There’s a lot to be said for being well known in the energy industry. If your name is Elon Musk, for instance, you could get people begging you on Twitter to build battery projects. Or if you happen to be Michael Liebreich then you could become invited to be advise the UK’s Board of Trade.
Naturally, it isn’t easy to build a Musk or Liebreich-style profile in a sector that isn’t exactly known for its celebrity heft. Most energy sector executives can count themselves lucky if they get invited to speak at an industry bash instead of having to pay for a conference ticket like everyone else.
But that doesn’t mean you cannot aspire to more than 15 minutes of fame in this industry. In the labyrinthine bowels of the renewable world, where discrete subsectors bubble and hiss like the contents of a witch’s cauldron, there are distinct opportunities to carve out a name for yourself and your business.
Take Fraser McLachlan, chief executive of GCube Underwriting, a Tamarindo client. He may not be a household name, but McLachlan—described by Insurance Times as “not the most intimidating of figures”—is well-enough known to feature in publications such as Bloomberg, the Financial Times and S&P Global.
Another upwardly visible exec is Ian Baylis, who runs an offshore wind vessel outfit called Seacat Services (another Tamarindo client; forgive us for blowing our own trumpet). Tucked deep in the offshore wind supply chain, Seacat is the kind of company that might not make a headline in a lifetime.
That hasn’t put Baylis off, though.
His dogged pursuit of a higher profile has seen him and his company featuring in Bunkerspot, Hellenic Shipping News, The Maritime Executive, Offshore Engineer, Offshore Wind, Renewable Energy Magazine, Riviera Maritime Media, Windpower Engineering and, oh yes, The Sunday Times, among others.
So, what should you do if you’re an executive looking to build a reputation in renewables—or a long-suffering marketing head whose CEO keeps banging on about doing a TED Talk? Here are some basic pointers.
Perhaps the most obvious thing about fame is that you can’t be famous for nothing. Since sporting contests and beauty pageants have yet to catch on in the energy sector, the best way to establish authority is through your knowledge and expertise. What do you know that others don’t? And why is it important?
Even the most interesting message can get lost in a monotone. To be an influencer, you need to stand out from the crowd, and for the right reasons—it’s not Enron executive-style notoriety we are interested here. To that end, don’t be afraid to cultivate contentious ideas and work on your soundbites and storytelling.
Filmmaker Woody Allen famously said 80% of success is showing up, and if you want to be known then you should be out there. Naturally, it can be hard for a busy executive to respond to every speaking opportunity, interview request and social media message—but that’s why you have a comms team and agencies, right?
Related to the above, while you need to invest time in building your profile it also doesn’t make sense to go for every opportunity out there: your peers are hardly likely to follow you on TikTok, for instance. Instead, choose just a few media that you are most comfortable with, and concentrate on building a profile on those.
Influencers are expected to weigh in on the big issues of the day—and engage with fans and detractors. That means taking time out to join in online and offline conversations. If your schedule doesn’t allow for Trump-like levels of Twitter activity, then hire a specialist or an agency to take care of the day-to-day stuff.
Building a profile doesn’t just involve being knowledgeable about your field, but also knowing about your chosen media. So, if you are on TV then know not to wear stripes. If you are being interviewed by the press then know your way around “off the record.” And if you are on social media then know your hashtags.
Writer J.D. Salinger achieved fame with a single novel. But for us mere mortals, a public profile is something you have to work at all the time, whether it’s bouncing around the conference circuit, publishing a regular blog or newsletter, writing a book or guesting on a podcast series.
The bottom line
The real secret to becoming an influencer these days is to recognise you can’t really do it all on your own. Every great industry thinker is surrounded by doers who seek out and vet opportunities, create and distribute content, and schedule and manage appearances. If you’re looking for a team to do all that, let’s speak now.