PERSONAL BRANDING

How regularly do you think about or work on your personal brand? Have you actively created an image, mind set or persona of how you’d like to be viewed in the minds of others’ from a professional perspective? Do you know how you are viewed in your area of expertise or market?

Maybe we should take a couple of steps back, to what is a brand? A brand is everything from a design, image, colour, emotion, impression, tone, symbol etc that separates one thing from another; the unique identifiers. From a business perspective we know what this means and why we do it. We all know the golden arches of McDonalds, from childhood we associate this with fries and a burger, knowing that no matter what McD’s we go into we can guarantee what we’re going to encounter. But why would we do it from a personal perspective? The answers include the likes of better job prospects, extending your networks, recognition, reward, progression and development. Your personal brand is your reputation and your calling card, so in essence we’re building a brand around our careers to ensure they grow.

People with strong personal brands know their strengths; they know who they are and where they’re going. Personal brands are made up of values, passions, purpose and goals. To do this you’re going to need to know your why. I recently attended a seminar by Brand Strategist Phil Pallen (philpallen.co) hosted by the wonderful team at IMNZ who recommends refining your brand why to one sentence – that includes the essentials “What’s In It For Them” in terms of what you can do for other people. His being that “People need brands and companies need to show more personality” which tells us in a nutshell what he’s all about. Phil further believes that “the best branding recreates an in-person experience”. Meaning your brand needs to be authentic.

To be authentic you need to think both about yourself, and your audience. Knowing your audience will play a huge part in the marketing plan for your personal brand. It boils right down to the way you communicate, dress and present yourself, so be mindful of all of these things when thinking about your brand style. Yesterday I attended JobFest in Auckland, an event aiming at getting youth into employment and onto career paths. They had specifically been coached on the importance of the first impression, the way they dressed, approached hiring organisations, spoke and the way they carried themselves. Many of these young adults had taken this on-board and done a really impressive job of putting their best foot forward with their audience (hiring organisations) in mind. But others still had a long way to go so think too about where you sit on this scale and whether there are changes you could make, no matter how big or small to improve your outward-facing personal brand.

After these initial stages ensuring your brand is multiplatform is key to success. But more important is choosing platforms that sit well with you and what you’re trying to achieve with your brand, particularly when it comes to social media. Doing one or two exceptionally well will get a lot more cut through than spreading yourself too thin. Again, it’s important to keep the tone, look, feel and imagery consistent – it should all become instantly recognisable as you/your brand.

If you can back up social with further activity such as blogging, speaking at events, contributing to white papers, all the better as these will all contribute to growing your profile. Stick to the subject matters and areas you know you excel at, that provide a “what’s in it for me” for your audience. It’s also important to commit to continuing to learn and grow to stay relevant and continue to “solve problems” and engage that audience.

Having written this post I realise it’s a great reminder and there are certainly a few more things/changes I could make to my own brand. What changes will you put in place? And is there anything you would add to above that I’ve missed?

SOCIAL FOR HR – L&D

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR HR – BLOG SERIES

#3: LEARNING & DEVELOPMENT

Networking is super easy across many social media platforms. The trick is to get in there and get involved! Many people social “watch” for a while before feeling comfortable enough to join in. I’m a classic example of this, initially joining twitter to follow the America’s Cup because the feeds were better than any others I could find, it was a full year later before I started to watch and then engage from an HR perspective – but following hashtags, joining in group charts and niche interest groups are all a great way to extend your networks and therefore your L&D opportunities.

Self-directed learning via social networking is a great way to upskill and increase your own knowledge, be it through chats with others, interest groups getting together online or in real life and / or enrolment in MOOC’s (Massive open online Courses) or in fact via blogs…

I think we all know what blogs are by now – but the hardest thing I found was keeping them all straight – without a million extra email alerts ending up in my inbox every day. There are some great blog readers out there that collect and collate your chosen blogs into categories, by date for later reading – I use Feedly, but Google Reader is another great option. This essentially creates your own specifically selected content feed.

With the number of blogs now days I would recommend taking a little extra time to research the background of new bloggers you follow to qualify their expertise.

Mentoring is made all the more accessible via social…my last mentor I met via a twitter chat and despite the fact that he was the Head of OD for a university in Scotland, we worked together for over a year utilising social for our communication and other tools such as facetime and google docs to share work, challenges and get feedback and direction. And just recently a former mentor of mine who had relocated to another country has been back in touch via social, is back in NZ and we’re due to meet up!

