3 Reasons Why Personal Brand Consulting Can Help Your Career

3 Reasons Why Personal Brand Consulting Can Help Your Career

The concept of personal branding is not a fad. I should know, I live it every day. That said, most people are still unclear as to why they should invest time, money, or both into developing their personal brand.

Your personal brand is the one professional asset you own. Its success or failure depends completely on you. Today with everything going digital—and everyone’s personal profile steadily growing online—it’s more vital than ever that you have a working knowledge of the concept of personal branding and how you can control your destiny.

Whether you’re an attorney, teacher, or TV weather reporter, here are three reasons why you should connect with a personal brand consultant today.

  1. You don’t know what you don’t know. Unless integrated marketing, social media strategy, and/or PR is your bread and butter you likely have little knowledge on how to craft messages, identify audiences, and truly maximize social media platforms. All are key elements to the long-term success of a brand. A consultant will listen to your successes, goals, and capabilities to direct you in developing your best, and most manageable, plan of action.
  2. You’re too close to it. Most social media bios and profiles are jammed-packed with information that isn’t actually helping you. We assume that if we list everything and share every thought we have that opportunities will magically come at us, when, in fact, less is more. A consultant will help you pare down your messaging, provide vital keywords, and direct you to the right platforms to help you meet your objectives.
  3. Two heads are better than one. Brainstorming and creating content are the biggest challenges most people face when attempting to grow their personal brand. A consultant will work with you to develop topics, select a medium, i.e. blog, video, infographic, etc., and the appropriate platform for your content.

Personal brand consultations can be hosted in-person or via FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangout with sessions typically lasting anywhere from one to three hours. Session cost varies depending on vendor. Clients should consult with their Human Resources Department prior to scheduling a session as it may qualify for professional development reimbursement. Clients may also want to consult with their accountant to determine if such sessions are tax deductible.

Personal brand sessions provide clients with a tremendous amount of insight into what they’re projecting to the world and how better to align those messages to achieve their short- and long-term goals. Greatness is rarely, if ever, achieved alone. Call a personal brand consultant today to learn how to make your brand work for you.

Remaining World Class: How athletes can proactively transition their personal brand into retirement

Whether your professional athletic career ends due to injury or through planned retirement, stepping away from the proverbial spotlight for many can be traumatic. One way to lessen the sting of this life change is to have a plan in place to transition your career, and ultimately, your personal brand. Doing so will allow for you to continue to capitalize on your recent celebrity. 

Extending your celebrity is about more than just ego. In fact, 80 percent of professional athletes’ earnings will likely come from 20 percent of their career. Establishing a strong personal branding during your playing days will allow you to maintain your celebrity status after you’ve entered the private sector—and help provide greater visibility and likely more income. 

Take heart. All is not lost if you’ve long since retired and are now deciding to tend to your personal brand. Every day is a new day to take corrective action and bring yourself back into the spotlight. 

You may be reading this thinking to yourself, “I am years from retirement, I don’t need to be thinking about this.” On the contrary. Now’s the perfect time for to begin thinking about this. A longer runway always allows for a smoother takeoff, so five to 10 years before you plan to retire is an optimal period to transition your brand from superstar athlete to superstar (fill in the blank). 

Below are some tips and tools you may use to transition your brand into your non-playing years. 

Find your (new) passion

You’ve spent so much time focusing on sports that you likely haven’t had much time to sit and ponder what’s next. Start by thinking about what you’re passionate about or are interested in. Take meetings with successful people in those industries and find out what makes sense for you. Don’t get overwhelmed with the idea that this next career move must take you all the way to your grave. There’s always more time to pivot, but you should at least select a destination post-sports to focus your brand. 

If at all possible, start working on or in your new industry prior to ending your athletic career. Take an internship or do some job shadowing during the off season so that you can truly get your feet wet in the new field. While on the job, capture and document your experience as that content will become helpful later on. 

