Month: June 2013

Managing your virtual brand

In a recent post, I asked if you’ve Googled yourself.  If you haven’t yet, you should.  See what is showing up about you online. Is it what you want people to see?  Is it even about you? Sometimes what you’ll find at the top of “your” search results are links to people with the same or similar name who have done things you don’t want to be known for.  I’ve addressed previously why this can be damaging, so I won’t replay that tape.

If this is happening to you, or you don’t know how you’re showing up online, what can you do?  One option is: do the legwork yourself.

1)  Google yourself, and look at the results beyond page 1; conduct several searches using various forms of your name if you have them, locations and other indicators which may pull different results to the top.

2)  Search for yourself on any social platform you’re a part of.

3)  Bury negative or out-of-date information by creating newer, positive content and generate links to it.  LinkedIn is a great way to do this, since LinkedIn results in general almost always show up on page 1 of a Google search of a name.  Update your profile, share your profile with contacts, invite new contacts to connect, share a LinkedIn update with a link to your blog or personal website, if you have one.  All of these will help “good” content move in on top of “bad” content.

4)  Address false or damaging content with providers if possible.  Occasionally, you will find that online content providers and platforms will remove data if you can show that it’s incorrect or damaging.  For example, someone created a fake profile in your name with your information all over it, but their content. How online providers handle this varies greatly, but it’s worth a shot if there is something truly harmful to your reputation out there.  Do be careful about who you contact, and what information you provide to “confirm” your identity.  If it’s a big name like LinkedIn, you’re fine.  If it’s a company you’ve never heard of, check out their reputation by Googling them along with the word ‘complaint’ and looking at sites like RipoffReport.com or Pissedconsumer.com.

Another option is: get help.  There are many companies who will clean up your online reputation for you, for some pretty nice fees. This will definitely save you time if not money. Again, do your research to make sure you will get what you pay for. Getting recommendations from friends is best if you can manage.

There is also a free online product that a friend recently told me about: Brandyourself.com.  I have not used it myself, but checked them out online, and think they’re worth a look. They have a free account option, and of course a paid account option if you want more support.  Even if, after checking them out, you decide to do it yourself, they’ve got some great articles on their blog that I think you’ll find useful.

What other tools or resources do you recommend for managing your brand?

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Finding mentors: an easy how-to guide

Now that you know how important mentors are to career success, you may be wondering how you can find one of these scarce resources. Good news: they’re not scarce at all!

If you think you cannot find a mentor, you’re looking in the wrong place.  Or more accurately, you aren’t seeing what is already there. We are surrounded by potential mentors and it is up to us to make the most of these resources. Here’s a quick how-to guide:

Find informal mentors

Look around and see who you’d like to emulate. Perhaps they’ve done well and moved up the organization to the highest level.  Perhaps they’re an amazing public speaker, business developer, project manager or whatever.  Ask for a little bit of their time.  It’s easy to reach out and say “I really admired the work you did on X.  It’s something I’m working on developing myself.  Would you be willing to share some insights with me?” Then schedule a 15 minute call, or lunch, or coffee…any time together will work!  Then, when you get that time, be prepared and be curious.  The conversation will flow easily.

Identify mentors-from-afar

This is what I like to call people who you can learn from even if you cannot get one-on-one time with them.  I have many, many of these in my life and career.  I’ve never said to them, “will you mentor me?” I’ve simply noted what I admired about them and tried to absorb some of it. For example, a CEO I worked with from whom I learned to be a better public speaker.  Or the HR director whose motto was ‘never make a decision for the manager, but never let the manager make the wrong decision.’ Boy, I learned a lot about influencing skills from her. Even my mother-in-law, who could strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

How can you do this? Say you observe someone in your organization who is great at leading productive meetings. The key word is observe. When you are in a meeting with them, watch and listen to them very closely.  Pretend you are a scientist.  Where do they sit? How do they sit? What do they say? When are they silent? What facial expressions and body language do they use?  Dissect everything.  Now, think about what would happen if you incorporate some of these behaviors into your own style.  Sure, you may have to tweak a little; some you may try and throw out, but I’m absolutely certain you will learn and grow as a result of this.

Allow your manager to mentor you

This may sound obvious to some, odd to others. I cherish almost every one of my past managers as mentors as well, starting with the wonderful woman who gave me my first opportunity in HR and taught me the ropes. In my experience, most managers really want to do more than tell people what to do all day. They enjoy seeing their team members develop and generally get a lot of satisfaction being instrumental in that.  Don’t wait for the once-a-year development discussion.  Continually ask for feedback, suggestions and opportunities to try out new skills.  If you do this in addition to maintaining your normal high performance, your manager will love you and become one of your biggest career advocates.

Raise your hand for formal mentoring programs

We don’t want to forget the formal opportunities that do exist. Find out if there are any formal mentoring programs in your organization, professional association, in your school, in your community, in your church. You might be surprised at what is out there.  Then, find out the criteria for involvement and if it fits, raise your hand!

Now that we’ve adjusted the lens a little bit, are you seeing mentors everywhere? Congratulations!  The next step is easy: name at least one.  I challenge you to take the next 10 minutes and identify at least one person who can be a mentor to you – formally, informally, your manager, or a mentor from afar.  I’ll bet you can do in 1.  Make it a personal goal to learn something demonstrable from them in the next 30 days.  And, let me know…did you do it? What did you learn?  Comment below to share your experience.

Career Wellness Checkup #17

Do you have a mentor outside your organization?

Last week, we discussed internal mentors and why you should have one.  Having a mentor outside your organization is also critical.  Why? Simply because they are not part of your corporate culture.

  • They will have a different view and can provide you perspective you wouldn’t otherwise have. Plus, it’s good to know what’s happening ‘out there’.
  • They have no skin in the game. They are not competing with you internally; they have no conflicting agenda that might shade their advice to you.
  • Life changes, business changes. If you should leave your company by choice or not, you need contacts and advocates and sounding boards who are not attached to your company and all the emotional baggage that may come with it.