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3 Reasons It Pays to Invest in Your Employees’ Personal Brands

Your employees are the core of your brand, but you wouldn’t know it looking at most companies’ websites and social media profiles. Instead, many companies only feature high-level leadership, keeping the majority of their team behind the scenes. Newsletters are often formal “notes from the CEO.”

But that’s not what customers want, what your employees want — or what’s best for your business. Customers want relationships, stories and authenticity, and your employees are the best people in your company to deliver that.

To start using your team better within your business’s brand, help them build their own: Invest in your employees’ career development and personal branding so that you can feature them prominently. Here’s why.

They’ll Do Their Jobs Better — and Longer

Encouraging your employees to build their personal brands and share their expertise with the general public can improve your relationships with them in multiple ways. It’s worthwhile to support employees and provide mentorship in this area for everyone’s benefit.

Building a personal brand requires public speaking, networking and writing. These are skills that are transferable to employees’ work. Public-speaking skills, for example, can make a manager better at communicating with groups in meetings. But even the simple act of talking and writing about their direct duties more regularly can help people practice and improve their core competencies.

“I believe speaking and writing for credible, relevant publications are two of the best ways to increase visibility and foster meaningful connections,” says Barry Feldman, co-author of the personal-branding handbook “The Road to Recognition.” “Above all, these types of opportunities to create and present content should be thought of as exercises in building authority and trust.”

Helping team members develop new skills and explore personal branding gives them more control over their careers, which can be motivating.

But if you build up these individuals’ personal brands, doesn’t that just increase the likelihood that they’ll get poached right out from under you?

Roope Heinilä, the CEO of employee advocacy platform Smarp, explained why he believes this fear is ludicrous. “The easiest comparison to a company embracing its employees as the key drivers of success is a professional sports team,” he said. “Most players end up playing for multiple teams during their careers, but there is no question whether they should be coached and helped to improve their skills while they play for the current team – even if they later use the skills they acquire to play for a different team in the future.”

It Strengthens Your Company’s Overall Brand

Another great reason to support your employees’ personal brands is that it strengthens your company’s overall brand and reputation. If you tell your team members that they need to maintain low profiles, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

“Employers should put their fears aside, recognize how things work today and fully support employees aiming to build personal brands,” Feldman insists. “A forward-thinking employer recognizes that a win-win-win happens when an employee earns greater recognition in the niche. I suppose an employer can reject this advice and suppress the employee who wants bigger things, but how’s that going to work out?”

When your team members brand themselves, their frame as employees of your organization is crucial. Any boosts in reputation and positioning will then extend to your company, as well.

In addition to those direct effects, existing customers seeing your employees featured and sharing their expertise prominently can help build loyalty in your company and your people.

It Shows Customers Who They’ll Work With

The best case for nurturing your employees’ online presence is that it introduces the true, day-to-day face of your business to your customers. Most companies highlight only their most senior team members, but that’s not who a customer will actually talk to when they interact with your business.

Cultivating public personalities for customer-facing team members can advance your relationships with prospective and existing customers. That way, when they’re reading a newsletter from your company or contacting customer service, they feel a connection to the person on the other end.

In practice, this might look like what Buffer does. They highlight individuals instead of just executives or the collective group, and a lot of Buffer team members have their own personal brands, side projects, and existing relationships with their customers. All customer service is personalized to take advantage of existing relationships and give a personal touch.

Ultimately, “personal branding is for leaders,” says Feldman. “This doesn’t mean you have to be a CEO or policymaker. It means an important part of your job is to lead people. Professionals in customer-facing roles become more effective when they establish authority and master some of the tenets of personal branding.”

HR Pros: Build Your Personal Brand with Twitter

Twitter is the third most popular social media site in the world and can play an important role in building your personal brand. By establishing a Twitter presence, you create a network that helps you connect with relevant people, get eyes on content you’ve created, and have more influence in your field. Here are some tips for getting started on Twitter and using the platform productively.

  1. Decide What You Want Your Twitter to Be About

Authenticity is important when building your Twitter presence, but you should try to home in on how you want to present your personal brand before you launch into using it. For example, if you’re the CEO of a solar company, you might want your Twitter to focus on issues relating to your industry, such as sustainability, innovation, and energy. This doesn’t mean you can never tweet about anything else, but determining what you’re going to bring to the table content-wise can help you attract the right kind of users and avoid getting lost in an otherwise saturated sphere. Sometimes niche is better when it comes to building an online following.

  1. Don’t Be a Robot

Companies and business professionals often make the mistake of being too clinical on Twitter—in short, too boring. As a result, their followers mainly consist of bots and automatic follows from other unengaged users. Connecting with people requires more than just tweeting out article links once a day, and your content should portray personality if you want people to care about you as a brand. Use humor in your personal brand whenever you can and mix up your tweets’ formats regularly with things like images or videos. Don’t be afraid to inject more of you into your tweets—it’s your personal brand you’re trying to build, after all.

  1. Post Consistently

If you’re worried about coming up with content frequently, consider scheduling tweets in advance to ensure you stay on top of it. Services like Hootsuite and Buffer let you do that, making it easier to manage various social media accounts. However, it’s not absolutely necessary to schedule your tweets—Apple CEO Tim Cook rarely tweets and has an excellent Twitter presence, but his title does give him a bit of an advantage!

If you decide to schedule tweets, make sure it doesn’t affect your ability to be personable. Don’t schedule various tweets for the week and forget about Twitter—keep it in your mind so when something that might interest people pops into your head, you can tweet it out in the moment. You may also want to weigh in on more current trends, including daily trending hashtags, as this will boost your engagement and relevance, especially while your audience is still small.

  1. Time Your Tweets Right

Certain time periods generate more engagement than others on your tweets. To be more successful on Twitter, learn what these times are and make the most of them. For example, early morning hours tend to generate the most clicks, but evenings are better for getting favorites and retweets, according to a 4.8 million-tweet research study conducted by Buffer. Of course, tweeting isn’t an exact science, so don’t be afraid to experiment and see what time periods your audience reacts the most in.

  1. Learn from the Success of Other Twitter Users

Identify successful people and brands in your field to learn more about building your online presence and figure out what works. You don’t have to copy what others do, but mimicking their style a little, or even getting some inspiration from them, can help you better establish your brand in a way that’s constructive. You’ll notice that there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for building an effective Twitter presence, but most successful users and brands choose vulnerability and authenticity over pushing their authority.

Twitter regularly updates its “Success Stories” page—keep up with it to see what’s working well for people and brands, and pick up some timely tips. In the meantime, here are a couple of examples of great Twitter presences.

