Daniel Priestley is a best-selling author and entrepreneur. He heads up a global growth accelerator programme that works with over 1,500 businesses offering training and resources for growing SMEs. In this article he talks about the importance of putting a face to your company by developing Key People of Influence in your business.
In every industry there are “Key People of Influence”. Their names come up in conversation, they attract opportunities, they can bring projects together quickly and they can resolve problems fast.
These Key People of Influence are able to pitch ideas successfully and build the reputation of their companies. They are thought leaders and innovators, whose presence enhances an entire organisation. They attract other top performers, cultivate a higher standard and can cut through a noisy market.
These people have been the driving force behind some of world’s most successful businesses. Anita Roddick built The Body Shop through her influence, Richard Branson grew Virgin this way, Steve Jobs resurrected Apple and more recently Elon Musk is powering the growth of Tesla.
Smaller companies can outperform their bigger rivals with the personal touch. A founder who builds a brand as a Key Person of Influence is well placed to influence their marketplace and get a flood of well-qualified customers.
It’s not only the founders and entrepreneurs who can accomplish this result. Iconic leaders like Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook, Steve Balmer at Microsoft and Jack Welsh at GE have all built their companies through their personal brands. It doesn’t end there.
At every level of an organisation, a company can benefit from Key People of Influence. An engineer who speaks at a local conference is able to evangelise their company brand, recruit new talent and even generate new business. A manager who is out networking for partnerships is bringing opportunities to her whole team. An accountant who sensibly comments on a blog can be a great advocate for their company.
Certain companies, big and small, have unconsciously adopted a culture of “facelessness”.
In small businesses, founders hide behind their website hoping that their business will adopt a life of its own without them. They secretly hope for “passive income”, a-high performing sales person, or “systemised recurring revenues”, not realising that those things don’t happen for small commoditised businesses.
Too often employees of bigger brands hide behind their company, hoping that the brand itself will win trust and do the business. This approach is outdated and is holding many companies back from greater success.
A faceless company is no longer a high performance business. It’s nearly impossible for a faceless company to compete with a rival who has admired personalities standing side by side with their company brand.
Many high-performing people are looking for ways to stand out and build their reputation. For a high-performer, their new CV is the results from a Google search of their name. If they are confined within a culture of facelessness they will ultimately go elsewhere.
High achievers around the world want to align with great companies, great products and big vision, but they connect with these attributes through the people who are at the forefront. Organisations that cultivate Key People of Influence also attract top talent from a wider pool.
Additionally, consumers are demanding to know the people behind the products they buy. More than ever, customers want to know who’s leading a company, who’s developing key ideas, and who’s making things happen day to day. When consumers can’t find the Key People of Influence, they trust the brand less and are much more critical of mistakes when they occur.
For those companies that want to develop these hyper-resourceful leaders, we have developed a framework of five core skills to achieve greater influence and recognition in your field:
- Pitching – the ability to communicate value and uniqueness through the spoken word.
- Published content – the ability to gain credibility through authoring books, articles, reports and whitepapers.
- Product development – the ability to enhance the product and service ecosystem of an organisation.
- Profile – the ability to become known, liked and trusted in an industry.
- Partnership – the ability to structure and maintain strategic relationships that benefit everyone involved.
A focus on these five skills will allow you to emerge as a Key Person of Influence in your industry and allow more opportunities to flow your way. You’ll make more money, have more fun and add more value to your business.
Daniel is CEO, co-founder and director of Entrevo, a company that helps entrepreneurs and leaders stand out and scale up. For more information, visit the Entrevo website.