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.

No Comments

Hey job seeker! It’s not about the CV stupid!

The world of job search has changed. This might seem pretty obvious, but a scary few haven’t quite noticed. Not only has job search changed, but it’s been completely and utterly transformed into something entirely new.

It’s these same people who when they join linked in, think that it’s sufficient to merely input their company and job title. And possibly, their responsibilities. But that’s OK, they have a job. They’ll sort it out once they need to find a new one. Oh please! Wake up and smell the coffee! Are you serious?! You’re not going to get a job if you can’t be bothered to make an effort. All the time. Whenever you do get round to looking for work, the first thing recruiters are going to do is Google you. And putting positive content online is not an overnight process.

In case you haven’t heard there are a shed load of people just like you looking for work. You might be unemployed or, or on the verge of redundancy, or maybe just bored of being treated like crap in your current job. Whichever it is, if you want to find work, you’re going to have to make an effort.

OK, so you think you have. You think you’ve done a pretty good job with your LinkedIn profile. After all, your CV has been perfectly re-created in the LinkedIn environment. You struggled a bit with the summary, but other than that, you’ve managed to fill it out quite nicely. Well, I hate to break to you, but you’ll never get that time back.

Now some of you are probably thinking “No! Hang on a minute! My summary rocks! I spent ages writing that – it’s awesome!” Well I’d like to invite you for a moment to see if you have included any of these words in your LinkedIn profile

~ Extensive experience ~ Innovative ~ Motivated ~ Results oriented ~ Dynamic ~

~ Proven track record ~ Team player ~ Fast-paced ~ Problem solver ~ Entrepreneurial ~

Well, have you? Did you check?

If you did, punch yourself. These phrases are the top 10 most used phrases in LinkedIn profiles. And that means that they are meaningless. Meaningless because every other lemming is using them which means you all look the same. And if you all look the same, you don’t stand out. And if you don’t stand out you don’t get picked. You don’t get picked you don’t get the job. Got it? So, if this is you, you need to overhaul your profile.

I know. I’m beginning to sound a bit harsh. But, life’s like that. Right now it’s competitive out there and if you want to stand out you need to start taking notice of the best ways of doing that. And to start with that means that you need to ditch the idea of a CV and think more along the lines of a marketing campaign. What’s your headline? What value do you add in a team? What can you be relied upon time and time again? For those familiar with marketing, you’ll notice how all these things are pieces of a brand. Yup! You need to start thinking about YOUR personal brand. And every good brand needs a good story.

So what’s your story?

If you can tell your story in an interesting, compelling and engaging way then you’re more likely to stand out. You want to know why? We all love a good story. Stories engage on an emotional level in a way that dry facts don’t. Coming up with your story isn’t a quick process. A great story will help to communicate your values, what you’re great at, who you do great stuff for and what you’re aiming for. When you have a great story you’ve then got the beginnings of what you need to stand out both online and offline.

If you want help transforming your online profile, there’s a great product that can help you do that. It was developed by @walterakana and @carolross .

If this piece has inspired you to sort out your LinkedIn profile, that’s great. But before you do, you might want to see what other people are doing out there to get a job. Like Kyle. Hopefully, you’ll realise how much the job search game has changed. And how much more you need to be doing to stand out and get chosen.

If you would like to receive articles and tips on personal branding then you can sign up to my newsletter. There’s a FREE 9-page guide to your personal brand waiting for you if you do.

1 Comment

What’s authenticity got to do with onions?

We’re a lot more like onions than you think. Yes. Really.

If you’ve recently started working for yourself, one of the challenges you’re likely to come across is finding your true voice, your authentic self. Connecting to who you really are and what you really want is not always a straightforward process. One thing I have realised working with my clients is that the people that find it the hardest are those that were working in corporate environments that didn’t encourage them to be themselves. They’d spent so long trying to change who they were to fit in that they lost site of who they really are. This might have been because the organisational values and theirs were not aligned, or maybe they were doing a job that didn’t fulfil them or make use of their talents and strengths. Whatever the reason, once you’re free of the corporate machine you’re next biggest task is to do decide what to do next. And in doing so you’ll need to define yourself. In other words; develop your personal brand.

In making your next move, the chances are that you’ll use the online space to do so. Whether it’s on LinkedIn, ecademy or if you end up with your own site or blog. If you’re going to present yourself online, you’re going to need to make a call as to how you want to appear and what you want to say about yourself. That’s in addition to being clear about what you’re trying to achieve so that you know who you’re trying to talk to.

So, back to onions… like onions, when we’re an employee in a hostile environment we develop a thick skin to protect ourselves. It protects us nicely from the dirt that surrounds us; you know the politics, the falsities and all the other corporate BS. Then, when we get plucked free, the bit that people really want is the juicy fleshy bit. But to get to that, we need to shed a few layers first. How many layers will depend on how hostile corporate life was. Over to you Shrek…

Shedding these layers can take quite some time. I know personally, it took me well over a year to find my true voice. And believe me, the journey isn’t over!

