Is A Personal Brand Important For Me?

OK – I’m a marketer, so I probably already think branding is important. But I think my personal brand is important too. If you start with the idea that a brand is how people perceive a product — which can punish the brand’s performance or enhance it, then it might be safe to assume that it’s important for you as a person to be perceived correctly.

But it might be easier to think about if we go back to why branding is important for products and services, and then come back to the personal branding idea later.

Important personal branding1

To put it bluntly — Product branding is important because it creates benefits — getting a potential consumer to take action to benefit the manufacturer or business.

Good branding creates an increased predisposition for a person to know about, try, prefer, purchase, be loyal to, engage with, and advocate on behalf of a product or service. And those benefits therefore create competitive advantage and increased business value (revenue, profits, employment, commerce) for whatever has been branded.

There are a lot of different ways for Branding to confer these benefits, but they generally fall into two broad categories:

  1. Increased familiarity. Awareness, increased recognition, and recall of a product or service (or person) which helps the user identify the product in a crowded setting, and associates it with a function (NAME toothpaste, BRAND cancer drug, LOGO floor cleaner, etc.).
  2. Association of traits or characteristics. Like superior engineering, or reliability, or “coolness.” These traits are conveyed by building up a belief in the mind of the consumer in the increased capability or quality or effectiveness or attitude (like a feeling of alliance or belonging) of the product or service. These traits and the beliefs that support them are derived or created from either emotional or rational bases. Some people might argue it’s never completely rational, but I’d argue it’s never completely emotional, either. Obviously the actual experience of using the product conveys these traits as well, so a brand will have trouble building belief in its durability if it always breaks upon its first use.

All of the above methods can (and should, if properly applied) result in the benefits of branding initially stated above — awareness, preference, trial, purchase, repurchase, etc. Which in turn creates the business value for the manufacturer or service provider.

So if we look at these two items, Increased Familiarity and Association of Traits or Characteristics — it becomes clear that they both can work for personal brands as well.

  1. Increased familiarity. People have to know you before they can prefer to work with you, or hire you. and we’ve talked before about the need (even the internal nature drive aspect of it) to stand out from the crowd. So it’s probably a good thing to create some awareness of you and what you can do.
  2. Association of traits or characteristics. Conveying what you do best. Communicating how you offer benefit to others, and what value your perspective brings –all these things are beliefs in the mind of the other person, and can be derived from an either emotional or rational basis. You create these beliefs through the image you project, the relationships you build, and the performance you deliver. Notice that we didn’t include ‘what you say,’ because it’s more likely for people to internalize what you do, not what you say you’ll do. People may forget even what you do, as the quote goes:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

So the resulting benefit for a strong personal brand is an entrenched awareness of you and the emotional value you bring to that person, which can influence their preference for dealing with you, for hiring you, for promoting you, for staying loyal to you, and for rewarding you.

What do you think? Are these benefits important to you?

 

 

 

How To Land A Killer Speaking Gig

Public speaking may strike fear in the hearts of many, but promotion-savvy people have long known that a platform from which to share your ideas that can do more than just create buzz for your industry reputation, it can also grow your influence and even your business. But is there a recipe to land public speaking gigs that can build influence and leadership in the community you serve?

Speaking gigs1

After reviewing loads of secrets from the best of the best, we’ve put together these tips for getting you into the spotlight and marketing yourself as a speaker that is in demand.

Identify Your Topic And “Angle”

One of the key challenges of getting speaking engagements is identifying a topic people want to hear about. Your topic has to get and hold the attention of your target audience, so it not only has to be interesting, but on a topic that some people are clamoring for and excited about. Make it challenging and controversial enough to explore deeply and still keep fresh over time. You want to tell a captivating story from the podium, not lecture from it, so pick a topic that is as entertaining and engaging as a cinematic experience. Ask people: “Would you pay to see someone talk about ‘X?’” If the answer is no, then keep looking. Work up your elevator speech so you can state in clear, concise terms exactly what you’ll cover, and the angle you’ve chosen that will make people want to hear it.