Successful Twitter Influencers

Tesla CEO’s bio simply says, “Tesla, SpaceX, Tunnels & OpenAI,” and he almost exclusively sticks to those topics in his tweets, while also offering semi-relevant hot takes such as “Rollercoasters are awesome.” Musk’s personable approach to his customers and Twitter followers adds to the appeal of his personal brand. He has 7.6 million followers, despite following only 40 people—so don’t expect a follow back from him anytime soon, unless you’ve joined NASA.

UK-based smoothie company Innocent is an excellent example of a good Twitter presence because it doesn’t try to push its products much. Instead, it opts to tweet about charity efforts it’s involved in, chatting with its customers, and weighing in on what might happen at the Oscars this year. The company recently used its following to help a woman find a certain type of wool to finish knitting a blanket. No word yet on whether she found it with the help of Innocent’s 268,000 followers, but fingers crossed!

Developing Your Brand While Maintaining Security

Even though generating a Twitter presence for your personal brand might seem daunting at first, using these five steps can help you get started and hopefully find success just around the corner. Also, remember to use caution as you create your personal brand on the internet—stay safe and keep your personal information private. Following a few simple safety steps helps you stave off threats and keep your Twitter use beneficial to your personal brand. And don’t forget to monitor who is following you and liking your posts, as hackers are always trying to target users and spam is prolific on sites like Twitter.

Photo Credit: Tom Raftery Flickr via Compfight cc

Doing Good Work Matters More Than Your Personal Brand

There’s still a lot of chat on the topic of personal branding. Particularly for people just entering the world of social media, there’s major pressure to create a distinctive personal brand now more than ever. For those in a career flux, there’s major pressure to catch up with the sexy branding thing and seize the new networking and career opportunities that social media can offer. For someone looking to jumpstart their way into a new career adventure, crafting a new personal brand can seem like a shortcut to appearing to already fit there. But I’m going to dispense some advice here: regarding the issue of your personal brand, well, um, it’s not really that personal. Big data, SEO and social analytics may just be telling your story for you.

Much like other overused buzzy terms in our working vocabulary, personal brand is a misnomer. The truth is that as a professional — as a working person in the world of work — your personal brand is a multifaceted presentation of yourself as a working person.

So how do you craft a personal brand for yourself without getting overwhelmed by the options and straying from your true self? Here are six tips:

1) Do The Work.

Whether you’re at an early stage in your career or looking to make a job or career shift, the work comes first. That’s the core. It’s why we’re all here. So work really hard. For career midtermers facing burnout, that can be difficult, but dig deep and summon up those reserves: it’ll get noticed. There’s nothing like a solid foundation of accomplishments on which to stand.

2) Be Nice And Share The Spotlight.

There’s a new cliché entrenching itself in workplace and social culture, not necessarily always deserved, but with a grain a truth. It’s the self-preoccupied self-starter, pushing himself or herself with shrill posts on social media, trash talking other people on social channels, grabbing for the spotlight, taking the credit. It’s often painful to work with people who are selfish — and this may just come up in a peer or online review. Instead, be generous and stay open-minded. We’re a competitive species. But generosity will come back to you; it’s basic career and social leadership karma. 

3) #beyourself. Stay Thoughtful.

We don’t always show all sides in all situations. Social media’s one of those situations. Think of it as the ultimate kiss-cam at a Knicks game: your social presence is completely public and utterly transparent. As a friend of mine describes it, every point of your brand presence is a “plunk” with a ripple effect. So practice social etiquette, and think twice before behaving on social media channels in ways that you would not behave like in person or in real life—if your brand goes viral, it’ll haunt you when you need to shake hands in person. No whining, no calling people out just to grab attention or headlines. Do it with feeling and thought if so – not just for the sake of drawing attention to yourself or gaining rank. If you text or tweet with feeling, check your spelling. And friends don’t let friends text and tweet, um, in certain situations. 

4) Face Your Own Weaknesses.

There are great tools out there to hone your own brand. Not only should you know your strengths, you need to face your weaknesses. Say, just for instance, that you’re good at big picture planning but struggle with spreadsheets. In terms of your own brand, that self-awareness is a plus, and can help steer you on a course towards a job your brand can really shine in.

5) To Thine Own Self Be True.

Personal brand genius Oprah Winfrey has turned our search for an authentic self into an empire. For good reason: someone with a strong inner core inspires confidence — for all the obvious reasons. Having a clear sense of yourself means you know how to protect and preserve yourself, and by extension, whatever project or work you’re doing. From a recruiting and talent standpoint, it’s a tangible plus.

6) Work At Happiness.

I came across an inspiring article on contentment by an obvious overachiever who drove himself forward into a law career and family life. Now, more than anything, he values contentment — an appreciation of life and its moments, a here and now attitude. It doesn’t mean he’s dropped the career or family. It means he’s the same, but better. Imagine the joy of working with someone who is truly content as opposed to restless and dissatisfied. That translates along the hiring chain: a great attitude is a great attitude.

A personal brand isn’t just an image or a voice. Even in this social age, social is just one layer of it. Your brand is the whole package: your skill set, behavior, your heart, attitude, intelligence, accomplishments, and above all, your work. So yes, keep that social presence going — it’s critical for your visibility. But take a breath, and focus. You still need to get your work done and pay the bills, and that’s good news.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

photo credit: stickers via photopin (license)

Building Your Personal Brand

There’s a lot written about building Personal Brands.  A lot of the discussion about Personal Branding has to do with leveraging Social Channels in building huge networks of followers.

While it might be ego gratifying to have a large and wide network and to be well known, I think a lot of the thinking around building your personal brand is misdirected.

In building our personal brands, we want to focus on building our reputations, perceptions, and visibility within our target customer and prospects, and influencers in that network.  Social networks enable us to do this, if we do it smartly, on a global scale.

It’s important not to build a wide network and great visibility of our organization brands, particularly if we compete in global markets.

But what’s important in building your personal brand?  It’s still the same, we want to build our reputations, perceptions, visibility within the our target customers and prospects.  From an individual contributor point of view, we have to think about this.

Who are our customers and prospects?  For most of us, as individuals, our customers and prospects are not located around the world.  They may be in a state, a city.  My very first accounts were in 2 buildings in lower Manhattan.  Your target customers and prospects may be a certain account or accounts in a certain industry.  Your target customers and prospects may be certain personas in those customer, industries, or geographies.

Building our personal brands with our target customers and prospects is critical for our success.  Building our personal brands outside this target set may be ego gratifying, but isn’t very helpful (with some caveats, more later).

Ultimately, building our personal brands starts with hanging out where our customer hang out.  It may be the local bar–in my early days it was Harry’s at Hanover Square.  Our customers are hanging out in different places now, increasingly in social channels.  There are lots of places we can meet our customers and develop our personal brands.

