A CEO in the professional services space recently confided in me that they were thinking of leaving their position and mentioned that in a few months they would be starting to put in a focused effort around their personal branding and positioning.
It’s something I hear quite often because until they’re in full-blown “action mode” people rarely feel “ready” to take the step of elevating their public profile and influence. As a result, they hold off being proactive until they are going for that promotion, launching that business, ready to be more visible in the media and on stages, starting to freelance, embarking on a sales sprint – or in this CEO’s case, shifting companies – by which time they’ve missed the most valuable window of all.
The decision to hold off “putting yourself out there” is usually driven by a feeling of not knowing where to start, being unsure about what to say, and being afraid of being pigeon-holed, especially if you aren’t entirely sure what you want to be known for. There’s also a misguided belief that actively building your personal brand for something in the future may jeopardise your current role.
While these reasons might sound logical, here’s why waiting till you feel “ready” is a big mistake and a massive opportunity cost…
1. It takes longer to get on people’s radars.
What most people don’t realise is that there is a ton they can do in their current role (that ironically supports both their current role/remit and future plans) that when it comes time to pick up the phone or have those coffees people are not only willing and open, but excited and honoured to hear from you.
The beautiful thing is, the current employer/business also benefits in the process – as well as you personally – such a win/win and way of embarking on the journey into the next chapter with grace and integrity.
2. Figuring out your individual value proposition and secret sauce needs time and space.
Being intentional about building your personal brand and taking decisive action definitely gets you started but it inevitably takes at least a couple of months to really get things dialled in. This is because there is always a period of experimentation and beyond that, it always takes time for some of the deeper things (which are the keys to deeper connection with your network and audience) to emerge and for you to get clear on how to articulate and express those.
However, when you have this it exponentially amps up confidence and conviction beyond the “accomplishments and box ticks” that so many rely on to open doors. This is powerful for your positioning and personal clarity as well.
3. You miss crucial reputation-building time that will boost your positioning, elevate your visibility and make you highly sought-after.
This one has the most impact on your bottom line as well as your positioning. Whether that means revenue for your business, great earning potential in your current role, or just stepping up into that position as the go-to and highly regarded expert in your industry, all takes time so my recommendation is start 6 months sooner than you think you need.
That gives you the chance to do it gently, strategically and build momentum. So when you are ready to transition you’ve already got a captive audience and have built reputation capital.
When you focus on the right things, it doesn’t have to be a big time suck – around an hour a week with the right guidance and support – is an hour well spent, one you’ll be thanking yourself for making a priority when it does come time to make the leap
And it’s not just individuals that stand to benefit from building strong reputation capital.
Having a “personal positioning” strategy for your team’s brand and your company brand – is markedly more impactful than any other single marketing exercise during this time where for the most part people are tuning out of so many conventional marketing messages and approaches.
Especially in the B2B arena, it’s highly effective, not just for visibility and nurturing people towards a sale, but for customer retention as well. Customers are craving authenticity, freshness, and human connection and are attracted to stories and people doing interesting things in the world.
If you have a team of people, empowering them to do this in a way that’s empowering for them, and strategically aligns with and supports your firm’s mission, strategy, values and brand message means that rather than building their personal brand independently – it becomes a win/win scenario, where staff feel so much more engaged and valued in their roles, and as a result, perform better, attract the right type of clients into the business and become natural ambassadors for your organisation.
They might not be the face or official spokesperson of the business, the beautiful thing is that even if they aren’t – that makes what they say and share even MORE powerful and effective.
More than anything people are looking to hear from people with encouraging, inspiring messages – THIS is the marketing that’s working right now to build authentic connections and influence.
It’s also personally rewarding because it enables your team to tap into the things they love and share things that inspire others and in so doing, magnify the impact and reach of the organisation.
When you have team members doing it the key is to empower them to do it in a strategic, safe and simple way.
This doesn’t have to be hard or complicated – but it IS very powerful when done consistently over a sustained period of time.
Reputation capital doesn’t happen overnight but can happen for any individual within a few months with focused and inspired actions. The majority of people don’t get started or aren’t consistent and so miss the window of being people’s radars when they are ready to “do the thing”.
Getting familiar and comfortable with building a personal brand has so many upsides that benefit your current situation and role – while positioning you for the future you want to align to.
The new year always brings with it an inherent spark of freshness and energy so as we consider what we will prioritise after the holiday break it’s an opportune time to intentionally make the shift. and gently and strategically position yourself to align with whatever you are planning and preparing for in 2024 and start to build the practices, and through that, the momentum to move you forward towards it!
Nina Christian is a Marketing Futurist, & Global Marketing Mentor who helps people do their marketing in a more human way.
She is a Certified Practicing Marketer (CPM), Life Member and Fellow of the Australian Marketing Institute & AMI State Chair (Vic) and for 20 years was director of marketing agency Braveda (Winner, Best Marketing Agency, Australian Marketing Excellence Awards).
Several years ago Nina saw the world of marketing shifting – this time as people became their own brands. With this, she created a new business as a thought leader, combining her expertise in brand building with personal positioning, resulting in a breakthrough praxis known as Marketing Me® which she delivers globally to business leaders, professionals and entrepreneurs.
She is the author of the book Marketing Me: Take Charge of Your Personal Brand and Make Your Mark on the World which helps professionals who want to market themselves authentically, but don’t understand what makes them truly unique and significant or have the confidence to express their value in a way that feels good.
Being a hands-on mum of five children, Nina has developed a knack for simplifying complexity. As a result, her systems and processes are practical, accessible and impactful.