Building a brand as an innovative and effective cybersecurity leader is an essential step to unlocking one’s career potential. Security professionals want to work for respected industry leaders, and establishing a reputation as a magnetic leader helps attract and retain top talent. Beyond individual gain, public exposure is also an essential step in sharing security best practices with other industry professionals.

All eyes are on the cybersecurity industry amid election hacking threats and corporate data breaches. CISOs have emerged as the stars of the cybersecurity industry’s new primetime slot. Even the companies’ boards are taking an interest in security. Yet in an industry with so much noise, up and coming IT security professionals need to take strategic steps to earn respect and admiration from their peers.

Career opportunities in information security are arguably more dynamic than ever before. IT security executives have gained influence in the front office along with the rise of information security threats. A strong cybersecurity program is now a priority for companies in all industries, especially considering the threat of cyber espionage. At the same time, a significant industry skill shortage means professionals who excel will find their expertise in demand.

The growing importance of information security programs has led to a vibrant ecosystem of information sharing. Professionals today have ample opportunities to make a name for themselves online, in the media, and at events.

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Starting Out

There is no minimum level of experience required to start seeking out knowledge and a community. Opportunities for continuing education through accredited or informal training programs help individuals at the analyst level acquire new skills that will lead to career opportunities. Professionals can also choose infosec certifications to showcase their expertise. Nonprofit organizations like ISSA, CSA, NIST, and others offer excellent programming for professionals to network and learn best practices. Vendor conferences and user groups offer the opportunity for individual contributors to become experts in emerging technology. Finally, there is no reason to wait for your first keynote session get active on social media. Everyone from students to CISOs can leverage platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to exchange ideas, keep up with industry news, and even learn about job opportunities. A loyal social media following can come in handy later on to gain visibility for conference sessions and awards.

Building a Following

Speaking on stage can be daunting, but becoming comfortable holding the room’s attention is a necessary step to sharing your expertise and moving up on the corporate ladder. Venues like boardroom sessions and workshops are the perfect venue for honing your presentation skills in front of a smaller audience. Once you feel comfortable presenting, it is time to submit sessions for regional conferences. Whether for trade media like TechTarget or on an individual site, offering your expertise to journalists another channel for sharing your expertise. If you have had the chance to lead a project with positive business impact for your organization, consider submitting for an industry case study award. Work with your communications department to explore the possibility of speaking with journalists about the strategic initiatives your team is working on, positioning your organization as an innovator.

Industry Influencer

Once in the C-suite, more doors open, but they are not guaranteed without active effort. Panel sessions at larger conferences can spark name recognition with conference organizers that can lead to solo presentations and eventually keynotes. They can also earn positive feedback at conferences like RSA that track audience scores, which leads to more speaking opportunities. Board positions for non-profits and conferences ensure access to the most respected and accomplished peers. Executives contend for individual CISO and CIO awards, which focus on years of accomplishments rather than a single project. Serving on the board of other companies is both a reward and an opportunity to gain insights into additional experiences and strategies.

Cybersecurity threats and technologies are advancing rapidly, and staying connected to the industry pulse is not a luxury but a requirement. The most successful executives tout the successes of their teams but also actively seek out emerging technology to stay on the industry’s cutting edge.