Using blogging to build your brand

This month’s articles for Fresh Business Thinking are all about blogging. It’s not going anywhere. In fact it’s role as a crucial element of your personal marketing mix is pretty solid. Business websites who have an active blog generate significant more traffic and hence business than those that don’t. But what about if you haven’t got your site ready for a blog yet. Or maybe you’re not sure about being able to maintain the commitment to your own blog. Then this is a great time to consider guest blogging. Whether you have you’re own site or not, guest blogging is a great way to boost your brand, both business and personal. And that’s what I’m going to explore this month.

 

Boost Your Brand Through Guest Blogging

Guest blogging – it’s probably the biggest trend to hit the world of marketing in the past few years. Actually I shouldn’t use the word ‘trend’ because that implies it’s a bit of a passing phase. It’s not. Guest blogging is here to stay. There I’ve said it. I don’t usually make such bold pronouncements but on this one I’m certain. That’s because in this new internet age, the guest blog has become the new press release. It’s a means of advertising yourself and your services or products to a particular audience … Read more…

 

How To Approach Guest Blogging

You can find out the most popular blogs in your niche by looking at Alexa (which rates blogs based on ‘influence’ via a scale ranging from 1 to 5 – sites rated 1, 2 and 3 are most sought after by guest bloggers). However, although this is the most popular method of searching for guest blogging opportunities, I don’t believe it’s the best way to get guest blogging gigs (as I’ll explain later). Read more…

 

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Guest Blogging

When it comes to the chance of getting your guest blogging post accepted, like most things in life, there are a few rules involved. I’ve listed some of the main ones here but in your guest blogging adventures you may come across a few others.

Do make sure your guest posts are tailored
In other words, it’s the type of content the blog’s followers like to read i.e. if the blogger usually writes in a chatty, informal tone then make sure your guest post is written that way too. If he or she is someone who likes lots of statistics or research to back up… Read more…

 

Where To Find Good Guest Blogging Opportunities

Because everyone and their uncle realises how valuable guest blogging can be, it isn’t always easy to secure a writing opportunity on a site in your niche with a high rating (well, let’s face it, everyone wants a back-link from there so the site’s owner is bound to be inundated with potential guest bloggers). And because he or she receives so many guest blogging requests on a daily basis, understandably they don’t always get round to reading them all. So I’d suggest you have a better chance of success if you approach a lesser-known but still reasonably high-ranking writing gig. Read more…

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Getting the most out of LinkedIn

My latest articles for Fresh Business Thinking are all about LinkedIn.

We’re all aware of it – some of us more than others. And for those who’ve never yet broached this particular social media ‘minefield,’ LinkedIn can manifest itself as a nagging black cloud in their consciousness. It’s a social media site which has many individuals enthused and baffled in equal measure.

For some individuals and companies though LinkedIn is the crux of their social media strategy. That’s because they are fully sussed when it comes to maximizing the site’s potential in branding and lead generation terms.

 

Creating a LinkedIn Profile That Works

The most important point in creating a profile is to keep it updated. No-one wants to read stuff that’s two years out of date. Not only is old news irrelevant, it doesn’t reflect very well on you or your company either. If you can’t be bothered to update your own profile for instance, what else in your working life are you lax about?

Read more at Fresh Business Thinking.

 

Six of the Worst Mistakes on LinkedIn

Typos

Just no! There really is no excuse for them, especially since both Firefox and Google Chrome now automatically underline misspelling. Like the failure to update we mentioned in our earlier post, a profile with typos shows a sloppiness that future employers/customers could justifiably believe extends to the rest of your work/business practices.

Read more at Fresh Business Thinking.

 

Smart Ways to Enhance Your Company’s LinkedIn Page

As we mentioned earlier in this newsletter, Linked In introduced a new Company Page layout with improved features in October 2012. Just like the less professionally-centred social media sites Facebook one of the biggest changes was the banner picture along the top of the page, allowing a company to be instantly identifiable (if used correctly!).

Read more at Fresh Business Thinking.

 

Companies Who Rock at LinkedIn

In order for a company (and individual) to succeed at LinkedIn then it should be:

  • telling its story (what’s happening with products, services, staff, winning awards etc) to customers old and new
  • engaging relevant communities (those in their sector, industry leaders etc)
  • coming up with new business leads (marketing their products and targeting potential customer groups

Read more at Fresh Business Thinking.

