The importance of a ‘body of work’ in building your professional reputation

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There’s a saying that your brand is not what you say it is, it’s what Google says it is.

That being the case, if you Googled your name, what would you find?  Two things to consider here:

 1. Would your name come up early in the search engine results?
 2. And if it did, would whatever the search engine results pointed to do the professional ‘you’ justice?

We’re heading down a path that, professionally, if you can’t be found online, you won’t ‘exist’.

Let’s face it, more often than not we check out someone online before meeting them for the first time, or engaging them for a commercial assignment, or potentially partnering with them on a project or venture; if you’re a leader or subject matter expert, journalists, bloggers and podcasters will also check you out before requesting an interview or asking you for a quote.

All of which makes it imperative that our credentials stack up well if anyone goes digging for professional purposes. After all, we do business with people that we know, like and trust – some quick research online will often give us an intuitive feeling one way or the other, providing of course we can find what we’re looking for!

Thus it’s becoming imperative to be easily found online; indeed it’s a must in some quarters, especially if you’re a startup entrepreneur, a subject matter expert, a solo professional or a senior (or on-the-way-up) executive in a larger organisation.

media_check_out_expertsBut more than being found, increasingly having an obvious body of work that demonstrates your skills in, and enthusiasm for, a particular niche or area of expertise counts for a lot, especially if the person wanting to do business with you is also sounding out other potential suitors. Ditto for the journalist on the trail for an interview subject or a conference organiser looking for a keynote speaker to present at their next event or a publisher sniffing around for some up-and-coming author talent.

This is where you can start influencing people’s perception of you in a real and meaningful way, to build your professional reputation and trust in your personal brand.

What do I mean by a ‘body of work’?

THINK: An active blog, podcast or series of online videos; are you on Twitter, and do you participate with enthusiasm? Are you an active photographer, curating and/or posting images on the likes of Pinterest, Instagram or Tumblr? Do you have any presentations on SlideShare that demonstrate your knowledge and ideas? Are you publishing on LinkedIn’s new blogging platform?

At the very least you should have a presence on LinkedIn so you come up in online searches allowing people to check out if you’re really who you say you are from a professional standpoint, and whether you share any common connections with others in the business community.

Does your LinkedIn profile help or hinder you?

Ensure your LinkedIn profile page truly encapsulates who you are, your strengths and experiences – include a professional headshot, write your summary so it crackles with purpose and personality, include links to relevant websites and social media channels, and potentially incorporate a SlideShare presentation or two. Using LinkedIn’s new blogging platform, I think, is a game-changer.

Also, make a genuine effort to build up your network of connections on LinkedIn; I don’t mean invite every Tom, Dick or Harry to connect with you simply to bolster your numbers, but rather judiciously build your base of connections steadily and organically, by connecting with people whom you’ve met at an event, or that you follow online on Twitter, for example. Join LinkedIn Groups relevant to your business and participate, connecting with fellow group members that you follow and admire.

Establish your home base

With LinkedIn sorted, the next step is to build a ‘home base’, a content hub as it were, for your thoughts and ideas. A blog is your best bet here, for example a WordPress site that you host on your own domain name. Alternatively, if you’re trying to keep things simple, you might consider a free Tumblr account, or if you want to take it up a notch, a paid Typepad blog is also recommended.

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Contribute to your blog on a regular basis – at the very least once a week, although to gain momentum you will probably need to post more frequently than that, particularly in the early days e.g. two to three times a week.

Not sure what to create content about?

What do you want to be known for? What conversations do you want to start/be part of? What issues do you want to ignite debate around? What ‘spins your wheels’ and gets you excited?

The great thing with developing a body of work is that you’re not confined to writing simple text posts – consider recording videos on your web cam or using your smartphone (then upload the video to YouTube and subsequently embed on your website); perhaps you might like to try recording an audio-only interview with an expert in your space, someone you think others would be interested in listening to – record via Skype or if in-person, use a recording app such as iTalk on the iPhone – upload the audio file to SoundCloud then embed the ‘player’ on your blog. Add photos to your articles; perhaps record a 15-second Instagram video and embed in your post. Or maybe create and publish a series of presentations on SlideShare.

Multiple options

We have so many options when it comes to creating and publishing content today. It’s a matter of finding the medium that you’re most comfortable with. And then you have the myriad social channels through which to distribute said content to your personal and professional online networks, and beyond.

Explore, have fun – but most of all, contribute to a body of work that over time builds your profile beyond your immediate network of friends, family, colleagues and peers, as well as trust in your personal brand.

 

WRAP-UP: What caught the Warrior’s eye this week (w/c April 14)

It’s been a bit of a jumble of stuff this week leading up to Easter, a real mixed bag of cool stuff, from social media-themed comedy, the launch of a major content marketing play by one of Australia’s ‘Big Four’ banks, and a brilliant and relevant article by author and blogger, Mark Schaefer.

Okay … let’s get into it!

