Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why developing a personal brand is critical in this economy.

Ever since Tom Peters talked about the importance of “brand you” and long before, people have been developing their own personal brands. Whether its celebrity brands of Tiger Woods, Donald Trump or Richard Branson – or perhaps lesser known personal brands of a host of authors, coaches, dancers and songwriters, we know that there is a way to cash in on the success of a personal brand.

For years, actors and actresses have been building their own brands and then renting them out to the director of their next film. That’s what makes the cash registers at the box office ring. But the same approach can be utilized for anyone in the work place. Celebrity or “expert” status can be developed at even the local level by being a person who is well-connected, willing to teach and share, willing to be open.

Authors gain a unique position in the marketplace simply by writing and publishing their thoughts about their expertise or lessons learned. It seems an author can gain almost instant credibility and turn into a sought-after speaker just by getting a book published. Doesn’t even have to be a best seller. But if it does rank on the best-selling lists (which doesn’t always mean it’s a great book), then some level of celebrity status is sure to follow. Just think about J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books – a young, unwed mother determined to write. Or authors like Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield – who were turned down from 134 publishers until they finally found one who would take on the Chicken Soup for the Soul series – which is still going strong, 100 million books later.

Personal brands give a person leverage that didn’t exist before. Not only in the job market, but also in generating passive and residual income. A recording artist makes money each time his or her song is played on the radio or a CD is sold. Both recording artists and authors can make money when they sleep as books and CDs can be purchased from or Barnes & Noble any time day or night, in any country around the world. Not a bad gig. Not everyone has the talent to be a recording artist, but as Bob Proctor says, everyone has a book in them. At least one, perhaps two – or perhaps many more.

But why should YOU work on building YOUR personal brand? I guess the answer to that question is “Why wouldn’t you?” Why wouldn’t you want to strive to be well known in some way? I do believe in the law of attraction but I also believe each of us must take some action in order to attract people, business, money and abundance to us. A personal brand can be started so easily with the use of the social networks that literally someone could be on their way to building their brand in a day. And with a little effort in the evenings – even while watching reruns of House – one could build an internet presence within just a few short weeks.

But certainly that’s not the full answer. Building your own personal brand is critical in this economy because it is like life insurance. It adds a certain level of protection for your income because many people are, for one reason or another, looking for jobs. Or they have jobs but the income isn’t enough to cover their expenses. Or they’re simply not satisfied with either the income they’re making now – or where they are in on their career path.

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine – a very successful and well-educated individual – and he commented that there were points in his professional life that he felt like he has lost his momentum. The adventure in his career wasn’t always there. Have you ever felt like that? I know I have, many times. Many people fall into that same category – the category of “seekers.” Always wanting more. And knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that “more” is out there just around the corner. That they have the potential to do more, to have more and to, most importantly, be more. Can you relate to that?

During the holiday season, people begin planning for the New Year and make their resolutions. I hope that one of the resolutions you make for yourself will be to take your own personal brand to the next level. And then, do what Mark Victor Hansen suggests, “write a list of 101 goals in 20 minutes.” Be aggressive at what you want to achieve – more is possible than what we first believe. And let's not be afraid to define ourselves and share our beliefs, values and hope for the future.
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Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Web 2.0 status: Social networking, blogging and more

I'm definitely making progress on adopting Web 2.0. Slow, but moving forward.

I've chosen LinkedIn, Plaxo and Facebook as my social networks. I use all three because their purposes and applications are different -- and certain groups of my contacts tend to use only one or two of the three. Most of my business contacts use LinkedIn, many traditional network marketing folks use Plaxo (it's been around for a while and started as an online contact management system) and Facebook tends to be used by friends as well as non-traditional business people and entrepreneurs. I use the word "tend" because there are exceptions to all. For example, I have a few contacts that I thought for sure would be on LinkedIn but they're on Facebook instead. Go figure.

I use Twitter for micro-blogging, and added a list of my most recent tweets to my blog. Also use to help me with status updates so I can type it in once not thrice. My blog is registered with Technorati, BlogCatalog and the local RVABlogs, and I've figured out how to ping those sites when I have a new post -- still working on making all the pings automatic, though. And of course, my Blackberry helps me manage the posts and notification emails -- still working on updating my mobile applications -- apparently I need an app called Twitterberry.

Being on the social networks and writing my own blog helps me to much more fully understand the idea that email will be used in a more limited fashion. Connecting with people -- for individuals and businesses -- doesn't happen as much in email. Interaction, and lots of it, takes place on the SN's and Twitter, even for businesses like Starbucks and news magazines. But not everyone is up-to-speed on all this yet -- not even as far a long as I am and I feel pretty behind the times compared to many -- so email will be used for quite some time. Especially for outbound email to your social network contacts, using online software programs such as Emma, Vertical Response or Constant Contact. Customer Relationship Management or CRM as we marketers refer to definitely just got a complete makeover.

I admit I didn't "get" Twitter at first but once I started following some cool people with cool things to say in one or two lines of copy, I realized how fast I could keep abreast of new technology, social networking, relevant links, blogcasts, and news. I can keep up with people that I may never have a chance to meet, like Lance Armstrong or Steve Jobs. And a quick glance at the tweets and that's all that's necessary. My blog is now linked to my social networks so the latest posts appear on my LinkedIn profile, Plaxo and Facebook. Rather than always trying to get people to my blog, there are more ways to bring my blog to them.

