Saturday, 23 March 2013

Personal Branding

Speaking to some good friends at a friends birthday last night I realized that, many people have a misconception about what Personal Branding actually is.

Lets start with the purpose of personal branding. The main purpose is to become influential in an area of influence so that you have a larger network of people who trust you and you can effectively leverage that network to increase your earnings.

It is not about becoming a celebrity or elevating yourself as an old style manager so that you have more power, quite the contrary actually it is about leadership - true leadership where you put others above yourself and you serve them. Only by you serving others will you ever gain the respect of your followers and those followers are the people who are ultimately going to make you influential.

Somewhat different from the celebrity scene ... Where it is all about the celebrity and it has very little to do with the fans, the fans are just expected to stand aside as the celebrity goes about his day to day life. I am sure by now you can see the old style of management in this type of celebrity analogy.

In essence the more important you think you are the less important you actually are, in this new economy of the personal brand influencer. Where the value of each and every relationship you have built becomes your true value.

Personal branding is about investing in yourself, and once you have invested in yourself you can start making a difference in the lives of others, as you strengthen the relationships you have built and you continue to sustain and grow more relationships.

You will notice that I have used the word YOU in this article, and you may even think I have over used it, well to be honest I have not used the word YOU enough in this article.

The truth is that only YOU can build your brand, because only you can have the relationship with the person you are intending to connect with and who will ultimately add to your influence. Don't let anyone else build your brand for you, because only you are you'er than you, as Dr. Seuss says.

The final excuse that we often hear around personal branding is where will I get the time? It is a good question indeed but not a question that can be used as an excuse - no the question is the catalyst and the question is 'how can I possibly build my brand if I don't commit time to the process?'

If you don't personally build your brand, who is going to build your brand? Start thinking today about the small steps you can make towards launching your personal brand.

When you require more assistance with tools and ideas that will enable you to build your personal brand, drop me a line and we can arrange a meeting.

Email: or Call: +27 82 413 1604

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Personal Branding - The key to Social Business?

More than 10 years ago business guru Tom Peters and other consultants first suggested the concept of the personal brand. The concept was laughed at and scorned by conventional business and big brands believed that the power was with the brand and not with the individual ... some people still think this is the case and they will cite the Apple brand after the passing on of Steve Jobs.

Well there may always be exceptions to any rule, but for most the shift has been towards the individual and most will acknowledge to a lesser or greater degree the influence of the individuals within an organization or more simply put the brands that work for the brand.

Yes for companies to be a strong brand these days you need strong brands working for you, the success of the main brand is often dependent on the decisions and choices that the individual brands within that brand makes.

So what impact does this have on a relationship marketing or social media strategy within an business? Simply put it has everything because only people can give you authenticity, commitment and integrity; companies can only say this but the people deliver these values.

Social media strategies will always fail if you approach them from a brand building or a marketing point of view. They will give the old style necessary information, but they simply will not have the personality that makes up a social business.

For a social business strategy to be effective and to have long term sustainability you need to find the champions within a organization and involve them in the complete process. They are the people who are natural communicators and are capable of giving your brand it's own authentic personality.

When you freely enable people to build individual brands for themselves, you not only build a solid brand for your company due to the strength of the brands within the organization but you also save costs, become more authentic and you have a more productive engaged workforce.

Start encouraging others to build their brands and begin building your personal brand today ... 

"If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less." -- General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Social Media - Virtual or Real?

Many people have difficulty understanding Social Media and mainly due to thinking that the way we communicate on the social media platforms is like email. But it is very different ... 

You see the real difference is that we react to emails and we talk to people, yes nothing can replace real face to face communication and social media allows us to have a conversation. Emails are one to one communication where we give reactive answers.

Social media is in fact life playing out before us, and the more real we treat it the more effective our conversations will become.

But never fear it will never replace the need for human interaction, the neuro scientists have discovered the 'mirror neuron'. This is what gives us the desire for human interaction. We always have the need to meet and 'mirror' if our thoughts about someone are in fact real.

So go on have fun communicating knowing that it is real life playing out in front of you, those that are introverts in life are introverts on social platforms and those extroverts, well I need not say anymore!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Will your Social Media strategy work?

