career advice, career management, Careers, Elevator Pitch, personal brand management, Personal Branding, Sales and Marketing

Storytelling is Not Just For Kids

Mary Rosenbaum | April 12th, 2012

I believe so strongly in the power of your story that I am giving away a free ticket to a terrific virtual storytelling conference (Reinvention Summit 2).

Why do I think storytelling is so important? Personal Branding is all about understanding what makes you special, what helps you stand out, and what you can do to spotlight what’s great about you. As I have written before, your personal brand is about all of you – your passions, your values, your interests, your talents, your skills, your thoughts about the world – and how all those came about – your story.

When I read a book I always like to know more about the author – where they came from, where they live, a little about their family – basically any insight I can glean adds to my experience of reading the book. The popularity of magazines focused on TV, music, and movie celebrities attests to the demand fans have for background stories and insider information. The same holds true for you as a professional. The more people know about you the more they remember, the more there is to like, and the better they understand why you do what you do. Your back-story is what creates an emotional bond. Decisions involving functional needs (hiring, promoting, etc) are heavily impacted by emotions. So learn to create that emotional bond.

Here is an offer you can’t refuse. I snagged an extra ticket to Michael Margolis’ Reinvention Summit 2 and I am making it available to one of you. It’s a virtual conference that starts next Monday and runs for a week. It’s all about storytelling in a business environment. Check it out and if it’s of interest to you then follow these instructions:

Here is how to snag your free ticket:
Write to me and tell me why (in no more than 200 words) attending the summit would be good for you. There are no guidelines except to say that the argument should be compelling and attending the summit should be in line with your career/business/future goals and NO MORE THAN 200 WORDS. You can email me at email hidden; JavaScript is required with your pitch. I will respond to the winner by Sunday evening. Good luck and I look forward to reading your stories!

P.S. Pass it on to your friends!

The Human Connection: A Win/Win for You and Your Company

Mary Rosenbaum | April 26th, 2011

If you have ever led or been on a team or worked on a project with others then you know how it feels when a group of people work together successfully, mutually supporting each other so that the work gets done. The feeling you get in these situations is a sense of flow, knowing “someone has your back” and that you are all working toward a common goal.

In order for this to happen, there has to be a connection that links you with your co-workers or employees. It could be common values (family, honesty, integrity) or common interests and passions. It could be a shared view of the world. Whatever it is, the relationship between you is deeper and with it comes trust and a sense of reciprocal responsibility for one another.

I co-led a leadership branding workshop for senior professionals a few weeks ago and was asked a question by one of the participants. He asked, “Why is it so important for me to bring my personal life into the office? After all, I do a great job, I have moved up in my company, all without letting most people know what goes on with me outside the office.”

The reality is he did not have to bring his personal life, his passions, interests, or experiences into the office in order to be successful. As a senior member of a management team, bifurcating his life has not negatively affected his career path. Or has it? Has there been any give up by not being open about ALL of who he is? Would other opportunities have presented themselves had he shared his many interests, passions, and vision with others? Would he have benefited from greater collaboration or a more interesting workplace where he didn’t have to sensor himself and where others openly shared with him?

Of course, we’ll never know the answers to these questions. But what I have experienced is that when you bring ALL of who you are into your workplace it is as if you put sticky tape all over your body, inviting others to connect with you on any one of those areas, and inspiring them to do the same in return. And what you get out of it is an opportunity to build closer relationships with those you work with and for, and to make your day better, more interesting, more varied, and more fun.

As a leader is there value to having your team or group be more open about their passions and interests at work? In an article by Polly LaBarre for the Management Innovation eXchange, she interviewed Ivy Ross, a design executive who has worked with major brand companies like Calvin Klein, Swatch, Coach and Mattel.

Faced with consolidating and absorbing large numbers of design professionals onto her team, Ms. Ross wanted to have everyone connect and bond with one another as quickly as possible because she firmly believes that creativity and innovation begin with real connection. She held a meeting and had each person bring in their favorite object. A video was made as each person talked about that object, themselves, and what designing clothing meant to them. The videos were condensed and distributed, providing everyone with a Facebook alternative to getting to know their co-workers on a more personal and individual level. Close connections were made based on the information disclosed, the type of information that you might never learn about by working with someone or that might take years to uncover. This sharing created an environment of trust and cooperation resulting in productive and creative teamwork.

