How emails can get you fired

By Guest Writer – Belle Quan, Personal Trainer

We’ve all heard all about how emails don’t communicate the way face-to-face meetings or phone calls do. Each word stands on its own with no humor, inflection, facial expression or tone-of-voice. This true story shows you how the action words you choose make all the difference – and not in a good way.

I wrote an email to the owner of the training studio where I work as an independent contractor. In it, I took it upon my self (yes, I’m self directed, especially with no direction from superiors), to help my boss prepare for her meeting. Instead of using words like “you might want to” or asking, “Is there something you’d like me to do to help you prepare for the meeting,” I simply wrote a direct email stating, “You should do this and you should do that.” What came across to my boss was not my willingness to help (which was my only intent), but that I was bossy, threatening, and wanting to take over. Those were her words as we sat down last week for coffee.

Good news for me, I didn’t care about this gig. Better news for me, “I learned something, even at 49 years old.” It’s great when you can learn when you don’t care, worse lesson when you do. So, for that reason, I’m sharing this story with all of you.

Beware: Don’t use words like SHOULD. Instead ask what help they need, so you’re answering a need that they have — not satisfying your own need to show off what you know or can do.

* Thanks Belle for your courage in sharing this good tip about business communications.

Blog and Get Hired

Reputation management. A new-ish term that now includes your online identity along with everything else. Now, you’ve got to be your own personal spin doctor. We’ve all heard about how blogs can get you fired (re: the Microsoft case) here’s a cool post that shows how blogs can get you HIRED.

Another Blog Leads to a Job
In yet another case of 21st century job hunting I have discovered another person who used a blog to get a job. Carolynn Duncan, of
Utah, created…
7/25/2006 10:35:07 AM [Secrets of the Job Hunt]

Would this strategy work for you? According to one marketing exec, YES. In fact, he told me about a marketing position where the right blog could make all the difference.

Challenge: Think about starting a blog. You can do so for free at sites like WordPress.com and others. Before you begin, think about how you’d like to be represented online. Your brand. To check out your current online reputation, Google your name and see what happens. How do you look?

Creating Your Personal Communications Plan

Managing Your Marketing Career –

Creating Your Personal Communications Plan

By William Arruda

Every company has one. Every not-for -profit.  Every professional organization. Every celebrity. Every city. And as a career-minded marketer, you should to.

Your Personal Communications Plan.

You are probably very familiar with the concept of communications planning. Perhaps you manage the communications for your company. Now you need to take that same communications expertise and apply it to yourself.

To build your personal brand, reach your goals and increase your success and fulfillment, you’ll need to increase your visibility and get your message out. But before you start spreadin’ the news (in the words of Frank Sinatra), there are two important questions you must answer:

1. What am I going to say?

2. To whom am I going to say it?

What to Say?

You must develop a message that clearly describes your unique promise of value. There’s no sense spouting off about the health benefits of ginger if your goal is to become the Managing Director of a branding company. Your target audience needs to know what you stand for – what you have built your reputation on. Just as with corporate brands, strong personal brands are known for something – not ten things; so you must do some soul-searching and determine your area of thought-leadership. What makes you successful and differentiated from all those marketers out there who share your job title?

Your message must be:

Authentic – it needs to come from the heart and be core to who you are and what you believe. You need to be able to demonstrate what you talk about, otherwise it is just hot air!

Differentiated – it must stand out from what your colleagues and competitors are communicating. You won’t get very far if you are sending a ‘me-too’ message.

Consistent – it needs to be the same all the time. Strong brands don’t change. Be consistent and stay the course.

Compelling – it must be something your target audience wants to hear. Don’t sell ice to Eskimos. Think about what you can authentically express that will get the attention of your audience.

Aspirational – although based in authenticity, it needs to be connected to the future, to where you want to take your marketing career. Remember, you are communicating so you can reach your goals. Keep them top of mind when you’re expressing your message.

To Whom?

Just as Volvo doesn’t waste time or money communicating their message of safety and security to 16-year old boys, you too must target your message so it falls on the ears of to those people who will help you reach your goals. Your target audience – or brand community as I like to call it – includes everyone who needs to know about you so you can be wildly successful: your peers inside and outside your company, senior executives in your industry and related industries, marketing executives, head hunters, hiring managers, influential thought-leaders in your field, your networking contacts, etc.

You must apply what you have learned (by answering the two questions above) to all of your communications tools. Your communications tools fall into three categories:

1. Standard Career Marketing Materials

2. Online Communications

3. Executive Brand Communications

Standard Career Marketing Materials

Your standard career marketing tools are essential to your success. You can’t go anywhere without them. They include your resume (CV), cover letter, bio and professionally taken head-shot. You must always keep them up-to-date, make them reflect your unique differentiation and ensure they are compelling to hiring managers and executive recruiters. Ensure the content, format and delivery reinforce your personal brand – your unique promise of value.

