Personal Branding, CEO Branding and Positioning Strategy

    Personal Branding, CEO Branding and Positioning Strategy

    This month I’ve had the privilege of being “author in residence” at the Nasdaq  Entrepreneurial Center in San Francisco.  The center is a non-profit organization created to connect, inspire, and educate aspiring and current entrepreneurs.

    Last week I launched my new book The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand, with an on stage interview at the center. Among other points we discussed:

    • Why everyone needs a personal brand
    • The importance of CEO branding
    • The challenge of branding in an online world
    • Key brand positioning strategy actions

    The entire event was live streamed on Facebook.

    Check out the full 45 minute interview on Facebook Live

    5 Personal Brand Tips To Keep Your Career Options Open

    5 Personal Brand Tips To Keep Your Career Options Open

    Explore Your Options copyThe Week of April 4th Is Explore Your Career Options Week

    If you want to keep your career options open, be aware that a strong personal brand on social media can help or hurt.

    According to a recent CareerBuilder.com poll, 52 percent of employers use social networking sites to research candidates, and 35 percent of those same employers reported that they were less likely to interview job candidates who didn’t have an online presence.

    In addition, 51 percent use search engines to dig up details on a job candidate. So that picture of you chugging back a beer on your Facebook page may not be such a good personal brand move for your future career prospects.

    Take advantage of all your career options by making sure your social media is up to par with these 5 easy, but often overlooked, tips.

    #1. Show some teeth, and instantly become smarter and more likeable.  

    In one study a profile picture on social media with a smile with teeth visible increased the perception of someone’s competence, likability and influence. A closed-mouth smile, however, had about half the impact on likability, and showing too much teeth (a laughing smile) increased likeability but reduced perceived competence and influence.

    #2. Avoid the 5 deadly online career killers.

    51 percent of employers chose not to hire a candidate based on their social media content. As obvious as these faux pas sound, the most common reasons for knocking a potential employee out of the running include:

    • Provocative or inappropriate photographs
    • Information about candidate drinking or using drugs
    • Candidate bad-mouthing previous company or fellow employee
    • Poor communication skills
    • Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc.

    Some of the most outrageous examples taken from real life include: someone posting a photo of a warrant for their arrest, including links to an escort service, posting dental exam results, bragging about driving drunk (and not getting caught), posting Sasquatch pictures the person had taken, and featuring a pig as a best friend.

    #3. Get on the first page of Google.

    Enter your name into Google, and see if you come up on the first page. If not, you are probably one of the 50 percent of people on the site who don’t have a complete LinkedIn profile. To get to the first page of Google with your name, bring your LinkedIn to “all star” status by making sure you have:

    • A profile photo
    • Your current position
    • 2 past positions
    • A summary
    • Your industry and zip code
    • Your education
    • At least 50 connections

    #4. Claim your name.

    In the gold-rush days, would-be wealthy miners placed stakes in the ground to mark off their territory. In the digital era, everyone needs to stake their claim —to their name — and own as much of their digital brand territory as possible.

    In practical terms, this means registering your name as a URL to protect your self (and your reputation) from others claiming your username and potentially damaging your image and reputation.

    With 850 million active websites on the Internet, many names are already spoken for. If your exact name is taken, try getting a URL with:

    • Your first initial and last name
    • Your first name, middle initial and last name
    • Your first, middle and last name
    • A hyphen between your first and last name

    #5. Get off the first page of Google.

    What pops up when your name gets put into a search engine? To stay on top of your online personal brand, set a Google Alert on yourself and receive an email when you’re mentioned on the web.

    This way you can look and see who is talking about you — and what they’re saying. If you don’t like what you see, take steps to make changes before they do damage. This can include:

    • Requesting that old (or undesirable) photos be replaced with new ones you provide.
    • Getting outdated, unfair and inaccurate content off the first page of your search results by writing desirable new content (blog posts, articles, etc.) aimed at specific keywords and posting status updates that drive older, less desirable content (which features those same keywords) farther down the list.

    So the next time you get an itch to post that selfie of you doing something questionable at the company holiday party, think again. Instead post a piece on the importance of gratitude for the season –  it might just get you hired for the job you have always dreamed of.

    Karen Leland is President of Sterling Marketing Group, a branding and marketing strategy and implementation firm. She works with individuals, businesses and teams to enhance their business and personal brands. Her clients include LinkedIn, American Express, Apple, Marriott Hotels and others. Her ninth book, The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand, is due out from Entrepreneur Press in May of 2016.

