The Importance of your Personal Brand

You are in control of your personal brand if you choose to be. When establishing your brand, it is essential that you define yourself. Remember that perception is reality, so it is essential that you carefully cultivate your image. When you take the time to define yourself and present this definition to the public, your will reap the benefits that come with taking control of your personal branding.

If You Don’t, They Will
It is easy to underestimate the importance of personal branding and avoid actively participating in your brand. The truth, however, is that branding occurs whether you participate in it or not. If you do not take the time to brand yourself, the market will brand you, and it may not do it favorably. Customers can bring negative attention to a company or individual, and attention can easily escalate to the court of public opinion. For example, the video “United Breaks Guitars” brought negative attention to the United Airlines brand. Without personal branding and active intervention, the damage to the brand name could have been beyond repair. Taking control of personal branding is necessary to manage your public reputation.

Brand Mantra
Brand mantras are short, but they are powerful. This short phrase or statement may only be three to five words, but these words define your brand. A mantra must explore the brand’s points of difference or how the brand is unique along with what the company represents. For example take a look at, Nike’s “Authentic Athletic Performance.” In order to create a brand mantra, you must first identify what sets your brand apart and list your points of difference.
Once the points of difference are identified, you must create a mantra that is simple, communicates, and inspires.
Simple: The mantra should be short and to the point.
Communicate: The mantra should define the purpose of the brand and what is unique about it.
Inspire: The mantra should be significant.
When creating a mantra, you should begin with a word bank of points of difference and your purpose and mission.

Be Real
People are attracted to genuine people. The key to personal branding is to make it personal. Communicating dry facts will not impress most people. Your brand must have personality. Develop a persona that attracts people. Share ideas, implement humor, and make connections with people. Having an online presence makes sharing your persona much easier.
When you are developing your persona, remember to be real. You are under no obligation to share personal details about yourself, but everything that you do share must be genuine. Never make up facts, statistics, or tell lies. Fact checking has become easier than ever, and lies will do nothing to improve your brand’s reputation.

SWOT Analysis
In defining yourself, it is helpful to perform a SWOT analysis. By identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you will be able to define your brand and understand what you have to offer. You will also identify areas that need improvement.

Strengths: Strengths are internal characteristics that create a competitive advantage. For example, accounting skills would be a strength.
Weaknesses: Internal weaknesses that need to be improved. Disorganization would be an example of a weakness.
Opportunities: Opportunities are external. There are always opportunities for you to take advantage in the marketplace. Education would be an example of an opportunity.
Threats: External threats cannot be controlled, but they may be addressed in your opportunities. Competition with a more relevant skill set is a threat.

A SWOT analysis will be unique to each person or business. Taking a moment to honestly assess your situation will allow you to complete a personal SWOT analysis.

Defining Yourself
In order to define yourself, you need to know yourself. Identifying your core values, passions, and strengths will help you realize what you need to communicate in your brand. Once you understand what you have to offer, it will be possible to create a brand image that is both honest and positive. Defining yourself will allow others to see you clearly.

Pillars
In branding, your pillars are your main values. They are the attributes that help define your identity. In order to identify your pillars, you must ask yourself what you stand for and what your core values are. Your pillars are not what you have to offer; they explain how you offer what you have. For example, you may offer years of sales experience, but your pillar could be offering an honest and authentic sales experience. Remember that there are no correct or incorrect pillars; they simply need to reflect your core values.
Ask yourself what you stand for and make a list of ideas. Then, choose the main values and link them to what your brand has to offer. It is best to begin branding with one or two pillars. You can always expand in the future.

Passions
Your brand should reflect your passions. Ask yourself the following questions to identify your passions:
• What do you care about?
• What drives you?
• What do you consider your passions?
Remember to list all of your passions, not just the ones that are obviously related to work. If the only passion you communicate is the desire to increase sales, you appear boring and work obsessed. People know that there is more to you than your work. Your brand needs to personalize you to other people, so a passion for art, family, or the environment could only contribute to your brand. You are bound to attract people with similar passions. You can also find ways to incorporate your passions into your work.

Define Your Strengths
Branding requires you to identify your strengths, which you already visited in your SWOT analysis. Your strengths, however, are essential in your branding, so it is important that you do not overlook any of them. It is easy to overlook personal strengths by focusing on desired attributes. Making this mistake can be disastrous and keep you from realizing your potential.
Remember to consider your natural talent when finding your personal strengths. What comes easily to you? What do you do better than other people? Also, consider aspects of your character that are natural strengths. For example, self-control, trustworthiness, and intelligence are all strengths that define you and your brand.

The Three Cs
When establishing your brand, you must remember the three Cs: Clarity, Consistency, and Constancy. Whether you are creating a personal or business brand, you will find the three Cs extremely useful.
Clarity: Your brand needs to be clear about what you do and do not represent. Are you a risk-taker or do you represent stability? Are you creative or analytical? If there is any ambiguity in your branding, you will confuse people and cause disappointment.
Consistency: Once you have clearly established your brand identity, it is important that you remain consistent. Consistency requires that you present yourself in the same light each time you communicate your brand. This consistency needs to be in your stated values and made visible in your actions.
Constancy: Your brand requires constancy, meaning that it is visibly dependable. Once you define your brand, commit to it.

