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The following is a guest blog post by Maria Peagler, Founder of SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com and my collaborator on our upoming Personal Branding Webinar.

Join us for a FREE Pump Up Your Personal Brand webinar Thursday, Sept. 13 at 1p.m. ET. (It takes less than 10 seconds to register here!)

How to Create Profitable Personal Branding?

Personal branding is a buzzword being used so frequently it’s become almost a cliche. Most of my clients are confused about what it is, how they actually go about doing it, and why it’s important. So let’s toss out a few examples.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind for:

Tom Cruise?

Charlie Sheen?

Chik-fil-A?

Mission Impossible or TomKat?

All of these “brands” have taken hits lately that take your eyes off their core product: for Tom Cruise and Charlie Sheen, you instantly think of personal fiascos, not their body of work or their latest movie or TV show. Happy investors? Absolutely not.

Why do you think Tom & Katie’s divorce happened so quickly? He knows the longer the media talks about his personal life, the less they’re covering his latest Mission Impossible movie.

Gay Marriage or the Best Chicken Sandwich?

Chik-fil-A has come under fire recently because of one their C-suite’s stance on gay marriage. People who had never before heard of Chik-fil-A now recognize the name and their“family-friendly” culture.

Guess what? I already knew they welcomed my family, because my sons’ favorite fast-food restaurant is Chik-fil-A. They serve delicious, healthy chicken sandwiches and nuggets, offer books and educational CDs in their kids’ meals, have immaculate facilities and superior customer service.

I didn’t need to know about their gay marriage stance. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t quizzing their cashiers on the company’s political affiliations. I’ll just take the healthy, delicious food, thank you.

What Do You Want to Be Known For?

Your personal brand is essential because no longer do Americans (or most international professionals) have the luxury or desire for a single, lifetime career track. Your personal brand extends beyond your latest job position, startup company, or joint venture. Your personal brand is the entirety of you: your personal and professional reputation, tied into one big bundle.

Want a quick snapshot of your personal brand? Google your name.

Are the results professional and consistent? Could they use some improvement?

Pump Up Your Personal Brand Training

Exactly what does it take to create profitable personal branding that you can be proud of? The Personal Branding Infographic I created with Mary Ellen “Mel” Miller of MarketingMel.com details 15 action steps to creating personal branding that becomes a profit center for you.

Want to learn more? Join us for a FREE webinar Thursday, Sept. 13 at 1p.m. ET. (It takes less than 10 seconds to register here!) when we’ll be telling you exactly how to make your personal branding sticky for the right reasons, what to avoid, and how to create a long-term plan so you can develop your branding in stages.

Maria Peagler

Maria Peagler

 

Maria Peagler is founder of SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com offers the World’s Largest Selection of 24/7 online classes on FacebookLinkedInPinterestYouTubeTwitterSlideshare, and WordPress. Maria is an award-winning author & publisher of eight books, a veteran technology trainer & she skyrocketed her latest book from unknown to Amazon’s top ten for two years using only social media.

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Creative Commons Image by Jack Cai

How many times have I heard “There’s no point in twitter”?

“Twitter is useless.” “I don’t care what you’ve had for lunch.”

Yes, I’ve heard all of the “how to twitter” excuses. But twitter can actually be an extremely useful business tool if used correctly. Thursday morning I’ll be featured talking social media on WFHG-SuperTalk with veteran newsman Steve Hawkins. Last week we covered LinkedIn in depth. This week Steve wanted to talk twitter. (Here’s that podcast if you’d like to listen.) Here are some of the tips I shared with Steve when we recorded the broadcast. Do you have others to add?