So being ALL you of who you are wherever you are is a win/win for you and your company. To summarize, the benefits of bringing the human side of you, your passions, interests, and vision of the world to work include:

  1. Showing others the many dimensions of who you are.
  2. Allowing others to connect with you on the many different points (sticky tape) you have exposed.
  3. Exemplifying trust and a willingness to open up to others by sharing.
  4. Creating deeper bonds and encouraging collaboration.
  5. Opening the door so others can share as well.
  6. Highlighting your core values, an important connection point on every level.

What makes relationships powerful is the human connection. Without it you end up with a work environment that resembles bleached out cotton – it may do the job it was designed for but can be colorless and lacking an interesting texture.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum empowers careerists and entrepreneurs to gain greater clarity and more effectively communicate their unique promise of value. Strong leadership means leading with your strengths. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru

Get Personal, Build Relationships and Have Fun Doing It

Mary Rosenbaum | July 14th, 2010

No one ever wants to be compared with a used car salesman (not that there is anything wrong with being a used car salesman) because it has always been shorthand for someone who is slick, dishonest, shallow, and self-interested. These qualities have never been considered attributes but in today’s world where connecting is an integral part of doing business, this type of behavior would be self defeating. Did you ever consider that you might be coming across differently than you think?

Recently I received a phone call from a stock broker pitching his company’s service. My name was on a prospect list made up of past clients. During our brief conversation he went into a monolog of the products and services his company offered and how I might benefit from them. The one thing he never did was connect with me. He seemed nice enough but I could just as easily have found the information he was giving me on the internet or the company’s website.

I wouldn’t say he came across as slick or dishonest, but he didn’t come across as expert, caring, personal, or unique. Rather than try to start a relationship which requires an investment of time he was focused on SELLING 101.

I know you are probably sitting at your computer reading this and saying “I don’t make cold calls so this doesn’t apply to me”. Have you ever attended a cocktail party, a conference, a networking event, a new client meeting? Do you whip out your business card after a few minutes? How do you break the ice? What do you talk about? Do you connect or do you sell?

Success in business is based on relationships. And relationship building is not only good for business; it’s fun if your intentions are genuine. So have fun and remember to:

1. Be Authentic – People have to like you. You may be selling the best product or service in the world, you may be the smartest person out there. If you don’t get people to connect with you on some level, to like you, you won’t get the business or do the deal or get the job. Be honest about who you are and let your personality show through. Connections are made memorable by sharing your stories, experiences, and passions – in other words, your personality.

2. Be Real – People have to trust you. I want to believe that you “care” about me and what I need and that you are not out to just close the deal or get the job. It’s a simple as Making Friends 101-  be curious and get to know them rather than sell them on you.

3. Be Giving – Generosity of spirit is integral to building relationships and of course, to being liked. Real relationships are not based on a quid pro quo. Give help, provide value without expecting anything in return. “Giving is it’s own reward.”

4. Be Consistent – Don’t change gears on me. I have to trust that if I decide to befriend you or hire you, you will consistently deliver on that promise of value.

5. Take Your Time – Make your goal getting to know them, not closing the deal. And that takes time. Lead times are long if you are building real relationships.

You never know, letting people you might not  consider “friend worthy”  into your life in an authentic way may yield some surprising results.

So let’s get to know each other and form some real relationships. Let me know what you think about this post and if there are topics you would like more information on – shout it out.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru

Personal Branding-Value Your Past in Creating Your Future

Mary Rosenbaum | June 17th, 2010

I love going into antique stores. For me it’s about learning the history of some object that caught my eye – who crafted it, who owned it, what it was originally used for, where it was found or from whom it was purchased. This information provides me with the substance that makes the object more real, more interesting, and more memorable.

