You Can’t Show What You Don’t Know

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

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

To paraphrase Marilyn Monroe:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you?

 

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

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.

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.

What To Do When You Feel Like A Fraud

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Maybe you’d be surprised to know that almost all successful people occasionally feel undeserving, like they are frauds and they are about to be found out. It’s even got a name: Impostor Syndrome, and some studies say that 70% of us have experienced it at some point. In many cases, it’s the highest achievers that have those feelings the most.

But, fancy name aside, it’s really nothing more than your run-of-the-mill self-doubt. And I can hear you saying that knowing that many people feel the same thing is cold comfort. It can still be difficult to recognize your own contribution to your successes and triumphs, and this can leave you feeling like you’re faking it. It seems that when the pressure is on, or we’re under the gun to prove ourselves, we are hard-wired to remember our failures and often ignore our many achievements.

In many cases these doubts center around what you’re bringing to the table: your own talents and strengths and ability to take action. In these moments you need to be able to understand, respect and even celebrate what others can see in you, but you’ve temporarily lost track of. And that can be difficult, especially when so much about our world is aimed squarely at our deficiencies. When was the last time you had a performance review and the experience left you feeling ‘lifted up’ and positive about yourself?

So here are a few ways to accurately look at your achievements, shore up your confidence in your abilities and get back on the journey to reaching your goals when you’ve gotten bitten by the doubt-bug.

  1. Realize this feeling will pass. It may not seem like a big help at the time, but even just saying to yourself, “I’m going to feel better tomorrow about this” can help your brain start getting back in gear. There’s something inside us all called self-efficacy, and it can often enable us to do amazing feats, simply by strongly stating a belief that we have the capacity to do them. I’m not saying you have to believe in the Law of Attraction, but think about it the other way around: How many impossible things can you do if you really think they are impossible?
  2. Make a list and check it twice. We’ve talked about this before, but if you don’t already have a list somewhere of your accomplishments, then today is a good day to start one. It comes in handy in these weaker moments for us to have something to turn to that collects our achievements together in one place, and lays them out neatly — showing how far we’ve come and just what we’re capable of when we’re focused. Refer to this list when you’re feeling ineffectual, and bask in the glow of what you’ve already done. It can help you to look forward to what’s next with more determination and resolve.
  3. Don’t use the wrong measuring stick. No one is perfect, but we tend to put ourselves up against ideal role models, and that makes even the strongest of us feel like we’re lacking. Comparisons are natural, but you can’t let them beat you down, and they can blind you to recognizing the unique value that only you can bring. So if you’re stuck feeling like you can’t live up to perfection, it’s time to pull those expectations down a little, and tell yourself that “no one has it all figured out,” so you can give yourself a break.
  4. Get a second opinion. If you’re having trouble shaking the feeling, then call that one friend of yours who always seems to make you feel better. You don’t even have to talk about what’s bothering you, but if you can connect with a person who changes the energy around you for the better, then you’re more likely to come back refreshed and more able to be forgiving, thankful, and level-headed. Or, if you have a coach (and maybe you should have one?), then this is the time to reach out and say: “I need a minute!” Gaining a new perspective can help you see things as they really are.
  5. Look for the silver lining. Realize that having this feeling means that you’ve set the bar high for yourself, and that’s a good thing. If you just wanted to play it safe, you’d never be in this kind of a position, but you’d never be able to rise to new heights and achieve all that you dream about. You only get this feeling when you’re taking a risk. And taking risks is how we grow.
  6. Get out of your head. Get on your bike, or go for a walk or run in nature. Try to place yourself in a situation where you’re interacting with something bigger than your problems, and get moving. Again, this can change your perspective just enough to give you a better angle from which to see the path ahead.

It happens to almost all of us. And it can be terrifying, but there’s no reason it has to be paralyzing as well. Take action and get back in control. You’ll be back on track in no time.

