Does Your Personal Brand Make You Look Like an Idiot?

I can remember advertising for new employees a few years back and being overwhelmed by the number of resumes that would be delivered. We had one job opening and there would be hundreds of applications. It was daunting and depressing. Somewhere in that massive pile of paper was my next team member. I just didn’t know where.

The profiles that stood out from the crowd were few and far between. If I asked for a cover letter I expected a cover letter. If I asked for examples of your work, then I expected to see them. Most of all, I expected that you would do your homework on my company. The vast majority of profiles simply did not cover the fundamentals.

These days it is both easier and harder to find good recruits. Sure LinkedIn makes it easy to discover great people – but for every amazing person out there, there’s a plethora of self-entitled, self-aggrandising idiots that you’d be crazy to employ. Or would you.

Here’s a trick.

Call up your LinkedIn profile.

Read it out aloud.

Now have a friend read it to you like they are standing on a stage, “living the moment”.

If you don’t burst out laughing, you’re on the money.

Reputation Even Over a Resume: Why Personal Branding Matters in 2016

Take a moment to look back over your career. Even if you are “new” to the workforce, you’re likely to see a hotchpotch of connected experiences. There will be paid and unpaid work, some volunteering maybe. You’ll have passion projects that took weeks or months of your time – like the time you decided to build your sister’s website to save her money, only to find that after it’s all up and working, she took a new job and was no longer interested in “going freelance”. There may even be whole folders of documents filled with words that one day will become your great business, breakthrough book.

Now, take a look at your LinkedIn profile and ask yourself – what’s the story it tells?

I have been saying this for years – but it’s a fact that grows stronger over time. Your resume is as dead as the tree it is written on.

In 2016, you are what you publish.

LinkedIn as an inbound channel for your personal brand

I used to think of LinkedIn as a place of business, connection and social selling. It was a vastly under-utilised space where a strong profile and a good network would help you stand out from the crowd. But a crowd it certainly is. It is the place where careers and connections collide.

In short, LinkedIn has become the “internet of careers” – the internet that we look at when we are looking to find a job, an employee or a customer.

But these days, LinkedIn has a broader agenda, transforming from a massive database of resumes to a business publishing platform and a social selling engine.  Every person with a profile can publish their thoughts, ideas and status updates just like Facebook. Or Twitter. Or Google’s Blogspot (remember that?!). And with the opening up of the LinkedIn Pulse publishing platform, there has literally been an explosion of content – some of it written by individuals and some of it written by ghost bloggers. Some is pure PR spin. Some is heartfelt and personal. There are even birthday notifications (as a side note, I find this mildly disconcerting).

And while this has made it more difficult for the average person to attract and engage potential business collaborators, clients or employers, there is still a great opportunity to use LinkedIn as an inbound channel for your personal brand. What does this look like?

  • Share the message, own the destination: Ever noticed how everyone’s profile on LinkedIn looks the same? Makes it hard to stand out, right? Like all good strategy, I suggest you share the message – post your insights, presentations, speeches and updates on LinkedIn by all means, but own the destination – have a website or a portfolio that keeps track of all you do. Use that destination to more fully contextualise your work, purpose and outcomes. I use gavinheaton.com as a catch-all for my activities and ServantOfChaos.com as a showcase. DisruptorsHandbook.com focuses marketing-led innovation and practical strategy. And everything that is posted on one of these sites is cross-posted to LinkedIn.
  • Treat your LinkedIn summary like an elevator pitch: Can you describe your job, best projects and outcomes in 30 seconds? Rather than writing a career summary for your LinkedIn profile, write a summary of how you can help clients, employers and business partners. Make it less about you and more about the value you create.
  • Write case studies on your best projects: Sure LinkedIn’s publishing platform is a hot mess of content, but every time you publish an article, it reaches into the feeds of your network. That means that people you know, or would like to know, are learning more about you. So give your networks something worth reading – warts and all case studies of the projects you’ve worked on. Include the passion projects, the skunkworks and even elements of your day job that is reasonable to share. Showcase not just the results, but the workings of how you delivered value. Connect the dots, tell the story and bring the dull parts to life with anecdotes, quotes and images.
  • Treat yourself like your #1 client: Imagine you are writing a brief for a client – except that client is you. Determine your value proposition, key message and proof points. Put your best storytelling foot forward and explain just why you are the best person for the job/project/collaboration. Just remember, it’s hard work. Keep refining your message. Get feedback. Listen honestly and always seek to improve.