TWTRLAND – interesting Twitter analysis tool

I stumbled upon (and subsequently tried out) Twtrland which, according to the company, “visualizes social footprints to help you discover new people, understand their impact and find better ways to connect and increase your network”.

I gave the tool a test-run and I liked what I saw. It allows you to analyse your Twitter activity (you can also connect Instagram and Facebook accounts) to see how many of your tweets were retweeted, how much engagement you’ve had with your network, and what your audience’s interests are.

According to Twtrland, I tweet on average 17 times per day, I get 39 retweets for every 100 tweets, and 22 per cent of my followers are what it classifies as ‘power users’, while 73 per cent are ‘casual users’. On average I share 39.5 links per week, and 44 per cent of my tweets are ‘@ replies’.

I trialled the free version of Twtrland; a paid version gets you deeper insights into your Twitter activity.

twtrland_trevoryoung

BLOG POST: The best marketing insight I’ve received in the past 5 years (by Mark Schaefer)

@markwschaeferI love this post by Mark Schaefer (pictured) on his popular Grow blog. The insight? Be. More. Human!

Mark’s contention is that connecting in a human way builds trust. Trust builds loyalty. And loyalty trumps everything.

I agree 100 per cent; this whole notion of human connection is why I’m so interested in the area of social media and content marketing. Indeed, over on my Connected Brand blog,  I write a lot about about savvy companies – what I call connected brands – that are using social technologies and online publishing platforms to connect with the marketplace on a deeper level.

Mark is what I call a ‘pragmatic purist’ (much like myself). While he’s a marketer at heart who is in the business of helping people to grow their company, reputation, customers, impact and profits, he also values the power of story, connection and relationships over simply using technology to try and ‘game the system’.

I recommend following Mark on Twitter – you’ll be all the more illuminated for the experience!

BLUE NOTES – Major content marketing play

One of Australia’s major four banks – the ANZ – this week launched a major content marketing play called BlueNotes.

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It’s interesting move for several reasons.

One, ANZ hasn’t exactly been a leading light when it comes to the world of social media. Indeed, I think the Commonwealth Bank has been the most progressive of the four banks, with NAB also doing some interesting things in the space. Secondly, the fact ANZ  recruited two business journalist heavyweights - Walkley Award winner and former Australian Financial Review columnist Andrew Cornell and former BRW and Smart Investor publisher, Amanda Gome – to spearhead the new content venture has made people, me included, sit up and take notice.

According to the bank’s head of corporate comms, Paul Edwards: “BlueNotes is a new way of sharing those stories based on quality journalism, research and opinion, and a new way of contributing to the social conversation about the economy, business and finance, technology, innovation, investment, inclusion and sustainability – as well as breaking news from ANZ.”

BlueNotes is a bold move, albeit financially a drop in the ocean compared to the amount of dollars the brand throws at mainstream advertising. The challenge will be when it comes to telling its own stories and whether or not it can resist the temptation to ‘spin’ the yarn for its own purposes versus writing the article in an authentic way that’s more relevant and interesting for the audience. I think with the journalistic talent at the helm, they’ll make the right decision!

On what I’ve seen already, I think the BlueNotes content initiative will serve the ANZ well.

FURTHER READING:  Why (ANZ CEO) Mike Smith is a Social Media Believer

JORDANA BORENSZTAJN’S LIKE ME, LOVE ME, RETWEET ME - Hilarious comedy show

This week I sat in the audience for Like Me, Love Me, Retweet Me, comedian Jordana Borensztajn‘s hilarious social media-themed show for the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

In Like Me, Love Me, Retweet Me, Jordana explores issues of honesty and self-worth online, and exactly why making herself look good on social media is a full-time job! She joked incessantly about how we use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to craft an online image for our friends and followers;  and of course, funny cat videos were a highlight!

Jordana Borensztajn with PR Warrior Trevor YoungPIC: Hanging with Jordana Borensztajn after her sold-out show for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

BLAST FROM THE PAST:  Social Media is the New Punk Rock

My mate, the online reputation management guru Gerry McCusker produced this video back in 2009, just as social media was starting to emerge. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon it this week, but I gave it another play and was pleasantly surprised how parts of the message are still wholly relevant today, some five years later!

 

Warrior Around the Web

I’ve been a tad active these past few weeks. Not sure why, must be something in the virtual water!  Here is a sweep of content I’ve had published over the past few weeks.

HOW TO BUILD A ‘VILLAGE OF SUPPORT’ FOR YOUR PERSONAL BRAND (Ideas Ignition blog)

This post – on Firebrand Talent’s awesome ‘Ideas Ignition’ blog – has really resonated with people, notching up some 340 shares on social media.

It’s one thing to have a network of professional contacts – friends, peers, and acquaintances that you can call upon for all manner of favours: such as making introductions on your behalf, tipping you in to new business or career opportunities, or simply inviting you to the corporate box at the MCG to watch the footy!

