Update On My Life

I want to update you on what has been happening since you last heard from me.  I have been busy with new things brewing.

First, thank you for sticking with me.  You have no idea how much it means to have you there.  Second, I love what I do – helping people like yourself build a strong brand so you can be heard and attract your ideal target audience.

Teresa Pangan Branding and Social Media ConsultantThis last year I have been able to work with amazing people and help them in all different aspects of their businesses: writing compelling content copy, launching websites, digging to find authentic brands that resonate in the marketplace and getting noticed by their target audience.

Where I am Going

I made the decision in the last quarter of 2012 that I wanted to expand my business and grow it bigger  in the future.  I worked with business consultants and did a lot of research to find where I would fit best as a business.

What kept coming up was social media.  So many of my clients after they have clarity on their business niche, target market and brand they want help in unleashing it in social media.  I also have observed over the last years so many businesses in social media are getting little to no results.  I really hate seeing business’ valuable time spent in the wrong places and doing the wrong activities.

How I am Getting There

I now am knee deep in studying social media to not only find out what works but the tools and habits that the experts employ and teach so time invested is kept to a minimum.  I am honored to be part of a group founded by Mari Smith (named by Forbes as one of the top ten influencers in social media) that helps passionate business owners setup their business with a solid foundation they can grow to any size they want in the future (called the Business & Beyond Group).  I will even get to meet her in person at a retreat in April this year.  Super excited!

And in this group there is a lot of focus on social media both being on the cutting edge of what works but also focus on the importance of habits setup to 100% bring in clients in social media.  Our first book reading assignment was The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, founding editor and publisher of Success magazine.  I highly recommend it. The main message of the book is successful people are made by the habits they stick with even when it seems like they are making little difference.  Sort of like the tortoise and the hare – the tortoise wins because he never gives up and does not get distracted.

What This Has Meant for My Life

I have changed my life both personally and professionally a bunch since 2013 began.  I now am getting up at 5:30 every day – yeow.  I know that is early.  But it gives me time to start my day strong and even get in some work before any of my four kids straggles out from their bedrooms.

I also have a wind down routine for the end of the day that all my kids can recite and are helping me keep true to.  What happens in between the start and end of the day is not so set in stone, but I still aim to have some sense of a schedule to it with ability to adapt to opportunities that arise.   I have more energy, am getting a lot more done, and even have time to do some things I had given up on working in – reading for 30 minutes a day and yoga first thing in the morning.

What My New Business Will Look Like

And yes, I am launching a new business in not too long.  It is going to be called Social Media More with Less where the focus will be on helping people like yourself with their online business.  I want to help make every minute count online so you can do more of what you love – the work where you get to use your super powers and help others.

I am not closing down Teresa Pangan Brand Consulting and already have some help to help with the new business.  I am opening up new doors so I can serve others using the gifts I was blessed with.  Thanks for being here with me on my journey.

Top Five LinkedIn Things to Do on New Profile

LinkedIn New Profile ChangesLinkedIn recently changed their profile format.  The look now has more opportunity for visual interest thus a great area to leverage. What do these changes mean for you?  How can you best maximize the changes so you stand out and get noticed?  These are 5 things you can doPut them on your todo list now to knock off in the next month.

 

1. Headshot photo works with larger sizing.

The photo is larger bringing more visual emphasis to the profile and also makes the photo even more critical. If you have not had a professional headshot taken, get one now. They range in cost form $80 – $200.  It is worth it.  I tell clients 2 headshots to cover all your social media accounts is fine.

 

2.  Recommendations for current work is key.

Any recommendations you have will show up under the work experience it refers to with a small headshot displaying of the person that made the recommendation.  It helps provide visual interest to your profile and brings attention if you have strong recommendations.  Be sure to leverage this by getting 2 or more strong recommendations for at least your current place of work.

 

3.  Share an update 3 times a week.

Your latest activity update shows up under your headshot.  You don’t want it to be blank.  No need to post several times a day.  But set aside 3 times a week optimally to go in and update it with what is going on – meetings going to, new clients excited to work with and any valuable resources to share in your area of specialty.

 

4.  Summary intro is key.

Your summary shows up right under your activity updates so that is one of the first things that viewers of your profile will see after your photo and headline.  Find something interesting to start your summary with to capture the reader’s attention.

