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Posts Tagged ‘personal branding’

Communication is at the Core of Effective Leadership

March 04th, 2014

Hi All,

One of the main points I heavily emphasize in my Personal Branding workshops for employees and Managers, regardless of what generation they’re from or level they’re at in their career, is this: It isn’t possible to become a great leader without being an effective communicator. In fact, effective communication is a key component of success in the professional world, whether it is at the organizational, intra-group, inter-group, or interpersonal level.

And when I say “leader”, I’m referring to ANY level you’re at or role you’re in now. Millennials (aka: Gen Y), Gen X, and Boomers need to be in a “leadership mindset” at work and conduct themselves accordingly!

The best quality of an effective leader is the strategic way they communicate with other employees, translating key business goals into terms that help the latter identify ‘what’s in it for me, thus motivating them to align their actions toward the success of their organization. It’s part of a leader’s job responsibility to communicate effectively what the employees want and need to know.

Effective communication also includes a greater sense of contextual and situational awareness…which many people aren’t good at, and is why I believe companies need to provide more training on communication! That said, let’s look at some tips…

Communication Secrets of Effective Leaders

Great Listeners

Great communicators believe in two-way communication. They understand that simply broadcasting their message won’t have the same effect as engaging in a meaningful conversation. They are good listeners while being astute in observations, possessing the ability to adapt their responses to the environment and situation without missing a beat.

Great Contributors

Effective communicators are adept at transferring ideas and spreading their vision. Their words inspire action and align expectations, focusing more on contributing than receiving. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it pays off in the longer run. In fact, a leader that focuses more on leave-behind than the take-aways is more likely to learn deeper than they ever would by concentrating only on their agenda.

Clear Communicators

One of the best qualities of an effective leader is that they communicate with clarity, focusing on being simple and concise. Who would appreciate or understand your point of view if you remain complicated and confusing? After all, who has time to spare for trying to understand your complex language? Great leaders understand the value of clarity and brevity and know how to hit the point and cut to the chase. In order to be an effective leader, it is crucial to learn the importance of weeding out the superfluous in order to make yourself heard.

Focus on Inter-Personal Relationships

Great leaders reject the classic business theory that suggests them to stay at an arm’s length. They have a firm belief that only those prefer to stay away from others who want to remain in the dark.  No great leader wishes to receive highly sanitized versions of the reality. They believe in developing meaningful relationships with employees in order to know what’s actually on their minds. A deeper understanding of each other is necessary for organizational success, and a good leader understands this well. Don’t let your ego be the roadblock to your relationship with other employees in the organization. Be candid and empathetic toward others to turn doubt into trust and earn greater respect.

Preparedness and Contingency Planning

The best leaders are always prepared for any kind of situation. They have a contingency plan in mind for any message that seems to evoke anger or criticism. In order to be a successful leader, it is important to learn how to justify your message with reason, business logic, and knowledge in order to make a lasting impact on the listeners. Remember, communication isn’t about you, your beliefs, your opinions, or your circumstances. In fact, it’s more about understanding others concerns, and fulfilling their needs. This will help you show your empathetic side and add value to their world.

In closing, DON”T be the type of leader that you wouldn’t want to work for. And you can prevent that by working on HOW you communicate with people, both verbally and visually!

Why Managers Need to Focus on Communication to Avoid Trouble

October 18th, 2013

Hi All!

I don’t think anybody doubts the importance of communication in the workplace. In fact, it’s not farfetched to say that effective communication is the cornerstone of your success at work, whether you are a seasoned Manager or a younger Millennial (aka: Generation Y) aspiring to be one. And it’s becoming even more challenging with four generations at work, that are very different!

Difficult employees can make each work day tough; repeatedly making efforts to bring down your team’s morale, creating unnecessary stress, and affecting productivity. However, I’ve conducted enough training workshops and seminars for Management Teams, as well as have provided private Leadership Coaching for many Managers, so I can say first hand that MOST Managers are NOT good at communication with their employees…so it’s NOT always the employees’ fault that there’s problems within the team.

