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The Genesis of a Personal Branding Influencer – The 2ndAct Better Than the 1st
Featuring special guest contributor Grace Lanni of All About That Brand
Life carries its twists and turns. In 2010, I was contracted by one of my client owners to take their general manager seat and manage a career coaching and executive development firm for six months. My goal was to understand the operational details from every angle and to develop and expand their business model. As part of this project, I secured a Professional Career Management Certification, and began learning how to interview clients to develop a results-oriented resumé. The #1 reason clients wanted this very detailed work?
To find a job.
Austin in 2010 was an extremely challenging job market. Our team helped clients stand out with a professional resumé for each hand-selected employment opportunity that would speak to an individual job description. In addition, we worked with seekers to build a target employer list and markets, secured them introductions to many of their company targets, videoed mock interviews, selected networking groups and contacts that would place a client near their would-be next employer, put their resume on LinkedIn, coached them on negotiation skills, developed their elevator pitch, etc.
Then, at a coffee shop, I read an article in a dog-eared 1997 issue of Fast Company titled “The Brand Called You” by Tom Peters. Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of personal branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called “You.”
It’s that simple — and that hard. And that inescapable.
I was hooked. Somehow, I knew we could package our job-searching client similarly to the way a company packages their products. As a business development and marketing person, I sensed Tom was on to something big. My team was excited about our special lunch meeting. They filed into the conference room, broke out their takeout Asian food, and took turns reading a section of this article aloud. After each section, we tossed around ideas answering the question “how can this concept support our clients?” After pouring over their comments, speaking to colleagues, hiring managers, and recruiters, the program was born:
Personal Branding – Easy as 1,2,3
“1,2,3” led to developing mini blog sites for clients to share their subject-matter expertise. We networked with contract firms and industry consulting companies to source project work for our clients. It built their brand, eliminated a time gap on their resume, and most importantly, fueled the client’s self-esteem and their brand.
Ready to manage your personal brand and online reputation? Click here & save $100 on Grace’s 4-course program!
What people are saying about Grace Lanni’s programs:
The Brand Tribe
Curiously, those clients who embraced the “Brand You” concept dug deep within to discover what activities sparked their creativity. We call it “going down the rabbit hole.” Our job was to amplify that creativity outward as a brand that could resonate with others in a brand tribe.
According to Wikipedia, a brand tribe is a group of people who are linked by a shared belief around a brand. Its members are not simple consumers, they are also believers and promoters. A brand tribe is capable of collective action and therefore has implications for business.
My favorite example of passion leading to tribal branding is our Math Ph.D. She was a teacher, then moved into textbooks. She grew weary of the bureaucratic publishing industry and was painfully going through the steps of our career transition program. Then it hit – she LOVED turning preschool kids on to math and science. Building a brand around this passion fueled her career transition to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) learning and allowed her to become a founder of a funded, successful preschool STEM company expressing her purposeful brand through her first entrepreneurial venture.
The second visionary concept Tom rolled out in “The Brand Called You” touts the work world moving into a project-based versus task-based scenario. We see this scenario magnified today with millennials and seasoned executives parachuting into their own solo-consulting gigs and 4+ hour work weeks. Through Tom’s personal branding concepts, we now had a way to tout this gig philosophy as a positive their own solo-consulting and 4-plus-hour-work weeks. Through Tom’s personal branding concepts, we now had a way to tout this gig philosophy as a positive element of someone’s brand.
Living In A Project World
One key to growing your branding power is to recognize the simple fact that we now live in a project world. Almost all work today is organized into bite-sized packets. A project-based world is ideal for growing your brand: projects exist around deliverables, they create measurables, and they leave you with braggables. If you’re not spending at least 70% of your time working on projects, creating projects, or organizing your (apparently mundane) tasks into projects, you are sadly living in the past. Today you have to think, breathe, act, and work in projects.
Just recently, I received an email from an iOS/Android developer that I worked with a few years ago on a startup project. Our “Branding Canvas” session caught his eye and he was ready to explore. He is a ROCK STAR in his field, and you’d never know it from googling him or checking his LinkedIn profile. He was invisible. He was ready for his branding lightbulb to go on.
I rolled out the canvas on 18 x 24 paper, grabbed multi-colored sticky notes, then asked him what he was up to. He shared that his two-year retainer gig was complete, and that he was looking for iOS opportunities. Tell me more, I said, to which he shared his passion for a new technology that connects sensors with iOS platform. He created a gardening project (another passion) – his own personal case study to prove his capability to plan, code, and deliver this new bot technology.
(In my head, I thought, BAM!, purposeful branding topics.) We spent the rest of our time filling out the squares and came to center – Tribes. Sustainability and Sensor Technologies are the two tribes he wants to focus on. My hunch was right on, but until he was able to articulate his chosen Tribes, his inner lightbulb remained unlit. Luckily, he is also a graphic designer. He left with his passion fueling him to a) pick up his name.com b) design a logo c) design a biz card and d) design a responsive WordPress site to serve mobile users and facilitate SEO. I check the url every few days to see his progress.
First Step in Jumpstarting YOUR Personal Brand: The Branding Canvas
Fast forward years from my initial reading of the Fast Company article, and Moore’s Law can’t keep up with the speed of social and video on the internet. Personal Branding is a must for job seekers. Today, I enjoy building strategies to leverage personal branding on a corporate scale and applying the concepts toward intrapreneurship and culture change.
Understanding the concept of “what is a brand, and why do I need one?” remains ever present for those employees with multi-year successive runs with employers. All About That Brand will walk you around The Branding Canvas through real people’s eyes to give you a jumpstart with Brand You. This version of The Branding Canvas was developed over the last six years by our consultants and clients; expect our methods and platforms to grow and change as the market changes.
May you allow your passions to shine through your next personal branding efforts!
Connect with Grace Lanni on her All About That Brand podcast: https://bit.ly/2TEuqZK
Ready to manage your personal brand and online reputation? Click here and to save $100 on Grace’s 4-course program!
About The Author
Grace Lanni’s Influencer Platform, All About That Brand ©, is a personal-branding resource including workbooks, online courses, VIP programs, a podcast and YouTube channel. Grace continually explores the cutting edge of personal branding and was featured in the Austin Business Journal, on KEYE, and won the KPMG Stand-Out Startup Award. Her most recent book, The No B.S. Truth: What it Really Takes to Build a Successful Business is an International Best Seller. Grace is first a mother of two millennials and a wife. She is also a performing R&B musician, startup accelerator mentor, MD of eWomenNetwork – Austin and advocate for women’s leadership (Women Who Tech are Dangerous).