But it’s another matter entirely to have a vibrant and engaged ‘village of support’ underpinning YOU (and when I say you, I don’t just mean you the person, but ‘Brand You’ and all that comes with it – your reputation and standing within the professional community).  READ THE FULL ARTICLE 

VIDEO INTERVIEW: INBOUND MARKETING UPDATE WITH JEETU MAHTANI, HUBSPOT (The Connected Brand blog)

HubSpot is a highly regarded marketing software company that’s been growing like crazy in recent years. I’ve been hat-tipping the brand for several years now for the way it uses social media and useful original content to market itself and its products. As an example of a progressive ‘connected brand’, there are few better than HubSpot (check out the the quantity and quality of the brand’s free online resources; the company’s blog is also a ripper!).

Thus it was great to catch up the other day and chat with HubSpot’s Dublin-based international managing director, Jeetu Mahtani, who was in Australia to announce the opening of HubSpot’s Asia Pacific headquarters based in Sydney.  WATCH THE INTERVIEW

LINKEDIN BLOGGING PLATFORM

I’ve been experimenting this past fortnight with LinkedIn’s new blogging platform.

Here is a selection of the most viewed articles:

 

Twitter rolls out new-look profile page

Twitter has just announced it will be rolling out a new-look design for its web-based profile pages.

According to the Twitter blog, the new web profile allows Twitter account holders to use a larger profile photo, customise their header, show off their best Tweets, among other things.

Here are the main features according to Twitter:

  • Best Tweets: Tweets that have received more engagement will appear slightly larger, so your best content is easy to find.
  • Pinned Tweet: Pin one of your Tweets to the top of your page, so it’s easy for your followers to see what you’re all about.
  • Filtered Tweets: Now you can choose which timeline to view when checking out other profiles. Select from these options: Tweets, Tweets with photos/videos, or Tweets and replies.

The new features will be rolled out to the Twitter community over coming weeks.

I’ve just had a play around with the design (below) – I’m liking what I see! Bigger, cleaner and more room for self-expression. Getting the feature banner image right is key – requires a bit of experimentation me thinks!

What do you think of the new design features?

tweetgrab

 

First Lady Michelle Obama @flotus

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Film star @channingtatum

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LinkedIn’s new blogging platform is a game-changer for DIY thought leadership

If you are an entrepreneur, subject matter expert or business professional and your goal is to lift your profile, grow your influence and build your personal brand and reputation, at the very least you need to:

(a)  maintain a content-rich blog, and

(b)  be active on LinkedIn.

The good news is, you can now ‘kill two birds with the one stone’ because LinkedIn is in the throes of rolling out its new blogging platform (THINK: ‘Tumblr for LinkedIn’). *

For some reason I’ve just been selected to be among the early group of LinkedIn members to be invited to publish long-form content to the new platform (I don’t think it’s that big a deal, it’s probably because I am pretty active on LinkedIn and somehow they know that!).

Anyway, I gave the new platform a quick test-drive on Friday and here was the result:

TYOUNG_LINKEDIN

MY OPINION? I think LinkedIn’s new blogging platform is an awesome idea, a very welcome addition to an all-important social platform! Indeed, I believe it’s a GAME-CHANGER for professionals wanting to drive their own thought leadership and personal branding efforts.

A couple of issues:  I struggled with the pic uploading function – it doesn’t seem to be working for some reason, and how the post is featured on your LinkedIn profile could be improved – but all up it’s a pretty powerful new feature for what is a critical platform for entrepreneurs and professionals.

While this initiative by LinkedIn is not ‘new’ (it was originally announced in February), expect to see it gain serious traction over coming months.

If your goal is to grow your influence and credibility by publishing original content, when you get the opportunity consider giving ‘Tumblr for LinkedIn’ a crack!

LinkedIn-Publishing-Tool-for-Members1-640x364

MORE:

NOTE: LinkedIn first unleashed its ‘INFLUENCERS’ initiative with high profile thought leaders back in late 2012. These ‘influencers’ included Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, Sallie Krawcheck, Craig Newmark, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and more.

The LinkedIn strategy is pretty pronounced. The brand wants to to create a ‘content play’ that makes the platform a ‘must-visit’ website/social network. If you’re a professional and are visiting LinkedIn regularly, it’s happy days for LinkedIn! Of course, this also means it provides excellent opportunities for individuals to increase ther visibility and influence!

 

*  While I think the LinkedIn blogging platform is a great initiative and it’s certainly an opportunity I will be availing myself of, I am still very steadfast in my view that if you want to be seen as a genuine thought leader and key influencer in your space, you really do need to own your own platform, and that means having your own blog on your own domain name!

 

The LAW OF ATTRACTION 3.0: Achieving personal business success in a noisy, socially-connected world

the LAW OF ATTRACTION 3.0

Some eight years ago a personal development juggernaut called The Secret hit the big time, and then some!