A good starting point is to accept that you, as a Manager, can’t always change others, but you can certainly improve yourself. Remember, you are in a professional environment, so maintaining dignity and decorum is of utmost importance, and is key to creating an effective and respected Personal Brand at work. You should strive to create an environment where effective, open, communication with your employees is welcome.

The essence of effective communication lies in paying full attention to what others say while also making yourself heard. Communication is a two-way dialogue process that is about:

  • actively listening to others – making the speaker feel heard, without being frequently interrupted
  • understanding them – showing that you understand their situation well
  • conveying your viewpoint – ensuring you are clear and concise to the other person while being selective about how and what you say

All in all, effective communication is about creating a culture where creative ideas flourish; giving both sides an equal opportunity to confidently and conveniently convey their messages so as to build trust and respect. Plus, in an open environment where everybody can express themselves clearly, without fear, negative emotions can’t flourish or survive (for very long).

Remember: being overly negative can destroy employees’ desire to assist, further fueling their negative feelings…which can then lead to their quitting…and you possibly getting fired due to reduced retention of top talent.

Your job as a Leader is to increase confidence in your team, not beat them down. However, sadly, I see Managers who adhere to the “managing through negativity” mentality…and then wonder why they have problems with their team. Really???!!!

Don’t be one of them! Your company and your employees will thank you…and, trust me, your career will skyrocket!

Ways to Promote Your Personal Brand at Work

August 02nd, 2012

Hi All!

I am on the final stages of writing my newest book, “Make Your Personal Branding Outstanding: How Any Employee Can Create & Promote Their Own Leadership Brand For Massive Career Success!”. I am very excited about how the book is coming together and thrilled with the interest people have expressed in wanting it when it’s published. My Personal Branding Workshop has become one of my most in-demand over the past 2 years, so this is clearly a very hot topic. And companies like eBay, Wells Fargo and Johnson & Johnson wouldn’t be hiring me to conduct it, multiple times, if it wasn’t resonating with their employees…and my audiences are from ALL generations and career levels! Plus, quite a few companies have me conduct this workshop as part of their overall Leadership Training Programs...and all of this plays into improving employee retention (something many companies are taking very seriously these days).

That said, one of the areas I cover in the book and in the workshop, is how to promote “your” brand at work. It’s always a popular segment in my workshops so I thought I’d share part of that chapter here to not only give you a glimpse of tips I will be providing in the book (it’s crammed full of good info!), but to also just to give you helpful tips to think about now.

And, no, the book is NOT just about how to promote your personal brand! The entire first section of it covers “how” to create a personal brand…ideas for promoting yourself come after that section.

Okay! Without further delay, here is a partial excerpt from one chapter in my new book due out in October 2012 on Amazon (in both print and Kindle versions):

You’ve created your Personal Leadership Brand by following the principles outlined in the previous chapters, and now you want to start attracting some notoriety. This is a good thing! However, it’s an area where many employees who want to achieve extreme career success drop the ball.

            Why? Because everyone gets busy and stuck in their department silos. It’s very common, especially if you work for a larger company, to spend a vast majority of your time at work with your department colleagues and rarely expand outside of that world, except to grab lunch somewhere.

            But if you want to achieve bigger career success and become more known throughout your company, there are things you need to do within your department and outside of it. Typically, just “doing your job”, even if you’re great at it, isn’t going to be enough to get you where you REALLY want to go.

            So let’s look at some key strategies for you to consider…

Networking at the Office: If you work for a larger company that has internal networking groups or clubs (like Women in Leadership Group, an African American Group, a softball team, a running club, etc.), have you joined one that matches your interests? And if you have joined one, do you actively participate?

When I ask this question at workshops, not many hands go up. But this is a KEY strategy! You’ve got to leave your department and get to know people all around the company.

And if you work for a company that doesn’t have internal networking groups, when was the last time you coordinated some sort of networking mixer to bring people from ALL departments together for socializing? Don’t wait for other people to do it!

