How Much Time Should You Spend Each Day On Your Personal Brand?

Time_Spent_On_Personal_Brand

Everyone knows that a strong, positive personal brand can unlock a lot of opportunity (since people trust other people more than companies), but if you decide to take action, there seem to be literally hundreds of steps that you could potentially take. Who has time to sort through all these options? I don’t know about you, but I already have a full-time job. So the real question is: How much time do I need to spend on my brand to get the results I want, without sucking up all my free time?

You know that if you asked a consultant a question like this that they’d say:

It depends.

Which is sorta true, of course. Because you can have your personal brand just support you, or you can have it drive success for you. And the effort required to do one is not equal to the other.

So in essence, you need to determine your objective before you will know how much time to put towards reaching your goal.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a few suggestions for you to help you decide what to do with the time you have to spend on your online profiles and image. Please let us know if you find it useful!

1.   Goal: “I have no time, but I just don’t want to be invisible.

Time spent: About 20 minutes a year.

Activities undertaken: Clean up or establish your LinkedIn profile. Update your profile with any job title or responsibilities changes.

Results/metrics: You should see that some people visit your profile and ask to join your network every now and then. But don’t expect an overwhelming response.

Other stuff you should probably consider: You may want to self-google every 6 months as well – just to make sure there’s nothing else out there you might need to address.

2.   Goal: “I want to do the right thing, but don’t see the point of building my image — how about just establishing and maintaining my brand as it is?

Time spent: About 20 minutes a month.

Activities undertaken: Get your LinkedIn profile in line, and then just spend 5 minutes each week to check out who is visiting your profile, answer any messages you receive for that week, and then on the last week of the month, you can self-google and then find an interesting  article in your industry that you can share with your network. This will keep your profile reasonably up to date.

Results/metrics: You’ll probably see a little traffic to your profile, and a few people asking to connect with you. You might also find that people like the articles you share, which is a good sign that you’ve got some level of engagement with people who know you.

Other stuff you should probably consider: You may find that you want to check out some of the community groups on LinkedIn or Google+ — these are groups that share common interests, and can be a good source of information concerning your industry. You can consider participating in them (responding or posting) if a topic or article appeals to you.

3.   Goal: “I think I want to build my image — can I take action without a major time commitment?

Time spent: A few minutes a day (think before work, and after the kids are in bed).

Activities undertaken: Do all the items listed in number 2 above, and then spend a few minutes each day reading something about your industry — either in a Group or Community, or maybe set up a Google Alert or RSS feed to pull down news and blog posts from well-known people in your field. Your goal should be to find at least one interesting piece of content every day to either share, tweet, comment on, or at least reflect upon and talk about with other people. If you find a person that you think is influential or especially interesting, follow them or reach out to form a relationship. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Results/metrics: You should see some traffic on your profile, and some people asking to connect. You will want to start to observe how many people start following and engaging with you after you reach out to them. You’ll find that the more activity you have with people you admire and connect with, the more those metrics of your own followers and fans start to move.

Other stuff you should probably consider: Go ahead and set up a Google Alert for your name (and industry or city, if you have a common name) — just to keep an eye on your name getting out there in the public eye.

4.   Goal: “I need to hit the gas — how can I build a following?

Time spent: About 10-20 minutes a day.

Activities undertaken: Do all the #3 items above, and then spend time researching who the influentials are in your industry.  How do they participate in conversations about your topic area? Can you join those conversations? Identify who you’d like to build relationships with, and strategize how you can reach out to them and offer something into their world. Start publishing your own thoughts and bring you own unique perspective to your job or your industry. Your goal should be to provide new thinking and content that helps other people understand your view, and maybe even helps them take action. One warning: building a following without a real goal in mind is a little like betting on horse races. It can be fun, but you might not have anything to show for it later. Consider why you want to build a following, and let that lead you into setting a specific goal.

Results/metrics: You’ll want to watch how your influencer marketing drives your followers, and start to determine what kinds of content and conversations are the most effective for reaching and engaging your community. Be sure to spend some time every now and then to consider if you’re getting all the value you should from this time investment you’re making. If it’s not getting you closer to your overarching goals, then you may want to retrench and reconsider your plan of action.

Other stuff you should probably consider: Think about hiring a coach. If you are making significant investments in time you’ll want to make sure that you’re performing your best and making progress consistently. A coach will help keep you focused.

