Another Look at Personal Branding

We’ve been talking about personal branding and Brand Y-O-U for some time now (even the legal implications), and undoubtedly you’ve invested some time already in it.

Right?

No matter what your profession is, I certainly hope so. Need some more convincing? If you’re in healthcare, hop on over to my latest blog post for Oncology Times and learn about why personal branding is valuable for oncology clinicians.

Even if you’re not in healthcare, take a good, long look at it anyway, since many of the same priniciples apply to building your value as an expert in what you do. Need guidance on how to get there? Take a look at these posts:

It’s important to charge ahead with crafting a personal brand that establishes your expertise, builds social capital and your social network, and carries you through tough times and good times alike.

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The Culture of Culture

People are different.

And that’s not just marketing speak to kick off some rant about targeting messaging to various customer segments.

The people we work with are all different too. Take a good, long look around your office today. Some just show up to work and go about their business, maybe you rarely ever see them (Rares). Some are, as one of my former bosses would put it, the “perfect corporate employees” who do everything completely by the book, politically correct, neat and tidy (PCs). Some are the gossip-furtherers and water-cooler-whisperers who give the Rares and PCs knots in their stomachs (Whisps). You could get even more granular and break it down even further, yet the point is this: all the various types of people come together to make up the corporate culture. And if you’ve been through a few companies, you know that corporate cultures can be as different as the people who make them up. Hey, it’s a hot topic, to the tune of 79.3 million Google search results.

Of course, one thing that impacts corporate culture is strong leadership. And in the blink of an eye you could rattle off a few names of executives who strongly impact their corporate cultures: Richard Branson, Rupert Murdoch, Jeff Bezos, Meg Whitman. Did you ever see a robust corporate culture policy that did the same?

Well, now you can, and that’s the purpose of this post. Tell me that NetFlix’s corporate culture and policies document doesn’t do an effective job of setting high performance standards and expectations for the company. At best it’s unbelievably motivating and passionate stuff for the PCs, and at worst it makes the Whisps chatter even faster about their imposing leaders. Yet either way it’s a great example of how to define a company’s culture, in this case with specified policy instead of implied example.

Also check out Greg Verdino’s comments on the NetFlix policy, I think he illustrates some key takeaway points for today’s companies that plan to evolve into tomorrow’s leaders. Does your company show the door to non-performers in a moment’s notice? Do your finance and HR teams have simple and easy-to-follow instructions, or long lists of processes and guidelines? Would they ever dismiss tracking vacation days? Do you think this is crazy stuff, or do you think this translates into motivated employees who are passionate about their work and powerful brand ambassadors to customers?

Would you consider these kinds of issues as part of your next career move? Do you have a strong personal brand and social network that employers want to attract? Do you want to work with Rares and Whisps, or the type of talent described in NetFlix’s policy?

While some of NetFlix’s policies may be shockingly different from the norm, I bet they had the desired impact: top performers from far and wide charged ahead and are banging on the NetFlix front door.

Craft Your Personal Brand With Care — Or Else

Personal branding is certainly important to career growth for any growing or established executive. It’s arguably more important than your resume, as when your personal brand is strong, it makes the job of your resume that much easier.

That’s why it’s critical for you to take a good, long look at a few short videos, courtesy of the very valuable AdMaven blog, on the legal implications of personal branding. These videos, taped during a recent Chicago Media Marketing and Advertising June Meetup, feature Daliah Saper discussing the nitty-gritty details of the employer-employee relationship as far as who owns what in regards to your personal brand and how you build it. The discussion of course includes a focus on personal branding via social media, including Twitter and blogs.

You may be surprised at some of the answers.

Kudos to AdMaven for making these videos available.

Another Letter to Marketing Professors

Dear Business School Marketing Professors–

How are you doing? I haven’t had time to drop you a letter since my last one in April, but I took a good, long look at something today that made me think of you.

Leave it to the guru, Seth Godin, to write another blog post that makes it all clear (you guys might want to consider recruiting him and turning him into the President of Professors). His post is about the textbooks you guys use to educate these kids you send out here. You may want to rethink the whole concept, as he suggests.

I’ll tell you why I agree with his ideas. Re-read the last letter and think about the skills these kids lack when you send them out here. You can’t teach that stuff in a textbook. These kids need real-world skills and perspective, not definitions and false belief that they’re equipped with what it takes to succeed. Seth is right, let Wikipedia have the definitions — their definitions are much deeper and broader than anything in a textbook anyway.

Plus, when do kids ever learn things like people skills with customers, time management and managing expectations from a textbook? I know, I know, you guys do that all the time — but I keep reminding you, you’re academics, you’re j-o-b is to write, read and learn from books and studies and papers. I don’t give out a how-to book to people out here, you’ve gotta figure it out on your own, and quickly. But c’mon, a marketing textbook for a class in 2009 with no mention of Google? How is that in anyone’s best interest? The folks who write your books don’t know about Google yet?

