Posts with category - Productivity

4 Tips For Improving Your Personal Brand at Work

Image courtesy of iStockphoto.com

Image courtesy of iStockphoto.com

Have you ever worked with people who just didn’t give a damn about their personal brand and how they’re perceived at work? I mean they really think it’s OK to do things like hangout on Facebook all day, surf the Internet, or work on their personal pet projects. I once worked with a guy who did things just like this.

He would show up late to work, take naps in conference rooms, surf the Internet all day, making a ton of Facebook posts during work hours, and even work on personal research projects, sometimes all day. He argued that he wasn’t given enough work or responsibility to keep him busy throughout he day. He refused to reflect a positive personal brand and just did his own thing. When he was eventually fired, he actually had the nerve to feel as though he’s been wronged. Do you hear that big CLANG sound? Yeah, that’s the sound of his brass cojones smashing together.

Branding isn’t just a term that applies to marketing, it applies to employees just as much as it applies to a company. In fact, one could argue that by maintaining high standards in our personal brand, we can help increase the overall brand reputation of the company. Just ask Jeff Bezos and Tony Hsieh, the CEOs of Amazon and Zappos respectively. Both of their brands were built on excellent customer service.

OK, so here are four things you can do to reflect a positive, personal brand at work:

  1. Take responsibility for your actions, and above all else hold yourself accountable for your day-to-day performance. You never know when someone is using you as the measuring stick for their behavior, work ethic, or performance.
  2. Be authentic. As workplaces evolve from communication silos into more transparent enterprises, it’s essential that you communicate the real you in a way that makes your brand shine. People will know when you’re being fake.
  3. Be careful who you associate yourself with. In many companies there are naysayers and “lifers” who’ve just given up and settled in their positions. They’re usually the pessimists who rarely have anything positive to say. Do you really want to be associated with that person? Or how about the people who constantly goof off and rush to complete tasks at the least minute? Associate yourself with positive influences and even become one yourself. As companies evolve from being silos, negative influencers will eventually be weeded out.
  4. Be in Intrapreneur, someone who constantly seeks new opportunities to help your team or the company as a whole. Write proposals for new processes, software that will help your job, or even new business. Just make sure that the things you propose will help the company save money or improve efficiency.

We reflect our personal brands from the moment we search for a job. Our resumes and LinkedIn profiles are visual representations of our personal brand, as are recommendations and personnel evaluations. Good or poor performance can not only affect our brand at the company we currently with, but when we apply for other jobs, or even freelance gigs. I mean who recommends a poor brand, especially if it’s something they’ve tried and it left a bad taste in their mouth? So, take the time to invest in your personal brand; be the example of what your fellow employees want to aspire to, and the type of employee companies want to have lead their brand.

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Why Organizations Should Use Social Media

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I’m an avid supporter of  organizations using social media. Organizations should use social media to create a place for open internal communication and knowledge sharing, as well as customer engagement.

First, let me just say that it’s important to link any social media effort with your organization’s overall business objectives; it’s crucial for leadership to plan out how social media will fit in with the overall vision and goals of the organization. As leaders, we have to push social efforts not only to positively change organizational behavior and how employees interact with each other, but also to change how they interact and collaborate with customers.

Social media allows organizations to:

  • Clearly state the company’s vision and provide more transparent leadership
  • Enable employees to feel as if they are a part of the the overall vision and organizational plan by creating a sense of empowerment
  • Create a more transparent environment of collaboration and innovation through knowledge sharing
  • Engage their employees and customers more effectively, whether it’s through promotions or customer support
  • Improve internal processes and decision making which often times relies on effective and clear communication

We live in a time of connected employees and consumerism, where the employee and consumer voices are more powerful than ever. They are expressing themselves through active communities in and outside of the office. This is why it’s crucial the organizational leadership take the time to engage employees and customers in order to build trust, and it should never be used as a way to simply broadcast a commanding and controlling message. Social media provides and excellent opportunity for leadership to bridge employee and customer expectations with their objectives.

It’s important that organizations adopt social media because it has become a natural part of our everyday lives, not to mention part of the ebb and flow of effective companies. Social media can positively motivate employees as well as promote dynamic forms of peer and customer connections through increased engagement. It isn’t just a trend or a passing fad, it has become a part of who we are.

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My Life in an Electronic Vacuum: Seeking Balance

The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.

Have you heard anyone say this?  Finding a work/life balance is getting harder and harder, and the paradox for me is that the tools which are intended to convenience me, are the reason why I am losing my ability to carve out personal time for myself and my family.