Identify Your Target Audience

Now that you ‘ve got a great topic, you need to capture an audience. Now is the time to investigate. Who are these people? What drives them? Where do they congregate? At what media are they looking to get the latest and greatest? Check out lists of events, conferences and online conference directories to help find the right stage for your talk. Sometimes you might prefer to aim for a small conference with majority of your target group in it, rather than a larger one where you can only intrigue a small percentage of them in your topic. Specificity wins out over mass for building a following. Only after you have booked a few smaller gigs should you aim for larger industry conferences.

Connect With Conference Organizers / Bureaus

Now that you know where you want to speak, you’ve got a brand new group of stakeholders to influence. Start, as always, with your network and connections to connect you with conference / event organizers and planners. Just as you would approach developing a bond with a potential powerful influencer, you’ll want to build a solid, strong relationship with the people who can get you speaking engagements. You can also connect with other speakers and influencers and provide them a presentation abstract, asking them for advice on breaking through. Use sites like LinkedIn to establish connections and get the word out that you’re available for speaking engagements. Shoot video of you delivering a killer presentation and share it around your network.

Craft Your Presentation

How will you hold your audience’s attention? Find out if your audience prefers facts and figures, or stories about memorable moments, or controversial opinions, or hilariously funny happenings. A good presenter is a smart storyteller and so they craft their stories carefully, including a delicate mix of humor, information, and entertainment.

A little warning here: Don’t be fooled into thinking that speaking is all flash and no substance. If you’re not actually maintaining a consistent social presence, and entrenching yourself as an expert or thought leader in the industry, then you run the risk of coming across as an empty suit. Becoming a speaker doesn’t stop you from working hard at your real job: being the most knowledgeable and helpful person in your industry that you can be.

Market Your Expertise

When you get the gig, you’ll want to get all the benefit you can out of it, which means marketing your participation in the conference or seminar – both before and after it. Here are a few ways to do just that —

  1. Post about your upcoming talk on your networks. Craft blog entries and press releases, explaining why your talk shouldn’t be missed. Share it on LinkedIn, and alert everyone in your network about where they can catch your talk.
  2. Join discussions about the conference. Participate in forums or tweetups before the conference, letting people know where they can catch your talk at the conference.
  3. Give away some freebies to encourage people to attend. Let people know that if they are there, they will get something that no one else will have, like a code to unlock a video, an extra tip, a free research white paper, a deal on some merchandise, or free consultation sessions. People love free stuff, and you never know what will work till you try it!
  4. Upload teaser videos before your talk, and wrap-up videos afterwards to showcase your expertise to people who might have missed your talk, and show other potential organizers your perspective, presentation skills, and how you perform in front of an audience. These videos could become stepping stones for getting introduced to new speaking opportunities. Ask the conference organizers if you can get a video copy of your talk to put on your own website.
  5. Update your LinkedIn profile to include information about the talk and presentation itself, if you can.

The last thing you need to do is get working on identifying your next opportunity to speak. You may want to hire a coach, or get some inspiration from personalities like Guy Kawasaki or Barbara Corcoran to help you determine where to go next.

Get out there and get your voice heard!

 

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Yooniko (a brand of Metamorph Corporation) is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.

You Can’t Show What You Don’t Know

Last week I was writing some bios for a website I’ve been working on, and I ran across one that struck me as odd. One of the team members had written down Time Management as a key element of his working style and a source of advantage for himself.

And this guys was ALWAYS late. Like, to every meeting. So what was going on?

To paraphrase Marilyn Monroe:

To be able to show yourself at your best, you have to know yourself at your worst.

It got me thinking: If you don’t spend the time to explore your authentic self, how will you be able to project anything other than a caricature?

Know Yourself1.jpg

When I first started working in advertising, I got some criticism that really irritated me. After a client meeting, my boss told me that I was not “bringing my audience along with me.”  I was part baffled, and part offended, because I had always believed that my presentation and performance abilities were strong enough to carry my audience along to the strategic point that I was trying to make. How could they not see the logic and beauty in what I was saying? So I retreated a little to lick my wounds, and thought about it.

And then a year later, it happened again. I got the same feedback. And as much as I wanted to believe it wasn’t true, I had to face up to the fact that I was definitely doing something wrong.