This all leads to pointing out how social gives us access to thought leaders – Dr Harold Hillman, an award winning author and expert in the People Professions and I connected over social and have connected to where I recently invited him to speak on authentic leadership through change to a group of HR and Recruitment professionals at a breakfast event. And it’s been fantastic for me to meet and work with someone I’ve long admired and looked up to “in real life!” (Hashtag #IRL!)

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR HR – BLOG SERIES

I was recently asked by the wonderful team at Elephant Training & HR to speak at their HR Advisors Conference on the use of Social Media in and for HR. I have now turned this into a series of four blogs that will be posted over the coming weeks.

The areas I see social media best benefitting and working with HR are as follows: Talent Attraction, Communication, Learning & Development and Social Employees and these will be the blog topics coming up.

But first….a look at the stats to keep in mind as you read the series…

SOCIAL MEDIA – THE STATS

It’s important to note that these staggering figures below are monthly users! And to give context, as of January 2016, the total worldwide population was 7.4 billion

  • Facebook: 1.55 billion
  • Youtube: 1 billion
  • Google+: 400 million
  • Instagram: 400 million
  • LinkedIn: 450 million
  • Pinterest: 100 million
  • Snapchat: 100 million
  • Twitter: 320 million
  • Vine: 100 million

I’m actively involved with 8 of these platforms, currently learning my 9th and still have one on my bucket list to master!

I think there are a lot of people out there at the moment particularly in the “People Professions” that are sceptical of social, who don’t engage with it from a professional standpoint, and even on a personal basis in some cases, as they’re nervous of the repercussions, not sure of how to use it – or indeed why they would use it.

But my argument would be how can you afford not to – you can see the numbers here……and I figure if I can teach my Mum how to use Facebook, albeit it’s taken a lot of time and patience to get her understanding that she doesn’t have to friend people, comment or like if she doesn’t want to and isn’t obliged to respond to every interaction, but she’s doing it and finally loving it.

Another example is my partner; a senior sales executive he will never “do that Facebook thing” (even though I’ve caught him checking out pics on mine on multiple occasions!) But he has fully embraced LinkedIn and is one of the most active users I know – he encourages it in his staff as well and as a result they’ve booked multimillion dollar media campaigns as a direct result of LinkedIn connections.

I ran a session on LinkedIn with another sales team and following that session one of the team made 32 targeted new connections with CEO’s specifically in their industry and has since followed those up to make 19 face to face meetings with those people.

So like I say – how can you afford not to tap into and utilise such an amazing resource? First blog coming up!

Personal Learning Networks 101 (#PLN)

What?

A #PLN is a group, real or virtual, of people with a common interest sharing ideas, findings, theorising, challenging and the like resulting in personal development. The #PLN you create around yourself will guide and steer your future personal development, and in turn you may contribute to the #PLN of others.

Why?

With the exponential growth in new technology, innovation, disruption in societies worldwide at the moment it doesn’t matter what industry you belong to or see yourself as a part of, the need to continually grow and develop has never been stronger. To keep ahead of the game, creating a #PLN will ensure you never stop learning.

Who?

Find the thought leaders in your chosen field of interest. Search them out, get opinions from others, follow their progress and validate who they are and what they stand for. Find those that align with your thinking, and are in line with the future direction you want to take.

Where?

Social Media is a near one stop shop. The obvious ones being twitter, facebook , google+ and LinkedIn. For more specialised areas of interest you may need to look a little further online, but there’s something for everyone.

Blogs are another great source of learning. Find people who’s thinking aligns with yours, then check out who’s liking and following their posts as there’s a high probability they’ll be like minded.

Looking further than social media and the comfort of your couch, MeetUps are a fantastic way to meet people in real life (#IRL) with similar interests to yourself. Head to www.meetup.com as a starting point.

How?

From a social media perspective, join groups, participate in conversations, follow hashtags. Get involved! And don’t be afraid to have a different viewpoint or question something as this often sparks debate, resulting in more learning for all. When you find someone you really connect with – check out who else they’re connected with as a great source of people to begin expanding your network.

In real life, be bold and be brave. Introduce yourself. Make the first move, not everyone is a natural networker, so most people will be grateful when you initiate the conversation, and remember you have a natural opener as you’re all there for your shared interest.

