The Lazy Days of Summer? The “No Crazy” Days of Summer

At the beginning of July, I committed to blog every day and to encourage you to engage in significantly more social media activity. This is my 31st blog in a row. The results, on a number of fronts, have been positive, interesting and rewarding. I have also learned quite a bit and I want to share the lessons learned and a few frustrations with you.

vacation-from-work[1]On the positive side, being more active with content creation has allowed me to re-ignite my passion for providing marketing, PR, personal branding and business strategies for entrepreneurs and businesspeople. By sharing my knowledge and experience, I have been able to engage in conversations with wonderful people from around the world and get feedback which has advanced my own knowledge base.

I have experimented with blog distribution and social media to provide new and more effective strategies for clients, friends and colleagues along the way. In the pursuit of understanding new marketing trends, I have read a variety of articles in respected business publications such as FastCompany, Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, Business Insider and others. This led me to follow some impressive writers and bloggers and pod casters and their fantastic podcasts. I have also discovered people who are equally passionate about the entrepreneurial spirit.

What did I learn?

Twitter

One blog I did was called “I love Twitter, I hate Twitter.” My explorations and research into Twitter has opened my eyes to the potential of this platform and the best ways to use it to engage with people and build a following.

use 022814twitter[1]The two most important lessons:

The first is to engage with people on a one-to-one basis but do so in public. Thank people for following, ask questions and start conversations. I did not hesitate to send messages or ask questions of thought leaders. I am pleased that a number of them responded and are now following me. Having some TV personalities connected with me has been fun and it is very cool.

The second lesson is to acknowledge that brand consistency matters. When I veered away from my core interest and brand engagement the results were not the same as when I was more focused. The outcome after a month of heightened activity on Twitter resulted in an increase of over 300 followers and hundreds of likes, retweets and favorites.

LinkedIn

I wrote a number of blogs about LinkedIn. Since LinkedIn is a community and platform that I encourage businesspeople to use, I want to know how to use it more effectively.

The two lessons I learned:

Bill Corbett's LinkedIn profile page.

Bill Corbett’s LinkedIn profile page.

First lesson: if you are not doing long form posts on LinkedIn’s publishing platform, you are missing out on one of the best ways to build your brand online. I shared some of my blogs from this past month via this platform and the response has been amazing. My profile views tripled, contact requests are way up and the number of followers on my business page has more than doubled.

Second lesson: share content in groups and join the conversations. Conversations in groups have not only enabled me to speak with and connect with amazing people in the small business world but also with thought leaders and top level executives with major corporations. LinkedIn is about relationship building, not selling, and in this month alone I have started many new relationships.

Social Media

socialmedia[1]By sharing blogs and being more active on Google Plus, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest I have been able to bring my message and expertise to more people. Using images and video has been critical. I made the commitment to share images more and learn more about Instagram and Facebook. On both of these platforms I have seen engagement and this has strengthened my brand. Interesting, this is where business and personal activities intersect. In fact, this will be a future blog topic for me – relationship building does not stop when the business day ends. Personal posts and images of activities of interest to me have helped me to engage with more people and to share my involvement in charities and interest in grilling/BBQ and photography. The lesson learned here: share your passions and interests and you will be rewarded with comments, likes and respect. People will more likely approach you at networking events because these posts are great conversation starters and business opportunity generators.

PR – My Core Business

Many people know me, but there are those with whom I have not personally worked with and therefore it’s understandable that they wonder what I do and what happens at a PR firm every day. Through blogging, social media activity and storytelling, I have been able to educate people about what I do, my expertise and what it is like to be a PR professional. Lesson learned: talk to people and tell stories about what you do and how you do it. Give examples, use images and video whenever possible to tell the story and you will advance your business goals and build stronger relationships. We all have competitors, to stand out you must tell stories and let people get a good glimpse of what you do and how you can help them.

