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Personal Branding Tips for Graduates

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In this post, I will provide tips I have learned on personal branding which may be beneficial for graduates looking to “market” themselves into their dream job.

Young people entering the workplace today have far better tools and communication channels at hand then previous generations could ever imagine. Social media and the Internet provide all of us with the ability to connect with millions of people all over the world. However, we all know it’s a double-edge sword, allowing bullying and trolling 24/7, but for this post I am focusing only on the positives of the technologies we have available to us for personal branding.

First off, what is personal branding and why is it important for your career.

Personal branding is all about presenting yourself to the world in the way you want to be seen. You do this to help achieve your goals such as landing the dream role, increasing your earning potential and being thought of as a leader or influencer in your skill-sets.

Graduates are faced with more and more challenges in landing a job, let alone their dream job. Globalization and immigration policies have dramatically increased the number of available candidates per role. Success ultimately comes to those who know how to market themselves above and beyond the competition.

I have broken this post into 4 key sections:

  • Selecting a “home base” online to establish yourself and help grow your personal brand.
  • The importance of networking and connecting – not only online but face-to-face.
  • Content curation as a strategy for being recognized as someone to follow online.
  • Writing your own content to start on the path of being known as an expert.

So, let’s begin!

Choose Your Social Media Platforms Wisely

I think anyone who has invested their time and effort in building and growing a social media profile for business will know it’s never ending and massively time consuming.

For developing your personal brand, it’s even more important that you select the social media platforms that are right for you. It’s a complete waste of time investing all that time and effort building up a social media profile on a platform that will serve you no benefit to your career.

LinkedIn is the social media platform I invest most of my time and effort in for building on my personal brand. All the other social media platforms, some of which I must admit, I am too old to even understand, are not even on my radar. The only other social media platform I invest a little time in is Twitter but solely for content curation (see Content Curation section).

I focus on not polluting my personal social media profiles such as Facebook with business and vice versa. For me, LinkedIn and Twitter are for business and every other platform is for personal use.

Of course, LinkedIn is the number one social media platform for business. If you have not yet created a LinkedIn profile for yourself I suggest you do so ASAP. LinkedIn is the main tool people use to research people and businesses – recruiters will contact me via LinkedIn after reviewing my profile, clients connect with me as well as workmates.

As a graduate your first task on the road to personal branding is to establish a “home base” where people can go to get a complete run down on who you are and what skills you have. The home base should be your CV online. Some people recommend that you to establish a personal blog as the home base either as a static CV or a place to post your content. Personally, I don’t recommend a blog as the initial home base for a number of reasons:

  1. Maintaining a blog can be time-consuming, taking you away from your core objective of brand building. If the blog is hosted on a blogging platform then that adds further complexity in regards to SEO and migrating away from the platform.
  2. Unless you can register the domain name for your full name then there will be additional work required for SEO to help locate your website. Search engines especially Google rank highly personal social media profiles before any other domain where you keep a personal profile. If you are lucky enough to register the domain for your full name I would initially have it redirect to your LinkedIn profile. For example, MarcKrisjanous.com.
  3. Your home base should be where your target “market” is – your target market being people you want to connect with. You would not set up a shop where your target market is not present and it’s the same online. LinkedIn is one of the first places online where people go to conduct research on a person or business – that’s where your home base should be.
  4. Your LinkedIn profile not only represents your online CV but also records the groups you belong to, recommendations from others, information about your connections and your recent activity within LinkedIn. It provides an almost complete picture of your professional life on one page. To replicate this functionality on a blog or another non-social media platform would be difficult.

Networking & Connecting

Once you have established your home base within LinkedIn locate all your student friends and connect with them. Also, connect with all your old lecturers as well because you will then be indirectly connected to their networks which instantly gives you some profiles to look at and possibly connect to (see warning below).

Warning!! Do not randomly connect with people you do not know directly on LinkedIn! Attempting to connect with strangers or someone that does not share common interests is one of the worst things you can do on LinkedIn. If one of your direct connections connects with a person you either know or feel they share a common interest then connect – but make sure in your connection request you explain exactly why you want to connect with them.

