Posts Tagged ‘business communication’

Your Personal Branding Trinity

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

868auditoriumIf you have been following this Tuesday column over the last two weeks, you know we are considering the trinity of personal branding:




Get Attention: Raise your hand, say something insightful and move the gaze of the audience to you. I do this everyday on the LinkedIn discussion groups that I tend during my 20-minute per day regimen of social media maintenance for my personal brand. To keep it interesting, I belong to 26 groups and I let the emailed discussion updates drive my participation.

Most often, I seek out posts that I can take a contrary position to. I use a very polite tone. I approach the topic with salient facts and typically cite a recognized source so it appears I am just weighing in – not arguing. Every single time I do, another member of that group sends a request to be a connection of mine – and they almost always write a note that tells me what I said that made them want to reach out.  About every fifth time, someone in the thread mentions me by name; often acknowledging that I am a pivot point in the direction the thread was going. Super ROI, because it’s always people that I want in my “tribe,” which is why I’m in those groups.

Test out different methods

I test different methods for social media success all the time. In the last two months, this approach to LinkedIn posting is how I am getting the most positive attention from my target markets. You might try it in your groups and see if it gets you the type of attention you require for your business goals.

Ignite Emotion: Be generous, share your resources and get the crowd rooting for you. My area of expertise is communication. I watch for discussions and posts where I can offer some of my intellectual property (IP).

Recently I offered to send anyone in the group a list of values that form the foundation of a personal brand. Whatever I’ve offered, I tell them what their subject line should say so I know what to send. Every single time at least one person has reached out to request what I’ve got. This open-hearted, open-handed sharing ignites a positive emotional connection, and we continue to dialogue. Often this results in a business relationship I otherwise would never have. So far, the only downside seems to be erectile dysfunction spam, which is easy to recognize and ignore.

Developing IP is part of my work because I teach, train and write. I continually research and develop new material that I use in my coaching and consulting practice. You might not have those demands (and benefits) for your work, but you may want to take stock of what you know. I use Evernote to collect and organize all the bits I glean from a variety of sources during the week. Every Sunday afternoon I take some time to gaze at it, kind of like looking at tea leaves. Inevitably I have a light bulb moment that I jot down, and that helps form a new piece of IP that I can share in many ways.

A link to another thought-leader’s material that’s on point would also work, although that says more about your interest in a topic than your expertise.

Be Memorable: Stick with one topic, stay in your authentic voice and be relentless. I persist in propounding there is no problem that cannot be solved by people having superior communication skills. I concede that an earthquake can level a city, but I insist we are all safer if we can say clearly, crisply and compellingly what we need to put society back together. When people think about me, they remember that I encourage them to use their words to tell their stories and get exactly what they want.

In social media forums, I don’t stray from that position: I talk about communication in all its forms. That includes learning what to say to successfully make career transitions, get media coverage, develop sales, attract business deals, produce best selling books, create successful teams, and more.

From my earliest recollection, I have been engaged in reading, writing, grammar, and later: the sociology of conversation, linguistics, media, speech writing and delivery, sales presentations, advertising and marketing, broadcasting, publishing, and just about anything that has to do with the power of language. I don’t have to remember what I’m representing – it is in my bones.

What is it that we remember about the authentic you? What is it that indelibly defines you in our minds? What word, job opening, consulting gig, or life opportunity would immediately pop your name into our brains?

Consider what your personal trinity is.

  • Why are you getting our attention?
  • How are you making emotional connections?
  • What personal brand are you burning in our brains?

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on

Emoticon: Emotion

Monday, November 29th, 2010

emotioconpillowsYou may be thumbs up when it comes to flashing a smiley face or any of the canned emoticons that functionally do nothing for your personal brand image. Emoticons are the equivalent of wearing the same dress or jacket everyone wears. My mother who was a fashion designer had an expression for that: “You see yourself coming and going.” In other words: you’re just like everyone else. Or, worse for personal brands: you are like ANYONE else.

You become a commodity

Not that it’s a fatal error to slip in a snoozing or tearful emoticon from time to time, but it certainly speaks to a lack of effort on your part – or a lack of language skills. Consider this: no one ever woke up in the morning and said, “I hope I get a message with a tiny yellow circle comically trying to express how my friend truly feels.” In fact, our subconscious sees red, and whispers to our conscious brain: “Ouch. Here’s a person using the absolute minimum effort to acknowledge our presence on earth.”