 

5.  Applications bummer.

This one is long because it involves the most drastic change. I have how-to steps in here so please read to the end.LinkedIn applications are being replaced with a new feature that lets you add media links to images, presentations, videos, and documents on your profile and is discontinuing to use third party applications.If you had setup a 3rd party application before like I had my SlideShare.net PowerPoint presentation, you will need to read up on what happens because it depends on which third party application you were using as to what happens (SlideShare.net or Box.net or YouTube)  Here is a page on how those are being transferred over to the new design.
 

http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/34326 

If you did not get a chance to setup a third party application before, LinkedIn is changing entirely how they are doing it.  What they offer now are media links that can be added to the bottom of Summary, Education and Experience sections.  This is good and not good.  My nice popping PowerPoint presentation no longer pops so much visually.  That is the down side.  The up side is I often have clients that have a video showcasing them doing presentations or media work they wanted to showcase with a specific job experience.

Now you can add these in as an active link. An example might be you have a 2 minutes video of you presenting a key presentation and it is uploaded to YouTube.  Then go to the Profile > Edit page and Find which section you want to insert it at the end of: Summary, Education or Experience.At the top of this section, look to the right of the section heading and find the icon that is a square with a plus sign (new media add icon LinkedIn is using). Click the icon and up will pop a blank to enter in the link to the image, document or presentation.  Enter the link to the YouTube page – no coding required.

Next LinkedIn will show you a image from the YouTube and allow you to enter in your own title and description for the video.

If you want to insert files (PDFs, MS Word Documents) you can still use Box.net that I recommended in the classes.  Instead of working as a third party application though you will setup your Box.net account and upload your files you want to share into Box.net’s site.  Then you get your link from Box.net and paste the link as a media link on your LinkedIn profile.

I am guessing this setup is much simpler for LinkedIn to manage.  Take advantage of it by uploading your PowerPoint presentations relevant to your work, a past presentation that you want to showcase into SlideShare.net and get the link  from SlideShare to insert into LinkedIn profile as a media link.

Here is a complete list of what LinkedIn is encouraging for members to use for displaying any type of media on their profile

http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/34327

If you look closely at the list you can display now images from image providers like Pinterest, TwitPic and other social media image providers.  This is all new.  Think about what you want to be know for (your brand) and use images to imprint that message.

The list does not include Box.net but you can still share files from there on your LinkedIn profile.  I had to update it on my new LinkedIn profile.  You are welcome to take a look to see how it shows up on mine: www.linkedin.com/in/teresapangan

Post below any questions on these changes you have.

3 Rules for Success in the New World of Work

Surveys report different numbers but the picture is the same, anywhere from 25% to 50% of employees are unhappy at their job and many want to leave. (Forbes article and Conference Board survey results).

Being successful at work both as employee and owner takes different skills in today's world of workAdd to this statistic that 47% of kids now in college are not finishing with a degree and 50% of those that do graduate with a degree are underemployed or unemployed.  The picture is bleak for those entering the workforce now.

Rules for Success

I attended a presentation recently on Rules for Success in Education by ACT’s Chief Strategy and Marketing Director David Cumberbatch. Yes, this is the same ACT organization that administers college entrance assessments.

David spoke on skills students need for future success in college and ultimately the workplace.

What stood out for me was the new mindset taking hold for students and employees.  Being okay at what you do no longer cuts it.  You need to be competitive and top in what you do.  Having a degree no longer translates to the job security it once held.

I am not saying college is not a worthy investment, just that thinking now needs to go beyond education and extend into workplace skills that are in high demand.

This is the same if you are an entrepreneur running your own business.  Having a degree is important, but it is not a guarantee for success in the marketplace.

Success either as an employee or small business is being more and more shaped by the intersection of three major factors

  1. Being great
  2. Meeting a marketplace need
  3. Standing out

Being Great

Hard work is not going to any longer keep you employed.  Nor will working long hours bring in customers.  You have to be super power great at what you do and means leveraging your  talent.

Remember the rule of 10,000 hours?  That is Olympic-like greatness mastery of a skill or 20 hours a week for 10 years.   Don’t panic if you aren’t here yet.  The idea is to be working fervently to become super great at what you offer.

