Brand YU

17 03 2010

Another hat I wear is that of VP Communications for AMA Milwaukee. I am posting an overview of yesterday’s educational program as the information was great and as more and more of us get more involved in social networking, we really need to manage our own brands as well as that of our employer/organization.

If you missed the March AMA luncheon you missed out. Author, educator and national speaker Hajj Flemings spent his time with us offering tips on personal brand management — things we could go right back and do. And if that was not enough, he made sure we got off on the right foot by giving all attendees a copy of his book, The Brand YU Life.

At the core, our DNA is what sets us apart and makes each of us unique. But your differences mean nothing unless you can use them to set yourself apart and achieve your life’s purpose. Your brand has to fit with your identity and lifestyle. Your thoughts, words, character and values make up the brand people see. As does everything you post anywhere online — where you eat, the photos you post, links you share and comments you leave.

Discussion started with the power of story telling and some questions to ponder. What is your story, your passion, your mission? What differentiates you and really sets you apart? Are you relevant? What three words do you want people to use to describe you? While it should be obvious, Flemings stressed that we all have our own stories and encouraged us to find and own ours.

He went on to remind us that the world and opportunity no longer knock, they CLICK, stressing we live in a 140 character economy. So you not only need to find your story but you need to convey it in small bytes. Now you need an elevator speech and an even more condensed version of your brand platform. But where do you start? 

Flemings recommends you start managing your online brand by developing a centralized hub. Let Google be your business card by setting up a profile. Link your pages so people can find you and learn more about you — your blog, web site, Twitter page and other social network pages. In fact, Flemings recommends use of a single username for all of your online activity to ensure people can find you. Take time now to check out to see what names are available across a number of networks. Set up a gravatar to ensure your visual identity is linked to all comments you make online. Be sure to Google yourself (frequently) and conduct your own search engine optimization efforts to ensure the information that appears is not a surprise and that you control the message. And don’t forget to set Google Alerts for yourself so you can track and respond to your personal brand mentions online.

Remember everyone is a curator and content manager. Are you creating and posting videos and not just writing? If you post videos or podcasts do you also post transcripts? Do you post your presentation slides or information on your core projects? Use your online tools to create a virtual portfolio designed to set you apart. Remember that visuals and text together better connect you with your audience. Win the job before accepting the interview. A word of caution though…take care before posting information — is it something you want a prospective employer to see? Despite privacy settings, once you “share” you have lost control of your message. There is no edit button.

My key take-aways:

  • Conversation is taking place whether you are participating or not. So jump in and control your brand — don’t let it be defined by others.
  • Surround yourself with greatness.You do not have to create everything yourself but post interviews, articles or other materials that will show the depth and breadth of who you are and how you think.
  • And my favorite…perfect is the enemy of done. So just set a regular schedule for content updates and hit send.

Find more insight on the program by following the thread of tweets posted live during the event. And if you attend future events and would like to tweet live, be sure to use the hashtag #AMAMKE for ease of tracking. Special thanks to Angela Monroe for her tweets and program coordination.

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