Friday, November 26, 2010

Social media branding: Discovering the real you

Before you can successfully plan a strategy for personal branding in social media you need to understand the real you.

This is the fifth part of an ongoing series looking at personal branding (links to previous posts in the series below). Today I offer some suggestions on how to discover your own inner strengths and interests.

It sounds easy enough right? Just think about what really lights your fire and what you love to do? But it’s a little more complex than that.

We humans lose track of our true selves and we stop seeing our own strengths and weaknesses. So what to do? I’d like to suggest two relatively inexpensive tools that can help you get on the path to self-discovery.

Strengths Finder

This little book may be the best $10-$15 you’ll ever spend.

To help people uncover their talents, Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment, Strengths Finder, in the 2001 management book Now, Discover Your Strengths.

The book spent more than five years on the bestseller lists as it helped millions to discover their Top 5 talents. In
Strengths Finder 2.0 Gallup unveiled a new and improved version of its popular assessment and sorted strengths into 34 themes.

You read the first 30 pages of the book and then submit to an online test. A computer-generated report is then emailed to you. Based on your Top 5 you can quickly see what approaches come naturally to you and which will likely give you the greatest satisfaction.

strengths as determined by Strengths Finder are (in order):
• Ideation
• Learner
• Context
• Achiever
• Includer

And while none of this was surprising, the way these strengths play off each other and people with different strengths was a huge insight.

KolbeA Index:

Kolbe A Index is a little more expensive (about $50) and measures a person's instinctive Method of Operation (MO), and identifies the ways he or she will be most productive. It is only taken once, because these innate abilities do not change over time.

The index was developed by Kathy Kolbe and identifies four human instincts used in creative problem solving. These instincts are not measurable. However, the observable acts derived from them can be identified and quantified by the Kolbe A™ Index.

These instinct-driven behaviors are represented in the four Kolbe Action Modes. For each you will be rated on a scale of 1 to 10. The combination of these scores tells you where your strengths lie.

KolbeA Index results are:
Fact Finder: 8
Follow Through: 3
Quick Start: 8
Implementer: 1

What all of this means is that I now have a solid sense of what my natural tendencies are and what really gets me fired up. Armed with this I’m ready to start planning my social media personal branding approach.

What do you think? Are these outside tools helpful?

Earlier posts in the series:
1. Personal Branding in Social Media: First Steps
2. Social Media Optimization for Personal Branding
3. Words to live by in social media personal branding
4. Blogs are the cornerstone of personal branding

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Offering social media thanks

Thanks for the great platforms that make social media part of every day of my life.

Thanks to
Twitter for being my No. 1 source of news – and this from a guy who worked for more than 20 years in the newspaper industry!

Thanks to
Linkedin for hosting such great groups – places I learn something every time I check in.

Thanks to
Facebook for allowing me to stay connected to people I would have lost touch with years ago.

Thanks to
YouTube for showing me aspects of life and this world I would otherwise never see (and the fact that so much of what I see on YouTube is funny doesn’t hurt either).

Thanks to
foursquare for getting me to explore the planet – or at least whatever part of it I happen to be on at a given moment.

Thanks to
Social Media Today for being the best aggregator of serious and accurate insights into the developing world of social media for business.

Thanks to
Mashable for being the quickest and flashiest aggregator of news about social media.

Thanks to
Alltop for allowing me to set up a social media feed tailored to my particular interests.

But, most of all, thank you to everyone I interact with daily, weekly or ever on social media you teach me so much and make every day insightful – I can’t thank you enough.

Related post:
A Social Media Feast for Thanksgiving

Friday, November 12, 2010

Blogs are the cornerstone of personal branding

Using social media to help your personal brand stand out is a smart move, but where do you start? Can I suggest a blog?

Here then is the fourth installment of my personal branding series of blogs (links to the previous three are at the end of this post).

5 key steps to get you off to a good start with a blog:

1. Pick a topic that is uniquely you:
Think passion and interests: You will not be able to sustain a blog on a topic that you don’t feel strongly about. And you should define the scope of your topic. Think Goldilocks and The Three Bears: Something that’s not too big and not too small. For example, don’t just decide to write about public relations, but maybe about public relations for non-profits who are looking to include social media. Then you should be able to sum up your blog’s purpose in a single-sentence elevator pitch that spells out why your blog is unique (and therefore worth following).

2. Be authentic:
Write about what you know, what you find out and where you find it. Be human and allow your blog to grow intellectually as you grow. Become THE expert over time. Followers will gravitate to a blog that is making a journey they can tag along for. Be sure to link to appropriate sources and give credit where it’s due.

3. Be smart:
. Post your best work. There will be posts that need more time for review and rewriting. Make sure you have several blog posts on the go so that you can keep to a posting schedule. But, also, don’t over-second-guess yourself. No post will ever be perfect. Listen to that inner voice. If you think you’ll regret a post a week from now don’t post it. Also make sure your posts inside the magical 250- to 750-word range so that search engine spiders will find and rank your posts.

4. Be interesting and/or newsworthy:
This is easily said, but maybe not so easily done, right? What’s interesting? I found this definition at What’s newsworthy? I like the definition here at If you can appeal to these main definitions of interesting and or newsworthiness you will very likely gain an audience.

5. Stick with it:
A blog can be relatively easy to start and sometimes painful to maintain. You never seem to have enough time. You run out of things to write about. Some solutions? Plan an hour or so a week to write and review. Set a realistic goal (say, posting a 250-to-500-word piece weekly) and stick with it. Start a list of potential topics and keep adding to it. For each idea that becomes a post you should add two more to your list. Jot down ideas whenever they hit you. Maintain this list. Stick with it.

Bonus tips:

Make it easy to spread share your blog: Add code (easily found in a Google search) that allows people who like your posts to share it with others across social networking and social bookmarking sites.

Get to know your regular blog visitors: Thank them for their comments (if they leave them) and check out their blogs if they follow yours. You never know where one of these online relationships might lead to a future opportunity.

Collaborate: Ask others to occasionally guest post on your blog and offer to reciprocate. Your name on other blogs gets it in front of fresh eyes.

Be patient: It may take weeks or months of posting to build a following and some relationships. Just understand that it will pay off.

So, are you ready to blog? I hope you try it because as the cornerstone of a social media personal branding strategy it is hard to beat. What didn’t I mention? Please let me know.

Related posts:

1. Personal Branding in Social Media: First Steps
2. Social Media Optimization for Personal Branding
3. Words to live by in social media personal branding