Dear focus, is having an external profile important as a department or business leader?
This is a question that is not asked enough and one many will not have a chance to consider if they are not proactively looking at developing out their career.
An external profile is something you have to craft, build, stay active with and balance alongside your workload.
In recent years, a spokesperson or a company rep has interchanged from external spokespeople to an internal spokesperson or selected people.
Demands constantly change but the representation of brands and industry leaders will always be an important pillar.
External profiles are not for everyone:
It can be a real task and personality battle to build a profile. An external profile is a “good to have” for most, a nice to have for others and for some individuals it can bring unwanted attention.
External profiles are an important factor to companies and individuals alike. Many managers and c-suite executives do not consider how important an external profile is and the benefits it can provide themselves.
Many do not take the time to think and develop out their thoughts, their opinions and how to leverage opportunities, conference presentations, interviews and podcast appearances.
Having well thought through, documented thoughts and ideas not only helps you with having something to say and having a positive impact it helps to build trust in you and your brand.
An external profile is more than a case study, it is more than just presenting a deck the internal team has created (you will be surprised how common this is), it is having something important to say, something important to present and adding value to the audiences you speak to.
Having a vision of the future is often the difference between a great profile and just another big token logo c-suite title talking at an event.
External profiles can be a battle for many c-suite members who just get the work done and are just doing their job. And this is ok!
Internal Profile Vs External Profile
An internal profile is something many neglect, the juggling act is maintaining your influence and internal profile while building an external profile.
Many large companies help to shape titles and people within their business by promoting their leaders in the external press, in press and industry interviews and profiles and more recently appear on important podcasts.
If you have not asked or do not step up, then chances are they will have someone else in mind or will be shaping someone already.
The question to consider:
is an external profile important to you and your career now and in three years?
If yes, then consider how you build this out, whether that’s speaking at conferences, appearing in interviews or becoming a media-trained leader who will represent the company.
Tips For External Profiles
- Only create an external profile if you have the time and energy – to do this for yourself and for your business. You represent you and your business, it seldom is just you.
- Career building – this is something that many larger firms look for and will actively look to hire those who have good profiles and can speak well
- Having something to say – many do not have anything to say, they only present case studies, if you struggle to have an opinion or can add value consider how you will have something important to add or say
- Understand often especially in larger companies you have to present approved materials and will be monitored
- Have consistent messaging – there are often times you will be invited to speak at events, conferences and panels and the messages can vary as the questions will change, it is important to have a constant message and narrative throughout, you can change your mind and reference this but it is important to have consistent messaging throughout interviews, presentations and speeches
- Panel & Webinar Challenges – panels are often a time suck, they are good steps to starting to build your profile however the 10-45 minutes you are at a conference (hybrid, in-person or remote) can challenge you for time and limit what you say and how much airtime you get. Consider this when accepting panels and webinars. Webinars are often for lead generation for the company who invited you to speak and share your knowledge, it often can be a struggle to not be associated with their brand and can be hours wasted if this does not add value to you and your brand. This is why having something to say and a personal brand will be something to consider and craft
- Be true to yourself and your team – one of the challenges some leaders have is being able to stay true to themselves and true to their team. The best-case and the current case are often at odds and something that can cause issues is when you portray things as better than they are. This can create an issue with your department subculture
- Launching products and new releases – Something big tech and startups have done well is manage product launches and new releases in time for interviews and presentations. Consider how you can introduce new releases, new initiatives or important tests you have run to influence your market and create stories for you and your business.
- Get media training – media training can seem expensive but it is designed to help shape you and protect you and the company you represent. Many companies send out their execs unprepared and then spend longer addressing what was said unprepared or untrained.
Bob Iger the Disney chairperson had a tactic to manage by press release, knowing that what he said externally would push the team harder and ensure important deadlines were met, this won’t work for everyone but will work if you have the internal clout and influence alongside being respected and having an external profile.
In a hybrid work world, many execs have decided office only is the way they have to operate, many smart execs like dropbox and slack are challenging this narrative. Google is it ok manifesto got huge social media shares because it was a leaked look at how Google was being guided.
Consider how you offer specific guidance and direction externally, especially with the future of work.
Lastly, your external profile can often be extra that will appeal to other companies in a job hunt, it can be the difference between internal respect for you and your role and it can often lead to opportunities you were not considered before.
Good luck in deciding if you will be building your profile, I often recommend you create a year’s plan and develop yourself for you, your career and then the company.
Important Resources To Read