In the past few years, personal branding has become a hot business topic. News anchors and journalists refer to individual brands when they cover business leadership superstars and business losers too. Executive recruiters consider a candidate’s brand when they are on a search for the best professional for a position and most entrepreneurs’ success depends on their strong, personal brand to attract employees, get funding and be an ambassador of their company.
Last month Daytime, a nationally broadcasted TV show that airs in over 35 markets, invited me to help out with a special segment called “Getting back to work”. The goal was to take two professionals who had lost their jobs and with an improved personal branding program, help them find the ideal career or opportunity.
Even though the segment focused on getting people back to work as employees, these lessons can apply to entrepreneurs as well.
Here’s the first segment that aired before Thanksgiving and a special shout out to Kendra York who owns Kendra & Company in Tampa for providing the hair, make up and style updates for our two makeover participants.
From here the plan was for me to give one-on-one coaching along with some branding tools provided by Staples that includes printing of business cards from their print and copy centers, Schtickers that provided a branded laptop skin and my design team that updated their brand identity.
These are some highlights from the coaching sessions.
Personal branding is no different than product or business branding which we all experience everyday. When a company has a strong brand, we as buyers have positive opinions about them, which in turn prompts us to select that brand over another choice. Product brands are competing to be the brand of choice.
The same concept applies for people and their personal brand.
A personal brand is what people think, feel and expect from you as an individual.
A personal brand is derived from the sum of what a person does, how they act, how they look and how they keep their promises.
In branding we call these brand opportunities, touch points.
Consistent brand touch points help a person manage their brand and peoples opinions of them.
A personal brand is one’s image, reputation and the impression they leave when they show up for a job interview, a business networking event or even after a phone call.
We all have brands even without thinking about them or consciously working on them, because people, our friends, colleagues, clients and employers are judging us and these opinions are stored in their heads, which become our brands.
The key to successful personal branding is making sure everything you do is lined up with your goals and that you consistently send out the accurate message that reflects the true you.
So when people find themselves in a down state, like being without a job or career they love, it’s time for action.
They need to follow these three brand-building steps to make sure they are projecting the right image that gets them closer to their goals.
1) Assessment and goal setting
2) Create an action plan
3) Work on it, with consistency and passion
I call the process, personal brain tattooing. Like a regular tattoo, a brand sticks to the minds of the market and it’s put there by choice.
Getting hired is often about risk and if your brand ensures the employer or client you are not a risk, but a good investment that can add value to their organization, that’s the ticket.
Step 1 – Assessment of what is.
What skills, persuasive assets and traits does the person have to build on and leverage?
When I’m working with an individual on their personal brand, I ask these questions.
- Can you tell me about yourself in a 60 second window? Please do.
- Why are you jobless?
- What do you enjoy doing?
- Describe your ideal job or next career?
- What are your 2-3 most important life goals?
- Have you experienced rejection and “No’s” in your job hunting?
- Did they give you reasons? What were they?
- Why do you think you were passed up?
- What tangible branding tools do you have? And what do you need to work on?
I also ask people to do a Google search on their name and see what comes up.
If it’s bad stuff that can tarnish your reputation, see what you can do to change it. Many times you can.
If it’s bad stuff that’s out of your control, like a criminal record, it’s good to know about it and sometimes you need to share this with a potential employer or client.
Next, I ask “What tangible branding tools do you have that reflect your desired personal brand?”
They can include:
- Your resume
- A strong cover letter of introduction
- A personal business card, laptop skin, brochures
- The appropriate wardrobe for interviews and meetings
- An appropriate web presence and social media footprint
I always recommend people buy their name URL, if it’s just a landing page with your contact information of social media links. If your name is not available, get something close, like with your middle initial in it.
As an example: I own www.Karenpost.com
Step 2- Next, one must develop a personal brand action plan to help get them from where they are “unemployed” to where they want to be, “in a great job or opportunity they love”.
A personal brand plan addresses:
- Brand essence
- Target audience
- Strategies (behavioral changes)
- Tactics (specific things to do)
I always start with the end in mind. What are your goals?
Strong personal brands are visible, memorable, distinct and relevant.
To “brand up” you, one needs to have:
Your personal essence defined.
A personal brand essence is the foundation around whom you are authentically.
Purpose - Why are you here? What do you do? How can you contribute to a company’s success?
Points of distinction- What is unique about you?
How you look
Your skill set
Who you have worked with
Personality – What are 3-4 adjectives that best describe you?