  1. Fill out your profile. Be sure to describe yourself, your work and/or your passions in your profile. When others view you and decide whether or not to follow you, that is the first place they will look. If there’s nothing there they may not follow you back. Furthermore, a profile helps determine if indeed there is someone you clearly do NOT want to have following you!  Then you can block them if necessary (I’ve only had to do this a hand full of times.)
  2. Use a nice photo or likeness of yourself. People relate to people as human beings and like to look at pictures of one another. It helps in relationship building as well as in building your personal brand.
  3. Follow people who have similar interests to yours: For me that’s professional marketing and public relations people and social media gurus. What are your interests?  Find the people who share them.
  4. Shhh, listen! As in all social media, listen first, then participate in the local conversation. It is possible to talk too much on twitter. I just recently removed someone from my local feed for “clogging up” my twitter airwaves.
  5. Share, share, share. Twitter is all about being helpful and friendly to others. It’s about relationship building. Share pertinent information and links. I have found that the good twitter karma always comes around.
  6. Never auto DM anyone! If you want to DM (direct message) someone be sure it is a genuine, heartfelt message. Please skip the canned spam!
  7. Use search.twitter.com to follow trends. This is a really handy search that keeps me up on “the news” often before the traditional media has caught on.
  8. #Use hashtags Hashtags are a great way to keep up with conferences, topics and trends or start a trend yourself. On Fridays you will see people using the hashtag #followfriday of #FF. They will post the twitter names of interesting people who they enjoy following so that you can  follow them. It’s one more part of the positive twitter karma.
  9. Find twitter chat groups of interest and participate. My two favorites are #soloPR Wednesdays at 1 pm Eastern and, when I can make it, #journchat Mondays at 8 pm Eastern. Check those or others out in your field of interest.
  10. Do not lock your updates. Locking is something done only by the greenest of twitter newbies
  11. Use twitter tools: There are all kinds of great tools available to help you manage your time and your tweets. Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are two of my favorites.
  12. Feel free to respond to someone directly with an @ message. Remember, though, everyone is listening! Twitter is a lot like cubicle walls; super thin and everything next door can and will be heard and shared by all. At least with twitter you don’t have to share colds and flu too! Hope this helps you. I’ll be tweeting you!

 

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Remember these? Wikipedia Image

Recently a prospective client called on me to help him build his personal brand.  In assessing his needs, I quickly saw that there were five things he could do immediately to start building up his social media presence. Here are five ideas for branding yourself.

1- Have a professional photo made, and use it! I am actually amazed by the business professionals who contact me via LinkedIn who appear as grey silhoutees on the page. Remember you are projecting an online image at all times, like it or not. Once you get that photo be sure to sign up on Gravatar so it will appear whenever you comment on others’ blogs.

2- Create an e-mail signature: Every time you send an e-mail (and ditto for an invoice) it is an opportunity to brand. Decide what information you regularly want people to have about you and put it in the signature. Be sure to get clients’ feedback on this. I added my phone number to my signature when I first started my business at client request.

3- Enlist your “Rolodex”: I have to chuckle when people still refer to their contact lists as a “Rolodex.” While I can’t remember the last time I used one of those spinning lists of business cards, the point is you do have contacts somewhere. Capitalize on that list through an opt-in e-newsletter.

4- Use LinkedIn’s Questions, Answers and Groups: If you haven’t read Jon Moss’s superb guest blog piece that’s a How-to LinkedIn “Ten Ways to Totally Rock LinkedIn in 2012” please be sure to do so. Then use LinkedIn to your advantage to gain visibility as an influential thought leader.

5- Post Regularly: There are different schools of thought on how often to post but be sure to keep your contacts well informed with your valuable professional insights.

For these and other helpful marketing and P.R. tips please sign up for my “News You Can Use” quarterly e-newsletter on the right hand side of this page.  You can also visit the MarketingMelPR Facebook business page

 

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Image by Mario Sundar

Editor’s note: The following is a guest blog written by Jon Moss. Jon and I first connected on twitter and then “IRL” while having coffee at Social Slam 2011. We re-connected after his excellent LinkedIn presentation at Social Slam 2012.

“Are you IN?” That was the question I asked attendees at Social Slam 2012. While a lot of people who embrace social media as a means of marketing may be on LinkedIn – meaning they have a profile – the percentage of those who actually dive in and use the myriad of features it offers is far less.

One of the misconceptions about LinkedIn is it’s for finding a job, or posting a resume or profile. While it does offer robust features to accomplish all that, it is so much more. Let’s take a look at some of what it can do for you.