The reason why you are connecting with people on LinkedIn is to firstly start networking but also it helps with “social proof” – a term used to denote your networking strength. Think of it this way – people by their very nature tend to be more positive towards someone who is seen to be popular. I will leave it at that because I do not want to distract focus and encourage debate on the pros and cons of “social proof”.

After you have connected with people you know on LinkedIn search for LinkedIn groups that cover your interests including skill-sets, then request to join the group. For example, if marketing is your career path then search for marketing groups, if its IT security then join up to IT security groups.

The most important rule when joining a LinkedIn group or any online community for that matter is to first watch and learn. Don’t bother contributing to the group yet. You should first understand the attitude of the group and the key players. You need to understand the “culture” of the group in order to know what is acceptable to contribute and what is not. As a newbie, you don’t want to upset anyone or be laughed at. Once you have identified the key players in the group introduce yourself and confirm with them the rules for the group. This help show that you are respectful of the groups culture and hopefully one or more of the key players in the group will look after you until you are accepted.

Connecting with people online is an important part of personal brand building however, what really cements a relationship is connecting face-to-face.

Ask your workmates and other peers what professional groups are around that you can join to network with people and learn further. Make sure you commit to attending the meetings and don’t be scared to say hello to the attendees.

Conferences and expos are also a fantastic way to meet people not only the locals but people from further afield. Conferences and expos have industry leading speakers so make sure you introduce yourself at the end of their presentation and then attempt to connect with them via LinkedIn.

Important Tip!! When requesting to connect to someone within LinkedIn, make sure you add a note to the connect request such as how you know the person or why you would like to connect with them. Do not, ever, attempt to connect with someone within LinkedIn without providing a personal note in the connection request. Many influencers will ignore the default connection requests since they receive so many – make it personal and memorable.

Content Curation

Content curation is a newish marketing term, though what it involves has been around forever. The results of the effort are “magical” in the way compound interest works for financial growth – it’s a slow process but overtime the results can be exponential.

For example, my personal Twitter profile is currently at 12.6k followers at the time of writing this post – 95% due to content curation.

Content curation is about locating content that would be of interest to your network and sharing it with them so they may get value from it. The content you locate and share should be from various sources not just you. The content should be of a high standard and from reputable sources.

You can share your own content but I have a rule of a 1-to-19 split, meaning each piece of content I authored and shared with my network I share 19 other pieces of content I did not author. This removes any chance of being thought of by your network as purely self-promoting.

Now, you may feel that content curation appears to be a fantastic way to promote others but ultimately does nothing to help promote your own personal brand – but you would be wrong.

This is where the “magic” really kicks in.

Sharing content created by others has amazing benefits to your personal brand such as:

  1. Sharing content that will provide value to your network overtime has a magical effect where people believe you to be an expert on the topics you share. You may never write a single post in your life but sharing well written and high value content authored by others still makes you out to be an expert!
  2. Most people have at times attempted to contact influential or famous people directly only to have no response. This is where the “magic” of sharing another person’s content starts to work! If the person you are trying to connect with authors content such as blog posts, articles, videos etc… share their content with your network and make sure they are aware of the share. Most social media platforms make it easy for the author to be alerted to the share. Alerting the author of the share has two benefits for you: (1) the author is now aware of you and (2) most of us who receive a favor feel compelled to return the favor at some stage. The action of sharing an author’s post is in my opinion the easiest and most effective way of getting a person to notice you and most of the time, results in a favor to be returned. It may take a few or many shares but ultimately, I have found the sharing strategy works 99% of the time.
  3. Though I do recommend, as part of your personal branding, writing on topics you want to be known as having skills in, you don’t have to. Just sharing other people’s content puts you above most people within social media who are mostly watchers not active participants. One of the major success factors for being known in social media is to be active by contributing to the content stream – sharing content makes you an active participant, and therefore as a direct result, people will notice you.

How to find content to share

One easy strategy for content curation, is to locate influencers within your area of focus and re-share whatever they share that you think would be relevant to your network. Not only does this save you time locating content but it also helps you getting noticed by the influencer.

However, to really ignite the magic of content curation you will need to start seeking out content to share yourself.

Finding content to share online that is of high quality and provides value to your network is not hard – it’s just a matter of finding one useful initial source of content. Overtime that initial source will lead you to other sources of great content.