When building a personal brand, one’s personality attributes should be aligned with your desired job, career. Like in my case, being creative, having a sense of humor and being confident. Work well with my career choice being a consultant and speaker.
Promise – one’s promise is what they commit to delivering on.
For example – if you are in sales, you’ve got to be able to successfully sell. If you are in Healthcare administration, your attention to detail and problem solving must be mastered etc. One must be able to deliver on commitments and promises. Walk the talk.
After your brand essence is complete, then you must weave this platform into all of your touch points.
Who are your target audiences?
Who are the key company decision makers? Who are the other influential people in your network, who can make recommendations and introductions? Friends, former employers, people you do business with etc.
Touch points fall into three categories and need to be aligned with one’s goals.
1) One’s visual package
Research shows that visual elements are the #1 influencer in impressions people draw from others. This means your wardrobe, hairstyle and grooming all matter. Depending on the job and position you are seeking will determine the best look for a person.
Additionally, your tools like resume, business cards and thank you cards also impact the judgment you may earn.
2) One’s communication skills and style.
Next to the visual items, people are judged by their communication skills and style.
Communication style has three equally important areas.
How do you sound? Is your choice of words the best they can be and aligned to your goals? And the confidence and attitude you exude, is it consistent with your goals and does it lower the risk of the potential employer?
How do you write? From your resume, to a thank you note and your social media footprint, do these items communicate an impression that aligns with your goals?
What is your body language communicating? This includes your posture, handshake and eye contact. Are you poised and confident or unsure and down and out?
3) One’s substance and behavior.
The objective in personal branding is to be authentic, but based on your job goals; one must consciously increase the volume and clarity of their brand, offering potential contributions to a company’s success.
And finally, one must have substance and behave in a way that validates their position and image and supports all other touch points.
You must demonstrate evidence that you walk the talk, and are what your packaging communicates?
This means be really good at your craft and your job. The most skilled and competent people get the jobs first. And that’s where you want to be.
This may mean taking classes, accepting an unpaid internship or doing volunteer work with another job just to pay the bills.
And you must work the plan with passion and consistency everyday.
Think before you move. Stay in tune to the ideal brand you want people to have in their heads about you.
As a wrap up, here are five small things that have big instant impact on your personal brand.
1) Have a strategic online footprint that depicts you as you want your buyers to view you
This means have a LinkedIn account, a Twitter account and if you have business appropriate videos then a YouTube account too.
A landing page about you is a good idea, one that is hosted with your name.com. And if you’ve got something to say, a blog is extra icing on your brand cake.
2) Keep your promises
This means do what you say, say what you mean and walk your brand talk everyday.
3) Associate with people that are consistent with your brand
This means birds of a feather flock together. Don’t be hanging with bunch of crows if you are an elegant, sophisticated swan.
4) Look your brand
This means put the costume on when you are in public. Whatever your image is, support it with the right wardrobe, car and office.
5) Be consistent
This means frequency of a message, makes the message stick. Look at all your touch points, web, business communications, email, phone message, thank you notes, resume etc.
Need a little help with your personal brand? Check out some of my ebooks that can help you brand up your image and reputation.
Below is the second half of the Daytime segment that aired on 12/15/11
Save time. Get more followers. Earn more impact.
For those of you who are always tweeting, the following management tools may make your life seem easier and will aid in growing your community and channel significance:
1. TweetDeck is a free desktop widget that allows a business to tweet with the ability to sort tweets into direct messages, topics and keywords. TweetDeck is an Adobe Air desktop application that lets users send and receive tweets and view account profiles. You can also set up a specific column to view mentions of your company or industry, and another column for all of your competitors. This application is also capable of integrating your Facebook, Linkedin, Google Buzz, Foursquare and Myspace accounts.
2. Hootsuite is a free fast-growing web service and is designed for businesses needing to manage more than one Twitter profile with multiple users. It allows a business to easily schedule tweets and easily switch back and forth between different accounts. Hootsuite also includes a URL-shortening service that lets you see how many times your links are clicked.
3. CoTweet is a free tool that allows multiple individuals from the same company communicate through a single Twitter account. People maintain their own profile and the account activity is recorded as the program focuses on a two-way communication that engages other accounts.
The next blog post will discuss different contact management tools.
Where did that day go? I was busy every minute and feel like nothing of high value got complete.
Tracking, scheduling and planning of time are proven disciplines that can help. Here are some meeting and scheduling tools worth checking out.
