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In today’s search-engine era, numerous search platforms make it easier than ever to find out all you could ever need to know about products, businesses or even personal information about senior-level executives. At the same time, with so much information out there, it can be easy to go unnoticed — which is why companies dedicate entire teams to branding their image, mission, vision and values. This branding helps grow their business.
But when it comes to growing a career, personal branding is key.
If you aspire to greater things, it is more important to create a personal brand than anything else. Take your skill sets and make them shine in the places where everybody can see you. The stronger the branding, the better the chances of excelling and accelerating your career.
If your sights are set on becoming an executive or getting onto company boards, then personal branding is the best first choice you can make to get started. Here’s why.
Public profiles speak volumes
An overwhelming majority of employers say candidates’ social-media accounts affect their hiring decisions, meaning a poor public image can cost you a job. Before even scheduling an interview, the employers who work with my company to bring on board members do their own research on each executive outside of our platform. We analyzed years of this selection data from our clients and found that the common factor increasing an executive’s chance of landing an interview is personal branding.
In the C-suite, no executive branding is more important than LinkedIn, and our research found that those with richer LinkedIn profiles had a higher chance of securing an interview. At the same time, profiles with missing or unprofessional images, a lack of biography or other assets — like education, experience and certification — all lead to a pass on the interview. More than half of hiring decision-makers have reportedly found content on social media that caused them to dismiss a candidate, so keep your accounts polished to reduce that risk.
Stand in the spotlight
Whether looking for a new position or eyeing a promotion, branding puts you in the spotlight. Others are more likely to notice when you’re the center of attention, making it easier for your career to go on to the next level. In a 2017 survey, 44% of employers reported hiring a candidate based on his or her social networking content, so put the best of yourself out there through personal branding.
My experience speaks from two angles: four years of my company helping and connecting other executives to find board members, and writing and publishing a book, branding myself as an expert in my field. At the time that I was writing my book, I had no idea how important it would become for my personal branding, as well as for my company. Even prior to publishing, when we started doing PR work, I was writing articles and doing podcasts, boosting my own brand without even realizing it. Soon enough, I was being interviewed for awards and invited to conventions to present awards to others. The more branding that I did for my company, the more I was doing for myself, but not until the spotlight turned onto me did I realize how personal company branding was.
Look like an expert
When you put enough work into branding yourself as the best in what you do, opportunities come looking for you. The more I invested in my personal branding as an expert on executive boards, the more people began to see me as that expert and seek me out for that expertise. The PR work I was doing for my company had already set a foundation for my credibility in the field to skyrocket, but with the release of my book, I now get more requests than ever to advise other peoples’ companies. Instead of looking for offers, companies now come to me, engage with me and ask me if I might be able to find the time to join their board.
I can now rest assured that the opportunities will be there as long as I keep up with my branding. The whole purpose of my book is to help companies understand the process of bringing on board members and showing executives the assets they need in order to get invited to that table. Sitting on boards and advising companies myself lets me continue to expand on that goal, further developing my expertise. The more self-branding you do now, the better off you are when it comes time to advance your career down the line.
Putting yourself out there through personal branding can be scary — even I was much more shy about it five years ago, but I made the decision to just go for it, and it has definitely paid off. Start small and focus on enriching your profiles on LinkedIn and other professional networks, as well as your social-media pages. Focus on a professional biography that includes who you are, your assets and the benefits that come with your experience and skills. The more you invest in strengthening your personal brand, the more authoritative you look in your field and the more likely opportunities will come to you.