Ultimately, however, our customers aren’t followers or “handles/id’s” on the social channels.  They are people and human beings.  As sales people, we build our personal brand by creating value for them.  That value may be helping them solve tough business problems.  It may be keeping them informed about critical issues happening in their businesses and markets.  It may be having a point of view that helps them learn and develop.  It may be just being good listeners.  It may be keeping our work and meeting our commitments.  It may be by being helpful.  The power of your brand is tied directly to the trust, these people have in you.

We build our personal brand by focusing on building value for our customers and prospects–not by extending our reach to people who may be “worlds away.”  We use the vehicles/channels/tools that are most used by our customers and prospects–it may be visiting their offices, speaking on the phone, attending trade shows and events, a focused mailing list or newsletter.

Building our personal brands has little to do with broadcasting (which is the focus of so many channels), but is much more narrowcast, focused, and impactful.

Overtime, as our roles change, our or our customers businesses changes, we need to expand or shift the targets for building our personal brands.  If we move to a new territory, if we move to a new company in a different territory, if we move to a new role within our companies.  In any of these, our target customers and prospects change, so we have to evolve in who we are addressing in building our brands.

Our personal brand is not defined by the size, the likes, the followers, the reach.  It is nice to have followers in Mumbai, but if your territory is investment bankers in lower Manhattan, you and they are best served by focusing your brand building there.

A version of this post was published on Partners In Excellence Blog.

Photo Credit: sinixestudioo via Compfight cc

Who Owns Your Company’s Brand

I’ve written a lot about the positive aspects of brand, brand humanization, allowing employees to be brand ambassadors, and to free up their personal brand to evolve just as real people do.

What I haven’t talked about as much is who owns your company’s brand. Does the organization? Do the brand ambassadors? Where do you draw the line, and when?

I’ll tell you a story about a software technology company (one of my clients) which hired a well-known thought leader to be the brand ambassador for one of its product lines. The company allowed the brand ambassador to Tweet and blog under his name, although the product line had an established social media presence on a number of channels – among them Twitter, LinkedIn, and G+.

The result? You guessed it: people interested in the brand started following, and having conversations with, the brand ambassador, who refused to use the brand handle and insisted on using his handle. The company’s product line social media efforts didn’t build a following; everyone was watching the man behind the curtain. In two years of employment (and talks with management which belatedly realized what was happening,) the brand ambassador assured the company this was best practice, followers understood the brand was separate from the ambassador, and all would turn out well.

Shocker alert: the person’s personal brand left the company for greener pastures, and so did the person’s (and the brand’s) thousands of followers. The company scrambled to hire a brand ambassador who understood the need to separate church and state. The new ambassador was hired: a person with a less fragile ego and more commitment to the company. Nevertheless it took over a year to build back a following for the product line’s brand. Kind of a complex situation overall if you dig deeper.

Could this have been avoided? Of course, with a little care, and perhaps a better understanding of human motivation and personal brand.

I believe everyone owns their own personal brand. Companies and leadership must see the value of this concept for a successful social workplace recipe. If a brand ambassador chooses to represent the company and/or its brands, the individual should do so in a transparent way, e.g. set up a separate twitter handle incorporating the person’s name or handle and the brand handle or company name.

An example: @SusieQBrandX, instead of @SusieQ. In this way the company respects the individual’s personal brand while providing a company-blessed channel for the individual to share information about the company, employer brand.

Some people share my sentiments and many do not – I’d love to hear your thoughts – but we’re all working towards the same goal: making it simple for brand ambassadors to represent the company, while ensuring messages are consistent and authentic. It’s important to ensure the line between the company’s brand and the person’s brand is documented and respected. It’s also important to ensure followers of the brand aren’t confused.

Another company I consult with hired a social community manager who also is responsible for social media and employer branding. This individual is very political in the Party sense, so an agreement was reached before employment to protect both the individual’s right to communicate her political thoughts and also support the organization’s point of view. This was accomplished by creating a new handle for the community manager (see the @SusieQBrandX example above) and supporting its launch with a blog. So far, all is well. No lines have been crossed and everyone involved has declared the arrangement a success (so far, so good). Susie still has the freedom to voice her views on her own handle on her own personal brand.

So what are ground rules for ensuring your employees, who are brand ambassadors, can represent the company’s views and still profess their own?

Here are five social ideas for leadership:

1) Create a best practices guideline document for brand ambassadors. This doesn’t have to be as bulky or draconian as most employee handbooks. The goal is to establish do’s and don’ts for employees who choose to represent the company on social media. Have a use case for those who don’t want to dilute their personal brand and another for employees who are willing to co-brand a social media identity.

2) Ensure the social media/brand ambassador guidelines are incorporated in your onboarding process for new employees. Remember: the goal of HR is ‘never surprise anyone’. Be transparent from the beginning, and be consistent in your management of the practices. It’s your brand, after all.

3) Create the post of Chief Listening Officer. (hat tip to Robert Rose of Content Marketing Institute fame) and make sure the CLO has the Twitter handles of all employees who choose to act as ambassadors. Plan B is to have really good scans set up to catch slips in process before they compromise the brand.

4) Don’t be apologetic. If you are the employer it’s your brand, which means it’s IP. Protect is as diligently as you would from hackers or those who might not share your views on IP, brand ownership, etc.

5) Invite your employees to be brand ambassadors. Make them your workplace champions. Provide them with ground rules, message training, and other business supports. But also be vigilant for those who are trying to build their own brands on your clock. There’s a line – make sure you cover this in the Brand Ambassador Guidelines.

Social media is critical to personal or employer brand maintenance. You want to encourage employees to be brand ambassadors while protecting all parties involved. It’s not hard or mean; it’s just putting up guardrails so everyone stays on track.

After all, social media is growing up. It’s time for a few rules to keep it clean and safe for both brands and brand ambassadors. Have big fun with it.

A version of this post was first published on Forbes.com on 8/29/12.

photo credit: Edgethreesixty branding via photopin (license)

5 Powerful Career Drivers For The Future of Work

Have you come up with any worthy New Years’ resolutions yet? Are they already broken? If not, or if so, relax and stay positive. It’s never too late to make a few career-focused resolutions. I’ll be bold and propose that 2016 be the year to resolve to take charge of your career, your destiny and your life story. If it sounds like a real stretch, it is. I’m encouraging everyone to take action. Take heart, though – like all resolutions it’s a process, a combination of problem identification, ideas/ideation, search for solutions, and actions. Resolutions aren’t absolutely binding, so it’s not a mental trap; it’s an opportunity to allow yourself to consider what’s been holding you back, what you’re really interested in doing/being, and how to move in the right direction.

Why is this important? Why now? Because the world of work is changing, and changing fast. If you want to have a career, not just a job, you’ll need to be prepared to change as well. We’re not talking who-moved-my-cheese here: we’re talking being the maker of cheese. It’s a weird analogy, maybe, but it gets at the central challenge we all face as we work to stay ahead in our careers in times of rapid innovation and change.