My #PLN

Next steps for me are to compile a snapshot of my #PLN centred around the People Professions…HR, People, Culture & Performance, Learning, Development , Recruitment and the like – so watch this space is that’s also up your alley!

You’ve Got Mail

I recently spent some time out of the office, and pre heading on annual leave tried to reduce the looming experience of a ridiculously overflowing inbox on my return by unsubscribing from the multitude of sites, newsletters and updates I’ve signed up to over the years. At the same time I read a “hack” on reducing the stress of your inbox, that included the likes of mail rules and auto-filling and quietly congratulated myself on how much easier my return to work would be, given I had full intentions of “switching off” for twelve days. It occurred to me at this point how obsessed and overwhelmed by email we have all become.

How many emails a day does your inbox average? How many inboxes do you have? I confess to three personal email addresses, two work ones that filter to the same inbox and a generic work one I hold responsibility for but others’ have access to. Six all up. No wonder I’m reading hacks on filtering email and the other blogs and posts I’ve read in the past on time management, claiming back your work day and the like, largely focused on reducing your email time.

I wonder too whether we’ve come to a point where we rely far too heavily on email as our main means of communication? Are we hiding behind it? Will we lose the art of conversation simply because it’s easier and more convenient to whip out an email than pick up the phone or walk across the office? And have we utter lost the ability to write a letter, falling into the less formal speak of email?

In thinking on all of this I came across some great articles such as this Four Influential People Who Ditched Email which detailed not only the people (who will surprise you), but also their reasoning, alternatives and tips for doing the same. Most featured around work lie balance and being more productive in your working day – gaining hours of time back. However, they almost all used alternatives and usually social media, the likes of facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. I’m somewhat sceptical of this also as surely they’ll take up as much time, but block out the junk, newsletters and the like?

I’m all about social media, so don’t get me wrong here, I love it for what it is. The virtues of which I’ve written about many times over due to the networking, learning & development, true friendships and the like I have benefited from on a global scale that I would never had achieved without it.

I haven’t tried forgoing email, and given my job I can’t see myself being able to any time soon, but I’m intrigued. For right now I’m thrilled with averaging 80 emails a day in the main inbox as opposed to the 200+ I was getting before with the hacks I’ve put in place. There seriously is a lot in sending certain mail direct to folders and unsubscribing from the 101 things you’ve signed up for. But what I’m interested to hear is who else has tried something like this? No email or other hacks – and what have you found works?

Here are some examples of the reading I did in all my thinking about this:

http://99u.com/articles/7274/how-i-gave-up-email-and-reclaimed-3-hours-a-day

http://www.chrisducker.com/7-email-hacks-productive/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/02/05/9-email-productivity-secrets-that-will-get-your-life-back/#40b56d94c5d5

#RHUBEdge

For anyone in the recruitment and related spheres in NZ who didn’t make it along to #RHUBEdge you missed out. Once again Phllip Tusing (@PhillipTusing) brought together an awesome line-up of speakers who engaged, taught, wow’d and sparked debate in the audience. The twitter feed was alive and kicking, even trending for the day so for those who couldn’t be there the learning’s (and some other less professional stuff!) were shared.

MC, Iain MacGibbon (@nzheadhunter) opened and kept us on track for the day, I’m sure it was a bit like herding cats at times, but he did a stellar job. The crew at AUT and the venue staff onsite were awesome – so big thanks to them, and of course to the JobAdder team for the beersies afterwards.

William Tincup (@williamtincup) took the stage first up; the programme announced he would “take delegates on a rollicking crystal gazing ride to predicting future scenarios and offer practical solutions gained from recruitment leaders around the world”. I think he delivered on this. I’m not sure how many will take his tips for time management to the 15min increments he does, but I have no doubts that those who do will get the day a week back he promises. His ideas and solutions for time hacks got us all thinking and gave us something to take away.

Brett Iredale (@BrettIredale) from JobAdder was all about technology and its impact on the world of recruiting. His two biggest tips were HiringSolved and VideoMyJob an app designed to create job ads. A list he gave of tech to check out included: SparkHire, enboarder, appear.in and Weirdly as well.

Jason Ennor of MYHR (@MYHR_NZ) ran us through what HR want from Recruiters; reading the buyer, pain points (and how to reduce the pain!) and track records. This is a whole other blog in the planning given the debate sparked throughout the day in in-house versus agency recruiting and the resulting relationships. Watch this space!

