Personal Branding: Essential for Running a Business Today

By | Career, Networking, Productivity | No Comments

Customers are demanding more; they want the promise of value that you offer.

This is largely due to the change in our culture – we are now information-rich and time-poor. We have altered the way we buy products and services and no longer rely solely on judgements based on features and benefits, as they don’t have the same impact as they did in the past. People are overwhelmed by the choices they face. “We are now more likely to purchase if we feel an element of trust and have an emotional attachment to a product or service”, says Dawn Winder. As I described in my last post, a strong, powerful and dynamic Personal Brand will communicate exactly these values.

A strong Personal Brand will attract people and opportunities to you, as it increases your confidence and communication skills. It inspires loyalty and respect in your target market and establishes you as an expert in your chosen field. It is the foundation of any marketing of yourself or your business.

Authenticity and Business Success

Once you have identified your Personal Brand values – what you stand for, your vision and purpose – you will find that you will be able to communicate this with ease to your prospects and clients. In building a strong Personal Brand you are saving not only your clients’ time, but also your own, and reduce stress and frustration into the bargain. You will stand out for the uniqueness that you offer and able to therefore enjoy a competitive edge. Marketing that really makes sense.

So, can you afford to ignore your brand, whether planned or not?

Get in touch for help on creating your personal brand.

Personal Branding

By | Career, Networking | One Comment

You may think that Personal Branding has nothing to do with you but read on and consider whether you can afford to ignore it!

What is a Personal Brand and why do I need one?

A Personal Brand is the thought or expectation that comes into someone’s head when they think of you, writes Dawn Winder, a communication coach. It is the powerful way that you express what you stand for – your vision, values, beliefs, skills, passions and attributes.

Personal Branding is about what makes you unique.

In marketing terms it is your unique selling point or USP. It relates to how people view you, what you project to others, and their perception of you. So why would you need a Personal Brand in your career or business? Let’s look at how the celebrities do this to maintain their personal success to really understand what is transferable to the everyday world!

Celebrities are increasingly turning themselves into brands, using their fame to succeed in business or attract lucrative advertising deals. Whether they are selling underwear or leading a charity campaign, they are in demand because, just like a top brand of trainers or a leading mobile phone, they are instantly recognisable.

According to personal branding consultant Gabriella Goddard, celebrities build up their brands by sticking to a few key attributes they want to be known for and making sure everything they do reinforces the image. She says: “Through circumstance you gain visibility and from there you create recognition. And if you are consistent, the brand comes across. Whatever your brand is, you need to paint everything you do with that brush.” For celebrities, this includes being careful what products you let yourself be associated with.

Personal Branding in your career

In “normal” careers, working on your personal brand can gain dividends in terms of business success or climbing the corporate ladder. This does not mean you need a brand name, branded stationary or advertising about yourself, just a clear idea in your own mind of how you want to be seen.

If you can put across a clear message about what “talents” you are “selling”, you are more likely to be hired or promoted. When you write your CV understand and emphasize your talents. Make it obvious what they are by being explicit.

Ms Goddard says it is important to decide what makes you different and what you want to be known for. Then you can concentrate on making sure everyone associates you with those qualities.

You might want to be seen as a stylish and innovative artist, or as an authoritative and decisive manager. It is a good idea to focus on any particular area of expertise you have, or anything you are passionate about. If you are not sure what you are valued for, ask for feedback from friends and colleagues to find out how others see you. Keeping your skills hidden will not lead to new opportunities. Work out with your boss or mentor how you can maximise your talents.

Top Tips for branding
  • Networking, building contacts in other departments and companies.
  • Joining trade organisations to gain credibility and recognition.
  • Writing pieces for trade journals in your field of expertise to help promote yourself whenever you can.
  • Start showcasing work and building a fan base on social media sites like Twitter or Facebook.
  • Taking part in charity events, gaining publicity through local media, doing work experience and voluntary work. It is important to act professionally, with business cards at the ready, and to dress the part.