For more great ideas on building your personal brand, take a look through this presentation from Leslie Bradshaw. It’s chock full of practical suggestions that can help you shift from being a “thought leader” to a “do leader”. And in a world where you are what you publish, it’s not about the what you say, it’s all about who believes it.

The Thought Leader Journey

2015-03-20 11.49.51Up until recently, I have rarely listened to podcasts. They just did not seem to work for me. I didn’t have the regularity of travel or the time to focus. But podcasting seems to be riding a wave of new popularity – and an explosion in the type and number of podcasts combined with easy to use apps has seen me start to change my ways. And with an interest in supporting people and businesses I know, I started with some local casts – Trevor Young’s Reputation Revolution podcast and Mark Pesce’s This Week in Startups Australia.

Trevor’s podcast investigates personal branding and the do-it-yourself thought leadership route available to us all. I was able to join Trevor to share some of my own DIY thought leadership. Hope you enjoy it as much as Trevor and I had recording it.

Why Do People Leave Jobs?

When I begin working with clients I work to understand what their ambassadors think about them. I look to their customers and suppliers to get a sense of what is working and what is not. But there is no better source of insight than a company’s employees. These are the people who are actively engaging and promoting the company every day. They are the face of the brand and are – in many instances – the custodian of customer experience. If an employee is having a bad day, your brand is likely to feel the impact.

This infographic from Bamboo HR is based on interviews with over 1000 US-based employees. And they look not just at the reasons that people leave, but the conditions that make people unhappy. Because unhappy employees perform worse than happy ones. No surprises there, right? But there is a substantial difference between an employee who is unhappy and a company culture that MAKES people unhappy. And far too often, the reasons that people are unhappy is not to do with the people that they work with, but the conditions that they work under.

Take a look at the statistics in this infographic. Do these situations worry you? Do some of these apply to your business? Do you even know?

There are ways to fix this and it may be easier than you imagine. Let’s chat!

 

Workplace-Deal-Breakers-Infographic

The A-Z of Personal Branding

What do you do before a meeting? Do you Google the person you are meeting? Do you look up their profile on LinkedIn? Do you stalk them on Facebook? Do you go to the trouble of talking to people that you know in common?

No doubt, a large part of this research will be done online. And while I often wonder if there really is such a thing as “personal branding”, it seems clear that our “digital footprint” has an impact on the people we meet, connect to or pass on our digital travels.

And given this is the case, there are some basic things that are worth doing. I call it the “4 BEs” – be found, be known, be trusted and be successful. But the folks from Placester have put together this interesting infographic that goes into some depth around personal branding. You don’t have to do all 26, but covering most of these will see you well on the way to making sure that your personal brand, digital footprint or online identity has all the bases covered.

the-complete-a-to-z-guide-to-personal-branding-full

Be the CMO of Your Own Team

I’ll get this out of the way up front – I have never been a CMO. But I have always had an interest in making sure that Marketing has a seat at the strategy table – and that really means one of two things – you need to drive revenue or your need to manage costs.

In all my professional roles – certainly covering the last 15-20 years, I have been interested in understanding the business decision making process. I dug through the jargon and pushed to determine the real situation. I even threw out the old metrics by which we measured success – choosing instead the same measurements that applied to those I supported (usually sales). It didn’t matter whether I was working agency or client side – it’s always the same goal. Grow business by delighting customers. Drive innovation and manage costs. Do your best work and encourage the same in your team.

Now, the reason I mention all this, is that it is never too late (or too early) to apply the same principles to your own role. No matter whether you are an intern or early in your career – or whether you do, in fact, hold the role of CMO. Your challenge and opportunity is to step up. Become the CMO of your own team. It might be a team of one, but it will be noticed. Systematise your work and your outputs and allow creativity to flourish where it can. Have an agenda, have a plan and measure your own success. And learn. And ask questions. And talk to your customers.

