Branding You: Seven Steps to Building Your Online Brand Using LinkedIn

What’s the first thing you do before you meet someone?

Most people pull out their mobile to “Google” the person’s name. Nowadays, it is a necessity to monitor your online brand. When it comes to managing your brand for “You, Inc.,” what do you stand for?

My question stems from a recent presentation I did at Georgetown on how to build an online brand using LinkedIn.  As an alumni, it’s important to me to share my work-related experiences with students as they navigate the often murky, unpredictable job market. Grad school is challenging enough, but coupled with figuring out how to get a job afterwards is both frightening and frustrating. Answering both practical and specific questions on “getting a job in marketing or communications,” my presentation focused on breaking down how to craft a killer LinkedIn profile. Because if you cannot cut through the noise and standout from other graduates, getting that elusive job becomes harder than your Capstone project.

So, what if you’re not a grad student, is it worth worrying about your brand? Is personal branding really that important? I think there are several reasons why to answer this with “yes,” but the most succinct answer can be found on Wikipedia,

“Branding has reached a new level of imperative because of the rise of the Internet. The growth of the virtual world created the necessity of managing online identities. Despite being expressly virtual, social media and online identity has the ability to affect the real world. Because Individuals want to portray themselves a certain way to their social circle, they may work to maintain a certain image on their social media sites. As a result, social media enables the creation of an online identity that may not be completely true to the real self.”

Branding is more than logos, sharp messages, and collateral. Ultimately, what you put online and what people experience about you is your brand. Period.

Still want more? I shared a few colleagues personal branding advice and tips a few years back.

Other throwbacks worth a read:

Five Social Media Tips for Millennials

Eight LinkedIn Profile Tips to Tie Storytelling to Your Personal Brand

Eight Tips on How to Present at Your Next Industry Conference

Are You an Adaptive 21st Century Leader?

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a regional marketing event called North by Midwest in Minneapolis. More than 200 marketers packed Olson’s office to hear many of today’s movers and shakers talk about the new consumer realities confronting marketers and brands. If you didn’t get a chance to attend, check out some of the nuggets from the event. 

Adaptive Leadership

Image Credit:

Roselinde Torres, senior partner and managing director, The Boston Consulting Group, led a thought-provoking session on 21st century leadership. While there are timeless leadership qualities such as integrity, intelligence, and vision, Torres introduced four traits that successful leaders have leading their organizations through the ambiguous, uncertain world.

Check out the four traits and summary on Olson Insight Blog.

Note: This event is hosted by the firm I work for and I was sent to blog about the event.

Culture, Content, and Social: Five Trends to Watch This Summer

lookout for trends

Photo Credit: KaSandra and Grace. On the Lookout for Trends

I don’t know about you, but I am always on the lookout for what’s happening in marketing. I had the opportunity to attend last month’s Sirius Decision Summit. What’s Sirius about?  Sirius Decisions describes the summit as “a place where attendees can see and hear how organizations can blend the very best of art and science, and leave with ideas for how to get started on – or advance – your own initiatives.” It is a great conference for any marketer or communicator looking for frameworks and research on what happening in the market today. If you didn’t have the opportunity to go, here five trends to watch for this summer. 

Social media beyond the basics

There was a lot of discussing of using social listening to enhance competitive intelligence and beef up prospect profiles. During the breakout sessions, it was useful to see what companies can do with some third party help to bolster current prospect info. One organization appended their prospects and customers’ profiles with social data through a third party vendor to fill in missing information and provide better insights. Social media has become more than a place to post your favorite cat video, it has become a place to take data and build better, more informed customer profiles. Results of adding social data to customer profiles? A better understanding of their customers and prospects, this organization improved its open rates to 28 percent and click-through to 9 percent. How good is 9 percent? Pretty awesome given most industries see on average less than five percent.

Content still plaques teams both on creation and effectiveness.

Julie Ogilvie, ‎research director for strategic communications management service at Sirius Decisions, made a simple, but poignant point about social media “All social media problems are content problem.” I think anyone who manages social media teams can emphatically agree. Lots of nodding from the audience on this point alone. Whether you are looking to increase engagement among key audiences or leverage influencers, you need content. That’s easy, right? Not so much. Ultimately, you can’t create content absent of your audience’s needs and motivation an expect good outcomes. Simple, but B2B companies are forgetting the human in social media and not focusing on what people want to engage with.

The concept of building connections across teams

One of the best quotes I heard was the African proverb, “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together.” How many of you know your team is doing good work, but you’re looking to make more impact within your team or get more budget? Many of the sessions discussed the power of cross-functional sharing and brainstorming with teams to maximize not only knowledge, but also sharing of information. So simple, yet many of us get caught in our own silos and workload. We fail to think about the power of sharing information to better leverage the knowledge of other teams to deliver better campaigns. One session shared how equipping community managers with more information on the onset of a campaign, such as the targeted campaign’s keywords, who are the “right” influencers in the market, and the right content from other marketing teams armed them for social media success. Genius, right? So simple, yet many of us are so caught up with real-time delivery that we forget to take a beat and think about what we are trying to accomplish.

