Personal Branding Feed

Creating a Weekly Social Media Tactical Plan in Support of Your Personal Brand

image from www.furlinedteacup.com

It can be easy to get sucked in to a social media time sink when you're getting started building out your personal branding  social media strategy. That's why it's important to identify your top objectives for your social media usage, then formalize a plan for what activities you'll do on a regular basis in support of that plan.

For instance, as a solopreneur or small business owner, your objectives might look like this:

  • Expand word-of-mouth about my services
  • Connect with 12 new industry influencers
  • Identify and become active in 2-3 online groups/communities related to my services
  • Drive 20% of all new business inquiries from social media channels by the end of the year

So how do you translate your positioning and focus areas into your social networking strategy? 

First, set aside a couple of hours for your planning. You'll want to start by taking a close look at your bios on each of your active social networks. Does your bio consistently reflect your messaging? Before you dive into tactics, you want to ensure you are presenting yourself with the same photo and/or graphics across your channels, and using the same language to reflect your value proposition, regardless of channel.

Moving into the planning process, you’ll need to identify:

  • Your primary keywords. Pick at least 3 and no more than 5 to focus on. Examples: digital marketing, financial services marketing, financial planning, social media.
  •  Key thought leaders and content sources for your keywords, starting with what you’ve already been reading/sharing via social. Aim for 10-20 total.
  •  Your weekly goal for posting content. Content can be something new that you share and microblog about (i.e. add your own perspective to a link), or can be something you RT from the folks you follow. 
  • Your weekly goal for 1:1 interactions. This can include replying to an update someone posts, responding to a question with info or a resource, or just sharing something interesting 1:1 with a key person. 

Now that you've defined your activities, and aligned your profile content to your objectives and value proposition, go ahead and block off 15 or 20 minutes per day, every day, on your calendar to focus on your social media activities. This time should be spent on your 1:1 interactions with influencers and followers, and tee’ing up content in Hootsuite or another scheduling tool, to be shared with your audience over the course of the upcoming week.

Given a 15 min a day budget, you can aim for 1 twitter post and 1 Facebook post per day, and a couple of LinkedIn posts of interest to your network per week. This time budget should also allow for 2-3 twitter interactions and 2 Facebook interactions with influencers each week, and commenting on a couple of LinkedIn status updates or community posts per week. 

To make sure you use your time wisely each day, add the related To Do’s (interactions and content sharing discussed above) to your daily calendar reminder.  By setting your goals and having them part of your daily to do list, you’re on your way to improving your brand through regular use of social media.


5 key ingredients to a successful LinkedIn recommendation request

LI_recommendations2

Recommendations for your past work are one of the most powerful inclusions to have on your LinkedIn profile. But it's not enough to do great work and wait for the recommendations and endorsements to flow in. Typically, you are going to need to ask for them. But just making a general request for a recommendation using the LinkedIn boilerplate copy is not enough. What you ask, and how you ask it, will determine how likely you are to get a reply -- and a useful recommendation for your profile.

5 steps to follow when asking for LinkedIn recommendations

Step 1: Decide on one project or role to target

Although it may be tempting to send out dozens of requests, covering every position listed on your LinkedIn profile, resist that temptation! You'll get better recommendations if you keep focused. Start with the role or project that you are most proud of, and that exemplifies the kind of work you'd like to do more of. Now, break down that role into the core competencies you demonstrated, and your key accomplishments. WIth this list in hand, you're ready for the next step.

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How to identify and assess your core competencies

When starting out in your portfolio career, it's tempting to take every opportunity that comes your way, just to ensure a steady income stream. But is that really the best use of your time and efforts? Chances are, if you take on every project that comes your way, you'll inevitably end up taking on  projects that don't make the most of your skills and interests. Given that your most recent projects are what is most likely to lead to your next opportunity, it's important to ensure you keep focused on work that makes the most of your key competencies.

By defining your core competencies and actively going after projects and roles that make the most of them, you will:

  • develop expertise in the areas that matter the most to your customers. 
  • have a path for developing your skills in support of reaching your business goals

Identifying your core competencies

Core_CompetenciesWhat are core competencies?