Update your narrative

Once you feel like you have a post-sports destination in mind, that’s the time to start updating your message. For so long your narrative has been “(Insert name) the athlete…” Now you need to redraft your narrative to include your new endeavors—and develop simple but powerful language that lends credibility as to why your audiences should believe that you are—or will be—a thought leader in this new industry. 

Streamline your platforms

Often successful athletes will amass a large digital footprint during their playing years, i.e. building websites and social media platforms to support their brand as well as their corporate and philanthropic endeavors. As a result, their brand is fragmented and it becomes difficult for audiences to know where to engage with them in their non-playing years. Prior to launching new content, you should conduct a brand audit and remove or edit any and all online information. 

Introduce new content to your current brand 

Once you’ve identified your new venture, have a little knowledge under your belt, and have updated your message, it’s time to start integrating the “new you” content in with your existing brand. If you’re still playing, you’ll want to introduce content slowly so as not to confuse your audience.

The content created for your new role should not try to oversell your abilities or influence in this new space. Be authentic and allow yourself to talk the talk and walk the walk. Create content pieces like blogs, video, articles, and social media posts that differentiate you from your peers and demonstrate why you’re passionate about your new endeavor. Most importantly, show that you’ve done your homework and are educated about and engaged in your new career.

Don’t leave money on the table

Often athletes will agree to appearances or be willing to lend their image to a campaign without asking what’s in it for them. This makes sense while you’re actively playing, but you no longer have that luxury once you retire. Maintaining and growing your celebrity starts with being selective about where you donate your time and image. It’s not uncommon for celebrities to hire or appoint someone to manage this task If they are not comfortable or do not feel they know enough to properly vet appearance or campaign requests. Failing to do so can result in diminished short and long-term financial gain and strategic visibility.  

Transitioning from professional player to coach, business person, philanthropist, etc. will be one of the biggest transitions—emotionally and financially—that you’ll ever make. If it all seems too overwhelming to think about on your own, then seek the guidance of a professional to walk you through it. Every day I help athletes transition their brand. There’s too much earning potential on the line to simply hope it all works out. 

Building a Coaches’ Brand for More Effective Recruiting 

Nowadays, coaches have to worry not only about outsmarting opponents on the field. They also must outwork rivals on social media, using videos, graphics, and hashtags to attract the best players. With most top-tier programs in the know, how can your program stand out?

The answer lies with strengthening the brands of your team’s individual coaches to support and validate the benefits of your overall program.

In this one-hour session, Firestarter will provide an evaluation of last year’s recruitment outreach – all paid, earned, owned, and shared media, and will provide the team and individual coaches with tips and tools to strengthen future engagement.

To inquire about session pricing and availability, contract Firestarter founder and CEO Frances Reimers at freimers@yourfirestarter.com or call/text 202.731.2649.

Quick and Easy Personal Brand Fixes

I’m frequently asked for quick and easy tips to build, grow, or repair a person’s brand. While I’m not a believer in quick and easy when it comes to personal brand success, there are a few minor tweaks you can make right now that can have a significant impact.

Face First. Fair or not, we’re judged first and foremost by the images we project to the world. If your LinkedIn image is of your kids, dog, or is more than five years old, you’re saying to others that you don’t care about your image. As a result, others will not care about you. Take the time to get proper headshots or use a picture that projects you as a polished professional.

Are you talking about you? Authenticity is vital when it comes to long-term brand success. Lots of successful professionals turn to people like me to help them draft and manage their accounts. With that in mind, all text should be drafted in the first person. Your bio shouldn’t describe you like you’re some other entity. Regardless of who’s writing, be real and use the first person.

You remember high school English, right? There’s simply no excuse for having typos and/or grammatical errors on websites and/or social media platforms that you own. Zero. Zip. There’s no shame in soliciting the services of a proofreader if you’re unable to identify these errors yourself. Failing to do so makes you appear sloppy and unprofessional.

One size doesn’t fit all. Linking your social media accounts or using distribution platforms like Hootsuite is a great way to help busy professionals stay on top of posting info. That said, strategic tactics are not universal across all platforms. How something would be created for Twitter is not always the same on Facebook. As a result, your posts may not be as effective as they could be. When using distribution tools, create your posts to best fit each platform.