Video

Build_Brand[1]Through my social interactions, experience writing blogs, research and observations of  what others are doing to succeed, it is very clear that video is going to be the most important part of personal and business marketing in the years to come. I have included many videos in my blogs and I have shared many videos across social platforms over the past month. Video tells your brand story and invites people to get to know you better or introduces you to people before they even have a chance to meet you in person. I shared my recent TV interviews and the feedback has been very positive and has led to meetings and opportunities.

Blogging

Active blogging and the process in creating a blog has been an enlightening and positive experience. I have shared information that I am passionate about and have had fun. At the same time, I’ve broadened my knowledge base. Blogging can be both frustrating and challenging. Developing new content takes time and pushing out content requires a system and a consistent effort. It is frustrating when a blog does not get the response expected. Nonetheless, you must learn from disappointments to ultimately find success. I know that good content with images and videos attracts the most attention. I learned that social media sharing of your own content builds respect, interest and engagement. I also learned that when it comes to blogging it is great to share blogs directly with friends and others who will share it with their networks.

podcastmikeheadset1[1]I have said repeatedly during my Grow Your Personal Branding program presentations that your blog is where your personal brand comes to life. My daily blogging over the past 30 + 1 days has proven this to me once again. I plan to continue to blog, just not every day. I definitely will integrate more videos and I am looking forward to launching a podcast in the fall.

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Is it Time for a Business or Personal Branding Makeover or Update?

Tailoring.

Tailoring.

Technology and social media are rapidly changing. Strategies for networking and personal marketing have also changed. Small business owners, networkers and those in sales roles need to adapt and update their approaches. I continue to urge people to create a personal marketing plan and implement it. Simply doing this creates systems and strategies that will make marketing efforts more efficient and more importantly, more effective.

With the changes taking place in technology, especially in video and mobile, personal marketers need to evaluate their brands regularly. I was recently looking back at some of my Facebook posts from six years ago. It is amazing how much has changed. I also took a few minutes to examine my social media sites. This is a process that you should do yourself periodically.

What should you look at?

Are you leveraging the power of video?

If you are not using video on your social media platforms and your website you are three years behind your competitors. According to YouTube – “Every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views.”

In our mobile society it is clear that people want to watch videos on their devices.

According to this article from eMarketer, “Adults in the US will spend an average of 5 hours, 31 minutes watching video each day this year.” Digital devices are fueling growth.

Here is the full article with other interesting statistics:

http://www.emarketer.com/Article/US-Adults-Spend-55-Hours-with-Video-Content-Each-Day/1012362

People want to watch video and if you don’t have video on your website and don’t use video regularly on your social media channels you are three years behind your savvy competitors. If you have videos that you did three or more years ago, don’t delete them, but look to update them. Spend the time and make the investment today to create quality videos. There are many easy to use tools, apps, devices and cameras that can be used today. You can do it yourself but consider the quality of videos and how they will be used. Create a plan and a strategy for creating new video content at least every quarter.

In terms of a makeover, if you look a lot different in person today than you looked three or four years ago in a video, then it’s time for a makeover.

Is your image up to date?

Similar to video, if your image has changed you need to update your profile photos. I have covered this topic many times in blogs. Your real world image should match your online image. Every two or three years get a new head shot. For some people you may also want to get more “glamor” or stylistic images done. This all depends on your business and your personal brand. If you are a professional speaker, in the entertainment business, marketing, sales or other creative industries, images that reflect your personality, sense of humor or style might be more appropriate for use (not for your LinkedIn profile). Check out this article from The New York Times: “When Selfies Won’t Do – Glamor Photos Replace Selfies for Personal Branding.” When you are looking to present your brand and have social media and websites where you can do this, look to be more creative. For a brand makeover or update, a glamor shot or two could be the right approach. Remember use a professional photographer. Don’t risk taking photos yourself.

Review your profiles

Over the course of time everyone’s approaches, strategies and areas of expertise change and evolve. When was the last time you updated or made changes to your LinkedIn profile, your Twitter profile, your Facebook profile, your YouTube channel description or your bio on your website? Take a look at them and compare them to what you are doing now. Are they accurate? Even if they are, it might be time to re-draft them, keeping in mind how you and social media has changed. Make sure to use important keywords that describe why you do what you do, what value you offer and why you are different and better than your competition.

