Why It’s Critical For Leaders To Build Strong Personal Brands

People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. — John Maxwell

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Have you always dreamed of becoming a leader? Maybe you took a wrong turn and got sidetracked by life: meeting deadlines, hitting sales targets, keeping clients, bosses, and colleagues happy. Or maybe you’re just starting out. But if you have lost sight of your dream of becoming a leader, or are not sure where to begin, then a renewed focus on your personal brand might be just the thing to inspire you and get you back on track.

As technology and workplace continues to go mobile, modern life seems to be pushing us to compete more than ever, making it critical for us to differentiate ourselves, in order to reach our goals. And expectations are even greater for leaders to be out in front of all these market forces, to provide their vision and advice for others to move forward. So a strong personal brand seems to be a critical feature of leadership development. Leaders must develop their image consciously continue to invest in their brand and themselves, so that they can effectively serve the company and communities that they lead.

When you break it down, leadership isn’t just having the right knowledge or attitude, but it instead centers on the ability to work with groups of people to create positive impact in their organization and beyond. What follows are some strategies and concepts showing how a strong personal brand can help leaders create this impact:

  1. Leaders have a clear vision

A leader has to set targets for the future, which requires unequivocal, easy to explain goals, along with defined plans to get there. They start by identifying what’s important, and being brutally honest about their strengths and abilities to get where they (and their company) need to go. They map personal development plans and determine how they’ll address any gaps to defining the wider company’s goals.One mark of a real leader is that they don’t hesitate when asked what their goals are, they always know what’s standing in their way, and they know if they’re on track to reach the results they want.

  1. Leaders make an impression

Leaders know they can’t do it all alone. They have to motivate a wide variety of people and energize the larger community to take concerted action to solve problems and move the market. So leaders have to know what motivates their team, and then exert tremendous presence and influence to ensure that they get those employees to act — all while remaining helpful, genuine, and authentic. Sometimes this means being powerful and impressive like Superman and sometimes it means being approachable and open like Clark Kent, but in all the cases, they have to make an impression that gets results. Some leaders do this by making employees feel comfortable, or competitive, or nurtured, or important and most can vary their presence as they need to. But no matter what their style, leaders know that their employees are truly important assets in their organization, so it is the leader’s responsibility to inspire the team and drive their creativity in solving problems for the business.

  1. Leaders live in their brand

Lance Armstrong portrayed physical power and will in his leadership and his brand. But when he admitted the use of performance enhancing drugs to win titles, his leadership brand was immediately devalued. He didn’t live the brand he had built and advertised everyday in his work. Contrast his story with Steve Jobs, who was relentless in terms of his application of his personal brand, down to the black turtleneck and jeans he presented in.

  1. Leaders know they have to stay visible.

You can’t lead the herd from inside it, much less from behind. So leaders use their charisma to attract and engage people, and it’s important that they are present publicly and at internal events to demonstrate their support for the organization and familiarize their audience with their vision. Often, this translates into regular presence in the social media and industry conferences.

  1. Leaders don’t fear change.

When Richard Branson said “Branding demands commitment to continual re-invention and imagination,” he meant that successful leaders can’t sit on their past successes. True leaders build their brand through their approach to ‘what’s next,’ and not based on ‘what used to be.’ No one knows what the future holds, and so we look to leaders to be able to help us navigate the new landscape when it seems like everything we’ve always known is being thrown out the window.

It’s been shown that there is a strong correlation between leadership success and personal branding,  so if you’re looking to lead others, you’ll want to start with yourself and your own brand. That’s how you can become the kind of leader that the world needs to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

 

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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 Real Cost Of Your Lackluster Employee Engagement

lackluster employee engagement

In my last job, every few months our management would send around a survey that was designed to take my “Engagement Temperature.” Basically, the company wanted to know my attitude, feelings, confidence, and opinion about my job, and how supportive I was of the direction that my work, my boss, my department, and the company was taking.

OK, so why is the headline so grim?  Why assume that employee engagement is lackluster?

Because it probably is.

These kinds of surveys are common in the corporate world, and often they have a specter of ominous dread. The Gallup 2012 employee engagement assessment showed that 67.5% of employees are ‘not engaged’ at work, including 17.5% who said they were actively dis-engaged — not a pretty picture.

