In case you can’t already tell, I wanted to start with some shout outs. Give credit where credit is due. I’ve been plugged into AIMA for a couple of years now, thanks to Jen and some the guys above, and have grown to really like this community. Adam, Joe and Jen were pivotal in my professional development and ultimately choosing digital marketing as my career. Jen introduced me to Joe and Adam, who volunteered their time to talk social/digital with me, and next thing you know I’m a Cox intern. Feels like years ago already, just wanted to say that I’m thankful for everyone’s time and advice along the way.
Enough with the history, back to personal branding. The discussion began around 8:30am after some brief networking and Christophe’s breakfast, when everyone was comfortably seated and ready to learn.
Jen opened with the simplest of questions: So, what is a personal brand?
Teresa: Your personal brand is your reputation. You have to own it. And, in her case, she’s tough but fair–not bad!
Adam: Your personal brand is what people say when you’re not in the room.
Joe: Your personal brand is a combination of digital and physical, but not unique or separate. It has to come authentically.
Brian: Your personal brand is not intentional, but it’s practiced. You have to get yourself in front of an audience, whether it be through networking, presenting, whatever!
In terms of Atlanta-locals with strong personal brands, Joe pointed out David Cummings, Michael Tavani, and Jeff Hilimire. Check out their blogs, all linked, and you’ll see why. (Speaking of…I need to connect with Michael here. Would love to talk the soccer background.)
The conversation shifted a bit, and Jen pointed out the idea that natural career momentum comes into play. When the general public senses a career propelling up the ladder, echoing throughout the community; people will naturally flock there to learn more. Teresa expanded on aligning a personal brand with career plans. You must consider being a culture fit as well as certain behaviors necessary in future positions!
Adam phrased it this way: What cereal on the shelf do you want to be? Are you Grape Nuts, or the latest General Mills Count Chocula? (And if you don’t know Adam, trust when I say that he’s a Cereal Killer all of the time, not just during breakfast.) Joe piggybacked – you must be authentic, transparent, and accessible. No real distinction between your online / off-line self. Adam: The ship has sailed regarding online transparency… You must be comfortable with everything you put online as it lives there forever, and will always be a part of you. Brian scared everyone by saying that online histories would be researched in the future, so keep it clean before it’s too late! Amen.
LinkedIn. How should you brand yourself on LinkedIn? Adam states his opinion, that your title should match your most endorsed skills, and reflect your Twitter bio more so than your resume. LinkedIn is not a resume.
Related, Teresa gave us some insights to her career thus far. From agency to brand side, looking for work, she sought recommendations. Rather than blindly ask, Teresa gave 3 key bullet points for her recommenders to address. Using tactics like this, you’re actually able to guide your brand rather than put it in other people’s hands. Brian agreed, be proactive in reaching out to people. Just do it! What’s the worst that could happen? To no surprise, Jen also agreed by stating, “Don’t wait to network until you need a job… Then it’s already too late!” Teresa then hit on a key topic. These are two-way relationships! Don’t reach out or connect with people [on LinkedIn] unless you’ve met them! This basically shows that you’re using somebody through the connection, and people will spam you this way! Adam immediately agreed, and was quick to declare LinkedIn spammy, with InMail flying through his inbox faster than the speed of sound! LinkedIn is great to see who knows who, and for introductions, so just learn to do it in the right way.
Jen brought the conversation back from our LinkedIn rabbit-hole, by declaring that every single interaction, and every method you take to reach out are a direct reflection of your brand. This sparked a book recommendation from Teresa – Strengths Finder 2.0. Might have to get it!
Joe then brought us through some of his Gumbo Show Joe online pages, joking that maybe he should’ve been a Millennial rather than a Gen X’er, since he has such a mix of personal and professional. The takeaways:
- Set up a personal domain
- Use Google + and YouTube for SEO
- Look for innovative tech to connect, i.e. Contxts (text Steffan to 50500!)
Brian pointed out the risk of a niche domain. You should always set it up so it’s flexible enough to grow, and live, with you for years to come. Jen, thinking like a marketer, asks, “What about all that content? SO. MUCH. CONTENT.” But it’s not! Different channels house different content, and serve different audiences each with a different purpose. You might have a Tumblr set up with baby pictures, Twitter and LinkedIn for work, Facebook for friends, etc. We do, in fact, live in a digital world these days.
Well, with all this social going on online, it’s gotta go wrong somewhere, right? Teresa warns – “Social media is like alcohol. The more you have, the more it reveals your real personality.” This is one of the greatest quotes ever, couldn’t agree more! Adam expands on the tweet seen below. You need people to see your accomplishments and know what you do! It’s not bragging, and sometimes millennials/students will shy away from publishing their “wins” in attempts to stay humble. Jen agreed, referencing how her students feel that networking is uncomfortable because they are only kids, with no experience, looking for benefits from busy/well-established professionals. Well, here’s a solution: volunteer! That’s what I did, which ultimately plugged me deeper into the community and culture.
Teresa touched briefly on the robust IBM Women’s mentoring program. She’s learned through this initiative that, at certain times, she needs to be recognized for her work. Programs similar to this exist everywhere to help you manage yourself, and guide you in the right direction. For Brian, he referenced being a Scoutmaster for a local troop; servicing others’ mentalities. Teresa chimed in that she’s a Girl Scout Assistant, and I know Branden Lisi here at Object 9 and David Favero also have Scouts ties. Comes to show there’s some great stuff going on in those groups.
Teresa went into her story and background a bit. 20’s = getting way ahead, 30’s = giving back and mentoring, stating her realization of the importance of mentors for different aspects of you work life. Adam followed up, and went into his mentoring experience (including my story), stating a more 1-on-1 method works for him, and that things always come back around!
A few final thoughts to wrap this up:
- Don’t be a generalist. Specialize in one thing, let your resume reflect that set of skills. – Adam
- Tell your story on your resume. – Joe
- Google yourself. Check to see that you’re aligned, and consistent, across all channels. – Jen
As if that wasn’t enough personal branding advice, all attendees were given a workbook to walk them through trademarking yourself. Really impressed by all of the speakers, questions, and content at this event! If anybody has any questions, feel free to reach out!
Great seeing everyone out there! For more of my posts, click here