 

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My rebrand story #2: Why I’m rebranding

The short answer is there was a gap between what I said I did and what I actually did; the services sited on my website didn’t marry up with my recent projects and clients.

How I was communicating who I was and what I did wasn’t right anymore. But while I knew it wasn’t right, in order for me to move on I had to figure out what was right. And so began my personal brand discovery process all over again.

When I first started my business, I chose to define myself as a personal brand coach and as part of that I developed a personal brand development methodology. Within this is a discovery process. I believe we don’t create a personal brand, but instead we discover it; we don’t create who we are, we figure it out. So, for me I had to return to where I’d started.

My discovery process involves exploring various aspects of yourself and these are the things that make you, you. These are the things that drive you, and that define you. It’s all those things that you’ve done and revisiting the things you WANT to do. But importantly it’s figuring out what things inspire and energise you. So for me I had to revisit my previous personal brand discovery work, but also add to the mix everything I’d done over the last 4 years.

The aha moment for me came when I asked myself these questions:

  • What have I really enjoyed doing?
  • Who have I really enjoyed working with?
  • Where do I feel that I have added value or made a real difference or impact?

The answers to these questions helped me to separate out the distracting elements of what I’d been doing; the wheat from the chaff. Let me explain. There are certain projects and clients that I’ve been involved with over the last few years where I know I’ve done a good job, because I had been doing things that I know I’m good. But, I wasn’t really passionate about them and I wasn’t energised while doing it. Sure, I knew I’d done well (because the client had said so), but something was missing for me. I realised that there was other stuff I’d been doing that got me totally into the flow and excited me beyond measure and it was THIS I needed to be doing more of. Conclusion: I needed to drop the other stuff.

Another thing that I had observed is that because I gain much of my work through word of mouth and networking, I’d become involved in work that wasn’t on the list of things that I said I did, i.e. on my website or my LinkedIn profile but instead included things that came out of conversation or from what other people thought I’d be good at (probably based on their experience!). As a result I was being asked to get involved in projects that would tap into a whole range of my past experiences and not just the personal branding bit. But I’d not been selling that aspect of myself. I thought I needed to have a niche and that my niche was personal branding. WRONG! Well no, I wasn’t wrong. Choosing my niche back then was very useful to me and it worked. For a while. It helped me to build my business, but now it was evolving, I was evolving. And personal branding is now too restrictive for me. Personal branding is ONE of the ways that I work with people but it’s not the ONLY way. And as such I no longer want to define myself by it.

And so this is why I had to re-brand.

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I’m rebranding!

I’m rebranding. Yes. You read that right. A person, ME, is rebranding. You might think that rebranding is reserved for businesses and products, but in doing so you’re missing the point.

Branding is all about your sense of self and identity and how you express that. So, when a company or product rebrands, what they’re essentially doing is taking stock, re-evaluating what their customers think of them and how they interact with them. They’re re-assessing the environment and marketplace to see if they’re still relevant and they look inside to see how they’ve changed.  Depending on what they find, they may decide that a full rebrand is in order.

That’s where I’m at.

I use the word rebranding because I can’t help it, as a marketer for nearly 15 years it’s a word that I understand and that makes sense to me. It might not you and that’s fine. Some people might prefer words like “reinvention” or “starting over”, but that feels a little too strong for me. I’m not about to step out in a new haircut and do something completely different with my life. I’m just evolving. As we all do. And as I evolve, I need to get my head around what I’m evolving into, so that I can start to communicate that better to those who will give a shit.

I thought I’d share this process because I figured that I’m not alone going through it. Someone somewhere might be struggling with this stuff too, and it might be kinda interesting for them to see how someone else does it. Especially someone who, for the last 4 years, has been helping others do exactly that. This is when I get to take my own medicine. Ha!

So there you go.

If I fancy it, I might write up some other chunks of what I’m doing and going through, but I can’t promise anything. But, if you have questions about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it or anything else, let me know because I’ll only be too happy to share.

bye for now!

 

 

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What’s the difference between personal branding, personal marketing and reputation?

So, what IS the difference between personal branding, personal marketing and reputation?