Meeting a Marketplace Need

You can have herculean-like talents, but still be jobless if there is no demand for those skills.  Same is true for small business owners.  You must serve others where there is a need, a problem you solve, or a highly sought after joy you provide.  Every business owner needs to bring in income in order to exist.

Finding something you can do that is in demand sounds really simple, but at the moment, the marketplace is flooded with people with skills that are not needed.  And sadly, there are jobs that can’t be filled because employers can’t find people with the right skills to fill them.

And thousands of businesses open both online and offline that have to close their doors in one year or less often because they were unable to reach a market that desired or wanted their services in large enough numbers to bring in sufficient income.

Standing Out

Getting acknowledged for the positive contributions you make is key in today’s world of work.  It used to be you sat down twice a year with your supervisor for your performance evaluation and list out your achievements and set goals for the next 6 months.

Today, you must go beyond the out-dated model of catering only to your boss and instead become known for the great work you contribute among your peers and your ideal target market.

This standing out is not self promotion but about helping others be successful.  Once you get results, immediately document your achievements, ask for recommendations, repurpose it in the social media realm – get acknowledged.  No waiting for recording in your HR file twice a year and collect dust.

Bring in More $$ by Marketing to Fewer People

Yes, you read the title correct.  You can actually make MORE money by marketing to fewer people.  This is the premise behind narrowing your focus or niching.

Humans want specific solutions.  To help a headache they want headache medicine and not general pain medicine.Pain Medicine

Think about pain medication. Huge market. If you have a headache, are you going to buy the general pain medicine or the pain medicine specifically for headaches?  The outside package for both OTCs is different, one niches and the other is a generalist trying to cover a broad market, and the actual products are identical.

Research shows marketing as a headache medicine produces tons more sales.

Humans like to be specific. We like to buy things that address our specific needs, not general “fix everything” type of approaches.

Just like fitness and exercise can be narrowed to fitness and exercise for women. You can narrow this further to fitness and exercise for women over the age of forty, and now you have a product that is “Fit Over Forty“.  You will have more sales, thus more profit with this narrow focus than just marketing as a fitness and exercise expert.

Niche Work

There are several ways to define a niche. But your first step needs to come from within. Who do you want to spend your time working with? What kinds of people do you enjoy helping? What kinds of people do you care deeply about and want to help grow and prosper?

Remember, you’ll be building your business around your niche, so you don’t want to build it around a niche you don’t like. These next four questions to ask are key for assuring your niche is profitable – you can make a living.

1. Does your niche group have a strong emotionally compelling problem or issue that you can help with?
2. Is your niche group looking for a solution to their problem – seeking help?  It is much tougher to market a service or product for a problem the target market does not even know they need.
3. Will the help you provide either make your niche group feel much better or solve a big problem for them?  I like to say you want your help to give them better sleep at night.
4. Lastly, is the niche group willing to pay for the benefits they will receive because they see the value to their life, business and/or happiness? What you are digging at here is whether the niche group ranks the solution to their problem high enough to pay for help.

These questions are aiming to prevent you from setting up your business around a need a market is not seeking a solution for nor is willing to pay for  These are tough challenges to overcome even with an outstanding brand and clever marketing campaign.

What this means is it is going to be super challenging to find a product or service to offer for the niche group women 30 – 40 years old that are successful, happy, have little stress and are practicing preventative care that they will pay for.

First, she doesn’t have an  emotionally compelling problem. She feels good now. Second, there is no big difficulty to solve in order for her to feel the immediate benefits, even if she might feel a sense of peace knowing she was preventing problems.

Lastly, she might pay for this kind of preventative help as long as she had the extra money because she knows it is a good idea. However, it will likely be a lower priority which will take more effort on your part to prompt her to action.

Tweak to a Profitable Niche

With a little tweaking you could niche successfully to 30-40 year old women who get chronic debilitating headaches. The headaches zap her energy, wear her out, she is unable to be in a good mood around her children, she feels grumpy and isn’t enjoying life. She now has an emotionally compelling problem you can help with.

Increase your sales and profit by narrowing your focus

She wants to feel good, have the pain go away and have more energy and focus for her kids.

She is definitely willing to pay for this because she wants relief and feels desperate. Your help will change her life for the better.

