Tag Archives: Personal brand

Dear Leaders, Personal Branding Is Not About YOU, It Is About People You Serve


I have preached for a long time what is written in this article from Forbes: Personal Branding Is A Leadership Requirement, Not a Self-Promotion Campaign. Developing your personal brand is essential for the advancement of your career and development as a leader.

Personal branding is more than just promoting the brand calls YOU. It is important for leaders to clearly communicate about their values to attract talent, engage current employees and other stakeholders inside and outside the company.

By cultivating your professional image via the content you post on various social media platforms, you can help other people as much as they can help you by sharing ideas or getting feedback from customers.

The relationships you develop online should be  based on a 2 way communication style without promoting yourself.

The choice of the social media depends greatly on your target audience, don’t waste too much time to be everywhere to increase your SEO.

Which leaders do you know that have successful personal brand ?

How To Network Like A Pro!


What is the Definition of Networking ?

net·work·ing, noun”:

Definition:

  1. The exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business
  2. The establishment or use of a computer network

If you are mastering the art of networking the classical way, involving in person meetings, business cards  and phone calls,  then you know how to turn contacts into connections that will help you get your next job or win your next business deal. Right ?

WRONG !  

If you are a great connector and know how to make the most of your connections through traditional in person conversations, it is not enough anymore. If you don’t know how to use social media to engage people on a personal level by being part of online communities such as Linkedin, then you are simply out of the networking game. Since 2004, when the term social media was first used, people want to do business with people they trust and share similar interests beyond work but without necessarily being in some kind of physical contact via phone, video-conference or in person.

In the digital age, aka, the internet world, you cannot be a networking pro if you don’t know how to leverage your online presence to attract the right people who will help you reach your professional and business goals as well as your personal projects.

I think today, even the most stubborn executives admit they need some kind of presence online, they might no become social media artists,  but they know that personal branding is not a buzz word and actually it is a pretty old concept that first appeared in 1997 in an article published in Fast Company Magazine, from  management guru and author Tom Peters:

“We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” -Tom Peters

If you want to become a more confident and engaging person to establish effective relationships both online and off-line, start following those 3 steps:

Step #1: Create A Brand Called “ME”

What makes you unique ? In a global economy in crisis, every job seekers and businesses must differentiate themselves to stand out of the crowd. The only constant today is change and very fast change in our highly connected global world. To win the global war of talent you need to know who knows you and how you are perceived. What is your reputation online? Are you in control of what people find when they Google “your name” ? What is your unique value proposition ?  Do you know what your competitors have to offer ? What gives you a competitive edge ?

In a previous post “Me Inc, Brand Yourself and Find your Ideal Job”I have listed the five steps to help you build your personal brand .

The materials to build your brand can be identified through the same process of strategic planning used to market products or services. Make a “SWOT” analysis starting by various assessments of your core personal  values, the principles that guide your life, your life purpose or mission, your vision, what are your strengths, weaknesses ? In which environment do you thrive ? What is the type of boss or ideal client you want to work with ?

It is important to be really YOU, authenticity is key, don’t try to be someone you are not but discover who you really are using tools that uncover hidden talent and what intrinsically motivates you.

For more in-depth understanding of personal branding  I recommend you to connect with Dan Schawbel recognized as a “personal branding guru” by The New York Times and author of the #1 international bestselling career book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future.or how to build a powerful brand to achieve career success. Check his Personal Branding Blog too.

Step #2: Identify Who Is Your Audience

It is tempting to be everything for anybody and everybody but this doesn’t work. As the leader of your own brand you must inspire the people you want to attract. What is it about you that is appealing to people who want to buy from you or hire you ? You need to change shoes and imagine being in those of your potential customers/employers. This is very important because the way you package your experience in your resume or select social media platforms depends on how your audience is listening and communicating about their professional and personal  interests.

If you want to learn about your target audience, start LISTENING first : search  key words used by people interested by your expertise and thought leaders.  Invite those people to connect on LinkedIn and see what they talk about and how they interact in specific groups (you can be part of 50 groups on Linkedin). Use Q&A, start a Twitter account and read other people’s  Tweets.