1. SEO-ize Yourself
Back when I was learning of the importance of ranking high in Google searches I realized I had a problem. When searching my name pictures of Boy George always came up on page one. Turned out we had something in common. The drummer for Culture Club (Boy George’s boyfriend at the time), and I shared the same name.

One had to go several pages deep into Google before anything related to me came up. Not good. What was good for me was that LinkedIn profiles rank very high in search. Thank you LinkedIn for putting me back on page one of Google! To borrow from a Culture Club song, “I’ll tumble for ya, LinkedIn”

2. See Who’s Checking You Out
LinkedIn has a cool feature that allows you to see who’s recently looked at your profile. Sure it may seem creepy, but it’s so cool when thinking about what you can do with that information. Imagine you’ve been trying to get in the door with a certain company only to find out they’re checking you out. How about you sent your resume off to a recruiter and now they’re reviewing your profile. A well thought out email or phone call while you’re fresh in their mind could do the trick.

Just keep in mind this works in reverse too. People can see when you’ve been looking at their profiles so be careful when stalking your competition! There are ways to go around this though. You can disable the feature in settings, but you lose the ability to see who’s looking at you. For now, when you browse people from the smartphone app, LinkedIn does not register that you’ve looked at their profile.

3. Signal & LinkedIn Today
Get news on your sector aggregated by your industry connections. It’s like an online industry publication crowd sourced by your peers. Keep tabs on people in your network. Reach out to them when appropriate. If information is power, then this is your source.

4. Groups
Places for like minded professionals to hang out. Most flock to groups geared towards their industry, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Go deeper by diving into groups where your customers hang out. If you sell insurance to doctors how many leads do you think are waiting for you in the “Underwriters of America” group? Got the point? Now get yourself into the groups where they hang, but don’t jump in and start selling. Restrain yourself young salesbuck. Get a feel for the group. Respond to questions by others when you have something of value to add.

Groups can be industry specific, geographic in nature, or centered around activities. Whether avocation or hobby, find the ones where the people you want to meet are in. If you can’t find a group that tailors to a specific group, go ahead and create it yourself. As a group administrator you’ll be in a better position to connect with members.

5. Company Profile
You have a profile on LinkedIn, and your company can have one too. Like Facebook Pages, an LI company profile lets you post products and services, have customers provide reviews/ratings and make recommendations. It’s a great space to claim. People are researching companies just like they are people on LinkedIn nowadays.

6. Pimp Your Blog
Want more exposure for your blog? Pin it on your LinkedIn profile. Imagine all that good stuff you’re writing being seen by everyone checking you out LinkedIn. A prospect quickly comes to realize you’re the expert they’ve been looking for. Your future employer see you’ve got a knack for writing. A competitor realizes they can no longer compete with you and throws in the towel. You are still blogging, right?

7. Add Video
If only you could add video to your LinkedIn profile, then you could show everyone how awesome you really are. Wait, you can. The technology is available. Queue theme from The Six Million Dollar Man. It just takes adding the Slideshare application and embedding a YouTube video. You do have a YouTube channel, no?

8. Answers
This could very well be the most overlooked feature on LinkedIn. Imagine a place where you can have your questions answered by professionals anxious to display their depth of knowledge. Why pay $300 an hour for legal advice when you can get it for free on LinkedIn?

We’re not talking random generic answers, rather insightful thought out responses to your questions. LinkedIn Answers ingeniously allows professionals to ask and answer questions on a wide variety of topics. I know what you’re thinking. Why would someone bend over backwards to give “free” advice to someone they’ve never met before?

When you provide an answer, the “asker” of the question gets to pick who they felt gave the best answer. LinkedIn, in return, awards a “star” to the “askee” for providing the best answer. Earn enough stars and you show up as an expert in that particular topic.

I can personally attest to the power of having lots of stars having picked up new clients by demonstrating expertise, having my competition actually recommending me, and receiving phone calls from national publications wanting to interview me all because of the answers I gave to questions on LinkedIn.

9. Don’t Cross The Streams
On the surface it seemed like a good idea. Connect your Facebook to Twitter and LinkedIn, post to one and you’re done. Right? Wrong!  Don’t do it. LinkedIn is the only platform that’s strictly business. Leave the puppies, the Instagrams of your lunch and everything else you wouldn’t share in person with your employer, client or prospect at the door. Muddy your LI status with hashtags and Foursquare checkins and risk losing relevance. If you don’t believe me, listen to these experts.

