It's Time for More Execs to Step Up as Thought Leaders. Here's How

3 tips for building your network and influence

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It’s a new year, and you’re likely considering the personal and professional goals that will help you improve your life and advance your career. By building your brand and nurturing your network, you can do both.

Once you reach a certain stage of your career, you’re probably not landing a job through a application. When you’re making a move at the executive level—something the average CMO, for example, does every 4.1 years—your opportunities are frequently only as good as the network you’ve built.

So as you set goals for 2018, especially if you’re in high-level management, you should consider combining personal and professional plans into one powerful resolution: building your personal brand and strengthening your network.

Build your network through content marketing

If you’ve made it to the C-suite, you’ve likely nailed in-person networking. You go to local meet-ups and happy hours, attend conferences, and maintain good relationships with past co-workers, employers and clients. These are all necessary practices, but they can limit your efforts to grow your network to include those outside your geographic region or current professional circle.

One way to grow a network beyond those boundaries is through content marketing—specifically, thought-leadership content.

Creating and distributing content that showcases your expertise as a member of the C-suite helps grow your network and positions you as an industry leader—two huge benefits that are as valuable to you as an individual as they are to your company.

Get your company on board

Building your brand through content requires an investment, but it doesn’t necessarily have to come out of your personal budget. An investment in an internal expert’s brand is also incredibly valuable to an organization.

Thought-leadership content that you and your team create and distribute results in brand awareness for your company, lead generation, new business opportunities, sales enablement and more. It also shows your audience that your company employs industry experts, which translates to trust awarded to you as the expert and to the company that relies on your expertise.

Still, as with any other initiative, you’ve got to get the rest of your C-suite on board. In my experience, your best weapon is your team’s documented content marketing strategy. Within it, identify how, why, and to what degree your bylined content will positively affect company goals.

Because this content is aligned with your company’s goals, it should be a natural extension of your current efforts, and your team should be prepared to execute it. That said, you may find that outsourcing to a content marketing agency makes more financial sense. Regardless, the fact that your brand contributes to the growth of the company should be enough to start the conversation.

Stay top-of-mind with your network

This resolution has serious staying power because a personal branding strategy doesn’t just help you; it also helps your company engage its audience. My company’s cofounder, John, discusses this in depth in his aptly titled book, “Top of Mind,” but the gist is this: The content you create can keep your network engaged over time. Use it to stay on the minds of those in your network, just as your company uses it to stay top-of-mind with its audience.

This year, focus on growing relationships through content to build a network that will propel your career forward and benefit the organizations you help lead. Then, when you reach out to someone in your network as you prepare to look for new opportunities, it won’t be the first time she’s heard from you in 4.1 years.