Archive for December, 2009

Ten Commandments of Personal Branding – #3: Like a Bee, Be the Buzz

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

bumble_beeA sparkling personal brand doesn’t alight on the musty, dusty, bored, and tired among us. You and your content must be compelling, useful and provocative enough to create buzz. That means you must stay on top of trends, perhaps set trends and know the other thought leaders and trend-setters. But, it also means you have to wake up every morning with the idea that today you get to do the greatest job in the world: your job.

Commandment #3: Like a Bee, Be the Buzz

Geez, wake up with a smile and go to work? If that’s what you’re feeling, it’s a great sign that you are in the wrong field.

I recently met a real sparkler of an MD, amidst a long line of doctors who clearly looked like they wished they had studied architecture, plumbing or anything other then medicine. I’m on a trek to manage a back injury, so I’ve been touched, tapped and talked to by an array of specialists. Some of them are the chairmen of their departments at major university hospitals (after all, I live in Los Angeles, so why not start at the think tanks, right?). Others are on the “best in the West” type of lists. Still more have been recommended to me by all the right people – the right people being other injured, aching (or formerly so) patients who are well connected.

Most of the docs have marketers are on their staffs or at their hospitals who’ve done a great job of creating and leveraging their brands. Some of their waiting rooms look like home theaters with big screens, beaming out movie quality videos and surround sound. You sip fresh coffee (made cup by pressed cup) and watch people laugh, dance and smile – with just a little band-aid where the scar will form.

Unfortunately, the docs themselves can be really uninspiring, unimaginative and boringdisengaged. Honestly, my back is a wreck, so it’s really open to discussion about what’s the root cause and the right modality for taking care of it. But, I was beginning to think that bad backs are not only confounding, they bore physicians.

So when I met Dr. Frederick A. Davis, Chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at an HMO, I was enthralled. Here was a man with lots of years in his specialty and a mean machine that made my nerves scream as he tested them. But, he talked about the results as he was getting them, made sense of them for me – and spoke glowingly about the developments in his field. He also personally called the doctor he referred me to, to make sure his insights catalyzed a fresh look at my case. I was buzzing with hope when I left his office (which was clean but not spiffy at all).

The best buzz is real talk about real character and really good deeds. Sure bees sting, but they also make honey. What do you do?

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Ten Commandments of Personal Branding – #2: Sell Your Signature, Not Your Soul

Friday, December 4th, 2009

With personal branding, you must develop and communicate a signature style, tone, approach, point of view or set of wares. It’s harder and harder to create unique products and services, but your ability to be a unique purveyor of whatever you’re selling should be pretty simple. That’s because your personal brand is youand you are by definition a unique individual. Think of your personal brand an expression of yourself.

Commandment #2 – Sell Your Signature, Not Your Soul

pablo_picassLike Picasso or Diego Rivera, you might have different “periods” or show the signs of changing influences, but that should reflect your growth – or ability to not only follow trends, but to set them.

By creating and leveraging your personal brand whenever there’s the opportunity to engage with other people, you are selling yourself. Don’t confuse that with selling your soul or selling out. Integrity and staying true to your values and voice are key; in fact, they are the basis of your long-term success.

No matter what you think of what you’re doing at this moment in time – maybe you’re under performing because: it’s just in this job, just this gig, just this relationship – you must see this point as somewhere along the line of your building your entire reputation, body of work, how people understand who you are today (and what your potential is).

So, even if you have found yourself temporarily in a poor fit, you want to approach the situation, challenge or opportunity with a signature style.

For example, when US Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger III saved all 150 passengers as his plane ditched into the Hudson River, he was praised for being heroic and masterful. There’s no way “Sully” had not only practiced his mechanical maneuvers often enough to save the day in that emergency, he had practiced helpingthinking and acting masterfully for years. On the average day, that might mean looking out for a elderly woman who seemed a bit lost in his local supermarket. It might mean not turning in for the night without checking to see that all the doors and windows at home were locked.

You want to practice your signature style now, so you can be received as the unique and ideal new employee, person for that exciting new project, consultant for that top-notch client or team leader for your organization.

What is your signature now? Take a hard look, ask people who know you or just compare yourself to someone you admire. What qualities do you want to develop and convey, so everyone wants your signature?

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Ten Commandments of Personal Branding – #1 Be a Space Commander

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

The basis of establishing a really strong and lasting personal brand, is producing information that solves your audience’s problems, helps them achieve their goals, educates them, and helps them make better decisions or simply live better.

