Personal Branding: Why Should Extroverts Have all the Fun?

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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.

No Video For Your Personal Brand? Maybe No Visibility Either.

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Video is, quite simply, dominating brand marketing. Cisco in a recent study shared that by 2019 the global consumer internet video traffic will be around 80 percent, which was 64 percent in 2014. Another piece of research by Hubspot found that over 51 percent of marketing professionals believe video to be the best medium for generating Return on Investment (ROI). So the question is: how can you leverage this trend and use video to help build your personal brand?

The idea would be to share video to showcase and amplify your brand identity. Video is a high bandwidth kind of communication, which means it can carry more information, be more engaging, and convey the finer elements of your story in an manner that we humans naturally relate to. Video communications are proven to have greater ‘connecting’ impact, raising the ‘human connection’ quotient by fulfilling our insatiable thirst for visual stimuli.

The increase in sensory stimulation alone creates deeper impressions, adding the impact of the visual to the audio. Think about it — if you could buy the same amount of advertising for the same amount of money for a campaign, would you purchase a live commentary on a radio station or a live telecast someone can watch on a superior OLED screen?

Since the barriers to entry for creating video have decreased precipitously, it may be time for you to give video a try. Below are some more examples and strategies for using video as a medium to take your personal brand to the next level.

Make Your Profile Introductions More Human

How engaging is your profile summary on LinkedIn? If you’re like most people then it’s flat at best, or embarrassing at worst. But it’s difficult to get your whole self to come across in just a few words, right? Now consider if you could have a video bio embedded in your LinkedIn profile page and you could introduce yourself like you normally would. Wouldn’t that be easier? It’s just talking to someone about yourself (which is something we know we have to get very good at).

You can instruct people about how to navigate your profile, or highlight specific accomplishments or skills – it’s like you’re guiding them through your profile. And they don’t even have to scroll down to experience it.

Make Your Meetings More Productive

Video meetings used to be all hi-tech, with expensive conference room installations and complicated dialing modules. But now they’re commonplace and mostly run from your browser. With the rise in easy virtualization and cheap (sometimes free) video conferencing, we are using video meetings for discussions, reviews, interviews, sales presentations, and so many other things using Adobe Connect, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Lync and Skype etc. And the loosening of this barrier to communicate enables real-time work that can be more effective and powerfully bonding.

It’s not without pitfalls, however. In 2013, I was on a video call at my home office with a Spanish client, using Google+ hangout. I was pretty chuffed that I was using such a new technology, and was feeling a little full of myself. Unbeknownst to me, I had forgotten to lock my office door and my pet decided to barge into the room and jump around and bark during my quite professional presentation.  And if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, while I was coaxing him out of the room, I had stood up and revealed to my client that my crisp blue dress shirt and tie did not match my pajamas. Yep – I had only half-dressed for the call. That’s a mistake you never make twice.

But if you can manage to dress correctly for the occasion, video meetings can bring greater focus and attention for your meetings. After all, on a telephone conference call your callers could be doodling, returning emails, or daydreaming, but for video meetings, they have to be looking at the other person, which increases the level of connection and discourages multitasking. Just be sure you are paying your other callers the same respect.

Increase Your Impact by Sharing Your Expertise

With influencer marketing on the rise in 2016 and emerging as a medium of effective advertising and brand promotion, you can imagine that video could be a powerful tool to build a strong brand identity. Sharing your expertise on a topic of your interest or taking a stand on a discussion via video can get your ideas out into the marketplace, and carry the force of your personality and humanness along with them. You don’t have to become a full-fledged YouTube Star, but you can create your own content and help it spread by linking your videos from YouTube or Vimeo to your other social media profiles and sites. Just be sure that your content remains ridiculously helpful to your network and encourage your connections to share it, just like you should be reaching out and sharing their best content.

Increase Conversions and Connect With Customers

Video streaming apps like Blab, Meerkat and Periscope can make it beyond easy to give product demonstrations and host discussions and Q&A sessions. In many cases viewers can also record these sessions for future reference – further increasing the impact you have with them. You want to use the platform for getting detailed feedback on your ideas, like a live customer support hotline. Most people on these platforms use them for discussions about current events and hot trending topics. To stand out, you’ll want to avoid just, excuse the term, blathering on mindlessly about recent events, however, and instead focus on amplifying your brand and helping you nurture relationships with your prospects and targets. Be sure to put your sights on attracting the right audience for your message, and put less emphasis on just getting more eyeballs.  Quality counts here.

Get Started and Get Creative!

Start with your own computer’s video camera, or buy a simple one to start with. YouTube has a simple functioning video editor that you can use for free. Find innovative ways to get attention in your videos. Record in cool locations, or use props or interesting guests or controversial topics. Video must be engaging to have lasting impact, and time spent in upping the quality and thoughtfulness of your video will increase its stickiness and share-ability.

Where’s the best place to hide a dead body? On page 2 of Google search results.

No one will ever find it.

One stat to keep in mind is that 75% of Google users click on the first page of search results and never scroll to the second page. So you obviously want to rank as high as you can with any content you create. But when you consider that webpages with relevant videos can rank higher on the first page then you have to consider that video could increase your visibility.