Review your brand and brand message

Take a look at your personal mission statement and vision. Has it changed or have you gone off-message? Examine your blog and social media posts to see if they are still consistent with your message and your personal marketing plan. It is easy to lose focus when we are bombarded with so many messages every day. Changing and pivoting to adapt and take advantage of opportunities is fine, but review your core mission and values. You may have to get back on course or create a plan to chart a new direction.

Websites

A restaurant website before and after a redesign.

A restaurant website before and after a redesign.

Websites are a central focus for most businesses. Take the time to look at your website and address the content updates, image updates and video updates. Today websites need to convey a quick message and tell a story. Does your site accurately tell your story? Does it look up to date? I am in the process of updating the look and format of my own website and blog. Examine your site but also look at competitors and others you respect. If it is time for a change, start the process. A new website or a website conversion takes time and a budget. An old and out of date website presents the wrong image and this must be addressed.

Marketing and branding takes time and effort. It certainly takes a budget and planning as well. Reviewing your brand regularly is important. You must keep up with technology and leverage what it has to offer to keep your image fresh and on track.

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Consistency Matters: Does the Real World Brand Match Your Online Brand?

Target and Single ArrowFor nearly three decades in the public relations business, I have had the pleasure of working with some great entrepreneurs and businesspeople.

The firm’s goals have remained the same: we seek to secure media coverage to build a person’s brand, reputation and attract attention. Building a brand takes time. In the past I have discussed the questions you need to ask to define your brand and I have outlined what is needed in your personal marketing plan.

With so many ways to promote your brand and with so many places online where your brand resides, a challenge surfaces: consistency. Is your brand image and message consistent across all the digital properties that you own? Does this “online brand” match how you present yourself in the real world? I bet some readers have not even thought of this.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a social media marketer using social media for your brand, business or if you are just a casual user of social media. Guess what? You have an online brand and you need to know how you are presenting yourself. For those of you who are not practitioners of social media, you cannot escape either. Even when you don’t have social media accounts of your own, your name is probably online on your company’s website, in directories of the groups that you belong to or perhaps in the media. Have you ever searched for your name? Have you searched for it recently? If not, you should. You need to see how your brand is represented online and what people are saying about you.  Are people making positive comments, negative comments are they not saying anything at all?  Search for your name in Google (and other search engines) to see what comes up. Search down a few pages and make notes of what you find. Search Google Images; does your image come up? Is it an old image? Is the image unflattering? Again, take notes and click on the images, where are they being pulled from? Perhaps images are coming from social media sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook or a newspaper or organizations to which you belong.

Tip: for Gmail/Google Plus users – you can create what is known as Google Alerts. These are Google searches that are done daily or periodically for search terms that you want to monitor. Put your name into the Google Alert system and if your name is mentioned you will get an alert. There is more to this, but begin by creating an alert with your name or, more specifically, your name in quotes such as “Bill Corbett.” This tells Google to search just for your name. If you have a relatively common name like I do, I suggest adding additional words to your search. I use “Bill Corbett” “Public Relations.” This narrows down my search and gets better results – not all the results of all the other Bill Corbett’s in the world. There are quite a few of us by the way.

Businessman Looking in Mirror

Now that you are monitoring your brand, it is time to look at the consistency of your brand. Do you have an elevator speech? Do you have a personal mission statement that you share with people you meet? Do you have an area of expertise that you discuss in the real world? Your answer to all of these questions is likely to be “yes.” How about this question: do you have a certain style of dress or a “look” that you are known for? If you don’t have a specific look, you can be sure the way you present yourself professionally will not go unnoticed. Your message, your mission and the way you look and present yourself needs to be the same (consistent) online as it is in the real world. Your headshots and images need to be professional and consistent. Every written profile also needs to reflect a similar message. Certainly your LinkedIn profile will provide much more information than a Twitter profile, but stay consistent. The graphics and the videos you use must also be consistent. Video is by far the best bridge between the real world and the cyber world. If you can convey on video your brand and message, you are doing it right. Be aware that video is tricky; poor quality videos (poor lighting, poor audio and an awkward presentation) can hurt you and your brand, especially if you are sharp and clear in the real world. Keep an eye on your videos.