A panel discussion including Marisa Fong (formerly of Maddison), Carmen Bailey (of Emergent) and Garth Brooks (formerly OCG, now Bureau) gave access to a Q&A session from some of the best in the business with exponential experience between them – and again, lively debate!

Katy Anquetil (@KatyAnquetil) took one for the girls on “women in leadership” with some scary stats on the figures in NZ, breaking the glass ceiling, Tall Poppy and Queen Bee syndromes. George Brooks followed on In House versus Agency – as I say for another blog! James Gilbert (@jatgilbert) had some compelling stories on inbound marketing and the value of creating engaging content – essential in today’s customer driven environments. He also recommends checking out your website on https://website.grader.com/

All in all, as I say, an extremely well run day, with fantastic speakers – people at the top of their game we can all learn from. And another awesome opportunity for networking…probably more so for those of us not running home to rugrats being school holidays! Looking forward to the next one. Last words from William Tincup: “What gets measured gets done. And Process eats Software for Breakfast”.

Lull or Null?

If you run in the same or similar circles on SoMe to me and on the whole I’m assuming you do, then I’m sure you’ve seen this blog from @Rachiemouce that sparked this blog from @HRmanNZ, and we’re waiting on a follow up from @everydaymanager as I write. So yep, I’m jumping on the band wagon. I love this sort of thing, I love people, opinions, perspectives and some healthy debate and hopefully sparking of new ideas. And to be fair, for me, it’s exactly the post / comments I needed to really kick start me back into this arena in 2016.

I tuned out over the Christmas / New Year’s break…and to be fair there were days I regretted my sign out/off period while we battered wind and rain in our NZ summer, but the days where the sun was shining and the beach was beckoning made it all too easy. Now we’re all back at work, and in our particular pocket of the world the weather is spectacular; today alone I came home from work, swam for exercise for an hour alone then was joined by my daughter and extended family for “canon bombs” in the pool according to Miss 5 for a further hour. Bliss. What could be better?!

Sure I sit here now a few hours later with family staying over, at my computer working (and now blogging!), but it’s worth it. I switched off, I’m back on, but I’m easing in to it. I missed the posts and the updates initially – and like I say most especially on the rainy days, but the silence was nice for bit. And that my point in all of this, for a bit. I’m ready now to start again, recharged, and missing the conversations, the learning’s, the debates, the laughs and the networking. Yes, there’s a lot of noise, but there’s so much to be gained as well.

I wonder if we notice this lag in kiwi land or indeed the Southern Hemisphere while we’re all in summer – and do we notice the same from our Northern counterparts when their summer hits and they go out to play?

I wonder too if it’s new year, new role? I’m in that boat so there’s more than usual to get my head around and to think about on a daily basis, meaning other things are taking a priority for right now, but by no means do I intend for that to go on. Who else is in that boat? Many in my personal circles, so again I’m assuming (and yes I know that old saying assume makes an ass out of you and me),that there are others out there in this boat?

Or I’m simply making excuses? Blind to the change in front of us? I hope not and I don’t think so. There is a lot of noise, but there’s also a lot of cut through. And I for one am not signing out. I look forward to the learning, the development, challenges in thinking /ways of working / behaviours / processes etc  that 2016 brings me via blogging and SoMe. And most of all I look forward to the connections. There are people I’ve never even met in real life that I feel close to, that I care about and are part of my circles I’ve only met through these channels. There are others I’ve connected with that I look up to, admire and learn from. I’d hate to think there was an end to this. It’s so valuable for all of us and a largely untouched and unchartered as far as I can see…the cool kids always move on first and the rest of us play catch up…but in this instance I’m looking forward to catching up. And I have no doubt that will be in new channels and horizons – but it’s the sharing that I look forward to the most.

So not an end, but perhaps a lull; maybe a change in course or dynamic. A signing out, but not signing off? Here’s to the future, new beginnings, carrying’s on and best of all innovation, disruption and collaboration.

Reflections

I’m noticing a lot of blogs popping up at the moment on being thankful, giving back, and reflecting on the year gone by. To use a cliché I think it’s “that time of year” when many of us pause for a moment to be thankful and reflect, check box goals, have a moment of clarity and/or be mindful. And I 100% prefer reading these sorts of uplifting blogs than the other ones doing the rounds of what not to do at the Christmas party and HR’s obligations or not (for the record I’m going to ours dressed as a wider group of Woodstock attendees – the clothed kind J).