And what good is your personal brand if it doesn’t show up?

 

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

The Number One Factor In Your Job Search Success

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Searching for a job used to be an analog thing — asking friends for recommendations, reading newspaper want ads, perusing bulletin boards, and pounding the pavement. The rise of the internet and social media changed all that, and both job seekers and recruiters now routinely leverage digital sources, and specifically social media platforms, as one of their primary search and placement tools.

Maybe this has happened to you or a friend, but a colleague of mine, a brilliant sales guy, recently went through a layoff when his division was dissolved. That was rough on him, but his network and social presence was so strong that he received a great offer almost immediately — but not through email or Monster. He was contacted through LinkedIn.

While your personal network has always held your best referrals, now social professional networks are starting to take over. And it makes a certain amount of sense in terms of demand for talent, as the visibility of your professional network is presented pretty clearly — so it’s good for recruiters and headhunters. But when it comes to the supply of talent, the question is: Are you set up for success?

Initial screening rounds during interviewing processes have drastically been reduced, courtesy of easy access to candidates’ profiles on LinkedIn and other professional networks. Recruiters connect with job seekers and view their profiles to find the right match for their clients. What used to be a mostly manual process has been reduced to a few clicks.

And that’s not even all of it. Now it’s common for software to be deployed to narrow searches, allowing recruiters to deal with not thousands of resumes and applicants, but a manual review of a short list of only 20-50. Up to 80% of large companies are currently using resume screening software that uses word matching and algorithms to sift out applications that don’t meet certain criteria.

But that’s just the first step. Companies know that when they hire someone new, they are taking a chance on that person’s present and future value to the company, and so they want to know that the prospective employee not only has the right set of competencies and talent, but would also be a good cultural fit with the company. They can’t afford to get it wrong, as the US Department of Labor suggests that replacement costs for a bad hire can be 30% of their salary (US Department of Labor, 2003), even if they are at lower levels in the organization, and some other more recent studies suggest that the figure can climb to as high as five times their salary.  Serious risk is involved, so companies place a high value on getting the right people in the door.

So, given the importance of all the online and social factors in today’s market, it’s clear that having an attractive personal brand can turn out to be not just a contributing factor in helping you land a job, but the absolute most important factor.

What follows are some pointers that might give you the edge to make sure you’re found, matched, and placed by talent hunters.

1.    It’s social, stupid

Some people think that the time of resumes will soon be over – and your social brand and online connections will be all that’s required to identify if you’re right for a job. According to research job seekers are regularly being contacted by recruiters through social media and this ‘social recruiting’ is turning out to be effective for everyone – recruiters and job seekers alike.

Companies like LinkedIn and BranchOut provide easy access to a job seeker’s social graph for referrals. Based on a research by Jobvite in 2014, it was found that 94% of recruiters were active on LinkedIn when compared to only 36% of the job seekers. Social media therefore provides a real opportunity to the job seekers if they only have a completed profile with the right personal brand showcased on it.

2.    Do some translation

The real trick is realizing that in the online world, your personal brand portrays your resume, not the other way around. You have to do your homework and work with a coach or resume writer, including:

  • Outlining what your mission is, your key skills, and your strengths. If you’ve not nailed down what you’re amazing at, then you’ll have trouble convincing anyone else why you’re worth the risk.
  • Now you can analyze your online profile – does it highlight your key strengths? Is all the work you’ve done in the past clearly presented on the profile, or does it need more translation to be understood?

3.    Now look at ‘the fit’

Do you know everything you can about your ideal employer? How does their culture fit with your style and behaviors? If you are looking for a lasting job opportunity, your recruiters will want to understand not just your expertise and value you add to the company, but how well you might mesh with the existing teams and their culture.

4.    Don’t be afraid to promote

As Scott Cook, CEO of Intuit said, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” Your network will only work for you if you give them content, ideas, and thinking that they can interact with and share. Things like blogs, videos, podcasts, and helpful information that your community finds useful and engaging. It’s often said that the currency of social media is what you are sharing, so be sure that if you decide to share content, it is 1) interesting, 2) useful, and 3) unique enough to merit attention.

  • Reach out to create visibility within the connections of your company and to your future employees and employers
  • Share useful and valuable content and be known to your network
  • Engage in network activities to extend your reach and influence.

Social media has evolved into a primary job source and offer platform, above and beyond the job portals that have been around for a while.  If you can build your personal brand and social identity to make it attractive then employers and recruiters are really going to notice.

It’s no longer only just about your resume. Your accomplishments, previous projects, and your network are all part of the path to a new job in today’s market. So if your experience, expertise and recognition from your past work isn’t clear, visible, promoted, and a good fit, then you might be kissing your job prospects goodbye and not even knowing it.

 

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

Are You Stuck? Could Building Your Personal Brand Help?

 

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Being ‘stuck’ stinks. That scary feeling that no matter what you do, you’re getting nowhere. Like being stuck in quicksand, when you need to move forward in your career and you can’t, you’re bound to feel alone, frustrated, out of control, and sinking fast.

And to think – it might all be because of a weak personal brand!