But it’s not just a morale issue — it hits the bottom line. Hard. Putting aside the fact that your company’s culture and brand can be adversely affected, some studies have pointed to bottom line losses in the range of $450 billion to $550 billion. And most measures of productivity also take a hit when engagement levels are low.

So how do you build and keep engagement levels high? Because we all can point to plenty of examples of employee engagement ideas and programs that have failed, and some with spectacular costs associated with them.

Dan Pink says it’s AMP – In his book, Drive, he outlines how Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose are the secrets to happy employees at work. Which really comes down to letting employees be more than just cogs in the machine, but actually own their contributions to the business, and participate in real ways in the ‘why’ behind the company.

Gallup research says that your best bet is to hire the right talent in the first place, spend time and resources building their skills in a way that shows connection to your company’s purpose, and try to treat them like a whole human being with a body, a mind, emotions, and all that good stuff.

Interestingly, both these ideas center on the company having a clear and emotionally powerful reason for why they do what they do. After the company defines that central mission really well, employee engagement becomes a challenge of finding the right ways of helping the employee understand what they have to offer that fits into this mission, and how they can shine at delivering it.

Which really means that companies should be supporting their employees in developing strong personal brands, because as we’ve said before, the strongest personal brands are deeply connected with what a person has to bring to the world, and how they fit into it. So shouldn’t companies be assisting their employees in developing their personal brands in ways that support the company’s purpose?

Is it that simple? Is there any reason why it shouldn’t be?

 

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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.

 

You Can Become A Personal Branding Rock Star

rockstar personal brand

Sam Fiorella, co-author of Influence Marketing, describes influence as “the swaying of beliefs, behaviors or actions.” This concept of influencer marketing can apply to brands, companies, individuals, salespeople — just about everyone! Until recently, big brands would rely on celebrities and popular bloggers to promote and market their brands but today the wave is shifting from companies and corporate accounts to users and consumers, who are playing a new key role as the influencers who control the very markets that they shop in.

And there are probably lots of examples of this happening in your daily life. Maybe you tried a new airline on a recent trip because your friend said it was an amazing experience or a great deal. Think of that new gadget that you never planned to buy, but when you saw your coworker using it in a meeting, then suddenly you knew you had to have it! This is the power of authentic influence and it’s not a celebrity playground anymore, just us, the common folks, who wield greater power than ever, due to our use of social media.

And brands are taking notice. A recent McKinsey study states that marketing involving word of mouth generates twice the sales of paid advertising along with 37% higher customer retention rate. Of course, the rise in social media has played a crucial role in this shift – since it acts as a shared platform where peers actively recommend and share details on purchasing decisions. This growing role of peer recommendations, likes, shares and retweets on social media provides more evidence of the importance of influencer marketing. 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.” And in 2016 we are sure to witness the continued acceleration in the use of influencer marketing.

But it’s not just about products and big brands. We can also be influenced by people, and we can influence other people ourselves. Maybe you call this being a thought leader, or maybe you call it becoming a ‘Guru,’or a ‘Social Media Rock Star,’ but whatever you call it, it can be a way to expand the reach and influence for your personal brand.

We’ve talked before about how to get in contact with influencers who can help you build your personal brand, but just imagine what it would be like for YOU to be the influencer. You could be the one using social media to plant the seeds of your ideas in the minds of your followers — creating raving fans and a loyal audience for your viewpoint.

So it shouldn’t surprise you that the principle behind influencer marketing isn’t rocket science, but it can be as simple as:

Know -> Share -> Track -> Revise

  • Get to know your community: Identify your audience and start to understand what’s important to them, and what they need and think about. In order to show that you care, you’ll have to know the things they care about and invest time in them – so that they can see the value in following you and engaging with you. And don’t be afraid to start small. It can help you stay focused and carve out a niche space. Go for quality when starting out, and worry about increasing your follower count later. 
  • Share quality content: Give people substance when you interact with them. This means writing and reading quality content in your topic area of interest. Generic likes or shares won’t cut it anymore, if you plan to be an influencer. So put in the time to find cool new blogs, videos, podcasts and information that your community finds useful and engaging. Put together a shortlist of the most important topics of the day, and maybe the most controversial! Then start working on your viewpoint of them, and what you think could be or should be done. If you want your audience to eagerly await the next big thing from you, you’ll have to pull out the big guns, i.e., get good research done, and find the right angle for your content, to make sure your voice can resonate. When you’re ready, move beyond social spaces, and get into speaking engagements. And you can even decide to write that book that you’ve been thinking about.
  • Track your reach: Use social media measurement tools like Buffer, or Hootsuite, or Mention, that can help you track and understand the buzz you make in the social media space. You can use these tools to judge the level and depth of influence that your personal brand has, and respond to conversations with your followers and fellow thought leaders. Be part of the conversation, and commit yourself to always pushing the thinking further.
  • Revisit your results and learn from your mistakes: Since you’re using the latest analytics and tools to measure your progress, occasionally you’ll want to step back and see if you’re still on track. What kinds of content worked, and got a lot of positive response from your community? What kinds of topics did you participate in where you maybe didn’t come across as an expert? Or maybe someone else stepped in and answered a difficult question better than you did. Don’t take these “mis-step-moments” as set-backs, but instead look at them as chances to learn, and improve your content.

2015 saw a real time deployment of influencer marketing by brands like Jaguar and Capital One. And a new group of consumers-as-influencer-marketers are just now emerging who have the power to become ambassadors of brands, products, services and even themselves. Since you are the most important product that you work with everyday, you will need to grow your personal brand and its reach in meaningful ways to establish yourself as a real player.

And that’s how you’ll unleash your inner Rock Star.

 

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.

Bullseye: Find And Activate Your Target Audience

Eye-Target Audience 2Building your personal brand takes a commitment. A commitment to share and communicate on a regular basis to the audience with which you want to build your reach and influence. But if you aren’t sharing the right content with the right audience on social media, it can be like you’re loudly selling hot dogs in the aisles of a theatre during an opera performance. It’s just not the right material for the right audience. So before you send out all those shares, tweets, and retweets that you have been working on, you have to ask yourself: Are they reaching the right audience?

Or is it all just buzz for buzz’s sake?

Lately, the trend of sharing content on LinkedIn has been exploding. So many influencers are publishing their thoughts on a regular basis on LinkedIn, you could say that it is becoming the ‘Big Data of Crowded Content’ (and yes, I thought that up myself). But who is listening?

Both LinkedIn and Facebook have been adjusting their news feed algorithms to try to keep users engaged, and so people are choosing carefully who to follow (and sometimes having some trouble) to keep a close eye on the trending topics. The audience is becoming more discerning, so it takes extra work to make sure that you’re breaking through. And you want that extra work to count — to get you the most impact.

We want to make sure we’ve properly set our sights on the perfect target definition, because creating and sharing content without it is like launching a rocket, without knowing where it is going to go (or where it’s going to land). Hopefully the following ideas can act as solid ‘rocket boosters’ giving you the right thrust to get your mission underway:

  • Define your audience: How do you get to know your audience (and therefore, who is NOT your audience)? Well, it may sound simplistic, but you generally have to talk with them! You can read all the reports you like, and feel free to trust your gut, but the only real way to know what people are thinking and doing, and therefore how you can help them, is to ASK THEM. So get comfortable with talking to people about what your unique offering is, and getting their feedback. Only by talking to a wide variety of people you can hope to start to narrow down your audience and know for whom your solution can be tailored. It is always better to know and understand your audience and direct your content based on both the demographics and the segment interest. However, there is a danger in assuming that all 30-year-olds think the same way and value the same things, so don’t expect to always have your insights spoon-fed to you. After all, if you had asked people in 1880 about how to improve transportation, they would have asked for faster horses, even though Benz and Daimler would invent the first modern automobile only 6 years later.
  • Know your mission: Determine your objective and point of difference. Are you focusing on an important, unmet need or demand? If you are using social media for business opportunities then you should have the right product targeting the right market to convert more leads. According to LinkedIn research, LinkedIn users are either looking for content on industry insights or using the platform for job hunting. So if you’re not sharing that kind of information there, you may have some trouble gaining traction and driving attention. W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne recommended that you design your own niche space in the ‘Blue Ocean’ (i.e., the calm area where other people are currently NOT fishing or competing), rather than entering the competitive ‘Red Ocean’ (where everyone else is already active, offering solutions and products). So strike out and be bold: don’t be boring! Develop your unique perspective, and avoid coming across like just a news channel — reporting rather than commenting.
  • Do your research: Take a look at what your audience does on social media. What do they share or publish? Joining groups and participating in discussions, provides a great opportunity to find a common ground and explore the social ecosystem. Check out where they tend to reply and comment on their topics. Sometimes the comments are the best way to understand what’s really important to them.
  • Plan and execute your content: When you have a clear picture of who your ideal audience is and what they do, the next thing to figure out is what kind of information they are looking for and what are they are interested in. And don’t be afraid to spice things up every now and then, it’s an art to figure out what actually entertains and catches the eye, as well as informs. So try LOTS of things to find out what fact, information or industry insights will inspire and activate them. Again, the only way to really know if it’s working it to ask someone, so now is the time to reach out to some of your potential audience and see how they react. Test and learn.