Genbook offers the most fully-featured FREE online appointment scheduling software on the Internet. Check out all of our features below. When your business needs more, you can upgrade to Genbook Solo or Genbook Standard on a 30-Day Free Trial to harness the power of our advanced Premium Features
Features with the FREE version include:
- Universal BookNow! Button for your Website
- Receive Unlimited Online Appointments
- Add Unlimited Staff & Services
- Unique Scheduling Webpage with Customizable URL
- Connect With Your Customers Facebook BookNow! Application
- Customer Invitation Tool import your customer list and send them an email invitation to make their next appointment online.
- Genuine Auto-Collected Customer Reviews
- Genbook Anywhere Anytime
- Flexible Online Appointment Calendar
- Mobile iPhone Access
- Automatic Appointment Notifications & Reminders
- Customize Your Genbook Experience
- Customizable Appointment Scheduling
- Upload Your Business Logo
30-Day FREE Trial for Premium Features
If you want increased scheduling flexibility, try the Premium Features on a 30-day free trial. Upgrade your FREE account to add advanced features including SMS Text Message Notifications, Credit Card Capture, Precision Scheduling, and more!
- Bookfresh is online scheduling and appointment booking software that grows your business.
- Free version gets you
- 3 bookings each month
- The ability to list and describe 3 service offerings to your client
- Accept/deny feature allows you to confirm appointment times
- Store client information for rebooking
- Online client database
- Mini business web site
- “Book now” widgets to add to your web site
Use MeetingWizard to arrange and schedule meetings and other events. As a productivity tool it makes the planning process easier and more effective.
- MeetingWizard automatically does the following:
- sends invitations to participants proposing alternate times
- summarizes their responses
- updates you on the results
- sends confirmations
- sends optional reminders prior to meetings
MeetingWizard requires only that you and your participants have access to e-mail and a browser. It uses the simplest technologies possible, ensuring that all of your guests will be able to use the system.
You can use the full version of Scheduly FREE for 90-days. After the three month trial, the cost is $9.95 per month.
Scheduly is about managing your appointments online. You can offer any service through Scheduly and others can view your available time slots and schedule appointments, meetings or any other activity anytime, anywhere.
Tungle.me is a scheduling application that syncs with your existing calendar.
Eliminate double-bookings, time zone mishaps and the back-and-forth of finding a time to meet. Easily schedule meetings, inside or outside your organization. Invite others to schedule with you, without having to sign up.
Simplify How You Collaborate With Others
Create online workspaces to share files and documents, manage task lists and engage in group discussions.
Central Desktop Features
* Create Online Discussion Groups – Reduce Email Chatter
* Share Version-Tracked Files and Documents
* Track Projects, Milestones and Tasks
* Manage Workgroup Calendars – iCal Enabled
* Setup in Minutes – Deploy Immediately
FreshBooks provides fast and simple invoicing and time tracking services that help you manage your business.
Secure, web based tool branded with your business name.
- Invite contractors to join your team and track time on projects. Receive their invoices all in one place. Logins for contractors and staff.
- Share documents with your staff and clients, set access levels to restrict who can see what.
- Create support tickets to help manage additional time spent with customers.
- Send invoices by the mail prepared by the FreshBooks team, just purchase stamp credits. Invoices are sent via first class business mail within one business day.
- Keep track of your expenses, for both projects and yourself. Easily re-bill clients on project expenses.
- iPhone app for remote use
Fresh Books has tons of add ons in the following categories: mobile, time tracking, project management, accounting, expenses, CRM, forms and appointments, marketing, eCommerce and POS, Google document sharing, WebHooks, payment gateway, electronic signatures and customer support
FreshBooks has 5 different paid plan options and 1 free plan. The free plan has many bells and whistles, but you are limited to 3 clients but you can invoice them as much as you need. Also, emails sent from the system will have an added signature at the very bottom that reads: “Save time invoicing with FreshBooks (www.freshbooks.com)“.
Are you interested in learning more about a particular software program, website design, or marketing? What if you could learn these things for FREE? Check out the HP Learning Center.
HP offers online courses that are available on-demand or on a weekly basis. Here are a list of some of their most popular classes.
- Professional digital photography made simple
- Facebook and Twitter: getting started
- Windows Vista: tune up your PC
- Intermediate website design
These courses are great for entrepreneurs on the go who don’t have time to sit in a physical classroom or dig through shelves in a bookstore.
It’s Monday night and you just got word that a prospect you’ve been following for months suddenly wants to meet on Tuesday morning to discuss your proposal. You have less than 12 hours to learn all about their website and the company. What do you do?