5.   Goal: “This is not enough! — I want to be a thought leader!

Time spent, Activities undertaken, Results/metrics, and Other stuff: Guess what?  It depends!

I’ll bet you saw that coming…

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MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.

How I Learned To Be Ridiculously Helpful

UsedThankyou-Ridiculouslyhelpful

Perhaps just like you, I used to show up at my job with basically one thing in mind — to get through the day and give my best ‘to the Company’ in the process. And yeah, I did think about ‘the Company’ in that abstract way that a lot of us do. The Company that signs my check. The Company that decides if I progress in my career or not.

But somewhere along the line this started to feel like it was not enough. Like I was missing something. And then chatting with a co-worker, Joe, he said something I’ll never forget.

He said: “I’m here to serve, not to be served.”

I had never thought about it that way, but he had hit on a weakness in me, a part of me that I hadn’t really developed, that would only be unlocked by taking action. I realized that I could feel better, feel more effective, and probably even make more progress if I stopped thinking about serving a faceless Company, and instead focused on serving those I worked with, and ultimately those people that my company provided our products to. And I also realized that by thinking about my Company as some sort of emotionless, formless entity, I was doing a disservice to everyone around me who actually made up the company. I wasn’t interacting with people with as much humanity as I should have.

Jeff Goins (author, blogger, blabber) once wrote that you can serve your way to influence – and I think he’s really onto something. Now I’m not saying that you should try to help people only to gain the ability to control them — if you’re looking for that, you’re not really interested in service, you’re interested in power. What it really means to me is that there are ways to differentiate myself simply by allowing myself to see something that someone needs done, and just stepping up and doing it for them. It allows me to better connect to others, and it allows them to see me as being helpful for getting them closer to what they want, so we all get nicely aligned and rowing in the same direction.

Doesn’t sound hard, does it?

Well it can be. Chalene Johnson had a great pin on her Pinterest page that referenced Dr. Wayne W. Dyer the author — and it really speaks to how rarely we take the time to step into action for others. The quote is actually the title of Dr Dyer’s book:

It’s Never Crowded Along The Extra Mile

And frankly, it’s not. Life gets in the way. There are time crunches, and conflicting agendas, and deceit, and all kinds of things that can muck it up. I’m certainly not a perfect example. I get impatient, make mistakes, and fall short. But if you put all of these things aside, you will find that it really doesn’t have to slow you down. It can actually give you more energy, which you can apply to getting everyone on the same page. That’s why it can differentiate you, and even take you further than you might imagine.

The idea of Service Leadership is a real thing. It’s about putting others needs first, rather than focusing on gathering power and influence through coercion. What generally happens to leaders that adopt this attitude is that they are led into their leadership roles by the very people that they focus on serving.

It’s being ridiculously helpful. And there’s something deep within us that needs us to connect and give — that’s why it can be so satisfying to do. That’s why I decided to make a go of it, and try to add it to my life.

And I encourage you to do the same. Today you can find someone, a client, partner, coworker, customer or even your boss, and help them out. In these times where some of the news reports can make you feel like there’s no goodness in people at all, it can bring back a bit of balance to your heart.

In the end, it’s not ridiculous at all.

 

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MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more.

Why Your Employee’s Personal Brand Is Critical For Your Company

Employee Brands Are Critical To Your CompanyWhen your employees interact online, they leave an impression.  They author or share articles, post comments or join conversations, and thereby they build their own reputations as thought leaders and experts in their sphere of activity. But in the process, they are also doing something else – they are building trust and influence with potential customers, partners and their followers. The kind of trust and influence that can give your company an edge.

Smart employers know this and are pursuing strategies to ensure that they can benefit from personal branding of their employees. Increasingly, companies like IBM, Dell, Intel, Coca Cola and Cisco are empowering employees to share marketing messages and increase their social engagement – anticipating a positive impact on sales for the company. It’s called Social Advocacy and there are several reasons why it works.

It’s Hard to Stand Out When We Are Overloaded with Information

In this age of information overload, it makes sense that employees are an efficient medium for disseminating a company’s brand proposition. It turns out that, every minute, Twitter users tweet 277,000 times, Facebook users upload 2,460,000 pieces of content, and YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video. The challenge is therefore set out for organizations: how will they stand out in such a deluge of data?