If you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will take you there.

– Lewis Carroll (paraphrased)

If you position the right content to the right target segment, it will generate buzz — no matter how big or small the network is. And with the word of mouth playing a more influential role than advertising does on social media, you could even end up magnifying your reach into your ideal target audience.

Once you can identify and activate your ideal audience, you can then focus on turning them into raving fans. But that’s another post!

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

Can Your Profile Picture Sink Your Personal Brand?

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Okay, maybe it won’t sink your career, but if yours was actively working against you and your goals, you’d want to take action, right? You want your personal brand to shine its brightest on your social media profiles, and one secret may be to have a great profile photo.

We’ve all probably noticed that when we update our profile picture on Facebook we tend to get a lot of like’s within just a few minutes. Well it shouldn’t surprise you, because as a species, we are super-visually oriented. Pictures are not only worth a thousand words to us, but they can convey emotions and messages better and faster than any written or spoken explanation — and we retain a lot more of that visual information as well. We like to see our friends on display, and so a great profile photo tends to get noticed and appreciated widely.

And if you’ve ever been looking for a specific package in a store, you have product marketers to thank for eye-catching packaging that helps you quickly find what you’re looking for. The design of the package has to express the personality of the brand, present the logo in a positive way and even communicate some product benefits. That’s a lot of work for a few pictures and graphics to do, but in a sea of products, the brands we like tend to stand out to us. That’s branding in action.

For your profile photo, it’s even more critical. Because of our evolutionary programming, we can automatically read pictures of faces even faster than we can scan all that complicated packaging design. Which means that choosing the right profile picture is an important endeavor. It has to capture your personality and the brand image that you want to project.

Before picking your perfect headshot, first think about your objective and purpose. On LinkedIn, professionalism is the name of the game, so you’ll want to be well-groomed, dress accordingly, and have a clear professional headshot. Avoid using logos and other competing images in the frame so that you remain the focus of the shot. On your private Facebook account you can upload all your party pictures but the same cannot be said for LinkedIn. Choose your picture wisely to project the right image and message to your audience.

If you’re not sure how to get that “just-right” picture, here are a few key pointers that might help:

  • Always have a clear, mostly empty contrasting background so that you stand out well
  • Always present you at ‘your best’ – ask for feedback from your friends: “Do I look my best here?”
  • Make sure the picture is tightly framed enough to be called a headshot, or head and shoulders picture only – no full-body poses
  • Check to be sure that the photo is clear – not blurry
  • Avoid drab colors, but wear a color palette that nicely complements your skin tone and hair color – remember that the clothes are not what you’re displaying: it’s about you!
  • Look friendly and inviting in your photo
  • Always try to relax, smile and showcase a genuine happy face
  • Don’t forget to update your picture on a regular basis as you age and change

“Are you sure that’s still you?”

This last point deserves a little more emphasis. It is always better to have a recent picture. Over time, we all grow and change, so let your profile picture change with you, too.

You can control the privacy settings on both Facebook and LinkedIn (but not on Twitter), so keep that in mind if you’re at all worried about who can see your profile picture.  But it may help you to think about your public profile as that is your visual signature and brand identity – so it makes sense to remove most of these filters on your professional profiles unless you have specific concerns.

It may sound crazy, but having a bad photo can reduce the chances of making a new connection, and according to LinkedIn a page with a profile picture is seven times more likely to be viewed than a page without one, so you really can’t afford to ignore its importance.

First impressions matter, and you don’t want a lousy photo to turn away opportunity — so make sure your picture is working for you, not against 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.