Listen, give Seth a call, invite him to your next conference. Hell, read his latest book, and use that as the textbook in your next class. If nothing else, go Google some information on Google.

Let’s keep working to make sure the kids you send out here charge ahead with the best idea on what it takes to get ahead, create a strong personal brand, and build a career.

I’ll be in touch again soon.

The Real World

Steps to Improve Your Social Network

This may be preaching to the choir, but clearly I am not against that in this blog. You know this.

Marketers are, by and large, good networkers. This is probably due to the fact that, like I said in a recent post, we are in sales as much as we are in marketing. We’re accustomed to seeking and finding customers on an hourly basis, so seeking and finding others like ourselves either comes naturally or comes through experience. And as part of Brand Y-O-U, your personal brand, networking is critically important to the vitality of your career.

Yet for young marketers, those who’ve been in a particular job or field for a long time, those who are not either natural or trained networkers, or those executives who are not in marketing, you need to take a good, long look at your social network and get up-to-speed quickly with the power of social networking. And specifically, building the power of your own social network — the generalities and statistics and cool factor about social networking are great, but the ROI in social networking needs to include some tangible benefits for you and your personal brand, right?

Make no mistake — investing some of your time in establishing a strong social network for yourself is just as important as investing time to understand the social networking tools you use to engage and acquire customers. And it’s important to invest this time when you’re:

  • At an experienced career level, in the growth stages of your career, or just starting out
  • In a strong employment position, rather than just when you’re looking for a job
  • That’s because when you’re out of a job, of course you’re reaching out to people — and it’s perceived that way. You’re out of your comfort zone — and if you’re not a regular networker, you’re viewed as putting on a persona that’s not normally you.

    So, now that we’ve got the reasoning for networking out of the way, here’s the whole purpose of this post. A brief list of things you can do to be a marketer with a strong social network:

  • Build a power profile on LinkedIn — Keep it updated to-the-minute with all your experience, connect to people you work with and know, and ask people to recommend you. Sure, it may be a little cliche now, yet it’s the easiest and first thing to do, and it’s recognized by all. Make your profile a place you can send people to easily learn about your credentials. (Use my profile as a reference)
  • Read and comment on blogs — You need to read blogs for their valuable perspective and insights, so comment on them to put your thoughts on record, build a search-engine friendly way to find you, and establish your expertise. If you don’t have your own website or blog (which, if you’re considering starting a blog, ask yourself these questions first), link back to your LinkedIn profile.
  • Reach out to other professionals who are like you — Create relationships with people you can learn from, bounce ideas off of, and share insights with. They may work for your company, your vendors, other companies in your industry, or even your competitors. That’s right — competitors. Fostering a strong social network and empowering a give-and-take of knowledge is more beneficial than erecting barriers that diminish your network’s reach. Find these people on LinkedIn, at industry events, on blogs, on blog comments, on Twitter, on Google, on company websites, and via other colleagues in your social network. Reach out to them with an invitation to share expertise and discuss issues.
  • Stay in touch with your network — Don’t meet people and then just let the relationships wilt. Stay in touch with your network, where they are, what they do, and more importantly what and who they know. Find relevant reasons to communicate — share ideas, forward data and articles, set up meetings, propose partnerships.
  • These are the basics. There are other things you can do — start a blog, seek speaking opportunities, and more. If you’re new to being a social networker, start slow. Build a good foundation for your network before you charge ahead into the world of blogging and advanced social media.

    You’ve invested the time, money and effort in being a good marketer — don’t let it go to waste because you didn’t invest in your social network and Brand Y-O-U.

    Little Details

    They are many things to marketers.

    They are both a reward and a penalty. A necessity and a necessary evil. The best thing ever and the bane of our existence.

    However, of all the things those damn little details can be, there’s one thing you don’t want them to be when someone takes a good, long look for them: absent.

    Yet, that’s what they were when I received a direct mail piece for a big trade show this week. It was a simple, brand-oriented self-mailer — high on style, great layout, great call-to-action. “If you do this by this date, you get a free pass to this big show.” Yet, in all the shiny art and sexy words, the show dates and location were absent on the piece.

    At first I thought it might be by design. But then I realized why would you move on the call-to-action and get a free pass to a show if you don’t even know you could make it? No, it was missing for sure, and by fault, not by design. And it’s easy for customers to notice.

    In a prior job, one month we published an issue of a magazine that had a full page ad in it from a major promotion agency. The ad was all white space, except for once sentence of copy, a brand logo, and a URL. The sentence read something like “We Build Your Brands.” Except “Build” was spelled “Buid.” Someone at the agency lost a job over it.

    Just goes to show that no matter what level of strategy goes into the concept, an equal level of hands-on attention-to-detail must go into project management and execution before you charge ahead. No matter where you are on your career learning curve, don’t forget that.