Hey Young PE Pros: Build Your Brand

Yesterday I moderated an ACG Boston panel discussion for younger private equity pros, titled “Managing Your Career in a Recession.” Near the end, panelist Jay Jester (managing director w/ Audax Group) made a comment about the importance of “building your brand.” He was referring to behavior within a firm — things like leading by example, not worrying about getting credit and being helpful to others when possible.

All good advice, but I began thinking about it in a more external sense. Namely, why don’t more young PE professionals take a page from the VC world, and begin blogging?

It’s great to be highly-regarded inside your organization, but the deal business is also about how you’re viewed beyond your walls. Not only who you know, but who knows you. What better way to make a name for yourself than by becoming a visible thought leader? The primary subject would be whatever you’d want to be known for. General private equity, a specific industry sector, financing restructuring, etc. With just enough of your own personality thrown in that readers know that the posts aren’t being cribbed from a reference book.

Sure it may be a bit scary, but amateur bloggers aren’t expected to be literary stars. Hell, I’ve worked with “professional” writers who didn’t deserve to pass 5th grade English class. All you need to know is what you’re talking about (and if you don’t, then perhaps you’re in the wrong line of work).

It makes sense that VCs were the first investment pros to embrace blogging, given their general tech knowledge and desire to be known to other first adopters. But it is fairly senseless that other types of investors haven’t followed suit — particularly younger ones who are tech-savvy and expected to be even more job-transient than their elders.

So go build your brand. Literally.