Breaking Best Practice as Brand Building

If you follow me on Facebook or have seen me speak, you know I like to share lessons in best practice and typical “dos and don’ts” around using social media successfully. One topic I find very important is the use of photos in social media profiles.

Too many people still do not have a picture of themselves on their LinkedIn profile, and it really is of utmost importance these days. More than likely, if you don’t have a photo, the viewer who found you will move onto the next profile if they can’t see your smiling face along with all those great credentials.

So, what if you can’t afford a professional headshot? Well, you really don’t need to hire a professional photographer. I’m sure you already know how easy it is these days to get a professional looking picture in a relevant setting with your mobile device. Make sure you have great lighting, and you can easily get a usable headshot. You want to avoid the following:

1. Using a picture where you look great but your ex’s elbow or shoulder is still making an appearance.

2. Using a picture so outdated when a prospect meets you, they aren’t sure it is you.

3. Party pictures including beverages, bar backgrounds or other people.

4. Vacation pictures or other images that may be featuring a beautiful background instead of you as the feature.

5. Animals, unless you are in the pet industry.

But wait- what about exceptions to the rule?

Absolutely! I was recently working with a client and her story of earning business from someone who found her online was a great example of why breaking best practice can sometimes be a brand booster.

Libby Proctor, Acupuncturist and owner of Azara Health and Wellness was very excited to share news that a new client had found her via a Google search.

When she asked what stood out to him when selecting her, he said that in addition to her story and experience, her picture looked very warm, welcoming, and that he was a dog lover. He appreciated that her photo also showcased her love for dogs.

So, does this warrant “breaking the rules”? I think so! Your brand is a reflection of you as a person as well as a business owner. What characteristics of your personality will engage your target audience and provide rapport builders to those who will be excited about working with you?

Relevance is important. Libby also knows how beneficial the pets in your life can be to your mental and emotional well being. She also can speak to Traditional Chinese Medicine as an alternative to heal the little furry loved ones in your life when in need.

So, go ahead and break the rules! Just make sure it is done in good taste, with relevance, and in a way that represents your brand.

How do I Find my Own LinkedIn Activity?

After my latest LinkedIn training class via Dabble, I was happy to see that my students were picking up their activity by doing status updates! I love to see people implement their new ideas.

Next, came the question- where do I see my own LinkedIn activity? Great question! We are used to seeing the LinkedIn activity of our connections going by on our feed, but what if we want to see a trail of our own? Below is my response to that question captured with a screenshot.

Note that you will not only see your latest status updates, but your most recent activity that your connections may have seen on their newsfeed. So this will include status updates you have liked, commented on, shared, new connections & profile updates you have made, etc. Have any other questions like this? Click below and share in the comments of the Facebook post!

Post by Soaring Solutions, LLC.

LinkedIn Media Links are Live! Or Coming To Your Profile Soon

In the latest LinkedIn release, you can now add media links: files, images AND video, to your profile, under each segment. The caveat: If you had media on your profile before, you have the ability to use this now. If you did not have media on your profile before, you may not have had this portion of the update rolled out to you yet. Don’t fret, LinkedIn has you on the radar!

Feel free to take a look at my profile for examples of media in both the summary and experience sections. Here is a quick snapshot- while in Profile Edit mode, look for that square button in the middle. Once there, just add the URLs to your media rich content, and you’ve got a savvy profile featuring your great works and insights!

I’ll be sharing a how-to video on my membership site shortly!

New Standards for Stakeholder Communications with Social Media

Even before the days of social media (dreadful times…)  I remember receiving quarterly reports for a corporation I worked for or held stock in.  Often times having part in their creation, I still had no desire to sit and read through all the boring details, especially if next to me sat a periodical of like size called “Runner’s World” or “Wired” (yep, it actually started in 1993, when we were a bit less wired).

Why the nostalgia?  Today I enjoyed how LinkedIn accompanied the release of it’s quarterly financial results.  An executive summary, key stats, in an interactive forum.  That forum was Twitter.

Considering the technographics of your audience, what are your emerging leaders, the future C levels of your organization, and other stakeholders going to tend toward to gather these stats?  A mailed document, a PDF download, a press release? Or the social network of their choice?

Sure there are regulations and varied ranges of audience to consider in such financial reporting, but also consider how you can get creative to communicate with people where they already are.  Many businesses are working their strategic plans for the coming year right now.  Great time to include your CFO and Financial team in your communications and social media strategy! 

Social Media: Your Business’ Economic Stimulus Package

When business building & networking, pretty much daily the question comes up, ‘Why do you do what you do?’ Before digging deeper, there are many common responses:

1. I have a strong skill set here and a lot of value to add to growing businesses.
2. I find this work fun & fulfilling, let me take the load off for others who don’t enjoy it so they can focus on their core genius.
3. There is a huge need here I am honored and thrilled to be able to fill it.  And the list goes on… 

In a coaching session with the fabulous Harriet DiCerbo of Mosaic Path, her line of questioning took me further, and allowed me to say something I normally would have felt immodest or arrogant saying, so it took a while to spit out, but dammit, it’s true! “I want to, and believe I can help stimulate the economy via social media!”

Econ_jscreationzs

What?- Lil ol me, stimulate the economy? But why not? Why not all of us? We all have great business knowledge to share with others. Knowledge is infinite, meanwhile, most of us only have access to 10% of our brain. Something you find simple and basic could be someone else’s enlightening moment and vice versa. Don’t discount yourself.
So how can you use social media to stimulate the economy and your business or career? 