Now you have a niche that allows you to work with your ideal client and make a living from helping them.

 

 

How a Niche Expands Your Reach

The hardest part of niching for business owners to understand is that by narrowing and solving your problem for your target market – over the top happy clients, you will begin to expand your reach outside of your narrow niche without having to market that broad.

So lets say you have seen 10 ideal clients and resolved their headaches and brought peace back into their life through a meditation focus.  Now, your estatic clients will bring in their husband or their kids or their mom or friend because she knows you, likes you and feels a connection with you.  Her enthusiastic recommendation for you attracts others to go to you for their problems, even non-headache problems.

Now your niche business is growing, even outside your niche. The key is to stay focused on your niche as the ‘headache healer.’  This narrow niching brings in more business in the long term.  With this niche you solve an emotionally compelling problem for a narrow group of people that are willing to pay to gain the positive result you will bring.

Your approach (meditation focus in this example) while solving the problem and your achievement of the desired result can broaden your reach beyond your niche without having to market more.

Entrepreneurs that go too broad (are generalists) struggle with their marketing as they feel they need to include 5 or more different problems they solve in each of their marketing pieces.  The trouble with this is none of their marketing pieces compel their ideal target market to act, to buy – in branding we say this is a weak marketing piece.

To build a successful business, you must find a way to compel people to buy.   Lack of a narrow focus is a top reason businesses struggle to inspire their market to act, to buy.

Are You Doubting That You Have a Brand?

I was talking to a friend this week and she explained how she was not good at anything.   She volunteered for everything and no one knew about her.  Does this sound any bit familiar?

Been there.  I know you are a great helper.  If someone asks you to teach Sunday School or be on their special project or nonprofit committee or be assistant troop leader, do you without hesitation say “yes?”

Stop saying yes to everythingPut a Halt to This

STOP!  No more yeses.  First, my friend has a brand.  She is known as the volunteer person – the person that you can always count on to pitch in where-ever needed.  The problem with this is you never get a chance to use your true gifts – to stand out and feel like you are making a difference using your one-of-a-kind self.

I am not a great Sunday School teacher.  Instead, I am much better on a board position advising strategic direction. It isn’t that I can’t teach Sunday School – sure, I can follow the lesson plans and get excited with the kids.  However, my gifts are not in teaching a big group of young kids, there are others that are perfectly suited for this and come up with all kinds of creative ways to implement the lesson plans.  Instead, my gifts are visionary, leadership and pioneering new areas applying my experiences in my past.

So I volunteer in areas that use my gifts.  I turn down those that are not a great fit.  I want to be known and known powerfully in the areas that are my greatest strengths.

What Are Your Gifts?

So how do you determine your gifts, your areas of super powers?  A simple way is to ask others.  Ask 4 groups of people:

  • Current customers/clients/patients
  • Any fish that got away (those customers you wanted but did not move forward with you)
  • Past customers
  • Friends and family

You want to ask people from both your personal and professional life.  You should be the same person in both lives – your brand carries over from work to personal life and vis-versa.

Ask What?

So what do you ask?  No complex algorithmic sentence.  Just send them an email asking, “When you think of me, what are the first 5 – 10 adjectives that come up when you think of me?”  For right brain people, it is a good idea to also ask an additional question, “If I were a _____ (fill in the blank with either dog, car, kitchen appliance, or breakfast cereal), which one would you name for me and why – just a brief description of why.”

Right brain people like using their imagination and creativity.  It doesn’t matter which car, or cereal they choose, what does matter is their description of why.

Now send it to at least 3 people from each of the groups I defined above.  If you can identify 7 in each group even better.  You want at least 20 replies to review to find out your gifts.

What Do the Answers Mean?

Now sit down comfortably and scan over them.  What trends do you see?  Start going through them one group at a time.  Do you see consistency?  What are they saying?  Next, is there consistency between groups?

Ideally, you want to see trends, overlap in what people are saying.  Different words are fine, but is the overall essence coming through the same?

No need to break out into a sweat if answers are all over the place.  This just means your actions are diluting who you are and your talents.  You need to start filtering what you do to be consistent and clear on the unique strengths you offer.