Your bios, profiles and content needs to be consistent with your messaging. Think about what you post and the subject matter. If you are a banker or financial services professional, is posting marketing-related content consistent with your brand? If you are a medical professional, are posts about movies and TV appropriate? When using social media for business you must consider these factors. It is not the same if you are using social media to communicate with friends and family. However, in today’s world the lines between what is business and what is personal (for the most part) has faded away. Remember, if you’re online you are representing your brand at all times. You should expect anything and everything you post to be seen by everyone. So if you don’t want friends, employers, prospects, clients or others to see what you are doing, don’t post. In some cases you may not have a choice; friends and others can and will post images of you and mention your name. Again, this is why you need to monitor your brand regularly.

A poor or inconsistent image can result from simply not having your image or content on a LinkedIn, Twitter or other accounts. How does this look to someone you met at a networking event or the person you were introduced to by a friend as a referral? When you don’t bother to project your brand image to prospects, you damage the potential for establishing a business relationship. It’s better not to have an account than to have a blank one. It is shocking to me to see how many networkers and salespeople don’t have completed profiles on LinkedIn. Think of the opportunities you have lost or how this looks when compared to you competition. You’re not looking good online even though you are very impressive in the real world.

Your brand message and image must be consistent in the real world as well as in the cyber world. Take the time to review where your brand resides online and make sure that it is consistent with your real world image. Keep your content consistent and you will be rewarded with a stronger and more effective brand.

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Business to Business: Do You Have an Ideal Client Profile?

My ideal client is...

My ideal client is…

You have probably been asked at a networking event or lunch these questions:

Who is a good lead for you? Who is your ideal client?

These questions are important; ones that that people don’t think about or examine fully. We know who we like to work with and we certainly want to find quality clients and customers. However, have you recently considered who your best clients are? Have you asked them why they work with you and why they like you?

Small businesspeople are continuously marketing for business, but are they looking for the right kind of business? This is why creating an ideal client profile is valuable.

The following are questions you need to ask yourself. The questions may vary depending on industry but the same strategy applies for everyone. Create a profile (or profiles) that will allow you to focus your marketing efforts and that will enable you to get in front of the right people/businesses more frequently. Getting the answers to these questions is not as easy as you might think; it will take time and effort. It may take several meetings or even months.

Start with the financial qualifiers. How large should the company/business be in terms of revenue or sales? If a company is too small, are you wasting your time?

Does the company have a budget for the products or services that you offer? Ask about a budget. If funds are not allocated for items or services you offer, don’t waste your time or cut your prices.

Is the company in the right industry or niche for you? Many of us work hard to adapt our services, but this may limit our ability to be successful. Stick to the industries where you have your greatest strengths. Trying to service too many different industries can spread your marketing message too thin.

Who do you need to get in front of? Will you be presenting to a CEO, CMO or CFO? Make sure your profile identifies who the right decision maker is to fit with your process. This is where many networkers fail. They waste their time speaking and meeting with the wrong people.

What structure is needed for the client to effectively engage with you and your business? If you need to communicate with a CEO who is generally inaccessible or you need to be in touch with a marketing department, make sure that this is part of your profile.

From a marketing perspective you will want to know where your ideal clients congregate or meet? Who are their clients/customers? How can you help them meet more prospects? By understanding your prospects’ needs you can be helpful to them in their efforts to grow their businesses. If you know where prospects are you can find them. This may be in the physical sense. For example, if you know certain decision makers will be attending a trade show or conference then you can focus on these events. If you know your ideal client reads a particular blog, trade or business publication, you can work to get coverage in that publication. You want your prospects to see you and learn about your leadership and expertise.