1. Times are tough, budgets are strapped (not one of those enlightening tidbits, I know). A small investment in social media strategy and education will facilitate the ongoing use of tools that are free. Your recurring cost can be limited to only time. It shocks me how many businesses still take out classifieds, TV ads, radio ads; advertising the majority of the population simply tunes out. Save excess funds, allocate a smaller portion to social media education, and then run with your new model on a budget while capturing more business!  Not to discount those modalities completely, but track metrics to see what is truly bringing you ROI.

2. Sadly, I see local brick and mortars pop up quickly, only to find the storefront is up for lease again shortly thereafter. Many watch bottom line by not advertising, but as I frequently & cheesily reference- “If you build it, they will not necessarily come.” (Even if you believe they will, in the movie, they were ghosts. Ghosts don’t make good customers, they scare the real ones away & don’t buy stuff.)
Social media lets people know you are there. A small investment gives you a way to establish brand awareness. At the very least, get your Google Profile completed, claim your Google Place, and put yourself on the virtual map. It’s free!

3. Businesses are cutting back by not attending or postponing trade shows and conferences. This drastically impacts the goals of a sales team who may normally rely on these events to fill their pipeline, earn commissions, thus feeding their family & paying their mortgage. Seeing a company make this decision, and then seeing same company has no presence on LinkedIn literally saddens me. When used to its fullest, proactively, and with proper etiquette, you will see your pipeline grow and sales soar. As a side bonus, your cold calling can head to the grave. Even those cold calling for 20 years tell me it is still the most dreaded part of their day.

4. While we are on the topic of trade shows and conferences, did you know Twitter allows you to be a fly on the virtual wall? Don’t get pissed at your boss for keeping you at your desk; surprise them by saying~ “Cool! No problem! I’ll attend free from my desk!” Find the Hashtag and join the Twitter stream. The July eWomen Network Conference in Dallas used #eWN2011, and is still going strong weeks later. Several tools allow you to follow hashtags, archive and save them. You can meet people, learn from speaker sessions, engage and do business.

5. Are you job hunting and using Monster.com or Careerbuilder.com exclusively? To those of you also deep sighing with an eye roll, I know…. it shocks me how many think this is still the way to go. These jobs are already stale and likely have spent quality time already on LinkedIn. They probably are already down to the final 3 candidates and have it out there just in case they all get hit by a bus. If you aren’t on LinkedIn maximizing your profile and connections, while exercising caution on your other social profiles like Facebook & Twitter, you better believe that other candidates have both legs, and arms, up on you.

Daily I encounter entrepreneurs and business owners who are simply not yet aware of the power of these tools, or the current state of the technology. In many cases people simply feel overwhelmed by getting started, understandably so! Just pick one thing, start slow, and as Nike says “Just Do It”! It’s better to start getting a toe wet slowly than to keep it forever in your Nike.

Considering the power in these few tools, and how many more are available, I look back and think, “Yes, the more people I can show how to do this, the more people get jobs, the more businesses get business & create brand evangelists, I am stimulating the economy!” And it’s fun too. That’s pretty cool!

  • Graphics courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net | jscreationzs

Marketing Focus: What the Hell do you do Anyway?

 

Have you ever walked by a storefront and stopped to look curiously because you couldn’t quite figure out what it was? This happened today as I noticed a new storefront on Chicago Avenue. At first glance I considered stopping in to check it out; I saw album covers and things of other like interest on display. Then as I looked up, the signage said “Mr. Ping Pong Table” and listed other related products.

As my eyes glanced to the right, a big sign also said “U-Haul rental here!” Interesting, I thought, is this to bring home your new ping-pong table? It didn’t stop there– as I took my line of sight back to street view, I saw a flower display in the right window. Yes, more varied signage indicating that “Mr. Ping Pong” is also “Mr. Flower”.   What?!?   I walked away confused, and thus my brain began blogging.

The same thing happens with website traffic, but much more quickly. I will be the first to say I am guilty of scattered focus and delayed update. Much like the copywriter who’s own blog is old because they are too busy blogging for clients, or the web designer with a site that has been static for 6 years, or the fitness instructor who doesn’t stretch or foam roll (that’s for you Hope of ‘Hope and Piece’) as she advises her students to. (Guilty as charged, yet again.) 

So, as I am working on my own gaps noted above, I ask you all to consider the same.

  • How long has it been since you updated your website? (This also helps keep fresh with search engines)
  • When did you last tweak your social media platform bios and information?
  • Is your LinkedIn profile up to date?  Are your specialties all covered with relevant key words?
  • What about any other traditional or online marketing material positioning your business services?
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to solid peers, ask them to look at your site and summarize back to you what it says you do.  It could be very enlightening!

We are always growing and evolving, personally and professionally. Time can fly very quickly before we realize that what we project online (or offline), is not accurately reflecting our most recent and relevant value proposition, niche focus, and business service offerings.

This is not to say you shouldn’t share your many other sides, but draw your audience in with your most engaging, specialty focus first. Kind of like a date… Then as they get to know you and your business offering, they will be more inclined to stick around and hear about all of those other great things you have in your back pocket and can support them with as well.

In the meantime, if you need a place to buy flowers to put on your new ping-pong table while listening to your new record albums, after you’ve driven them all home in a U-Haul, I know a place…

PS (can you ps in a blog?)  I did Google this store, and found that online, their message is very focused,   If the same could be done to the store front, perhaps more foot traffic will be encouraged!  If I’m going to use a local store as an example, the least I can do is give them a little plug.  I’m all about supporting your local small biz 🙂