The same way an HR person or a hiring manager will get information about you via Google, you can learn a lot about companies by connecting with the employees online. If you want to learn about a specific country before accepting an international assignment, contact expatriates and locals who live there. Once the contact is made online, try to follow-up by a phone call or Skype or meet in person to share about your needs and how you can also return the favor by helping those who helped you. Do not hesitate to contact people you don’t know. People online are much more open to connect and talk to you even if you are a perfect stranger. Read more about How to Connect With People You Don’t Know 

Step #3 Engage your Connections Through Meaningful Conversations

Once you have an idea of what your prospects’ interests are,  then you can start defining your goals and make a content marketing  strategy to help you connect with the right web audiences. You can use any kind of platforms such as blogs, videos on YouTube, Google + or images on “Pinterest to create and distribute relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience, Use online content curation tools such as Scoop.it to gather and disseminate knowledge in the topics your audience is interested.

You need to choose carefully your content strategy based on the specific goals you want to achieve. For example, If your goal is to increase you ranking in search engines like Google, then maybe it is a good idea to start a professional blog and comment in other experts’ blogs. Do you want to identify and invite new contacts ? then start a debate in a Linkedin group discussion. Maybe you want to demonstrate your capability to engage consumers online as a marketer ? then build a Facebook fan page and try to attract active followers on Twitter.

Whatever you need to do, be consistent about the image you want to project. For example do not use your personal Facebook  profile to broadcast your personal life. You may use your personal Facebook page to show a more casual image  of yourself but avoid venting your frustrations, be negative in general, don’t share your political or religious opinions and keep private things that are too personal.

Always assume that anybody can potentially see everything you post online and once out there it stays FOREVER !

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Are You The Invisible Man ?


Invisible ManAre you looking for a job and getting sick reading about personal branding, getting advises on “how to stand out of the crowd” or people talking about how to engage your target audience ? Worst do you get irritated by stupid buzzwords like “niche” or “influence” ?  Well if this is the case you are not alone:

According to the US Department of Labor, The number of unemployed persons in the United States is 12.8 million in February 2012. The unemployment rate held at 8.3 percent. In Europe,  France and Italy have 9.7 and 9.3 % respectively and Germany 6.3 % (data January 2012 from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

For sure the economy is tough but people who find a job nowadays are those who know they cannot be average, they know themselves very well, they are able to tap into  every single experience they have to identify how and why they can be competitive,  what skills they have or need to acquire that are in high demand.  But it is not enough, the reality is:

If you are not visible online you are essentially invisible when it comes to being found by anyone who might be looking for someone like you.

The paradox of the current jobs economy is if unemployment seems awfully high, more and more employers are complaining they can’t find the talent they need. In September 2011, The Economist published a special report on the future of jobs called “The Great Mismatch”.The paradox is that in some sectors it is hard to find good talent .

So I am sorry for job seekers who don’t get it, but you need to work hard to become highly visible in a positive way, use personal branding tools and inbound marketing techniques to “sell” your unique talent and value to a specific group of people who are willing to hire you and not your competitors.

Since I started using social media about 10 years ago via Linkedin, blogging then Twitter, Facebook or today via Pinterest,   I know successful professional people don’t wait to be laid off to build their personal brand and attract people to grow a solid network of connections both online or off-line. Executives have now realized they need a personal brand online too as they are not immune to being laid-off. Even presidents like Obama or Sarkozy use social media like Twitter for their election campaigns in the US and France this year.

If you choose to remain invisible, Linkedin made a search on 135 million profiles and listed the top 10 buzzwords used in United States in 2011 . Use them if you want to be boring, average” and ignored:

  1. Creative
  2. Organizational
  3. Effective
  4. Extensive Experience
  5. Track Record
  6. Motivated
  7. Innovative
  8. Problem Solving
  9. Communication Skills
  10. Dynamic

If you want more inspiration to avoid being identified by intelligent softwares used to scan online resumes, try to add the Top 10 overused buzzwords in LinkedIn Profiles in the USA – 2010

  1. Extensive Experience
  2. Innovative
  3. Motivated
  4. Results-oriented
  5. Dynamic
  6. Proven track record
  7. Team player
  8. Fast-paced
  9. Problem solver
  10. Entrepreneurial

“Personal branding is about building a credible online presence that reflects our unique style and values and carves a niche for us personally and professionally on the Internet. Inbound marketing is about generating quality content directed to your target audience. Oscar Del SantoPersonal Branding & Inbound Marketing: Why the Mix Works

You cannot build a personal brand overnight,. it takes time and it is hard work, much more harder than writing a perfectly boring resume. All you have to do for that  is to make an extensive list of all your diplomas, each experience, even when you were a scout, your skills and most importantly ignore what your potential employers need and what your competitors do. Then you will be sure to never get noticed and remain invisible.

