Six tips for building your personal brand
The words ‘personal branding’ may sound like they don’t belong in an IRO’s toolkit – or they may conjure images of expensive business cards and a neat Twitter profile – but the practice could bring your company more attention.
Your personal brand is broadly defined as how you are perceived among your peers, and is particularly useful in a professional setting for improving visibility, making connections and, for an IRO, promoting your company’s stock.
‘It’s all about managing reputation,’ says Robyn Young, a personal branding specialist at South African consultancy Brandheart, who has worked with a number of finance professionals, including Michelle Joubert, head of IR at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
‘Because Google gives us such easy access to personal information, IROs and other senior company representatives are in the spotlight,’ Young explains. ‘Potential stakeholders make decisions based on the perceived reputation of the key players within the organization. This means managing their personal reputation, or developing their personal brand, becomes critical for the success of the business.’
One of the best ways to do this, she adds, is figuring out how your biggest strengths can shine through in your day-to-day work. ‘On another level, developing a personal brand is about finding out what makes IROs exceptional in their role, and how to bring more of that into what they do every day, so they can strategically manage their career path,’ Young adds.
Here are six immediate steps IROs can take to improve their personal brand:
1. Share interesting content
One of the first steps you can take is to push out relevant content – articles, studies or data – on social media. ‘If you want to build your profile as an IRO, you want to share content that is relevant to your peers, including information about IR, your company, digital trends or the wider capital markets,’ says Jennie Guay, director of channel relations for the UK and EMEA at Investis.
‘Articles that work are those that help others increase their knowledge base. People will start to look to you as an information source once they’ve picked up some useful content from you in the past.’
2. Be in the right places
That said, some social media channels are more appropriate than others. ‘I’d advise sharing information on LinkedIn more so than other platforms,’ says Guay. ‘Twitter can be a bit dangerous from a branding point of view as it requires a lot of time and attention to be an interesting outlet, while LinkedIn doesn’t require as much consistent activity and is already where your audience is looking for professional content. Timing content is also important: if you’re consistently sharing not-so-relevant content a couple of times a day, you may lose your audience or hurt your brand.’
3. Be honest
The simple route to good personal branding, says Young, is to be true to yourself, look good and do what you say you’re going to do. The not-so-simple version requires more work.
‘Have the courage to dig deep, reflect and honor who you really are and what really drives you,’ Young continues. A common error is for professionals to try to be someone they’re not. ‘They think it’s about sticking a label on a tin,’ she explains. ‘Not only is this not sustainable, but it can lead to emotional disorders like anxiety and depression.’
4. Look to the long term
Good profile building is a long-term and full-time occupation, notes Young. ‘It’s not something that can be switched on and off,’ she explains. ‘Everything you do or choose not to do speaks to the value and character of your brand, in the office and out. Building a reputation takes time and requires regular attention, review and maintenance.’
5. Identify other influencers
Though you can build your own profile, it might take some help from other, more influential figures in the industry to make a breakthrough. ‘Identify the key people you need to positively influence in order to get ahead in your job and then find out how you can genuinely be of service to them,’ says Young.
6. Go offline
‘Outside of social media channels, it’s crucial for IROs to network through industry events,’ says Guay. ‘You can look past the IR space, too, and dig deeper by attending sector-specific events. It’s great for personal networking and fostering discussion with your peers. Leveraging your current job or company is also very important.’