It was that way for my friend Katrina, who after paying her dues in a creative agency, took over a marketing role for a large multinational that required her to manage marketing activities across the region. Accustomed to working with internal teams and developing creative, Katrina excelled in driving great content. Her newsletters, market guides, white papers and creative for strategic requirements won her praise with the local management. But her boss, Susan, didn’t see it that way. She hadn’t seen any positive metrics about local affiliate satisfaction, because her dashboard was set up only to highlight deliverables in planning, budgeting and executing events, where Katrina had some failings. So even though Katrina was over-performing in one important area for the company, her boss raised questions about her project management and event handling skills, which caused some friction and they eventually decided to part ways.

That would be bad enough, but it turned out she was stuck.

She had a strong reputation for creativity with her network, but her expertise, skill, and value was largely invisible to the outside world. Her personal brand had no metrics to show her talents, or to show what she did better than anyone else. That stopped her boss from seeing her contributions in her present role, and she eventually determined that the same thing was holding her back from moving on as well.

Diagnose What’s Holding You Back: Perception Shapes Reality

Inability to move on in career can be stifling and frustrating, as it was for Katrina. And in matters of your career, perception matters. Your bosses and recruiters both go by the impressions they have of you, which can collectively be described as your personal brand.

Katrina had issues with making her impact on the business clearly shown to her boss, but there are lots of ways your image could be holding you back, like:

  • Maybe your work or behavior has received bad reviews online or with some internal stakeholders; a case of reputation management gone awry.
  • Maybe you haven’t felt motivated enough to put in that extra effort because you’re not in the right position to activate your passion; when this happens people around you might be telling you that you come across as indifferent, or lackadaisical.
  • Perhaps the nature of your job is difficult to put metrics around and be able to point to achievements or victories. When you work ‘behind the scenes’ it’s hard for others to know the value you bring to the table.
  • Or maybe it’s really just your presence. Is it possible that you come across as rough, or difficult, or combative? Do you have difficulty in patching things up with people after an argument? Do you have trouble listening to what others have to say about you?

If you’re not getting traction with a job search, then there could be other reasons why opportunities aren’t knocking down your door, like:

  • Your job description or other aspects of your LinkedIn profile could be under-performing for you, (or just plain poorly written)
  • Your resume could have outdated information and missing some keywords, or
  • Your mission statement might be falling flat for recruiters.

So whatever is holding you back, you need to diagnose it in order to take action.  Katrina knew this, and so she hired a coach who could provide her with perspective on where she could go from there. She also got some needed focus, discipline, and benchmarks to help her understand how to raise her game in terms of promoting herself.

Addressing the Problem: Face it and Erase it

Your next step is to take that diagnosis and turn it around into a solution. You’ve probably identified a weak area in your performance, but rather than just saying “I have to do this better,” you want to try to turn the issue around. How can you use your actual strengths in this situation to eliminate your weaknesses, or at least make them immaterial to the work?

Katrina had a lack of online presence because she didn’t know how to show exactly how her work was contributing to other stakeholders. She also felt that it was difficult for her to highlight her broad project management abilities, when she had much stronger skills in managing creative development and production.

So she changed direction and began looking for a role that directly played to her strengths, which turned out to be driving communications within the larger organization. She was able to point to the stellar work she had previously done, and she recruited her happy affiliate managers to vouch for her skills through a consistent feedback system that tracked her projects and clarified her value to her various other stakeholders.

Promote your way forward

Lastly, you want to make sure that your new direction continues to build your influence from a point of strength. You want to expand your audience base – both internally and externally, if possible. As you capture feedback from stakeholders on each deliverable or milestone you achieve, find a way to document it and disseminate it across the organization or the industry so others can learn from it. Think about how to capture learnings on areas of improvement, or mechanisms and processes that ensure success. You might project the relevance of your work through blogs, case studies, white papers or speaking opportunities.

Katrina broadcast her expertise to a wider audience by sharing her opinions in blogs and posts on industry online forums and the company newsletter. She captured email addresses of those who liked her work, and started posting case studies of everything she worked on, and directed people to follow her on LinkedIn. This showed her bosses and the wider industry how satisfied her customers were and where she excelled in meeting requirements.

Eventually, results started to show – her blogs built a solid industry following, her LinkedIn profile boomed with likes and shares, and she got invited to conferences and seminars related to creative development. Katrina was finally being recognized for what she was — a thought leader with creative talent. And so what if she wasn’t a great project manager? Shifting how she applied herself to her company and the market at large helped her get unstuck and evolve into a better role that gave her the scope she needed to continue to expand and showcase her true talents.

Katrina’s way out of the mess started with recognition of the problem. She didn’t panic or turn bitter and blame others for being stuck. She focused on building understanding and then took a smart path forward.

So if you get mired in quicksand, you have to fight the urge to struggle, which can make you sink further down. Instead, practice patience and get some perspective to determine how you’ll get free and back on the road to your brightest future.

 

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

 

Building Your Own Brand At Work

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In putting together an innovation team at my last job, our boss asked us to go through a Strengthsfinder evaluation, which provided us a map of the skills and strengths that the team possessed. The idea was that we could see where we were strong and where we might not have all the resources or perspectives that might be required to face different problems and challenges. After we took the test, we compared our notes about the findings and realized that there was not a lot of overlap – most people had differing sets of identified strengths. Here we were, a group of people with one shared mission and very similar job duties, but we possessed widely varying attributes and skills in how we delivered value to the company.

