Archive for ‘Authenticity’

12/05/2011

Are you the real deal?

Your personal brand has to be authenticI once had a discussion with an HR Director about leadership development where we found ourselves listing the attributes we felt all good leaders should have.  High on our list, if not in top spot, was authenticity – one of the 3 Golden Rules of Personal Branding.  But then my companion made an interesting point: it depends on your definition of the word.  She’d worked with executives who felt being authentic was as simple as not telling a lie – what I’d classify as ‘truthfulness’, which doesn’t in itself constitute being authentic.  

So instead, here’s my definition:

  • Authenticity is knowing and understanding who the real you is – from the tangible, rational aspects of your image, skills and experience, to the more intangible, emotional aspects of you behaviours, beliefs and values
  • Authenticity is accepting the real you comprises not only the great attributes but also the not so great – and being willing to let others see both
  • Authenticity is being the real deal at all times with all people – regardless of occasion or status

Do you agree? And if not, what constitutes authenticity for you?  Leave a comment!

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Please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for people.  Personal branding delivers many benefits including: career development, reputation management, online presence, leadership development, talent management, social media marketing, presentation skills, networking skills and personal marketing. Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other in Yorkshire.
20/04/2011

Try the personal brand experiment

Experiment with your personal brandLet’s try an experiment.  Grab yourself a pen and paper and before you read any further than this sentence, write down your answer to the following question: “What do you offer as your personal brand?”

x

x

[I’m leaving a bit of a gap here so you don’t cheat and read ahead!]

x

x

So what did you put? Did you answer with a description of what you DO, or did you answer with a description of what YOU do?

The difference?  The first one is the default setting we’ve been trained to use – to define ourselves by our job titles and roles. But whilst that is certainly part of what you have to offer, if you leave your personal brand at that all you’re doing is putting yourself into a box with every other person that does that job.

The second description however – what YOU do – says what you bring to the job that others don’t. And that’s what people need to know when they’re deciding whether or not to buy into you.  So think about that the next time you’re promoting your personal brand!

PS: If you’d like to meet me in person to find out more about your personal brand I’m running a workshop with the fabulous image consultant Natalia Colman of Style Specialists, whose guest blog has appeared on this site.  All the information is at: http://lookinggoodsoundinggreat.eventbrite.com/

PPS: I’ll be taking advantage of the unusually long Easter break to unchain myself from my laptop and spend some time outdoors chasing the chickens from the vegetable patch and doing other fun pursuits – so my next blog will follow in a couple of weeks’ time.  Cheers and enjoy the sunshine if we get it!

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I’d love to know how you got on with the experiment so leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other. 
22/03/2011

5 Words We All Dread: “And What Do You Do?”

personal branding handshake business card introduction reputation managementIf you’ve followed the advice of my last blog, you’ve got your business card up to scratch and it’s giving all the clues about your personal brand your audience needs to ‘get’ who you are.  Congratulations!

And if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll have read my previous post about reinforcing those messages with the handshake you give as you hand your card over. Now you’re on a roll!

But that was the easy bit…

No matter who I’ve worked with – from CEOs, MDs and FDs of large companies, to entrepreneur business people who run their own show – I’ve yet to come across anyone who relishes the next step: being asked, “And what do you do?”

Some tell me it’s because they do so many different things they can’t quite put it in words so just end up saying, “Oh, you know, this and that.”  Hmm, this and that eh? Hardly scintillating conversation, is it? 

Some say they feel embarrassed that they don’t do something glamorous or interesting (not something Lady Gaga struggles with I’d hazard a guess).  “Me, oh I’m just a boring accountant.”  Well, as I’ve posted before, tell me you’re boring and I’ll think you’re boring – which begs the question why I’d want to speak to you. 

And some tell me the reason they hate being asked, “And what do you do?” is that they think saying their job title – “I’m a Chief Executive” – makes them sound big-headed, as if they’re bragging that they’re the big cheese.  

Any of those describe how you feel? 

Instead of seeing the question as something to be dreaded, why not see it as an opportunity to promote your personal brand; to do something to blow your own trumpet and stand out from the crowd so the person you’re talking to wants to know more?

All it takes is a little time to think about what you’re going to say, and I’ll be showing you how to do that in my next blog. So stay tuned folks!

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If you’ve enjoyed these musings, don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

 
Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other. 
14/03/2011

What Is Your Business Card Saying About You?

Personal brand business cards reputation management marketingYou’ve gone to the networking event and avoided all the pitfalls of making a bad impression – Congratulations!