 

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

Nailing The First 15 Seconds: Making A Killer First Impression

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In the first few seconds of meeting you, people can form opinions about you that can last a lifetime. It’s not very cerebral, it kind of just happens automatically, courtesy of the subconscious mind. A person can just look at you and bang, it’s like the Terminator scanning and analyzing you from top to bottom in just few seconds. They look at how you smile, how you walk, your posture and how you present yourself. In an interview or networking situation, those initial few seconds can decide whether you will get the job, whether you will be converting the sales opportunity, or whether the other person wants to work with you or not! So nailing that first impression can make for smooth sailing, or you’ll have to do a lot more work to prove yourself as the right person for the job.

It sounds unfair, right? The fact of the matter is that it _is_ unfair to be judged only by the things on the surface. But it’s also one of those ugly truths that we all have to face at some time or another.

The real question is, in situations like these, how do you make a good first impression? What can you do when you know that people are making decisions about you based on your skin color, dress, appearance and everything physical that they see about you?

Luckily, we can use this same human psychology to our advantage as well. There are several tips, tricks, and guidelines to follow that can adjust the overall packaging and presentation of your personal brand and help influence your first impression to some extent. What follows are some of our favorites.

  1. Look the part. Always present yourself in the best possible way. Dress appropriately to the occasion and be well-groomed. We’ve all been caught in that awkward situation when we run into an important person at a mall or restaurant, and there you are in your sweatpants. You may have to just get by in that environment, but when you’re at work, or a cocktail party there’s no excuse – you know that you’ll be on display. It doesn’t mean that you have to wear a suit or formal dress all the time, but the idea is to dress with a purpose. This will ultimately make you more confident and leave a good first impression. So make sure that you dress to impress. People notice and it makes a difference.
  2. Smile because you can and not because you have to. Try to keep a smile on your face and a positive body language with a strong eye contact. Greeting someone with a firm handshake and a happy face does the initial trick to build a foundation for good conversation. Never give a forced or a fake smile but instead try to let others feel that you are happy to meet them. Pay attention to how you walk, how you stand and how you approach others (or have a friend or coach do this for you). It’s essential that the communication you establish with your body is in sync with what’s coming out of your mouth. There’s something primitive about it, but people can generally tell when someone is faking their smile.
  3. Relax, dammit! Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax. Keep calm and try to relax your body through breathing. Getting anxious and uncomfortable during a meeting or conversation is easily visible on your face. So before any important conversation or meeting, just try to relax, slow down and take a few deep breaths and present yourself in a confident way.
  4. Speak up. When you start or join a conversation, avoid mumbling and using slang. No matter how hip or cool you might think that you sound, it may not create the right impression! Try to speak in a clear, confident manner that commands respect. If you use too many filler words (‘you know?’, ‘like’, ‘um’) or informal language, people might stop listening closely to you and kind of take you for granted. So practice being consistent with your thoughts, speak slowly and take time to think before you respond. You’ll probably find that people listen to you more!
  5. Find common ground. A psychologist named Robert Cialdini has conducted significant scientific research on the psychology of influence. He famously says that one of the most important things to do when meeting a new person is to quickly establish something in common with them — something that means you are related, similar, or share something in your backgrounds. Apparently even a small relatable element between the two of you is enough to turn you from a potential foe to a friend.
  6. Don’t forget the basics. These shouldn’t need mentioning, but just as a refresher…
  • Don’t be late for a meeting – it shows respect to your audience to be on time or even a little early.
  • Don’t forget to turn off your cell phone or keep it on silent mode during your meeting or networking event. Checking your phone is un-professional and can be a real spoiler during meetings. Keeping your eyes and attention on the other person shows them that you’re focused on them, not yourself. Don’t worry — Bieber will probably call back!
  • Be rested – make sure you get enough sleep so you’ll be bright-eyed and feeling your best.
  • Get their name right – there’s an old trick to look someone in the eye and say their name at least 3 times when you meet them in order to remember their name. It’s an old advertising saying that there is no sweeter word in the English language than the sound of your own name, and it’s true for most people. Don’t be that person who has to reintroduce themselves saying “I am really bad with names!”
  • It’s not (just) about you – Try to find out a little about who your audience will be. Is there something you already have in common that you can mention or share? This tip can go a long way to making sure you’re confident about the impression you want to make, and avoiding sounding over-rehearsed.