This situation made me think about how rarely we stop and recognize the unique skills and abilities of our team members. And how that ‘village’ of talent comes together to create such incredible business value, based upon that underlying patchwork of powerful personal brands, working together and complementing each other. Looking around my team with fresh eyes, I gained new appreciation of those varied talents, and could recognize clearly how each person had brought their own unique perspective to bear on our projects.

Carving out your personal brand at work starts with identifying who you are, how are you different from others (in the most awesome ways possible) and how do you want others to see you. To stay competitive and be the best you can be, you need specific strategies that can elevate the visibility and value of your personal brand. Here are some thoughts about how to stand out at work for all the right reasons:

Identify your core expertise

Most people do not have a clear vision of their value at work, probably because they have accepted their job description as their destiny – the full definition of what they offer. This attitude is just a habit, however, and you don’t want it to stunt your growth and progress. Instead, choose to develop your own unique selling proposition and figure out what unique value you add to the company in your role.

Spend time thinking about what you are authentically passionate about, and how those passions can be integrated to your personal brand. Do you have strong technical expertise, excellent project management skills or strategic consulting expertise? Perform a SWOT on yourself and try to identify your core strengths and factors that distinguish you from your peers. Hire a coach, or work with a friend, and do your best to become crystal clear on what you want to be known for.

Get noticed for good things

Having a strong work ethic is great, and a key foundation of a strong brand identity. But you’ll want to make sure that you find ways to demonstrate your working style that make a strong impression. Like arriving a meetings before they start, closing your laptop during meetings, or ensuring that you deliver proper credit to supporting teams and contributors when presenting to groups. Actions speak louder than words and in the workplace it gets noticed real quickly when you consistently deliver your work with some special quality or expertise. It allows people to ‘map’ what you’re bringing, which can boost the popularity of your brand, and increase your market reach. Your visibility at the workplace should not only be restricted to your achievements and accolades but to the overall value that you as an employee brings in to the company. Remember, it’s not bragging if all you’re doing is talking about what your real value is.

Leverage social media 

Consistently using social media is another way of brand building at workplace, because it’s an easy way to extend your reach. Apart from LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, companies these days are deploying other web based enterprise social media platforms like Yammer, HipChat and Slack etc. An ideal case would be to be active in all these platforms by adding value, sharing content, writing blogs, and networking with people. Do take care when sharing information on workplace social media, however, as you want to abide by any policies your employer has set up.

Reputations are built on trust, respect, and filling unmet needs, so if you can stay focused on how you can be amazingly helpful you’ll soon find that you’re a rock star in your community.

Network in the real world

Networking isn’t a dirty word! It’s a mistake to think about the process of expanding your sphere of peers as just attempting to curry favor or beg for help. It’s not. Networking is nothing more than socializing and connecting with people – something we all do anyway. It’s just more deliberate, so it ‘feels’ like work. But our collaborative work culture and offices located all over the world demand a strong network and a consistent effort to reach out to people from other teams, to explore possible synergies. So the trick is to recognize that while you’re not trying to ‘work’ people, you do need to practice networking as a habit so that you form bonds across your company, and stay in touch with these new connections. But there are ways to do it without giving up your humanity in the process.

  • Volunteer for new initiatives and projects. You never know what project could open up opportunities for new and powerful connections. Look especially for projects that demand cross-department or business unit collaboration. Those initiatives have the most potential for you to build a wider network and gain greater exposure across the company.
  • Keep the focus off yourself. It may sound counterintuitive when you’re trying to promote yourself, but if you place your mindset into understanding what other people you meet might need in order to be successful, you won’t feel as self-conscious and can make a better impression.
  • Don’t focus on exchanging business cards, which can feel too formal and impersonal. Instead, make sure that you have the right access to be able to contact the person again. Reaching out after a first meeting helps solidify who you are and cement your brand to your new connection.

It’s getting more and more important to carve out your own niche at your workplace. To be able to function at your best, both you and your team need to understand how your particular ‘village’ of talent works. Take control of your brand so that others can truly see you and all that you have to offer.

 

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

Anatomy Of A Thought Leader

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What goes into being a thought leader? How would you know that you have ‘arrived’ at that particular designation?

Many of us work really hard at developing a reputation for being an expert in a specific topic area, but being considered a thought leader is a step above just having a good reputation. It involves winning a significant amount of influence in an industry or category and being able to wield that power to drive innovation and change through your own ideas.

So how would you construct a thought leader? What are the essential ingredients to bring you the respect, authority, and fame that a real thought leader has? The steps to reach this goal are not impossible, but it does take more than naked desire to get you there.

What it’s not:

  • Is it boasting or trumpeting your achievements and knowledge? Nope. Though you can fool a few people for a while, it doesn’t get you anywhere that you can depend on.
  • Qualification or experience? Actually no – highly qualified people don’t always achieve it either. You can’t go to school to become a “thought leader,” nor can you complete a graduate program and earn some kind of certificate or formal recognition as such.
  • Position, wealth or power? No – you have to remember the story of the warrior king and the great sage.