Now it’s time to turn your attention to your business card – that little rectangle that says more about your personal brand than you might imagine – and which carries on saying it long after you’ve left the room.  So get one of your cards out now – go on, I’ll wait for you…

Now you’re back, take a good long look at your card, read the wording, look at the logo, turn it over, feel the card, give it a bit of a flick with your thumb.  And while you’re doing that, ask yourself these questions about your personal brand:

  • What are some of your key values and beliefs you want your personal brand to convey? 
  • What is the reputation you want your personal brand to build? 
  • What skills is your personal brand pitching to your audiences?
  • What image is your personal brand projecting?
  • And most importantly…does my card say all of that?

If not, here’s a few of the ways to get it communicating all you need it to:

Size and shape
There’s a standard size for UK business cards and it’s good to stick to that so your card will fit into people’s filing systems, wallets, etc.  If your brand is more stand out though, you can play around with the sizing, but don’t go too far off the mark.  Too small and it will get lost, too big and it will end up in a different place from all the others (possibly what my friend calls the B1N file!)  Changes to the shape are an option too: rounded corners (all four or just one or two), cut outs and folding all help make it a little bit different.

Card weight
A flimsy card conveys a cheap brand and unless you’re selling a product or service specifically on low price, steer clear of anything less than 300gsm (that’s printer’s jargon for the thickness of paper and card).   Cheap deals such as those on offer by Vistaprint are rarely worth it when you consider the business you might be losing, because if you can’t be bothered to invest in your company, why should I?

Quality of print
As with the card weight, it’s worth paying for decent printing to get the crispness of text and depth of colour to bring your card to life.  If your ink’s smudged and your details a little blurred around the edges, I’m going to think that of your brand too!

Colours
There’s a whole psychology about what different colours mean and it’s something my friend Peter Bryant at Gold Design has been blogging about so check if yours is on the button.

Content
When you think of the purpose of a business card, this is the important bit.  Your card has to contain everything the recipient needs to know once you’ve parted ways: a) your name, b) what you do and c) how to get in touch (by all means, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook if appropriate).  That may seem simple but I’ve had some cards where the person’s just put their initial and not their full name, or there’s only their company name and nothing to tell you what they do, or the phone number has been missing.  I’ve ended up with the impression their attention to detail and understanding of my needs is somewhat lacking – not things I’m going to buy into!

And for anyone who’s thinking, “But I have a corporate business card and no say in how it looks,” it’s still possible to stand out from the crowd and be memorable.  Here are some tips:

  • You could underline your mobile number with the words, “And here’s the best number to get me on so I can speak to you personally,” (conveying your value of taking responsibility).
  • You could write a personal note on it before you hand it over, something that has relevance to your conversation – perhaps the name of a restaurant you’ve recommended or a useful website (conveying a mutual interest and emotional connection).
  • Or you can say something witty when presenting your card.  I  was once given a particularly thick card with the words, “And it doubles up as an ice scraper.” I’m never going to forget him!


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If you’ve enjoyed these musings, don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other.
02/02/2011

Who’s buying your personal brand?

Who's buying your personal brandWithout a doubt, the answer to that question will be, “Not everyone.”  And that’s exactly as it should be. 

As I said in my last blog, PEOPLE BUY PEOPLE – and the trick to being confident with your personal brand is accepting not everyone is going to buy you.  So embrace the fact and let it give you confidence when it comes to promoting who you are and what you’re all about.  I certainly did…

I once received anonymous feedback on my brand (something everyone should do – a reality check is never a bad thing).  The person said: “Jennifer has a strong style, like double espresso, but sometimes I want tea.”

Now, my first reaction was horror.  “Oh my goodness, I’ve obviously annoyed someone by being too OTT.  I should tone it down in future and keep my mouth shut more.”

And then I remembered the 3 Golden Rules of Personal Branding:

1. Be Authentic
If I tried to sell tea just because I knew someone was a tea drinker somewhere down the road I’d slip back into my authentic role: a coffee seller.  As soon as that was revealed, they wouldn’t trust my brand and the buy in would stop.

2. Be Clear
My personal brand is double espresso – I have a strong style that lets you know I love and believe passionately in what I do.  Adding tea to the mix would add confusion, and confused people don’t buy.

3. Be Consistent
If I gave people double espresso one day and tea the next, they’d start to question what I was selling.  If people can’t trust what they’re getting, they’re not going to buy.

