Entrepreneurs! I need your help!

This year I decided to start the year by giving something back. Last year was an amazing one for me with the birth of my little daughter, and I wanted to pass it on. So, in this age of austerity and cuts, I pulled together a package specifically designed to help those who are facing redundancy and decided to give one of these packages away to someone for FREE.

My package aims to help people figure who they are, re-build their confidence and equip them with the skills to go out there and find work. As far as I’m concerned there are opportunities everywhere, but it takes a shift in mindset to spot them. And it takes the right skills and tools, not to mention confidence! If you want to read more about what the package includes you can read all about my Redundancy Rescue service right here.

To find someone to give this to I used Twitter, Facebook and my database of newsletter subscribers to spread the word. I’ve now started getting some responses in and this is the bit I hadn’t counted on. As I read through the applications, I’m quickly realising that I’m going to find it really hard to pick just one person. I decided that I needed to get some funding to pay for everyone to benefit from this. I couldn’t do it ALL for free – I have a little mouth to feed!

I shared this on Twitter and someone prompted me to contact Job Centre Plus. As someone who’s been on the receiving end of JCP I knew that wouldn’t lead to much so I thought I’d email my MP, Chris Leslie, instead. I’m not sure what sort of response I’ll get…

But then I was amazed by a response I received: someone has offered to match my offer so that I can pick 2! This got me thinking… It’s not my MP or Job Centre Plus that’s going to get this country going again, it’s the private sector, and that’s where I need to go to find funding. And that’s what I’m asking YOU for.

I’m looking for donations to fund those people who’ve already applied to get the freebie. If you can spare £1500 that would help one person. So far I’ve received 6 applications and 2 are already covered (me and one other generous offer), so I need £6,000.

Have a read of some of the snippets below and you’ll understand why I’m going to find it so hard to pick just one.

“I have been unemployed for about a year now, which has been tough….. it can be really difficult when you are going through a time of change not knowing the steps to take, and I really feel I could benefit from the support.”

“I have three jobs at the moment to make things meet, but my main job will be gone in March due to funding. I seem to float from job to job for necessity rather than for a chosen reason….. I have never had the money, time or opportunity to gather together all that I have and offer it out appropriately and successfully”

“I am desperately worried about how to survive financially. I love working, and I have only had two interviews in 7 months. I have tried solidly for that time to be proactive, write letters, register with agencies, write my business plan, and I have done all that but somehow it’s not hinging together. I have no idea why. I need some serious help building a strategy, and while I completely value the idea of that help, I simply can’t afford to seek it”

“The timing of this has left me emotionally battered and made decision-making about my career exceptionally difficult during the redundancy process… I am completely lost as to my passion, skills, strengths. What am I good at? It must be something! And how can I expect others to realise my strengths if I can’t?…”

I want to help to inspire these people to find what it takes to get them working again, in whatever form that is for them. So, if you want to do your bit and help them too, then help me to help them!

Thank you!

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Why is personal branding suddenly all the rage?

I’ve kicked off the year with the first of my Video Q&A’s. I’d like to try and find a better name for them but for now, Q&A’s will do because basically that’s what they are. You ask me a question and I answer on video for you. So, if you have any questions on Personal Branding that you would like me to answer, then just get in touch!

The first question I’m going to answer is one that I get a lot at my workshops “Why is Personal Branding all the rage?”. Here’s my answer:

Let me know what you think! And remember to let me have your questions!

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Is personal branding a fad?

This question “Is personal branding a fad?” came up on Quora recently so I thought I’d give my view which I’m happy to share here.

The term personal branding may be relatively new, but the concept has been around much longer. There is some misconception that personal branding is all about the hard sell and this is where the term gets a bad name (Obnoxious?). The reality is that we’re ALWAYS selling ourselves. Selling in this sense means trying to influence others to buy us / believe us / like us / hire us etc.

What’s changed is the environment in which we’re now able to do that. And it’s this that is forcing us to be much clearer as to how we choose to define ourselves. Before, it was adequate to merely be mindful as to how we presented ourselves in the flesh. This kept it pretty simple, as long as we dressed and spoke consistently in line with our image of ourselves and what we wanted to project, that was fine. But now we can present ourselves online in endless ways - blogs, personal sites, YouTube etc. And it is because of the extensive possibilities of online presences that we need to think a bit harder about what we want to say about ourselves. We cannot escape the harsh reality of earning cash. Nor can we escape the fact that we are all naturally nosey. So, if we are presented with the opportunity of possibly working with someone (hiring them, buying their stuff etc), we are going to seek out information about them. Just as we would before purchasing a product. Hence the need to be clear as to what you want to say about yourself and to present that consistently. We know from the world of corporate brands that to be bought you need to build trust, and this is done through communicating a consistent message and delivering upon a promise consistently. So it’s no surprise that people are now adopting these practices. Let’s not forget the fact that the world is more competitive in terms of jobs, and those that have grasped this are those that are getting the work. So, it will soon be a neccessity for the majority if they want to keep up.

So, to answer the question, no it’s not fad. At least the concept isn’t. It’s here to stay.

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Storytelling and your personal brand

We all love a good story don’t we? That’s because we are hardwired to tell stories. Did you know that 70% of everything we learn is through stories? Such is the power of storytelling.

If you want your personal brand to have impact, a great way to achieve that is to wrap it up in a story. All great brands have stories. A great story can be engaging and memorable. If you want a strong personal brand, you’d better get yourself a great story. So, what’s your story?

“But what am I going to do with a story?”

Think of your story as your personal pitch or your elevator pitch. So, in the same way that you would use those, you story is a great thing to share with people that you meet. It’s a great way to get a conversation going. And conversations are the beginning of great connections and relationships. And who doesn’t want one of those?

I strongly believe that there are a lot of missed opportunities out there when people meet each other and they are asked to describe themselves or what they do. Mike Brown tackles this in his post “Personal Branding Decision – how do you describe yourself?”

In my view, too many people choose to identify themselves through their job title. Seriously. You are MORE than your job! There must be so many things that you’ve done with your life that you could share other than your job title. It’s do devaluing. How can you stand out and be remembered when you used a job title to describe yourself. A job title that zillions of other people have. You’ve just put yourself in a box! What a lot of people don’t realise is that when they’re asked the question “and, what do you do?” the asker doesn’t actually want to hear the answer. They’re just trying to make conversation. So it’s your job to create the platform on which that conversation can flourish. And while you’re at it, why not make it a memorable one?

On January 25th I will be giving a talk on Storytelling and your Personal Brand at the Personal Branding UK meetup. I will share my ideas on how storytelling can be used to enhance your personal brand and what I believe are the key ingredients for a great personal story.

I will also be running some “What’s your Story?” workshops in London and Nottingham in February and March. Details will be launched very soon.

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