Promote Yourself

Promote-Yourself-New-CoverWhen I first heard the title of Dan Schawbel‘s new book — Promote Yourself (The actual full title is Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success) I thought, uh oh…another how to use social media to get in the spotlight book. But knowing Dan, I should have known better.

Instead of a re-tread on an already tired topic, Dan’s very fresh message is “Hey Millennial — the future is yours if you want it — but don’t think it’s going to get handed to you.” He then outlines how these young professionals need to take charge of their career and make sure “the future has your name on it.”

He encourages his readers (and honestly while his advice is aimed at those born between 1982 – 1993, it’s perfectly applicable to professionals of all ages) to rely on a mix of technical, interpersonal and social media skills. He suggests, and I believe he’s correct, that it’s the hard skills that will get you the job but the soft or interpersonal skills that will get you the promotion.

He says “Hard skills are what will help you navigate the technical elements of your job, but it’s soft skills that will enable you to move ahead.”

Keep in mind that in today’s corporate world, company culture and company ethics are getting more and more important. Skills like being a good communicator, trustworthy and empathetic matter. Especially when sizing up candidates for a possible promotion. When everyone you’re competing with has the same hard skills are you do — how are you going to stand out?

Dan offers up six rules of self promotion that everyone should jot down:

  • Make yourself worth being talked about
  • Be well-known for one specific thing
  • Take responsibility
  • Find ways to expand your role
  • Make others look good – especially your manager
  • Get some evangelists

I am hardly a millennial. And I’ve been in the workplace for a very long time and at this point, I’m the only one who can promote me. But Dan’s book had some great reminders for me too. Whether you’re 20 or been on the job for 20 years — this is a worthwhile read. (click here to buy the book on Amazon*)

As I always try to do — I asked Dan my book author questions and here’s what he had to say:

If you had to describe the content of your book in a single sentence (no run ons) what would it be?

A book that pushes people to be accountable for their own careers and take charge of their lives.

What one book that you’ve read do you wish you could claim as your own?

Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam M. Grant.

In your opinion, what is the one trait that all uber successful business people possess?

They are willing to put the effort every single day in order to turn their dreams into reality.

What’s the biggest business mistake you’ve ever made and what did you learn from it?

The biggest mistake I’ve made was that I rushed into trying to get a second book deal after the first one came out. I learned that I need to be more patient and to not only think bigger, but take the time to make something even more successful before I jump into a new project.

Why did you have to write this book?  What truth or insight was missing from the human consciousness — that you’ve now answered?

The question I answered in this book is “how do I get ahead at work?” When I started writing it, the idea was it would contain the feedback that employees didn’t receive at work, straight from the managers who have the power to promote them or not.

After someone is done reading your book — what do you hope they do as a result?

I hope they take at least one recommendation in the book and act on it. It would be great to see a revival of work ethic out there and for more people to take risks in their careers.

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So you want a career in advertising?

Fired businessman searching for a job isolated on white backgrouI was recently contacted by a college student who asked if he could interview me for one of this classes.  One of the questions he asked is one I get a lot, so I thought I’d share my answer with you here.

If you aspire to be in our business — I hope it helps.  If you’re already in the business — what did I miss?

What advice would you give to anyone who was aspiring to enter the field of advertising?

Yikes… there are lots of things to know but here are some of the biggies.

  • You cannot do it alone so surround yourself with really smart, good-hearted people who you can count on.
  • The day you stop learning is the day you begin to become irrelevant. There is always more to learn.
  • Before anyone will give you their business, they need to know you care about them/their company.
  • When you make a mistake (and you will make a ton) be very quick to call attention to it, own it and work like a dog to fix it. And never forget to say I’m sorry.
  • If you help other people whenever you can, when you need help – there will be someone there to offer it.
  • There’s nothing wrong with making money. Don’t be ashamed to charge what you are worth.
  • Owning your own business means that when times are tough, everyone gets paid but you. So be very smart about not overspending your money and build up a nest egg for those tough times.
  • The smartest person in the room is not the one who knows all the answers. It’s the person who asks the best questions.