So the result is the same: lose sight of the rules and you lose the buy in of your audience. The great thing is though, there’ll be someone out there whose personal brand is all about tea and if they’re promoting that clearly, consistently and authentically, the tea drinkers will soon find them.

One caveat that needs to be added : if you’re finding that too few people are buying into your brand, it may not be that you haven’t found your market, but that what you’re selling isn’t what people want to buy.  So take time to re-evaluate your personal brand, still following the 3 Golden Rules – you could just find your perfect USP!

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If you liked this blog (or if you disagree with it) don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other. 

24/01/2011

Business is Changing – NSS* (Part II)

Managing your personal brand in businessThanks for all the great feedback on Part 1 of this blog.  The comments on LinkedIn and Twitter show a lot of you are thinking the same as me: that you shouldn’t just accept business is changing – you should use your personal brand to keep up (or better still get ahead of the game).

So here’s Part II of my *No Shit Sherlock guide to changes in business to complete the picture.

Change #4
The viral nature of today’s communications is huge. Sharing details on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is part of our daily lives. Before, what went on in a company, stayed in a company.  That mistake you made at the Christmas party when you got drunk and made a pass at the boss is no longer just talked about on Monday morning.  There’s photographic evidence and commentary all over the internet. 

The impact
Your reputation, good or bad, can be spread worldwide at the press of a button. After all, how many Americans (or us Brits for that matter) had heard of Tony Hayward before the BP oil spill?

So use your personal brand to…
Proactively build a positive reputation so, should something go wrong, you have some credit in the bank to stand you in good stead.  Because if your personal brand rating is in plus figures, a knock to it with some bad press will hopefully just take you back to zero (which is a set back but not a catastrophe).  But if you’ve done nothing to establish your brand and you’re at zero on the scale, the same circumstances will see you in minus figures – which is a much harder place to get back from.

Change #5
This change links to #4, as well as #1 and #2 in the previous blog.  Advances in technology now allow us to work ‘Martini Hours’ – any time, any place, any where – and that’s increased competition.

The impact
If people don’t need to be in the office to work, you’re not just competing for jobs and contracts with others in the same town or region, you could be competing with people on another continent (just look at the trend for moving call centres to India).

So use your personal brand to…
Be overt about the value of your face-to-face, personal interaction and demonstrate the extra mile you go for people because your regular contact has created a rapport and relationship that they just won’t get from someone in a different time zone.

Change #6
All of the changes I’ve been talking about lead to one thing: increased choice.  This has lots of upsides but a big downside is we’ve reached saturation point, leaving decision-making a lot harder.  In the old days, logic would take care of it; if two people went for a job and one had a qualification the other didn’t, the qualified one would be odds on to get it.  Now, everyone going for the job is qualified, there’s no difference between them, so logic won’t work.

The impact
Instead, people are using more emotional reasoning to make a decision.  They look for a connection to the person, measuring their values, behaviours, attitudes, etc against their own.

So use your personal brand to…
Set out your stall with more than just your skills – be clear about the emotional value you offer too.  Reveal something of you as a person, to differentiate yourself from the next candidate and take advantage of creating a bond others might not.  For instance, I often drop into conversations that I keep bees and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the response, “Really, I’m a beekeeper too!”   The result?  Our conversation moves to a personal level where the chances of me standing out from the crowd increase immeasurably.

So now you know what to do – what are you waiting for?!

If you agree or disagree with this blog, don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other. 
05/01/2011

BACK TO BASICS #6: It’s more than words

Welcome to 2011 – the year I predict personal branding is really going to raise its profile in the UK as more people than ever are going to discover the power of being more successful just by being themselves.

So whether you’ve been following my Back to Basics series to get to grips with the fundamentals of personal branding, or have just been reminding yourself of what’s important, here’s the latest installment for your reading delight.

In my last blog I highlighted how using positive language will go a long way to creating a positive personal brand – it’s a lot easier for people to buy into a ‘can do’ brand than a ‘can’t do’ one.  But not only do your words need to be positive, your delivery of them does too.  Here’s why…

The psychologist Albert Mehrabian discovered that, when people give us messages, we take only 7% of our information from the words they speak.  Instead, it’s their tone of voice (38%) and body language (55%) that give us the lion’s share of what we need to know. 

So when a ‘can do’ person says, “I’m great at working with a team,” the energy in their voice and the smile on their face will make sure you absolutely believe them.  But if a ‘can’t do’ person says the same thing, with a voice like a wet weekend in Wigan and their back to the rest of the room, they’ll never be believed.