The Secret started life as a film that was turned into a book before exploding into a multimedia extravaganza that kick-started a global movement. At the heart of The Secret is what is commonly referred to as the Law of attraction, the tenet of which is that positive thinking can create life-changing results such as increased wealth, improved health and greater happiness. According to WikipediaThe Secret book has sold more than 19 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 46 languages.

Millions of people around the world believed in the promise of the Law of Attraction, although it must be said many millions more did not give the concept much credence. However, the goal of this post is not to dwell on The Secret‘s take on the Law of Attraction and whether or not it has the potential to bring personal fulfilment to ordinary folk; I’m happy for you to make up your own mind on that score.

Reason for this post is that I want to float this concept by you: I call the Law of Attraction 3.0 (there is a 2.0 floating about, it looks like it mines similar territory to 1.0). Think of it as giving the age-old Law of Attraction a reboot, re-energising it for today’s socially-driven, connected economy. But be warned, it requires some serious work.

What is The Law of Attraction 3.0?

Put simply, the key tenet of the Law of Attraction 3.0 is about putting yourself out there on the social web (professionally and personally), using online networking sites and new media platforms to increase your visibility, spread your ideas, deliver value and grow your influence and reputation.

Do this with passion, purpose and strategic intent over the long haul and you WILL see benefits.

Connections will be made, relationships will be cultivated, doors will open and opportunities will come your way.

In other words the Law of Attraction 3.0 is all about leveraging the social web to attract attention in a positive way, to give  people a better sense of who you are and what you stand for, to demonstrate in a public, real-time online environment your thoughts, ideas and expertise.

You are making it happen, or what best-selling author Seth Godin likes to say, you’re “picking yourself” rather than wait for a gatekeeper to recognise your talent and give you a break.

Grabbing all

I want to stress however this is not just a case of simply having a bright and sunny outlook and as a result positive things will happen (although they might – good things do happen to good people!). You need to do the work!

It’s also not a case of simply jumping on to Twitter and tweeting to your heart’s content and KABOOM, opportunities will drop into your lap from the virtual sky. Sure, you will probably make friends as a result if being active on Twitter, which in turn will no doubt lead to the odd opportunity here and there - being connected does have its advantages! - but it’s only a small part of the overall ‘attraction’ equation.

No, I’m talking more about sustained activity carried out with enthusiasm and purpose, activity that has been strategically planned but imbued with enough flexibility so you’re able to see, as well as capitalise on, opportunities as they arise.

Establish your home base!

The Law of Attraction 3.0 starts with the establishment of an online content home base – essentially a blog, but you may wish to make it a video or podcast channel on a third-party ‘sub-hub’ such as YouTube or iTunes (preferably you’d own your own digital real estate, but that’s a story for another time). With your home base, or hub, established you need to populate it with a steady stream of original content that educates, inspires, empowers or entertains an audience.

It continues with a daily ritual of sharing not only your own original content but links to other people’s articles and videos and podcasts. Spend time reading, curating and distributing this content; do it with as much enthusiasm and purpose as you can muster.

Futurist and anthropologist Brian Solis calls this ”relentless giving”,  the act of repeatedly creating and sharing content that benefits others, again and again and again.

GO DOWN THIS PATH: Over time, a confluence of things will occur that will change your life; note – this is not a silver bullet and the same things won’t happen to everyone, but you’re putting yourself in a wonderful position of making your own luck. You’re picking yourself!

You will get noticed by people who are interested in your stories, your thoughts and your ideas. Some will even share your content with their personal and professional networks.

You will be followed on social channels by people who – because of your efforts – will get to know, like and trust you. THIS IS A GOOD THING!

You will connect emotionally and/or intellectually with a wide range of people, some of whom will recommend you to their friends, peers and connections.

You will come to the attention of influencers such as bloggers, podcasters, journalists and maybe even radio and TV producers; these people will seek you out for quotes for stories, or they may want to interview you and put the result to air so many others – thousands, potentially – will get to see you in action!

Event organisers will ask you to speak, whether it’s on a panel at a seminar or delivering a presentation at an industry networking night or professional conference.

Increased levels of credibility

This in turn will have the potential to lead to all sorts of opportunities such as consulting gigs, other speaking engagements, maybe a media interview or the possibility of writing a guest post on an influential blog, or even partnering on a cool community project or startup commercial venture.

More speaking gigs will lead to a higher profile and increased levels of credibility; your social following will grow as will the number of subscribers to your blog or podcast or online video show.

law_of_attraction_2point0

By now, your communications platform will be in place, in turn helping you to attract even more opportunities to write articles for other blogs and online media outlets – again resulting in more followers, more sharing of your content, more ‘social heat’ around your thoughts, opinions and ideas. And so it goes!

Enhanced reputation

Who knows, your enhanced profile and professional reputation might even lead to you getting a book deal from a mainstream publisher, or you may decide to go it alone and publish your own book. If this happens, combined with everything else you’re doing, releasing a book will add an extra (and valuable) layer of credibility to your name and reputation.

