Written by Grant Wickes
Executives understand the power of connections and building relationships to win business and grow their company. It’s why successful CEOs, owners and executives invest time to visit customers, attend conferences and get involved in local events. These in-person, face-to-face meetings are the hallmark of successful business leaders since the dawn of commerce.
While doing it for business results, these meetings contribute to the development of the executive’s brand. The interactions build credibility and “likeability” for the executive. Trust is established. Employees are inspired and want to join the company. Clients and customers want to do business with them.
But the stage for engagement has evolved, and most executives are missing in the leading role.
Today, clients, customers, recruits and partners turn to the Internet and social media, particularly LinkedIn, to research a company and learn about an executive. Impressions are now formed often without physical interaction—for good or bad. The digital persona and story presented online is crucial to create and reinforce an executive brand. It’s no longer sufficient to rely solely on traditional in person (“analog”) approaches.
Most executive LinkedIn profiles were created years ago—let’s hope you’ve updated it since LinkedIn debuted in 2002. Many profiles are out of date and void of meaningful information. It makes sense. Most executives are busy running the company. They aren’t looking for a job. They may feel there is no need to update their LinkedIn profile, and they don’t make the time or assign priority to this medium.
And, it shows. If you look at many executive profiles, the first impression is not very good.
Headshots are old and lacking in professionalism or personality. The background banner is the default blue. The headline (the line below the name) is standard (current job title and company name). The summary, if it exists, is far from compelling.
Many will outline accomplishments and past job responsibilities, but few create a “likeable” personality, explain their “why.” In essence, there is no life or story that humanizes the executive and makes you want to engage in a conversation with them. Nothing that differentiates them from the competition and entices prospects to learn more. Nothing that inspires potential employees to join (and stay with) your company.
At most, executives use LinkedIn to grow connections, like articles, anniversaries and scout out introductions. Almost everyone glosses over their own profile, so that layer of dust piles up. We like to tell folks, at a minimum, to review their profiles on a quarterly basis or worst case, annual basis to update and refine.
Executives that we work with understand the concept. However, they lack time and specific expertise to develop their own story. And some haven’t been able to articulate the essence that really defines their value, strengths, passions and culture. They’ve spent their career in the traditional analog world, yet transitioning the story to a digital stage is an unfamiliar activity.
We help executives, business owners and service professionals understand and embrace digital marketing in the development of their personal executive brand. One of the first ways is to establish an interesting and engaging profile on LinkedIn.
Would you want to have a conversation with an executive based on one of these intros?
We sure would and did. These are a few examples of LinkedIn profiles that have been crafted with this guidance and storytelling approach:
So, how do we dig into these executives to create a unique story that makes you feel as if you know them, that they will resonate with you, and that they are just good people? Honestly, it’s easier than you might think. We conduct an audit of the existing profile, spend one-on-one time to interview the executive to craft the story, volley edits back-and-forth and finalize the profiles.
Now, certainly you could take our question set and process in a more DIY fashion, but we find the real value arises in the conversation, in the moment, in catching that voice inflection or twinkle in the eye of our clients, that elusive essence that we capture and put in written form.
Once your story is created, executives can (and should) leverage social platforms such as LinkedIn to engage and provide information. It’s part of an executive branding strategy. (Don’t worry, we’ll cover that in another blog post.)
But first, have a look at your LinkedIn profile. Does it properly reflect who you are and why you do what you do? Is this person someone you’d want to do business with?
If you can’t answer “yes,” or would like a second set of eyes, we’d be so pleased to provide a complimentary assessment of your LinkedIn profile and the other digital channels you use.