The “Like” button, if you use it consistently to respond to our posts, has the equivalent dismissive effect.

These minimalist efforts are equivalent to a man driving home at 7 PM on Valentine’s Day and in a slap dash, half-hearted attempt to show up with something – anything – so it doesn’t look like he’s forgotten his supposed sweetheart, buys a bouquet of flowers from the guy on the median strip at the last intersection before making it home. The problem is your sweetheart takes the same route home and knows how little effort you made.  Nothing would have been a better choice.

Why do you care if we see how much – or how little – you care?

Because like attracts like: you get what you give. At best, you become “better than nothing.”

I have a housekeeper whom I silently call Ms. Half-Measure. I know she will do the minimum possible to keep the house from crawling away. I have slowly downgraded my expectations to: “Well, at least I can say the house is vacuumed.” I actually learned that coping strategy in therapy. When the earth rotates enough times and the universe pops up someone else – anyone else, I’ll replace her.

Are you the half-measure person?

Is that who you are at work as a consultant or employee? Would we only refer business to you if you were the last accountant on earth? In fact, the most common request I hear when I’m at a gathering with small business owners is: “Do you know a good accountant?” No one ever does. We all have accountants, and it’s not that they’re incompetent. It’s just that they routinely do the minimum required, typically at the last possible moment.

If you have ever met someone loyal to a professional, company or brand – you know the sound of a deep and abiding emotional connection: it’s an evangelist witnessing for the best (fill in the blank) ever.

“OMG, I love my dry cleaners!”

“This is the best book I ever read!”

“You have got to meet my post production guy, he’s a genius!”

“I work with this amazing art director, she actually reads the copy!”

Personal brands: that’s who you are looking to be: a much celebrated resource. If you get our attention, the next step is to make our hearts swell up with pride that we know you.

A celebrated resource

Consider what emotional connections are you making. How do we feel when it’s your name or number that shows up on the phone? How often are you the first person we dial when something significant – good or bad – happens?

There are only three things you need to do, in order to be a go-to personal brand.

  • Spark our attention
  • Ignite our emotion
  • Indelibly burn into our memory

If your thumbs aren’t up to that, consider Skype with video chat so we can actually see your smiling face.

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on

Personal Brands: Here’s Why You Exist

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

george_clooneyWhat does it take for a personal brand – or any brand – to exist in the hearts and minds of your audience or target market?




That’s it. That’s the big secret. That’s personal branding in three words.

The personal branding equation

Let’s tackle the first part of the personal brand equation: attention. You can’t be successful if you can’t get attention. But, it’s not just any kind of attention you want. You – or your brand image – must be associated with a heart warming feeling, figuratively and literally speaking.

Let’s consider the difference between a waiter accidentally dropping plates and sending them crashing in an upscale restaurant versus George Clooney walking into one. As diners, we turn our attention to both events. One is irritating and one is a delightful surprise.

Even if you don’t like Clooney and feel irritated about the paparazzi lurking outside, who will mark your lack of celebrity by putting down their cameras, it is a kind of personal endorsement that he is choosing the same restaurant you did, because he could and does eat anywhere on the planet.

In fact, it’s hard not to take Clooney’s appearance personally. Your brain does all this work for you, as it does 98% of its job: in your subconscious, out of your control. Yes, only 2% of your brain’s work is done under your direction: on the surface of the deep ocean you live in, unseen to us and you, with the possible exception of what your dreams might be trying to bubble up to the surface.

Our brains pay attention and makes meaning, as much as they can, by taking in what happens in the environment around us, and integrating that with anything potential relevant we’re storing in our associative networks.

The center of our universe

You are not the center of our universe, but you are part of our environment: we the people with whom you work, bump into or otherwise interact. The marks of your personal brand, both online and on-ground are dots on the landscape we inhabit.

For example, your Facebook updates are a huge interruption, albeit one we agreed to when we consented to being your so-called friend. If we find something self-referencing in your posts, something that we can relate to, aspire to or find a surprising and delightful connection to – you are a good interruption – you get positive attention credits.