My New Year’s resolution this year – and it’s the first one I’ve had in 10 years since I resolved to quit smoking – was to be kinder to myself. By this I meant not needing to be super woman; to go easy on myself when I don’t exercise as hard, fast or often as I’d like; to give up the working mum guilt; to do the best for right now and the situation; to take time out and to stop offering to organise everything for everyone. I’m actually not sure I achieved this – I think I may need to make this a goal for next year! As it’s been a massive year, fun, and successful, though very fast paced and jam-packed.

Perhaps as a goal I’ll achieve it. As the goals I set for this year I’m happy to say I’ve smashed out of the park, personally and professionally. I think sitting down at the beginning of the year and consciously thinking about goals, shaping them and desired outcomes then putting them into writing has kept me on track. I’ve aimed at keeping myself accountable and enlisted the help of my partner and got him on board for personal goals and a mentor for the professional ones. Both were brilliant at asking the right questions, offering advice and setting me back on course if/when I wandered somewhat.

I’m hugely grateful for the wonderful opportunities that have come my way this year, those I’ve taken up and those I’ve been unable to for one reason or another. 2015 hasn’t been without its challenges, both personally and professionally also, and it’s another cliché but it’s true – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Challenges broaden your experience and expertise, test your resilience and ability to cope under pressure, so recognise them for what they are and know you’ll be better for it when you come out the other side.

Which leads me to the “thank you’s”. Thanks to the family, friends, colleagues, mentor and networks who affected my life this year. I’ve laughed, cried, learnt, taught, expanded, tested, initiated, organised, played, danced and have affected and been affected by so many positive actions from others that have grown, shaped and developed me throughout the year. Thank you and with a big lovely glass of bubbles, Cheers to you!

UNCONFERENCE

unconference

ˈʌnkɒnf(ə)r(ə)ns/

noun

  1. a loosely structured conference emphasizing the informal exchange of information and ideas between participants, rather than following a conventionally structured programme of events.

“at this unconference, attendees created sessions on the spot, making for an energizing and freewheeling exchange”

So what is an unconference anyway? I hear this asked all the time, especially now I’m talking a lot about the upcoming #NZLead Unconference I’ve been helping to organise. As described above by Google it’s an unstructured exchange of information and ideas in a group as opposed to following an agenda or programme of events as at a traditional conference. It emphasizes free exchange between participants and can change direction and focus as the discussions develop and grow.

Unconferences are also referred to as Open Space conferences, simply meaning they are participant lead. Typically the agenda is set early on in the day, by the attendees; anyone who wants to can raise an initiative or discussion topic and have it added to the format (or un-format) of the day. Any format is permitted; one speaker, no speakers, a facilitator, no facilitator – though generally attendees are there as highly skilled or knowledgeable people on a subject matter, or as in #NZLead’s case people who are interested and want to learn more or weigh in on a certain subject matter.

There are opportunities in unconferences to lead a discussion, track or session or simply to go along and participate, either way the expectation is that you give, share and collaborate and others will do the same to ensure there are takeaways for all. This could be in the form of anything from increased knowledge, expanded ideas, new thinking and or new connections and networking opportunities.

What then is the #NZLead Unconference all about? Creating more Humane Workplaces and one of the other equally passionate volunteers on the team, Katy Lloyd put it especially well in her LinkedIn post:

“How do we create more “Humane Workplaces?”  So what does actually this mean? It’s about what we can do we make our workplaces more successful, enjoyable and inspiring places to be.

We all know people are important and are the key to success for an organization. The unconferences provide an opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals that are interested in how we can the people practices of organisations and how we can do them better. This is not just HR folk – but anyone who knows that people are the heart of the workplace and thinks we can do things differently and much better! The more diverse range of backgrounds and opinions the better.”

Or there’s more detail on the #NZLead website: http://nzlead.com/the-re-birth-of-a-more-humane-workplace/

 If you’d like to know more we’re happy to chat, here is a list of the crew working to pull this together, we’re easy to find on twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn:

AUCKLAND

Kylie Telford

Katy Lloyd

Laura Trethewey

WELLINGTON

Richard Westney

Tash Pieterse

How do you get there? Tickets are great value at $99

Looking forward to connecting and collaborating!