    3 Ways Personal Brand Consulting Can Help Your Career

    3 Ways Personal Brand Consulting Can Help Your Career

    Use Personal Branding to Get That Job

    Personal Branding Consultants Can Help You Get Hired

    Last month a high-powered marketing manager called me and told me she was in need of personal brand consulting to brush up on her personal brand and prepare for a job interview she had coming up in New York.

    In reviewing her resume, I saw that her history was stellar and her credentials were crazy good. Not to mention she looked like a well-put-together professional who could make anything happen. I wondered why she wanted to spend her time (and money) with me.

    “I just want to make sure I’m presenting my personal brand as powerfully as I can so I’m as competitive as possible,” was her simple response. As it turns out, even those at the top of their professional game know that an up-to-date, well-polished personal brand is a distinct advantage when it comes to job interviewing and career management.

    As employers gain almost unlimited access via the Internet to our personal histories, they also develop a greater demand for details about who we are beyond our business acumen. A professional personal brand consulting session can offer valuable insight (and implementation) in crafting your reputation.

    Here are three specific ways you can use personal brand consulting to help you create a personal brand that will show your stuff in the best light possible and land you that perfect job — from secretary to CEO.

    Give Your Bio a Bold Makeover.Most bios I see are a too general and rambling to pack any punch. The key is to create a fully fleshed-out bio that highlights the accomplishments from your entire career, not just your present position. Beyond the usual information about your education and employment, here are a few things to consider including when crafting your bio:

    • Significant or high-profile books, articles or blogs you have written
    • Presentations or speeches you have given and for whom
    • Interviews you have given on TV, radio or print media
    • Relevant degrees, awards, certificates or honors you possess
    • Name-recognition companies you have worked with
    • Projects you have worked on that make you a thought leader in your field

    I had one client whose bio was solely focused on his current work as an executive coach and totally ignored his past as a high-profile attorney, in which he had been interviewed by The New York Times, Rolling Stone and the Washington Post. I gave his bio a makeover that more accurately reflected the depth of his background and increased his credibility and personal brand.

    Polish Up Your LinkedIn Profile. With your bio ready to roll, next up is updating your LinkedIn profile. Having a fully fleshed-out summary, a professional headshot and at least 10 recommendations and listing major positions held is essential. According to one Lab42 survey, leading activities on LinkedIn are

    Industry networking (61%)

    Keeping in touch (61%)

    Co-worker networking (55%)

    LinkedIn’s own Global Recruiting Trends report for 2016 shows social professional networks have become a major source (73%) of quality hires. One of my clients was the president of a 40-person financial firm and had no profile picture and only a one-paragraph summary on his profile. I did a LinkedIn profile optimization with him, and within a week he was being contacted with offers to speak at industry events — a good place to be seen by potential future employers.

    Create Credibility With Content. There is no doubt that content marketing is a great way to build your personal brand. Being out there as an expert in your field can give you a leg up on the competition. Make a list of relevant top industry or business publications and blogs, and brainstorm article topics you might write about. Not a great writer, but still have something to say? No worries. You can hire someone to ghostwrite the article or post for you.

    One of my clients is a brilliant speaker but can’t translate that knowledge into text. I simply interview him, write up a draft, let him review and make changes and presto — a blog post is born. Even a single, short blog post placed in the right media outlet can greatly increase your personal brand and get you seen by potential employers.

    If at this point you’re feeling overwhelmed and wondering where you are going to get the time to do all this personal brand building, not to worry: The nice thing about wearing so many hats is that you have the ability to hire a personal branding consultant to organize them for you.

    This article is copyrighted by Karen Leland and cannot be reprinted in any form, electronic or otherwise, without the express written permission of Karen Leland.

    Karen Leland is President of Sterling Marketing Group, a branding and marketing strategy and implementation firm. She works with individuals, businesses and teams to enhance their business and personal brands. Her clients include LinkedIn, American Express, Apple, Marriott Hotels and others. Her ninth book, The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand, is due out from Entrepreneur Press in May of 2016.

     

     

     

    How Cell Phones Hurt Your Love Life and Personal Brand

    How Cell Phones Hurt Your Love Life and Personal Brand

    Your cell phone may be hurting your sex life

    The man sitting next to me on the early morning flight from San Francisco to Newark was talking intensely. “I don’t give a damn what he wants,” my overheated seatmate huffed. “Tell him I want that proposal on my desk by noon tomorrow.” His loud tirade went on until the flight attendant finally insisted he power down his phone for takeoff. Even then she had to ask him multiple times before he reluctantly hung up. By the time he did, in my mind his personal brand was solidified – and it wasn’t a pretty one.