If you’re stuck locating a website for content try News360.com. The website provides a free service where you can sign-up and select categories of interest. News360 will then locate and display content related to your selected interest categories. The content is sourced from thousands of websites. I have used News360 for years and have located some interesting content and websites through this service. As usual, there is a mobile app, so when you have some free time, maybe while traveling to and from work, browse the latest content News360 has located and if something looks interesting share it with your LinkedIn network.

As a final tip, don’t spam your network with too much content. My rule is to share daily 1-3 pieces of content that is of high interest and value to my network. Therefore, my network knows that when I do share something its worth their while to take a look.

Writing Your Own Content

In my opinion, the most effective way to build your personal brand is to write about topics within your skill-set. There are so many benefits to writing content on a topic that I could write another post solely on that subject.

Writing content to promote a person, business or brand is called “content marketing” and at the time of writing this post it’s a massive focus for the marketing sector. Search for “content marketing” to learn more about the strategies used.

Here are some of the most important benefits:

  1. As a graduate, writing about a topic that is part of your professional skill-set forces you to learn more about the topic and to fill in the gaps of knowledge you have. For example, if you’re focused on marketing as a career, create a list of topics you are interested in and commit to writing a post on each topic. The fact that you will end up publishing the content on the Internet to be read by people with far more knowledge and experience than you, should force you to make sure you have researched thoroughly that your content is correct and based on facts.
  2. Building up a collection of content covering your skill-set and publishing on applicable websites and social media platforms such as LinkedIn super-charges your CV. Your content is proof that you actually know something. Don’t forget, most CV’s are embellished to a certain degree – most recruiters and future employers know that a person’s CV conveys how the person wants to be seen – not what they truly are or know. Your content is proof that what you state in your CV is true.
  3. When you have enough content, you can package the whole lot up and create an eBook that other graduates can read and get value from. The eBook is a major marketing tool for you – its pure power for your personal brand! You will be surprised where the eBook will end up – in the hands of influencers, recruiters, future employers, conference management teams looking for speakers. Oh, and now you are also a publisher – another skill to add to your LinkedIn profile and CV! Then of course there is repurposing your content into different channels but I will leave that up to you to discover.

Get Started – Now!

This post provides a small collection of tips I have learned throughout my professional career to help build my professional brand. As a graduate you are just starting out in your career but it’s never too early to start thinking about your professional brand. Finding a job is not as easy as it used to be, we all know that, so learning how you can promote yourself above the competition is an absolute must.

So, the steps are:

  1. Establish a “home base” on a social media platform where people can find you – I recommend LinkedIn.
  2. Start to get recognized, firstly by connecting with peers and influencers in your professional sector both online and face-to-face.
  3. Share high value content with your network, that starts you on the path to being recognized as someone who is passionate and keen to learn.
  4. Create your own content and share with your network to start on the path as being known as an expert.
  5. Continue to promote yourself – but also promote others you feel have given you value, as people will often return the favor.

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Management

Energy Up: Developing a Healthy, Competitive Work Culture

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Employees are burning out at increasing speeds at work. Work-related stress has increased significantly over the last several years. The stress increase is undoubtedly caused by higher expectations at work, increased work hours, and a toxic competitive culture. How can you, as a business owner, develop a healthy competitive culture that motivates workers and allows them to have a good work-life balance?

Burnout is precisely what employers should always be looking to avoid. A burnt-out employee is one who is stressed, possibly depressed, and of course, exhausted from work. As a business owner, it is essential to identify workers who are suffering from this condition, and the only way to do that is to communicate.

Identifying and Communicate

Sally is generally cheery at the office and brings baked cookies every Friday, yet since the three-weekend project you assigned her, she has not been herself. Sally’s suddenly quiet demeanor would be easy to spot and address, but not all employees manifest their signs the same way.

Burnout manifests itself in many ways, even catching some people by surprise. Before they know it, they are exhausted, cranky, unable to go on. You’ll notice a burnt-out employee will start to miss days at work, the quality of their work will decrease, and they may make mistakes they otherwise would not.

When you approach a burnt-out employee about their behavior, be sure to do it carefully as there can be varying reactions. While most will be happy to discuss their exhaustion and find solutions together, others may become angry by the assumption and flat out deny it. Being understanding is a top priority because it opens the door for answers.