Maybe I’m getting old, because I fancy having a rant. Why? Because the web is full of personal branding articles written by people who don’t REALLY understand what personal branding is. What they’re really writing about it Personal Bragging. So, I’d like to put the record straight write a few words to help anyone who’s struggling to tell the difference between Personal branding, personal marketing, social media, personal impact, personal presence and personal bragging. Oh, and reputation.

Here goes… in a nutshell…

Personal Brand

Your personal brand is your sense of self and your identity. It’s all the things that make you YOU. It’s who you think you are and then how you choose to express that. It’s an inside job, not shouty one. What I mean by inside is that it’s work you do internally.

Reputation

Your reputation is what other people think of you. Poor Jeff Bezos got a little bit confused with this one and is famously known as saying that “your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”. Sorry Jeff, but no. What you’re talking about is reputation.

Personal Marketing

This is the act of getting other people to buy into you. It’s the art of persuasion in convincing other people to hire you, buy you, recommend you and refer you. It’s making yourself desirable and attractive to those who you think would benefit hugely from having you in their lives in some form or other.

Personal Presence

Personal presence is how you show up when I meet you. It’s your ability to leave a positive impression and be memorable. To be clear, I’m talking about in the real world – the kind where if one of us had stepped in dog poo, we would both be able to smell it – as opposed to the digital world. In the digital world, this is digital presence.

Personal Impact

It’s pretty much the same as personal presence. It’s how much of an impression to you make when I meet you (in a smelling dog poo kind of way). If you were aiming to land a date, then this is the equivalent of dressing sexy and flirting outrageously.

Personal Bragging

This is what you see EVERYWHERE by people who are “passionate about personal branding” and “social media experts” and is done by people who are super confused as to what personal branding actually is. You can spot this lot because they’re usually found shouting on social networks telling us how great they are all the time. If I wasn’t ranting, I’d probably calling this personal selling.

My up and coming articles for Fresh Business Thinking expand on this post, so, if you want a bit more detail than this coffee break overview, then I explain myself a bit more in a series of articles below.

What is personal branding anyway?

Personal Marketing vs Personal Impact

Reputation

How it’s all connected

 

Or if you fancy ranting back or joining in – please do! …. In the comments please!

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Is your working life a bit mashed-up? A book for you then…

I don’t know about you, but I have a silly habit of taking books on holiday that are stimulating and inspiring rather than allowing me to escape, and this holiday is no different; I took Ian Sanders & David Sloly’s book, Mash Up, and Graham Allcott’s How to think like a Productivity Ninja, among others… and here I am writing a blog post!

For now though, I’d like to talk about Mash-up. Why? Well, for a start, I’m in it! Yes on p.121 if you’ve got a copy. One day as I was busy being productive (honest!) on Twitter, I saw that Ian Sanders was looking for some case studies for his new book. I thought I fitted the bill so I got in touch. And next thing you know, I’m in a book. And a great book at that! Thank you Ian!

Having now read the rest of the book, I can wholeheartedly recommend it to those who work for themselves, but particularly those who have an interest in personal branding. It most definitely is a book of our time. We’re at a time where jobs are becoming the more risky option when compared to working for yourself. If, as a freelancer or business owner, you are able to juggle multiple sources of income in the form of clients, projects or channels of sales, then you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket, in the way that employees are doing. Sure, the time may come when you may lose a client or a project comes to an end, but it won’t be as debilitating as losing a job that represents somewhere near 100% of your income. Not to mention status, identity and all those perks!

For many, working for themselves has been thrust upon them by the onset of the challenging economic climate and redundancy has forced many people to move to into freelancing or to become self employed. As such, a lot of people are now finding that they earn their money from undertaking a mash-up of various projects all reflecting different aspects of their experiences and abilities. And that’s exactly what the book is about; living a mashed-up life of plurality. Now some may feel like they’re being dragged kicking and screaming into a version of existence that means lots of jobs and lots of projects, but Mash-up positively encourages us to embrace it. In fact, it proposes that we should pursue it. Why? Well, by doing so we are encouraged to take up projects that reflect our passions and interests, and in doing so, we are more likely to enjoy what we’re doing and therefore be happier and lead a more fulfilled life. So, who fancies arguing with that?