For help on working on your Personal Brand, please get in touch.

More Networking Tips

By | Networking | No Comments
Networking for Trading Knowledge

Following on from my previous posts, trading knowledge can provide golden nuggets of information.

Networking with Professional groups provides ideas you can access and give opportunities for genuine collaboration with real mutual benefit. Specialist networks offer the chance to develop state of the art thinking: networks across complementary talents can share common problems.

To get started, attending conferences and seminars in your field targets the right people. Start asking questions in the queue for coffee. Exchange business cards and keep in touch.

Tips and Tools
  1. Do introduce people who you think may have a connection.
  2. If you are right handed wear your name label on the right lapel and when you shake hands the line of vision travels up the arm to the lapel.
  3. Follow up conversations with any action points, thank yous, good to meet you within 48 hours if possible.
  4. Be specific about the introductions that you want. Keep in touch with your network via calls, email, newsletters, meetings. Around 140 people are the ideal number for your network. Too many more and you cannot stay in touch frequently enough.
  5. Be memorable, image is important. The slob look is out!
  6. Send articles…I saw this and thought of you.
  7. Carry business cards: they can start the conversation. Collect business cards sparingly. It is not volume you are after. You don’t want to be accused of meeting, greeting and deleting.
  8. Ask questions and be curious. People are interested in people who are interested in them. Talking about yourself only is limiting.
  9. Prepare your 60 second elevator speech and your 3 minute tell me about yourself answer.
  10. Don’t interrupt two people already talking, wait for a pause. Perhaps offer to get a drink when you are getting yourself one.
Can you afford not to network?

You can see the intention is not to make networking smooth talking but more about creating lasting relationships to help people both personally and professionally; both in the corporate world and the SME market.

It is a skill to develop and practice.


Not New Year Resolutions…

By | Motivation, Networking, Productivity | 4 Comments

xmas tree made from alignments of bacterial genomesIt is a busy time of year so I decided to write a brief post and send my best wishes for a peaceful, healthy and prosperous New Year!

I don’t recommend New Year’s resolutions to be launched upon in January but in the Spring instead when change is a bit easier … however I do recommend a time for reflection and planning.  To assist you in this, here are some questions to ponder…

Consider each question and jot down your answers to gain the maximum learning:

  1. Recognise your achievements:
  • My 3 biggest achievements in 2011 were…
  • How I feel about this is…
  • Some of the things I wanted to achieve but didn’t were…
  • What stopped me was…
  • What I have learned in 2011 is…

2. Plan your future – imagine you’re 1 year on from now – finish these statements:

  • My talents are being used by…
  • Networking I have done is with…
  • Development I have completed is…
  • I have made more time to…
  • The one thing I changed was…
  • The people that work with me are…
  • I feel…

How could you plan in your 2012 diary, time to work on the important aspects of your professional life that may have slipped or that you want to do more of? Will they happen if you don’t plan in time for you? Do you have a choice?

Look out for next time for advice on career planning.

Have a fab Christmas and New Year! 

Networking Tips

By | Networking | No Comments

social-networkNetworking for new clients/customers/prospects

Networking is a well established method of meeting people in business. It is essentially marketing and should be viewed in this way. When you meet people you are your product or a diplomat for your organisation. The objective with business networking is to give and receive referrals.

This is the best value marketing.

Think of it on a purely personal basis. You probably ask family, friends and neighbours to recommend different trades and services. Word of mouth recommendation or referral is highly effective. Formal business forums for networking include: IoD, Chamber of Commerce, BNI, BRE, Missing Link. After a networking event follow up with the people you have a connection with to develop the relationship further. Online international networking forums also have their place such as Ecademy and Linked In. Create your own networking group or attend a group based on your interests. Here are some ideas:

  • wine-tasting
  • gyms
  • community groups
  • politics/action groups
  • sports clubs (e.g. golf)
  • charity group
  • gourmet group (dining club)

Getting Started

To kickstart the networking and referral process contact the people in your acquaintances, allies, & advocates categories as mentioned in my last post, but instead think of using the ‘cold’, ‘warm’ and ‘hot’ labels. Ask for introductions and follow up leads. Try out lots of different events and then be selective.