    People today just can’t seem to live without their cellphones and most do a poor job at creating boundaries in a public forum. In the process subjecting the rest of us to their  private conversations. A recent Pew Research Center report showed that:

    • 77% of all adults think it is generally OK for people to use their cellphones while walking down the street

    • 75% believe it is OK for others to use phones on public transit

    • 38% think it is generally OK for others to use cellphones at restaurants

    This lack of basic cell phone etiquette, while seemingly harmless, can and does have an impact on your personal brand. If you response to this is “who cares, I don’t know these people?” Think again. You never know who is listening or the impact they could have on your business and/or career. So it’s talker beware when it comes to showing off your personal brand while blabbing and broadcasting in public.  To keep cell phone abuse at bay (and your personal brand in check) try the following cellphone personal branding bests:

    People Before Phones. Be mindful of your surroundings, scratch the ringtone and by all means don’t answer calls when you are in a client dinner or meeting, a performance, movie theater, place of worship or courtroom. It’s common courtesy to make the people you’re with feel like they have your total attention, and answering the phone takes away from that. If you absolutely need to keep your phone on, but the surroundings dictate quiet, turn the phone to vibrate.

    One study, published in the Environment and Behavior, suggests that just the presence of a cell phone can decrease the quality of a face-to-face conversation.

    Mind Your Own Business. Be aware of discussing private or confidential information in public. You never know who may be within hearing range. In the heat of the moment it’s easy to forget who is around you.

    Chill Out. If you are engaged in a conversation that is turning highly emotional, or is likely to, find someplace private to take the call. Displaying anger can make you look unprofessional and create discomfort and embarrassment for those within ear shoot.

    Use Your Inside Voice. Remember to use a conversational tone when speaking on a cell phone, and avoid cell yell. Many people don’t realize how loudly they are talking when on the cell phone, until they start getting dirty looks from everyone around them.

    Obey The Rules. Many public spaces such as airplanes, hospitals and theaters have rules prohibiting cell phone use. If you have an important call coming in that can’t be put off, plan ahead of time to excuse yourself to a location where you can conduct the call.

    Watch In Silence. With the proliferation of video on mobile, many people use their cell phones to view multimedia. To keep from disturbing those around you, use earphones when watching videos or listening to music.

    By the way, cell phone use isn’t only posing a danger to your businesses personal brand, it can be harmful to your romantic life as well. Recent research from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business reports that  cellphones can have a negative impact on our romantic relationships. The study focused on the impact of “Pphubbing” (partner phone snubbing) which is defined as the degree to which people use or are distracted by their cellphones while with their significant others.

    • 46 percent reported being phubbed by their partner

    • 22 percent said phubbing had caused conflict in their relationships

    • 36.6 percent reported feeling depressed some of the time

    So the next time you reach for your cellphone across the boardroom (or bedroom) – think twice.  The conversation you’re about to have may make or break your brand – with a business partner or a beloved.

    This article is copyrighted by Karen Leland and cannot be reprinted in any form, electronic or otherwise, without the express written permission of Karen Leland.

    Karen Leland is President of Sterling Marketing Group, a branding and marketing strategy and implementation firm. She works with individuals, businesses and teams to enhance their business and personal brands. Her clients include LinkedIn, American Express, Apple, Marriott Hotels and others. Her ninth book, The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand, is due out from Entrepreneur Press in May of 2016.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Does Brand Identity Play A Role In Online Dating?

    Does Brand Identity Play A Role In Online Dating?

    Computer keys w heart

    Brand Identity and Online Dating

    In hopes of bringing my readers the widest possible range of information about brand identity, personal branding and modern marketing, I’ve decided to create a post series called “The Best of The Rest.” These posts are my take on the topics other experts, authors, bloggers and all around smarty-pants have written about. Here’s the first one.

    Last year columnist David Brooks’ piece “The Devotion Leap” appeared in the Opinion Pages of The New York Times. The piece, about online dating, proffered some of our worst-feared stereotypes of singles. Namely, that most men are beastly pursuers of beauty over substance, and most women are even harder graders when it comes to looks — but it doesn’t matter so much. Oh, and almost everyone is racially biased.

