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Personal Brand

So I have been reading more lately about building one's "personal brand" or "on-line" brand.  In general I like the notion of building my own brand.  However, it is not exactly clear to me how I would go about doing that.  I don't think there is one specific way to set about building a personal brand.  Presumably it is like any company's retail product: it is built over time and through a number of channels.

On this topic, one thing that occurred to me was that a standard resume with all text is an old fashioned way to present oneself.  My sense of a brand is that it combines something visual / graphic with information and should elicit some kind of emotional response.  Given that I took my resume and put it into a presentation / pitch format (see link).  After all, we spend much time presenting and pitching our ideas in a PowerPoint format, why not present ourselves in a similar manner? 

So, I am posting this discussion and my personal pitch to get some dialogue going on what a personal brand is and how to go about building one.  Being in accounting / finance which is a conservative field I have received feed back such as "can't you just send me a normal resume" and wonder whether this document is over kill, over the top, or unnecessary.  What are your thoughts?

Here are some things I have done to start building a personal brand, what have others done?

- Built a LinkedIn profile
- Turned my resume in to a presentation format and posted on line
- Began networking more locally
- Starting posting on this site, Proformative

Reference URL:


Michael B. Hutchison
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Pine Island Chemicals
(Chief Financial Officer, Pine Island Chemicals) |
I've also created a Linkedin profile, and begun to network more. I'm also moderating a couple of websites finance areas, with the thought of becoming better known. I've also started volunteering for FICPA and AICPA committees in an attempt to both help my profession, and also build my a better "brand".
Bryan Frey
Title: VP Finance/Corp Controller
(VP Finance/Corp Controller, ) |
I think many people get that personal brand advice and the following: "just go out to a social site and post something, anything, in order to get noticed". In fact I have seen that advice a number of times from supposed experts and I have seen it used a number of times. In Linkedin groups you continually see people posting vacuous questions just to get their name out there. I call those "content-free" postings. That is, when someone is posting neither an operating/technical question (where they are looking for advice/input) nor something with a definitive answer. If I got a dime for every "what do you think about IFRS" discussion out there I'd own my own island. I think that what Michael H. is doing is highly constructive and on target, but be careful to avoid posting for posting's sake (not that you are doing it here, I'm just saying in general) because I think that is very damaging to one's brand.
Peter Lyons, MBA, CMA
Title: Finance and Technology Enthusiast
Company: Currently Looking
(Finance and Technology Enthusiast, Currently Looking) |
One thing that I've seen used, and was rather impressed, was a personal website that incorporated some of the items that you had included in your ppt. Some of the things I've done in an effort to build my personal brand is presenting at industry conferences, like the AFP Annual Conference, on certain subjects. I feel this gets your name out there as a subject matter expert and opens the door for more in depth networking. I've found that LinkedIN is better suited for keeping in touch with past colleagues as it becomes cluttered with personal advertisements. It's a great tool to keep in touch with former employees, managers, and colleagues to see how their careers are progressing.
Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

Great discussion! I believe candidate branding is a great tool to differentiate oneself from the competition. It's important, though, to not confuse visibility and/or marketing spin with branding.

I like to think of branding as the intersection where your value (internal) and perception (external) align. What is that one thing that you love to do and do really well, you have done repeatedly throughout your career (a pattern of success), and which adds / added a unique value to a prospective company? That's the internal piece. It means nothing, though, if you don't understand how others perceive you. That is because branding is held in the hearts and minds of others. Just think Tiger Woods.

An analogy I like to use is the financial executive who envisions himself as a visionary leader while his team perceives him as a micro-managing bean counter. Who is he really?

Once you've identified your brand, then it's time to tell the world with consistency, constancy, and clarity. When your name comes up in a Google search, the results should tell a consistent story that shouts credibility.