And even though 97 per cent of marketers are using social media and reaching out to customers through advertisements, its effectiveness is in question. In last year’s Forrester study, brand marketers complained that they are able to reach only between 2 per cent and 6 per cent of their fans organically.

And these results are despite an increasing ad spend in corporate social media: it topped $8.5 billion in 2014, and the number could reach $14 billion by 2018, according to Business Insider.

So the question is: if it’s only going to get more expensive to ‘advertise’ using corporate social media channels, is it worth the spend? Or is there another way?

Compare it with the reach that an average American has online. Pew Research Center did a study which found that the average American has 634 social media connections. So if 100 of your employees advocate for your company, you can reach 63,400 people. This phenomenon increases exponentially as you begin adding in highly connected advocates. Dell ran a study (cited by Social Chorus) where they found that in 9 cases out of 10, these social media connections tend to be new to the brand, i.e., those contacts are not currently reached by the corporate accounts.

Simply put – employee brands can cut through an information overloaded environment.

People Invest in Brands They Trust 

But it’s not just about the reach. It’s about the authenticity of the message. When your audience hears about a new product, service or messaging from their friends or family members in the company they are more likely to believe it. No matter how much you emphasize a corporate brand personality, it’s not the same as hearing about a product or service from him or her directly. It all boils down to the human element in interactions that people cherish. And trust.

Digital media research firms are emphatic that you cannot transplant old-fashioned advertising and repurpose in the digital format for it to succeed. It’s just not credible: Nielsen’s research showed 48 per cent of people trust ads on social media, compared to 84 per cent of people who trust recommendations from people they know.

Strong brands help guide our decision-making because the element of trust provides ‘shortcuts’ to our decisions.

But the trick lies in getting the tone right. You can’t just dictate what your employees say in social media. Social media campaign gaffes can go viral quickly, doing unimaginable damage if they lack human authenticity. Rather than a shrill sales pitch, two-way conversations – transparent and grounded in reciprocity – are a good way to enter the hearts and minds of your audience, and avoid your employees coming across like corporate shills. This ultimately means that you really want your employees to speak from their hearts – using what they know, and who they are.

So Does That Mean That Thought Leadership Isn’t Dead?

Nope. It’s not, contrary to popular belief. It’s harder and harder to do, because more people than ever have ways to post, blog, blab, and periscope their opinions and thoughts. But competent thought leaders with powerful personal brands are attractive, and can offer expertise with élan to champion your cause. Inbound and content marketing is a key element in today’s corporate marketing toolbox, and more and more people are finding that it works for individuals as well as companies. Employees are able to advocate successfully for brands if they establish social media visibility, hone their content creation skills, publish prudently, and sustain their point of view.

So look around your own company. Is there a role for passionate, socially active leaders in building your brand successfully? Granted, he was focusing a little bit much on the C-suite, but in his blog post on Innovation Excellence, Braden Kelley asks:

  • How much did Steve Jobs add to the value of Apple?
  • How much value did Jack Welch add to the value of GE?
  • How much value does Elon Musk bring to Tesla Motors?

Customer value can be delivered and gained in many ways.  Thought leadership and powerful employee personal brands can be one way to drive that value, and should not be underestimated.

Strong Brands Can Reap Great Sales Rewards

Sharing content is attractive. In most situations when people see a good piece of content they tend to visit the publisher’s profile, especially younger people. So providing good content will make the publisher more ‘findable’ in search results. Along with their professional profiles, guess what pops up more often than not? Their company’s name, location, industry and specializations.

Are you still mad about your team members spending too much time on social media? You might be surprised to see that there is a connection between an active profile and the leads it can generate. Some studies show that 80% of people say they have looked up an individual online before a meeting, after a conference, or during a presentation. And when prospects click through employee profiles, they can see content that either builds or tears down the trust built for your corporate brand, and can therefore impact the sale, positively, or negatively.

When your employee’s brands are strong and visible, you nudge the odds in your favor during the critical research stage of the buying process.

There is no better time to invest in employee branding than now. The value of a strong brand advocate or a thought leader can be exponentially more valuable than the buzz created through your traditional corporate social channels.

So take the plunge! Give it a try with your most socially savvy team members. The time to learn and to act is now.

Bonus: Check out this short video from Common Craft about how employees can participate responsibly in social media. Ideal for HR and PR professionals, it talks about how honest conversations by real people in the company can help customers make better decisions and increase trust. Even though the video is short – almost everything is covered in terms of setting up guidelines, processes to follow, and things to watch out for.

