You’re Underinvesting in Your Personal Thought Leadership

Personal Thought Leadership

You work for a brand that everyone knows and respects. But will it be around forever? Will you be with them forever? When you leave the brand, will anybody know or care who you are?

Sadly, many high-performing executives never build a personal brand. They don’t invest in personal thought leadership, and they pay the price at some point in the future when they realize that just having worked at a big-name brand doesn’t mean anybody thinks they are worth much at all.

Signs You’ve Not Invested In Your Personal Brand

Google yourself. Just your name. That’s exactly what somebody is going to do when you’re no longer with the big brand.

Here are signs that you’ve not invested in your personal brand:

  • Many people with the same name as you outrank you in search results.
  • No pictures of you show up.
  • The Google search results that mention you are not all that impressive. They don’t convey the power, knowledge and expertise that you’ve worked so hard to build up over many years. From an outsider’s perspective, you don’t impress.
  • There are no media interviews with you, no articles in which a journalist has interviewed you as an industry thought leader.
  • You don’t have any sort of following on anything whatsoever. Maybe you have five Twitter followers. You’ve got zero thought leadership content on places like LinkedIn and Medium.
  • There’s no record of your having been on panels at industry conferences.
  • Needless to say, you’ve never written a book or won any major industry awards (otherwise, your Google results would be more impressive).

It’s almost as if you don’t exist — even though you deserve to be well-known and acclaimed. Sucks, doesn’t it?

When People Realize They’ve Underinvested in Personal Thought Leadership

You realize you should have gotten out there more and built up your reputation at the point in time that you realize your reputation isn’t all that great.

The brand you have bled for over the course of decades counsels you out. Or there’s a scandal that closes down the company.

Suddenly, you have to look for your next gig and this is when people say: “I guess I should have done a better job building up my reputation. I thought that because I worked for this big brand, everyone would want to hire me — but I’m not getting the offers I thought I should.”

Who’s getting the offer you’re not getting? It’s the person who was smart enough to build up her personal profile and invest in thought leadership. She gets the job and you don’t. Tragic.

So Easily Fixed, So Seldomly Fixed

The sad part of this story is that it didn’t have to end this way. I see talented people, who are in transition, suddenly saying “I need to start writing about my industry. I should start a blog. I should start posting on social. I should write that book I always talked about. Once I do that, people will want me.”

But they are way behind the eight ball. They are wasting time building reputation when they should be waltzing in to that amazing new gig. In most cases, it’s too little, too late.

All they had to do — it would have been so easy — was to build up their personal thought leadership while they were employed with the big brand. The big brand would have paid for it. In addition to prepping you better for life after the big brand, jumping on those thought leadership opportunities would have likely gotten you promoted early and helped you bring in more business. But you took a pass on that, didn’t you? You let others grab the limelight.


For Some, It’s Not Too Late

There is no time like the present to start a personal thought leadership campaign.

Talk to people in Marketing at Corporate about how you can help them. Believe me, they will be so happy to help you — because helping you with thought leadership is good for the brand.

Now, what they don’t want to do is make you so popular that competitors quickly seek you out and steal you away. So, it’s a balancing act. They want to use you to promote the brand. You want to use the brand to promote you. Win-win. Make sure you’re happy with the bargain.

Bring In the Pros If You Need To

As part of the countless things we do to help our clients at Walker Sands, we have had some amazing successes with executive thought leadership.

If you need help promoting your personal brand or if you are in Corporate Marketing and are tasked with systematically and proactively helping executives to raise up their thought leadership and beat the competition, we can help.

It’s harder than you think, and there are many tips and techniques to thought leadership and reputation management that are not well known. This expertise is worth paying for, believe me.

A good agency will design the strategy; flesh out the program; do all of the heavy lifting for you on things like writing, speaking opps, and social audience building; and then apply a few tips and techniques to amplify your thought leadership and make sure Google likes you better than that other person with your same name.

The bottomline here is don’t wait to build up your personal brand. Procrastination is deadly, especially when your competitors are doing better than you. Don’t count on your employer’s brand to be magical after you are no longer part of it.

Allocate the time. Start early. Start now. Get going. Get help.

Ken Gaebler founded Walker Sands as a full-service marketing firm back in 2002 with the goal of creating an exceptional more

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