Spend the time reviewing and researching your best clients and look at the attributes that make them perfect for you. Create your own list of similar companies or businesses and start marketing to them. Find out where they will be, work to build relationships with them and plan to provide them services that have value.

How did you meet your ideal client? Can you repeat this process? Who introduced you or gave you the referral? If you received business from a referral, create an ideal referral profile.

Work to recreate the process for meeting and engaging with an ideal prospect and track how your marketing and relationship process resulted in the opportunity to make the sale. Keep good records and repeat your successes.

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Important Feature Removed from LinkedIn? Or Not?

We Almost Lost the Ability to Easily Download Contacts from LinkedIn

Ironically, after recently posting two blogs related to LinkedIn, I learned some challenging news. On July 23, 2015, LinkedIn removed one of its best features for members – the ability to easily download LinkedIn contacts. However, LinkedIn apparently quickly reversed this decision. This change and reversal points out several important concerns about being involved in social media and social media marketing.

The most important point is that as a personal marketer your database is a valuable asset. Keep a separate database of your own and be sure to update it regularly. Download your LinkedIn database today and do this every few months as you add contacts.

Click here for a how-to guide to download your LinkedIn contacts.

Click here for a how-to guide to download your LinkedIn contacts.

Check out this video I will show you how to do it.

In terms of social media sites, remember that your profile or page resides on a platform that is not yours. You have no control when format or features changes are made. Therefore, it is wise to have your own website and your own blog. You have control and always will have control over the look, feel and content of your own online properties.

In the past, changes to Facebook, Twitter and other sites have caused complaints from many users. However, this is the price we pay to have our content on popular social media sites.

As a personal branding, PR and marketing consultant, I recommend a number of ways for people to leverage the power of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the most valuable ways to build connections and relationships with others.

Communicating regularly and using different channels of communication with others is essential. It is how we stay top of mind. Email is another important communication tool. Many people use services such as Mail Chimp and Constant Contact, companies that offer good features and help users to reduce spam and unwanted emails. Blast emails have proven to be effective in marketing and continue to be used by many as a strategy. However, just because you have a large downloaded list of email addresses of your LinkedIn contacts, it does not mean that you can or should just start sending out eblasts. Make sure to get the permission of people before you start sending newsletters or other communications. Failing to do so could get your accounts suspended or cause other headaches.

This is the link to LinkedIn’s blog about why they reversed the change:

Business Insider – LinkedIn Restores Ability to Download Contacts

I have written frequently about the importance of your database for growing your personal brand and business.

I am still curious as to why LinkedIn made this change and then reversed it. Perhaps, as it appears, there are too many people with fake LinkedIn accounts; accounts created to capture contacts just to get email addresses to be used for spamming purposes. I would not be surprised if this was also an attempt to help protect member data. I will keep you updated as we learn more.

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

What Does “Brand” Mean to You?

Stand OutYour personal brand is your image and how you are perceived (good or bad) in your market. You must always be thinking about your brand and how to grow it.

Look at the letters that spell B-R-A-N-D:

B – Believe in yourself and others will follow.

R – Reputation is your most valuable asset.

A – Authenticity builds trust.

N – Name recognition comes from personal marketing.

D – Determination is required for continued success.

I often write about the need for individuals to have a personal marketing plan. This plan is critically important if individuals wish to be competitive in the business world. How do you start building your brand? Likely, you are doing this without a plan but you will be more effective if you put thought into it and create a foundation for success. You need a strong brand to attract attention, stand out from competitors, beat your competition and develop more business.

Build_Brand[1]

How do you get your brand on track? Here are some questions to ask yourself when you are developing your personal brand and brand message:

  1. Why do you do what you do?
  2. What is your personal mission statement?
  3. What is your personal passion statement and how does this connect with who you are and your career goals?
  4. What makes you different than others in your industry or business sector?
  5. Why do people want to work with you?
  6. What do people like about working with you?

