Personal branding for the CIO

It's more important than even for c-level leaders to prove their business worth, warns Mark Samuels...

Mark Samuels

Brand is everything in the consumer age. We make huge assumptions about people based on the cars they drive, the clothes they wear and the operating systems they use. So, what does your personal brand mean to people and what does it say about your work as a CIO?

There is a good chance you have never consciously thought about your brand. It's not necessarily the kind of thing busy IT executives put at the top of their priority list, especially when the CEO is demanding increased value from technology at an ever-reducing cost.

But without wanting to sound like a particularly depressing episode of The Apprentice', your personal brand particularly as an IT leader has never been more important. Search dominates our lives and people are likely to use Google to make judgements on your persona before they even meet you.

There are simple things you can do to tweak your brand, such as the open access CV otherwise known as your LinkedIn profile. It's surprising how few IT leaders provide a concise summary of their achievements, particularly in relation to meeting and achieving broader business targets.

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Not all branding is work-related. I know one IT leader who only ever wears socks of a particular striking colour. Another has suits tailored in a specific style to reflect his outgoing personality. They're simple sartorial tactics, but they help create a picture of the individual.

Other CIOs are known for their hobbies. Some vociferous football supporters spring to mind, as do a few passionate music fans. These IT leaders often take their offline interests online, using their social profiles to mix a big dose of sporting banter with an even larger slice of IT leadership advice.

Some technology chiefs are more explicit in their branding tactics. These individuals make sure every external engagement, such as a speaking opportunity or a profile in the press, relates to their personal brand.

I know one IT leader who has concentrated on being known for his great work in a particular area everything he says and does refers back to a focus on operational achievements. "Your brand is everything," he summarises.

Another CIO I know is badging himself as the future face of the industry. This individual bemoans the lack of young talent emerging at the IT executive level, and the paucity of guidance around business matters and outcomes. His aim is to be seen as the archetypal next-generation IT leader.                      .

So, why is personal branding so important for the CIO? It's quite simple, really: IT leaders, probably more than any other c-suite executives, are under more pressure than ever to prove their worth to the business. And if you don't shout about your own achievements, who will?

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