But there’s a more important message here too, and interestingly it’s one that goes against what many in the world of personal branding (and indeed branding) will say. The very nature of having multiple, plural facets to what you do, will make you MORE attractive to potential buyers, not LESS. For decades now, we have been encouraged to focus on one thing, something I feel is well reflected by this quote “A plant won’t grow as high if it’s reaching toward five or six suns”. When it comes to branding and personal branding, we have always been told that a strong brand needs a strong focus, i.e. ONE focus. So, inspired by this we rationalise what we do, and make decisions to STOP doing certain things because they take away our focus. But by doing so, we are also taking away the very things that have the potential to make up happy and fulfilled, and the very things that make us unique.

So, what’s the alternative? Instead of doing this, we should find the common thread and make this our focus. It’s this puzzle that a lot of my clients come to me for help with. I think being a masher attracts mashers! (Masher is the term the book gives to people who juggle multiple roles and projects). It’s what I call finding your story, and one thing that Mash-up talks about too. The important thing to aim for when you are leading a professional life of plurality, is that that you need to find a way of articulating what you do clearly so that others are better able to refer, recommend and remember you. That’s the power of finding the what Mash-up calls the “Unifier”, or your common thread. This thread will still enable you to undertake different projects, but it means that they’ll hang beautifully together in a way that makes sense. There’s a great quote in the book on this by from Phil Jupitus when he talks about what his unifier is “Stand up is the frame that everything hangs off – it’s the Christmas tree and everything else are just baubles.”

Now without wanting to re-write the whole book for you here, the best thing for me to suggest is that you just go a get yourself a copy and read it for yourself. I certainly gave me a lot of food for thought and I think it will for anyone leading a plural life.

Mash-up!: How to Use Your Multiple Skills to Give You an Edge, Make Money and Be Happier

And don’t forget to check out page 121!

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Personal Branding interview with Alexia on BBC Radio Nottingham

Last week I was invited to my local BBC Radio station for a chat about Personal Branding. During our chat, we talked about the idea of knowing and discovering who you are, as well as the importance of the online world in building your reputation.

If you want to hear it in all its glory, here you are!

Personal branding conversation with Alexia on BBC Radio Nottingham

Please note that the above link is a Dropbox download link and may take a short while to load.  The edited chat lasts around 12 minutes.

If you have any thoughts or comments having listened to it, let me know in the comments!

 

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Personal Branding: Total Reinvention

Total reinvention is not something that all of us will take on, but those that do consistently report that their life is better for the change. I myself can lay claim to that one.

For some, reinvention is forced on them due to external factors such as illness or redundancy. Illness is what forced Adrian from Evolver-Talent to reinvent himself. Adrian is a coach and writer whose worlds are linked by the theme of connecting with creativity. After recovering from a serious illness some years ago, piece by piece, he’s reinvented pretty much everything he does. In rebuilding his life he has become more mindful of the resources he has to offer in terms of time and energy, and this makes him more selective about what he takes on, focusing on what makes him happy. In the process, he’s found that he’s become more creative, more ambitious, and more focused. As a result he has recently secured investment for a new project which brings him closer to achieving some of his life ambitions. Not a bad side effect of illness!

While for others, reinvention a choice. Maybe they work in a dying industry and want to prepare for the inevitable or they just want to step up and evolve what they do. This is something we are all going to have to face at some time or other.

At its mild end, total reinvention can simply be a change in what you do for a living, while for others it’s a complete life overhaul and they change their work, where they live, who they love, and what they think.

Like Andre Griffiths for example. Andre used to work in training and hospitality. After losing her job and being unemployed for six months, she has not only retrained as an NVQ assessor, but has moved city, found a new man, given herself a new hairstyle AND changed her lifestyle to be more eco and live sustainably. That most definitely sounds like total reinvention to me.

But total reinvention doesn’t always have to be about revolution, it can be more about evolution. You can work in the same sector or industry but be in a completely different role that employs a wildly different skill set while still making the best use of your expertise and experience.

If you’re considering reinventing yourself:

- Remind yourself of all that great experience you’ve got and the expertise you’ve built up over the years.

- Identify which skills are transferable and useful in other contexts.

- Get clear on your strengths, talents and passions.

- Find the common thread between the two worlds and use this to make the transition. It might be your network, your industry or the expertise you employ.