There once was a great warrior king who met the great sage — venerated as the ‘Knower of All’ — who had a wish-fulfilling divine cow. Despite his valor and wealth, the king envied the respect and eminence the sage enjoyed, as well as his magic cow. Mad with jealousy, the king ordered his soldiers to seize the cow but failed and had to be pardoned by the sage. The wounded king turned to penance, austerity, and self-control — eventually eschewing his pettiness and excessive pride, which thereby earned him the respect that he so long sought after. He had learned the source of true power and became the new ‘Knower of All,’ even greater than the sage.
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So no – power and position won’t get you there, either. And there’s an additional lesson in there about the need for giving back, rather than taking, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

What it is: 

So what are the elements required? I propose that it is as simple as amassing trust and respect on a wide base. But while simple, these qualities can be really hard to come by and even more difficult to build a following around.

To be a recognized a ‘thought leader’ or guru, the world has to feel that you are one. And to build this trust and respect from others, you start by developing your own passion around the ideas which are close to you — ensuring that your care and heart are palpable to others, and you’ll be able to stay the course and keep going when things get rough.

Then you have to refine your skill sets and expand your professional connections consistently, because while education alone won’t give you influence, you do have to know what you’re talking about or you’ll be perceived as an empty suit. To continue to grow, you’ll need to introduce new ideas on a constant basis, and help others within your organization and industry get to know your ideas. Becoming more of a ‘giver’ is a valuable strategy to get where you want to be. Because the more informed you can be, and the more helpful you can be, then the greater the value you can offer to those around you.

And what you offer is the real secret sauce for becoming a thought leader. Because respect and trust can be built by being the best possible resource for others and an expert educator of both your peers and your prospects.

What You Can Do:

Here are a few ideas for how you can get on the thought leadership track:

  1. Identify and build on your strengths: Commit to build on your passions and strengths to give your skills a chance to shine. Keep focused and stay grounded in who you are. Your authenticity and caring will be the fuel to inspire other people to take action.
  2. Know your audience: True thought leadership is about empathy, so spend the time thinking through your customers’ tensions, frustrations, and unmet needs. For your work to be engaging, direct, and relevant, it should help people do something or give them insight that helps them better understand their job, their market, or their world.
  3. Listen and learn: Successful mentors are the ones who engage people in genuine conversations and connect with them proactively. They invest time and build long-term relationships that flourish on values such as fairness, openness, listening to others’ point of view, and articulation of nuanced responses that are sensitive to where the other person is coming from.
  4. Network like a LION: Crafting good content is great, but you need a community to share it with for it to gain momentum. Those who want to drive change constantly network and seek out new influencers who can amplify their point of view, both in traditional and social media. They write and respond to topics relevant to their field and feed this community with content and ideas.
  5. Be humble: Audiences genuinely appreciate presenters who show that they can be vulnerable. A legitimate, sincere expression of uncertainty can go a long way in building trust, because it shows that you are actively seeking knowledge, pursuing possibilities, and sharing that enthusiasm for exploration.
  6. Give back: True thought leadership makes itself available freely. So share valuable information without the urge to always monetize it, and don’t be afraid to evangelize the top-class ideas of other influencers. These other thought leaders don’t have to be seen as competition, but can become allies who may share your content, too.
  7. Create something truly new: Refine your voice until you can consistently bring forth something new and powerful to the discussion in your community. To lead requires vision, and an ability to navigate a path forward from where your industry is today, to a new place. Until you can articulate to others what this new world could be, and show them the way to get there, you might remain influential, but not a leader.

The ultimate definition of a successful thought leader might be the person who is trusted to be compelling, useful, and meaningful to the largest number of people, and still being able to justify their own ROI. So try to learn the lesson from the story of the King and the Sage, and realize that what you give away eventually can be what lifts you up.

Eventually you’ll have people seeking out your opinion, conferences inviting you to present, and experts looking to you for your input. And even if you don’t think that you’ve ‘arrived,’ you can be sure that you’re on the right track.

 

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

Is It Time For A Personal Branding Makeover?

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Do you walk by your ratty couch every day and think “When am I going to recover or replace that thing?” Or maybe every time you sit down in the chair at the hair salon and look at yourself in the mirror you think “I need a change. I should just cut it all off.”

Well, big brands do this too. Back in 2004, FedEx launched their slogan “Relax, It’s FedEx” and then in 2009 changed it to “The World on Time.” Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan was introduced in 1984, but in 1990, they changed it to “I Can,” only to switch it back later. And who can forget New Coke? And when they changed how the Wendy’s girl looked?

So yeah — big brands do ‘makeovers’ on their image all the time. At some point in every brand’s journey, they decide that it’s time to revamp their logo, tagline, spokesperson, or some other element of their brand image. It keeps their brand fresh, relevant, and in touch with their target market.

Now think about yourself, your brand and your image. You have a social profile, you tweet, you share, you like and you write, but have you ever considered renovating it? Is your personal branding still relevant and getting the traction you need it to? The question becomes: How do you update your personal brand to fix what’s not working, without starting over or throwing out all the hard work you’ve already done?