When I hire, I don’t worry too much about the degree the person has or things like grade point averages. I can teach them about marketing but I can’t make them honest or hard working.

I look for people who have a passion for helping other people. I hire people who volunteer their time, have a passion for a cause and instead of whining about it – do something about it.

I definitely want good writers, no matter what position they might fill. In today’s business world, with email etc. – everyone needs to be able to communicate clearly and be well spoken, both in face-to-face encounters and in writing.

I also look for someone who gets that our business is not 9-5 and isn’t going to freak out if they have to work late or over a weekend. Our business is very demanding and depending on what’s going on with our clients, we can put in some incredibly long, grueling weeks.

I also want someone who is willing to do “grunt” work. In a small agency, everyone pitches in and does what it takes to get the job done. If I can stuff envelopes or whatever – so can they.

I want someone who is a self-starter, a lifelong learner, a reader, someone who is funny, ethical and someone who resonates with our company’s core beliefs, which are:

  • Passion cannot be ignored.
  • Breakthrough thinking breeds breakthrough creative.
  • The guys in the white hats do win.
  • We take our work seriously. Ourselves, not so much.
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Photo courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com

Why your brand is dead in the water

Here’s how most brand evolve.  The organization’s leadership huddles up at a corporate retreat (or if it’s a start-up, around the kitchen table) and decide on a tagline and maybe a logo.

The tagline becomes the battle cry of the brand and they’re off to the races.

Or worse yet…the organization hires an agency who claims to “do branding” and after a little deliberation, the ads have the new tagline and logo and voila, the brand is launched.

Fast forward 6 months or maybe a year.  The tagline and the brand are limping along.  No one really uses them anymore.  And if they do, they think of it as the “theme of the month” and assume it will just go away over time.  And it does.

There are many reasons why a brand fails….but the biggest one in my opinion is that the employees are not properly engaged and connected to the brand.  Without a huge investment of time, energy and some money — the brand remains a superficial cloak that can easily be pulled off or shrugged off when it gets to be a challenge.

Your employees are the key to a brand’s long term success.  It’s that simple.

When we are asked to develop a brand for a client, we require the step we have dubbed “seeding the brand” which is the whole idea of introducing the brand promise to the employees and letting them take ownership of it — deciding how to deliver the promise, how to remove the barriers to keeping the promise and how to keep the brand alive inside the organization.

If a client won’t agree to implementing that stage of the process, we won’t do their brand work.  No ifs, ands or buts. Why? Because it won’t work without that step. And I don’t believe we should take their money if we can’t deliver success.

Discovering and then building a brand takes a village.  And you have to start by including your own villagers.

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The Google Yourself Challenge

Forget egosurfing for a second and ask yourself, how much can people learn about you by simply Googling you?

The idea behind the Google Yourself Challenge is this: friends, relatives, recruiters, hiring managers, and even strangers may be searching for you on the web.  Why not Google yourself first and control what people can learn about you online?

Here are some statistics on who is looking for your data:

  • 81% of millennials Google or Facebook their date before going out
  • 79% of recuiters and hiring managers screen applicants by information available online
  • 86% of hiring managers have rejected someone based on information available online
  • 7 in 10 internet users search online for information about others

Check out some of these stats in this infographic…and then go Google yourself.  (And your employees, employer, parents and kids!) You might be surprised at how much Google (and everyone else) knows about you!

The Google Yourself Challenge
From: BackgroundCheck.org

What are the digital jobs of the future?

digitaltalent SODA
What digital talent will be in demand down the road?

Wondering where the marketing and digital marketing jobs will be down the road?

Look no further than this chart.

As you can see, content creators/writers are in huge demand right now.  With the push to creating quality content, I don’t suspect this need will diminish any time soon.