Social Business is all about strategy, the strategy you put together on paper may look great but will it actually work and provide the traction and the desired return on investment?

The answer is simple, but the underlying complexities are the real challenges.

Simply put you need three key ingredients:

Looking at the above graphic you will notice it is all about the brand, but not just the brand of the company. Individual brands play a major role in the success of your strategy as they provide fresh content, thought leadership and real relationships that are engaging and meaningful.

Oh and never ignore any person in your organisation, only 15% of any profession are actually on the correct career path. So if you assume that engineers are not good at communication and only leaving it to the people with the communication degrees could have disastrous results in the long term.

I have encountered delivery drivers with better written communication skills and larger networks than most of the so called marketing and communication professionals.

You see the new social business is not about title or qualification, it is about influence and continuous communication and thought leadership will cause that influence to grow.

When it comes to the brand of the company, a strong brand identity helps but everything needs to be in balance, if that brand is not communicated and focused on the human capital within the company you may need to adjust your focus, as the best ambassadors for your brand are the brands that are employed within the company.

All of the above sounds great and is achievable except for one crucial third leg to this tripod - the C-suite (the c-suite is the CEO, CFO, CMO, COO and all that grouping of senior executives) or executive buy in. Without the buy-in of the most senior people within the organization it is just a game that you are playing! You are wasting time and resources.

NO ... get everyone involved, allow everyone to play. Remember only 15% of the organization is likely to be interested in really playing in the long term so allow them the freedom to adopt when they want to and get as many people involved as possible, regardless of which department they come from - that way you will find the champions that will make your strategy a success.

Give them rules and the correct governance to play with and they will play nicely.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Talent Acquisition with Social Media

Is the traditional recruitment process still a practical solution to talent acquisition for your organization or should you be looking at your internal processes?

A standard response is we have a recruitment agency that does it all for us and anyway we do not have the time to go through thousands of CV's.

Well then you should still be looking at the processes that the recruitment agencies are using to attract this talent on your behalf, especially if they are still using the 'send us your CV' approach.

The new talent comes from a group called the Y Generation, these millennials - sometimes referred to as the Net Generation, no matter what you call them they are having a serious impact on how businesses attract  source, hire, and retain employees. Oh and if you think having a Facebook account is going to work, you are absolutely wrong.

Recently HR Lab in America did a survey of the Y-generation acquisition process and the results are astonishing:

64% asked about the social media policy of the company during the interview.
24% said social media policies would be a key deciding factor before accepting the job.
2 out of 5 workers from Gen Y would take a lower salary to have social media access and mobile options.

Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook remain the most popular ways to connect socially with prospective employees. Research also shows that LinkedIn sends 3x the amount of posting views of Twitter, and 6x that of Facebook.
Gen Y do not prefer Facebook and only 35% of the job seekers attributed using Facebook for job information.

The measurements within the grouping have also changed, they are no longer just interested in getting their salary at the end of the month - they expect opportunities for personal growth, training developed specifically for their needs and a clear chance for career progression needs to be given to them. They would also like to be consulted on new or additional policies they may have a negative impact on them.

70% of Gen Y workers indicate they'll look for a new job once the economy improves.

Why does this matter?
Well more than half of the companies surveyed refuse to let employees use social media for any reason while at the workplace.

According to the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), by 2015, 60 percent of all open positions will require skills that are only held by 20 percent of applicants.

More than ever we need to look at attracting the right talent, we need to ensure we retain this talent by providing the training and career opportunities they desire.

Where to from here?
Talent acquisition is about building brands, the stronger the brand the more people will be attracted to it. Brand building has two angles the company brand and the individual brand, they are separate yes and that is often why the policymakers have excluded the use of social media within organizations.

However the above argument should of answered the problem of not allowing social media, so I will assume that is going to happen and there will be no further discussion other than when we formulate the Social Media Governance Policy (with your Gen Y staff of course).

Coming back to the branding issue well the best place to build a brand is online; via the relationships and influences you have created through the network of followers you have created.

Notice that I have not mentioned how the company builds it's brand. When we are talking about people, which in this case we are. We must realize that people connect with people and great brands are because of the strength of the brands that work within that brand.