When I began my career, the most important things were mastery (education and experience), talent, work ethic, character, intelligence and flexibility. Today it’s different and it’s exciting and it’s challenging and it’s never going to be the same. Those factors are still critical, but they’ve been disrupted by the forces of social connectedness, communication, and collaboration.

Here are five ways to innovate in your career – think of this as part 1 for formulating career resolutions to put you back in control of your most passionate destiny. Why wait?

1) Become a social connector of people, ideas and intent. People who are connectors have immense power in their social networks. They’re the glue. Connectors are the new Oracles (Delphi-style, not Redwood Shores style), the passionate influencers who create trends, create links and create awesome relationships.  Becoming a connector is the best way to manage the forces of connectedness in our hyperconnected world. Live the brand.

2) Master effective communications. Even connectors aren’t necessarily good communicators. Among the skills you’ll need are empathy, self-awareness, curiosity, patience, the ability to really listen, and care. Superb communicators often say the least; they draw out others and create an environment (aka Culture) which allows the exchange of ideas and lots of them if necessary. And don’t forget to apply your skills via social media, which can be tricky indeed – we’ve all sent emails we regretted or posted something awkward or too personal on social sites. Live the brand.

3) Collaborate. It sounds odd but collaboration skills are a competitive differentiator. We’re used to thinking people who are fierce competitors have the advantage; my take is collaborators now have the edge. Being a collaborator doesn’t mean you opt out of being competitive; it means you understand the limits of competition. It can be hard to be intensely competitive while being productive in most organizations. Live the brand.

4) Create and manage your personal brand. I know a lot of people who’ve resisted this step, or found themselves blocked somehow. Don’t wait any longer. People with brands (as others have pointed out) simplify what they represent; they weed out the irrelevant bits of their lives or skill sets and focus in on a few key, career-value-based attributes. Some people would even argue that brand now trumps intelligence, experience and talent, which is a scary thought for some people I’ve talked to about careers. Live the brand.

5) Curate everything. Relationships, acquaintances, work product, books, tech tools, clothes, skills; anything that touches your work life or career space. Be a relentless editor of your skills and experiences. Curation is an expression of good judgment, not evidence of controlling behavior. Curating the right career experiences will help you push forward in your career without compromising yourself. Live the brand.

I will be digging deeper into connectedness, communication and collaboration in the next few months. If you’ve thought about what they mean to you, and how they’ll help you innovate and create career resolutions, please let me know. It’s a journey everyone in this globally connected world is on right now. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

A version of this post was first published on Forbes.com 1/6/2013

Photo Credit: Celine Walker via Compfight cc

Is Your Personal Brand Working Against You?

Your personal brand is supposed to boost your reputation. It’s also supposed to help you spread messages, build relationships and grow your business.

It’s supposed to.

But that doesn’t mean it does. Your personal brand can actually work against you, and can even damage people’s perception of you.

For the first half of my career, I was a copywriter in advertising, and wrote ads for some of the world’s greatest brands. I saw the power of branding to help a brand become more loved and admired.

Yet I also saw that not all branding is created equal. A generic or half-hearted brand can turn people off, and make them less likely to return for more.

The world doesn’t need another personal brand to roll off the assembly line. The world needs YOU.

Avoid damaging your personal brand by making any of these five mistakes.

1. Is your personal brand generic?
Most personal branding techniques give generic tips about how to make an impression. Yet, the whole point is to stand out, and rise above the competition, with authentic traits. Ironic, no?

You can’t stand out by presenting yourself in the same way as everyone else. Avoid  following one-size-fits-all techniques, or else you’re just blending in with everyone else.

2. Does your personal brand seem artificial?

Nobody wants to talk with a fake cardboard cutout. Are you focusing so much on the other person (your customer, your client, your manager) that you’re losing your you-ness?

Don’t focus so much on what you think someone wants that you lose who you actually are. Identify who you are at your best, and the advantages that highlight your greatest value. Build your brand around those core qualities, and you’ll never feel like a manufactured  persona.

3. Do you equate “personal branding” with a resume or logo?

No, no, no. Your personal brand is NOT the same thing as your marketing or resume. It’s not your business card, or your blog, or the color of your website. It’s not artificially manufactured.

Your personal brand should come from within — from your personality. It’s a living, breathing part of you.

What you do should be in alignment with who you are.

4. Is your personal brand stagnant?

Basic personal branding is a good start to a career. But after a certain point, you outgrow where you started. The basics become too basic. Don’t get stuck.

As your income rises, so should people’s perception of your brand.

5. Is your personal brand jumbled and confusing?

It’s easy to think you should change your voice and mindset to match different situations.

Here’s the problem: That makes you seem inauthentic.

Don’t be one person on LinkedIn, and a whole different person in a live conversation. People want a clear, consistent sense of who you are. We want to trust that you’ll be the same person today and tomorrow.

Be more you.

Everything falls into place when you have a clear focal point for your communication. You can stop struggling, and start doing more of what you’re already doing right.

So what’s next?

So many of you have been asking for help in this area. You understand what you shouldn’t do, but you need a game plan of what you should do.

David Ogilvy, one of the smartest branding minds in history, said this: “Tell the truth but make the truth fascinating.”

When you know the truth of who you are at your best, you can be both authentic and fascinating.

The people in your life don’t want the plastic version of you. They want the real you.

Give us the YOU who has ideas and opinions and quirks. Give us the YOU who is different and magnificent and one-of-a-kind. We’ll love you for it.

What is your biggest issue or pet peeve around personal branding? Have you seen examples of personal branding gone horribly wrong?

This post is adapted from Sally Hogshead’s original post “5 Ways Your Personal Brand Can Go Horribly Wrong.”

About the Author: World-class branding expert Sally Hogshead is the creator of The Fascination Advantage™: the world’s first personality test that measures what makes someone most engaging to others.

photo credit: Tug O War via photopin (license)

Empowering Your Brand: From The Shades To Personable Sunshine

“The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect,
So hard to earn so easily burned
In the fullness of time,
A garden to nurture and protect…”

—Neil Peart (writer and musician)

In all fairness, I didn’t read it. I only called the post out for the sake of comedic relief when others use popular, head-turning headline hooks. But then a Twitter follower asked me if I read the post in question, because it was actually tongue-and-cheek post about why recruiting is like Fifty Shades of Grey.

But I didn’t care, because I’ll never read that post, or listen to anything referencing the books’ premise metaphorically, or the actual novels themselves, nor will I ever see the movies. I chose to turn the page because what it represents to me and my sensibilities – equating abusive sexual power over women (and/or each other) to love, or at least to something that resembles mutual “like” and attraction.