It’s like George Clooney walking into the restaurant where we’re having dinner. Because his personal brand is cool in kind of a Sinatra rat pack way, his presence elevates the vibe. When you arrive, do you elevate the vibe or suck out its sense of cool?

Have you considered what people think and feel when you walk into a room? Would you get a rousing welcome at Cheers or the deflating reception that a cooler gets when he stands by a successful gambler in Las Vegas?

Consider how we feel when we see your comments on LinkedIn. Do we think, hey, that was really smart! Or do we think: what a disappointment: another doofus made us go look when we got the email saying there was a new post on that discussion. Your waste-of-our-time comment is “Jack, you make a good point.” You go down in flames when it comes to getting our attention. So does your personal brand reputation. Your brand becomes “what a waste of time.” Ouch!

We not only dislike you, we dislike ourselves by association – and that’s all assigned to your brand. Your underwhelming performance sets the bar lower for all of us, but not as in a Club Med limbo, limbo, limbo amazing flexibility way. A superfluous comment makes you a doofus, but so are we for being on the same thread with such a doofus. You not only give us a bad name, but also this discussion, maybe this group and even LinkedIn.

Is that how you are mishandling our attention?

Spend the week measuring the type of attention you get. Look at the comments that follow yours on discussion threads. Is your contribution ignored, and does the discussion go on irrespective of what you said? Or, did five people look you up and ask you to be a connection, because you said something that grabbed their attention and got them to think the three little words we all want to hear in business: Tell me more (about you).

In similar fashion, measure the response you get when people are on the phone with you. Are they glad to hear from you? Do they seek your guidance? Do they feel lucky you called? Or, are they too busy to take your call?

Measure what happens when you get into a meeting. Is the air more electric? Is there a sense of expectation? Does the discussion get richer, do more people join in, or are you a cooler, sending the energy plummeting and the texting soaring?

Personal brands: check the attention units you get this week. It’s like keeping a food diary so a nutritionist can figure out why you are tired, fat or ill-nourished.

Next week we evaluate your emotion appeal. And, finally we’ll evaluate just how memorable you are.

This could be the breakthrough you’ve needed to assess the evidence of what your personal brand is actually doing in the environment. If you like metaphors –a big part of emotional connection, ask yourself: are you the irritating plastic bottles littering the beach, or the sparkle on the tips of ocean waves rising with the tide?

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on

Personal Brands: You Texted Who?

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

textingMy very good friend and client, who is a corporate team-building trainer, celebrated her birthday last weekend – really celebrated it. With a half-dozen equally hot, smart and funny women in a limo, cruising from club to club, she rang in her personal new year getting smashed. She was ripe for it, since she is almost always the designated driver.

What happens in text, doesn’t always stay only on your phone

Who knew this typically suited up, buttoned down professional could ride a mechanical bull that way? Who knew she was a former gymnast and could easily ace the can-you-pole-dance challenge?

She used her smart phone to help those of us who couldn’t make it, enjoy the show. She captured her hi-jinks in photos, and texted them with a hysterical running commentary of what she was doing – and what she was thinking.

Smart phones are not so smart

Unfortunately, it turned out she really wasn’t thinking. And, the phone? Turned out it isn’t so smart.

Guess who got the texts, along with her inner circle, the crowd of would-be revelers rooting her on? A client.

Enough said.

Did you have that sinking feeling in your stomach? Have you done it? Join the crowd.

Personal brands: the smart phone is a weapon of self-destruction.

So many of us have been DWT – drunk while texting, there’s a new website that’s becoming a Wikipedia of oops-by-text.

To contribute your personal favorites: Text TFLN

In a kind of drunken-texters anonymous, you may now report on yourself, or any one of your contacts. You’ll be contributing to a community that sinned in the same way or been on the receiving end of a sinful text.

There’s not yet a phone app to stop you from betraying yourself, but there is something for the nights when you are drunk with your laptop. It’s Webroot’s new Firefox plugin called “The Social Media Sobriety Test.” The service is aptly described by its tagline, “Nothing good happens online after 1 a.m.”

Before you can Facebook or Tumblr away your dignity, the service intervenes with a short test – like typing the alphabet backwards – to block or unblock your access to your reputation. Undoubtedly, we are just a short while away from a mobile app.