Hit delete. I’m a big believer in self-editing. You’re the master of your own narrative, so it’s completely your prerogative to go back and get rid of posts that you’re no longer happy or comfortable with. This is especially important if you’re looking for a new job, developing a new relationship, or just want to erase a bad day, week, month, or year of your life.

It’s your brand, so exercise your editing rights accordingly. Happy cleaning!

How Frenemies Benefit Your Brand

An inevitable side-effect of success is having to deal with those who wish you had a little less of it. As we grow and change within our professional journey, it’s natural to develop relationships with those who keep their friends close and their enemies even closer.

The ‘frenemy’ relationship has become an unavoidable staple to long-term business growth. That said, engaging with frenemies can be draining, and often, it may feel pointless. But alas, I offer you a silver lining! Dealing with the bozos you secretly (or not-so-secretly) loathe can actually benefit your personal brand.

From a brand and business perspective, it’s better to have frenemies than no enemies at all. Here’s how to leverage those fickle relationships for overall brand growth.

Mirror, mirror. If for nothing else, frenemies are great at helping you identify your brand’s strengths and weaknesses. How you feel when you interact with or view your frenemies’ content can provide valuable insights into how you can grow as an individual.

Goals are great. The frenemy relationship usually develops because one person views the other as personal and/or professional competition. Pick something about each of your frenemies’ brand that you actually admire and develop a plan to do it better, faster, or more efficiently. Avoid superficial things like being more attractive or attending swankier social events. Keep your goals to something that’s mentally healthy and attainable.

Free market research. The reality is, you’re watching your frenemies just as much as they’re watching you; and their engagement via your social media platforms is one of your most important analytics. Keeping mental tabs on which social media posts they like, avoid, and copy is some of the best market research you can do. Conversely, their posts and the associated engagement with each provides you with insight into what’s resonating with a larger audience that you likely share.

Mandated positivity. Remaining positive and supportive (even if it’s forced) is always a good look. Your frenemies may not like everything you do, but like your mother used to say, “two wrongs don’t make a right!” Engage with your frenemies as if they were real friends or colleagues, i.e. like their posts, applaud their successes, even offer to collaborate with them. It’s really hard for them to dislike someone who consistently demonstrates goodwill.

Know you’ll always have an audience. Aside from your parents and perhaps a creepy ex, your frenemies are likely the key consumers of your brand. They honestly can’t help themselves! So just when you think no one out there is paying attention, don’t worry, your frenemies are.

 

 

 

 

Budgeting for Your Personal Brand

It’s that time of the year when individuals and organizations are thinking of ways to use their remaining 2017 marketing and PR budget, plan for 2018, or both. When thinking of these funds, your personal brand or those of your employees or clients should be at the top of your priority list.

Many individuals and organizations are beginning to understand that investing in personal brand is a vital cost of doing business. Like office supplies and coffee, budgeting for the tools and resources needed to create and grow brands should be a set line item.

For those still struggling with why this is vital and/or how to make it work for their budget, I offer some food for thought.

Why have one when you can have many?

Why have only one marketing stream when you can have many? The more people on your team who are building their brands and, by extension, your company’s brand, the more opportunities you have to distribute content and connect with your audience.

It’s happening so stop ignoring it.

Your employees and/or clients are online daily posting content about you and their work. Why not get out in front of it and provide them with tools and resources to be more effective?

 Quality writing and graphic design matters.

If you or your staff are sharing information about the company or their work, you should care about the quality of the writing and graphic design used. Just like with any other marketing, how social media posts read and appear is a reflection of your company. Time and attention should be paid to ensuring these posts look their best.

You don’t need the kitchen sink.

You and/or your staff may not need a full strategic plan or fancy new design software to create and grow your brands. All you may need is a training or brainstorming session with a brand expert to help get everyone on the right track. A day-long or half-day brand training session is a great way to connect as a team and share content ideas.

Don’t have a strategy today? Better have one tomorrow.