Remember: This is to benefit your Personal Brand, so make the effort. People will appreciate your coordinating something fun for the company to participate in…and they don’t have to know it is part of your own personal “publicity” strategy.

But aside from participating in internal networking groups or clubs, or coordinating events, you can be proactive at introducing yourself to key people in other departments. I know a woman, who was a middle-manager at a Fortune 500 company, who looked at the org chart for each department, contacted VP’s in each one, and invited them individually to coffee. She simply said that she wanted to know more about their department and career path, and would appreciate 30-minutes of their time.

And what was the result? Not ONE VP declined her offer, plus most of those coffee meetings lasted for more than an hour! That’s significant face time, alone, with senior executives she would have probably never met otherwise.

Within a few months she knew most of the key VP’s throughout the company, and more importantly, they knew her. This then led to many invitations to be on special projects outside of her department, invitations to events she would never have known about before, even job offers from other departments, and finding internal Mentors that she could seek advice and support from.

Yes, it took guts and time to do what she did, but the pay-off for building her Personal Brand within the company was huge!

Go Out of Your Way to Help Others: If someone asks for volunteers on a project, or help with something they’re struggling with, or even help with cleaning the break room, do it. I don’t care what level on the org chart you are, if you’re capable and qualified to do what is being asked, do it. It will reflect well on you in a variety of ways and that is important.

Why? Most people WON’T do it because in our own little minds we think we’re the busiest people on the planet and don’t have time to volunteer for something else. Well, the reality is that most of us DO have the time; we just choose not to make the time.

Present Ideas Creatively: Don’t be the person who puts people to sleep when you do presentations. One of the best things you can do for your Personal Brand is become known as a great presenter. And if you know this is an area you struggle with, hire a Speaking Coach to help you or join a local Toast Masters group in your area to get help and feedback on your skills.

            I know employees who have worked on their presentation skills, became very good, and were then asked to do major, high-profile presentations because their boss knew they would do a better job than s/he would. That is huge exposure!

            No one likes a boring presentation. I’m not saying you have to juggle and tell jokes. I’m saying you need to have an air of confidence and that creates rapport and presence. Whether you have to do a presentation for 10 minutes to your co-workers and boss at your Monday morning meeting, or conduct a 45-minute presentation to 200+ people, always make it good. Be prepared, practice a lot, and again, get help with your skills if you need it. Good speakers have magnetism and that benefits your Personal Leadership Brand.

Promote Your News: Did you win an award from a club or org you belong to outside of work? Did you write an article that got published? Did you accomplish something cool like hike up Mt. Everest on vacation? If so, share your news! And if your company has an internal company-wide e-newsletter, send them your news!

You never know who may read about it and want to reach out to you because they share a similar interest. It could be a Sr. Vice President that you may have never met, that is planning to climb Mount Everest in a year, and she wants to pick your brain about your trip there…and who knows where THAT new connection could lead you!

Pat Others on the Back: Do not hold back compliments and kudos. And always share them publicly versus waiting until you’re alone with the person. Also, if you know of something a co-worker has done that is exceptional, or went “above and beyond” to get a project done and no one else knows the extra effort they put in, announce it in meetings and/or send out mass emails sharing the news. No one will forget you did that for them, others will think it’s admirable, and that could lead to people doing it for you at some point…and all of that supports the positive building of your Personal Brand.

Speaking at Work: Are there internal company events where you could think of a topic and submit it for consideration? I’m sure there is. Every big company has events throughout the year (departments or company-wide) where they look for employees to be speakers at. And if you work for a smaller company that doesn’t have internal events, you can create your own. Think of a topic that you know would help others at work or in their personal lives, and do a Brown Bag Lunch session. You can even do this if you work for a large company!

            Again, you can create your own “events” and that increase your brand recognition. And for an internal presentation at your company, the topic doesn’t even have to be around your “work” expertise. If you practice meditation for stress reduction, but your “job” is as a Software Developer, who cares? You can still promote a Brown Bag Lunch session where you’ll share tips and strategies to reduce stress through meditation. You can promote it company-wide and attract ALL types of employees, from all different career levels, who think the topic is interesting. And, by them attending that, they will then get to know “who” you are and “what” you do in your role at the company. See? Now those who wouldn’t otherwise have a reason to know you at work will know you!    

