Why smart CEOs empower their teams on LinkedIn

Op-ed piece on the leading B2B portal Consulting.de with ~ 55.000 readers and ~ 95.000 page views monthly

Why smart CEOs empower their teams on LinkedIn

February 23, 2022

In the deer pack, it’s clear: the twelve-tender announces what goes. When the young one-enders want to play along, they are shown very quickly – sometimes very painfully – where their place is.

What does this have to do with CEOs and LinkedIn?

If you want to be visible in consulting, you won’t get anywhere with the stag model. In order to differentiate a strategy consulting or auditor to the maximum and make it attractive for the future, the twelve-ten has had its day.
In addition to the strong social CEO it is the young team members, who are very fresh or have been in the business for a maximum of two to three years, who bring credibility, scope for development and diversity to the brand image. The Human factor is becoming increasingly decisive.

Four reasons for the personal branding of young consultants on LinkedIn

  1. Those who demand diversity or propagate flat hierarchies on their career pages should live this consistently and therefore do not only celebrate senior practice leaders.
  2. Especially in professional services, human-to-human marketing is the trump card. Companies don’t buy an abstract brand, they buy the people behind it. The “one face to the media” principle may well apply in PR. In social media, however, it’s “the more, the merrier.”
  3. If you want to shake off your own homogeneity, you flank your corporate brand with heterogeneous personal brands on the market. This creates real distinctiveness – instead of just marketing apostrophized.
  4. And last but not least: Generations Y and Z demand this. They’ve grown up with social media and don’t want to artificially exclude their work life here.

Yet, some professional services players continue to struggle to give their juniors free rein aside from targeted corporate influencer programs.

The top three challenges for consultants on LinkedIn

1. Corporate Marketing should let “long leash” in social media

Even if Marketing would prefer to centrally control all channels, this does not work for LinkedIn – neither in terms of capacity nor philosophy and intention. Of course, social media policies make sense. However, in 80% of the cases I see in my positioning advisory, these describe commandments and prohibitions rather than true empowerment.

After 23 years on the other side of the desk, I can partially relate. Still, my advice is: don’t nip the desire for brand ambassador engagement in the bud. Digital natives don’t want a second proofreader for their posts or the corset of strict corporate language. If personal responsibility and self-efficacy are crucial, this also means: “Let them think and write for themselves. Because they know what they are doing!

2. Juniors should throw away their “scissors in the head”.

In team coaching sessions, powerful inner “scissors in the head” surprise me again and again. Instead of trying out and reflecting on LinkedIn, younger consultants, accountants and lawyers are massively editing themselves.

Their concerns: they don’t want to be more visual than their senior practice lead. The latter could resent this successful visibility. You do not want to cause a stir and, if necessary. jeopardize their doctorate by taking such an edgy stance. Or they are simply unsure if they have enough “stories that sell” at the beginning of their career.

3. The home office trap of the pandemic

Of course, the home office has had many work-life balance benefits over the past two years. However, it is also clear that “learning on the job” at the client’s site cannot be replaced 1:1 by e-learning concepts or collaboration tools such as Miro, no matter how smart they are.

Younger consultants in particular learn a lot from team dynamics and board meetings about real leadership, client expectations or frustrations as well as successes of everyday consulting. Anyone who sits alone at their desk at home for ten hours at a time will, in case of doubt, experience less that they could report about in a relevant way on LinkedIn.

My tips on the five questions I hear most often in my Corporate Influencer trainings

1. How do I achieve “class not mass” in my LinkedIn feed?

Anyone who has been on LinkedIn since 2008, as I have, openly admits: The pandemic has damaged the quality of LinkedIn. The only way to escape the trend of individuals toward Facebook-ization and loud hyper-personalization is to consistently clean up your own feed. And by “doing better” yourself.
In professional services in particular, long-term trust and credibility based on proven expertise are more valuable currencies than viral flashes in the pan. The principle of “class instead of mass” always applies. Two well-made posts per week are much more useful than five mediocre ones. It’s better to do without the umpteenth sports post and shine in the specific niche with your own mix of topics.