The thing is, once you’re well on the way to finding your story you are blessed with the ability to really carve out a niche for yourself. Because in discovering your authentic self comes with it a renewed sense of confidence. This confidence enables you to inject your personality into what you do in a way that you’ve not done before. And once you get to do that, you’re on the road to uniqueness. The one thing that you can be sure of is that no-one else has got your personality. So, no matter what you end up doing for a living, if you do it YOUR way, then you will be unique and stand out from others. One of my favourite examples of this is Danielle LaPorte of White Hot Truth

Once you do this you will naturally attract others with similar values to you, which means you’ll probably enjoy working and being with them. And when you get to that, work doesn’t feel like work. And that my friend is success!

1 Comment

Choosing a name. Would you choose yours?

I came across an article today saying that parents-to-be in the States are hiring baby-namers to come up with baby names for their new arrival. For the princely sum of $350 they get “…a baby naming consultation that includes phone interviews and packets of name options with name histories, linguistic origins and personality traits.” Wow! All stuff you can find online, but when they put it like that….

As a parent-to-be myself I can’t help be interested in an article like this. But it is in my capacity as a personal brand coach that I’m really interested. After all, people’s names are their brand names. And, a brand name is the beginning of a conversation: a great brand name means that a great conversation follows which inevitably leads to a deeper level of engagement and a slight chance of making it into the memorable brigade.

As someone with a great name (if I do say so myself!), I can testify to the benefits of having a name that can be the beginnings of many an interesting conversation. I usually get “Ooh, that’s a pretty name. Where is it from?” And, coupled with the fact that I don’t look terribly British, this can quickly be followed by “Are you Greek?” At this point, I may have been known to delight in sharing my mixed breed of a background that takes in France, Wales, England & Eastern Europe. As we sail past the initial moment of awkwardness, the conversation then picks up momentum and direction and we inevitably journey onto a flurry of great moments and exchanges.

So, for me the idea of choosing a name for my baby, I can’t help but think of the ramifications of getting it right, or heaven forbid, wrong! From my days in corporate branding, I know that when we were picking new brand names, we had to be very clear as to what we were trying to achieve with the brand (our goals & objectives). We also had to be clear as to who our target audience was so that the name appealed to them. And, who we were competing with, so that we knew how to stand out. And to help us out, we would often hire external agencies to help us with this erroneous task. Now, this is all great branding stuff, but nonetheless very important when creating a brand for maximum success.

But tell me, how do you do this for a little person who hasn’t yet decided what their goals and aspirations are? Or indeed who they’re competing with (perish the thought!). It’s like putting the cart before the horse.

For now I think I’m going to follow in my parents footsteps and pick a name that makes a great conversation starter and gives them a story to tell. And combining my background with that of my Maltese partner, there should be plenty for them to talk about!

Unless you guys have any suggestions… I’d be pleased to hear them… they say I might be having a girl!

1 Comment

How social media can help your personal brand

Here is an article I wrote as guest blogger for Smarta.com that you can find here.

Let me ask you this: when people ask you what you do, do you have a response that is clear, compelling and engaging? How you answer this question is a key part of your personal brand. It’s your story and should help you to be memorable and stand out, so that people know who you are and what you stand for. After all, we all know that the best form of marketing is word-of-mouth, and what better way than to inspire others to share your story. When you do this right, it won’t be too long before you hear the words “Oh yes! I’ve heard of you”.

Your personal brand is a combination of many things: how you present yourself and engage with others, your past results and achievements, your values and strengths, your goals and ambitions and what you’re known for. Developing and refining your brand takes time and effort, as it is crucial for your brand to be authentic and YOU. Anything else will be sniffed out. But overarching all this is the need for consistency. All strong brands can be relied to deliver upon their promises, consistently. And this is something that you need to think about.

Having a clear personal brand will not only improve your confidence in yourself. You will be able to attract investment more easily. As your profile improves, potential investors will hear about you and know whether or not you’re the sort of person they want to invest in. You are also more likely to attract the right staff for your business. Your personal brand and your business brand will be very closely linked, and your actions should be driven by your core values. As such, when you communicate your values through what you do, those people with similar values will be attracted to you. Of course, the same goes for attracting customers!

Social media is a great way of enhancing your personal brand. In this digital age, it is most likely that people will first come across you online. If not, they will certainly Google you after meeting you. So how your present yourself in the digital space needs to be consistent with your brand. Personal websites, blogging and active social network participation can all contribute to a strong online presence. But, don’t forget to show people the real you. After all, people do business with people. Twitter is a great way for showing your human side as well as engaging and forming new connections. It can be too easy to be “professional” and this can sometimes come across as cold and distant, not to mention boring.

So, what are you going to do today to enhance your personal brand?

No Comments