Source: Personal Branding Workshop

The Importance of Onboarding

There are a number of reasons to implement an onboarding program. Before this can be done, however, you need to understand exactly what onboarding involves and its importance to the success of the company. Exploring onboarding and its processes is essential to the success of any organization’s onboarding program.

What Is Onboarding?
Onboarding is not easy to define. Some organizations limit it to a simple orientation process. Others go further to include company culture. Onboarding, however, is so much more. Onboarding is a systematic method that allows employers to hire the best employees and align them to the company vision. It will also provide employees with the necessary tools, help them assimilate, and speed up their training process.
Onboarding Affects:
• Hiring
• Aligning with company standards
• Accommodating employees with tools
• Cultural assimilation
• Accelerated training

The Importance of Onboarding
Employees typically “break even” 20 weeks after they begin working at a job. This means that their productivity equals what the company has invested in them. They begin to generate more value for the organization over time. Onboarding can improve the time that it takes for employees to become profitable once they are hired. This is accomplished on a functional level and a social level. Companies often focus on the functional level at the cost of the social. This can overwhelm employees and leave them feeling uncertain about whom to go to for help.
Examples:
• Functional level: Expectations, training, policies, procedures, etc.
• Social level: Networks, mentors, relationships

Making Employees Feel Welcome
When hiring new employees, it is not enough to just walk them through the office, hand them paperwork, and ask them to read manuals. You must make them feel welcome to alleviate anxiety and help them acclimate.
Ways to make employees welcome:
• Contact the employee after he or she is hired: This can be with a welcome letter or phone call.
• Send information early: Send the handbook and any paperwork that than be completed early.
• Choose a mentor: Assign someone to mentor the new hire.
• Prepare for the first day: Have everything ready for the new employee to begin work on the first day.
• Have the new hire meet people the first day: New hires should engage with their supervisors and mentors on day one.
• Schedule lunch: Schedule lunch with coworkers to introduce a new hire.

First Day Checklist
The first day for a new hire should be scheduled out. The first day will shape an employee’s opinion of the organization and the people he or she works with. Do not have someone fill out paperwork and then sit alone while everyone else stays busy. Each company and industry will have a specific checklist, but there are a few basic guidelines.
Checklist:
• Greet the employee.
• Introduce the employee to his or her social network.
• Tour the facilities.
• Have lunch.
• Discuss all expectations
• Schedule the first week’s training.
• Explain employee resources.
• Instruct employee on computer and telephone techniques.
• Conduct orientation session.

Onboarding Preparation
Every successful program demands preparation, and onboarding is no exception. While it is important to make employees feel welcome, the environment needs to remain professional. Before implementing an employee onboarding program, make sure that each person involved understands what is expected of him or her.

Professionalism
Onboarding needs to be a professional program. Companies frequently ignore onboarding responsibilities and simply assign the task of orienting a new hire to the least busy employee. This can cause confusion, impede the onboarding process, and give the impression that the company is not well run. It is essential that everyone involved in the onboarding program remain friendly and professional.
Professional activities:
• Make sure everyone knows that the new hire is coming.
• Choose someone to greet the new hire, and make sure he or she is on time.
• HR should have the paperwork prepared in advance.
• Designate a mentor ahead of time.

Clarity
Be clear about expectations with new hires and with everyone involved in the onboarding process. The new hire’s expectations need to be communicated. There should also be clarity about who is responsible for the acclimation and training of the new hire. Each company and each position will have its own needs and responsibilities, which will determine the onboarding and training process. Determine everything you need to clarify before hiring a new employee.
Clarify:
• Goals: Clarify both company and personal goals.
• Expectations: Communicate expectations to the new hire, HR, and mentor.
• Culture: Describe the company culture.

Designating a Mentor
Mentoring is important to onboarding success. Designating the correct mentor can mean the difference between success and failure. The mentoring relationship will help determine how easily new hires transition into their roles at the company. Consider carefully who you choose to mentor new employees; do not just choose people at random. There are certain qualifications that all mentors need to have in order to be effective.
Qualifications:
• Time: Employees who are already overworked cannot effectively mentor another.
• Training: Is the employee qualified to teach someone else? Experience does not equal the ability to teach.
• Role model: Make sure that you choose a mentor who has qualities you would like to see in other employees.
After designating a mentor, monitor the relationship closely. If they do not work together well, you may need to designate another mentor.

Training
Onboarding should improve the training process. The people responsible for the training, however, must take the training seriously. Feedback is essential to the training process. Supervisors need to meet with new hires weekly to check on their performance and provide feedback. Those directly involved in the training process need to teach new hires and give them helpful feedback to improve performance.
Training Tips:
• Train Tasks: Teach employees the tasks associated with their positions.
• Train Communication: Train employees to recognize resources and to communicate their needs.
• Provide Feedback: Give consistent and encouraging feedback when training new hires.

Source: Employee Onboarding