When LinkedIn first came about, we weren’t sure what to do with it. MySpace was still around, and it was battling with Facebook for our social networking attention (albeit, at this point, MySpace was in the decline already). It wasn’t unusual for most of us to think, “Why should I use LinkedIn? I already use Facebook (or Twitter).” The fact of the matter is this, LinkedIn isn’t going anywhere, and it’s the single most powerful thing that you can use to build your brand.
Sadly, we won’t see Robert Downey Jr. don the suit of Iron Man again in another sequel, but we will see him in the third Avengers installment. The world fell in love with the troubled and charmingly egotistical presence that is Tony Stark. Whether you laugh at his quips towards his dismissal of people that are wasting his time, or you are in awe in his ability to remain ultimately confident in even the hardest of situations. The bottom line with Tony Stark is this… you never forget him. This is the kind of impact you need to have when people think of you.
This topic is as old as leadership is. From the very beginnings of people being led, this art has been studied. People have been training, writing, and blogging about how to best communicate to those you mean to lead. The problem with saying anything to your staff is that they will always have three meanings, regardless to how much planning, thought, and good will you put into it. There will be what your words mean, what you mean by your words, and what each member of your team thinks you mean by it. It’s your responsibility to either strike certain phrases and statements from your vocabulary, or learn when the right time to use those words is.
You might be looking at this thinking, “Duh!” If you are, you should still keep reading. If you’re not, yes, you keep reading too. When a company wants to advertise itself, it will traditionally begin to perform various marketing activities. You’ll begin to see their logos on ads on various websites and in newspapers or magazines. You’ll see them on billboards, bus benches, and conference swag. Their brand may be plastered on TV in commercials, or as sponsors of a show or event. Their postcards might come to your mailbox at home. They might get cross-promoted through other promotions by other companies. This is just the tip of the ice berg. The bottom line is this, they get their brand in front of you one way or another. They know someone will be looking, watching, deciding.
There’s few people these days that don’t wear multiple hats where they work. You might be applying for and holding the title of events coordinator, but you’re probably also dabbling in website updates, PPC marketing, marketing automation, and who knows what else. Employers love to do this for many reasons, not the least of which being that you might be very good at those other things too. This makes you much more valuable to your current employer. Unfortunately, this doesn’t do you any favors for your personal branding. You simply look like the proverbial “jack of all trades, master of none.” Don’t forget that you’re one of many in a sea of applicants trying to vie for the attention of the great employers out there.
Wherever you are, when you were growing up, there was a sport that was more popular amongst your friends than others. For me, we primarily switched between basketball and football (with an occasional straying into wiffle ball). We would play as long as there was light, and sometimes when there wasn’t. It was a great time full of memories. However, there was always the tenuous moments before you began playing where teams would need to get chosen. How did you get on the team you wanted?
As we live our days, we get consumed with the monotonous… We have to get ready for work. We might be getting others ready too. We eat breakfast (hopefully). We make it to work. We spend 8 or more hours almost consecutively crossing off tasks on our to-do list. Then we reverse this to make it back home to our family, pets, or Xbox. Throughout all of this is a large series of decisions and actions we’ve accumulated throughout the day. How many times did you stop to ask yourself, “Am I capable of doing this?”
No matter how short or long you’ve been “the boss,” communication will always be your most challenging aspect of the job. You’ll go through recurring phases of focusing on direction, feedback, motivation, correspondence, and more. (That is, if you’re worth your salt as a leader… You’ll be bettering your leadership skills daily.) Communications are always tricky. If I learned nothing else from Daniel Goleman’s Working with Emotional Intelligence, it’s that we need to focus on communication and that communication will always be different for the situation, person, and medium.
There are tons of topics and ideas where people feel confused. For some of us it’s financing. For others, it’s stocks. Some people get confused with sports. Not everyone understands why or how football works the way it does. In fact, nearly all of us use English words incorrectly every day. Simply put, we often take knowledge for-granted. In addition, if you hold a management or leadership title, it’s possible that you might not realize the difference. Being a leader and being a manager is not the same thing. Not by a longshot.
We all have that “thing” that everyone around you knows you for. For whatever reason, I’ve been the person my entire life that everyone I know goes to for advice. It’s always flattering to be trusted in that way, but it also means that I continue to do my best to keep myself fed with information. Probably the most common piece of advice I get asked is, “I have this great job offer. Do you think I should take it?” That’s never an easy question to answer, but here’s what I tell my friends…