The Law of Attraction 3.0 is not about putting out a positive vibe so the universe comes to you (although there’s certainly nothing wrong with having a sunny disposition!). It’s about earning the attention of people (including influencers), and attracting the opportunities as a result of your efforts in delivering value to a growing audience, over time, without the expectation of getting anything in return. Positive thinking is one thing, but adding value publicly – relentlessly – and with purpose and authenticity is what it’s all about in a 3.0 age.

Give it a go!

3 ways to get more value from events using social media

high angle view of a group of business executives at an exhibitionDespite all the hoopla surrounding online marketing and social media, one thing that keeps hitting home to me time and time again is the huge value associated with face-to-face activity, specifically events.

We can look at events in three ways: attending an event, running an event or speaking at one. For this post I’m going to focus on the attendance of events only.

Let’s be clear: events have always been an effective way to connect with new people (for example, potential clients or partners, influencers, business associates etc) as well as reconnect with existing contacts.

However, strategically using social media in tandem with your event-based activity will ensure you get the most out of your efforts because, let’s face it, attending events can be a time-consuming business!

Without further a-do, here are three tips on how to get the most out of events using social media. 

(NOTE: These tips will vary in their applicability depending on what type of event you’re attending. Is it an industry networking get-together? A training seminar? A conference, perhaps?)

  • Cover the event using Twitter. Two areas to look out for: (a) report interesting snippets/quotes/soundbites from the speakers or comment on things they are talking about; (b) take photos of participants and upload them into your tweet stream. Ditto LinkedIn and Facebook (whichever platform you feel the most comfortable with). I tend to use Twitter because I get more timely reaction from my network.
  • Write a blog post after the event if it was interesting enough and you feel your readers would derive value from your opinions and observations. The post may be an overall snapshot of the event, or you might hone in on one particular speaker. Perhaps you might like to take along a Flipcam or use your iPhone to interview participants or one of the speakers and then post it to YouTube and your blog. You can then link to the post via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to ensure broader distribution of your work.
  • Send a LinkedIn invitation to connect with people you met at the event. Get into the habit of doing this within 24 hours. If you collect business cards, consider using an app such as CardMunch. (Take a picture of the card using the app, and it converts to a contact automatically. It will also show LinkedIn profile information and connections you have in common.) You might do likewise with Twitter if the people you meet are on the platform.

In today’s hyper-connected marketplace where the temptation is to build your network using mainly social networking channels, it’s even more important to get out there and press the flesh.

However, when you combine the two—when you ‘socialise’ events and extend your involvement via the likes of Facebook, Twitter and your blog—it shows you’re not only out and about, active and connected, but also you’re adding value to your community of followers and contacts.

And this can only be a positive thing for your personal brand!

BECOME A ‘MICRO MAVEN’ PART 4 – Create the ideal business for YOUR lifestyle

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You’re a creative entrepreneur with expertise in, and passion for, a particular subject.

This subject could be based around your chosen vocation – i.e. you might be a solo professional (or running a small team) such as an architect or financial planner – or it might simply be a hobby that gets you jazzed every day; for example, you might be a French cooking aficionado or an expert bush walker…you might be  into handmade jewellery or marathon running or training rottweilers.

Whatever the subject, we’re talking about a passion and skill-set that one day you’d like to turn into a full-time gig. So obviously spending time doing something you love (and are good at) is an awesome start.

To become what we at microDOMINATION like to call a ’micro maven’ you will need to develop your platform, build your personal brand and then start growing a business enterprise that generates revenue from a number of difference sources. To recap:

  • Establish a platform that rocks!
  • Strap a rocket to your personal brand
  • Grow a business off the back of your reputation

But the ultimate goal, of course, is to create a business the works for you. This will be a case of different strokes for different folks…perhaps you only want to work 20-30 hours a week so you can spend more time with your family; maybe you want flexibility in your day to pursue other hobbies, or be able to work remotely and run your business no matter where you are in the world.

Other things that might be important to you include:

  • Doing work that has meaning and purpose.
  • Spending time doing what you love and creating value for others.
  • Attaining a high level of financial independence.

These are all good things by the way, and boxes that many successful micro mavens have ticked, or are well on their way to ticking.

For example, home organising expert and mother of five - Nicole Avery aka @PlanningQueen – wanted to run a business from home that fitted around her family, not the other way around.

Natalie Sisson and Chris Guillebeau (pictured above *) are super-keen travellers. They want to be running their business no matter where in the world they are at the time.

Ross Clennett is the recruiter’s recruitment expert; his goal in doing what he is doing is to work from home near the beach so he could spend more time with his family.

Others tread the micro maven path as a way to build profile and credibility for their more traditional bricks-and-mortar business, in turn helping to boost sales.  In this case, growing the company is perhaps a more important goal than having a flexible lifestyle.

There is no right or wrong, just what works best for you personally.

Portfolio Approach

The good news is, the technology is in place for you to not only cost effectively build your brand on a global scale but also leverage off your good name by developing numerous pipelines of revenue (I call this a ‘portfolio approach’ to work).

