Who needs speaker, trainer or terrible stand-up comedian? Now booking for Summer & Fall 2013!Read More
As I mentioned in the last post, a new LinkedIn era is upon us. No longer just a resume & recruitment tool, the connections we build through the network are now having a direct impact on our companies and on our own reputations. Too many people are missing the chance to make the most of the opportunity, so I am beginning a full LinkedIn training series, starting with “How to customize your LinkedIn home page.” We’ll get deep into features and functions over time, but a journey of a million miles must begin with a single step. Let’s do this.
Guess what???… Facebook, for business, is dead. You wanna know how I know?
Coca Cola boasts more than 63,000,000 Facebook followers, yet averages fewer than 8,000 ‘likes’ per post. That means that literally 99.987% of their total following either doesn’t see or doesn’t interact with any given update. If you add all activity up for an entire month, you come to a whopping 1% total audience engagement… again, meaning that 99% of everyone they have spent millions upon millions of dollars attracting is blind to their efforts. What a bargain! And the results are consistent, from beloved brands like Hershey’s and Target to entertainers like Rihanna and Taylor Swift, virtually none of them exceed 2% user engagement in any 28 day period. That’s amazing.
Yet, most “internet savvy” businesses today, large and small, feel compelled to maintain a profile on Facebook because “everyone is doing it.”
Well kids, that’s not what this blog is about. If you have the time and the resources, I say go for it. Heck, I’ve got one for my own company, it just doesn’t drive any business. None. I use it to post interesting things that make me look smart. I get a few likes. Everybody wins. Except for my wallet.
Prepare To Be Enlightened
Ok, so you know how I talk about LinkedIn all the time? There’s a reason. I believe that it is the most powerful networking tool of all-time, yet it remains a mystery to most. Even fewer companies grasp its potential to build their brands, recruit top talent and attract new customers. This is part 3 of a 3-part series on applying the reputations we work so hard to build, but this one, as you might have surmised, is about company-level branding.
Now, there are a zillion, trillion articles about “corporate branding,” from logo design to the use of slogans, jingles, commercial advertising and more. I’m going to assume that you are proficient in the art of googling words for yourself, so feel free to give that a shot if you’re into that sort of thing. I’m about to blow your mind though, with a model I doubt you have seen anywhere else, and yet, it’s been sitting right in front of you the whole time.
You know that friend of yours that makes you feel fancy just for knowing them? Maybe they work at a luxury goods company like Tiffany’s or Versace, or a sexy high tech powerhouse like Apple or Google. Maybe it’s the friend from high school that moved to the big city and is living the dream, or perhaps it’s a buddy that runs a successful business locally. In any case, these friends make us feel like we are more successful just for knowing them. It’s human nature, and it happens everywhere in the world. Success is attractive. Success attracts success. Successful people want to work for successful companies. I have never used the word success so many times in a single paragraph. (Success!)
Well, guess what… that same phenomenon can be engineered.
Let’s use a small business with 10 employees as an example. They have a sharp intern named Johnny that had the bright idea to set up a company page on LinkedIn, and he has done a good job of making sure that the latest news is up to date. Great. That’s a good start there, Johnny. But Johnny and his 9 coworkers, who all work for the exact same company, all say very different things about that company on their own personal profiles. Designer Jane just lists her title and how long she’s been there. Developer Dave lists his primary accomplishments in chronological order. But Communications Specialist Susan is one smart cookie. She knows that when she brags about how awesome her company is before she even mentions what she does there, she is making herself look good just for being there.
Susan is promoting the company by promoting herself and vice versa.
You would think that companies would at least offer some standard text for their employees to use for their own LinkedIn profiles, right?
Almost none of them do. It’s one of the greatest missed opportunities in the modern business world. Period.
According to Harvard Business Review (April 2013), the average number of LinkedIn connections is at least a few hundred. “Casual users,” the largest segment identified in the study, have an average of 250 connections each, while “enthusiasts” are rocking 700+. I don’t mean to brag, but yes I do, and I have more than that.
Even if you only have 10 employees, if each has just 250 contacts, you have 2,500 direct connections through your staff to potential customers and new recruits. If you’re a mid-sized business of 300, you’re looking at a whopping 75,000 direct connections between you and the rest of the world… and that doesn’t even count the number of times those people appear in LinkedIn searches. Coca Cola employs 146,200 people and spends almost $3 billion every year on advertising, yet there is virtually zero continuity amongst their employees’ profiles, including the chief executives themselves.
People… I don’t know why I geek out on this stuff. I really don’t. I have been semi-obsessed with LinkedIn for 7 years now, and the network has come a very long way in that time. While everyone else is clamoring for worthless Facebook followers (well, 99.987% of them, anyway), smart marketers are working the angles.