So I spent some time reviewing things, and working with a mentor, and I slowly realized that in those moments when I thought I was doing great, sometimes I was actually coasting. I was using the force of my personality to push across my ideas, and not listening to the feedback I was getting. I had gone into a ‘broadcast mode,’ shutting down my ability to empathize with my audience, and so I didn’t notice that I was losing some of them — missing the signs they were giving me that they had a problem or barrier, and I needed to stop and check in with them to get us all on the same page again.

And once I thought about it, I knew exactly why this critique bothered me, and made it difficult for me to address — My ego. It was painful for me to accept that one of my biggest strengths, my presentation skills, had a flaw in it.

But the beautiful thing about flaws is that you can learn from them and work on them. And I was coming from a place of strength in presentation-giving overall, so I could bring some resources to bear to help refine that skill. I decided to use my confidence (which helps me project my ideas) to encourage myself to be vulnerable in front of my audience. To open up my eyes and ears, and look for weakness — for people that were not on-board with what I was saying. Those voices and criticisms could help me if I could accept them, instead of bulldozing over them. Things got a lot better after that, but it stays with me, and whenever I’m giving a talk I still have to remind myself to listen as well as speak.

Self-exploration was the key for me. I wouldn’t have gotten to the point I am today with my presentation skills if I didn’t take the time to do my internal homework.

I have to know myself, so I can show myself.

Do you?

 

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Yooniko (a brand of Metamorph Corporation) is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.

What Are The Ingredients Of A Good Personal Brand?

Someone recently asked me, “What does a good personal brand look like?”

ingredients of your personal brand1.jpg

We could just point to people with strong brands and say “That’s it!”, but that answer doesn’t tell you what exactly makes their brand a strong one. I may be really good at my job, but that doesn’t make me Oprah, or Steve Jobs, or Richard Branson.

No — what I think that person wanted was a way to examine the elements of their brand, and find areas that they could improve upon. With that in mind, I wrote a short list to help them think through the different aspects of the brand they were building, and suggest some ideas about how to make it stronger.

My definition: A good personal brand is authentic, and has a good balance of specificity, authority, emotion, helpfulness, influence, and reach.

  1. It’s Authentic — You speak from your soul, following your own path. Copying someone else’s brand is a recipe for heartache and failure.
  2. It’s Specific — You have a niche that you can own, so people know what you’re known for.
  3. It has Credible Authority — People listen and believe you because you’re an expert — you know what you’re talking about. The topic area is a unique strength of yours.
  4. It’s Emotionally Compelling — You can tell your story in a concise and powerful manner that people connect to in a human way. This also means that you can’t make your brand just about what you know or can do. You also have to know the story behind why you do what you do.
  5. It’s Helpful — You and your content are truly useful to people. You want to help people in some meaningful way, which will reward people for their attention.
  6. It’s Influential — Your opinions can move the larger discussion because people listen to you, react to you, and respect you. This one is tough, because it doesn’t happen through just your force of will, and takes time.
  7. It Has Reach — Your voice travels widely and many people follow you — because when they do, things get better for them (see number 5).

What else do you think makes a good personal brand?

 

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Yooniko (a brand of Metamorph Corporation) is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.

 

 

If Job Search Is A War, How Well Are You Armed?

war for talent1Modern day job seekers, hiring managers, and recruiters are using technology like never before to nail down the best outcomes. Exploring new opportunities for your career can be done from your couch, and the smartest companies are crafting new ways to identify and target the best people to hire. It’s been described as a ‘war’ for talent, and the stakes have never been higher for everyone involved. 

Whether it’s your final semester in college and campus recruitment is on full swing, or you’re looking to move onto a new challenge from your old job, the game has changed for both starting and developing your career.

We’ve pulled together five trends that are shaping this massive assault in the job market, and offer these thoughts on how job hunters can fight fire with fire.

1. Apps challenge the status quo, but job boards continue to dominate

Job boards like CareerBuilder and Monster will continue to remain the primary job search tools. These sites deliver mounds of resumes for recruiters and talent hunters to screen through using a variety of software to shortlist the most accurate matches. According to a LinkedIn report in 2015, candidates continue to prefer looking for new jobs in online job boards (60%), followed by professional networks (56%) and other word of mouth options (50%).

Traditional job boards are being challenged, however, by apps like Jobaware and Ziprecruiter, which some say have the potential to transform the job ecosystem. These apps allow users connect to listings across a wide variety of job boards like Indeed, Monster, SimplyHired, Glassdoor etc. and apply en masse to those that fit their skills, thereby increasing coverage. Candidates don’t even have to upload a resume, but can connect directly to their LinkedIn account and apply for suitable open positions.