  1. A refreshed brand starts with You

First, do a check-in on your goals to make sure nothing has changed in your overall mission. You can quickly do an informal SWOT analysis of yourself, your current position, your vision, and other values that make up your current personal brand. If everything is still pointing in the right direction, you can move on to see if your customer has developed any new needs.

  1. Reach out and touch someone

Has your audience changed? The people on whom you want to make a positive impression can change over time.  Maybe their needs have changed, or something in their environment could change, like a new website that popped up in the last few months, which has taken over all the conversations about your chosen topic area. You could need some Search Engine Marketing advice or support, like an analysis of the new ways that your audience searches for solutions and news online. Maybe the recruiters in your industry are now looking at a whole new technology, and you don’t have the kind of background they’re looking for anymore. If they change, then you need to as well. And the greater the change is in your customer or your customer’s world, the more likely that you may need to make some tactical changes in how or what you’re communicating.

  1. Tweak and test and learn

Lastly, take a look at your current plans to move your brand forward and keep it trending. Are you using outdated communication methods? It doesn’t help to have the best Pinterest account in the world for your business if all your users are on Snapchat or WeChat. Ensure that any actions undertaken to contact and interact with other people progress towards where you want to be. To build a strong brand identity and sustain it for a longer period, you have to know what you want to be known for and project that image. So keep track and evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts, to help you decide what tactics are working, and which to phase out.

David Ogilvy described a brand as “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.”  And it’s this ‘intangible’ nature that gives you the flexibility to update your image over time. Since your brand is what others perceive when they think about you, it can be a good idea to show other people the changes that you have undergone as you continue to grow and learn. Remember personal branding is not just flaunting off your profile photo, your certifications or your latest million-dollar sale. It is the way you fit into the world, what you offer to it, and how people visualize you and the value you bring. And as the world changes, the way that you fit into it can evolve as well.

When it comes to transforming your personal brand, it can be a tough task but it’s not something unachievable. Take your time, have patience, and invest a little in your own personal brand makeover. Because although renovations may take time and money, they can also pay you dividends in the new value they can create.

 

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

 

How I Learned That Personal Branding Is NOT Narcissism

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When you see the iconic Apple trademark, why do you suddenly think about design? When you see a flowing script that says Coca-Cola, why do you immediately become a little thirsty? Why does your inner athlete stretch its muscles when you hear the words “Just Do It?” These popular brands only need to display their logo or taglines and you respond immediately. You already know what they do and what they stand for. Their branding can pull all the right benefits, feelings, and connotations from inside of you.

In today’s hyper-competitive world, it’s said that you have a choice to make – you can differentiate or you can die. So when people think of your name, what is the first connotation that they have?  Are you the best team player ever? Are you chief innovator and challenger of all that is traditional?  Are you a hyper-intelligent analyst? A lead guitarist? Champion saleswoman? The leading iOS evangelist?

What picture forms in the mind of your colleagues when they hear or see your name?

If you want to figure it out, then start by examining how you appear to others. And after figuring out what you want to project, you will need to build up your ‘magnetic field’ – the various ways that you will begin to attract others. In case you’re nervous that you don’t have anything unique or special about yourself to merit this attraction, all I can say is — don’t  worry about it! You can always brand yourself like a celebrity, because the fact remains that there is only one of you, no one else can be better at being you than you, and creating memorability around your business qualifications, strengths and personality traits is not rocket science. And it’s not narcissism either.

Like most people, I had often felt that I had something special to offer. But to be perfectly honest, I also had no earthly idea what it truly was, or how I could discover it and bring it to the world. In the long, slow process of building my career, however, I kept running into the same situations at work, and I kept hearing the same tropes repeated back to me over and over:

Jay, you’ve got a real creative way of looking at situations, especially in terms of strategy and technology! We can use that in trying to find a new solution to this problem.

Jay’s handling of that conflict really showed creativity and strategic thought!

Jay, can we get your thinking on this innovation idea? We have some questions about the strategy and technology we’re considering here. *

Over time, I got to know myself a little bit better each time – who I was, what I did well, and eventually what I really wanted to work on. I realized that the things I uniquely offer are the ones that help me reach my goals and create a strong offering to the world. And they weren’t things that I had to force on people – or brag about – or lie about. They were just core to how I got things done. And powerful product brands work in much the same way. The unique selling proposition of the brand can’t be something that isn’t true, or is just asserted, but it has to be core to the product and the experience that is given to the consumer. Strong brands have a clear vision of what they are, what they want to be, and where they are going. (And not to put too fine a point on it, but they know that to stay relevant in the market they will have to invest in themselves, too, but more on that later.)