Check out Dataopedia, a free tool that provides fast facts on company websites. This online service can be used as a research and performance measure tool if you want to get a preview of a company or track a particular website. Just type in a domain name and it will pull up a short bio of the website – when it was launched, its worldwide ranking, how fast it loads, traffic statistics, etc.
Dataopedia also provides a short company bio, the executive management team, and any employment availabilities. The data can be accessed not only through the website, but also on your mobile device and using embed-able widgets.
For more information, visit Dataopedia.
Tungle.me is scheduling made easy
Are you tired of trying to coordinate multiple peoples’ schedules to schedule meetings? Try Tungle, a free online scheduling tool that enhances communication and productivity. Scheduling meetings will become easy and hassle-free because you can send invitations and propose multiple meeting times to different participants. Your Tungle calendar automatically syncs with your e-calendar (Outlook, Google, Apple iCal, Entourage for Mac and Lotus notes) and updates new meetings. Tungle also automatically adjusts the meeting time to your time zone so you don’t miss it.
Non-members do not need to sign up to reply to invites.
Here’s how to use Tungle.me.
- To schedule a meeting, click on your Tungle Me link.
- Your calendar with availability will appear.
- Non-members will need to confirm their identity first by verifying their email.
- Enter the meeting details.
- Choose multiple meeting time options according to your availability.
- Next, send the invitation.
- Confirm a meeting time.
- Tungle will send a reply to the other participants with the meeting details!
Tungle me is a useful tool for business professionals because it puts you are control of your schedule. You decide what days and times you are available. You also have the final word on what time and day the meeting will be held.
Tungle is available as an iPhone application, and Tungle Me buttons can be placed on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. To sign up or learn more, visit: Tungle.me.
Let’s face it. We’re not all neat freaks. We get pre-occupied with work, meetings and other commitments and barely have time to clean our office spaces or homes. We let paperwork pile up as the amount of work increases. Before long, mountains of paper and unnecessary clutter crowd our offices or living spaces.
Fortunately, the National Association of Professional Organizers provides tips for how to de-clutter. They say that 80% of clutter is due to disorganization and that the average executive wastes 180 hours looking for misplaced items. Professional organizers are available to guide and offer tips on how to sort out clutter and establish a system to better organize documents or spaces. They aim to help individuals and businesses increase productivity and accomplish more in their personal and professional lives.
The National Association of Professional Organizers offers business and residential organizing services. Aside from sorting out information (paper or electronic) and maximizing space, professional organizers can also help with time management, event planning, personal or group coaching, office or home moving, and even arranging photographs and memorabilia. These organizers work with individuals and businesses as they apply tested principles and expertise to help their clients take control of their surroundings, their time, their paper piles, and their lives.
After recognizing the need for organization, the next step is choosing your organizer. This is important because your success will depend on the knowledge and expertise of your organizer. To find a professional organizer, go online to NAPO to search by zip code or country. Look under “Organizing products and services” or similar headings. Fees will vary, but don’t let price be the deciding factor. NAPO recommends focusing on value by finding an organizer with a personality you click with and a skill set that matches your needs.
The organizer does not necessarily need to be a member of NAPO to be a great organizer; nor does being a member guarantee quality work. Knowing that a potential organizer is member of NAPO means he or she is committed to continuing education and an industry code of ethics. Other professional associations directly related to the organizing industry include Professional Organizers in Canada (POC), the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD), and the Australasian Association of Professional Organizers (AAPO).
We recommend meeting with several organizers before making a decision. Be sure to ask relevant questions like what kind of organizing projects they do, who their clients are, what services they specialize in, will you be working with them directly or will they send an employee, their fee structure, etc.
If you are ready to make the mountains of papers disappear, then visit NAPO today to find a professional organizer. Good luck!
Are you frustrated with extra charges on your phone bill from using directory services like 411? The Oddpodz team has found a solution for you. It is so convenient to dial “411” to get directory assistance that we forget that phone companies charge for that service. But lucky for us, Google offers a free directory assistance service at 1-800-GOOG411.
Goog411 is easy to use:
1. Dial 1-800-466-4411
2. Listen to the short advertising message.
3. Say the business you are looking for with the city and state
4. Google will give you a list of options
5. Say the number of the company you are searching for
6. Get connected!
You can also conveniently use Goog411 on your cell phone. After calling Goog411, you can say “text message” for delivery on your cell phone. If you have a Smartphone with Internet access, you can say “map it” and Google will send you a map of the neighborhood around the business. Goog411 is easy to use, convenient, and most importantly, FREE.
To learn more, visit GOOG411. Happy dialing!