Weekend Assignment – Network Everywhere

April 18, 2008

Happy Friday Everyone!

I have an uncomfortable assignment for everyone this weekend.  Unless you are a hermit, over the course of the next two days, you’re probably going to do something. 

I am encouraging you, over the course of the weekend, to pick one place that you go and make a connection with someone there.  I’m not talking about chatting up the cute bartender at the local beer joint…

You know that super friendly old guy that gets behind you in line at the grocery store every once in a while?  Be super friendly back.  Introduce yourself and give him your card.  You never know who could be in need of your professional services.

A Great Opportunity

If you live in Dayton, OH (which I would imagine a majority of my readership does) don’t forget that there is a Dragon’s game tonight.  The line at the concession stand is a fantastic place to turn around and say hello to someone new!


If you have a great accomplishment through this assignment (or even a great failure) post it here!  We learn through experience, but sometimes it is easiest to learn through the experience of others!


Personal Branding – Your Introduction

April 17, 2008

There are a lot of people in the world who swear by the effectiveness of the twenty second commercial.  They find it useful, witty, pleasant and memorable.  I am not one of those people.

I am sure that I am opening up a whole new “can of worms” by going against this method of introduction, but really, it’s for your own good.  First let’s take a look at the standard 20 second commercial (elevator speech).

The general rule of thumb is to sandwich an interesting fact or creative way of saying what you do between your name and your position title and company.  Like this:

“Hello, my name is Bob Smith.  I help people develop themselves as professionals.  I am the personal branding consultant at Sean Bacon Enterprises.”

That’s probably overkill.  I know personally, if someone were to introduce themselves like that to me I would probably be very put off.  Having been to communication seminars before, I am well aware of the 20 second commercial and can smell it from a mile away.  This introduction does not speak to Bob’s dynamic personality, rather Bob’s ability to rehearse.

So here’s my recommendation.  The verbage for Bob would go something like this:

“Hi, I’m Bob, I’m a Personal Branding Consultant for Sean Bacon Enterprises.”

So what’s the difference? With the elimination of the flowery job description in the middle, Bob’s twenty second commercial just became Bob’s 5 second commercial.  The key to this is in delivery. 

Using your last name, dare I say, is a matter of personal preference.  I don’t use mine, partially because it is a breakfast food and I don’t want to deal with the incessant wise-cracks that follow, but mainly because if I am talking to you, there is a better than good chance that I just handed you my business card.  My last name is on it, 9 times out of 10 someone will at least read your name when you hand them your card. 

The reason behind the elimination of the flowery job description is that if someone is interested in what I currently do or what I can do for them in my current position, this will probably come up through the course of conversation.  If you’re trying to establish yourself as a professional entity rather than “that guy/girl who works for” you certainly want to consider this approach.

Here are a few additional rules to follow:

  • Maintain soft eye contact:  don’t stare your new acquaintance down and don’t be checking out the cute sales rep standing behind them the whole conversation.
  • Keep your handshake relatively firm: don’t crush their medicarpals and don’t allow your hand to turn into a dead fish.  Do your best to connect the crease between your thumb and your hand with the same spot on their hand, two pumps and release.
  • If you can tell what they had for lunch, you’re probably standing too close.
  • If your new acquaintance starts to lose interest, make a polite exit to the conversation, but still follow up within the next couple days.

Happy Thursday Everyone!

Personal Branding – Letterhead

April 16, 2008

Let’s talk about letterhead.  The first question to ask yourself when deciding what to do about personal letterhead is, “Do I need it?”  I’m going to be completely honest here: probably not…but it can’t hurt.  If you are in professional organizations that may require you to send out written communications in your name not in the name of the organization then you may want to consider it (there are a handful of other reasons too).  Now if you own your own business and it is set up as a sole proprietorship under your name and not a “Doing Business As” then you definitely need it.

The last thing that you want is for a professional communication to come from you on copier paper.  It looks and feels cheap and will not have the same impact that letterhead will have.  So, let’s talk about paper.  You want to use something that looks good and feels good in the hand.  My recommendation is to go with twenty-five percent cotton paper at a weight of at least twenty-four pounds.  This is comparable to resume paper.  Remember to only use text weight paper, cover stock and card stock would be overkill.

The design of your letter head should be very similar to the design of your business card.  If you are sending someone a personal communication, chances are you have met them before and they have seen your business card.  Sticking with the same theme will re-enforce that part of your brand in their minds.  If you have not met the person, include a copy or your business card in the folds of the letter. 

Your best option is to have the letter head printed at a company, preferably the same one that did your business cards, since they get the paper (which is relatively expensive) at a much lower cost than you will.  Plus it will save you the time of having to create and print all of this yourself.

Happy communicating!

Personal Branding – The Beginning

April 13, 2008

My next few posts, at least, are going to be about the fine art of personal branding.  If you want to establish yourself as the absolute go-to for your particular field, you’re going to have to sell yourself as the absolute best in your field.  Business cards, resumes, blogs, websites, portfolios:  all these things are going to enter in to your personal brand.  Before I get too far into this, I want to hear some of your ideas on personal branding. 

What do you think is the single most important aspect of developing a personal brand?  Let the comments fly!