START BUILDING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND BEFORE YOU NEED TO

Related article: Invent Your Future Job:  Be Unique, Be Social, Be Global

What To Learn From A Brand That Is Trusted Globally?


Starbucks logo

Image via Wikipedia

Why Paying a coffee at Starbucks 3$ while you could get a good coffee at your local Deli or coffee shop for 99 cts?

This is not only the taste, price does not matter because you don’t drink coffee,  it is the “Starbucks Experience: Everywhere in the world Starbucks use the same design with subtle adjustments to local cultures but the offer is basically the same everywhere:  lounge-music, sandwiches and cakes, mugs with the city name and other accessories. The beverage pricing is “fixed” in local currency, 3$ for a “Tall” coffee in Atlanta or New York and 3 Euros in Paris. This means in Paris it is about 30% overvalued against the dollar.

Starbucks has a global blog with access to many countries’ pages translated in local languages.

For sure Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone De Beauvoir and all the ” Parisian Rive-Gauche”  intellectual  elite would be horrified to know that the “Quartier Latin”,  where the French cultural revolution took place in 1968,  has already three lounges from the American coffee company around “Place Saint-Michel” . There are 50 Starbucks in Paris:  http://www.starbucks.com/blog/ah-paris! . Read more about Starbucks in France from an American Expat in France.

The customers look more or less the same in big cities: You will see in New-York or Paris, moms with babies in strollers who socialize for the whole afternoon, students writing their essays on their laptops or workers indulging in high Kcal cakes with a “Non-fat Grande Latte” or a double-shot espresso posting some pictures on Facebook or tweeting while checking their emails at lunch break. All Starbucks have a WIFI connection.

Starbucks Coffee Company has 15,000 coffee lounges in North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Rim all of them offering the same concept. For some travelers, finding a Starbucks in Qatar or Tokyo is a way to be in a known territory, feel connected with both the other clients and  the “partners” (staff) even if they are 3,000 kilometers away from their home.

Starbucks’ mission statements is almost the same everywhere slightly localized to local customers’ values but not much as you can see from he missions statements I translated from Starbucks’ blog’s country pages:

In France : We are committed to providing the best coffee in the world and the best tasting experience to our customers while managing our business in order to contribute to changing social, economic and ecological communities where we operate.

In the US: Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time. Starbucks is committed to a role of environmental leadership in all facets of our business.

In Brazil: The mission of Starbucks is more than words on a piece of paper. It is the philosophy that guides the way we do business in our day-to-day. To establish Starbucks as the premier provider of the finest coffees in the world, without ever compromising their principles throughout our growth process.

Here the six main principles and values that drive Starbucks’ business globally:

#1 Provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.

#2 Embrace diversity as an essential component of the way we do business.

#3 Apply the highest standards of excellence to the purchasing, roasting, preparation and delivery of our coffee.

#4 Generate enthusiastically satisfied customers all the time.

#5 Contribute positively to our communities and our environment.

#6 Recognize that profitability is essential to our future success.

What can we learn from Starbucks to set up a personal global brand ?

1-Same principles apply for  Starbucks and your global personal brand: be yourself everywhere with the minimum of cultural adjustments in your communication strategy:  use your target audience’s  language and key words but your value offer  remains the same globally.

2-Define your global target audience your target customers’ profile  might slightly differ from one country to another but you should feel “connected”  through their values and principles otherwise your concept or unique selling point cannot work globally.

3-Values shape actions: yours and those of your stakeholders: clients, partners, employees, employers, subordinates, etc. Craft your value proposition based on who you are and what your are best at doing ?  Be aware of your perceived image in different countries: choose your target carefully. Write your personal mission statement that identify what you do that is unique for a company or a client to hire you: Combine your unique attributes+ benefits for your target audience:  Here is mine (not perfect but the key elements are there) :

“I am a professional coach with 20 years of international business management in Fortune 500 global companies in the US, Europe, Asia-Pacific, inspiring global executives to reach their full potential by leveraging difference for excellence while inventing their futures”

4-Communicate with cultural sensitivity your global offer :  Be aware of local customs and your competitors’ offer locally but if your concept has a true global value, then competition does not matter, at least if you are the first on the market. In France be formal, always use Mrs. or Mrs for first contact, in US you can use first name even if you don’t know the person. If you apply for a local job in Japan, use Japanese only if you are fluent,  in most cases International Japanese or foreign-owned companies are looking for a specific expertise and English fluency. If you have the time to learn and become fluent do, but if you can only learn “survival Japanese” to break the ice that is fine as in business settings a translator will probably be used even if your partner is fluent in English.

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