Alright! That concludes the excerpt from my new book due out in October. I hope you found those tips helpful! I also have an entire chapter on how to promote your personal brand outside of work to achieve more notoriety in your industry (not just in the workplace). So be sure to look for my newest book on Amazon this fall…

Bye for now!

Lisa

40 Percent of the Fortune 500 Won’t Exist in 10 Years Due to Gen Y

January 13th, 2012

Hi All!

Okay…so for over 5 years companies have been hiring me to conduct presentations about how to manage, recruit and retain Millennials (aka: Generation Y). And, as an expert, they also hire me to conduct training workshops for Millennial employees that cover leadership, business etiquette, generations at work, communication and personal branding for career success. BUT, according to an article I came across yesterday, it looks like I might see an uptick of even more Fortune 500 companies contacting me.

Why? Well, according to the article entitled, “Gen Y Traits in the Workplace Unveiled” by Kristin Burnham, she shares:

Millennial Branding together with Identified.com, studied 4 million Gen Y Facebook profiles to obtain better insight into how members of this generation operate professionally-a topic of increasing importance as they are projected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025.

According to the study, only 7 percent of Gen Y reports working for a Fortune 500 company-a statistic in line with another report that predicts that 40 percent of the Fortune 500 will no longer exist 10 years from now.

So, where are they going to work? The article states:

Instead, Gen Y workers are turning to startups in which the hiring process tends to be much quicker than that of the Fortune 500, and where Dan Schawbel says Gen Yers feel they can make more of an immediate impact.

While Gen Yers are turning more to startups for employment, they’re also branching out on their own in what Schawbel calls an “unprecedented entrepreneurial spirit.” “Owner” is the fifth most-popular job title, trumped by “server” (No. 1), “manager” (No. 2), “intern” (No. 3) and “sales associate (No. 4).

Retention is also a challenge with Gen Y because according to the report, they only average 2 years at their first job.

These are serious statistics and facts that large companies need to be aware of. If 75% of our workforce is going to made up of Millennials by 2025 (that’s only about 10 years away!!) companies need to start preparing NOW for a solid recruitment and retention plan of talent. I’ve been preaching this for a long time and the smart companies are already doing everything they can to retain their younger talent because they know their companies’ future well being NEEDS younger talent now, and they need to groom them for future leadership positions.

On average, 1 Boomer is retiring every 8 seconds, so companies are also scrambling to retain their employees who are 55+, too. NOT every Boomer was affected by the economic downturn so we have millions of them who CAN retire comfortably at 60-65 years old but companies need their expertise and knowledge to help the younger employees grow.

I’ve written TONS of articles, and have been interviewed by countless media, about these topics because it’s ALL true. But I also find many companies still have their head in the sand and suffer from denial. I have endless research material on the labor shortage the US is facing, and it’s based on the perfect storm of birth rates, Boomers retiring, etc. The numbers don’t lie, people!

Sure, because of the current economy it’s still an “employers” market…however I’ve been warning executives in my seminars that it will change soon, and the competition for talent is going to re-ignite and then it will turn into an “employee” market again and employers will be begging for top talent…and employees will be in control of the whole enchilada.

EMPLOYERS: Start planning NOW and get ahead of the curve…and if you’re a Fortune 500 company, as many of my clients are, YOU really need to take all of this seriously!

Bye for now,

Lisa

Ten Tips to Off-line Networking for Career Success and Personal Branding

June 26th, 2011

Hi All!

Nowadays, most people seem to be solely focused on social networking online. And, yes, while I am a firm believer that Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are AMAZING tools for making professional connections, I find that many Millennials (aka: Gen Y), and even members of older generations at work, such as Gen X, Generation Jones and Boomers, forget about “the other” type of networking…attending industry mixers and professional association gatherings!