You may like it and that’s fine. Enjoy. You may continue to leverage the marketing metaphor. By all means. Since the books were published and leading up to the release of the first movie on Valentine’s Day this year, relating the “shades” to HR and recruiting has been a marketing pastime.

Who am I to judge, since I’m now the one referencing the shades in this very article?

You may agree with me or not, but either way, I’m a vocal proponent of domestic violence and sexual abuse awareness. That is something I’ve been crystal clear about it, growing up in it. Plus, now that I have two young daughters, it’s even more acute to me – and I hope to you, too.

In fact, the next time you’re in a room with 6 people, think about the following (according to statistics compiled by NOMORE.org):

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes.
  • 1 in 3 teens experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend in one year.
  • 1 in 5 women are survivors of rape.
  • 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lives.
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18.

But that’s me. That’s part of my background, my now life, my persona, my personality, my personal brand, and what I choose to share about the sensitive subject includes being an advocate for awareness. That’s how I hope the world chooses to see me as well.

We are defined by where we stand and how we stand when it comes to our presence and our personality. That has never been truer than with online visibility. On the one hand it’s elevated the visibility of many more individuals across industries (while, some would argue, lowering the bar of quality and integrity).

We’re also under the microscope more than ever, and whatever we share online, stays online. Social media has forced more and more companies to use it as an early warning system to improve risk management, and for good measure, since there are plenty of missteps. Plus, every word we release online powers up the perpetual personality assessors – which are the rest of us.

And since the rest of us are judge and jury who can eviscerate and empower at a moment’s notice, wouldn’t you want to always power up that personable sunshine, the kind that drives long-term innovation and positive change? Wouldn’t you want the world to see how fascinating you are and how valuable you are to that same said world? Especially if you are innovative, passionate and positive?

If you do, understanding how the world sees you can help. There are plenty of personality assessments out there that tell you how you see the world. But how does the world see you? On the TalentCulture #TChat Show we talked about one such way via The Fascination Advantage, a “how the world sees you” assessment based on over two decades of communication research about how people and brands become more fascinating conducted by Kelton Research.

I took the personality assessment and found out that my primary advantage is “innovation,” my secondary advantage is “prestige,” and my archetype is “The Trendsetter,” which is a combination of the two.

What does it all mean? Well, it means that the world sees me as competitive and ambitious, that I’m able to influence direction with a fresh interpretation of market opportunities, that I’m a trailblazer who guides others in often-uncharted territories. I’m able to see opportunities where others see only threats and I implement change with determination.

Right on. I’ll take all these empowering words any day. Sally Hogshead, the creator of “The Fascination Advantage,” shared that, “When you find your more perfect words, that’s when you make a difference.” And because everybody has strengths, it’s the differences that matter and how we maximize our hopefully positive personas.

The differences – that’s how we power our personal brands. But unfortunately the carbon footprints we sometimes leave pollute our mindful presence and the very personal and professional relationships that are supposed to be the natural resources critical to thriving.

That’s why I recommend to live as inspirationally as possible and strive for more perfect words, and take ownership of your personality and your personal brand, online or off, to move from the shades to personable sunshine.

About the Author: Kevin W. Grossman co-founded and co-hosts the highly popular weekly TalentCulture #TChat Show with Meghan M. Biro. He’s also currently the Product Marketing Director for Total Talent Acquisition products at PeopleFluent.

photo credit: Arise to a whole new world via photopin (license)

Career Personality Perspective: What’s Your Angle?

I’ve probably taken close to a dozen personality tests over the years. In just a few minutes, you get a trendy acronym or entertaining epithet to hang your hat on.

While I have found value in these assessments, I also see risk in becoming attached to the alluring labels: we can become quite fascinated with ourselves and our newly branded personalities.

I’m all for opportunities enabling personal growth and learning. The knowledge gained from these assessments can create a healthy balance of self-confidence and humility.

Personality tests can also encourage us to adopt a near-sighted view of ourselves. We think we know who we are.

So when I was approached to experiment with yet another personality test, I wondered what “angle” this one was working.

I jumped into the test. Short and sweet.

And surprising.

Sally Hogshead turns the predictable personality test upside-down. She has spent over two decades of research to develop The Fascination Advantage. It’s the world’s first personality test that shifts the perspective from how you see the world to how the world sees you.

This test challenges us to be the observer and the observed.

Understanding ourselves and how others perceive us is the winning combination for personal and professional success. Seeing yourself from the world’s perspective gives you the ability to fine tune your message to others. What you say may sound crystal clear to you, but your listener may hear nothing but static.

When you understand your fascination advantages and how they are perceived by others, you can dial-in those qualities for clear and concise communication.

Now you’re ringing your true cowbell: effectively communicating your “unique value proposition.”

The Fascination Advantage helps individuals find their unique “cowbells” and effectively communicate their workplace value. Brands can develop a signature story to attract, nurture, and maintain top talent.

For career and brand success in the Social Age, we must consistently demonstrate our value across generations, time zones, and cultures.

The ability to be the observer and the observed is a powerful soft skill to have in your reputation management and brand building toolkit.

Are you ready to learn about “The Fascination Advantage?”

We’ve taken the test here at the TalentCulture #TChat Show and it’s pretty awesome. My assessment results were spot-on!

We’re giving you the opportunity to take the test as well:

Go to HowToFascinate.com/YOU

Use code TCHAT and start your assessment!

Fascinate us and share your experiences with the #TChat community!

About the Author: Jessica E. Roberts is the Community Manager for TalentCulture and The World of Work Community. 

photo credit: One World Before Another via photopin (license)

Reputation Management — Building Your Brand!

People are often surprised by what they hear that has been said behind their backs….! I emphasize as part of my Reputation Management theme, the better one manages his or her reputation, the less likely such surprises will occur.

So what comprises a reputation? I stress it is so much more than one’s professional expertise and academic accomplishments. It includes attitude, approachability, verbal presence, sense of style, reliability, attention to detail, kindness, flexibility, global awareness, business etiquette usage, ability to mix and mingle, etc.

We admire those who always seem to know what to say and how to say it and we cringe as we hear someone put their foot in their mouth. We are thankful for those who deliver as promised, but our stress levels increase while waiting for those who repeatedly give excuses.

We enjoy working among those with positive, can-do attitudes as we attempt to avoid the whiners, the mean-spirited and snarky people.

Approachable people make us feel welcomed and acknowledged as their body language is inclusive rather than avoidant or arrogant.

And wow, do certain people own the room and the moment with their commanding, confident presence; whether giving a presentation or working the room, they are in their element.

And as I stress, diplomacy isn’t just for diplomats. People who carefully weigh their words for tact and tone give themselves a distinct advantage. In today’s world of increased brevity, basic verbal courtesy is almost a thing of the past.