Okay, what if the message coming through is not you?  What if you are projecting a brand that is not truly you.  Again, no panic.  It just means you probably have been responding to what you thought others expected of you and not who you authentically are.

Plan B

If you came away without knowing any more of what your gifts are than when you started, it is time to take an assessment.  I recommend the StrengthsFinder 2.0 test by Tom Rath (formerly called Now, Discover Your Strengths). First buy your own copy of the book by Tom Rath, then inside the back cover you get a code with which you can use to take their StrengthsFinder online survey.

The StrengthsFinder test will identify for you your top 5 areas of strengths pulling from 34 possible areas of strength made famous by Marcus Buckingham.  The strengths are meant to be areas you have natural talent in.  Don’t fret if you don’t see the strengths you thought would be labeled as strong.  Often those we work hard to master are not our natural unique areas of contribution. You can still use these areas you have invested time and energy in to master in how you distinguish yourself.  However, right now the goal is to find your natural gifts.

Also, know that you can reject any results from an assessment.  They are just a test and can not truly dig down to tell all your hidden gems.  Often they give us clues that lead somewhere or they may not lead anywhere.  Either way,  you move forward on your quest for clarifying who you are.

And yes, you do have a brand.

Being Proper is Out – Being Yourself is In!

I grew up in a generation that placed a lot of value in doing things ‘correctly.’  This has made adding in my personality into everything I do awkward the first couple of times.

Are You Being Proper?

Let me give you two examples.  How many voicemail messages start: “You have reached Jane Doe and I have stepped away from the office or on the phone with someone … at the sound of the beep leave your…”

What about a website about page that goes something like: “Jane is an award winning speaker, writer, consultant…  She writes for … and consults with clients like … She graduated from … with two degrees in …  and is a member of the associations …”

Being Proper Does Not Get You Standing Out

But if you are committed to being authentic and getting seen by those who need your help, you must drop the urge to follow the template of being proper and instead, get used to interjecting your uniqueness.

Personality in Your Offerings

I ask my clients, think about what if your competition copied you – they offered all the same services as you, and offered it at the same price as you and graduated from top universities and programs?  Why would people go with you?  How will you attract ideal clients? The reason people are drawn to you is because of YOU, your personality, your brand, your unique approach, your passions.

Think about the elements that are unique to who you are – experiences, skills, maybe you are passionate about music that your audience can relate to.  Or maybe you lighten conversations with humor, have a unique area of interest, or relate your work to your traveling experiences throughout the world.

Online Businesses that Stand Out Because of Brand

Some fun examples of authentic online businesses with lots of uniqueness in their brand, their personality, and passion about what they do are:

 

Mari Smith - upbeat, gracious and friendly Top Social Media GuruMari Smith –  she is an upbeat, smiling social media expert with a soft Canadian/Scottish accent that understands the small business entrepreneur and is passionate about seeing them succeed.  She gives generously of herself and advice often answering posts herself even though she has a team of assistants. There are thousands, probably millions of social media deemed experts but she is in the top 10 lists consistently in the past two years because of her brand, her personality, her generous ability to draw people to her with her upstanding values and compassion for the little guy.

 

Marie Forleo Hip Hop Dancer Now Small Business Guru
Marie Forleo – is an witty dancing machine that inspires women entrepreneurs to go for their big dreams.  She incorporates her background as a hip hop dancer and choreographer for MTV into her videos.  There are other great programs out there but women (and some men) are drawn to her program for its fun dance element, inspirational “I can” attitude, and her sassy voice both on and off screen.

 

 

Danny Iny - down to earth guy that breaks up complex marketing into bite size steps
Danny Iny – is a down to earth, common guy that shares his life openly in his posts and resources on successful online marketing for the beginner.  His draw is in his non-slick, step-by-step approach where you really feel like he is rooting for and believes in you.

 

Who Are You?

Take a moment to ask yourself if you have held back in any way because it has been engrained in you to do things the ‘proper’ way.  If your answer is ‘yes’, time to step out and let the world get to know the brilliant you.

What about you can breathe life and sparkle into your website about page, blog posts, marketing pieces, voicemail and more?  Is it some fun personality quirk like a witty humor, southern belle charm, or zippy one-liners that catch people off guard?