Quite honestly, I find that attending in-person networking events can typically yield me positive business results faster than relying on social media networking. Therefore, I make an effort to include in-person networking to my personal brand-building mix.

But, I also find that many people are not that great at using their valuable networking time wisely. As a result, I make sure to include tips on “effective networking at events” in the Personal Leadership Branding seminars and Millennial Business Boot Camp workshops that I conduct for corporations and college students. It is key to your career success!

So whether you’re a job-seeker or simply wanting to expand your professional network outside of your office to “increase awareness for your personal brand”, keep reading!

Here are Ten Tips I suggest to make your off-line networking efforts successful:

  1. Show-up with your business cards! People often forget their cards, or only bring a few, and that’s embarrassing. Bring a substantial stack so you don’t run out. And, if you’re a job-seeker who is unemployed, make your own cards and consider making them 2-sided so that you can list your qualifications on the back. Plus, bring copies of your resume “just in-case”!
  2. Don’t be shy. Remember, everyone is there to meet new people, so you are all in the same boat. Find someone standing alone or a small group of people, walk up, extend your hand (for a FIRM shake), smile and introduce yourself. It may feel odd at first but people who network a lot are used to strangers approaching them. And if you say it’s your first time attending the mixer, they’ll normally want to help you meet other people.
  3. Practice your 15-second “personal infomercial” (aka: elevator pitch) before you arrive. When someone asks what you do or why you are there, be able to explain yourself in 15-seconds or less. DO NOT bore people with a long personal pitch or a bumbling explanation about who you are and/or what you’re seeking.
  4. You should take an interest in the people you meet first. It’s common to ramble on about yourself when you’re nervous, so make a serious effort to ask people questions and LISTEN to what they share closely.
  5. Depending on the length of the mixer, try not to spend more than 5-10 minutes with each person. You’re there to meet a lot of people! Now if you’re really enjoying yourself with someone, maybe spend a bit more time. BUT, KEEP IN MIND, they may want to be moving on to meet more people, too, so don’t monopolize their time. They might be too shy to excuse themselves, so be mindful of time, and watch their eyes and body language!
  6. If alcohol is being served, don’t overdo it. I’ve seen quite a few people early-on at an event making a great impression and then, after a few drinks, it goes downhill. Remember: If you’re an employee, everything you say and do at the event will not only impact your personal brand but will also reflect on your employer’s brand!
  7. Make a lot of eye contact with people and smile! It’s all about human contact, and smiling will draw people to you. However when most people get nervous they tend to stand on the sidelines and hope people will come to them. A genuine, sincere smile will relax people and will make connecting with you more inviting…exuding confidence it key!
  8. Practice being a good conversationalist. Rather than JUST talk about you, your job and your purpose for being there (or theirs), have a few interesting questions memorized, and ask about kids, travel, previous jobs, pets, sports, current events, etc. This can help you quickly bond with people beyond “business”. Also, by really listening to people (which many people are NOT great at!) questions will come up naturally that you can ask to keep the conversation going. And, personally, I avoid topics around religion and politics…there’s no need to get yourself into a potentially controversial conversation!
  9. If someone approaches a group you’re talking to, immediately extend your hand, smile, and make them feel welcome. Remember, they are probably nervous, too!
  10. Send a hand written follow-up note to all the people you meet (mail them within 1-2 days). The immediate thought, especially by Gen Y, is to send an e-mail or text message, but a good ‘ol fashioned “Nice meeting you” greeting card, sent via snail mail, makes a BIG impression on people, from ANY generation…because people rarely send them nowadays!

Okay, now find some good association mixers and industry events in your area, and try to attend at least 1-2 per month, consistently. There is a very good chance you’ll reap the benefits of your off-line networking efforts fast, such as: See your professional contacts database grow quickly; find career-building opportunities otherwise missed; and, for those of you job searching, potentially get leads on good job opportunities!

Here’s a great quote I read a while ago (but I can remember who said it): “Take your online connections off-line, and take your off-line connections online”. Great advice!

 Bye for now!

Lisa

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