As society has become increasingly salacious with a newfound sense of entitlement that includes knowing everything about everyone, protecting one’s reputation has become even more an area of concern.

My top 10 list of items that people notice, talk about and will impact your brand include:

  1. Are you comfortable mixing and mingling? Turning small talk into a big advantage.
  2. Do you recognize non-verbal communication signals in yourself and others? Pumping up the volume without saying a word.
  3. Do you communicate effectively, with words that send the right message. Using language to build bridges.
  4. Do you “demonstrate” the best of everyday etiquette? “Introducing” sure-fire leading behaviors.
  5. Are you “in the know” – current, contemporary and globally savvy? Lifelong learning that will take you the distance.
  6. Are your presentation skills on point? Conquering the conference room and captivating your audience.
  7. Are you confident and comfortable with business entertainment? Thinking on your feet (and outside of the box) out of the office.
  8. Are technology tools your friends or foes? Social networking and texting and emailing (oh my.)
  9. Are you known for doing what matters when it counts? The it factor…Gravitas
  10. Does your appearance convey the right professional image? Seeing it, BEING it (and how it looks in the rearview mirror).

While each of my top 10 dovetail perfectly one to the next, I recommend that people do a candid body language self-assessment – question #2. Non-verbal communication can impact a brand in ways that people are often unaware. As previously mentioned, approachability is key and I ask people, do you even know if you are approachable or not so much? It’s worth noting if people can’t answer the question without hesitation, they most likely are not as approachable as they need to be. And for the record, being approachable does not mean smiling all of the time…we don’t trust people who never stop smiling.

Our non-verbal communication will make others feel valued or dismissed, that we’re listening or distracted, that we have time to invest or please hurry up! The eyes really do say more than we realize and those who have learned to smile with their eyes have an overall welcoming presence. And just the opposite…people who roll their eyes communicate a passive aggressive nature – that’s not good!

Our non-verbal brand, which I like to call Body Talk, encompasses everything from head to toe. The way you own a room, the way you shake a hand, the way you give attentive eye contact, the sincere smile you offer, the pop in your step, the confidence your posture exhibits will without a doubt complement a person’s overall brand.

Note: Deborah Thomas Nininger was the guest on the January 21st #TChat Show.

About the Author: Deborah Thomas-Nininger is the founder of DTN Productions International-Hallmark of Etiquette, a training company that provides training on all areas of international and domestic protocol specializing in “Reputation Management” and communication strategies. She brings to you over 20 years of business etiquette, communication and self-presentation expertise, rooted in behavioral science and successful human interaction.

photo credit: Silicon Prairie News via photopin cc

#TChat Preview: Managing Your Personal Brand’s Softer Skills

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, January 21, 2015, from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT). The #TChat radio portion runs the first 30 minutes from 7-7:30 pm ET, followed by the #TChat Twitter chat from 7:30-8 pm ET.

Last week we talked about how to maximize the cowbell principle.

This week we’re going to talk about managing the softer skills of your personal brand.

What rings true today in a world gone social that demands transparency and authenticity is the fact that your reputation is your personal brand. And vice-versa.

But with everything so “on” and online virtually all the time, what happened to body language? Nothing actually. In fact, it’s more important than ever, because we spend so much time online. Body language conveys everything from confidence to approachability; it’s more honest than the spoken word.

Literally in the blink of an eye, we can make someone feel quite valued or unceremoniously dismissed. That’s why developing our softer skills is the new differentiator.

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-creators and hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as we learn about how to manage the softer skills of your personal brand with this week’s guest: Deborah Thomas-Nininger, founder of DTN Productions International-Hallmark of Etiquette, a “Reputation Management” training company.

Sneak Peek:

Related Reading:

Alex Freund: Can Body Language Be Learned?

Meghan M. Biro: The Future Of Work Is Boundaryless

Leo Widrich: The Secrets Of Body Language: Why You Should Never Cross Your Arms Again

Diane Gottsman: Office Etiquette: Nine Ways To Strengthen Work Relationships

Carol Kinsey Goman: 10 Powerful Body Language Tips

We hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation this week and share your questions, opinions and ideas with our guests and the TalentCulture Community.

#TChat Events: How To Manage The Softer Skills Of Your Personal Brand

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, January 21st — 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT Tune in to the #TChat Radio show with our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, as they talk with our guest: Deborah Thomas-Nininger.

Tune in LIVE online Wednesday, January 21st!

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, January 21st — 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Deborah will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: Why is body language such a critical personal branding soft skill? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: How has social technology impacted business etiquette over the past few years? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: What effect has social media and brand awareness had on reputation management? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Until the show, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!

photo credit: anamobe via photopin cc

 

Social Influence and Your Brand: Connecting the Dots [Webinar]

“Don’t try to invent a tribe. Show up to lead one that exists.”
Seth Godin

Today’s hyper-connected digital world has opened the door to a whole new era in brand development.

Employers, HR professionals and job hunters, alike, are rapidly embracing digital channels to elevate their market presence and amplify their share of voice.

With proactive players setting a torrid pace, no one can afford to stay on the social media sidelines. But social networking doesn’t guarantee influence — and activity without strategy can put a brand at risk.

Join the Experts

So how do you create a digital brand roadmap that makes the most sense for your goals? What’s the best way to ignite your social agenda? And how do you measure its impact?

If you’re looking for expert guidance, you won’t want to miss this very special webinar event:

“Using Social Insights to Build Your Brand”
February 27, at 2pm Eastern Time / 11am Pacific Time.

LeadTail webinar CTATalentCulture founder, Meghan M. Biro will join forces with the social marketing and insights specialists at Leadtail to talk about how top HR and recruiting influencers are driving market awareness and engagement through social channels.

You’ll learn how social media best practices can move your brand forward and how data-based insights can inform your strategy.

For example, the session will focus on questions like these:

What elements define a personal brand?
Why are social channels ideal for brand building?
Who influences the HR and recruiting community today — and how?
How can you successfully apply these social techniques?

In addition, Meghan will reveal how she has leveraged social media to become one of the most recognized experts in the HR and recruiting space.

“Social channels have created a phenomenal opportunity to reach, engage and influence all the constituents a brand must touch — business allies, customers, prospects and employees,” Meghan says. “I’m excited to team-up with Leadtail, as we empower brands to expand their connections and strengthen their business relationships.”

Throughout the webinar, attendees are invited to join members of the TalentCulture community on Twitter, as we share ideas and questions using the #TChat hashtag.

Don’t miss this dynamic informative event! Register now, and join us February 27th.

Participating Organizations

Learn more about Leadtail, and connect with @Leadtail on Twitter.
Learn more about TalentCulture, and connect with @TalentCulture on Twitter.