Online Communications

It’s the new world of work and in this new world, your online identity is often your entire identity. As the world becomes more and more virtual, your on-line identity becomes more and more important to your success. So face it, you’re going to be Googled; 75% of recruiters say they Google candidates and 23% of professionals in the workplace Google their colleagues, managers, clients, etc. To be successful in your career, you need to ensure that your online identity is consistent with your personal brand, compelling to hiring managers, executive recruiters and other members of your target audience and current – reflecting who you are right now. Your online identity must augment and reinforce the messages in your standard marketing materials.

The best way to ensure your online identity is congruent with your off-line identity is to build your own web site or Blog. This gives you control over the message that is being communicated about you. If you are not quite ready for your own space on the web, you can build your online identity through existing web sites. Posting comments to Blogs that address topics that are relevant to you and posting online reviews of books are great ways to build your on-line identity.

Your standard communications and online communications tools are essential. Without them, you won’t get in to see an executive recruiter and you won’t be considered a candidate for that open Director of Marketing job. But those are just the table stakes that get you into the game. To truly advance your career and build your personal brand, you need to layer onto these communications other expressions of your unique value that will bolster your thought leadership and further separate you from your marketing peers. I call these advanced communications tools your Executive Brand Communications.

Executive Brand Communications

As a career-minded professional, you need to make a pro-active plan to build your personal brand through all forms of communications including writing articles, delivering presentations, writing white papers, authoring books, taking on board positions with organizations, etc.

The key to effective executive communications is to build your annual media plan. You can then pursue all of these communications activities to ensure your message is heard and appreciated by all the members of your target audience.

Here’s an example of a media plan for a Senior Director of Marketing in a Health Care Company:

* Deliver a presentation at the health care marketing conference

* Write one article for Brandchannel.com

* Deliver a presentation to my local AMA chapter

* Contribute comments every week to my two favorite marketing Blogs

* Write a white paper about the role of viral marketing in field of pharmaceuticals

* Publish an article about marketing on my favorite healthcare portal

* Update my resume to reflect the recent project I will launch in September

* Get updated professional head-shot taken

* Decide on the topic for my Blog and initiate the blog by mid-year. Prepare at least 12 posts before launching.

* Run for the board of the local Healthcare communications Society

* Find a co-author for my book

* Update the look and feel of my career marketing materials so they reflect my brand attributes of visionary, futurist and creative

If you haven’t built your personal brand communications plan for this year yet, now’s the time to do it. Remember, before you put pen to paper or finger to key, think about what you want to say and who it is who needs to hear your message. Then go off communicating clearly and consistently and watch your success expand!

–Personal branding guru William Arruda can be reached at www.reachcc.com.

What Job Seekers Should Know About Employer Branding

By George Blomgren

One great thing about guest authoring an article for Wendy Terwelp is that I can take it for granted that readers are hip to the power of personal branding. As you may not be aware, there is a corollary on the employer side of things: smart employers engage in employer branding.  This probably doesn’t require much explanation, but just to make sure we’re on the same page, let’s consider Harley Davidson as an example. Harley has two different reputations: the brand of their products, and their brand as an employer (living in their hometown, I’m quite sensitive to the latter). To be sure, these two reputations overlap and influence each other, but not completely. Each requires work, and HD knows that. They work hard and spend a lot of money supporting a positive brand in both areas.  

Here’s an interesting thing about employer branding that a lot of employers don’t realize. (You’ll note that you can apply the following to your personal brand as well.) There are two distinct dimensions to an employer brand. There is the deliberate dimension, which consists of things like advertising efforts, recruiting events, and web sites directed at job seekers. And there is the inadvertent dimension, which consists largely of all the impressions an employer makes on everyone, which they turn around and discuss. In some cases, these two dimensions are way out of whack, and tend to cancel each other out. There’s a pretty big retail chain — you know the one I mean — that is experiencing this quite publicly right now.As a job seeker, I think there are several things that you should know about employer branding.  First, job seekers often feel quite vulnerable. Big bad employers can push them around, ignore them, put them through interviews and never follow up, etc. But, take heart! The laws of karma apply here. If you’ve been treated poorly by an employer, chances are you’ve told other people. Your comments all contribute to the overall employer brand. You may feel like your “vote doesn’t count,” but it does. The collective weight of all the conversations that people have about an employer add up to more influence than all the TV commercials and ad campaigns ever can.  

Second, I would suggest that in deciding you want to work for, take stock in their employer brand. Both the deliberate and the inadvertent dimensions. An employer who is working hard to cultivate a positive reputation as an employer has at least made some level of commitment to being a better employer. And when this is complemented by a reputation as treating employees well (and job seekers) — that’s promising!  Third, you can use employer branding to your advantage. Employers like job seekers who have done their home work. They like job seekers who clearly understand their company culture. And, like most people, they like flattery — when it’s used sparingly, and when it’s plausible. By researching an employer’s brand (online, by talking to people, etc.) you can find out a lot about the type of company they aspire to be, what types of employees they like to hire, etc. You can better decide whether you want to work for them, and if you do, you can position yourself accordingly. 