So you need to understand your brand’s offering and utilize your strengths to network and promote your unique positioning and experience that you give to others.  It’s not about your resume and achievements, but who you are, what is your passion, and how you can help others. That way you can’t come off like a snob trying to sell yourself and push yourself on others. Try these tips to promote your brand without coming off like a narcissist:

  • Stop blabbering and just talk about yourself: The 80/20 rule always works – so talk less, be focused, and listen more than you speak. If anyone speaks about themselves for too long, people lose interest. So make sure you can keep your description of yourself and your work concise and compact when you’re networking. Stay relaxed about it and those weird feelings about talking about yourself will go away naturally!
  • Share updates that are helpful to others: Nobody is interested in the number of journals you published or the patent you made last month. What people are interested in is the information that is helpful to them. So be ready to share your thoughts, opinions and concerns on the topics of the day, and use questions to draw attention from those you interact with. Instead of saying” Nice post! I wrote about something similar recently – here’s a link!” on someone’s LinkedIn article, try to ask a probing question or get something important clarified by the author. By entering into a conversation with an influencer, you establish yourself as a peer by your behavior, rather than empty claims that sound inauthentic. It’s often said that the currency of social media is what you are sharing, so be sure that if you decide to share content, it is- 1) interesting, 2) useful, and 3) unique enough to merit attention.
  • Keep it real: Don’t fall into the trap of trying to tell people what they want to hear. Maybe your job description is “I optimize the customer experience”, but if you can be clearer, and speak like a real person, then ditch the corporate-talk and say what you really want to do. Like “I catch errors in how we talk to our customers to try to make them happier and more loyal!”
  • Acknowledge other people: You’re not in this along, and no man is an island. So give credit to the people who create content you read or share. Thank them for their help, telling them how they help you reach your goals. Giving out a thank you or a like or a share of good information posted by others ultimately alerts your network that you are participating in a community, not just hibernating or stuck on your yourself.

So before you launch into promoting your brand, ask yourself about what are your strengths, what are you passionate about and how can you use your creativity to tell a story that reaches the right audience. Maybe like me, you’ve been slowly developing your offering over time and you just need to spend the time to uncover it and then find a way to make it stand out.

As Amazon’s Jeff Bezos says, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room,” so if you want to create an impact in the social media space and make your presence felt, you’ve got to show up and promote yourself.

Because it’s not narcissism. It’s making sure that what people say about you when you’re not in the room will reflect the real you.

 

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*  OK, so I did receive these comments in my previous jobs, but in the interest of full disclosure, I also got comments like: ‘Jay could focus his energy a little more,’ and ‘Jay could reign in the humor a little,’ and several other, less complementary gems!


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

Real World Branding: The 80% of Your Personal Brand You’re Neglecting

Real World Marketing

Building a personal brand through social media networking is a good thing, and it’s great if you’ve already started to make progress. But if all you work on are your online profiles, then you could be missing out on some important aspects of your personal brand. After all, your life is made up of more than just your online life, and your offline reputation and brand deserves real consideration and dedicated time on your part to make sure you’re presenting the best of yourself from all 360 degrees. Because that’s how other people perceive you.

Sustainable brands live on- and offline

Corporations, products and famous public figures alike all benefit from integration of their online and offline branding. They all have to harmonize the image they present to people online in order to avoid feeling false, two-dimensional, and lifeless. Similarly, at your workplace you are on display and everything you do contributes to your public/work brand: what you wear; how you speak to the security guards at the gate; how you speak to your peers; and, how you carry yourself. These all contribute to your branding more than what you tweet or what a spokesperson could say on your behalf. Your “Real World Branding” is the earthy experience of you in person, and you want to be able to understand the impress you are leaving with people, and how to best control it to get what you want.

Steve Jobs’ dress and style of presenting at Apple events became as much his brand as anything he ever said online. And Richard Branson’s flamboyant appearances outweigh the impact of his tweets any day!

So what impression are you making today? How would your immediate peers, neighbors, and industry press speak about your brand? And what are you doing to influence it? Your online branding may be valuable when someone googles you, but it cannot define the value you bring inside the conference room, so you want to be aware and in the drivers seat with the influence you wield through your actions and face-to-face personality.

To get your Real World Branding going, it takes a lot of thought and hard work:

  1. Start with you: Spend some time to reflect on your unique offering. Think about who you are, what Inspires you and how your unique talents can give you a competitive advantage in the workplace. Try to avoid comparing yourself with others, though, as you want to focus on your own identity and value – and while others can inspire you, remember that no one is perfect. Focus on skill-sets and characteristics that are natural to you. Identify the activities that give you strength and allow your talent to flourish. You may find this exercise useful to help you zero-in on the right area for you to specialize in, which could be speaker opportunities, blogging, holding webinars, or networking through industry events. Think carefully about the most impactful ways to be physically present for other people in the way that you want to be perceived.
  2. Move quickly to action: Once you have decided your objectives and what you want to project, get moving! Take the steps needed to manage your personal brand and start getting feedback about how your real world actions are being understood. Take charge of your brand and operate with intent. One way to remain engaged and motivated is to keep you focus on the purpose behind your pursuits, not just the pursuits themselves. Simon Sinek has posited that we can operate with intent when we ask ourselves ‘Why We Do What We Do’. Using these methods of maintaining focus can help you get started but also keep going when the going gets rough. If you don’t take action, you won’t make an impression in the real world, where your branding needs to be visible and influential.
  3. Be really, really picky when you network: Do your homework to make sure you’re networking with the right people. You will build your sphere of influence by associating yourself with people who challenge you and increase your value in your chosen field. Don’t be afraid to limit the time you spend networking with below- average associates or negative-thinking people while your building your networks – they bring more grief than benefits, and your time is a valuable resource. Make your own opportunities for in-person networking by joining regional trade bodies and or organizations where your target audience is likely to be found. Over time, leverage this networking with attendance at national conferences.
  4. Appear at the main event: Attend tradeshows, seminars, and conferences on trending topics where you can network with other industry leaders and prospective clients. These events can provide a great opportunity for in-person networking and using speaker content to generate social media mentions, tweet-ups and campaigns.
  5. Speak out, speak up, and speak loud: Leverage your presence at events to start to establish yourself as a thought leader in your area of expertise through speaking engagements. A speaking engagement puts you in front of a highly targeted and interested audience that is primed and ready to pay attention to what you have to say. This kind of face-time can be invaluable for driving traffic to your website when your audience is inspired to learn more about you and your company.
  6. Get it in writing: Explore opportunities in authoring articles in select trade journals and print publications, if they are likely to be read by your target audience. Obtaining relevant placements in magazines and journals can help increase your brand visibility and showcase your expertise. Make this part of your blogger outreach strategy and ensure that the online and print versions of these publications link back to your website or LinkedIn profile.