Whether this is:

  • writing a blog via WordPress or producing a podcast on iTunes;
  • connecting with fans and influencers using the likes of Twitter and Google+;
  • communicating with clients via Skype;
  • co-opting via oDesk a virtual team of experts to help you to run your business;
  • holding Google+ Hangouts as a way of chatting with fans and followers from around the world;
  • running webinars (via a provider such as GoToWebinar) to attract people to your brand and build your email list;
  • publishing ebooks or digital training programs sold via your website and/or a network of affiliate merchants;

… the technology exists and these activities can be done freely and cheaply in many cases.

Of course that doesn’t mean it’s easy work – it takes considerable effort, focus, humility and imagination to become a micro maven – but it can be done more easily, cheaply and efficiently today than any time in our history.

Prepare to dominate!

* Pic sourced from Chris Guillebeau's Twitter account

BECOME A ‘MICRO MAVEN’ PART 3 – Grow a business off the back of your reputation

grow_your_biz

Becoming a micro maven is a journey. First you have to develop your platform and build your personal brand.

The key is to leverage the power of social media, content marketing and traditional PR tactics to boost your profile and build your reputation as a trusted authority within your area of speciality and expertise.

Then comes the ‘business’ part.

With increased visibility, authority and influence comes the opportunity to build a diversified and sustainable business enterprise that’s anchored by your growing personal brand. 

One thing micro mavens are very good at is diversifying the sources of their income. Gone are the days when you had to operate a small business and rely on cash coming in through just the one big pipe. If you’re an expert or seen to be an authority in a particular area, you have the opportunity to not only speak professionally, coach, advise and consult, but also run your own events and webinars, write ebooks, manage membership websites and create information products such as online training programs and digital courses.

While the above activities can be organised and executed without the need for physical commercial premises or team of permanent employees, that doesn’t mean you can’t also leverage your good name to build a more traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ business. Gary Vaynerchuk (pictured), who climbed to micro-fame by way of a long-running daily web video show called Wine Library TV, has parlayed his burgeoning personal brand into a fast-growing brand consulting agency called VaynerMedia.

gary_vee wine libraryTV

Let’s briefly look at the options:

  • CONSULTING - the ‘bread and butter’ revenue generator for experts and solo professionals; falls into the area of ‘trading time for dollars’ thus an individual’s earning capacity is limited to the amount of time they have available.
  • COACHING & MENTORING - one-on-one coaching is a business based on head-hours but can also be richly rewarding for experts with a passion for teaching and sharing knowledge; technologies such as Skype have effectively ensured personal mentors and coaches can now operate on a global basis.
  • PROFESSIONAL SPEAKING - a natural progression for any expert wanting to become known as an authority in their area of expertise; importantly, not only can speaking be quite lucrative but regularly hitting the stage is great for the promotion of one’s personal brand (not to mention their products and services).
  • TRADITIONAL BOOK PUBLISHING - having a traditional publisher release your book can have a huge impact on how you’re perceived in the marketplace; you might not make all that much money from book sales per se (unless you have a major best-seller) but in all likelihood the book will help increase your public profile and potentially generate interest in your products and services.
  • ONLINE INFORMATION PRODUCTS - includes self-published e-books, online training courses and digital programs, smartphone apps etc; these products can be sold either through your website or online marketplaces such as Amazon, or via a network of affiliates around the world, and thus have the potential to earn money literally while you’re asleep!
orator in public
  • EVENTS AND WEBINARS - with profile, credibility and a reputation for speaking and training comes the opportunity to run your own live events or online webinars; promoting one’s own events is great not only for generating revenue but also raising one’s profile as a speaker and trainer.
  • CONTINUITY PROGRAMS - an excellent means of generating recurring revenue month in, month out; for example it could be a password-protected members-only website where people sign up (and pay a monthly fee) to gain access to information and resources not freely available to the general public.
  • OTHER - additional streams of income can be earned through blog sponsorship; affilate links on your website that promote other people’s products and services (every time someone clicks on your affiliate link and goes on to make a purchase, you will be eligible for a commission); content creation for other media outlets; and commercial partnerships with other brands (if you are a trusted and influential brand with a large connected following, companies and organisations may well want to get you involved as an ambassador, for example).

Smarter strategy

The brilliant thing with being a micro maven today is you can package your expertise in numerous ways; if you’ve traditionally earned your crust with ‘high touch’ consulting and coaching activities, that’s brilliant but it does have its limitations.

A smarter strategy is to leverage digital technology to not only generate additional income through the creation of your own products but also re-imagine how you can carry out the more traditional consulting tasks in ways that are more time-efficient.