The reputation app

From my fiefdom of business communication, I hope the next killer app will scan our texts and emails for anger, stupidity and any other “quality” we’d like to keep from contaminating our personal brand images.  Won’t it be great to have a “suggest changes” function that proposes phrases that instantly transform rude into concerned, and dumb into curious? Way more valuable than spell check.

Until then, figure out a method – maybe the old sleep on it before you send it – to act as your thought police.

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on

Personal Brands: Did You Trick or Treat?

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Lady-gaga-corsetInhibitions are gone when the costume is on.

Last Sunday night, you may have taken on a new identity in search of a pillowcase filled with candy. Or, perhaps like 52 million adults, you dressed up in search of a romantic partner in a bar filled with Lady Gagas and Jersey Shore’s Snooki. Those were number one and number two, among the most popular costumes this year.  Given that those two look like it’s Halloween every day of the year, and the endless celebration of their characters (not character) we endure, how could they not be top of mind as you exchange your identity for something bigger, better, or perhaps radically different than you are?

Getting into character

My parents took my sister and me to the theater often, starting way back when they were a young married couple in Manhattan. It was the Mad Men era, or more accurately the time of The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit as author Sloan Wilson sketched the lives of discontented businessmen and their cinched-waist wives. As their children, we were dressed up in miniature versions of that era’s women, with tiny white gloves, small hats and shirtwaist dresses over crinoline slips.

Despite the fact that we were just barely getting by financially, or perhaps because of it: we literally dressed up for an evening of theater. Nothing about being poor then or its stepsister “broke,” ever, has undermined that legacy of a not minor amount of glamour being de rigueur on occasions.

Up until June this year when my mother died, there was never a meeting, presentation, seminar, brunch or evening out where we failed to have the “dress up” Q&A. She would ask, “What did you wear?” And, with all the hopefulness of a person who did everything she could when she was still in charge, came her follow-up query, “Did you put lipstick on?”

My DNA often shows itself when you see me during the occasions where I am on-purpose. I dress in “costume” for keynotes, seminars, and meetings and just about anytime it would serve my standing to look smart. Because it is smart to get into character – which shows your character – when you are creating and taking full advantage of opportunities that make the difference between your getting the gig or applause, or not. I put on a smart-looking suit or dress, and I put on make-up. Recently, I spurge on getting my hair done, since my audiences are increasing larger and so are their expectations, plus there are cameras that record my every word and wrinkle.

As a career coach, I am meeting way too many people who haven’t yet leveraged everything they have, to get everything they want. Now is the time to expand on your brand. Personal Brands: dress the part. That will help you “get over yourself.” That will get you beyond being self-conscious about promoting yourself, and doing it relentlessly.

Are you one of the amazing and worthy people who can’t stand talking about your own brand? With nearly every new coaching client I am compelled to say:

“Okay, if you can’t bear to promote yourself to people who are the gatekeepers to what you want: stop thinking this is about YOU. Think of YOU as a product, something you must package attractively, since you are the ‘product specialist.’ Deal with being a personal brand, because you are also the brand manager.”

Some people have an awfully debilitating “aw shucks” attitude, preventing themselves from presenting a highly polished image, gleaming with strengths and achievements. They don’t see themselves as a proud and hopeful inventor and investor, who birthed and reared this brand – and now deserve the riches that come from other people “buying it.”

Dress the part

Personal brands: if you do only one thing differently as Q4 2010 reels toward its end, dress up for the role you want to play in business. Get a jacket and tie on (it looks cute on women, too), get a good haircut, and gender appropriately wear lipstick or lip balm.

As my grandfather once said, “First they look, then they listen.”

Staging yourself to “look the part” may feel like a trick, but you will love the way you get treated.

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on

Personal Brands: Anti-Social Media

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Bad EmployeeApparently, it is impossible to police every member of your company when it comes to stopping rude, disgusting, or ridiculous behavior. I think it’s fair to say that no matter what policies your management establishes, there are some people who remain too depraved or too stupid, or simply have too much time on their hands.