It could be a passion for your dogs, eating chocolate (that’s me), or obsession with magic.  Find at least one and maybe two or three unique characteristics of you that are personal but not private that you are willing to share with the world so they get to know you which leads to liking you.  It can be as simple as taking the high-road consistently, a serious Scrabble player, compassion for children everywhere,  or celebration of being a present day geek.

Goal All Along

The aim here is to be genuine in attracting people to you so they follow you.  Over time they will get to know, like and trust you.  Once someone knows-likes-trusts you, then they are ready to buy from you.

This is part of the process of building a community, attracting people that believe in what you do, building a lasting relationship with people that are in harmony with you.

This coming week as you go throughout all your daily activities – let your personality shine through loud and clear to attract more clients.

 

What’s Your Legacy: How will others describe you?

Do you ever think about how you want to be remembered?

How do you want to be remembered?  What will people say about you?  Test of authentic personal brand. Recently a mom of one of my childhood friends passed away.  Her write up submitted by her family in the local paper was breath-taking.  It reminded me that the true test of our personal brand – the images and words others have in their mind to describe us, is how we are described once we are gone.

Legacy

Here are some key phrases from my friend’s mom’s obituary:

“Betty was a class act. She loved unconditionally and encouraged everyone to always be the best person they could be.  She was a fierce advocate for her children and grandchildren and always made sure they knew how to take the high road — knowing at times the high road is a difficult one. ”

Now move to 40, 50 or 70 years out when you may be near the end of your life.  What would people write up about you? What will your legacy be?

Raving Testimonials

An activity I do with clients often is to have them write up a testimonial they would love for a client to say about them.  What would be the biggest compliment from a client?  What would make your day, week or month to hear? For me, this would be something like:

“Teresa inspired me to think uber- positively about myself and the gifts I have been blessed with.  She gave me the tools to attract the people I love working with and now have triple the clients I did a year ago. I am so thankful Teresa got my attention.”

Your Turn

Take two minute now to think about how you want to be remembered, today, tomorrow and decades from now?  What do you want people to say about you when you are not in the room or gone?  Write up your ultimate testimonial from a client.

Be sure to include references to specific values or beliefs that you are passionate about.  You also want it to include a sense of how you impacted the person – results you helped them achieve.

Make It Happen

What one action can you do today to powerfully tell the world how you want to be remembered?  The clearer you are on how you want your legacy to be, the easier it is to fulfill.

Go out and make a difference in others’ lives.  You are blessed with unique gifts that others need your help with.

Stand Out! Brand Actions in Social Media So You Are the Only Choice

How do you get noticed?  You are outstanding at what you do.  You know what you offer is way better than the competition.  But how do you get heard above the noise?

Stand out from the herd like this pink zebra doesI’d like to share with you a worksheet I use with my clients on actions to take in 3 of the major social media platforms for standing out, purposely branding themselves so they become the only choice in their area of specialty.

Daily, Monthly Social Media Actions to Stand Out

These are meant as guidelines, starting places.  Like everything I do, I tell clients they can ignore or delete anything they don’t want to do or doesn’t feel like it fits them.

WIIFM

These actions will over time accomplish the following for you and your business:

  • become irresistible to your target market by uncovering your distinct personality
  • attract your ideal customers so they keep coming back for more
  • differentiate your brand so your customers choose you over everybody else

I love this photo of a zebra herd.  The idea is if you look closely each zebra is different – unique set of stripes.  Your ideal target market does not have time though to look this closely at all their options when looking for someone to help them.  This is why even though you are already unique, you need to take actions to stand out like the pink zebra to your ideal target market.

 

Make These Actions Your Own

I get that the entire social media landscape can be overwhelming and it is easiest to be told what to do rather than educating yourself on everything.  Please take time to edit this list to make it your own.  Add in other actions, take off some you don’t think will help you reach your goals, and change any actions so they are doable for you.

Often with clients I will create a weekly and monthly schedule with them so they build up the habit of doing these actions regularly.  Once actions become habit, they don’t feel as overwhelming.

 

Favor

Lastly, I have a favor, email me any actions you want to understand better or maybe a short tutorial on how best to do to teresa@teresapangan.com.  This is an overview sheet and does not include specific how to steps.  I want to know where you want more help.  I would love to hear feedback on if you found this helpful and anything I can do to improve on it. Email me at teresa@teresapangan.com.  Here is the worksheet again Daily, Monthly Social Media Actions to Stand Out.