And that’s it! Easy right?

Ok, it’s not the easiest thing to do, but please remain optimistic, because each first impression hopefully isn’t your last impression. So if you blow it, you can make your way back, it just may take a bit of work and time.

But if you can, it just makes sense to try to make as good a showing as possible, and to stack all the odds in your favor. Feel free to try some of these ideas in your next business meeting, casual setup, or networking event. You may be surprised at what a killer first impression can do for 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.

Top 5 Reasons Why People Don’t Achieve Their Personal Branding Goals

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Either in our jobs, or in the industry where we work, or even just to where we think we’re going in life. We all have goals, and things we want to accomplish. But I asked 20 people if they’ve reached their personal goals they set for 2015, or made progress on them, and guess what the response was?

Only three people said that they achieved their goals. Several others said they have taken some steps, and seen some success, but not achieved their goals yet. (Apparently there’s a real thing called Achievement Anxiety). But every single one had lots of good reasons why they didn’t make progress. Reasons that sounded eerily familiar to me. Because I’ve heard myself give the same excuses.

Want to know why most people don’t achieve their goals?

1. Some of us don’t plan

What’s that phrase?  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. There’s some truth in that. Having a plan makes you force yourself to get practical. It makes you actually think about where you want to be in 6 months, or a year, or 5 years, and then spend some time considering how to get to that place. And picking a generic goal like “be healthier” or “have a better reputation at work” is almost worse than no goal, because you can’t really prove you’ve gotten there. You’ll want to invest thoughtful consideration into what you really want and come up with goals that you can actually measure — like “I’m going to go the gym 3 times a week,” or “run in a 5K,” or “get a positive review from my boss,” or “get invited to speak at a conference.” And don’t forget to visualize achieving your goal every now and then, just to keep your motivation in high gear.

2. Some of us don’t follow through

It can be tough to start, even after you’ve got a good plan. This is a tough one for me. You have to follow through. One person said that they felt they were better at achieving goals when they are big, high stakes changes, where “once you step on that roller coaster there’s no going back.” And that kind of step can be intimidating, but also exhilarating.

3. Some of us are missing a key ingredient

It takes stamina to keep going once you’ve begun.  And if you’re missing a key ingredient in moving forward, it can stop you in your tracks.

Entrepreneur and internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk says “What’s holding you back? Truly, what is it? Do you need to quit a job? Ask a relative for money? Hire someone to actually build the app for you? Whether it’s money or time, you just need to figure it out.”

That’s the trick, really —  you have to find out what that missing element might be for you. Is it just resources, or support, or the perspective of a coach?

4. Some of us aren’t realistic

Leo Burnett famously said that if you reach for the stars, you may not get one, but you won’t end up with a handful of mud either. And that’s good advice to encourage you to set stretch goals for yourself. But many of us don’t suffer from a lack of ambition, but rather we don’t break our goal into manageable chucks that are actually achievable. If you don’t know how you’re going to get what you want, i.e., you can’t set milestones along the way to your goal that you can reasonably reach, then you’re setting yourself up for failure and disappointment — you might not have picked a feasible goal. There’s the old saw that says your goals have to be S.M.A.R.T. (Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound). It’s good advice, and emphasizes not biting off more than you can chew.

5. Some of us don’t prioritize

People procrastinate, and don’t take the steps needed to get to what they want. Maybe they feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. It’s a truism that when presented with infinite choices, most people choose none. “Life gets in the way” is a common statement. But what this really means is that there are things we are doing that we think are more important than making progress to reaching our goals. And that means our goals are just not important enough to get us motivated to attack them.

But you know that your goals for building your personal brand are clearly important — so why would we not prioritize them higher? One person said to me that she thought she knew her brand was important to her, but she had to put some other people’s needs before her own, and that meant that she never got around to taking action. After thinking about it for a bit, she said “Come to think of it. That doesn’t make sense. I still have to have some time and energy put aside for me. I matter too!” And the simple fact is that you do matter. And your goals have to have priority in your daily life to enable you to succeed.

What do you think?  What advice would you offer for getting to where you want to 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.