If a comprehensive personal brand strategic plan is not in the works for 2017, it is vital that it be included in your plans for 2018. For your personal brand to truly be effective, a strategy should be developed to assess and provide a blueprint for how you will capture all paid, earned, owned, and shared media opportunities at your disposal.

In an ever-increasing media market, knowing how to effectively articulate your narrative and differentiators will truly make a difference to your bottom line. Investing in yourself and your staff or clients is no longer just a “feel good” initiative. Personal branding is proving to be one of the most effective marketing tactics an individual or business can deploy to reach their target audience.

Thoughts Are Not Your Own

With so much outrageous news making headlines lately, it’s only natural that many of us take to our social media platforms to air our frustrations or express our opinions. Believe me, I know it’s hard to resist social media’s allure of immediate gratification. I mean, just ask our President!

We fool ourselves into believing that non-legally binding statements such “views expressed are my own” give carte blanche to say whatever we want. But the fact is these self-proclaimed social disclaimers won’t save you when questionable posts conflict with your company’s policy or culture.

In a nutshell, if any of your conduct—both online and off—is deemed harmful to your company’s brand or reputation, it has the right to show you the door. Your views? Still your own. Your job? Not so much.

Take time to read your company’s social media policy and be clear regarding its expectations. If your organization does not have a social media policy, they’re long overdue for creating one. But an absence of one does not mean that you may not be suspended or fired for questionable posts.

The potential of getting fired is a pretty major reason to think before you tweet. A secondary cause for pause is the potential harm your posts may have on your personal brand.

Your friends, colleagues, even your boss might be okay with your posts today, but these people are not the only audiences you’ll have for the rest of your life. So much of what we post is intended for today, but it won’t be gone tomorrow. Social media is forever. Before you post think about how future employers, clients, or even romantic partners might feel about something you write in the heat of the moment.

It’s vital that we self-police our words and actions online. The brand we create on the internet might be the only impression we get to make on others, so take care and give plenty of consideration before providing your two-cents to the weighty issues of the day.

 

Personal Brand Bootcamp

In today’s online world your personal brand is being developed with or without your participation. Get in the driver’s seat and learn how to create and grow your most valuable professional asset: your brand.

In this session attendees will learn step-by-step how to build and maintain the story they want to tell the world – effectively and efficiently. Attendees will learn how to deploy their brand using all marketing mediums – paid, earned, owned, and social for long-term personal brand strength and growth.

Attendees will also learn:
  • Brand basics
  • Creating quality content
  • Leveraging social media
  • Taking your brand beyond social media
This session is ideal for anyone who:
  • Is thinking about creating or growing their personal brand
  • Needs help understanding the various social media platforms
  • Wants to learn how to create better content
  • Wants to learn how to engage traditional media
  • Is seeking creative ideas for their business’s brand

Parking is available onsite.

A complimentary shuttle bus is available to/from the Braddock Metro stop.

Thursday, September 14

5:00 pm to 6:30 pm

Potomac Conference Center

66 Canal Center Plz, Suite 600

Alexandria, VA 22314

$45.00 general registration

Registration is required: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/personal-brand-bootcamp-tickets-36812930466

 

We’re All Toothpaste

Over the past several weeks there has been conflicting information regarding whether personal brand building is relevant to professional services professionals.

Forbes Magazine recently released an article outlining the PR Trends for 2018. The very first trend mentioned was personal branding. According to the article, companies will be looking beyond the C-Suite, encouraging and assisting the brand creation and management of their rank-and-file employees. This shift comes from companies seeing the benefit of having multiple marketing streams that lead back to the company mission.

Conversely, in a June 2017 interview with renowned Wharton psychology professor and best-selling author Adam Grant, Sheryl Sandberg discussed why the personal branding craze is overblown. In short, she feels that people are not products and should not consume their days with packaging themselves like toothpaste or bottled water. Instead, she stressed “having a voice” and “being authentic.”

With this conflicting information, what are you to think?