 

Acting on Authenticity

What Is Authenticity?

Authenticity sounds simple, however, I find for myself it is an evolving journey and not black and white. A definition I use for authenticity is being faithful to one’s true personality, spirit, values, beliefs and character, despite external pressures.  It requires listening and acting on internal rather than external thoughts.

My Eight-Year Old

I get the opportunity to discuss listening to internal cues with my eight-year old boy often…  After he makes a poor choice we discuss whether he had a gut feeling that what he was about to do was wrong.  Fortunately, his answer is “yes” he did feel something in his stomach that he ignored. He did not listen to his inner voice.

Inner Voice

Do you every ignore your inner voice?  What do your internal cues tell you?  A client recently was in a position to leverage a great opportunity that could propel her career.  Her dilemma was the company has been asking her to do things outside her contract and have been stalling on giving her answers on her attempts to communicate her concerns.  She wanted direction on what to do.  Her inner voice was conflicted with what she was being asked to do.

My advice to her was never sacrifice yourself in order to be part of what appears to be a big opportunity.  You teach people how to treat yourself and if a company gets away with it once, chances are stacked in favor of them doing it again.

I realize we all are asked to do things we may not like to do or are not in our strengths, however, we never should sacrifice our authenticity in order to be part of something that looks to be big.

Live authentically so you can blossom into full bloomActing authentically means at some point saying “no” to something that others have assumed you would do.  This is the blossoming part of your personal brand – when you start to fully get who you authentically are and back it up with your actions, listening to your inner voice.

You are moving from a bud that lacked the energy to bloom, to a fully blossomed flower that is one-of-a-kind extraordinaire YOU.

Living authentically is acting in line with your true personality, spirit, beliefs, character and values – what an awesome feeling. Your new, genuine self will attract new people into your life and put off others.

Attracting People That Believe in You

This is the goal all along.  You will be lifted up by those that believe in you –  in your beliefs and values.  These are the people you want to do business with – to work with, become your next client or customer, or develop a lasting, supportive relationship with.

Pause and listen to your inner voice, what is it telling you?  Are you on the right path? You are now!  Blossom and let others enjoy all of you – your beliefs, your values, your character, your personality and very importantly your spirit! Live out your authentic personal brand!

You Don’t Own Your Brand – Others Do

I realize this is a bold statement – you don’t own your brand.  Think for a moment about the definition for brand.  A personal brand is the images, words, thoughts and feelings that come to mind when someone thinks about you or interacts with you personally or professionally.

So your brand is how others describe you based on their own experiences with you, social proof they have read and judgements they make on your intentions.  Brand then is in other people’s minds.

What may be confusing is the word “branding,” which refers to the actions you take at your touchpoints to mold the brand image people have in their minds of you.

Increase Your Brand Value

So to increase your brand value, you must take time and energy to create purposeful and authentic experiences at all your touchpoints.  Your touchpoints are your branding opportunities and this is where most professionals totally miss out.

Typical branding pieces professionals focus on - unfortunately they miss out on many opportunitiesMost people have an understanding of the importance of branding in:

  • brochures
  • logo
  • tag line
  • business cards
  • website
  • social media
  • banners
  • letterhead
  • email signature
  • invoices
  • snail mail
  • waiting room decor

Missed Opportunities

Keep in mind your opportunity to strengthen your brand is at every point a potential customer or past customer has an interaction with your business.  The more often forgotten touchpoints are:

  • voicemail message
  • message you leave when person calling is not available
  • meetings
  • member organizations
  • staff greeting
  • online forums
  • client referrals
  • returning/refunds
  • birthday messages
  • LinkedIn invitation acceptance messages
  • message to new Facebook fans
  • thanks to new Twitter followers
  • shipping boxes
  • shopping bags
  • packaging
  • thank you cards
  • clothing
  • charity events
  • email subject
  • e-books

Each of these touchpoints are opportunities to inspire your prospective customer to buy from you.  What kind of impression are you leaving?  Often simple, inexpensive changes can make a world of difference.  Start with a touchpoint that has minimal investment with maximal impact. What stands out for your business?  What other ones did I miss?