2. Social recruitment is maturing

Searching and applying for jobs via social media continues to rise in frequency. Based on a research by Jobvite in 2014, it was found that 94% of recruiters were active on LinkedIn (compared to only 36% of the job seekers- so don’t ignore it!). Easily viewable and downloadable profiles available on LinkedIn attract talent hunters to candidates’ profiles, and help determine suitable matches. According to the US hiring trends study by iCIMS, the computer service industry witnessed the highest number of applications submitted via social platforms in 2015 and LinkedIn emerged as the most sought after social network by candidates to apply for jobs. It is expected that by end of 2016, LinkedIn will emerge as one of the strongest job providing media in the US. Employee referrals (a historically well-established channel) will of course continue to play a crucial role in sourcing applicants as well, but rising social media use enables active job seekers to connect more easily with their network and gain these precious referrals. That is why successful networking tactics continue to be important – you never know who might be able to refer you for a job with the credibility that a personal reference brings.

3. Videos are making a splash

We have written about this very recently, but video streaming apps and platforms are starting to attract recruiters, giving them a better-rounded picture of the candidate’s interpersonal skills along with their other qualifications and achievements. Platforms like CareerSushi and HireVue are offering innovative interactive interviews, making it easier for job seekers to present a compelling profile to recruiters and hiring managers. As evolving technology contributes to the idea of a virtual workforce and managing work and projects via collaborative tools gets easier, the job search industry is starting to look seriously to video capabilities to help source and connect organizations to in-demand potential hires. It’s probably not the right answer for everyone, but something to consider if you’ve got a powerful personality to show the market.

4. Reverse investigation puts employers under the microscope

Smart job seekers have always researched the companies they apply to, but they are increasingly conducting this research through platforms like GlassDoor, LinkedIn, and Facebook. They are digging deeper into detailed information about their prospective company, its hiring practices, salaries, and even reviews from existing and previous employees. All in service to find out if joining the company is going to be the right decision for them. Job hunters are also investigating other employees who work at the firm, gathering information on the organization to make the best decision about what kind of company and culture they want to work within.

5. There’s some weird new stuff happening, too

Some companies are deploying innovative techniques to differentiate themselves and attract the best talent. Recently, Uber ran a hiring campaign that recruited hard-to-source engineers by targeting them when they were actually taking a ride in an Uber car, and sending them a little code game for them to complete during their ride. This unique approach enabled the company to identify and differentiate themselves to premium candidates in geographies with a high concentration of tech jobs and lots of competition for qualified candidates. As the need for specialized talent heats up, expect companies to continue to use unique recruitment campaigns to both show the candidate pool that they are innovative, and establish a bond with qualified candidates that echoes their corporate brand.

“May you live in interesting times.”  – ancient Chinese curse

We do seem to live indeed in interesting times, and when you’re scouting out a new career opportunity it can almost feel like you’re at war.

Arm yourself to meet this challenge with the resources, strategy, and plan to make sure you can win the fight. Start off by clarifying what victory will look like, and create a SWOT to identify the core strengths that distinguish you from your peers. Your personal brand is your source of advantage, so you’ll need to leverage this in order to win. Then make sure you put together a solid plan to succeed. Hire a coach, or work with a friend, and determine the steps you’ll need to follow to move from your current position to the future ideal that you envision.

Get ready. And get your marching orders.

Cause it’s like a war out there and your success depends on how well prepared you are to win.

 

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Yooniko (a brand of Metamorph Corporation) is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.

Personal Branding: Why Should Extroverts Have all the Fun?

Introverts and personal branding1

Does the thought of speaking up in a meeting give you jitters? Maybe you feel awkward or out of place in large groups, or the last thing you ever want to do is find a way to stand out in a crowd.

If so, you are not alone. Not everyone likes the limelight. It’s estimated that one-third to one-half of the American population feel introverted at times.

Introverts are not energized by intense interaction with other people. Rather than gregariously striking up conversations with strangers, they prefer individual work, reflection in their own space, and they need time and sometimes privacy in order to express their opinions. For introverts, the stimulus to act comes from within.

