CIO — You’re doing a bang-up job at work. With your data consolidation project and new sourcing strategy, you’ve reduced operating expenses by 40 percent, and your new project management office has put smiles on the faces of all of your colleagues. It is only a matter of time before your fabulousness becomes known throughout the industry and the recruiters start calling with your next dream job. (And if you believe that, I have this nice bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.)
The fact is, like most wonderful things, industry recognition takes some hard work. Yes, if you are the CIO of GM or Dell, the recruiters know your name, and magazines, newspapers and conference organizers are beating a path to your door. But if your company is not a household name, you need to take a proactive approach to getting your own name out there.
I spoke to four CIOs who take the concept of strategic self-publicity to heart, and together we have developed four simple steps to worldwide recognition.
1. Branding. Before you can get your name out there, you need to have a clear understanding of just what that name represents. Are you great with customers, a terrific leader, an architecture guru, a manufacturing expert? Knowing your own brand will allow you to project attributes that are richer and more powerful than those associated merely with the job you currently have.
Last December, Michael Iacona, CIO of TMP Worldwide Advertising & Communications, decided he had achieved enough in his career and that he was ready to put his name into circulation. But first he put some thought into what he wanted his name to connote, and went through an exercise to identify his personal brand.
He sent a survey to his peers, colleagues and even people whom he had only just met to determine the impression he makes on people. One question on the survey, for example: If he were a car, what kind would Michael be? (Sadly, I already know that I am a minivan.)
From the survey results, he learned which five brand attributes best describe him and used them to develop a one-page summary—a personal mission statement—along with a webpage to advertise it (michael.iacona.com). “This is not about creating an image of who you want to be, but identifying the unique value that you bring,” says Iacona. But just like running IT, building your brand is not a one-time project. “This is not something you do once and are done,” says Iacona. “Over time, as you meet new people, join new organizations and accomplish new things, you need to continue to build and nurture your brand.”