Over the past seven years we’ve talked to hundreds of executives in Toronto and all over the world about their personal brands.
Many are over forty and looking for their next corporate role. Some have decided to go ‘post-corporate’ and redefine themselves as a consultant or some other kind of expert service provider.
Here’s three observations on executive personal branding that you may find helpful if you’re thinking about redefining your executive personal brand.
- When asked about their strengths, many (actually, the majority of) executives define themselves the same way.
- “I’m strategic.”
- “I’m a builder.”
- “I’m a turn around expert.”
- “I’m a leader.”
From a branding perspective, there’s issues here. First, if everyone defines themselves the same way it’s impossible to stand out.
Second, these strengths reflect the generalist nature of most senior managers. Which is fine, except that’s not what clients are looking for. Clients are looking for specifics including industry and tactical expertise. “I’m an expert at implementing CRM in the banking business.”
Personal branding advice: get specific. Generalists are in very low demand and you don’t want to sound the same as everyone else.
- If you’re over forty, it’s easy to seem out-of-date.
Ageism is real. Blackberries, gray hair, grandchildren and ties scare the hell out of today’s hiring managers.
Here’s reality. Given a choice between someone who’s highly educated with five years experience and someone who’s 45 with twenty years of experience, organizations will lean towards the person with five years of experience. Why? Because they can relate to them. They view them as current and modern; as people who understand technology, current trends and evolving markets.
Personal branding advice: Get with it. Dump the Blackberry and get an Android smart phone (it says you thought about it more). Get a pair of black jeans and some nice open collared shirts. Get in shape. Get current with the skills everyone is struggling with: how to tell a story on Snapchat, write a blog, do a podcast. Prove that you are modern and creative, not just smart.
- Most executives we meet only worry about their personal brands when they’re forced to – when they’ve been let go.
Keep in mind that that the people you’re competing with for any job – especially the 25 to 35 year olds – have been taught since High School that they need a personal brand. A bunch of them paid attention – and now they have the added advantage of being 30, not 45.
So, getting good at branding is now a common, entry-level skill. Starting once you’ve been let go is too late.
Personal branding advice: work on your personal brand ALWAYS. Don’t just do your job, build your brand: 1) keep your LinkedIn profile current and complete (does it reflect your current role; have you stocked your profile with keywords for your expertise?) 2) network with everyone in your industry and area of expertise – co-workers, peers, competitors, suppliers and head-hunters. 3) make a name for yourself – lead something, build something, start something, invent something, end something. Be known and stand out.
At Boardroom Metrics we help executives build and refresh their personal brands. First, we help them understand their what their personal brand is. Then, how to market it. Along the way we provide coaching and motivation, making the modern branding journey as logical and stress-free as possible.
For more information on our executive personal branding call Karen in Toronto at
416-994-6552 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.