Topic Expert
Barrett Peterson
Title: Senior Manager, Actg Stnds & Analysis
Company: TTX
(Senior Manager, Actg Stnds & Analysis, TTX) |

For us in finance and accounting, "always exciting" may be beyond reach, but branding is essential to display somethinbg of your knowledge, aspects of your personality, your sense of humor [get one], and the range and creativity of your thought processes. Personal websites, blogs, newsletters, presentations, and published materials can all convey thes attributes. I use LinkedIn's Slideshare option, and "answers", as well as comments here to work in this area. Twitter too, although minimally.

scott graves
Title: CFO
Company: Armstrong Teasdale LLC
(CFO, Armstrong Teasdale LLC) |


Along with the previously posted comments, I think that you're on the right path. I did something similar to your PowerPoint slides, but I put them into a website (see Google Sites). It's a good supplement to your resume to provide more details about yourself and your skills/accomplishments and it can also show off some creativity, which is important for Finance folks to do. However, being in finance, which is one of the more conservative fields, I would still lead with a historical, conservative resume and subsequently provide the link to your Google Site once you find a prospective employer and position that you want to pursue further. I also added some personal information to my Site to better round out the information.

With respect to your Brand, you can think of it as your 30 second elevator speech. What are the 3-5 "things" that best describe you along with a short sentence describing about each one with something from your past [example: LEADER - Improved new product development by 350% by aligning teams, implementing standard work and improving the organization’s focus and communication.] I would recommend spending a significant amount of time working on your Brand. Use the fishbone approach and put your professional skills/attributes along the top bones and your personal ones along with the bottom bones and continually expanding out from there in further describing those items. Continue to work this process until you're really happy with your top 3-5 professional and personal Branding items; don't shortcut this process. Then work on a sentence that describes that Brand with your experience and accomplishments. Finally, your Resume, LinkedIn profile, Google Site and your interview responses should be built around those Brands; everything that you present to a prospective employer should display your top qualities and should be consistent across all communication methods. This is a time-consuming process, but the final result is powerful in communicating exactly who you are, and what type of position you are looking for and that you'd be great in.

Ric Ratkowski
Title: Vice President Strategic Alliances
Company: TopOPPS
(Vice President Strategic Alliances, TopOPPS) |

Just some more fuel to throw on the fire.

On a hiring note, I always find it difficult to get an authentic perspective during the interview process of the personality/work habits/thoughts and "what they really know" about an interview candidate you are thinking to hire. However if I can go on Proformative (for finance folks) or LinkedIn and review questions asked, questions answered and discussion points made, I get an additional dimension of the candidate (I also know they are web savvy and at this point in time leading the curve of finance folks embracing innovative medias

Now the downside that Bryan Frey points out that I agree with, that is you can't just go out and "post something" or "just retweet", because whatever you do on the web "brands you" and you have to be authentic.

For an additional perspective I'd suggest the book "The Brand You 50" by Tom Peters. It was written in 1999, before social media, it is about "branding you" within your current employer so you have to abstract the thoughts to today, but there are interesting points made and it is a quick read.

Simon Westbrook
Title: CFO
Company: Aargo Inc.
( CFO, Aargo Inc.) |

Given the fact that we cannot expect to be a master of every aspect of finance and accounting, we really need to identify to our market (prospective clients/employers, etc) what exactly are our best qualifications and what applications are we relatively best suited for. This is simply a way to match the expectations of both sides when it comes to supply and demand, and in the new world has become "branding".

Im all for it, but I wonder just how many discrete brands of finance and accounting there can be?

Topic Expert
Stephen Wares
Title: International Expansion Expert
Company: CCW Business Solutions
(International Expansion Expert, CCW Business Solutions) |

I like to think of my personal brand as being a combination of how I am perceived by my co-workers, customers, partners and prospects based on their personal experience of interacting with me on a professional level together with the results of a google search for my name which will yield a variety of items including my profiles on LinkedIn, Proformative, LinkSV etc and the variety of seminars and speaking engagements I have participated in. My expectation is that there should be consistency between what a google search reveals and the perception real people have of me. Let's face it, these days a prospective employer will skim through your resume and then google you, most likely spending a lot more time trawling the results of the search than they did on your resume.


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