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?

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SOCIAL FOR HR – SOCIAL EMPLOYEES

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR HR – BLOG SERIES

#4: SOCIAL EMPLOYEES

Social Media Polices can be quite daunting for some – but they needn’t be. Depending on your organisation and the nature of it you may be open to a very generic social media policy, whereas others may need to be more stringent. Either way you go – it’s best to have a policy to safe guard both the organisation and the employee.

And that’s what brings me to the Good versus the Down Right Dumb! In my experience 90% of all employee social posting will be positive, with employees wanting to showcase outstanding work they’ve done, the awesome people they work with or cool things their organisation is doing. However there’s the exception to every rule right?! Every now and then you’ll strike one that posts photos of them snowboarding while on sick leave for a “back operation”, or claiming to be distraught over a death in the family to the point of needing extended bereavement leave and instead going on holiday to Thailand and posting photo’s on the beach and doing shots in bars….both true stories, and not surprisingly those people no longer work in those organisations. There were a series of other incidences in both cases, however having a social policy allowed for clear action to be taken.

I think when it comes to social employees, it’s like anything with employees – treat them like adults. Trust them to do the right thing, and on the odd occasion where they don’t ensure you have clear policy to deal with it.

 

GET SOCIAL

I hope you’ve enjoyed the series, and more importantly I hope if you weren’t already using Social for HR that you’re now encouraged to! And if you are using it, I hope you’re encouraged to go further. My advice from here is to quite simply, get social! Start small and comfortable and as you master one platform expand and grow your use from there. Get in touch via social – I’m not hard to find!

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 FOR HR – COMMUNICATION

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR HR – BLOG SERIES

#2: COMMUNICATION

How many engagement surveys show communication as poor or needing improvement in organisations? The answer is most! A few do it amazingly well, but many leave a lot to be desired. Using social channels for communication with employees’ works especially well when you use platforms they’re already used to engaging with – and we saw the numbers on the first blog, most people are getting social. Facebook groups are a great option given the 1.55B users every month. There are also specialised chat platforms you can utilise for employees such as slack.

It also gives employees, customers and audiences an opportunity to give you feedback or ask questions on anything and everything from products and services to special offers.

Collaboration is increased with employees – particularly those working from remote or regional locations or when coordinating larger groups. I know of a Brand Engagement team who are a classic example, they utilise slack to communicate and collaborate with their team working and activating for various radio stations all over new Zealand – from Invercargill to Kaitaia they all get the same messages, opportunities to make suggestions, compare notes, give feedback on promotions and ideas, and importantly in real time.

The best advertising for your products, services, employer brand comes via referrals and advocates, so positive user generated content is gold!!! This is content of your social pages linked back to or directly posted on your social platforms by employees and customers alike. It could be anything from an employee posting about an amazing team day out, reward and recognition celebration or a client recommending your brand, product or service.

Referrals are almost always the best source of quality candidates when hiring, so I would really encourage all staff in your organisation to get posting about the awesome work coming out of your company, the culture you’ve built and the way you do things, thereby utilising their content to build your employer brand and talent pools.

 

 

SOCIAL FOR HR – TALENT ATTRACTION

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR HR – BLOG SERIES

#1: TALENT ATTRACTION

The possibilities when it comes to recruitment are endless and given 84% of professionals in NZ are interested in new positions it’s an important area to note. In my role now every vacancy is advertised on job boards, including our own, but also pushed out to twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and this year we’re expanding those to include Instagram and snapchat. We also utilise online community’s specific to our industry through the likes of StopPress and MA+D Daily. As a result or targeted campaigns we can specifically point to all of these social platforms as the direct source of new hires. It’s important to note here that adding video and eye-catching imagery to posts and specifically targeting content to your audience is key to achieve maximum impact and engagement.

Depending on your industry or type of roles you may need to consider niche social markets for passive talent attraction such as the likes of Github and Angelslist – just make sure you understand the niche platforms before you dive into them!

Talent Pooling is made possible on social through the likes of followers – they are the people actively engaging with your brand online. This can be further honed by creating specific interest groups and managing these effectively, again, through engaging, targeted content.

The Employer Branding opportunities on social are vast – through actively promoting your employer brand, show casing what it’s like to work in your organisation, giving insight to your employee engagement and culture gives potential candidates a wealth of information when considering a role with you. And given 37% of job seekers claim they can’t get enough information on organisations in the job hunting process, this is a golden opportunity for employers.

Candidate quality can be improved through social also – you are given a forum in which you can actively have conversations with them pre, during and post the hiring process, in a way it becomes a key screening tool.

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!

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.

Book Review: THE HUMAN WORKPLACE; People, Community, Technology. Amanda Sterling.

