Is your Lack of a Well Managed Personal Brand Hurting You?

Last Wednesday I was in China for a meeting with Procurement department of large multinational company. The meeting was the final interview before awarding a major global consulting project. The meeting started with pleasantries then the manager opened her folder and on the top page was a printout of my Linkedin profile. Her first comment was “why did you remove your mustache?.” The picture I have used since my first creation of the account had a mustache and now I do not and it seemed odd to her that I had not updated it.

Her next statement “There appears to be a number of gaps in your experience that we need to discuss.” Wondering what dirt they found on me I asked her to help me understand the gap(s).

During the initial consideration process, procurement had asked me to submit a document outlining similar projects with other large companies. I provided a detailed breakdown of each project including deliverables, the outcomes, and the contacts for them to verify what I submitted. She pulled my document out of the folder and laid it next to my LinkedIn profile and then commented… There seems to be a large gap between these two documents. She was confused why I had not listed any of these amazing projects on my Linkedin profile or why I did not have case studies or any of these projects detailed on my website.

Having been taught how to resist advanced interrogation tactics in the Marine Corps, I paused for a moment and thought maybe I can just hide behind the “client confidentiality” excuse but opted to just tell the truth. Fortunately, I was not being engaged to be a LinkedIn Marketing consultant so in the end, I decided to tell her that yes, I should have detailed them in the profile and yes, I actually should have more robust information about my experiences. I did not try to make excuses for not having it and that I have been too busy to update the information which is true. I realized in that meeting that while I have a good personal brand with people who know me, but to those who don’t I am a ghost or at least do not project my real depth of experience.

For this project I also had to submit a number of other documents including a resume or CV. Well, I have only needed a CV/Resume once for a conference in Germany, since I applied for a job when left the Marine corps in 1991. They needed copies of each of my University diplomas – I have not seen them since graduation day and did not even know what box they were in.

They wanted me to provide links or copies of prior articles and any other published works and presentations that were related to global business transformation. I later realized that I realized that I had a reference to the first edition of my book Search Engine Marketing Inc but not the 2nd or 3rd editions.

One of their big concerns were the lack of any public information on my global training experience. Part of this project is a large-scale training element to train their managers how to leverage Search Marketing. On my site I had listed a number of industry related conferences I have spoken at but did not list any of my training projects, no videos of my presentation style, and no testimonials from customers. I could just imagine her asking if I actually have any marketing experience at all.

She had a number of pages of information about me from various Searches where others had written about me and articles where I had referenced different project. She even congratulated me on receiving the Best Search Consultant Award and for getting a Lifetime Achievement Award so young. I think really she wondered how I could get it for being such a non-marketer. I have now realized that my company site had no information about me and my personal blog’s “about me” page I created to link to Google+ had minimal information. This helps explains why a reporter recently referenced me as running Global Search for Ogilvy, a job I have not had for over 10 years in an article for the HREFBuilder Technology award. I did not have anything really current.

All of my bios on conference sites were not really detailed and many of my photos I am wearing my Global Strategies brand shirt. Also, a week ago I read an Keyword Research article by Heather Lloyd-Martin on Biznology and thought her bio at the end of the article was one of the best I had ever seen. In this case I did get a bit farther and started to create one like hers but did not upload it. It has all of those key highlights that this procurement person told me were missing from my profile. I will finish this on my way back from China.

It was embarassing to realize that I don’t do anything to help nurture my profile or actually ensure those that have not worked with me can have the same information about me as those who do. They were specifically concerned that I had not linked to any of my articles showcasing my experience on Global Search Program Development and Website Globalization.

In February I read Mel Carson’s
amazing ebook “Personal Branding” After reading the book, I did have all of these issues mentioned above as action items but did not prioritize time to do/fix them. The most frustrating one was not updating my photos immediately. Apparently, the mustache was part of my personal brand. I have recently had conferences ask me for “speaker” or “keynote” type photos as well as specific sized headshots. I either did not have them or they were outdated. As one of the events was in Asia they wanted a photo of my wearing a jacket and tie.

Had I actually taken the time I would have looked much better to these people that need to make a decision to trust someone to make major changes to their business. I have realized that you do need to maintain and nurture your personal brand at all times and you never know when someone will make a decision based on what they do or, more importantly, do not find about you online so it is critical to keep this information as current and comprehensive as possible.

As I learned, photos are very important. I have had conferences ask me for “speaker” or “Keynote” type photos as well as specific sized headshots. I either did not have them or they were outdated and of course, all had “the stash.” One of the events was in Asia they wanted a photo of my wearing a jacket and tie and I had to look pretty far back to find one of those.

Fortunately, the recommendation from the engagement manager who had prior experience working with me, recommendation from their consulting agency, and the fact that I had worked at IBM and Ogilvy all were key factors in my advantage and earned me the face to face meeting.

The scary thing is that without the direct feedback from the contacts I may not have been considered for this project as I had little information under my control about my experience that would emphasis that I am the best for this type of project.

I have learned a valuable lesson from this and have started my transformation process. I scheduled the photo shoot, started gathering key project and experience points for large projects and especially outcomes. I have started to clean up and move many of my presentations to my Slideshare account. I will add more to my site and blog with voice-overs to help convey my presentation style. I want to ensure that I have done all I can to make sure I have maximized my personal brand and make it easy for potential costumers to make a wise decision and I strongly suggest you take a honest look at how people view you and your personal brand online.

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  • Thanks for the shout out for my book Bill! Honored you found my it useful! Happy to give you a free consultation anytime….

  • What a great post Bill.

    Everyone is guilty of using Benjamin Button pictures on social profiles, I bet if you did a poll of speakers at Pubcon, the average difference between the actual age vs. age in the picture it would be more than 5 years difference.

    LinkedIn is your external representation of your business persona. I was also taken aback by your lack of facial hair, but I am used to it now.

  • Both the board of directors and the stock market push companies to maximize capital (and if they don’t, they get sued by stockholders or attacked by hostile takeovers). So companies have zero loyalty to workers (staff, contractors, etc.)

    This means you can’t expect the company to take care of you. You must manage your career. Build your skills, plan your path, develop your visibility and credentials.

  • Your welcome – it is a must read resource and one that you cannot wait to implement.

  • Very true. I have to wonder what other projects that I may have missed for not having it current and detailing projects. Adding a number of case studies to the company site to help illustrate the skills.

  • So true Andreas, the procurement manager was just looking out for her company and making sure that a project of this nature was in good hands. Obviously they will check the resources but talking to a few people people are nervous to pad LinkedIn and online bios as their co-workers, customers etc have access to them and can call bullshit vs. a resume that is typically not shared publicly.