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MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.

Avoid These 4 Common Missteps in Building Your Personal Brand

Missteps in Personal Branding

You may have decided that working on your personal brand is an important next step for you — and to that I say “Good for you!” Maybe you saw too many sales opportunities evaporate due to a disorganized or confusing online image. Or you feel that you might not be projecting the best reflection of your authentic self and you want to make a change. Regardless of why you’ve begun the journey, the fact of the matter is that we all make mistakes on the way.

So, since forewarned is forearmed, here are a few particularly sticky traps that you’ll want to avoid as you progress towards building a strong, professional, and successful brand.

  1. Not thinking it through 
    You wouldn’t start building a house without a solid plan, and you shouldn’t expect to build a brand that way either. Launching into promoting yourself without a goal and set of strategies can be a recipe for pain and discouragement. In order to project your best self you’ll want to spend some time doing your internal homework to know what your key strengths are, and where you’re going. It’s critical to lock in on the right way to talk about yourself and your identity.
    For example, I once had a manager tell me in my performance review that I had a ‘unique union of marketing strategy and technology expertise.’ She said that she hadn’t worked with anyone with that exact mixture before. At that moment I realized that she had given me a shorthand-way to describe myself and my particular offering to others. It became an easy combination of words to use in describing myself and my particular value to the overall team. I use that phrase often now, and I know that it works for me, because people say they immediately ‘get it,’ and they can see how I’ll fit into their team or project. Spending the time to think about it, and then settling on the use of that phrase gave me several successes and unlocked opportunity for me.
  2. Not taking action
    On the other hand, it’s easy to over-cogitate and never take the first step, too.
    It’s natural to feel overwhelmed when you’re faced with literally hundreds and hundreds of tools, services, and gurus that all say they have “the answer.” There always seem to be more solutions popping up, and it can be hard to understand what things will work for you and which are a waste of time.
    But don’t let option paralysis set in and keep you from risking those first steps toward your goals. “I’ll do that tomorrow when I have more free time” is a nice way to excuse yourself from ever taking a step outside your comfort zone, so you need to recognize when you’re getting in your own way, and when you need to be braver about starting the work to be done.
    After all, a personal brand is not always about protecting your online reputation, sometimes it’s about projecting it. And that takes work. If you can trust yourself that you can learn from your mistakes, that belief might give you the fortitude to strike out and try a few solutions and find out what works best for you.
  3. Being inconsistent 
    Your tactics and tools may change, but your brand shouldn’t. Brands that endure don’t fluctuate wildly, but stay true to themselves and their offering to their customers. You want your brand to do the same. And this can go from the
    purely tactical, like having a bewildering variety of profile pictures used across social sites, to the deeply strategic, like not staying true to your values in all your professional situations or networks. On his blog, Brandon Coppernoll talks about the importance of being extra authentic if you decide to ‘segregate’ your usage of social media networks and the connections you make in each. He advises you to figure out your approach on each with sincerity and embrace it: “Try to avoid popularity contests and focus on what’s more important: authentic human interaction.” Generally, career and business interests should figure in professional networking sites like LinkedIn; Facebook and Instagram are typically used for personal connections, who you have met in person at least once; while Twitter is a springboard for sharing your thoughts with a wider community. As my sage friend Michael Dain says, “LinkedIn is for colleagues, Facebook is for people I know very well, and Twitter is for people I want to know.” Your needs may differ, but be sure that you remain as constant and steadfast as possible.

  4. Trying to go it alone 
    You may not think it needs to be stated, but a surprising number of people are extremely averse to asking for help. But having a partner in crime, or mentor, advisor, or even just a fellow traveler on the journey with you can make the difference between steady progress and spinning your wheels. As a general rule, I try not to work on any given problem for more than a day or so before I look around for another person who can offer advice, criticism, or complete redirection. And if you’re the type of person who gets discouraged easily or finds it hard to complete difficult tasks on your own, then you might want to consider getting a coach to help guide and encourage you as well.

So you fall prey to one of these foibles, don’t lose hope! Everyone stumbles from time to time, and with every failure and mistake, we are given a new chance to learn. As the old song says:

Don’t lose your confidence if you slip
Be grateful for a pleasant trip
Pick yourself up
Dust yourself off
Start all over again!     – Kern/Fields for Swing Time, RKO

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MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.