Solutions to Burnout

Finding solutions to avoid potential burnout in your employees comes down to thinking proactively. You want to be sure that you can create an environment that is productive and competitive without asking too much of your employees. Below you will find some tested strategies to increase productivity without causing burnout.

Schedule Appropriately 

It can be easy to lose track of scheduling when assigning projects. If you yourself are juggling various projects at a time, you may be inclined to attribute as many to your employees. Everyone works at a different pace, and everyone demands a different level of attention. If you create a schedule based on the needs of your current team and consider the capabilities in each person, soon you will have a productive and competitive environment.

Provide Incentives

Everybody needs incentives; it is just the way that humans work. By pushing performance-based contests, you can have your employees eager to work on the projects you are assigning. A reward system can ease stress because it gives the employee a clear sense of what they are working towards and a goal to be reached. Incentives can help you eliminate burnout at work while harvesting healthy competition.

Communicate Properly

Once again, we return to communication. By leaving your office door open, you are letting your employees know that they can come to you with any concerns they may have. When employees know they can communicate with their supervisor, they are far more likely to work diligently and voice any concerns along the way so that they can be addressed right away. Open and eager communication is an excellent way of fostering a healthy work environment.

Provide Resources

Make work not only fun but also productive by providing your employees with all the tools they need to succeed. Clear outlines, reliable resources, and constant updates can help your team be in the loop of what is happening at the company. When an employee understands the mechanics of the workplace, he or she is less likely to suffer from stress and feel like a more valued part of the process.

A Positive Environment

Last but not least, a positive environment can make a world of difference at work. You and your employees should all have a can-do attitude to succeed. Why is this attitude so important? A can-do attitude is essential because positive thoughts help the brain release endorphins, thus reducing stress and boosting concentration. A group effort can take a team a long way, and it is up to you to make the necessary changes to promote it.

If Burnout Does Happen

Against your best efforts, burnout is still likely to happen. You can’t control how much your employees choose to work outside of the office, so it is inevitable that an overachiever will hit a wall. When this does happen, it is important to approach the situation respectfully and humanely.

Remember that even if you did your best to prevent this, the current situation is what’s important, and they are a human before they are your employee. Try to put yourself in their shoes and think about the internal conflict they must feel like an overachiever having to force themselves to take a break.

It probably feels totally wrong and foreign to them, but it is important that you convey that they will perform better after they give themselves a break, and will be even more productive. Once your employees see you taking the steps to care for their colleague like this, they will be comfortable approaching you in the future if it happens to them.

The burnout might come with terrible timing – right before quarter close, the holidays, the beginning of the year – so it would be important at that point to discuss a scaled-back version of their role. A total break might not be feasible immediately, but emphasizing that a break will come soon can give them a light at the end of the tunnel.

Burnout No More

If you follow some of the tips listed here, you will find that harvesting a healthy competitive environment at work is not as difficult as it seems. Everything comes down to finding a balance and managing correctly. Remember that your employees look up to you and seek your guidance. Creating an environment where everyone can thrive is as simple as promoting an open and collaborative space.

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Management

Do’s and Don’ts When Taking Business Headshots

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Whether you’re in Phoenix, AZ, or anywhere in the world, corporate headshots, or “business headshots,” are one of the essential elements of a business profile. Whether you’re at a start-up company or a business empire – there is always a need to use business headshots.

Different companies in Phoenix use this business tool to promote or direct a client into giving in to what the business produces. However, there is more to these headshots that matter.

Why are business headshots important? Business headshots in Phoenix are a glance of what the business is. Approachability and trust can be attained with the help of photographers that provide business headshots Phoenix. The professionalism of an individual or company will be the first thing a person will think just by looking at a business headshot.

Do’s and Don’ts

As powerful as it is, using business headshots is tricky. There are the do’s and don’ts in using a simple but technical headshot. Phoenix has a wide variety of corporate studio that provides excellent business headshot services. Most of these are their shared preference for taking the best headshot:

1. Dress appropriately for what the business promotes

First of all, dress accordingly to what the industry is associated with. It’s not about how formal or casual the outfit is. It is in the business’ description of what should be worn appropriately.