    Brooks’ assertions are backed up by research from such credible sources as the book “Dataclysm” by Christian Rudder, the co-founder and president of OkCupid. Brooks’ point of view is that online dating is more clever calculation than connection, sort of like discounting 10 pairs of jeans based on how they look on the rack rather than trying them on to see if they actually make your ass look fat or not.

    Now what does all this have to do with brand identity, you might be wondering. Wait for it …

    Well first I have to take a step back and tell you that last year, I got divorced after 22 years of marriage and was thrust headlong into the world of online dating. A place, although it was a voluntary state, I did not expect to find myself and was, to say the least, unprepared. The utter lack of manners, morals and especially meaningful conversation I encountered was a shocker.

    To be fair I’ve had my share of good dates (fun, friendly, connected and flirty) as well as bad ones — one guy told me over an introductory café latte that “a woman’s feet are very important to me.” I’ve even had a few passionate relationships (yes, you can read commitment combined with hot sex here), but so far the one (or at least the next one, since I consider myself in between husbands) has yet to enter my email inbox.

    So while I concede Brooks’ point about online dating being slanted toward a connection-deficient zone, I don’t think his conclusion that to fall in love, we have to “take the enchantment leap … and put forth our vulnerability,” is quite on the mark when it comes to Internet introductions.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m a huge fan of vulnerability and its critical role in love of any kind. It’s just that the type of vulnerability that would make an online connection more possible starts with disclosure not to other but to self.

    For example, most people craft an online profile that is based on a personal brand identity catered to an image that produces a result, rather than authentic rapport. The datee essentially writes what they hope the dater will want to hear. This can include but is not limited to lying about age (I’ll admit to this one), weight, income, interests and height and claiming that decade-old photos are “recent, really.”

    A whole coaching industry (books, videos, audio programs, blogs) exists telling women how to avoid the biggest mistakes that will make them look like low-self-esteem or overachieving non-wife material. These same experts explain how men can avoid being put into the wuss and winey category. Full disclosure here: I have hired some of these folks and read some of these books, and a few have been very useful.

    It’s hard in the face of such performance pressure to actually be true to one’s authentic brand identity, but no real connection is actually possible without this. To even sort through the mass of men (and women) on a dating site, a profile needs to ring like a clear, true bell, calling out for the one it resonates with. The ones it doesn’t? Well, as my friend Ruth used to say, “Screw ’em if they can’t take a joke.”

    So be bold, be brave and be your true brand. In other words, be the you that everyone in your life that has ever loved you found worthy of love — just as you are.

    P.S. I’m still shaving a few years off my age. So sue me.

    This article is copyrighted by Karen Leland and cannot be reprinted in any form, electronic or otherwise, without the express written permission of Karen Leland.

    Karen Leland is President of Sterling Marketing Group, a branding and marketing strategy and implementation firm. She works with individuals, businesses and teams to enhance their business and personal brands. Her clients include LinkedIn, American Express, Apple, Marriott Hotels and others. Her ninth book, The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand, is due out from Entrepreneur Press in May of 2016.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Spring Cleaning for Your Brand

    Spring Cleaning for Your Brand

    Every spring, I get an itch to go through my closets and rid myself of clothes that no longer seem to suit me. What begins as a sartorial purging usually expands into a clearing out and cleaning up of my desk drawers, computer desktop and office files. Over the last few years, I’ve expanded this list to include an annual spring-cleaning of my brand. Brands are organic — they grow and change over time. Without a regular review, they can become stale. To give your brand a good dusting off this season, consider the following:

    This is a short excerpt from a blog post I did for Entrepreneur.com. Read the rest of the post.

     

    How to Deal with Negative Online Reviews

    How to Deal with Negative Online Reviews

    True confessions: When I first started blogging about a decade ago, I wrote a post for a top 10 website where I made what I thought was an innocent off-the-wall comment, meant to be (at least in my mind) somewhat humorous. Let me tell you, the barrage of hate email I got scared me to death and almost had me quit my keyboard clacking for good!

    This is a short excerpt from a blog post I did for Entrepreneur.com.  Read the rest of the post.

    Dos and Don’ts for your Profile Photo

    Dos and Don’ts for your Profile Photo

    If you’re one of those people who thinks that the new year is a good time to post an updated profile picture to your Pinterest page and other social media sites, I would agree. Visuals are a key component of many social networks. Let’s face it: We have all shaken our heads those unfortunate profile photos of people doing tequila shots in their bathrobe. Don’t let this be you.

    This is a short excerpt from a blog post written for Entrepreneur.com. Read the rest of the article.