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TREVOR YOUNG specialises in PR, social media, content marketing and personal branding strategies. He speaks professionally and is the author of the book ‘microDOMINATION: How to Leverage Social Media & Content Marketing to Build a Mini-Business Empire Around Your Personal Brand’

 

 

 

BECOME A ‘MICRO MAVEN’ PART 2 – Strap a rocket to your personal brand

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In a previous post we looked at the importance of developing a platform from which to start amplifying your voice and elevating your positioning in the marketplace.

Having a solid platform is critical as it serves as the launchpad for your personal brand; in other words, it underpins much of what you will be doing from a PR and marketing perspective. As such, it’s important both elements – platform and brand – are looked at in tandem.

RECAPPING: A platform as a person’s combined and integrated presence across the web – their blog (or podcast or online video series) along with their followings on social networks – plus any regular offline exposure i.e. a regular magazine column. The result of this presence is a growing audience. Think of these elements as the ‘planks’ of your platform. The more planks you have, the stronger and more solid your platform.

But let’s focus on brand for the moment.

Building your personal brand – in other words, increasing your reach and influence and the level of connection you have with the marketplace – is a key component to becoming a micro maven and dominating your niche.

But first, what is a brand?

Too many people confuse their logo with their brand. Don’t be one of them – your logo is not your brand. What people think about you – that is your brand; your reputation in the eyes of others? That is your brand! Or as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos from Amazon.com was once quoted as saying – a brand is ‘what people say about you when you’re not in the room’.

There are three ways in which you can go about building your personal brand.

ONE – haphazardly, just doing stuff and hoping like hell something positive will happen as a result (not what I’d recommend, by the way).

TWO – meandering in a purposeful manner; in other words you’ve got a direction in which you need to head but occasionally you might get off the path to explore new territory (this is the way I tend to roll).

THREE – being laser-focused and absolutely resolute in your pursuit of defining and promoting your personal brand. If you’re a hardcore planner and a very detailed person when it comes to execution, this way will suit you best.

Radio DJ

By being conscious of how you want others to perceive your brand, you will be in a better position to start taking deliberate steps to ensure that perception is a consistent one across all ‘touchpoints’. By touchpoints I mean anywhere people come into contact with your brand, whether it be in a blog post, a magazine column, a podcast interview, a tweet, a LinkedIn update, an email, a phone conversation, or an in-person chat.

There are several key things to remember here:

  • REACH – how far and wide is your message being carried?
  • DEPTH – what is the depth of connection you’re making with your audience?
  • FREQUENCY – how often are you getting your message out into the marketplace?
  • CONSISTENCY – how consistent are you in terms of the substance of your output?

An ongoing program to build your personal brand needs to touch on all of the above. In other words, your goal should be to always be to look at blending high-reach activities (e.g. editorial coverage in traditional media) with more high-touch activities such as public speaking or attending industry networking nights – for example, giving a presentation or hosting a roundtable discussion will carry deeper levels of engagement than, say, an article in a magazine, but the latter will expose your brand to greater numbers of people. BOTH MEDIUMS ARE CRUCIAL IN THE BRAND-BUILDING EQUATION.

Importantly, you need to be undertaking activities such as these on a frequent and proactive basis while at the same time ensuring your story/message (visually, written and verbal) is consistent as it can be.

That is both the challenge and the opportunity!

In subsequent articles we will look at how you can more strategically build your personal brand, starting with defining your brand story (including key messages and evidence-based ‘proof-points’), before moving on to:

  • developing your ‘spheres of conversation’ (i.e. what categories do you want to ‘own’, what topics do you want to be known for, what issues to you want to spark debate around); and
  • determining your ‘spheres of influence’ (what channels you will use on an ongoing basis to communicate your story and your message/s?).

To become a powerful personal brand with a public image that accurately represents the ‘real’ you requires a few things:

  1. that you understand what you stand for as a brand and how you would like yourself to be perceived, then …
  2. taking action to ensure you not only reach and connect with as many people as possible but also…
  3. that you are in consistent across-the-board in all your communication activities.

This means being fully cognisant of the multiple communication channels at your disposal, ranging from the ‘owned’ (your blog and website, for example) through to external mediums such as traditional media (press and broadcast) and online magazines, plus the raft of social channels that you will never own per se, only ‘rent’.

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TREVOR YOUNG specialises in PR, social media, content marketing and personal branding strategies. He speaks professionally and is the author of the book ‘microDOMINATION: How to Leverage Social Media & Content Marketing to Build a Mini-Business Empire Around Your Personal Brand’

 

 

BECOME A ‘MICRO MAVEN’ PART 1 – Establish a platform that rocks!

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A critical first step in becoming a micro maven is developing a robust platform from which to increase your reach, your visibility and your influence.

This is something you’re going to need to get your head around. It’s the not-so-secret secret of building a known and respected microbrand in your niche, whether on a domestic or international level.

It’s also something that was virtually impossible to do even a handful of years ago.

Being able to develop and sustain your own platform is the real game-changer in today’s hyper-connected world, it’s a serious leveler of the metaphoric playing field we call ‘the marketplace’. THIS IS WHY IT’S SUCH AN EXCITING CONCEPT!