I’m pleased and relieved to see that strategic planning/thinking is still in demand as well.  I worry that too many companies will leap without looking simply because digital/social is easy and/or cheap.  It doesn’t matter how fast you can climb a ladder if you’ve propped it against the wrong building.

Whether you’re a college student trying to decide how to direct your studies, a marketing professional thinking about course corrections or you’re responsible for hiring within your agency or corporation — this is your future.  Better introduce yourself.

Note: This chart is part of the 2012 edition of The SoDA Report, from the Society of Digital Agencies.*

*If you haven’t heard of SoDA — the Society of Digital Agencies was created five years ago to advance the industry through best practices, education and advocacy. Their membership is made up of digital agencies and production companies throughout the world, on five continents in 24 countries.
They also have a Peer Collaboration Group program with 350 members across 12 disciplines.
For the last four years, they’ve done this research and produced the SoDA report. (click here to download the entire 96 page 2012 report)
In terms of who participate in the research: 53% of the participants were marketers representing corporate brands (25%), consumer brands (30%) and other related industries (45%). The remaining 47% were creative service leaders from traditional agencies (23%), digital agencies (64%) and production companies (13%).
Over 76% of respondents were key decision makers and influencers (CMOs, senior executives, VPs and directors) with annual marketing budgets ranging from under US$1M to over US$100M and whose key markets are North America (57%), Europe (19%) and APAC (11%).

 

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How do you communicate with your team?

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…How’s your employee communication?

We’ve talked before about the importance of recognizing your employees as a very important audience for your business. You need them to all be pulling in the same direction. But like any audience — you have to decide what are your key messages to them — and how do you deliver them.  Over and over.  They’ll need some repetition so the key points can really sink in.

Employee communication is probably an area that every team leader or boss could improve.  (think I’m wrong — ask your team!) I’m curious — how do you communicate with your team (or how does your boss communicate with you?)

Have you tried any of these?

Ask Them

GOOD — Employee surveys: Don’t even bother asking their opinion, if you aren’t going to act on what you learn.  The good news about employee surveys is that the anonymity is likely to get you feedback that’s more candid.  And if you have a big crew, it’s probably the only way to get a fair representation.

BETTER — A scheduled chat: What, if instead of the formal survey, you carved out a set time every week and you, throughout the course of the year, met with everyone individually and picked their brain a little, while sharing your vision and thoughts?

Tell Them

GOOD — An all staff meeting: The plus of this is that everyone hears the same message and can ask questions, watch other’s reactions and participate as a group.  The down side of this is — someone always misses the meeting and if you have multiple locations across multiple time zones — tough to coordinate.

BETTER — Regular messages from leadership: Whether it’s an internal intranet/blog, a monthly video from the CEO, a weekly wrap up e-mail from the team leader — I think in this case, frequency wins.  If your team knows they’re going to hear from you on a regular basis, they’ll be more confident that they’re in the know.

Bonus points to you if you give them feedback avenues. Which is the perfect segue to…

Listen to Them

GOOD — The tried and true suggestion box: Whether you literally have suggestion boxes throughout the office or you use an electronic version, giving your employees a chance to speak up/out with ideas, questions, concerns etc. is a good start.  But some pumps need priming.

BETTER — Involve them: Are there some big financial goals you want to hit?  Put together a task force and ask them to help you create the plan.  Need ideas for holiday gifts for clients — pull together 3-4 people and give them the assignment.  Want to improve your recruiting efforts?  Why not put together a blend of young/old, new/seasoned employees and ask them why they took the job, what they love about the job and how you could improve the working conditions, etc.

Everyone works better and harder when they believe they are contributing.  So the best way to listen is to ask…and then implement!

This is one of my personal goals — to get better and better at being plugged into what my employees are thinking, doing, wondering about and tapping their insights to make MMG an even better place to work and do business with.

How about you?  Do you do any of the above?  Have any other suggestions to share?

 

 

 

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