Refocusing your offline branding can enable you to effectively project your values, skills, and the energy you share with others each and every day. These face-to-face interactions can help create new connections and a deeper sense of brand loyalty for those people who already think they know you.

That’s Real World Branding – and it’s not that different from what you’re already doing. It’s just more organized and intentional. And it can get you real world results.

 

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

Warning Signs That Your Manager Is Not A Good Coach

 

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Back in 2000, there was a box office hit called Remember The Titans, based upon a true story. In the film, Denzel Washington leads his team to a series of undefeated victories and ultimately a championship win, while overcoming racial bias and division. It was a great movie, but I often think about what really helped him transform the team. He had to develop trust with and from his players, as well as guide them to victory. To reach that goal, he had to impose order, for sure, but I don’t think that anyone would say that it was his strict management style and focus on the goal that alone enabled the team’s transformation. It was his coaching approach that helped the players realize their true potential, and the same thing sometimes happens in our work lives as well.

The definitions matter.

A manager is typically thought of as one who is an effective leader of their team, who directs or manages a program or initiative for the company, but is also responsible for the development of a team or business practice or organization. The ultimate objective of such a manager is to meet the target and generate the desired outcome.

On the other hand a good business coach gives a greater focus on the human aspects of the team she manages – which entails a greater involvement in the process to provide encouragement and support to members of the team – it requires exploring the people and their motivations and skills more than just maintaining an emphasis on the outcome. So both a manager and a coach can lead a team to the goal, but if the person was a good coach, you would expect that they would provide more training, motivation and constantly upgrade the skill sets of the team. A good manager may show you how to do something, but a good coach is going to work on bringing out your full potential.

Which ultimately makes managing more about command and control and coaching is more about growth and development.

Now maybe you’ve had a manager that was also a great mentor, motivator or inspiration, and you’d consider this person to be a coach in addition to being your manager. If you’re lucky enough to work with someone who could keep the focus on the target and outcome but at the same time was willing to improve the team’s overall skills and effectiveness – then I’d say you won the jackpot! But you may be the exception that proves the rule.

Not every manager, even a very good manager, is also a great coach.

According to recent talent research, it is found that modern employees value learning and career development opportunities more than the regular job. And this might be the reason why we respond so well to working with a manager who guides us towards our work goals and but also spends time working with us to help guide our career progression as well.

Unfortunately, many managers still think that training and coaching is a waste of their time and they believe that a job position should be filled with a person already possessing the required skills to perform it, and that’s where their responsibility stops. And there are some signs which can warn you if your manager doesn’t go the extra mile to try to be a good coach. You can know that you’re dealing with a manager that is NOT also a good coach when:

  • Deadlines trump employee development every time.
  • Growth and development plans are only spoken about in performance reviews, and are not followed up on.
  • They talk about current roles for you, but never your career path.
  • If asked, they can’t describe your strengths and weaknesses.

Why does it matter?

You may ask, “Is coaching that important?” In the grand scheme of things, is it really required for managers to also be good coaches? Some would say no. In the shrinking world of middle management, the role of manager as coach is not always considered or even asked for, and managers perform more often as players on the field themselves, and are responsible for generating the output and results themselves, without other people to manage or develop.

But even if it’s not a requirement, it comes down to what you want to get out of your career and life. Do you already have someone looking out for you?  Someone you can review your progress with and get the kind of feedback that helps you clarify your priorities and accomplish what you envision for yourself? If your manager isn’t listening, helping you clarify, and giving you advice that moves you forward, then your level of engagement is likely to drop. And you can contrast this with the results of good coaching which has been shown to help employees become more self-reliant, productive and competitive.

Coaches still have to deliver.

Of course, coaches have to deliver, too. No one would Remember the Titans if they didn’t win the game, right? But it is a powerful story because their coach didn’t just act like a manager. The coach’s vision, efforts, and dedicated time helped the players realize their potential and win. Likewise, your coach must realize the importance of outcomes for you, and ensure that you make progress on meeting them, not just your own internal development.

But if your current manager isn’t a good coach, then maybe you should look into getting one. Because Denzel’s character is the kind of person that you want supporting you in moving forward in your career to meet your goals. That’s REAL coaching. And that’s what helps teams and individuals deliver and grow.

 

 

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