Believe it or not, the same holds true for you as a professional or entrepreneur. We are always talking about the value of being authentic as part of your personal brand. When your brand is authentic it includes everything about you as well as your history. Your history is as vital to your brand as it is in making the antique more desirable.

Early in my career I worked in investment banking. As an analyst I learned how to compare and evaluate companies, synthesizing vast amounts of information including earnings, market penetration, comparability, economic conditions, consumer sentiment, and so forth.

That doesn’t sound like it would be useful for someone whose expertise is in personal branding and career management. Yet, it’s those same analytical skills that provide the underpinning for me to help clients evaluate, compare, synthesize and communicate how their talents, experience, skills, passions, vision, and values enable them to stand out from the competition. This past experience is a piece of the puzzle that makes up ALL of who I am and what I offer. My history is part of what makes me more interesting, more unique, more memorable, and of course, it helps me stand out.

When you are working on your personal brand try to answer these questions:

1. What are you are good at – what comes to you easily?
2. How did you come to own this particular skill?
3. How does it enhance what you do?
4. How can it enhance what you want to do (remember, brands are aspirational)?
5. Why are you good at it – does this fulfill a particular passion, interest, value?
6. Does this help you differentiate yourself from your competition – why?

The experiences in your life should not be compartmentalized, instead they should be mined and brought to the surface. They are your precious gems. So take a walk through your past, connect the dots to your present, and set the stage for your future.

If you have any personal branding stories to share I would love to hear them.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years, Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru

Personal Branding – Get More Visible at Work

Mary Rosenbaum | April 22nd, 2010

How visible are you? How visible is your personal brand? Having a great personal brand but lacking visibility in your company is much like throwing a great party but failing to send out the invites. How do you get in front of those who need to know about you and your personal brand?

Getting visible sometimes requires you to take a chance and stick your neck out. Remember that keeping your head down and just doing your job is no longer a winning formula for getting visible and getting ahead.

Here are some tips on ways to get greater visibility.

1. Make sure those who have the power know your unique value. Make sure that updates about projects you are proud of working on get sent to those that need to know. It’s hard to cc the big boss on all your emails, but it might be possible for you to volunteer for a project that puts you in closer proximity where she/he can see you in action as well as hear of your successes. Use caution that you don’t overuse the cc and start to look more like spam than like real information.

2. Attend meetings or speaking engagements where the power people congregate and network with them before and after these events. The idea is for them to know your name, what you do, and ultimately what your unique value is to the firm.

3. Start an internal blog with postings that would be of interest to people in your firm, be on brand, and demonstrate your thought leadership. You could discuss articles, white papers, or interesting work that’s being done in your area that would bring to light your knowledge and expertise while gaining much greater visibility.

4. Networking across departments in your company is critical to developing relationships and alliances, gaining a greater understanding of what other areas of your firm are doing, the expertise they have and need, and how your skills and abilities can be utilized and augmented to better manage your career.

5. Don’t wait for new projects to find you. Create new ways for you to contribute to your company’s success/bottom line. By showing your creativity you will be showcasing your unique value, and building your own net worth and social capital (you make your boss look good if you look good).

6. Is there a project you would love to work on in a different department? If it furthers your career goals, is on brand, and would be a great way to highlight your skills and abilities volunteer to get involved. I know that this can sometimes be difficult to accomplish but this is where your exposure to those with influence helps. Try getting permission by focusing your request not only on why you would be a great addition to the project and add value but that the experience and perhaps even the results would benefit your department as well.

Stand out from the crowd by taking a stand.

Are there other ways you know of getting the visibility and recognition? Please share them with us.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years, Mary Rosenbaum helps entrepreneurs and careerists position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @careersguru

Personal Branding – Developing Your Vision Statement

Mary Rosenbaum | April 13th, 2010

I thought this was an interesting read in light of my previous post on the importance of having a vision in developing your brand. Understanding your vision provides you with a direction for your business and your career. This article on how to develop your and your company’s vision statement in 24 words should help in developing your thought process. Let me know what you think.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years, Mary Rosenbaum helps entrepreneurs and careerists position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @careersguru