Register now for this webinar: Using Social Insights to Build Your Brand.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Soul Search — Then Job Search

Written by career consultant, Maggie Mistal

Most of us assume that the best way to find a job is to look at what’s available in online listings, or to follow someone else’s advice. However, these methods often lead to unfulfilling career choices.

You only need to look at the latest job satisfaction surveys to recognize how unfulfilled most workers feel. For seven straight years, The Conference Board has reported that less than half of U.S. workers are satisfied in their careers. So what can you do to find job satisfaction and fulfillment while still making a great living?

Uncover Your Core Genius

“Core genius” is the special contribution that each of us brings to our professional life. It’s what you are in this world to do that only you can do. It’s the unique package of skills, experiences, passions, interests, talents, abilities and attitude that you possess.

Take my client Laura Rolands. Laura was a hard-working Human Resources executive at Chrysler. She’s also a mom. When Laura’s son was diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), she got to work and investigated how to best help him with attention strategies at school and in life. Through this experience and through our career coaching work together, Laura realized she had a talent and an interest in helping people with attention issues.

It led Laura to start an attention coaching business shortly after accepting a voluntary buy-out from her position in the automotive industry. Her business is in a relatively new field, focused on coaching people to overcome challenges associate with ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Actually, you don’t need a diagnosis to benefit — anyone who feels overwhelmed or distracted in today’s hyper-connected environment will find value in Laura’s services. Her clients have developed time-saving personal routines, and have improved their academic and business performance.

The Path to a Successful Career Fit

In 10 years of coaching, I have seen that we are each uniquely built to fulfill a specific purpose. And I am proud to have many success stories such as Laura Rolands. However, too often people take their unique talents for granted. In fact, the real challenge is that most people have no idea what their purpose is. That is where I help.

I believe the best way to find your purpose — your core genius — is to conduct a formal Soul Search, and get specific about all the elements of your ideal career. It starts with helping clients assess themselves in 8 essential dimensions, as part of the “Soul Search, Research and Job Search” process I developed.

These elements include: 1) your top interests, 2) key motivators, 3) skills you want to employ, 4) ways you want to contribute, 5) best qualities, 6) best work environment, 7) activities you enjoy most, and 8) salary and benefits.

Soul Search Before Job Search

By working through exercises and self-reflection questions, we prioritize what’s most important and brainstorm career possibilities that match those elements. You can gain even deeper clarity with my downloadable (PDF) Soul Search workbook.

This workbook contains over 30 pages of exercises to help professionals uncover the eight core elements of your core genius. The insights developed from each exercise are designed to correspond with a section of your own personalized career guide. This helps you easily organize and interpret the information as the basis for brainstorming new career possibilities and making sound decisions about the best options for you.

So stop looking at want ads and instead start talking to anyone and everyone about the ways you are already of service. Carefully process all of that input, and you’ll see viable new options ahead. Take seriously the value you bring to the table, and (like Laura Rolands) believe that you can get paid to deliver it. Let others know about the high-value service you are prepared to provide. Then deliver it consistently and professionally. Soon, you’ll find you have more than enough work in your new role — and you’ll be making a living while loving what you do.

Have You Discovered Your Core Genius?

Are you in touch with your core career strengths? What steps did you take to gain that awareness? And how have you applied it to your career? Share your thoughts in the comments area.

Maggie Mistal(About the Author: CNN dubbed Maggie Mistal “one of the nation’s best-known career coaches.” A former Learning & Development executive at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she is a certified life purpose and career coach who, for seven years, hosted “Making a Living with Maggie” on SiriusXM, and now airs a monthly podcast on iTunes. Maggie has been featured across major media, including NBC’s Today Show, Fox Business, CNN and The New York Times. Connect with Maggie on Twitter, or LinkedIn or Facebook.)

(Editor’s Note: For a limited time, in conjunction with her February 2014 appearance at #TChat Events, Maggie is offering special pricing for her “Soul Search” career planning workbook to anyone who mentions #TChat when contacting her. Don’t miss this opportunity to get a fresh perspective on your core genius!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay

How to Build Your Network Without Burning Out

(Editor’s Note: All of us in the TalentCulture community mourn the loss of our dear friend, brilliant colleague and mindful mentor, Judy Martin, who passed away unexpectedly on January 31, 2014. The following is the last post she contributed to our blog, only 10 days earlier. Her message and her life are a lesson for us all.)

The unthinkable happened during the first week in January.

TalentCulture CEO Meghan M. Biro had gone missing. She hadn’t returned a tweet from me for more than three days. Unheard of, I tell you.

Naturally, I was concerned about her well-being. I actually considered contacting Boston area hospitals. But instead, I did what any good friend would do. Resorting to an antiquated strategy, I picked up the phone and called her.

“Seriously Judy, I’m taking a break. I don’t want to burn out,” Meghan told me.

“What? A break from your BFF?” I almost blurted. Then, a calm washed over me, and instead I said, “Good for you.”

This sparked a conversation about how busy professionals like us can continue growing and navigating our social networks without compromising our stress levels. Connection and communication have taken on new importance in today’s 24/7 world of work. Those who manage the energy and minimize the stress are able to stay ahead of the competition, and sustain high performance. But it’s not easy.

Everyone manages a social network differently. It’s an intimate and personal process. We all have close connections with whom we can exchange ideas and openly vent. That’s typically not a burden on our time and attention. But in this era of digital exuberance, our social circles are growing rapidly. We need to find the signal in our niche, while filtering out the noise of a much broader network. Keeping pace requires a strategy:

8 Tips to Reduce Stress In The Face of Digital Exuberance

1) Schedule Social Sessions: Timing is everything. And quality time counts. When does your network naturally buzz with activity? If you’re a rock star, you might be inclined to check Twitter in the late evening, but if you’re into talent management and business news like me, you’re probably trolling Twitter from 7-8 a.m. Instead of trying to pay attention 24/7, pick one or two intervals each a day to dip into the stream. Don’t just “fly by” with retweets — really dive in and engage in conversations that build relationships. But when your scheduled time is up, move on. Eventually, you’ll adjust to an established rhythm, and so will those in your inner circles.

2) Take Breathing Breaks: Twitter and Facebook interactions can become surprisingly intense. Periodically, take 5 minutes to literally sit back and just follow your breath. Close your eyes, or look away from the screen. Simply being aware of how you are breathing helps regulate cortisol, the “stress-producing” hormone. Count as you inhale – one, two, three. Then hold your breath for several seconds, and exhale to the count of three. Better managing stress “in the moment” gives you more energy later, when you may need to tap into your reserves.

3) Stand Up and Stretch: Once in a while just walk away. Yes, leave the computer behind. This is important to get blood circulating in your body, which delivers more oxygen to your brain. If you prefer not to stand, push your chair away from the desk. Inhale and raise your arms above your head, clasping your hands in a “steeple” position. Look up and gaze at your hands for several moments. Then exhale slowly while your hands float gradually back down to your sides. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to shift back into business gear.