What was a platform?

Years ago your platform would have been a stage or a radio show or a newspaper column or a regular spot on a TV program, or a combination thereof.

If you were a singer, it was a recording contract and the subsequent tour and distribution of your music to radio stations and TV music video shows.

If you were an actor, it was the stage plays and movies you performed in that gave you visibility and brought the media to your door-step.

If you were an elite sportsperson, it was the court or field you took to.

If you were an author, it was the mega book deal you signed (and the subsequent printing, distribution, promotion and sales of your book).

If you were a politician, it was a rostrum in the Parliament coupled with the tens or hundreds of press conferences or media ‘door-stops’ you participated in that constituted your platform.

Notice something?

You needed a certain ‘something’ before a gatekeeper would deem you worthy enough for them to put their butt on the line for you.

A singer needed a record company to sign them up; an actor needed a producer to give them the green light; a sports person needed the coach, or a panel of selectors, to pick them for the team; an author needed a publisher to take a punt on their work, while a politician needed thousands of ‘gatekeepers’ – aka the public – to vote them into Parliament in the first place.

Where are YOU in all this?

What chance did you have for making a name for yourself outside of the traditional channels? What hope did you ever have of breaking outside the small bubble that was your industry or immediate area of expertise?

I won’t say “Buckley’s and none” chance because some people obviously have managed to make a name for themselves in their chosen field and then broken into mainstream consciousness thanks to extended media coverage. For example, there are household-name entrepreneurs who have been clever in the way they’ve courted the media and as a result built widespread public recognition for themselves.

For example, in Australia you have Janine Allis, the founder of the chain of Boost Juice outlets; John Symond, who established Aussie Home Loans and made a name for himself by fronting his own TV ads (very expensive); Mark Bouris, who built up (and then sold for a fortune) Wizard Home Loans, ultimately landing a key role in the Australian version of the TV show ‘The Apprentice’.

Overseas, Sir Richard Branson from Virgin fame has nailed it pretty much through media publicity alone (to be fair, he’s done enough things that were sufficiently newsworthy for him to warrant the media attention, but the fact remains – for much of the time he was running a mega-million dollar business empire).

But the above examples are the exception to the rule.

It has always been quite difficult to achieve widespread recognition and influence because somewhere along the line you needed a ‘gatekeeper’ – an individual or committee of people – to give you the imprimatur, to deem you worthy of being involved. Importantly, this has included the media – TV networks, radio stations, newspapers and magazines.

THE BRILLIANT THING IS: Nowadays, however, you can bypass the gatekeeper altogether (media included) and create your own platform from which to build your profile, reputation and influence.

What constitutes a platform today?

Don’t get me wrong, the platform of yesterday still exists and remains powerful.

However, it’s today’s ‘new media’ platform that interests me. It’s the platform you can establish with vigor, enthusiasm and purpose TODAY that has the chance to change your world, and the world of many others, potentially thousands of people on a global scale.

I define platform as a person’s combined and integrated presence across the web – their blog (or podcast or online video series) along with their followings on social networks – plus any regular offline exposure i.e. a regular magazine column. The result of this presence is a growing audience. Think of these elements as the ‘planks’ of your platform. The more planks you have, the stronger and more solid your platform.

One example might be this: You have a blog, a YouTube channel, Facebook brand page and Twitter account. The blog (your content hub) – along with your growing base of readers, YouTube viewers, Facebook fans and Twitter followers  i.e. your collective ‘planks’ – make up your platform.

PR Warrior = my cornerstone

By way of illustration, the cornerstone of my platform is the PR Warrior blog from which I develop and share ideas around personal branding, social media and content marketing .

Add into the mix the fact I have solid followings and connections on Twitter and LinkedIn; I also contribute regularly to several online news sites and magazines, including LeadingCompany.com.au and SamaraMagazine.com.au. These elements – anchored by the all-important blog – are planks that collectively form the basis of my platform and from which I spread my message to, and connect with, an audience of thousands.

althead

Thus, if you want to become a micro maven in your chosen field – if you want to extend your reach beyond just your immediate network of friends, family, colleagues and peers – then you need a robust platform from which to:

  • get noticed,
  • amplify your message,
  • spread your ideas,
  • express your opinions …

…and ultimately, to create media interest, attract business opportunities and generate sales.

Take action today!

Develop that blog – kick-start that video web show or podcast series you’ve been talking about for zonks! Integrate your social networking channels and start actively participating, and pretty soon you will start developing a reputation as an authority whom the marketplace recognizes, trusts and respects.

With your platform firmly in place, you’ll be more than ready to tackle part two of the micro maven equation: BUILDING YOUR (PERSONAL) BRAND.

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TREVOR YOUNG specialises in PR, social media, content marketing and personal branding strategies. He speaks professionally and is the author of the book ‘microDOMINATION: How to Leverage Social Media & Content Marketing to Build a Mini-Business Empire Around Your Personal Brand’