When you are prone to be more introspective and self-conscious in front of others, you might be less amenable to broadcasting your accomplishments, which can complicate your aspirations at work. It can often seem like the world is run by extroverts, and this perception makes it difficult for introverts to shine when they don’t find it natural or comfortable to talk about their work, their ideas, or their achievements.

But introverts can have strong narratives to share and valuable perspectives to offer. And you should not have to be loud, dramatic, or attention-craving to be able to contribute. Research shows that introverts socialize well, albeit in different ways than extroverts, and they often demonstrate more empathy to others. Introverted leaders are often likable and effective in situations that demand high levels of self-awareness, thoughtfulness and empathy, self-understanding and detail-orientation.

So how can you achieve recognition and success as an introvert when everyone is competing to be seen as experts, and it appears that promotions only go to those who build their reputations?

Last year, a self-avowed introverted friend of mine was given a high-profile assignment that required working across a diverse, talented, and geographically dispersed team of country managers, reporting back to the global heads of sales. Although leading such a visible project may have been a dream come true for someone who wanted to impose their views on others, the assignment was difficult for my friend, who only got lukewarm response from their first efforts.

They had an arduous task at hand to get people to collaborate. Cheerleading and building enthusiasm in town halls and monthly presentations was clearly not going to be a winning strategy for them. My friend needed solutions that could help them establish credibility on the project and deliver exceptional results. They had to find ways to leverage their strengths, rather than trying to follow other people’s strategies that didn’t necessarily fit their working style.

Here are some of those strategies that my friend considered, and that you can use if you’re ever caught in similar situations:

  1. Limit what you have to talk about. You can always start by cutting down the amount of communication and influence that you need to exert. If you’re promoting yourself, edit your personal brand story to just the basic facts and your compelling points of differentiation. Narrow the scope of what you have to talk about and draw out the most concise narrative possible to get your message across.
  2. Limit how many people you talk to at one time, and give yourself rest breaks between them. It can be draining for introverts to build rapport with a lot of people at one time, but they can still build powerful connections with people if they limit their interactions and give themselves a chance to recharge.
  3. Work on a team. Rather than shoulder all the burden of the spotlight, you can use your sphere of influence to form a small team that you’re confident in. Work within the group to communicate your ideas more privately, and then have them help you in spreading the ideas to the wider organization or industry. You can protect yourself from excessive networking, while still playing to your strengths and getting the word out about your work.
  4. Work with a partner. If a team is too intense, you can pick a strong partner who can be responsible for bringing energy and excitement. Proudly stand beside them to present your case or findings, leveraging their skills to supplement your own influence.
  5. Do a video blog or podcast. Maybe live presentations are just too much for you. You can still get your message out through videocasting or podcasting your rich and thoughtful content. You can build powerful connections with your audience by contemplating and sharing issues close to your heart – bringing your authentic point of view from the privacy of your own home or studio. Just be sure you can get the content in front of the right people.
  6. Write, don’t talk. If you can’t or won’t record yourself, then consider that writing and blogging can help you articulate your ideas and thought leadership, without the need for face-to-face confrontation.
  7. Stay in the shadows. For introverts, being contemplative comes naturally. You may decide that you’d rather use your solitude to come up innovative thinking and work behind the scenes. Do your best to remain engaged with your management, however, and continue to make progress towards your goals.

My friend used a combination of #2 and #3 above, limiting the group size and leveraging the team. They appealed to the most influential country managers in one-on-one meetings, building close relationships and trust with them. Eventually they offered these affiliate managers chances to present reports to the sales heads in the headquarters, giving the managers much desired visibility and credit, while showcasing my friend’s ability to lead and persuade their peers across the network. All of which built up my friends reputation and showed the HQ leaders how they could break through silos and align the wider organization behind the initiative.

Career success and building your personal brand doesn’t have to be about loud, brassy showmanship. If you can be authentic and understand how to put your strengths to work for you, introverts can make a great name for themselves, like my friend. 

So take a chance. There’s no better time than the present for making your mark. Don’t leave it to the extroverts alone — jump in! Just be sure to do it in your own way.

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Yooniko (a brand of Metamorph Corporation) is dedicated to creating the future of unique, personal branding. Find out more here.