And, I don’t mean entry-level employees, junior managers, the wacky creative people, or the account executives on the road. Those are the usual suspects when we think of poor social media behavior, or the dark elves who forward off-color jokes and send pornography from company owned computers. We constantly lecture low-level and mid-level employees about what you may email or post, since everything becomes public at some point in time.

Of course, pundits like me worry aloud that your personal brand is permanently corrupted because you’re tagged dancing with a bear in Cabo.

They walk among us

Well, stupid is an equal opportunity employer. Sometimes, it’s the guy at the very top that ruins it for everyone. Consider Randy Michaels, CEO of the Tribune Company – at least until last Friday.

Michaels created a “fraternity house” culture. Sounds like a fun big brand to link up with your personal brand, huh? No. At least not for women, and anyone with a sense of decency – much less the laws about creating a hostile work environment.

Just in case the Tribune Company, which has been operating under bankruptcy protection for two years and is crushed by a failed $8.2 billion buyout, doesn’t have enough real problems, we now have bad behavior at the very top, dripping down.

“A top lieutenant sent an internal memo with an Internet link featuring a racy video that included a bare-breasted woman pouring booze down her chest. The executive, Lee Abrams, resigned as Tribune Co.’s chief innovation officer,” per the Huffington Post, Friday, October 22, 2010.

With a title like “chief innovation officer,” you’d guess that social media and marketing and online distribution had to be part of Abrams’ assignment. Well, he clearly understands the concept of an email campaign. He just has no judgment when it came to the content of an email campaign.

The Tribune Co. publishes the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and owns more than 20 radio and television stations.

Reputation woes

Here’s why Michaels and Abrams ruin it for all o f us. Our news outlets are shrinking. Every major news operation has cut back and many have folded. That means we know less and less about what is going on around the world, in our own countries and in our communities.

Could there be a worse time to put the US on a news deprivation diet? No. In the face of the historic credit meltdown that we served up for the world and the evils we face: terrorism in Europe, genocide in the Congo, someone who claims she was a witch before running a neck and neck race in Nevada with the current Senate Majority Leader in the US Congress…..well, the list is pretty long when it comes to what we need to know that we can’t see with our own eyes. That would require news, real news.

I was hoping that Jon Stewart, tweets in Iran, and the Ashton Kutcher-Demi Moore family were not going to be the funnels through which I understood the world.

But with morons at the top of two major US newspapers sending pornography to each other rather than working on staying solvent, I’m now getting my news from Tweetdeck and the Daily Show.

Personal brands: you are often accused (sometimes by me) of forgetting how you hurt your reputation as well as the companies you work for, when you act imprudently.

That doesn’t mean your brand has to include prude. It just has to rise about emailing pornography, apparently. 

More from Nance…

You can find Nance on

Personal Brands: Time to LICK Q

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

cat-licking-his-lips-and-nose-photographic-print-19418381Last evening, I delivered my signature personal branding keynote to 300+ people. My signature topic is: The Ugly Truth About Your Reputation. Because this audience is so diverse in terms of careers and use of social media, I developed a simple four attribute model we all can use to measure, create and manage our personal brands.

Four attributes

I’m calling it the LICK Q model, because that is the perfect acronym to sum up the values of all the factors. Q stands for quotient – as in intelligence quotient (IQ).

So what is your LICK Q? Judge for yourself. The attributes are:

  • Like-ability
  • Intelligence
  • Communication
  • Kick in the Head

Let’s take one at a time.

LIKE: Do we like you? We might respect you, fear you or have to share a wall with you – but that doesn’t mean we like you. People who are likeable are accessible, sunny, interested in others, have a natural generosity, make sure there’s rarely a conversation that’s a one-way street, have charisma, are self-respecting, engage in work and play they find compelling, and make other people feel good.

       I have hundreds of FB friends. I really like 7 of them. You know who you are. Others are okay or just plain boring. Some whine. One is so self-congratulatory as to be insufferable. Before their appearances on FB, I kinda liked them all. Now, as our personal brands play out by our own hands, we’re finding out whom we would throw out of the lifeboat first.

INTELLIGENCE: Do we think you are smart? Intelligence in social media plays out as your ability share an original thought. At least find a new quotation source and stop beating us over the head with what Zig Ziglar said in 1955. My apologies, once again, to the Ziglar family.