I hope you have enjoyed this 3-part series. It’s not the ultimate guide to personal branding or anything, but I hope it has jogged a few thoughts in that old noggin of yours. In a few weeks’ time, I will be revamping this website and UpriverSolutions.com to focus specifically on career advancement and corporate communication strategies. I am bailing out of the Facebook hype machine, using Twitter just for fun, and focusing on building businesses through the people that run them. That includes leadership training workshops, speaking at conferences & conventions, and one-on-one employee counseling for companies big and small. My aim is to help people tell better stories… about themselves, about the products & services they sell, and about why they do what they do for a living, when there are so many other options out there.
Adios for now, and see you again real soon.
In last week’s blog post, I began a three part series on how to apply your reputation. Applied reputation is almost all that really matters when it comes to “personal brand,” which we seem to hear a lot about these days. We are told that everyone has a brand of their own, and that if we can clearly define it, or as my good buddy Steve Keller puts it, “capture its essence,” we will somehow be better off. But what does it mean to apply one’s reputation?
When it’s time to find a new job or ask for that raise, our reputations speak far louder than our words. If you have a product or service to sell, “word of mouth” is the most valuable means of attracting new business – first from people we know personally, and then from aggregate comments such as those we read in Amazon reviews, Consumer Reports or Yelp. This graphic published by Forester research just last week clearly illustrates the point:
Get it? But in order to apply our reputations, it certainly helps to know what that reputation is. Online businesses have the distinct advantage (or disadvantage) of being able to read the very reviews about themselves that will influence others. Negative reviews can be devastating, so any chance a business owner gets to respond to those critiques should be taken, and taken seriously. (We’ll get into the finer points of reputation management for businesses in the next installment.)
How do we know what our individual reputations really look like to others? As I mentioned in part 1 of this series, it starts by asking those people we feel closest to that very question. “What makes me unique?” “What do I do better than others?” and if you can stomach it, “where do I stand to improve?” That’s a really polite way of asking “what do I suck at?” And recording those conversations will help you remember accurately what was said by others, and also what you say about yourself. (You might be surprised!)
Once you have a firm handle on what makes you, “so you,” here are 4 more things to work on:
Tip 1: Prepare for your job search before you need your next job.
Many of us fail to take advantage of professional networking opportunities when we are happy with our current career situation. This can include “real life” events as well as making online connections. I cannot emphasize this enough… The happier you are in your job, the more confident you will be when connecting with others. There is no better time to make new connections than when you seemingly need them the least. Enthusiasm for what you spend the best hours of the best days of your life doing is a very attractive quality, and you will unquestionably have an easier time making a good impression when you’re proud of what you do.
As a side-note to this point, you may not have the luxury of loving your current job, and that may well be the reason you’re reading this now. Don’t fret. If you love what you WANT to do, you can still put on the charm. You’re in the danger zone if you are unhappy with what you do, as well as where you do it. Folks in this position need look no further than their local community college for some excellent job training resources for professionals in need of some additional support.
Tip 2: Use transitional moments to request references & reviews.
This relates to the suggestion above, but with a slightly different twist. When you are leaving a position, take the opportunity to alert your contacts through LinkedIn, and request a recommendation when you do. Here is a video that explains precisely how to do that in an effective, professional way. I have received more than 80 long-form recommendations from former colleagues, students and professional contacts almost exclusively by reaching out as I was leaving one position in search of the next.
Tip 3: Ask your friends for leads.
This is one of the most obvious, yet most difficult things for many of us to do when we’re on the hunt for new opportunities. Simply telling our contacts what we are looking for and asking them to help is by far and away the most effective way to generate new leads. It’s as simple as that. Don’t be passive. Don’t be shy. Just be polite, professional and direct. For example:
I’m writing to let you know that I have started the process of looking for the next great company/project, and wanted to seek your advice. I am wondering if you might know of anyone in a position to hire a swell fella’ like myself. I am on the hunt for anything in the marketing/communication space and would love to land at a stable company that puts an emphasis on teamwork and has a commitment to the community…”
Now, you can say whatever you want, however you want, but the point here is to be direct and specific. Depending on how well you know “Steve,” you can make it as formal or informal as you’d like. The point is, this person needs to know to know what you are looking for if they are going to be of help.
Tip 4: Disconnect from dead weight.
This one might land me in a bit of hot water, but what the heck… it’s 4:30am and I’ve been up for 3 hours. Let’s do this.
I recently sent out an email with an announcement about a seminar I will be giving on these very topics (and more) at George Fox University. I included some of the latest news about my company, Upriver Solutions, and did my best to make it lighthearted and interesting enough that anyone that I actually know in “real life” would find it worth reading… or at least relevant.
