Personal Branding to Help Reach the C-Suite

By Susan Varty, Managing Partner

How do you get into a C-suite role? Do you navigate the politics and work hard? Do you take risks and pitch your own promotion? Do you streamline processes that saves millions of dollars? Do you manage a business unit? Sometimes it takes all of these plus more. Much more because the competition is fierce and only getting more competitive.

But the corporate team builders, creators and delegators of this world also have an edge and they use it to their full advantage: personal branding online. Yes, many of them make it a priority to get online.

After more than 10 years of working directly with CEOs and C-suite leaders, I have identified 5 personal branding characteristics they have in common:

– They articulate their strengths.

– They are consistent in their message.

– They deliver results and tell others about it.

– They work hard and go above and beyond.

– They get noticed

All of these aspects of personal branding can be used online to amplify and speed up your own efforts for career advancement. How is it done? By promoting yourself online in a thoughtful and strategic way (often indirectly). Here are some strategies to help do the ground work for your personal brand online:

Articulate Your Strengths

What are you good at? What do you read that is work-related when you have a few minutes to yourself? What do people at work appreciate about you – and why do they refer you?

Once defined, articulate your strengths and gather specific examples:

– Instead of saying you are in internal communications, tell them you are a corporate writer who can inspire participation in company events.
– Instead of saying you are in HR, tell them you take policy and make it relevant to employees’ every day lives.
– Instead of saying you are an entrepreneur, tell them how your product or service creates change.

Write them down, then hone in on how you bring value. Make it memorable.

Online – what is out there right now that defines your strengths? How do you plan on reaching more people than your immediate circle of colleagues?

Be Consistent

No matter what the role, what you deliver consistently? What makes you dependable and trustworthy?

People who selected to advance are reliable, consistent and trustworthy – because someone else’s reputation is on the line if you are not a good fit for the role.

Online – do you present a consistent image that tells your story? Are you publishing content or speaking on a regular basis so people can get to know you and trust you?

Deliver Results and Tell Others

When you deliver on something significant, who notices? Do you tell anyone other than your team about your accomplishments? Do you schedule one on one meetings with your managers when you’ve completed a project? Or tell them that you’ve delivered value, saved costs or helped to grow your company?

Online – do you list your project or career accomplishments? Do you celebrate the wins in your working life?

Work Hard and Go Above and Beyond

Some will still say that the hours matter – but more importantly, how do you use those hours? Do you work hard to finish what you start and go beyond what was asked on your own time? How have you saved or made the company money this quarter? Have you delivered value to employees or helped morale? Did you volunteer for a committee in another department and gained some new work connections? Did you invite a client to an event, lunch or workshop on your dime?

Online – are you seen helping others, sharing information or answering questions?

Get Noticed

Many corporate executives in the C-suite will talk about an internal sponsor or champion who recommended they be considered for the top job (not a mentor, but a sponsor who knows your work and knows you would be a great fit!).

Attract potential sponsors by sharing your thought leadership. Thought leadership is your voice – your speaking engagements, your blog, your business community involvement, on topics relevant to your work environment.

Apply for awards if you haven’t yet been acknowledged within your company or industry – getting noticed means you must invest in yourself.

Online – websites, social networks and company intranets make it easy to share what is important to you to showcase your thought leadership. What are you participating in to get noticed?

Building your personal brand online has rewards that can come from the most unlikeliest of people and places. Take control of it and use it to advance your career into the C-suite.

photo credit: Moving out of the mist via photopin (license)

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