Cindy Kraft is billed as America’s leading career and personal brand strategist for corporate finance executives, with more than 14 years of experience partnering with clients to help them understand their marketability, clearly articulate their value, and position themselves as the clear and compelling choice.
You’re a big proponent of finance executives using social media to promote and develop their own careers. Why do you think participation in those networks is so crucial?
Everyone, executives included, has an online reputation to manage. That can either be done proactively or reactively. Reacting to negative information or misinformation is a much more challenging, time-consuming job. Take the website Spokeo.com for example. IMO, it comprises everything bad about Web 2.0 technology. It pulls information from other sources that is already available — and yes, information about you is already out there — makes assumptions about that information, and then publicly houses it on their site. It is information most people probably don’t want others seeing, particularly in light of these stats:
- 79% of U.S. hiring managers and recruiters reviewed online information about job applicants. (Microsoft, 2009)
- 70% of U.S. hiring managers rejected candidates based on what they found. (Microsoft, 2009)
Beyond monitoring and managing your reputation is raising visibility among your target market. If you’re brilliant but no one (internally or externally) knows about it, does it matter? Creating a visible, compelling value proposition that attracts the kinds of opportunities you want while you are a passive and high-value candidate is just a great career-management strategy.
Many finance executives feel constrained from using social media by what they perceive as regulatory restrictions on their behavior. Do you think that perception is accurate? If so, how do they overcome that?
Yes I do believe that perception can be accurate, and is a reality within a highly regulated industry. One strategy is to position yourself as a thought leader within your current company. If you are allowed/encouraged to speak at conferences, serve on panels, write articles for newsletters or magazines, or even be interviewed by industry publications, that material can be leveraged for social-media purposes and repurposed to build a strong, visible digital footprint.
What is the most common mistake you see finance execs make when it comes to their personal use of social media?
Being a wallflower. Creating an incomplete, boring profile on LinkedIn and thinking, that’s it — now I can say I use social media. I belong to two chief-financial-officer exclusive communities and have my own private CFO group on LinkedIn. Conversation is minimal — even behind the gates where it is safe to explore engaging with others. My thought is that this phenomenon is indicative of a bigger issue — the general discomfort many CFOs feel around networking whether online or offline.
Do you think there is a role for finance to play in developing organizational social-media policies?
Absolutely! The poll SmartBrief just conducted revealed 50% of respondents either had a firewall in place to ensure no social-media activities by anyone or were clueless about social-media strategies. IMO, these companies are missing out on several fronts:
- Personal customer/client engagement. If you don’t know what your customers are saying about you, how can you react, let alone react in a timely fashion? Web 2.0 technology allows every company to engage with customers on a very personal level, respond quickly to issues and learn what customers — and potential customers — want and need.
- The competition. If you want to know what your competition is doing and where they are heading, go to the front lines. There are two positions in business — always running behind the competition or setting the pace. Web 2.0 technology, along with a brilliant and creative team, can set the pace.
Since finance affects all business units of the company, it would make sense that they would be involved in developing and executing corporate social-media strategies.
Want to learn more best practices for social media for financial-services companies? Check out SmartBrief’s recorded webinar, Building Equity: Social Media Meets Finance, with industry social-media pioneers including Mark Story from the SEC, Amy Dobra from The Vanguard Group, social-media maven Shiv Singh from Razorfish and Amy Sochard from FINRA.
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