Yes the future is about personal branding and strengthening these personal brands by aligning their interests with the mission of the business and every other person working for the brand. By doing this you are able to harness the qualities of individual worth: content, authenticity, integrity, reputation, commitment, and reliability.

With these in place you may just attract the talent you are searching for.

Image courtesy of cooldesign at

What else could I have added to this article, I look forward to your comments.

Definitions : Social Business / Social Network / Social Media

There is growing consensus over these terms, allowing the focus to shift from debate to putting the concepts to work.

Social technologies are the tools that connect people, information, and assets across time and place. Not just about content, but more about context and community.

Social media are the places where people assemble to do work. In this context, the primary implication is assembling and working electronically.

Social network is the actual embodiment of who knows what and who knows whom – the collection of connections and interests expressed in a connected social graph.

Social business is the concept of activating social networks using social technology and media to create business value, across any number of functional or business processes. 

This information was extracted from the Deloitte, Tech Trends 2013, Elements of Postdigital and can be found at   

Richard Simmonds - Social Business Solutions

I am often asked 'What exactly do you do, and what could you do for me and my organization?'
My main objective or elevator pitch line is: I build capacity within organizations, which enable them to effectively implement sustainable social media / business solutions and strategies.

This is divided into three main areas of engagement:
  1. Introduction to social media, allowing everyone in the organization to understand why we have social media, how it integrates into our daily lives and how we can collaborate more effectively to improve productivity; by effectively engaging in the social platforms which are most relevant to our organization.
  2. Governance policy and strategic implementation of a facilitated social business plan for all departments thus eliminating silos and addressing the issues around effective talent acquisition to the organization.
  3. Training to build capacity and empowering the people within the organization so that they can determine and implement their own paths, thus alleviating the need for external resources and in-turn saving costs.
Looking at these areas I have seen a need to drill down and help the HR Professionals - mainly dealing with recruitment and how they can save there companies a fortune by doing the recruitment process in-house using various social media platforms.

When we consider all the above, we realize the imminent need for personal branding as it strengthens and amplifies the communication and marketing. A great brand has fantastic brands working for it!

In summary ... 

Do you have a governance policy around social media / business?

Are we looking at how we can enhance the relationships business' have with individuals?

Are we attracting the best talent possible?

Is your personal brand a true influence with value?

I look forward to having a conversation with you over a cup of coffee.

Please contact me by phone on +27 (82) 413 1604 or e-mail me at

Friday, 1 March 2013

Hunter or the Hunted?

When we first ponder the title, one is inclined to say I would rather be the hunter than the hunted, well if we were in the jungle that may be true - but the rules have changed ... more than we can possibly imagine.

We live in a big world with big ideas, the bigger you become the more you are hunted, and for all the right reasons ...

Conditioning tells us that we need to survive and survival is about camouflaging yourself, because if you don't stick your head out you won't get targeted. The reality is that you have believed the propaganda of your competitors; the conformists would like you to think like them so that you all remain mediocre and that you all never get noticed and ultimately no one is interested in targeting you.

Wow what rubbish we have been led to believe, instead we should be wearing bright bold colors and ensuring that we are targeted in every possible way, you were never meant to hide your light under the bushal, you were made to live and live loud.

Today my challenge to you is that you start to think 'how can I be noticed', think about the contributions you can make to your children's school, the company you work for, the local charity or the country you live in.

I get it you a cynic and wonder WHY, and my simple answer is why not?

Okay lets have a look at the WHY and I have eluded to it in the above paragraphs, but lets unpack it a bit more.

The Hunters are the recruiters or head hunters and you are quite simply the Hunted, so why would you not wan't to project your very best to the hunters, they are looking for the brightest and the best trophy they can possibly find, so give them the best of you - the best of every possible color within you so that your brand gets the best exposure.

Your brand is not your vacation, it is everything you are - your strengths, your talents, your gifts, your networks and influences, every single colorful aspect of who you are.

You amplify this by building your personal brand in the following ways - write a blog, tweet regularly, comment and be involved in online forums, network face to face, speak at every opportunity you get and see to it that you never go unnoticed again.

Yes of course it will take some of your time and resources, but I can promise you it will give you a return on investment - like no other investment you have ever made - what have you got to lose?