Outside my back door is the raised vegetable garden I built by hand.  It is beautifully constructed, if I do say so myself, and this summer it has produced a dizzying array of produce. In these waning post-season days I can look out my second floor office window and see that there are cucumbers still on the vine, eggplant galore, and lettuce that is overgrown, and if I had the time I would go there to pick them, clean up the garden, ready it for winter.  Did I say that the garden is only steps from my back door?  Are you asking yourself why I haven’t tended the garden lately, or have you figured it out already?  Stuck in my office, I have many reasons why I do not visit my garden and enjoy its abundance, and all of them are electronic.

Are you tethered to your gadgets?

My day begins with several activities, in this order:  Turn on the computer, pour a cup of coffee, return to the computer and read my email – from all five email addresses.  I have two email addresses for the online school I attend, and from which I will soon have earned my M.B.A. in Internet Marketing; I have two personal email addresses, one that I have owned for 20 years and a newer one to which I am beginning to direct traffic – if for no reason other than every spam artist in the world has found the first; and finally, I have an email address for work.  Sometimes, between the time I go to bed and the time I begin reading the emails, 100 or more communiques have landed in their respective boxes. Once I am finished reading, deleting, or responding, I move on to the cell phone to check for text messages, and from there I check my two calendars, one for work and one for school, so I can begin to map out the day. At this point I am into the second or third cup of coffee.  I take a short break, maybe play a field or two on Angry Birds, and I begin the next phase of the morning. The rest of the day is spent at the computer, moving from program to program, to fulfill work and school commitments.

Online education is not easy, mostly because of the heavy reading and writing loads.  It is not unusual to be assigned a couple of hundred textbook pages to read each week plus case study research, and a heavy writing schedule to boot.  Then there is the blog project, for which this post is designed; it also takes time and thought. Research on the computer to verify the accuracy of information we share on the blog is necessary to maintain the integrity of the project.

My job carries its own burden of responsibility and thankfully I have a very understanding boss, who happens to teach online classes and therefore understands how tough it can be to manage one’s time effectively while maintaining good grades.  My job is with an online marketing firm which provides pro-bono services to non-profit groups in need of sustainable, capacity-building systems to manage their organizations.  I work in a virtual environment, with internet-connected teams of people, and often have direct contact with clients, too.  This means that we meet frequently online, in a virtual office environment, we share documents, and apart from these activities we are each responsible for blogging about social change initiatives, and we monitor and generate social media campaigns through the use of online digital dashboards.

Throughout the day I continue to monitor and respond to emails, intra-office messages, contribute to discussions on client projects, and answer telephone calls.

My day typically ends when my husband arrives from work around 9PM, and for the hour or so we spend catching up or watching a TV program, I am returning text messages and monitoring emails from my cell phone.  The last thing I do before turning in for the night, is check the computer one last time.

I joke about the day when I am finally free of school and working at a full time marketing job; I say it will feel like I am on vacation.  Secretly though, I fear that the time vacuum created by graduation will be filled with some other online, smartphone, blog, or tablet-based activity, and the cycle will continue, the electronic noose will grow tighter, and the concept I currently hold about what personal time is will no longer be a reality,  only a fond memory.

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3 Ways Evernote Enhances Productivity

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Evernote is one of the most important productivity tools in my arsenal, which makes it an essential part of my everyday management and organizational process. Basically, Evernote is a tool for storing, organizing, and accessing content across all of your computers and mobile devices.

I use it to capture ideas and information as notes, audio clips, photos, PDFs, Microsoft Office documents, and web clippings that I place into notebooks and even stacks of notebooks. It offers a an efficient way to organize your projects, daily tasks, research, blog posts, you name it. OK, so how can Evernote enhance your productivity?

  • Keep track of your tasks, objectives, and overall goalsNo matter what you do for a living, you have to set goals as well as objectives to you help you achieve those goals. Evernote allows you to quickly map out your goals and objectives as well as the tasks you need to accomplish both. You can easily keep track of everyday tasks and to-do lists in order to keep track of what you’ve completed and which tasks still need attending to.
  • Quickly record ideas on the goIf you’re like me, some of your best ideas come when you’re in the car, out at the store, or pretty much anywhere that’s not in front of a computer. No matter where you are, you can use Evernote’s mobile app to record audio notes and take photos of objects or napkin notes so you don’t forget any of those great ideas. Your notes will automatically sync with your Evernote account and be available on any of your other devices.
  • Clip inspirational web pages and contentEvernote’s Web Clipper makes researching on the web a much more productive experience. The clipper is a plug-in for your browser. As you browse the web, you simply click the Evernote Web Clipper button to capture to the entire page or sections of it.
So there you go, a few ways Evernote can help enhance your productivity and make your life, work or personal, that much easier to manage.

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