Commandment #1 – Be a Space Commander

rocketThe best known brands own a specific, unique, recognizable and valuable place in “space.” For example, Apple commands the music download and mobile listening space, via iTunes, iPod, and iPhone. Apple’s dominance extends to the mobile entertainment space, now that iPhones are responsible for more than 60% of all mobile searches.

Personal brands are similar, but the “space” you command may be much smaller and still yield enormous benefits for you – if you are clever about how you make money (by leveraging your audience). The real difference between making it big in product marketing versus personal branding is what you as an individual have to give away in exchange for loyal followers.

For example, let’s look at the really big personal brands in business communication space. Seth Godin owns permission marketing,” and seeks to own even greater territory in relationship marketing.” He’s so big, that he’s giving away his new book (in exchange for a donation to a foundation) and evangelizing for everyone to give away their intellectual property (because real fans will buy your book as a “collectible”). Peter Shankman owns “no-cost access to journalists,” via HARO. He gives away leads to anyone willing to sign up for his Help A Reporter Out email blasts, and just sells ad space at the top of the blast (three times a day). The advertiser also gets his personal endorsement (I wear these pajamas! kind of thing). Chris Brogan is at least part owner of “social networking.” He recently impressed the daylights out an a NYC entrepreneur group, who all received his book, Trust Agents, as a gift.

It’s time for you to define your area of expertise, information, approach, or talent within a tribe. What do you know? How can you codify it? Maybe an ebook? Maybe podcasts? Maybe assessments? And, how can you capitalize on the loyal audience you command? Great consulting gigs, best job offers, speaking fees, advertising – the list not on goes on, it grows as you build your personal brand.

Next Up: Commandment 2 – Sell Your Signature!

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If You Suck, Your Personal Brand Does, Too

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Personal branding is not shameless, endless self-promotion. It’s not direct messaging me with your faux request to “take this IQ test and see if you’re smarter than me.” It’s not directing me to your website with every post. It’s not seeing yourself as the epicenter of everything to do with your industry, category, talent, idea, or area of expertise. It’s not starting every conversation with “I…”

Maybe you shouldn’t be personal branding quite yet. Here’s a quick self-assessment to tell you if you need feetupto keep your personal brand really personal right now.

  1. You don’t shower everyday.
  2. You’re been house-bound since Oprah’s announcement.
  3. You’ve been blocked for stalking or spamming.

The list could get pretty long, but you get the idea. You can’t be fundamentally anti-social, greedy, jealous, boring, self-centered, creepy or anything else that ensures you’ll be someone’s ex-husband (or ex-wife) someday (or again) and do yourself proud in personal branding. You have to lift the other end of the couch, not sit on it, while your roommate is moving out – unless he’s trying to take your couch.

Consider what’s real for you. Maybe you don’t have even a smidgeon of the mensch gene, that is, you’re a person with little or no empathy for others. You don’t connect with people in person. You don’t consider public service anything but a way organizations sucker people into doing free work for freeloaders. You’d onthephonelike to compete in the Special Olympics because you’re not in any way challenged, so the odds are really good you’ll win.

Social media merely amplifies your personal brand

In that case, you just might quietly get into group therapy before letting us all know the real you. Seriously, you aren’t doing anyone any good – especially yourself and the company you represent – by using social media to broadcast just what a lout you are. Of course, if this cautionary post doesn’t apply to you, then print it out (wear gloves so it can’t be traced) and put it on the desk of someone who it applies to.

What brought all this on? A recent YouTube video on personal branding by Carlos Mandelbaum poked holes in my personal branding bubble.

Plus, perhaps like you, I have found too many of my friends do too little to report, yet they report way too often on Facebook. For example, a whole lot of people tell me when they’re turning in for the night or that they’re coloring a girlfriend’s hair before baking brownies in their hometown in Kansas (I live in LA, so no brownies for me; hence, I don’t want to know). A lot of the chatter reminds me of flying to Hong Kong from Los Angeles, lying next to a stranger (business class seats go all the way down). For 20 hours I knew everything about this woman, in real time and in the mini-series she relayed of her past.

Preparation is key

Before you make another social media move or affix your name badge at the next mixer, be ready with no keyless than 3 entries for these categories:

  1. Unusual facts or advanced tips that can help a person move forward in your area of interest.
  2. Experts in your field that you can learn from and connect with, along with a question you want to ask them.
  3. Reasons why you want to serve and lead your tribe.

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