10. Go Mobile
LinkedIn’s iOS apps are amazing. With calendar integration the iPad app could become the killer app from which to run one’s schedule. If you’re in sales or run a business, chances are you’re not chained to desk. Packed full of features, the LI mobile apps let you carry your network on the go. Lose the Rolodex, and get down to business with real information at your fingertips. Anywhere. Anytime.

Final Thoughts
It’s amazing when I think back years ago when my company paid thousands of dollars to Dun & Bradstreet and Hoovers for access to business information and personnel. A lot of it is now available for free thanks to LinkedIn. Gold awaits those who seek it. Are you ready to go mining?

So there you have it. Some features of LinkedIn you may have missed. It’s not just the oldest social networking platform, it’s the most powerful in terms of business and professional networking — for those wanting to get down to business.

Here’s video of the presentation and slideshow I did at Social Slam – http://mmlabs.biz/2012/05/talking-linkedin-at-social-slam-2012/

Jon Moss

 

When he’s not infusing new media with marketing ideas at Moss Media Labs, Jon Moss can be found fiddling with the latest gadgets and mobile apps. Available by email at  or via Twitter @jonfmoss

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MarketingMel speaks to ETSU's P.R.S.S.A student chapter

Last year’s blog post “How to Find a Job in Public Relations” was extremely popular, particularly with college students preparing to head out into the workforce. So I decided to turn it into a less-than-three minute video with the hope of helping even more people along the way.  For the pro’s viewing this, please share any tips you would like to add for our recent college graduates who are looking for communications jobs. Thanks!

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Editor’s note: I am now a regular monthly columnist for Out N’ About Magazine, writing on the topic of social networking for business.  The following is excerpted from my May 2012 post.

Image by Martin Canchola

One of the first tips that anyone, with even a small amount of experience in social networking learns, is the karma effect of it. The more you give the more that comes back around to you.  I’ve come to the conclusion that personalities and true colors really shine when people are online.

When I give my social networking for business talks I always compare social media to a cocktail party. Everyone has seen the loud, obnoxious guy who shows up at every after-hours event.  You know the one wearing too much cologne and talks in your face? A thought comes to mind:  Your posts have the same look and feel you do. If you’re loud, obnoxious and pushy….well, enough said. Contrast that with the helpful guy. When you ask a question, need a referral or some other assistance, that guy is always there. We all know folks like this too.

Just last week I was chatting with a friend “IRL” (in real life ) at our church café about that pit we get in our stomach when we allow someone in to be our “friend” on Facebook or other channels only to instantly be asked to take part in their fundraisers, event, survey, etc. Ugh. I’m thinking, “I’ve just been used to get your numbers up!”  To make that old baseball/dating analogy I haven’t walked over to home plate and you’re envisioning a home run!  Hold your horses friend. I’m still on deck!

Is there a lesson to be learned?  When it comes to social networking, please, oh please engage the person and connect with them as a human being. Don’t make them feel used. Be sure to chat with them a bit and show them that you care about them. The business will come later. On Facebook make comments on their photos and videos and show them you are interested in what they have to say. After all, you have cared enough about them to ask them to be your friend, so be one! Be sure to @ reply to people on twitter in order to speak directly to them and to gain their attention. (For more twitter tips including my one-minute twitter tutorial videos, enter search phrase “Twitter 101” at www.marketingmel.com.)

Last year I had the occasion to create a vlog (video blog) for my friend Maria Peagler of Social Media Online Classes. She asked me to help out her audience comprised of camera-shy small business owners who were mostly women. As a former TV anchorwoman it was easy for me to come up with some simple tips to help folks out on camera now that we live in more of a visual and video oriented society. My topic was: Ten Tips to Feel Comfortable on Camera. Well that video first appeared on her vlog but then “took off” after it was picked up by PR Daily and others.  Later, I entered that video in the Tri-Cities Public Relations Society Awards and it ended up taking top prize in its category. It won an “Award of Excellence” in the Audio Visual category.  Kudos to videographer/producer Kyle Long for his work on the video. We started out trying to provide a helpful service to others who are camera shy and through “social media karma” ended up with an award. Sometimes extending a hand to care about others whether it’s “IRL” or online has its rewards. Ten Tips to Feel Comfortable on Camera may be found at http://www.marketingmel.com/2011/07/06/ten-tips-to-feel-comfortable-on-camera/

By the way, I have already created a follow up video on Finding a Job In Public Relations. Stay tuned!

