The A-Z of Personal Branding

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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:

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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.

Infographic Bonanza

In the last 12 months there has been an avalanche of infographics produced and consumed. They can not only be a useful way of explaining complex processes and situations, they are also easy to share and are ready-made for a content hungry audience.

But have you tried to create an infographic? They are challenging! You need to establish your messaging and understand the narrative you want to share with your audience. You need to cohesively design your infographic. And you need to make it interesting – the best seem to take us on a journey that engages and informs.

Little wonder then that sites like Visual.ly have started to appear. It’s a place to share and market your infographic skills. They are even planning on building out some data visualisation tools. Sounds great!

And to kick it all off, you can login via Twitter and generate your own Twitter infographic. Here’s mine. It seems that you really are what you tweet!

The Very Unofficial Facebook Privacy Guide

One of the inspirations for the Age of Conversation books that Drew McLellan and I have been publishing over the last few years is the concept that we are smarter than me. And every day, I see yet more evidence of this … that someone, somewhere out there has an insight, a piece of knowledge or a “social object” that perfectly solves a problem.

As a case in point, Angela Alcorn has put together this fantastic, unofficial, guide to Facebook Privacy. And in a time when the blurring between public and private, and between private and professional is causing us all some concern, this is a very useful and timely publication.

Download the guide from the MakeUseOf.com website – and be prepared to be surprised. Your most personal information may well be being shared with people you don’t know (or don’t want to know).

A tip of the hat to Ian Farmer for this awesome guide.

Blogging for Small Business

Convience StoreI am often asked whether the strategies, ideas and approaches discussed here on my blog can be applied to small business. The answer, in the best marketing speak, is “yes” and “no”.

For while it is easy to get caught in the endless repetition of strategic planning, creating a continuous digital strategy can be quite fast. If you know what you are doing, you can knock it over in a lazy afternoon. Unfortunately, you can also easily fall into the state of “analysis paralysis” – where you are unable to shift beyond one part of a process due to the volume of information you are trying to assimilate. My advice is to start as SMALL as you possibly can.

DialupGuideToBlogging However, if you really are a small business and you want to get started with blogging – AND you want to do it in a way that is SCALABLE, can help you GROW your business and delivers RESULTS, then my advice would be to check out The Dialup Guide to Blogging.

I wrote this short (43pp), easy-to-read guide to blogging with the individual in mind – but the lessons and approaches apply equally to the small business. No matter whether your brand is personal or business, there is plenty to learn, and the book covers all the bases of digital strategy as well as the all important DOING IT part:

The book takes you through the practical steps of establishing your blogging objectives, creating domain names, signing up for a blog, creating your online "footprint" and writing your first posts. It is a must for anyone wondering HOW to get started.

And the best part – you can get it as a soft cover for those who are interested in “digital” but prefer non-digital books. Oh, and there is a downloadable eBook version too – for those too impatient to wait for delivery.

For the Love of the Story

In marketing when we talk about “engagement” with an audience, what we really mean is that we want to create an emotional attachment with each and every person who comes into contact with our brand. This is challenging, because each and every person is different.

There are, however, a number of things that we can do to reframe the experience of our brands. Fundamental to this is understanding the “like me” aspect of human behaviour. It works in two ways:

  • Public image – we mark our belonging in the world by performing (living our lives in public) our allegiances over and over again. This is a continual external manifestation of who we want to “be” and is shown in the clothes we wear, the car we drive, the places we go and so on. It is the mark of the tribe.
  • Self image – our internal identification where we appropriate behaviours, brands, celebrities, music and a million other cues from the external world. These are then processed and internalised before being incorporated into our public image.

Of course, there are massive overlaps and interplays between these two aspects (and I am describing a simplified model of identity), however, it is also a useful way of understanding what Mike Arauz calls desire paths:

… we often mistake chaos for randomness. It isn’t. Underlying random events is Desire as an organising principle. What this means is that we seek out, attract and are attracted to things that gratify our desires. And in the process we unconsciously order our world and make decisions and choices that obey the laws of desire – not the laws of logic. It’s why we buy things like Alfa Romeo cars and Ducati motorbikes – not because we are smart, but because we feel compelled to.

Perhaps it is the emotional interplay between the self and public image that is really what we mean by the term “personal brand”.

But what happens when these two elements are out of alignment? What happens when our self image is at odds with our public image? What happens when what we say is betrayed by what we do?

Natalie Tran, the creator of CommunityChannel – Australia’s most subscribed YouTube channel – has put together this sketch parodying the judges of the reality TV show Britain’s Got Talent. This short piece explains exactly this phenomenon – from the celebrity point of view.

But the fascinating story – and one which Britain’s Got Talent is exploiting so well at present – is the way in which contestants are, through the show, bringing their public and self images into alignment before our very eyes. It happened with Susan Boyle. And it has happened again with 10 year old Hollie Steele.

It is classic storytelling. We have a beginning, middle and end. We have a challenge or opportunity, a hero and certainly a villain. There is a climax, a transformation and, of course, catharsis. More importantly, for the Britain’s Got Talent brand, it generates tremendous emotional connection with an audience. There is plenty that non-entertainment brands can learn from this sophisticated approach to storytelling – but the most compelling aspect is that it starts with ONE person – and without that one person, the rest fails.