As a recruiter in the executive space, many candidates often ask me for advice on how important it is to concentrate on their profile. Very few of us have the luxury of sitting back and letting the world come to us and our business, especially when it comes to maintaining an executive presence. It isn’t only important when it comes time to look for your next role, it helps with your brand as a manager and employer, it helps the brand of the business that you work for, and most importantly, opportunities that you might not have thought of will present themselves to you.
I have recently read a book by Dorie Clark called “Reinventing You” which is a great read. Chapter 10 of this book “Prove your worth” discusses how to build your brand portfolio, how to find the right mediums to do so, and also how to create online relationships and turn them into real world connections. There are also helpful hints and tips on how to schedule time in your diary to manage this process. It’s Dorie’s opinion that getting involved in social media isn’t really optional anymore. If you are reinventing yourself professionally (and this may mean angling for a promotion, or your next role) then you needs to establish a powerful online identity that demonstrates your expertise, and social media is a critical tool.
(Here’s Dorie on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEeXeblddSo )
I believe that your profile is often as important as education. Most executives would consider more study to help them perform better in their roles or to help them attain a better role, or an increased salary. Very few of these same people would consider investing in raising their profile, and this can often achieve the same results.
At the end of last year, Forbes magazine published an article entitled “Avoid Linkedin at your peril” which got me thinking about profiles in general. A speaker at a recent function I attended also made the comment: “search engine optimisation is dead, it’s now all about social media optimisation”.
Having interviewed and placed numerous executives over a recruitment career spanning over 12 years, there are six key tips on some themes that are consistent with those that promote themselves well in the marketplace, without seeming egotistical or making it more about them than the company that they work for:
They are not afraid to speak at industry events, and have worked on their public speaking ability actively. Interestingly, many leaders of businesses are introverted, and it’s not their natural comfort zone to speak in front of large audiences. Most executives are required to do so, even if it is only internally, so a smart exec will invest time in this skill.
A strong set of values. Executives who know what they stand for, and are prepared to have an opinion are often more sought after as guest speakers than those who “sit on the fence”. In addition, ensuring that your brand is about integrity means that when you are being researched, nothing will come up that could jeopardise future employment. Negative comments in the media, in interviews, or even social media can come back to haunt you later.
They have external mentors. Even a CEO should have a Chair from a non competing business (or two) that they can run ideas past, or even have formal mentoring program with.
They treat their staff well, and concentrate on building their brand as an employer of choice.
They network. They choose the events that they are going to attend wisely, and they are not standing in the corner talking to someone that they know. They make the effort to introduce themselves to new people, and they manage their contact list effectively. If they take someone’s card, they will follow up with a call or an email, and usually have a list of contacts that they catch up with regularly either socially or for networking purposes. Networking is more about the follow up than the exchange of cards and a handshake. These “connectors” often have a very good understanding about what is happening in the market, and are the types of executives that we as headhunt/search recruiters want to get to know.
A Chairman of a number of ASX listed business had a saying that I love: “The word before profit in the dictionary, is profile”. He meant it in a business context, but I think that sentiment can easily be applied to individuals. If your career is important to you, now is the time to invest in your personal brand and profile. Good luck!