One of the most consistent laments from CMOs in transition is “I wish I spent more time developing my personal brand while I was in my last job.” I know this because we host a Transition Team Huddle as part of CMO Huddles and I see the consequences every month. This sentiment is so prevalent that we dedicated four Regular Huddles with employed CMOs to discussing what CMOs could and should be doing for their personal brands.
During the course of these conversations, a few guiding principles came into view:
- Acceptance: Most CMOs will work for multiple companies and may need to find a new opportunity at any moment. Establishing yourself as a thought leader and building your network will make it that much easier to land your next opportunity. The sooner you accept this the better!
- Strategy: Once you accept the fact you need to establish and maintain a personal brand, spend some time defining your secret sauce. I’m happy to share a Personal Branding worksheet we put together with the CMOs of CMO Huddles to help guide you in this process.
- Alignment: Ideally, your personal branding efforts also accrue to your company. If your personal brand, for example, is tied to industry expertise, then your participation in industry conversations is obviously beneficial for you and your company. When that’s not the case, ask your CEO if you can help build their personal brands and once you’ve done that, your opportunity to do the same will arise quite naturally.
- Consistency: Building a personal brand, like managing your career, is a marathon, not a sprint. Even if you only spend 59 minutes a week on your personal brand over the course of a year, you’ll make remarkable progress. To help you get there, we now offer The CMOs 59-Minute Personal Branding Training Regimen (5-Week Plan).
- Set Up (15 mins): Set up accounts on a social media management platform (like Hootsuite or Sprout Social), and a content curation tool (like Feedly or Pocket) and update your LinkedIn profile. This ensures you have the right content curation, scheduling, and networking tools. These are your running shoes.
- Curating (15 mins): Curate relevant articles to share on LinkedIn via your curation tool. Add a personal intro and schedule 2-3 posts for the week. This will help demonstrate your industry knowledge and helps you stay informed. Be sure to tag industry friends who you expect would engage with this content.
- Writing (15 mins): Draft a short blog post (300-500 words) on a relevant industry topic. Writing regularly helps you hone your ideas and showcase your expertise. Use a dictation tool or even record it initially as a video linked to a transcription service to speed up the process. You can also use a Generative AI tool like ChatGPT to help you create an outline or establish common knowledge that you’ll want to surpass BUT don’t use AI-generated content verbatim.
- Engaging (14 mins): Engage on LinkedIn including LinkedIn Groups – ask meaningful questions, share thoughtful insights, and answer questions. This effort will endear you to a broader network that will most likely reciprocate when your share posts. Your engagement is your social currency. Spend it wisely.
- Curating (15 mins): Curate relevant articles to share on LinkedIn with pithy and clever introductions (Note: You can share on other social channels but don’t spread yourself too thin). Schedule 2-3 posts per week. You’ll know you’re doing this right when you start to see more people following you.
- Engaging (15 mins): Engage on LinkedIn in your spare moments between meetings or in transit. Even 3 minutes a day will endear you to your community. Keep in mind that a Like is the wimpy form of engagement, a Celebrate or Love is the next best thing and a Share is the big Kahuna.
- Editing (15 mins): Finalize and publish your short blog post from Week 1 on your personal blog, company blog or LinkedIn. By the way, you’ll get faster at writing the more you write. Practice does make perfect. And don’t forget to tag the folks in your network you think will most likely engage with your post.
- Recording (14 mins): Record a short video clip (1-2 minutes) sharing tips or insights that support your personal point of view. It’s okay to use Zoom or your mobile device as long as the lighting and sound quality are good (unless you’re at a trade show and want to share the excitement of the show). LinkedIn, like most social networks, is giving more love to video posts than all other types.
- Curating (15 mins): Continue to find and share relevant articles and add your twang to them. Schedule these posts on days you are more likely to be able to engage with any commenters. When you can, comment on the comments since that often inspires more comments!
- Grouping (15 mins): Switch things up a bit and engage on a LinkedIn Group instead of your regular feed. In the group, take a “give to get” mentality, trying to be as helpful as possible. You’re there to make friends and demonstrate expertise.
- Writing (15 mins): It’s time to whip up another short blog post (300-500 words) on a relevant topic. The drill here is to get as much down on paper as you can in 14 minutes. You can edit it the next week.
- Commenting (14 mins): Offer expert commentary on trending industry topics by posting on LinkedIn. Sharing your insights on a consistent basis will gradually raise your profile. Don’t forget to be human. A little humor and humility go a long way!
- Curating (15 mins): Use your content curation tool (like Feedly) to identify hyper-relevant and ideally, thought-provoking articles. You may also want to use Google Alerts to buttress your curation efforts. Don’t forget to add your spin and leverage hashtags.
- Engaging (15 mins): You’re back on LinkedIn for a quick sprint of commenting and questioning. If you’ve noticed some individuals have consistently been engaging with your content, return the love with, well, the Love button.
- Editing (15 mins): Edit and publish your short blog post from Week 3 on your blog or LinkedIn. If you are uncertain about your writing skills, now’s the time to find an editing buddy (perhaps there’s an English major lurking in your department who would welcome the opportunity to work with you directly);
- Researching (15 mins): Research relevant podcasts in your industry (ListenNotes is a good resource) and pitch yourself as a guest expert for future episodes. Podcast appearances broaden your reach and expose you to new audiences. They also have a long shelf life and you can link to these on your LinkedIn profile either under your current job or under Publications.
- Curating (15 mins): Keep up the pace by curating relevant articles, and scheduling posts. Remember, this is a marathon and you need a steady stride. By now, you should start to see which types of articles seem to resonate the most in your feed which will help guide future selections. Don’t be afraid to post something that isn’t directly about your work life – some of the most engaged posts on LinkedIn are not about business.
- Engaging (15 mins): Hopefully you’ve now become an expert at finding a few minutes each day for engaging on LinkedIn. Keep it up. Try new things. If you can, be witty (but not mean!)
- Networking (15 mins): Find new trails by researching and joining CMO-focused communities, such as CMO Huddles, and introduce yourself. Networking within these communities is like discovering valuable shortcuts in your race. You’ll establish meaningful connections with fellow CMOs that will come in handy soon enough.
- Assessing (14 mins): Assess your progress by reflecting on the past four weeks and identifying areas for improvement. Evaluating the impact of your efforts on your personal brand is like checking your pace and making adjustments during a race. Success means recognizing your growth and continuously refining your approach for better performance.
By following this 5-week, 59-minute-per-week personal branding regimen, you will consistently build and maintain your personal brand. Each step is like a milestone in your race, and by dedicating a small amount of time each week, you will demonstrate your expertise, connect with peers, and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, ultimately reaching the finish line of your choice.