2. How do I position myself elegantly as a smart expert brand?

There are days when the LinkedIn feed gives you a toothache. At least one in five posts starts with one of the killer phrases “I am so proud,” “I amso humbled,” “I am so excited to announce.” Honestly, this “bragging” is out. Not everyone has understood yet…

Content should speak for itself – rather than the writer celebrating his own smartness. If you want to enjoy your feed for a long time by growing follower numbers and increasing engagement rates, it’s better to do without “ My house, my car, my boat “. This Sparkassen spot by Jung van Matt was a blast. But it was also 1995, not 2022.

3. How do I convince through authenticity and originality?

Corporate marketing can assist with content basics – such as thought leadership or important events. But simply forwarding press releases or studies, for example, not only annoys the algorithm (which penalizes “sharing”), but also the followers.

Authenticity and originality always pay off. The range is wide: Here, the personal touch can lie not only in the individual perspective on topics, but also in the type of visualization (prefer creative instead of Getty Images in the corporate colors) or the own personal brand tonality. In short: “The sky is the limit”.

4. As a woman in consulting: How do I “re-park in my head”?

A woman doesn’t have to be superwoman to hold her own in consulting” Katharina Gerdes and Monika Dussen did write last year. In some coachings, I am unsure if this belief is shared by everyone. I experience extreme reticence, especially among young female consultants. The enormous leverage of one’s own visibility often goes unused.

As discussed in my byliner Visibility as a career booster for women in consulting“:

If you do not talk, you will not be heard.

If you have ambitions, you should show them openly and tear down two barriers in your mind. According to a Kearney study:

  • 66% of women think that successful women show less of their feminine characteristics
  • 85% adjust their behavior on the job to appear less feminine.

Look for female role models – for example, my highly esteemed colleague Christine Rupp from Booz days, who is now General Manager IBM Consulting (DACH). Get rid of any imposter syndrome you may have. Use authenticity to differentiate yourself. And: Dare (more) femininity.

5. How do I avoid clangers on LinkedIn?

Were you out and about on LinkedIn on Valentine’s Day? If so, you will not have believed your eyes to some extent. There were dozens of posts calling for “self-love from singles” in one wording. It was difficult to assess: Am I on Facebook or am I on Amorelie?

The catch: The more the algorithm has rewarded large-format portraits and private (rather than personal!) texts with high reach in the last 12-16 pandemic months, the more digital natives and solopreneurs have jumped on the bandwagon. In the meantime, the expression “emoporn” is already trending.

At the risk of sounding stuffy: Keep your hands off it! Of course, you can use images of yourself playing sports or in a cultural or CSR context. But children, pictures of couples on the beach, cute dogs or the 1,000 post to your own “workation” have no place in Professional Services.

You can find more examples here 66 tips on personal branding on LinkedIn

66 tips for your personal branding on LinkedIn

To cut a long story short

Long leash through corporate Marketing, granting empowerment for the enjoyment of self-efficacy – and your brand has the potential to be even more credible, differentiated and well-known. Your juniors will thank you – and your employer branding will win.

And just between us: In nature, the story never ends well for the twelve-tender: At some point, it is simply “sawed off” by the next, younger twelve-pointer.

Let’s get on the phone to raise your profile. Strategic differentiation for professional services players has been my USP for more than two decades!

Author: Susanne Mathony

Susanne Mathony
Susanne Mathony

The positioning of brands and people are my passion. For more than two decades, I have lived out my calling with CEO positioning, strategic marketing and communications consulting, PR and business storytelling.
Added in 2014 was the Social Media Consulting. Here, the focus is on #SocialCEO and personal branding and positioning of boards and teams on LinkedIn.My home is Professional Services. At GSA and EMEA level, I worked for AlixPartners, Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), Strategy& as well as Russell Reynolds Associates, among others.
As a political scientist and trained journalist, I started my career at a Washington, D.C., think tank.

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