Due to advances in technology and changes in business requirements, the nature of the finance role is changing. Historically, finance often attracted individuals who did not consider the need to have a strong ‘personal brand’, but as the transactional and technical components of the finance role evolve, this is quickly changing. Today, there is a greater need for finance professionals to be able to interpret, analyse and translate meaning to drive businesses forward. To ensure that modern-day professionals are meeting ongoing challenges and staying relevant in the market, they too must evolve and be positioned to articulate their own value proposition through a strong personal brand.
To help finance professionals who find the concept of building a personal brand daunting, I recently sat down with experienced finance leader, Sue Lindsay, to capture her advice on personal branding and taking risks for greater personal gain. Sue’s 30 years of expertise in finance undoubtedly make her an expert, but this also makes her laugh, explaining that it has taken her the last 15 to realise her passion was in helping people.
Sue is passionate about personal branding and her own story has brought her to take the plunge and start her own business, Unique Profile. Sue is leaving finance management to focus on supporting individuals and New Zealand businesses to look at personal branding, value articulation, and how to transform teams from transactional, back-office functions, to highly engaged finance business partnering models. Read on to find out what advice Sue has on how to build a strong personal brand
Building a Personal Brand as a Finance Professional
To start building a personal brand, the first step is to identify what your current reputation says about you as a professional. A great way to do that is to approach a mentor, coach or someone with an opinion you trust and value, and seek their feedback on how you are perceived in your business, industry or role. From there you can highlight your natural strengths, abilities and weaknesses.
Next, you’re going to want to formulate a plan and build a strategy but remember to start with small steps and changes. Too much too soon can open the door to self-doubt. When designing your plan, focus on key areas to work on and agree on how you will do this and measure your progress. To help you find potential key areas to improve upon, ask yourself the following questions:
- How well do I know the business I work in?
- What could I do to gain a deeper understanding of my industry or role?
- Am I seeking out new career/learning opportunities and asking for them?
- How well do people know me and how do I relate to them?
- What type of people do I find challenging to work with or avoid?
- How can I work on understanding and collaborating with them better?
- Do I ask for frequent feedback and do I listen to it and act?
- Do I lack confidence in myself or fear failure and if so, what could I do to improve this?
Self-doubt can be a destructive force and quickly dismantle any attempt of building your personal brand. When you’re suffering from self-doubt, ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s the worst that could happen?
- Do I have a contingency/plan B?
- Will I regret not taking the plunge?
- Am I overthinking this?
- What will it mean to do something I love?
- How can I take my first steps?
Avoiding Common Personal Branding Misconceptions
There can be a lot of misconceptions that can end up damaging your efforts to building a solid personal brand. The below are a few common ones to watch out for:
- “I don’t need to change my CV, it was good enough to get me my last job.” Yes, it was but times have changed and companies don’t want novels, but a succinct outline of who you are and what transferrable skills and values you can bring to the table. All that needs to be kept relevant.
- “If I update my LinkedIn profile, my manager will think I’m looking for a job.” This entirely depends on your settings, when you’re updating your information there will be a button for sharing profile changes. Set this to no and your network won’t be notified of any changes you make.
- “I’d need to retrain to change my career direction.” In most cases, this isn’t true. Your personal brand is the perfect stage to showcase your transferrable skills and experiences, and how you can take these into different roles and disciplines.
- “No-one is taking any notice of my online profiles.” Yes, they are. Managers and recruiters check LinkedIn profiles and sometimes, Facebook accounts, to make better-informed decisions. So, don’t underestimate attention your personal brand might be getting, whether good or bad! If you want to ensure they can’t see your profiles, then make sure your privacy settings are set appropriately.
Finally, Sue recommends reading the book, “What Color is Your Parachute?”, a practical manual for job-hunters and career-changers, saying it has provided her with ample inspiration throughout her career.
I would like to thank Sue for taking the time to share her insight on the subject of personal branding. I hope this article provided you with some useful advice on how to build a stellar personal brand to support the path to becoming a true finance business partner. However, if you need further personal branding advice, or would like to connect with New Zealand’s Accounting, Finance, and Financial Services jobs, get in touch with me today.