Archive for April, 2013

2 Big Myths of Social Networks

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

152536128-kitten-development-632x475Near the end of two days teaching the Personal Branding Boot Camp at UCLA last weekend, I had to break bad news to my students.

“I am afraid you’ve been misled. Seriously.”

The job-seekers, managers, up and coming experts, athletes and others in the group stared back at me. Concern, disappointment, and worry went viral in the room almost instantly, like Dollar Shave Club on YouTube.

During the mid-day break, I’d seen their Facebook pages. I slowly broke bad news to them.

“I saw you’ve been posting status updates. Some of you for years now. So here’s what I know about you. You run out of gas. Have a beige couch with a stain. Think Ayn Rand was an economist. Like kittens. Eat eggs Benedict like cholesterol isn’t a national health crisis. Drink cheap wine. You have a really ugly sister or maybe that was a pinata. You share ironic motivational posters that really aren’t that ironic.”

Their eyes widened since, after all: wasn’t that what social networks were for? Wasn’t Facebook et al there for them to post the high and low events of their lives, favorite meals, angry political tirades, and a sign that reads: “Stay calm and Wear a ***tfaced Grin?”

They had been seriously misled. As would be their future employers, investors, meeting planners and other people who could pay them to do what they dreamed they could do, if that’s what sources of income viewed about my talented, smart and ambitious campers.

So, I told them the truth, busting the #1 and #2 myths and their chops.

#1: “There is nothing strictly social on social networks.”

#2: “What you’re doing is doing nothing for your networking.”

No one burst into tears – after all they just endured nearly two spring weather days in Southern California locked up in the belly of a building where no sun shined. This was a boot camp hardened group. Still, it was clear they were in shock. Of course, it could have been an afternoon dip in blood sugar or the fact that sequestration took air traffic controllers out of their local airport control towers, right about when their planes would attempt to land that evening.

But seriously, do you understand the facts behind these myths?

The #1 myth? Facebook is just for connecting to good friends and close family members.

The #2 myth? Your friends and family will always love you, or think and act discreetly.

Apparently you haven’t heard about Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton. Kim Kardashian and the boyfriend with the sex tape. Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries.

Unless you think you will be the next Kim Kardashian, hit the powerball numbers before you’ve paid off your student loans, or be the one in 7 billion people on our planet who keeps all your friends and lovers for life:

– Stop blackmailing yourself.

– Stop holding your career hostage.

– Stop being HIP: hostile, insane and profane – at least on social networks.

I know this is tough talk. Forgive me. I am fresh from a stint as a drill sergeant running a boot camp.

So, clean up your social network pages!

At ease, recruits. Now, I have to go clean up mine.

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Why You Need a Sponsor More than a Mentor

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

imagesA sponsor is a mentor on steroids. A mentor gives you advice, encouragement and direction. A sponsor advocates for you. Or, to use Sheryl Sandberg’s term – your sponsor “leans in” for you. Your sponsor doesn’t just help you the way a mentor would by making a few calls, helping you prepare for a meeting or checking your resume. Your sponsor is more like a linebacker: creating openings, clearing away the competition, and pushing others to help you get ahead.

Sponsors are not behind the scenes players. They connect their protégés to the right opportunities and make the case for hiring, promoting or awarding the plum assignments. This of course, means that sponsors – who are typically employed at the same company as you or may be on the board or otherwise affiliated with you – don’t have a casual relationship with you or your career.

You are an investment for a sponsor. You are good for their career, which is why they go out of their way and put their reputation on the line by backing you. Their star rises if you are a star performer. You are like a living legacy or a trust fund that throws off interest to make life better now and in the future.

In Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s New York Times article last Sunday, she quotes two executives who speak to what’s at stake and what it takes.

Patricia Fili-Krushel, chairwoman of the news group at NBCUniversal: “Sponsorship only works when it’s a two-way street… It can’t be just I need help, I need advice.” In other words, you’ve got to prove you’ll make your sponsor look like a genius.

A sponsor will only advocate for you if you have a track record of high achievement that makes you an asset worth investing in. That track record might be in school, in community or philanthropic endeavors or in the workplace. One of my coaching clients got a sponsor by participating in a community foundation project, working alongside some high profile executives who were donating their time. In conversations, he was able to make these executives aware of some of his other achievements. One of the executives helped him get hired and continues to help him get ahead in the company that now employs them both.

Kerrie Percaino, global head of talent at American Express says that what’s really on the line is TRUST. “… I need to know I can totally depend on them – because they are after all, walking around with my BRAND on.”

You’ve got to ask: why would anyone allow you to wear his or her brand and use it as your golden ticket? Consider what it means for a sponsor who has built a stellar personal brand through decades of hard work, accomplishment, relationship building, and communication.

Why would someone put all that on the line for you, betting that your future accomplishment would reflect well on his or her personal brand?

Over the years I have developed a document that I call: Achievements-In-Brief, to help me remember and crisply talk about my own accomplishments. It lists the tougher assignments and challenging clients I’ve worked on, the actions I took or directed, and the results from those projects and relationships. My challenge to you is to do the same.