Most local photographers in your area may be able to provide props and business clothes. If your company is operating in Phoenix, you can look for expert photographers for business headshots Phoenix. There’s no need to look far, as local photographers will help you save on cost and effort.

2. Do wear a solid color outfit

The color of the outfit is also critical in terms of impression. Taking a solid color or minimal-toned outfit is considered as the best for business headshots.

3. Do focus and look into the lens

It is essential to always look into the lens. Make your best professional face impression, and remember to look into the lens, as if you are looking to someone. This will build trust in anyone who takes a look at the image. Focusing on the eye also gives confidence to both you and the business you are collaborating with.

4. Do pose in different profiles

Try to give a front, left, or right profile. Take the best shot on a profile you are confident with. This will provide multiple options, and you can go with the pattern that you think looks the best.

5. Don’t over-accessorize

Abstain from wearing any accessories as this divides attention. If you want to accessorize, make sure that it will fit in the color tone of the outfit that you will put on. It isn’t the accessories that will signify who you are.

6. Don’t wear an uncomfortable outfit

As mentioned before, wearing any outfit is okay as long as it is based on what the business represents. Whether you are comfortable wearing it matters as well. Comfort translates confidence, and it will positively reflect on the photo.

7. Don’t use old headshots

Refresh headshots. Most of the best studios in Phoenix recommend this critical factor. Updated headshots will reflect on what you are at the moment. This will develop a permanent professional bond for a business or an individual to other people or clients.

Make Your Best Business Headshot Shine

A business headshot is one critical factor when it comes to collaboration. This will not only reflect on yourself but also the business you represent. Therefore, remember to deliver the best business headshots.

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Management

Implementing a Solid Feedback Culture in the Workplace

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A research survey published in the Harvard Business Review said that more than 7 in 10 employees surveyed believed that their productivity suffers due to the lack of feedback. Surprisingly enough, employees are more than willing to get what may be construed as negative feedback than false praise.

These days, the term feedback has lost its luster because it’s been used to describe a remark, comment, or opinion. However, as a mechanism, feedback is very crucial to determine the strengths and weaknesses of an organization, employee satisfaction, as well as the gaps in the processes.

Institutionalizing Feedback in the Workplace

Successful organizations have long known the importance of employee feedback to make sure that everybody’s still on-board with the vision.

Nobody should be spared from criticism, even the CEO and top managers. This is the only way they can gain a new perspective about themselves as leaders and the type of leadership they deliver.

Quick Tips for implementing a feedback system

Here’s a list of tips that can help you integrate the feedback system at your workplace.

  1. Harness technology. One useful tool is the 360 Feedback. The tool is designed to get the most out of the answers from a series of controlled questions. The best part is that the results are anonymous, so employees can really speak their minds.
  2. Framing the right questions. The answers, of course, will depend on how you frame your questions. This is crucial because you might have false results because the questions are vague. Focus group discussions will help give you an idea about the core issues hounding the organization. Going back to 360 Feedback, the company behind it has extensive experience running surveys, so each question is assessed and reassessed on whether it achieves the desired purpose.
  3. Train employees on giving feedback. One thing that holds an employee back is the fear about how they are going to be perceived for being honest. This tendency to be compliant is ingrained in employees right from the moment they start working at different organizations. It’s hard to break that habit. In this case, the company should guide the workers on how to give feedback within the system employed by the organization.
  4. Guarantee no reprisals. Some supervisors can be petty, and any negative comments can be taken in a bad light. Everybody should understand that any sort of feedback should be welcomed so people working in the organization can improve themselves as employees, colleagues, and contributors to the company. With that said, anonymous systems like 360 Feedback will really open the floodgates of honest opinions devoid of a filter.
  5. Set clear parameters. Feedback without action is useless. Once the employees see that their feedback generated a positive change in the company, they would be more willing to give their opinions in the future. Management should guarantee that each feedback will be evaluated and vetted, and suggestions will be adopted as long as they’re good for the company in the long run.

Implementing a feedback mechanism is not easy. There are many ways on how to go about it, and you can expect some hiccups at the outset. Nevertheless, it’s one good way to help the organization assess itself through the eyes of its employees. But the benefits generated depend completely on whether the company would want to bring about changes with the help of the feedback.

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