LinkedIn has added several new applications which make that social network more robust and interesting although I think they will have to smooth some things out a bit. I added the Amazon read list to my LI profile but what I don't like about it and is different than the widget that appears on my blog is that it doesn't get hooked into Amazon's affiliate marketing program. So I may drop the LI application for that purpose as I seem to be loading in my favorite read list twice. So the only benefit is keeping my name out there because every time I add a book to my LI Amazon read list, it generates that notice for my connections.

LinkedIn also added TripIt so that when I plan a trip to Denver, I can see all the people who live or will be in Denver when I visit there which certainly helps to plan for an effective trip. Great application for sales professionals or to meet up with colleagues at association conferences. I also added Bloglink to my LI profile which not only incorporates my blog for others to see on my profile, but lists all the blogs of my connections for me to see. Because I have so many connections, though, the latter takes forever to load and seems to defeat the purpose. Again, I think LI has to smooth out this app to make it beneficial and helpful.

As for blogs... someone mentioned to me recently that she heard a brand marketing speaker say that blogs are dead. That speaker is short-sighted, in my opinion. While I do agree that you can use social networks and micro-blogging to gain awareness and brand recognition, clients still want to know how you think and what your perspective is on certain issues so that they can choose to identify, agree, disagree, contrast, etc. You have to do things to put the Law of Attraction to work -- know what I mean?!

In addition, if you're interested in earning residual / passive income by using Google ads on your website or blog, you won't get any traffic nor ad clicks if you don't continue to post relevant blog content. Lastly, as I mentioned in a previous post, blogging forces the author to write content in short blurbs (well, long in my case) that can then be used later for online articles, ebooks and books -- all things that can earn the author some online cash. So if you have goals to earn money while you sleep, then blogging is still the way to do that.

While I've come a long way in adopting Web 2.0, I still have many other goals to meet. But I've got a good foundation and platform set for future branding and marketing. And that's worth a lot.
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Monday, November 3, 2008

Blog, blog, blog. What's so cool about it?

There are many reasons why people start their own blog but for those of you who haven't gotten the hang of it yet -- or just think it is too overwhelming -- I'd like to share a few reasons why I blog.

Reason #1: It's healthy.

First, there's the health benefit of the act of writing itself. Yes, writing -- like laughter -- is simply good medicine. Our forefathers wrote in leather bound journals and blogging is simply the modern-day equivalent. In fact, Sandy Grayson has written a book about this type of writing called "Journalution: Journaling to Awaken Your Inner Voice, Heal Your Life and Manifest Your Dreams" if you'd like to read further. Writing can ease the stress and frustration people have as they strive to accomplish goals. Or did you ever have a time in your life where you felt like you just were not being heard? Like no one is really listening? Blogging can certain alleviate those feelings and, at the same time, provide an emotional boost with an overall sense of accomplishment after writing each post. Just think of it as part of your overall wellness plan.

Reason #2: It's the best form of ideating.

Generating ideas, finding solutions to problems or finding new and more effective / efficient ways of doing things are all challenges that people face these days -- in business or in life. Blogging can be a way to get thoughts out of the mind and "on paper" so you can begin to crystalize random ideas into solutions. Or connect two or more ideas into something really innovative. Or to get rid of old ideas so that you can make room for new ones, as if the act of writing somewhat releases the old. Just like the feeling one gets when the closets are all cleaned out and you donate all those old clothes you never wear to charity. New ideas seem to flourish in a mind that isn't saddled with old thinking.

Reason #3: It's a great way to share and teach.

Sometimes people struggle with blog content. I certainly did at first. But I quickly realized that I can easily blog about what I learned that day, or week, or sometime in my past. So I often ask myself "what did I learn today?" And no matter how trivial I sometimes think that lesson is, I often also think "wouldn't that lesson be beneficial to others?" And usually the answer is "yes." Even if one person benefits from the lesson that I've learned, it would be worth it. Besides, didn't people benefit from the writings of our forefathers? Jefferson? Franklin? Of course. So writing in the form of a blog is the same idea. Sharing ideas, spurring discussion, teaching lessons on a range of topics from leadership to jumping rope. What? You don't think jumping rope is beneficial? Just try it for 10 minutes and see what I'm talking about...

Reason #4: Blog content creates ebooks and books.

I talk to lots of people who dream of writing a book someday. I, too, have it on my vision board. But how do you eat an elephant? Yep, one bite at a time. So blogging is a very simple and easy way to write on a certain subject in order to start getting the ideas down for that book. Plus, it creates a writing habit. If you want to author a book, then you have to be disciplined in writing -- it's not going to happen any other way. I mean, you can't win the NY marathon without running, right? And once you have enough content written, the ebook is easy to compile. And once you have the ebook compiled, then the book is within reach because it will then feel doable. And once it's doable, then you'll have to create a new vision board because the old one will have become a reality.

Ok, those are the first 4 reasons why I think blogging is so cool. I have a few more so I'll post Part 2 at a later time. And once I do that, I'll probably have enough content to produce an ebook on why I think blogging is so cool. And I will have finished my first ebook. So you can see just how easy it is. I mean, um, I can see just how easy it is.

So, did this blog help you in any way? Did reading it cause you to think about starting a blog? Or authoring an ebook? If so, then my writing -- in addition to being part of my wellness plan -- accomplished what it was designed to do.

Happy writing.
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