Hi, I’m Gavin – How Do You Tell Your Personal Story?

What do you say when you introduce yourself to someone? How do you speak and how do you make eye contact. How firmly do you shake hands?

When you meet face-to-face there thousands of data points and impressions being captured by the people you are meeting. Some are visual. Some are tonal. And yes, some are olfactory.

But what do you do online? How do you tell your story? For example, you can find out about me at:

But, for me, the sum always feels greater than the parts.

To be honest, telling your own story is extremely difficult. In my opinion, it’s why we have agencies and consultants … because they can view your achievements, strengths and qualities with an outsider’s perspective. But tools like LinkedIn and blogs can definitely help. And in this age of infographics, sometimes you just need a visual snapshot – which is why I quite like Visualize.me. It connects to your LinkedIn profile and turns the underlying data into a visual CV. Here is mine – and while it could do with some additional elements – it does seem to get the point across. What do you think?

Gavin-Visualize-Infographic

How We Hire in a Social Media World

As soon as I know I am scheduled for a meeting I do a search on the people that I am meeting. I’ve been doing this for years. But these days, I am finding much more information – personal, professional and social. There are Facebook accounts and pages, blogs, Twitter accounts, articles, pictures, movies and even LinkedIn recommendations. It’s a jumble – but if you let it wash over you, it’s amazing the kind of image that can be built up relatively quickly. For example, here’s what I found when I did a vanity search on visual search engine Spezify.

gavinheatonspezify

But does this sort of thing impact the way that others see us? In particular, does it impact our careers in a positive or negative way? And would you take steps, as Jye Smith recently did, to erase the past?

Forbes writer, Kashmir Hill shares an interesting report from social profile management company Reppler. The results from interviewing 300 recruiters tell an interesting story – 91% of those surveyed use social networks to screen candidates – and 69% claim to have rejected a candidate based on what they found.

Why-employers-rejected-candidates

On the upside, 68% have hired a candidate because of what they found on social networking sites. So clearly, it’s a double edged sword.

Why-employers-decided-to-hire-candidates (1)

But like everything to do with “social media” – hiring processes show that we are really just doing the same thing in a different medium. As Kashmir explains, at the end of the day:

It boils down to demonstrated creativity, well-roundedness, and the ability not to tell lies about their educational and professional qualifications. Surprisingly, no one said “Because they looked really hot in their profile photos.”

Find the Gaps in Your Work Profile

I am always on the lookout for cool alternatives to the standard resume. Most, unfortunately, require a great deal of effort and creativity. And while the best of these really do showcase the skills of particular people (especially designers), what about non-designers? What about the design-challenged?

Well, vizualize.me may well be the answer.

After signing up for the beta test and receiving your invitation code, you can connect with LinkedIn and turn your resume into a funky infographic.

Interestingly for me, I realised quickly that my LinkedIn profile was not telling the whole story. There was an over balancing in some skills and an under-representation of others. At some stage I will need to go into LinkedIn to remedy this (vizualize.me doesn’t update your LinkedIn profile – it just uses it as a source) – but it is amazing to get a new perspective on your experience and skill base. Check it out. Here’s mine – what do you think? How would you feel if someone sent this through to you as part of a job application?

 vizualize.me

Changes to LinkedIn Social Advertising

Remember when we found out that Facebook had claimed ownership over all the images, content, links etc that you uploaded? Remember the outcry?

Well it appears that LinkedIn have made a similar change to their terms of service. This change – which defaults to an approval – allows LinkedIn to use your image and/or your name in social-based advertising. This means that your name or image would create the context for either LinkedIn’s own advertising efforts – or for other brand’s advertising within the LinkedIn network.

By default, each LinkedIn member agrees to the following:

LinkedIn-Agreement

BUT if you do NOT agree to this, update your LinkedIn profile to remove the check mark. It is found in the Privacy Controls in your Account tab. Just click the link Manage Social Advertising and make the change.

With thanks to Ingeborg vanBeusekom.