Have an objective if you are investing money in membership. After a while review success and be focused. When at events don’t waste time with people with whom you have no connection, politely move on. To minimise this, plan ahead using delegate lists and then target your best fits.

Next time, tips on networking for trading knowledge.

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Networking: What is it and do I need to do it?

By | Networking | 3 Comments

networkingSo how can we cheer you up in the chaos before the Christmas holidays?  Read on about the art of networking!

Networking: What is it?

Often when we mention the term networking a look of horror creeps across our client’s faces. They imagine selling, cold calling and all that embarrassing awkwardness of being rejected. Stop there! Think of networking as building relationships, about listening, asking questions, being interested, building trust and rapport. This comes more naturally for some, than for others, in true emotional intelligence terms; but it can be learned like any skill.

Why bother?

Networking can help you in the following ways:

  • Creating opportunity for a new job now or in the future
  • Finding new clients/customers/prospects
  • Trading specialist knowledge in your profession, industry or sector

Let’s look at these individually. This time:

Networking for a new job

Research from Henley Business School identified that people were promoted based on 3 key factors: 10% on their technical competence & skill, 30% on their image and 60% on their exposure to the right people…in other words on their ability to network.

So how can you afford not to develop this skill set? It is widely claimed that up to 70% of jobs are secured through networking. So, as a process to find work, networking is more significant than on-line recruitment ads, agencies, media ads etc. Again, how can you afford not to use this process?

A career networking conversation focuses on asking for advice, tips and information in an organisation, profession or industry. Other benefits are soliciting feedback on career goals, finding support for career development, gathering referrals to others who could be helpful and generating and uncovering future possibilities and options.

Whether you are looking for a new job or not, creating a networking plan is a valuable investment of time. It’s easier in the long run if you don’t leave long gaps in talking with people and then appear to only get in touch when you want something.

Getting started

If every person knows about 200 other people, how can you tap into that pool? Think of this pool as contacts. Divide the contacts into 3 groups.  Acquaintances, allies, & advocates.

Acquaintances are friends, neighbours, customers, colleagues with whom you have had minimal interaction. They know you by name and if you requested will probably do a small favour.

Allies are those who know your talents and aspirations. They will go the extra mile to give you names, resources, feedback etc. You respect the advice they give you. They know your expertise and you know theirs.

Advocates know you really, really well and believe in you. They trust you and your reputation and are very willing to speak on your behalf. You are equally supportive of them.

Prioritise your contacts under the 3 headings based on the likely help you can give them and vice versa. Plan regular calls/ emails to stay in touch. Remember small details about them to kick the conversation off. If you have been made redundant, planning a certain number of networking calls is highly effective. If you do feel awkward think how you would feel if someone asked for your advice, you would probably be flattered.

Next time, more tips on networking for:

  • Finding new clients/customers/prospects
  • Trading specialist knowledge in your profession, industry or sector

If you found this useful, please mention us on Twitter.

Sick of Hurrying? Try Creative Silence Instead

By | Productivity | No Comments

running-manThe phrase ‘hurry sickness‘ is now in common use.

It refers to the physical and psychological effects of time and time pressure. Do you feel you have to cave in to the pressure of constantly having to do more and more in less and less time? Symptoms include changing lanes in traffic queues in the hope it will save precious seconds and getting irrationally irritated at a slow cashier in a supermarket.

James Gleick, author of “Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything” says technology has produced a multi channel-slipping, fast-forward species that breeds competitive, impatient people who are addicted to fast food and instant messaging. The advice we give here is twofold.

Firstly, ask yourself what choices you have and what habits serve you well?