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Friends Hands by Fabulous Shannen

Friends Hands by Fabulous Shannen

The following is a guest post by SoloPR weekly twitter chat colleague, Judy Gombita. A Canadian Public Relations professional, she is also this blog’s first international guest blogger.

Many people had primary or secondary school teachers who left an indelible mark and provided unique life lessons; I was blessed to have several such guiding lights as I evolved into adulthood.

One was a wonderfully inspiring and creative, enthusiastic and somewhat eccentric English teacher named Mrs. Rusty Ross (no, she didn’t have red hair). Ostensibly, her incredibly popular class was on Shakespeare. But amongst our (often self-absorbed) teenaged selves, we referred to it as The Class on Life. Definitely we studied Shakespeare—with a rigour and comprehension that proved excellent preparation for my first-year university course a few years later. But the real contribution Mrs. Ross gave us was illustrating how Will’s own understanding of the world, in particular people and their ambitions and motivations regarding relationships, really weren’t very different from current times.

And just like William Shakespeare created new words and understanding of human nature, so did Mrs. Ross gift us. For example, how relationships with people scale, from early acquaintances to friendships.

Evermore inserted into my lexicon was her novel word and intermediary concept: “friendlies.”

According to Mrs. Ross, your friendlies are more than acquaintances, but haven’t reached the status of fully bloomed, time-tested lasting friends. You know, the “for life” kind of friend.

Channelling Mrs. Ross when it comes to online relationships

I’m a huge proponent of the power and possibilities of social media, particularly for info sharing, networking and cultivating relationships. But I also characterize myself as a social media pragmatist. Recently, I contributed Teasing out the potential of Twitter chats, Part I and Part II to commpro.biz. In fact, it was through #solopr (one of my “featured” chats) that I met Marvellous Mel, proprietress of this captivating blog.

I respect and very much like everything I know about Mel—her smarts, integrity, sector expertise, warmth, people skills and sense of humor. Yet in my mind at this stage I still classify Mel as a “friendlie” rather than a friend.

Why?

Simply because we haven’t known each other long enough to test the long-term strength of our online alliance. Yes, we’ve moved large amounts of our conversations offline, sharing more personal information and comparing thoughts, joined networks on LinkedIn, Circled one another on Google+, etc. Despite geographical challenges, we hope to meet face to face at some stage. Not once has a touch point with Mel given me pause.

But it’s still early days.

My analogy

An analogy I often use (I believe I’m the originator, but if I unconsciously co-opted it from someone else, it’s unintentional) is that relationships are like slowly peeling an onion. Most of the time an onion’s layers are fresh, firm and sweet smelling. But every now and then you peel an onion where you hit a brown and soggy layer—maybe even a bit musty and slimy. The question is whether the onion is mainly good (after a bit of judicious editing, talks or negotiations) or if it should be unceremoniously tossed away as largely unusable, i.e., not worthy of the work or consumption experience.

If you travel or live with people you quickly learn how their onion peels out. But online relationships are different. It’s a lot trickier finding out how authentic people are regarding their online personas: how much of what they share can be trusted, ego, their core values, how they treat people (online and off) and so on.

And of course, this works both ways.

Peeling into my thesis a bit more

Recently I’ve been openly critical about how fast people are to append the “friend” and “trust” tags in the online sphere. I believe we need to slow down online friendships and trust and stop devaluing these time-taking concepts.

A notable example: automatically curating blog posts of “tribe” mates into Twitter (even if oh-so-virtuously manually clicking the send button). Forgive me if I think it’s a bit musty and slimy when robo-curation perpetrators suggest we “trust” that their “friends” of three or so months produced posts warranting our valuable reading time. Why should I have faith in their curation decisions in regards to me, when the majority of people observed I’d classify as online acquaintances, not even friendlies?