       It’s not only your ability to pundit in your area of expertise. How often do you go to a different tribe and bring new perspective to the curly-haired or women over 40 looking for romance? Think about it. Do you apply what you know in a way that engages us in novel thinking?

COMMUNICATION: Is it easy for us to understand what you have to say? Do you use word pictures, metaphors, analogies, alliteration, and reasonably good grammar? Can you spell? Do you write with a degree of appreciation for the space and forum? Crisply making your case is not just for Twitter or any other limiting media. We all adore the people who let a photo and a caption speak for them.

       Are you over-communicating? One quarter of the people I know from social media, I know a little bit too well. No one needs to know what your baby came up with that landed on your shirt before you left for work.

KICK IN THE HEAD: That’s personal branding at work. Have you created a persona so clear, crisp, consistent, and compelling – and done it relentlessly as you move from social media to phone calls, emails, meetings, conversations and presentations – that the moment I seek an answer, consultant, employee or supplier that’s anything close to what you do: I feel a kick in my head that has your name ramming into it?

       Everyone needs a kick in the head once in a while. It means we are shaking up the old solutions and searching for the new. That’s your opportunity in so many instances, if you’ve been all about personal branding.

Your LICK Q is in Your Hands

The ugly truth about your reputation is that you are now the architect of it. There is no one else to blame. If you are not demonstrating all four attributes, get on track and stay on track. The beauty of social media is with every post, blog, tweet, update, and comment you can restructure our opinion of you.

Personal Brands, succinctly put: do we want to lick, growl, howl or bite you?


More from Nance…

You can find Nance on

Personal Brands: Stop, Stop, Stop

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

1209407_stopAt the Personal Branding Bootcamp I ran at UCLA this last weekend, we focused more on crafting an authentic and compelling brand promise than we did on the tactics of social media and other ways you relentlessly go about letting the world know who you are.

Having given the inaugural camp six months ago, it occurred to me that we keep on you to blog, post, update your FB status, tweet, retweet and direct message, write a book, write an ebook, get subscribers, produce a slideshare presentation, get a blogtalkradio show going, get your video channel on YouTube and your photos on Flckr, take a head shot, and create a profile on 400 social media sites, plus make 4 million connections by the third degree of separation on LinkedIn. But we rarely talk about formulating your brand.

We presuppose you have a personal brand like we presume you have a belly button.

What is your brand?

But that’s simply not the case for the great majority of people who are being thrust into social media. I know there’s a school of thought that says to throw the baby in the pool and it will learn to swim by necessity, but we know that’s not true. Why are we immersing you in dangerous territory that writes your reputation with indelible ink on servers around the world that forever hold your worst moments?

We should be helping you reveal who you are: values wise, skills wise and otherwise.  We should help you identify your tribes and their unmet needs, and see your competition.

Instead you’re encouraged – actually threatened – that if you don’t get on now (or any one of the 4,000 new networking sites that will rear their content sucking monster heads soon), you’ll never be Chris Brogan who leapt onto Twitter really early on and now has 156,433 followers! Of course, he is forced to see the tweets of the 139,811 people he follows. And, he’s had to come up with 75,125 tweets.

75,000 thoughts

I don’t know if I’ve had 75,000 thoughts since Twitter debuted! And, I’m getting married soon, so how would I come up with enough appetizers for 140,000 people, even if I did the tacky thing of making it a cash bar? If you do a wedding tweet-up, undoubtedly people will expect refreshments!

All by way of saying: stop being afraid that all the good personal brands are taken, you’ll never have a dot com and be stuck with a dot biz, or no one will ever hire you if you don’t have a video resume streaming from a drupal site you designed and manage yourself.

Just slow down and start with the first big question you must answer before you can create your brand. This question stumped most of my bootcampers, so you don’t have hit the buzzer and shout out an answer. It may take time.

When I say to you:

“I have the perfect opportunity for you!”

What is it?

Then consider:

Who has it?

Who competes for it?

What makes you the ideal thought-leader and lucky person who gets to do exactly what you want because it suits you so perfectly?

What additional steps, skills and qualities do you need to embody so you are ready?

Or in a nutshell: You are getting a lifetime achievement award. What it’s for? That’s your personal brand.


More from Nance…

You can find Nance on