Secondly, make time each day for ‘creative silence‘.

All that means is to find a 10 minute slot per day when you do nothing but allow your mind to clear. This enhances creative thinking, listening to your intuition and putting life into perspective. For your information the Third Angel Theatre Company were touring the country performing “Hurrysickness“!

Next weeks post will feature Networking.

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Improving Personal Productivity, Part 3

By | Leadership, Productivity | No Comments

productivityFollowing on from my previous posts on Improving Productivity, Part 1 and Part 2, some more tips:

  1. In every meeting you have, whether it’s with one person or many, always have an agenda, have objectives of why you are meeting and an end time. Nancy Kline in her book Time to Think has some excellent ideas on how to run good meetings based on thinking and listening which are a bit different to the usual advice!
  2. Really question every meeting you agree to attend. Remember past meetings you have been to, add in preparation time, travel time, time when the meeting doesn’t start punctually, time when the meeting overruns and then ask yourself was that the best way of spending what was supposed to be 2 hours and turns into half a day?  Could the meeting be run as a conference call? How else could it be held?
  3. Be selfish and plan in time, i.e. block out in your diary, to action and prepare for meetings so that you don’t feel like you have 2 jobs … one during the day to attend meetings and the second to start at 5.30pm to actually get some things done! Be proactive about your diary and take regular views of how you can be proactive rather than reacting to everyone else’s demands on you.  Get in there first.
  4. It is recommended to work on no more than 3 or 4 things at any one time. If it is more than this you lose your focus. This applies to men and women. There are gender differences here but this advice is good for both.
  5. There is much written about working on what is important and not just what is urgent.  Businesses and entrepreneurs who make a shift to concentrate on what is important become more successful. Rather than being busy on trivia, on problem solving, working on the easy things first, getting distracted, on being busy itself…take time to think about the purpose and vision for the future. This guides you to decide on the priorities and define the boundaries and what to say ‘yes’ to and ‘no’ to, when you are making decisions.  Consider the following questions:
    • What is time well spent for you?
    • What is purposeless activity and how can you reduce it?
    • What is purposeful activity and how can you increase it?
  6. Work out who can help you.  Save time struggling on your own. It is a sign of strength to ask for help and advice. Modelling is a Neuro Linguistic Programming term (NLP) whereby you identify who is good at the thing you are not skilled at and you go and ask them what is it that they do, to improve. What a compliment!  Who do you know who seems to pack in a lot, gets everything done and have time to smile?  Have a coffee with them for some advice.
  7. Could you delegate and develop someone at the same time? Improve your delegation skills if necessary. These are key to good time management. If you are not so hot at this – get some training!
  8. Is procrastination an issue for you? Do you keep putting something off, something that is important that needs some thought and can’t seem to find a couple of hours to get going? Follow Mark Forster’s tip on this and find 5 minutes.  Get yourself a notepad and a pen and time yourself to write and write furiously for 5 minutes.  Don’t stop writing for a full 5 minutes and when the time is up stop writing even in mid sentence.  You will notice 2 things (1) how much you can write in 5 minutes and actually get started with and (2) if you stop mid sentence it is easier to get started when you pick up the pen next time rather than staring into space!  The message here is find time for important things. If you can find several lots of 5 minutes even better.  Do remember working flat out can only be sustained for about 45 minutes!

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Improving Personal Productivity, Part 2

By | Productivity | No Comments

productiveFinding more time in the day and getting organised are some of the key issues for many of our clients. This post builds on Part 1 and offer some tips and ideas to help you.

Big impact, small effort; the 4 minute story

To increase your impact and your effectiveness consider this way to spend your time.

Take time to really listen not just hear what people are saying to you. Ask questions that show you are interested in them. Remember small details that demonstrate that interest and refer to them.

Rather than consider this as small talk think of it as building rapport. This is a key ingredient of building relationships and trust and sustaining them.

If you are interested in this, look at Daniel Goleman’s work on Emotional Intelligence.