Write up your own Achievements-in-Brief: consider your school projects, work, business and outside commitments. Each achievement would have three parts:

  1. The challenge you faced
  2. The actions you took
  3. The result you got

If you like, send it to me. I’ll give you some feedback, which might get you ready for attracting a sponsor who can lean in and help you get ahead. Subject line: Achievements-In-Brief, email: [email protected].

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The Simple Way to Attract a Great Job Offer

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

It’s simple to get the right offer. Literally. You must make it simple for us to find you, get to know you, invite you to interview and finally, make the offer. That means, you are:

Simple to understand.

Simple to like.

Simple to find.

The principle of simplicity is never more in play than in personal branding, especially when it comes to landing your next great job. You have so many ways to be visible to people who do not yet know you, so access isn’t the real problem.

Opportunity isn’t the real problem, either. There are millions of jobs open, in-flux or about to be created, and hundreds of thousands of recruiters, HR people, business owners and department heads looking for the few dozen people that ideally fit any of the openings.

The problem is that there are one billion people online. That’s a huge problem for the people trying to hire you.

Here are three simple tips to get you noticed, and more importantly recognized as the right candidate. Let’s use LinkedIn as our model for this, because it’s the most obvious gateway to everyone who could recruit and hire you. However, in some way these same tips apply to other social networks as well as industry forums, events, publications and more places where you are visible.

1. Recommendations

Make it simple for us to know why people like working with you – or having you as a student. Ask for recommendations that use SPECIFIC qualities. You might email a referral source:  “Would you mind mentioning my leadership skills and attention to detail? I led the winning team on the Aquarium of the SouthWest project. I managed eight team members from five countries. I created the index of the 263 sources for our presentation.” For example, here is a former student of mine who is now a Senior Strategic Alliance Manager at HP:

2. Endorsements

LI endorsements are the keyword building blocks of your profile. Ask people to endorse you for exactly what you want to be hired to do. For example, if you are in communications, your block might look something like mine – If you’re a creative type, it might look something like my business partner’s endorsements: Note: it’s not the size of the array – it’s the accuracy of the reflection of your skill set that matters

3. Groups

When we scoot down to your LI section of badges, they should tell a simple story about you. Join the groups that match the skills, industry and even geographical locations that apply to your interests and aspirations. You are known by the badges you have – and earn, so participate in the discussions! Limit your groups to reflect your expertise and interest. For example, Jon Torerk, CSCS is a strength coach and CEO of BioMechanix. See how clear that is:

Simple is not the same as easy. It’s a big job to edit, curate and parse your profile. So difficult for you but easy for us: when it comes to finding and hiring you for your next great job.

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Mentoring Moment: Give Until You Feel Good

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

86516203Doing a small amount of work every day to make progress on a large project is a simple and easy way to succeed. You might be working on something straightforward like an executive briefing you are preparing to present in a week’s time. You might have a larger outcome in mind, like getting a venture funded or being hired in an ideal position at one of the companies where you’d most like to work.

Steady progress demands consistency, not just in your behavior but in your attitude. But it’s not any behavior or any progress that creates success. For example, many writers give themselves requirements like 500 words a day or a taller order like 5,000 words a day.The behavior is simple. You could just open and type in the words you find there, until you arrive at the target number. But, of course, that’s not the intention of setting the requirement. The requirement isn’t any words: it’s words that tell your story or accomplish whatever you intend for your book to do for you and its audience.

The same way that showing up to work and doing anything to look and feel busy isn’t doing the job that will make you a success, nor help your company succeed. So behavior without the right attitude to manage it, doesn’t move you forward. Behavior just moves you: maybe one step forward but two steps back.

Thinking and feeling are the important forces that shape what it is you do. Thus, at work cognition and emotion are like the hokey pokey – that’s what it’s all about in business. That’s what you want to control and channel.

The number one obstacle my clients face is: consistently controlling themselves as they go about working toward long term outcomes. You might be challenged in the say way. There are some days when you know you feel motivated, and moved yourself forward. And, there are days when you’ve done nothing except procrastinated, and spun your wheels or worse.

Along with many coaches, mentors and managers, I’m always searching for some magic to help individuals harness their powers of concentration and drive for success. Specifically, I want the kind of magic that would work with almost anyone – that would be good general advice and universally useful. I excel at diagnosing and driving people when I work with them one-on-one but what can I tell people who won’t be able to have that relationship with me or another coach? What about people who are on their own, unaided in their pursuit of what would be their ideal jobs, ventures or lives?

It turns out my desire to help people help themselves is the secret to helping people help themselves. Dr. Adam Grant, at 31 the youngest-tenured, most highly rated instructor at Wharton and the most prolific academic and mentor, has found the magic. In his upcoming book Give and Take, Grant details that it’s altruism – the desire to help people lead a better life that causes you to be your best at the job you have (or at the pursuit you are engaged in). It is the knowledge that someone will directly benefit from what you are challenged to do, that will cause you to do it with all your might.

Altruism might mean you are a better sales representative because you know that a more profitable company will mean more stable employment for your fellow employees. So working on behalf of others doesn’t have to be philanthropy in the strictest sense.

You just have to connect your effort with a result that will benefit someone other than yourself. It might be your family enjoying a better vacation. It might be your customers being able to run their businesses better.

Never underestimate the power of helping others as the motivation for all the great things you hope to make happen in your own life.

Grant’s book isn’t out yet – in the meantime, give until it feels good.

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