Asking yourself these questions creates the starting point for your personal brand development process. Answering these questions will allow you to gain a better sense how you want to represent yourself. When you define your brand you will then be able to consistently communicate your message.

Using LinkedIn is the perfect place to start. Using the questions provided above and you experience drafting your profile in the first person on LinkedIn. Describe why you do what you do and what sets you apart from others. Your LinkedIn profile is your personal brand page; it reflects who you are and what you offer. People change, so don’t be afraid to modify your profile to reflect what you are doing today, your successes and accomplishments.

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

Don’t Be a LinkedIn Loser: Strategies for Using LinkedIn Effectively for Business and Personal Branding

ClownWhen I describe someone as a “LinkedIn Loser,” I do so tongue-in-cheek. LinkedIn is the most significant business networking site in the world. If you are in business or need to network in any way you must be on LinkedIn. Even if you’re retired and volunteer for a local charity or if you are a freshman in college there are specific ways to leverage the power of LinkedIn. Here are some of my tips on how to navigate and utilize LinkedIn to your advantage. Follow these tips and you will avoid being a “LinkedIn Loser” and become a “LinkedIn Winner.”

Here are 12 tips to maximize your profile, attract attention, develop relationships and generate leads:

1. Commit to relationship building and not selling.

LinkedIn’s motto is “Relationships matter.” This platform is meant to build relationships and not sell which will push people away. Despite what digital marketers say, LinkedIn is not for selling but for building relationships. For more on this tip please visit my blogs Networking and LinkedIn: Build Relationships and Don’t Sell and Networking for Success: How to Start Conversations.

2. Have a high quality headshot.

Only one out of seven people look at your profile if you do not have a good headshot. For more information on this tip please visit my blog Making the Wrong LinkedIn Impression: Profile Photo Blunders.

Are you an Unknown on LinkedIn?

Are you an Unknown on LinkedIn?

3. Have a criteria and system for people who with you connect.

Do not be afraid to connect with people if you do not know them. LinkedIn is the conduit. There are people who want to spam you (get your email and they do so directly or with fake accounts). For more information on this tip please visit my blog LinkedIn Connection Criteria. More on this in a future blog.

4. Be active-post updates daily.

You have to be active, which allows you to be top of mind. Publish your work, share posts and comment on posts. Try to post every day, including weekends. Don’t forget LinkedIn’s publish platform. For more information on this tip please visit my blog Tips for Getting More Views for Your LinkedIn Profile.

5. Belong to the right group.

Being active at times may be overwhelming; focus on two to five groups for the greatest impact. This will get you the greatest ROE (Return on Effort). Join groups that are regionally focused in your industry, target rich for prospects and where referral sources are active.

6. Be active in groups and/or create your own group. 

This allows you to develop your community, where you will demonstrate your knowledge and thought leadership.  Show your expertise and develop relationships.

7. Have an error free page.

Take the time for someone to proofread your profile. Make sure it portrays you the way you want-it is meant to build your reputation. Grammatical errors will take away from the work.

8. Include hyper-local geographical tags in your title and in your profile.

Geo tags (community, city, town or state names) help people to find you and your business.

9. Include key words often and close to the beginning of your profile.

Key words are critical for internal search. Without them, you will be invisible. Describe what you do, where you do it and your industry expertise. If you offer a number of services mention them all.

10. Make sure your title quickly tells people what you do.

People don’t care about your official title (President, Vice President, CEO, etc.), use descriptive words instead.

11. NEVER USE ALL CAPITALS.

All caps means shouting online; if used you will be considered rude/unapproachable.

12. Incorporate videos and projects into your profile.

Videos are critical to your personal brand. Images online are important; they need to reflect who you are and what you stand for. For more information on this tip please visit my blogs Guess What? You’re a Media Company and How to be a Local Business Rock Star.

For the full list of tips here is the link to the pdf:

Having these strategies in one’s back pocket will give you and your brand an advantage over your competitors.

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

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