The culmination of a weekly tweet chat into a tangible resource for future learning is a credit to Amanda, her dedication and hard work in pulling it together  is exceptional and that’s not to mention the incredible breadth and depth of the international community she’s built up in the process. But back to the book. When Amanda first mentioned she was curating, compiling, writing and researching to pull together two years’ worth of the #NZLead chats into a book, I have to admit part of me thought she was mad (afterall she was originally planning to write as part of NaNoWriMo, which just seemed too huge), but another, larger part of me respected and admired her for it.

These tweet chats are real. They’re on-going, they get messy and way off track at times. There are some incredible lightbulb moments, a massive amount of learning, sharing of ideas and likeminded attitudes. But there are also challenges, at times debate and through all of this courtesy, camaraderie in many ways and a common desire to see a better world of work. Amanda has sewn all of this into her book. Using the real language of the tweet chats, and explaining the jargon, new concepts and the like in a manner that will ensure those inside and outside of people related roles will have no problem in following through the themes of the book. It’s as real as being in the conversation, yet structured in such a way as to lead the reader on a journey.

Overarching themes for me in the book are Culture, Collaboration, Leadership, Authenticity and Technology; all being at the essence of any “humane workplace”. And here are some quotes from the book that particularly resonated with me on these constructs:

“Leadership is not a one off event, a package or a methodology”

“Keeping people involves good old challenging, meaningful work, and a positive culture”

“Organisational Culture can become the most powerful piece in your recruitment arsenal”

“The kinds of organisations we need to create have to reflect the technology itself: open, collaborative, inclusive and connected”.

This book is a must read for anyone in the people professions; HR, OD, L&D, Recruitment and the like. In particular, those looking to develop and grow these roles into the future. You may be challenged, you may be nodding your head in agreement, you may encounter new ideas and concepts. And best of all if you’re not already involved you may feel encouraged to contribute to the #NZLead community now and into the future, for here is an on-going, evolving conversation for the better of future workplaces. And I use the term conversation loosely – as it’s my hope it’s more than that, not just a conversation but an action.

If there’s one takeaway I could possibly give you from the book and everything #NZLead has taught me it’s “Get Social”. For professional development, networking, conversations, collaboration, support, practices and learning, be brave, get out there – if you haven’t already you’ll be amazed at what’s waiting for you. If you’ve dipped in and skirted the edges, get involved; you won’t regret it. Search. Sort. Share.

To quote the book again “Information is no longer power: now it’s about networked intelligence” think on this for a moment in terms of my takeaway themes in the book: Culture, Collaboration, Authenticity, Leadership and Technology, then keeping these in mind, I leave you with this final thought “ The new workforce is a community, not a corporation”.

The Humane Workplace can be purchased here.

Consciously Unplugged

I spent the recent Christmas / New Year holiday completely switched off. I was in Tinopai. Tinopai is a tiny coastal rural town in the Kaipara Harbour of New Zealand. This is where my parents have their bach (Kiwi speak for holiday home). Theirs is a late 1800’s two storey former miner’s cottage that was shipped onto the current site sometime in the 1930’s. Whilst it’s been almost entirely rebuilt since then, albeit in keeping with its original character & charm there are little to no mod cons. No dish washer, no sky TV, no phone line, no wifi and better still the area has no cellphone reception for NZ’s largest cell network.

This is how I unplugged – it was enforced! And there are two major things I learnt from it:

  • It’s amazing how fast you get used to your phone not being an extension of you and how quickly you realise you can do without it
  • Without the constant interruptions and general noise in most peoples everyday lives it’s amazing how much clarity of thought you can achieve


Along with the first came the fear that I would miss out on something. I wasn’t sure what, but I was terrified of it anyway. Again, this passed quickly thankfully and now that I’m back online I wonder why I ever worried about it in the first place.

The second came with some much more profound revelations. Last year was probably one of my biggest yet from a work perspective. I was somewhat dismayed to finish the year with some unresolved issues and loose ends at work. But what the time out has given me is perspective; a new view of a clear path forward and a solid resolution to these situations which are now underway.

Now I’m all for starting your day with planning and thinking time and much has been written on the virtues of both, as I believe it gives perspective, clarity and priority to your day and . But to get an overall perspective of a larger work issue, project or plan I absolutely advocate a spot of conscious unplugging. I’m not suggesting you all find remote areas to get away from it all, for long periods of time, though it certainly helps when all you have to do is wonder whether you’ll swim, kayak or similar that day! But rather plan times to switch everything off and do something you love – read, walk, take the kids to the park; find your version of Tinopai.

I plan on 2015 being my best year yet in every possible way, and whilst a large amount of that will no doubt be spent communicating in a work fashion, online, and hooked up to social media, all things I love, enjoy and thrive on; I will equally be ensuring there are times where I consciously unplug to allow my mind time to rest and revitalise.