Or another example (one for the ladies): you walk into the living room all dressed up for a night out and ask your other half, “How do I look?”  He replies, “You look great,” but as he’s saying it with a distant voice and his eyes on the telly, you know what he actually means is, “Uh…did you say something?  Go on Rooney, get it in the back of the net!”

So the vocabulary, tone and physiology have to match at all times for your brand to be authentic.  I’ll explain one last thing about projecting a positive brand in my next blog, so stay tuned folks!

If you’ve enjoyed these musings, don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you!

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a service unlike any other. 

30/12/2010

BACK TO BASICS #5: Accentuate the positive

Howdy!  And welcome to my latest musings in my Back to Basics series, aimed at answering all those personal branding questions you wanted to ask, but were too embarrassed to.

Today’s blog explains how, by projecting a positive personal brand, you’ll be seen as a positive brand because even though you can’t entirely control how others see you, you can certainly influence it.  Let me explain…

Can not can’t

In this life there are two types of people – the ‘can do’ and the ‘can’t do’.  Time spent with a ‘can do’ is like drinking half a dozen espressos on the trot – you come away fired up and full of enthusiasm.  But being with a ‘can’t do’ is like spending a bank holiday weekend in a caravan with the rain lashing at the windows and only a 100 piece jigsaw of a kitten to keep you company.

Attitude is obviously a big factor, but playing a part in that is the language they use. 

CAN DO: You can use the projector when we’ve finished our meeting
Can’t do: You can’t use the projector right now

CAN DO: I can do any day from Monday to Thursday
Can’t do: I can’t do Friday

CAN DO: I can start that once I’ve finished this
Can’t do: I can’t do that right now

The meanings are the same but the ‘can do’ people are projecting a positive personal brand.  So when you’re next typing an email or talking on the phone, think about what you’re saying – it’s a great opportunity for you to accentuate the positive and, along with it, your personal brand.

If you’ve enjoyed these musings, don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you!

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a service unlike any other. 

30/11/2010

The gift that just keeps giving

Everyone has a personal brand – whether they know it or not.  But if you take the time to define exactly what that brand is and then learn how to promote that to your audiences, you’ll get payback – BIG TIME! Here are just 10 of the benefits of personal branding:

1. Defining your personal brand gives you the confidence to be yourself.
2. Being yourself is a lot easier than trying to be someone else.
3. By focusing on what’s great you add clarity to your brand.
4. You can also pinpoint the thing that really makes you stand out from the crowd.
5. Promoting your personal brand helps you sell your benefits to your audiences.
6. By selling the benefits people know what they’re buying into.
7. Doing this consistently helps people to trust what they’re buying into.
8. People like to put things into neat little boxes in their mind, so you give them the box to put you into.
9. By having you in a neat box, it’s easier for people to sell you and your benefits to others.
10. If you don’t do all of that, you’ll get left behind.

And if you enjoyed this blog, please take a second to click on the buttons below to share it with your online community – thank you!

26/11/2010

The 3 Golden Rules of Personal Branding

Life’s full of lists, isn’t it?  The Top 10 this, the 100 Greatest that, 50 Things To Do Before…

Well here’s another – The 3 Golden Rules of Personal Branding.  There are of course many more than just three, but when it comes to the basics, if you get these right you’ll be half way there:

Rule #1 – Be Authentic
I wrote in an earlier blog that ‘faking it to make it’ doesn’t cut any ice in personal branding; people will always suss you out and your credibility will disappear faster than a chocolate biscuit at a Weight Watchers meeting.  So stop being who you think your audience wants you to be and instead try being yourself.  It’s incredibly liberating and it’s a lot less effort (one of my clients said she couldn’t believe how much time she’d wasted in her career trying to be someone else).

Rule #2 – Be Clear
Think of defining your personal brand as being like a chef creating a signature dish: you have hundreds of ingredients at your disposal (your values, beliefs, reputation, behaviour, skills, image, etc) but if you used all of them in your personal brand you’d overwhelm people’s palates.  Instead, you need to create your personal brand using only a handful of the best ingredients – the ones that really make you stand out from the crowd and tell people all they need to know about you.  And that will make it easier to follow Rule #3…

Rule #3 – Be Consistent
…because if you’re selling the same personal brand every time people meet you you’ll soon become renowned for it.  And that way, when people want what you’re offering, they’ll know exactly where to go for it.

And if you enjoyed this blog, please take a second to click on the buttons below to share it with your online community – thank you!