However, there are many folks we may have met along the way and drifted apart from, or simply failed to make a deeper connection with after meeting at a conference or networking event. (Have you ever looked through a stack of business cards wondering who half of these people are?) Inevitably, some folks will unsubscribe from emails of this nature if given the chance. (And you should always give them the chance, preferably by using a professional email service like MailChimp or Emma.)
But there’s one more step to take if they do. Remove them from your contacts on LinkedIn or otherwise. If they don’t care to hear about your career status now and then, they are not a professional contact worth having. Plan & simple. The vast majority of your contacts will simply receive your email and stop reading if they aren’t entertained, but those that make the effort to unsubscribe are, as the great Gotye would say, “somebody that you used to know.” They are no longer a professionally relevant contact. Move on.
Alright – that’s about 1,200 words in the general direction. I’ll finish this series up in a few days, and dig a little deeper into what companies can do to attract talent and grow their business by applying their reputations, just as each individual should by applying their own.
Thanks for reading, and hit me up with a comment below. Even if it’s just to unsubscribe.Read More
I spend a great deal of my time helping others develop their own sense of personal identity. Most of us find it very simple to recognize a “celebrity” or a “household name,” but a lot of folks fail to realize that we ourselves are a brand as well.
Then again, this is the two-thousand-teens and a whole bunch of you already know that. Half of you are rockin’ 500+ on your LinkedIn profile and feel pretty special with all those Twitter followers. Brand is the biznass and ya’ll got it goin’ on. But how many of us are intentionally applying our reputations?
Applied reputation is using your personal brand on purpose.
It’s harder than it looks! I’m working on a “sizzle reel” for folks that might want to hire your old pal Pink to come and speak on their college or corporate campuses. Doing so requires that I write a script about what makes me so awesome, and while you’d think that somebody with my incredible intellect, charm and stunning good-looks would find it easy to go on for days about his incredible self… alas, “what makes you so special” can be a surprisingly difficult question to answer.
I am going to share several “self branding” tips here over the coming weeks as this project comes together, but I’ll start with these two that have really helped me get the process started.
- Brand involves something that others think about us. While we may be different things to many different people, we all have a few friends around that like us the most. Those are the folks we should be talking to about what makes us unique. This can be as simple as having them give you feedback on your LinkedIn profile or resume, or it might come out during a long-form conversation. Either way, we all stand to go further, faster, with a little help from our friends. In fact, it was my pal Nate Kalaf of Tall Palms Creative that inspired this very post!
- Record the conversation! While interviewing a local business owner for an article that will be published in the next edition of Angling Trade Magazine, I recorded the conversation to make sure I didn’t miss any of his finer points. What happened next really surprised me. There were a few comments made just in passing during the interview that I had completely forgotten about, and one of them ended up becoming the title of the article itself.
I was so surprised by the phenomenon I used the technique again during a consultation with a client. In 90 minutes of conversation between 3 people, so many little details were covered I would never have remembered them all, even though I was taking notes. The recording shed a whole new light on the opportunities bouncing around for all of us. I even went so far as to have it transcribed and then highlighted the most important themes throughout. The point here isn’t to record every conversation you have from now on, but if you are seeking the opinions of your friends about your personal brand, take the opportunity to record their comments. You might just stumble across a key statement or three that they make about you, or even that you make about yourself. Pretty much all modern smart phones come equipped with a voice recorder these days, and if yours doesn’t have one, the app store of your choice probably has one for free.
There’s more where these tips came from so stay tuned, but the main point to take away today is that defining ourselves can be more challenging than we expect. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help when you need it, and consider recording the conversation to capture the finer points.Read More
Gravity is a pretty handy thing. It keeps us sticking to the giant rock in the sky we call home. It prevents our stuff from floating willy nilly about. It keeps rivers flowing toward the sea and rain falling from the sky. All around, gravity is a pretty handy thing.
Inspiration is a pretty handy thing as well. It propels us toward the stars; challenges us to achieve ever-greater goals. It gives us meaning and focus and drive. Inspiration is a pretty handy thing.
But sometimes we mistake inspiration for gravity. We feel that because we are pulled in a certain direction, it must be our destiny. Our purpose. Our source.
I WANT! I NEED! I MUST!
But there is a dark side to inspiration. It is the feeling that if you do not achieve your dreams, “you’ll just DIE!” That our talents are a curse if they cannot be applied to our profession. That our professions are a curse if they cannot provide the luxurious quality of life we desire. The feeling that all we want now is all we have ever wanted or will ever want. And that nothing less than everything will ever fill us full.
Gravity and inspiration are motivational forces, compelling us to expand and contract. To reach out and return.
But life is the journey in between.Read More