To wrap this up, let’s pretend your job search entails dates between you and prospective employers. If you were an employer, would you rather go out with someone (i.e., a job seeker) who had a pretty fair idea of who you are and what matters to you, and who seemed genuinely interested? Or with someone indifferent to what you are all about and what matters to you? The answer is obvious, and you can use this insight to your advantage.
—–

Visit George on his blog: http://employment.typepad.com/for_job_seekers/
and, if you’d like to see where your brand is at, take the quiz:
http://www.knocks.com/BrandingQuiz.html.

Job Search Follow Up: There’s a Right Way

When I was a recruiter, candidates sometimes called our company a few times a day asking if we found anything yet. Sometimes it was once a day, every day during the week. Interestingly enough, these were for all levels of positions, including high level positions (I specialized in IT and sales exec roles).  

This extreme follow up is annoying and definitely the wrong way.

Just met with an executive recruiter this past Friday and again annoying versus professional and persistent follow-up techniques came up in the conversation.

What’s the right way? A value-focused phone call that leaves the employer wanting more.

Old way: “Hey, just checking in to see if you received my resume.” BORING.

Instead: “Wilamena Herzog it’s Fred Smith. I’m calling to see if you had a chance to take a look at my resume and to mention I am very interested in the sales position. When I researched your company, I saw that you sell the XWY Widget 1000. This is a core area of my expertise. In the past year, I sold more than $1 million worth of this product. I’d like to do the same or better for you. Please give me a call between 2 and 4 p .m. Tuesday and I’d be happy to answer any of your questions.”

Using this strategy, you indicated your value, interest in the position, AND the best time to reach you. This technique also helps avoid playing phone tag.

When following up with recruiters, Laurie Purcell of Key Search recommends contacting recruiters no more than three days after emailing a resume. She recommends waiting no more than one week before following up with employers.

Challenge: Check your list of targeted employers. Have you followed up? If not, make a call or send an email. Be sure to communicate your value, interest, and best time to be reached. Stand out from the crowd.

Cover Letters: You can quote me on this

Sick of writing the same old cover letter? “I saw your ad….” Yeah, you and 100,000 other people. So, how do you stand out from the crowd?

Try using some quotes that support the qualifications requested in the ad. They’re looking for a top-producing sales rep? Why, your last boss dubbed you “The Cold Call King.” Use it — and attribute it.

They need a PR whiz fully committed to nonprofit? Your coworkers call you “The PR Martyr.” Use it. And provide an example. “I’m committed to nonprofit. So committed, I once brought in a cot so we could make the media deadline — and get the press coverage we needed. Ever since then, my coworkers call me, ‘The PR Martyr.’ I can make this same commitment to your organization.” What’s your brand? Name it. Market it.

Ten Rules for Building Your Brand Bio

by William Arruda

When creating your career marketing tools, start with your brand bio. It will be a reference for all your other communications. Here are the ten rules for building a compelling brand bio:

1.   Know your brand. You can’t brand your bio until you have a clear understanding of your brand – your unique promise of value. Do you know what makes you differentiated and interesting?

2.   Make it unique. Your bio should be written such that it could only be used by you. That means choosing not only the words, but the style and emotions your bio conveys.

3.   Mix it up. Ensure the right mix of credentials, personality and interesting facts about you. You don’t have to put every detail in your bio.

4.   Seek support. You are expert in what you do, find an expert writer to ensure your bio exudes your brand and wows your target audience.

5.   Let your hair down. You have more flexibility to let your personality shine through your bio. Don’t be too rigid or too factual. Use this opportunity to become attractive to hiring managers, executive recruiters, etc.

6.   Compare it. Read the bios of your colleagues. What makes yours stand out? Could any of them put their names on the top of your bio?

7.   Be consistent. Ensure harmony with your other communications tools. Don’t look at your bio separate from your resume, cover letters, personal web site, blog, etc. All of your personal brand communications must work together to paint a relevant and compelling portrait.

8.   Test it out. The best way to learn what people think about your bio is to ask them. Get input from people who matter and refine your bio if necessary.

9.   Keep it current. As you progress in your career, you have new and exciting input for your bio. Don’t be selling yesterday’s news.

10. Spread the word. Create versions that differ in length and use your bio everywhere – on your personal web site or blog, in your e-network profile (LinkedIn, Ecademy, etc) at the end of articles and white papers you write, etc.

What’s your brand status? Take the quiz:

http://www.knocks.com/BrandingQuiz.html