Lets start by defining what a core competency is in a business setting. A core competency is a specific factor that is central to the way a company and its employees work. It must fulfill three key criteria:

  1. It is difficult for competitors to imitate.
  2. It can be applied widely across many products and markets.
  3. It contributes to the end consumer's experienced benefits. 

Taking this into a real life example, if you are a social media consultant, your core competencies might look like the above illustration. You'll note that these competencies fall into three buckets: functional (which includes unique technical expertise), personal (the areas in which you excel), and leadership (how your competencies interact with managing others.)

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How much social media is too much of a distraction from your career mission?

the conversation prism
2012 visualization of the many social media conversation channels by Brian Solis and Jess3 via http://www.theconversationprism.com/.

Take a few minutes to look at the above visualization of the many social media channels in the Conversation Prism above, grouped by type. If you're active on social, you probably see a few missing, which makes sense, as the illustration is over a year old. Now, take a moment to think about the social networks you use the most. For me, that would be LinkedIn, twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Sure there are others I have logins for, but they're not places I visit daily as part of my personal and professional social media use.

You could spend all of your spare time trying to keep up on reading and interacting with all the  social networks relevant to your personal and career interests. Which is why you need to budget your time and set up a plan for making the most of your time. But before you dive in to that part, first you need to define your objectives and identify the best channels to reach your audience.

Step 1: Identify your social media goals and objectives

Are you using social media to build your personal brand in your career field? Or are you more directly using it to market your professional services or small business? If you are trying to chase after more than 1 goal in any one social media channel, chances are you're not going to be able to use it effectively-- and you may burn yourself out in the process.

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Finding Your Voice: How to Stay True to Yourself While Maintaining a Polished Professional Persona

Unlocking_your_voiceOne of the more difficult tasks as a solopreneur -- or anyone who works in a corporate setting for that matter-- is identifying the appropriate "voice" for your written communications and online interactions. You may be tempted to try to keep your work life and private life separate when it comes to voice, but inevitably, especially thanks to social media's proliferation, those outside of work comments and photos and activities become part of your professional brand -- whether you like it or not.

On the one hand, you don't want to try to maintain an artificially inflated version of yourself that won't hold up under pressure but you also want to craft a polished, professional public persona that will help you meet your career goals. So how do you balance it out?

I've definitely struggled with this balancing act throughout my portfolio career. The answer for me was to be transparent and consistent across my disparate activities. For example, I was a regular arts and entertainment writer, covering all sorts of special events and concerts for a fairly hip and irreverent online publication, while working in communications for a large publicly traded corporation. rather than keeping my dual life a secret, I made sure to incorporate the cultural events journalist into my corporate persona. And I was always aware that anything I wrote in my off work time could possibly be read by my colleagues or even my boss. So I made sure not to step over any cultural lines, or make any comments that could be construed as not being supportive of my workplace.

How did that play out in real life? It meant I didn't write copy that slammed big business, or that made fun of my industry, or that would be offensive to my company's clients. That didn't mean selling out or writing blandly either. It just meant keeping my copy positive, and resisting the urge to snark. Which at the end of the day probably improved my writing-- and my personal brand.

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One Change to Make to Your LinkedIn Profile Today: Improve Your Professional Headline

Does your LInkedIn headline reflect what you do, not just your current role?

When I was poking around on LinkedIn today, I noticed something -- many of my former colleagues are still using their current job title, i.e. Marketing Director or Senior Manager, as their LinkedIn headline. While it's better than not having a headline, it's a missed opportunity. Especially if you've got a portfolio career in the making.

So if you only have time to do one 10 minute task this week to focus on your professional development, make that task be to take a hard look at your LinkedIn headline, and give it an edit to better reflect the unique and marketable skills you want to apply in your work life.

3 Steps to a Better LinkedIn Headline

1.) Take a look at the skills for which others have endorsed you.
Are these skills you want to put to use in future positions, even if you aren't using them now? Do they lend themselves to a unique and specific title, such as Editor, Coach, Illustrator, etc.? If so, make sure to include that as one part of your headline. This is especially helpful for those who are pursuing portfolio careers.

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