4) Hum with Purpose: That’s right — make noise. Humming actually calms the mind and body. It’s an ancient yogic technique that helps focus attention prior to meditation. The sound reverberates in your skull, and helps your brain rewire your attention. Here’s how: Plug your ears with your fingers and inhale deeply. Pause. Then as you exhale, hum for the reminder of the “out breath.” Repeat two more times. If you feel dizzy, stop. But ideally, it will help release tension and help you focus.

5) Let Filtering Tools Work for You: Sometimes we need to look beyond human behavior for help. If we opened every link that came our way we’d never sleep. Aggregation tools help consolidate and organize the chaos — news sources, blog posts, and other information sources of interest. I’ve set up Google alerts to deliver breaking news on keywords that matter most to me. For less critical topics, I receive news feeds once a week. You can use Hootsuite, Buffer Tweetdeck and Aggregation tools and dashboards to identify relevant content and create a delivery schedule that works for you.

6) Harness Hashtags: Hashtags are the fastest way to share and find relevant information on Twitter. For example, professionals who participate in the TalentCulture community share HR and business leadership knowledge by adding the #TChat hashtag to their tweets. At any moment, anyone can search for #TChat, to see the community’s latest tweets. It’s like round-the-clock access to the most popular human resources conversation on the planet. If you follow a hashtag like #TChat in your Twitter dashboard, you’ll quickly and easily find helpful peers, ideas and advice. Also, when you schedule Twitter posts, be sure to add hashtags that reflect your area of expertise. Your posts will reach people in your niche, even when you’re offline.

7) Leverage Human Relationships: Sometimes, all of us need to unplug for several days or more. When you do, plan ahead. Just because you’ll be off the grid doesn’t mean your networking must come to a standstill. Reach out to several people in your immediate network. Let them know that you’re taking a break, and ask for a little extra support in sharing your work on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn — wherever you’re most active. You can even form ongoing support alliances and develop common “social back-up” guidelines. Just remember, you’re not alone.

8) Create a FOMO Free Zone: Perhaps the most important advice I can offer is to honor your social self. Competitive pressure shouldn’t drive your social brand development. Don’t let yourself become obsessed with how other people behave on social channels, or about whether volume or frequency of their activity trumps your own efforts. Whatever your message is, you’ll succeed when you deliver it through your own lens, with your own voice, to an audience that is naturally interested in you. Forget #FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)!

Of course, even with healthy habits, it often feels like we’re networking at the speed of light. But hopefully these tips help you slow the pace a bit, focus on what matters, and generate more energy to fuel your social success.

Do you have tips for reducing stress and improving productivity in the age of social networking? What techniques and tools work for you? Share your ideas in the comments below.

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Networking: 5 Ways To Work It Into Your Life

Written by Lynn Dixon, co-founder & COO, Hourly

Networking. Some people consider it a guaranteed way to connect with industry luminaries. Others believe it’s the ideal way market your professional capabilities and build brand awareness. Still, others dread the concept, and try to avoid it at all costs.

Truth is, networking remains one of the most effective techniques for selling yourself, as well as uncovering new business opportunities, projects and jobs.

But there’s a key to networking success that isn’t often discussed — knowing how to conduct yourself in various social situations is essential.

While handing out business cards may work wonders for you at a designated networking event, the same strategy might not work in a different atmosphere. Is there a way to predict what techniques will be effective in a specific setting?

Let’s look at several common social scenarios, and consider an appropriate networking plan of action for each:

1) Work Events

Work events come in all shapes and sizes, from professional development courses to off-site meetings with colleagues. These events tend to be more formal and task-oriented. Typically these settings are not ideal for aggressive networking, primarily because your participation is tied to other business goals.

How to play it: Although you may know most people at a work event, you can subtly network by introducing yourself to other attendees. When it fits into the flow of conversation, you might also mention recent accomplishments or challenges you’ve overcome. This helps people in your internal network see where you shine, and helps them envision how you could contribute to future projects with them or others they know.

2) Office Parties

Events like the annual holiday party or your boss’s birthday don’t usually scream “networking.” Conversations are often focused on personal life, and you may not want to think about business. Although no one wants to “talk shop” throughout an entire office party, it can be an awesome opportunity diplomatically reinforce your strengths.

How to play it: Put the alcohol down and get to know colleagues you don’t know well, especially those in other departments. You don’t have to brag about your accomplishments, but you can weave in your expertise. Chances are, one day they may need your skills on a project. Be memorable and focus on how you add value.

3) Family Events

You probably believe family events are the last place to whip out your resume and market yourself, but these events can be a networking goldmine. Think about it. Your family wants you to do well in your career. It’s like preaching to the choir. You just have to know what songs to sing.

How to play it: Although members of your family probably don’t work in your industry, they’re likely to know someone who does. That’s why it’s advisable to touch base about business with as many people as possible while you “work the aisles” at reunions, weddings and other family gatherings. Bring a stash of business cards, in case someone expresses interest. In the future, if someone they know needs someone with your skills, you’ll be the first person on their radar.

4) Industry Conferences

Conferences are a great way to establish excellent connections who can help you expand your network. Sometimes the premise of a conference centers on networking. Other conferences are developed for you to learn more about your industry by listening to speakers, attending workshops and sharing ideas with professional colleagues.

How to play it: This is one of those obvious networking situations where you’ll need lots of business cards, a stack of resumes, and a variety of portfolio samples. Since conferences attract a plethora of industry colleagues, you never know who you’ll run into — so you need to be prepared. It’s also smart to refresh your LinkedIn profile before the event, so anyone who checks your profile afterward will see your most current information.

5) Running Errands

Picture this: You’re at the grocery store when you see an influential member of your industry. You don’t want to throw business cards at this important person, but you do want to make a connection. How do you approach a power player in public without appearing to be desperate?

How to play it: Look for an appropriate opening. Briefly introduce yourself and explain why you admire this person. Try to mention a recent article they wrote or compliment them on a recent accomplishment. Then, close quickly by asking if you could connect via email or on a social network. This opens the door to future conversations while downplaying what could otherwise be an awkward situation.

The ability to market yourself in any situation is a skill that should be practiced and polished. You never know who you’ll bump into and how they could help you out in the future. Look at every situation as a chance to boost your network and provide a possible stepping stone for your career.

What do you think about the power of networking in social settings? How have you marketed yourself at various events? What has been effective for you?

Lynn-Dixon(About the Author: Lynn Dixon is the co-founder and COO of Hourly.com, an employment network that quickly matches people who are interested in flexible positions with the right opportunities. Connect with Lynn and Hourly on Twitter and LinkedIn.)

(Editor’s Note: This post is republished from Brazen Life, with permission. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or to join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay