers and the sector as a whole? Then write about it: Think Richard Edelman (Edelman PR), Meg Whitman (Hewlett Packard) and even Jack Welch – all frequently pen thought leadership articles on their LinkedIn profiles.
LinkedIn’s self-publishing platform means that everyone within your network can see your latest updates. Likewise, everyone who ‘likes’ or shares your posts is promoting your content across their networks too.
Regularly writing content that is valuable and interesting to those within your sector showcases you as some who has their finger on the pulse of what is happening, increases your ‘discoverability’ online, and attaches a ‘personality’ to the business.
5. Get talking:
How often have you opened the business page in your local newspaper or industry magazine only to see one of your competitors quoted or article featured on a subject matter that you know inside out? There is no reason why that person cannot be you.
The media is constantly on the look out for new content from industry leaders who can provide insights or alternative perspectives on the key issues affecting your sector. So if you have an opinion that can add value to the discussion that is taking place, get in touch with the media that present the best opportunities to reach your audience.
But don’t follow what every Tom, Dick and Harry is saying because your voice will never be heard – be prepared to stick your neck out a little. The more you are seen to be in the public domain discussing the issues of the day or communicating positive news about the business, the greater your personal brand will become both within your sector and the organisation itself.
Building your personal brand is not easy, but once you have done it and connected to people in the same field, you will reap the rewards. Nevertheless, like in any area of life, success never comes overnight – it takes hard work, effort and fine-tuning and the return on your time investment will pay dividends in the end.
If you need help in building your personal brand, contact us and we’ll help you.