Rules for Branding, Mentoring, and Creativity

I’ve been blogging since 2012. Before that, I’d been growing my professional horizons and reading about creativity. I hit a point where I read Seth Godin’s Icarus Deception then happened to see him present at a conference. Part of his call to action was to act on your creativity. I’d just gotten a promotion and was thinking that I could use that empowerment in a variety of ways. I felt like I had a lot to give which I hadn’t yet. That year I really worked to develop a style and expand my social media presence. It was experimental and creative.

The next year, I was instrumental in the formation of a new team advocating and selling customer experience applications. With the new team, I had to do a lot of networking, help people understand what we did, and provide vision for the group. While I was doing personal branding for myself, I branched off and did some of that with the team. I managed our blog, organized newsletters, and solicited content. The effort was very successful and helped us become known as forward-thinking people who could solve problems the rest of the organization hadn’t thought of yet. Last year I transferred to a newly formed group to focus on some core interests I have and learn a lot in the process. The group I’d been a part of attracted some very talented people who are continuing the effort in their own ways. We still work together quite a bit and I’ve held some educational sessions for them to share what I’ve been working on.

How to work well with others and improve yourself at the same time.
How to work well with others and improve yourself at the same time.

I recently was asked if my profile information and history could be used as a case study internally on personal branding. I took it as a huge compliment because that work was still remembered which offers some validation. Over the last year, I’ve made a deliberate effort to shift formats some and work on newer techniques. I made a small investment in a great stylus for the drawing app I use on my iPad as motivation (personal recommendation, not a paid endorsement). I was committed to improving on my poor handwriting and nonexistent art background in a way which could help me in meetings, webcasts, blogging, and elsewhere. That was mentioned in the ask on the personal branding example too.

Personal branding
Key elements of personal branding
Along the way, I’ve found some key points to branding which guide me. This isn’t simply professional. If you follow these, you’ll be better at being you.
  1. Blog. Create. Don’t just show up to your job and do the daily tasks required of you. Go out of bounds, learn on your own, and build your own thoughts.
  2. Communicate broadly. Don’t shamelessly self-promote, but put your work out there to get responses and engage others. Communication’s not a one-way street.
  3. Be there for people. Answer your phone when people need help, advice, or ideas. You don’t make connections if you don’t offer yourself to others. It’s not worth others’ time to try if you’re not going to make the effort. So always make the effort. If there’s an issue you have with someone then try to work it out with them directly. If they’ve done a great job then go to their boss and make it known. Honest feedback and compliments are hugely valuable.
  4. Listen. Saying what you want when others are trying to make themselves understood simply doesn’t work. If someone wants your opinion then find out what they want it about. If you’re voicing what’s on your mind then don’t monologue. When others talk, extend them the courtesy you want. All the world’s a stage, but everyone in it isn’t your audience 24×7.
  5. Connect the dots. Synthesize what others are looking for and map it to your own history, experience, and learning. Connect the dots with the moment at hand. Your ability to do that makes your input greater than the sum of the pieces.
  6. Convey ideas. Don’t simply ideate on your own. Work with others to build concepts and then share them clearly. Get that feedback and iterate. Find new twists to extend a given concept. Make new ideas like smaller blogs which glom onto your concepts to grow and change them.
  7. Be unique. The opposite is to be a commodity. While there aren’t many people I know professionally who are just interchangeable cogs in a gear set, the best aspire to be that driving gear which spins the others. The way you think, deliver, and relate is what makes that unique. Keep pushing. When you feel something becoming rote, that means that you’re around the bend from stagnating. You can improve and hone to a point, but don’t hold onto something which others can deliver where it was once innovating.

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