If you follow me on social media, you likely have a pretty good idea which argument I support. I believe creating and growing your brand is vital to raising your overall visibility. Furthermore, a favorable brand has been proven to help you get a better job, earn more money, and be viewed as a thought leader in your industry.

In addition, investing in your own personal brand or your employees’ has been shown to increase overall job satisfaction and higher retention rates. It has also been shown to increase overall staff creativity, improve career-pathing and self-awareness, and develop higher levels of peer collaboration.

I respect Ms. Sandberg greatly, but I believe she missed the mark. Building one’s brand and being authentic are not mutually exclusive. In fact, some of the most beloved personal brands were built by those who were being true to themselves.

I agree with Ms. Sandberg that we shouldn’t view ourselves as “packaged goods.” However, the strategy and process of getting one’s picture taken for magazines and public appearances isn’t any different than the packaging for toothpaste.

The reality is that in the online world we are continually marketing ourselves to potential employers, contacts, and even romantic partners. How we package ourselves and tell our story online is sometimes the only impression we get to make on others.

It’s important for everyone, regardless of career path, to understand what personal branding means and learn to either manage it for themselves or seek the resources of a professional to handle it on their behalf.

 

If you’d like to learn how to manage your personal brand yourself, join me on Thursday, September 14 at 5:00 pm in Alexandria, VA for my “Personal Brand Bootcamp.” Register today: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/personal-brand-bootcamp-tickets-36812930466

Summertime is the perfect time for your personal brand

Summertime. The glorious three months of the year where our lives get a little slower and a whole lot more enjoyable. We all take a moment to breathe and can actually hear ourselves think.

So, naturally this is the perfect time to create a strategy for your personal brand! Not so much? Well, hear me out. You’re likely already thinking about the tasks I outline before. Now is just the time to move from thought to strategy to action. Laying by the pool or being the passenger on a long car trip are the perfect time to be thinking through how you’d like to tackle your brand strategy for the fall and winter.

Below are a few simple steps to get you on the right track.

Develop a one year plan 

Why just one year? Your brand needs to be constantly evolving, so focusing one year at a time gives you a manageable timeframe in which to work. Envisioning where would you like to be in your career, life, or both a year from now is the vital first step in developing your personal brand strategic plan.

For those who already know a major shift is coming, i.e. Career change, going back to school, taking a sabbatical, moving, etc., you may want to only plan six months in advance as this new experience may shift where you’d like your brand to go.

Revisit your personas 

Who are you? Or at least who do you want people to think you are? And why should they believe that you are these things? In order to be most effective, your personas and your plans need to be in sync.

For example, let’s say you’re about to retire after 10 successful seasons playing a professional sport. You’ve decided to launch a tech company. Problem is you have neither a business nor an engineering degree or background. You have an idea and access to those who can assist you, but you still need to be established as an influencer in this industry. While not impossible, this just means that there is much work to do to educate your audiences as to why they should believe that you are a thought leader in this industry.

Create effective content

When you have a goal in mind you are less likely to create “junk” content. Junk content is usually filler creative, i.e. images, video, blog posts, that doesn’t provide any value to your target audience and/or your designated goal. Whether you’re sharing and/or commenting on content created by others or your own original content, you want to make sure that it fulfills your plan and personas. Otherwise you’re just creating noise which will ultimately turn your audiences off.

Not every single post is going to be a homerun.

But if you plan out your content on a calendar or even a Word Doc you are more likely to be creating posts that are useful, entertaining, and/or more personalized to your audience. Also, if you stay focused on your analytics you’ll begin to see a pattern of what is working for you and what isn’t.

Start developing discipline

With less on your plate during the summer you’ll be more successful developing the daily discipline brand building requires. Your ability to post consistently and engage regularly is truly the secret sauce to brand growth, so take the time now to develop positive habits before you’re once again bogged down by the hustle and bustle of fall and winter.

Your personal brand is being created for you via social media and your in-person presence, so you might as well place yourself in the driver’s seat. Use these remaining lazy summer days to decide how you are going to take control. Need help getting starter or getting organized? Give me a call.