When this objectionable practice of automating trust first impinged on our collective consciousness, Mel independently voiced the exact reaction as me (as did #solopr’s founder, Kellye Crane).

The fact that our tingly onion sense was the same moved Mel another step up the ladder from friendlie to friend, because critical thinking and articulating objections against perceived dodgy behaviour are things I value.

Offering up my onion for perusal

When Mel lobbied me to write a guest post on her blog, I was touched.

As thanks for trusting I’d contribute something of value, I decided to gift Mel’s space with some personal evolutionary history and a unique word and analogy—concepts I hadn’t fully gelled together or introduced in any other blog post: Mrs. Ross’ definition of friendlies, how relationships are like peeling an onion, plus a need to slow down online friendships and trust.

My hope is that these reflections help move me another step up her friendship ladder.

Some final appeels (sic)

Whether in your professional or personal life, lasting relationships take time; people who work in public relations certainly are cognizant of this fact.

By all means, explore possibilities in the online realm and make lots of new acquaintances. And if all the bytes are feeling right, proactively move into the friendlies phase. But take time to build alliances; maybe even pause to compare and contrast them with your offline friendships.

And never take time away from nurturing relationships that were earlier peeled and stood the onion sniff test of time.

Judy Gombita

Judy Gombita

 

Judy Gombita is a Toronto-based public relations and communication management specialist, with more than 20 years of employment and executive-level volunteer board experience, primarily in the financial and lifelong learning nonprofit sectors. She is the co-editor and Canadian contributor (since 2007) to the international, collaborative blog, PR Conversations. Find her on Twitter.

 

 

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Editor’s note: This post is from guest blogger Kellye Crane, creator and founder of SoloPR.
There’s nothing better than taking charge of your own destiny by being your own boss! But to be successful long-term, it’s important to take steps to preserve your sanity and stay efficient.
While it’s tempting to give 110% of yourself – and your resources – to your business, prevent over-extending by keeping in mind a few key tips:
1. You don’t have to be “on call” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Sometimes it can be hard to establish boundaries. While you want to be as responsive as possible to your stakeholders, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to disconnect sometimes. “Training” those who work with you to value your time can actually be helpful in gaining their respect overall.
2. Take a break
In the same vein as #1, you need to occasionally block out some “personal time” so you can regroup and recharge. Research shows that time away from your business actually helps you get more done in the long run, and let’s face it: we get pulled in so many directions, it will only get done if it’s on the calendar.
3. Be innovative when it comes to resources
People in a “real job” usually have easy access to paid resources and other perks. But once you start your own business, you’ll likely find it’s not necessary to pay full price for things like research, pricey databases or subscriptions.
Much of the information you need can be found online, with just a little digging. If you need to use a paid service for a certain need, check with other small business owners to see if there are any co-op opportunities before spending the big bucks. For example, many media database providers allow public relations consultants to share a subscription at a lower cost. Don’t be afraid to negotiate!
4. Establish procedures
It’s important for small business owners to take the time to define and document operations processes, so you aren’t constantly reinventing the wheel. It’s easy when we’re strapped for time to neglect this step, but it’s key to staying efficient long-term.
5. You’re not alone
As a business owner, it’s easy to feel like you’re on your own. So it’s important to build a network of professional support – and with social media this doesn’t have to be in-person, so it’s easier than ever.
For example, independent public relations and creative professionals have formed strong bonds around the Solo PR Pro LinkedIn group, the weekly  #solopr chat on Twitter each Wednesday (from 1-2 pm ET), as well as a Facebook page. These outlets give new and veteran independent consultants a forum to ask questions, share ideas, and make each other laugh on a regular basis. Regardless of your specialty or business niche, chances are there’s a similar community of professionals out there for you.
These are just a few top sanity-saving tips. What are yours? If you’re an independent business owner, how do you stay focused and productive?

Kellye Crane

Solo PR Pro community founder and blogger Kellye Crane has been a successful independent PR consultant for more than 15 years, and enjoys helping creative professionals interested in independence down this career path. Connect with Kellye at solopr.

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