To make this work even better follow the advice of Steven McDermott, a motivational speaker. Imagine you are travelling to a place; it could be driving into work, driving home, going to attend an important meeting, interview etc. Imagine 10 minutes before you arrive at your destination that you are going to be the best you can be. The best boss, the best manager, the best husband, the best Dad, the best candidate.

Now you only have to sustain being your best for 4 minutes.

When you arrive you make a big impression, you are in a good mood, you smile, and you interact in a really positive way. Now the person you are with tunes into this and reacts back in a positive way too and so you create a positive feedback loop and you don’t really need to try so hard. The 4 minutes increases to 10 minutes without thinking.

This really works.

How about that as a good investment of time? To improve the mood of those around you and make you feel good and create better relationships.

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Improving Personal Productivity, Part 1

By | Productivity | 2 Comments

“Wisdom consists in doing the right thing you have to do, doing it with your whole heart, and finding delight in doing it.” – Meister Eckhart.

Have you heard the expression “if you want a job done give it to a busy person?” Why is that? What magic do they have to get things done? In the next few weeks, I’m going to be writing about controlling time based on what is important.

First step towards a solution

Gather evidence of your current time management practices by keeping a diary for 2 weeks. You then have more choice over how you want the future to be. Record what you do in half hour blocks. Analyse the results by considering the following:

  • Categorise under different headings- what does this tell you? For example, if you are a leader of people, how much time do you spend doing this?
  • What are the surprises?
  • Are you focused on the priorities?

Purpose, priorities, boundaries

A simple way to determine what your priorities are is by considering first your purpose. Your purpose gives you direction, gives you role clarity and focus. Ask yourself what you want to achieve professionally and personally. Then look at your priorities in the light of achieving your purpose. Identify for yourself:

  • What do you want to do more of or less of, to deliver that purpose?
  • What do you want to start doing or stop doing?

Having given some thought to your purpose and priorities the last really helpful question to ask is what are your boundaries? What do you say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to? For more information on purpose see my posts on goal-setting and on motivation and visioning.

Productivity tips

  1. Create a yearly, quarterly & monthly plan based on your purpose and priorities.
  2. Each week write your plan for the week ahead. Consider doing this on a Sunday evening.
  3. Write your daily plan the evening before if possible. This gives your subconscious mind the chance to work on issues overnight. If you are a lark rather than an owl perhaps this is better to do in the morning!
  4. If you add something substantial to your to do list also take something off as most people try to take on too much.
  5. Ask yourself can you delegate the task? Dump it? Leave it for now? Pay someone else?
  6. Estimating the time to complete a task often goes awry. To build in time for contingency it often takes 2.5 times longer than you first think!
  7. Consider completing the task in a different way, Does it have to be the Rolls-Royce version?
  8. Create a simple filing system. Even lever arch files with plastic wallets keep papers in order.
  9. Plan in time for you by blocking out time in your diary. This could be for actioning projects, following up action points from meetings, carrying out team activities etc.
  10. Plan in regular time for housekeeping by you or your PA to avoid wasting time searching for things.
  11. Keep a notebook or PDA close by to jot down ideas/thoughts wherever you are.
  12. Work on high level work in the morning. Leave more routine work for 8 hours after you woke up. This tends to be the lowest point in the day for quality thinking/working. Avoid arranging critical meetings/appointments at your low point.
  13. Plan in at least 10 minutes a day for creative silence or quiet time. This enables you to tap into your creativity and intuition, great for solving problems.
  14. Listen to your intuition! If you cannot say a definite ‘yes’ then probably it’s best to leave it and not struggle.

Efficiency vs. effectiveness. Do you need to have both?

Efficiency = producing something with the least waste of effort.

Effectiveness = producing a result.

Another version of this is:

Efficiency = doing things right

Effectiveness = doing the right things

Characteristics of good time managers include being both efficient and effective.

Next time we look at more time saving ideas!

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