If this all sounds step too far for you, how about you take some baby steps and read one of these

• Reinvent your thinking

• Reinvent how you express yourself

• Reinvent your looks

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Personal Branding: Reinvent your looks

This is so simple and obvious, but I have to mention it. Reinventing your looks doesn’t necessarily mean a total makeover though, although that is most definitely an option. Here are some ways that you can change your looks without going for a total makeover.

Hire a stylist

Changing the way you dress is incredibly powerful. How you choose to present yourself says a lot about you. Every time you decide what to put on in the morning, you’re giving someone else a clue as to who you are. It can do wonders for your self confidence as well make a huge impact in how you are perceived by others. If you need to step up a notch, this is a great place to start, but it’s not always the cheapest.

Update your accessories

For guys, this can be your glasses, your hat and scarf, your cuff links, or even your man bag if you have one. Of course let’s not forget the ties and socks! For ladies, I’m sure you need no introduction to accessories. Other accessories worth considering are those things that you hold on your person that are regularly seen by others. These might include your gadgets, your business card or your laptop bag.

Visit a top hair dresser for a restyle

A new haircut, like a new wardrobe, can do wonders for your confidence and how people perceive you. This is a nice easy way for you to dip your toe in the waters of reinvention without having to uproot everything. Sorry about the pun!

Go to the gym

Getting into shape is a great way for you to change how you look and feel. Of course the health benefits make it the most important thing from this list that you should actually do. But as we know, it requires time and commitment and it’s for these reasons that it is shunned by many. So if that’s you, and in the words of the tanning entrepreneur behind St Tropez, Judy Naake, “If you can’t tone it, tan it!”

The trick with all of these is to make sure that you know what you want to say about yourself. If you don’t know what sort of person you want to be known for, finding the most appropriate ways to express that isn’t going to be an easy job. Being confused about your sense of identity will show up very quickly in the way that you present yourself over time. So before you jump in to changing your looks, make sure you’re clear on your sense of self.

Why not read one of these:

• Reinvent your thinking

• Reinvent how you express yourself

• Reinvent everything!

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Personal Branding: Reinvent how you express yourself

We don’t have to change what we do to reinvent ourselves. Sometimes all we need to do is to talk about what we do in a different way. This alone can help us to reinvigorate relationships and perceptions. Re-engaging with others like this can bring about new conversations and insights. And new conversations and insights might lead to new opportunities.

Here are some practical ways that you can begin to change how you express yourself.

Give yourself a new job title

There was a great article on Inc.com encouraging business leaders to let employees pick their own job titles. I love this idea and would encourage it wholeheartedly. But even if you’re not in charge of such decisions, it can be useful to consider your own job title and how you might change it. Doing so forces you to really consider what it is that you actually do and what value you really add. Looking at our roles in this way can be enough to reinvigorate our enthusiasm and motivation for what we do as we reconnect with why we’re doing it.

Change your bio

Your bio is something that needs to be regularly updated just for the simple fact that time passes and hopefully in the time that has passed since you wrote your bio, you’ve done some more great stuff that’s worth sharing.

If you’re re-writing your bio, it’s worth taking your time to craft a good one. If you have your own website, the likelihood is that your about page is the most visited page on your site. Your bio is important so don’t rush it. Tips for writing a great bio include

- If it’s on your personal site, write it in the first person. If it appears on a company site, then third person is better.

- Use storytelling to engage on an emotional level and create interest.

- Avoid showing off. No one likes a show-off.

- Share your human side. It’s OK to talk about failures and your vulnerabilities.

- Include aspects of your personal life; your passions, hobbies or reveal your inner geek. It’s these things that people will connect with.

- Have more than one. Whether it’s long and short ones, or different bios for different audiences you engage with (investors, employees, industry peers, conference attendees etc),

Update your elevator pitch

How long have you been using your elevator pitch or your personal introductory pitch? Personal pitches need to evolve as much as we do. Maybe what we do hasn’t changed, but who we do it for might have. Or the context in which we do it has, or maybe the reason why we’re doing it has. A shift in any of these should force you to consider evolving your pitch and make it more relevant.

If you choose to change how you express what you do, it’s important to ensure that you make changes everywhere. So ensure that your LinkedIn profile is changed as well as your twitter bio. The last thing you want to do is to send out a mixed message as this will confuse people and dilute your potential impact.

Why not read one of these:

• Reinvent your thinking

• Reinvent how you express yourself

• Reinvent everything!

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