Finding clients is very hard and it can be a big challenge for fractional executives as they are often working alone and have a ton of tasks to handle at any given moment. I’d like to think that I've learned a thing or two from marketing guru and author Seth Godin that I believe to be universally relevant to anyone building a personal brand. His book "This Is Marketing" is a goldmine of insights, and it's my go-to manual for today's discussion. Let’s dive in.
Understanding the Fractional Executive Role:
Disclaimer: I'm not Seth Godin, but I understand that as a fractional executive, you provide strategic leadership to multiple organizations simultaneously. This isn't about clocking in at multiple jobs. Rather, it’s about delivering high-level insights and guidance to different companies. Godin puts it simply: "People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic." As a fractional executive, your role is not just about selling your services; it's about selling your story, your experience, and the magic you bring to the table.
Crafting Your Unique Value Proposition:
As a fractional executive, what's your unique selling point? What makes you stand out from the crowd? Remember, we're not talking about the "I make the best homemade lemonade" kind of uniqueness here. This is about the unique business value you provide. Identify the unique strengths and experiences that set you apart from the rest. This could be a knack for helping startups pivot or a track record of scaling small businesses. Your unique value proposition is your main storyline, the story you tell the world about why you're the fractional executive they should hire.
Building Your Online Presence:
Your online presence is your 24/7 billboard. It's where prospective clients will go to get a sense of who you are and what you can offer. Your LinkedIn profile? That's your digital business card. Your personal website? That's your online office. Your blog posts and social media updates? Those are your digital water cooler conversations.
Optimize your LinkedIn profile with the right keywords (think "fractional CFO," "interim CEO," "part-time COO") so that potential clients can find you. Create a personal website that showcases your portfolio, client testimonials, and thought leadership.
Sharing Thought Leadership:
Thought leadership is not about sharing deep thoughts on the meaning of life (although that can be fun). It's about sharing insights and perspectives that help others see things differently or solve problems in new ways. You don't have to write a book to share thought leadership (unless you want to, of course). You can write blog posts, create podcasts, post on LinkedIn, or speak at industry events. The goal is to position yourself as a knowledgeable, insightful leader in your field.
Networking and Building Relationships:
As Godin wisely says, "People like us do things like this." Building a personal brand as a fractional executive is not just about selling yourself; it's about building relationships with people who see the world the way you do. Reach out to other executives, join industry groups, participate in online forums, and attend industry events. Networking isn't about collecting business cards; it's about building relationships with people who can become clients, partners, or sources of referrals.
Delivering on Your Promises:
Last but definitely not least, deliver on your promises. Building a personal brand isn't just about making big claims; it's about backing up those claims with action. After all, as the ancient proverb goes, "Trust is gained in inches and lost in miles." As a fractional executive, your reputation is your most valuable asset. Deliver on your promises, exceed expectations, and ensure that every interaction reinforces your personal brand.
Requesting and Showcasing Testimonials:
Remember the magic of word-of-mouth marketing? Well, it's not just for local bakeries and mechanics. As a fractional executive, testimonials from satisfied clients can significantly enhance your credibility and attract new clients. Don't shy away from requesting testimonials from your clients. Showcasing these on your website, LinkedIn profile, or other marketing materials can be powerful evidence of your ability to deliver results.
Continuous Learning and Adaptation:
In the words of Alvin Toffler, "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." As a fractional executive, you're expected to be on top of industry trends, changes, and innovations. Continuous learning and adaptation are not optional; they're a must. Follow industry news, take courses, attend conferences, and keep expanding your knowledge base. This not only keeps your skills sharp but also provides fresh material for your thought leadership.
Remember, building your personal brand as a fractional executive is a journey, not a destination. It's about grinding daily, honing your craft, refining your message, and building relationships. It's about selling not just your services, but your story, your magic, and the unique value you bring to the table.
As you embark on this journey, remember the words of Seth Godin: "In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible."
Here's to standing out, being seen, and building your personal brand as a fractional executive. Let's create some magic!