The importance of culture in change management

Often overlooked, but crucially important. It’s not a conference without great quotes, and Sirius Decision is no different: “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” You cannot ignore your culture and its importance to your success. While there was not a whole lot of discussion on the how, I can tell you communications and cross-functional involvement vastly improve your chances of getting your corporate culture to accept your next marketing or communication initiative.

The value of pilot testing

Every campaign at the conference mentioned the value in starting small and narrowing your focus. Rome was not build in a day. By focusing on a pilot and ignoring how you have traditionally done, you can break away from the norms. Do things differently. Not to say all pilots are successful, failure is okay and an opportunity to learn.

It’s only a day into the conference, but I am encouraged and energized in learning the new and innovative approach out there today. Also, there is still time to follow the conference hashtag, #SDSummit for more great information on Twitter.

The Art of the Pitch: Seven Ways to Presenting with Purpose

The Art

As my grad students raced to the end of the semester culminating the end of their graduate studies, their last task is to present their communication capstone plans to peers and faculty. The capstone course, similar to a thesis, requires students to perform as communications consultants by finding a cause or company to develop a strategic communications plans. This task alone for some of them is harder than their 50 plus page plans.

Many of you can relate to the daunting task of presenting your precious ideas to an audience who may or may not be interested. With this in mind, I shared my seven ways to presenting their ideas with purpose and intent.

  1. Be human

First and foremost, people buy from people. Whether it’s an idea or a product, you still have to convey your point to a human or group of them. While a presentation with the bells and whistles of video and animation are great supplements, don’t forget to connect with the audience. Body language experts point out the importance of eye contact to connect, which shows sincerity and helps create a sense of trust between people – an important skill for successful presenters. Looking at your notes will not help convey confidence, so lose them.

  1. Don’t phone it in

Nothing is worse than watching a presenter who does not believe in or passionately present his or her ideas. A few years ago, I watched a well-known agency pitch for my organization’s business and it was evident the team was just going through the motions. It was underwhelming and noticed by all in the room. If you are in front of an audience, make sure the audience believe in what you are saying – it’s a skill, just ask the Nike pitch-team who reportedly lost the opportunity to renew Stephen Curry’s sponsorship deal. Some serious gaffes and Nike lost $14B.  Ouch!  So, if you think you can rest on your charm and good looks, think again.

  1. Start with your strongest idea first

One of the best pieces of advice I every received on pitching stemmed from two instructors who were former executives at Weber Shandwick: Always start with your strongest idea. By starting with your strongest idea, you build upon your enthusiasm and take the audience with you. The audience will be swept up by your passion and excitement for the idea. Everything else is gravy after that.

  1. Don’t worry if you forget any parts of your presentation

This nugget is for all my meticulous friends out there. I have seen some great presentation become disasters because people forget a few words. Here’s something to consider: you are the only person who knows the presentation and all the juicy points. If you miss one, don’t worry about it, just keep going. You can always recover, and if you miss something, take that nugget and mention it somewhere else in the presentation.

  1. Don’t wing it

All awesome presentation start with a plan and an outline. No matter if the presentation is 5 minutes or 2 hours, always be prepared. In fact, I would say shorter presentations are harder because you have less time to get your point across. Nancy Duarte gives some excellent pointers how to craft your presentation into an effective, powerful story. Outline what you want to say so that you can see, from a high level, if you will achieve your goal.

  1. Know where you want to end

Similar to number 5, plan out what is the end takeaway(s) you want to audience to have. If you plan with the end in mind, it helps the rest of the presentation make that point again and again. Each slide should articulate your point and at the end, there should be no question what your action item is.

  1. Use visuals strategically

Use more visuals than words. Less words is always better. It works in your favor because your audience will pay attention to what you say verses reading it. Visuals can convey emotions and provide more impact than words. A picture is worth a thousand words isn’t just a cliché but words of wisdom. Here is my own take on how the power of visuals helps convey your point.

As with all presentations, you have to own it. Have presence and confidence to convey your words. Use these pointers to craft your presentation with confidence.




2015 in Review

This year the team put together a 2015 annual report of Metscher’s Musings. I thought it was a great idea from WordPress. Take a look.  What would you add as your favorite blog post this year?

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,900 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Seven Steps to Telling Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn

Metscher Musing Brand Story

What’s your story for your online brand?

Last month I published this article on LinkedIn on how to tell your personal brand story. The impetus for the article was based on my own experience on how best to share my experience while painting the picture of who I am and where I have been, so to speak. Here is a snippet of the article:

What tips would you add to creating your personal brand story?

June is one of my favorite times of year as it marks the new beginning for many college graduates. Many are trying to differentiate themselves from the competition in getting their first job. Whether you are a seasoned professional or a newbie, focusing on your personal brand story is important, especially when you are looking to breakout from the crowd.

Your LinkedIn profile should paint a picture beyond your resume of who you are and what you bring to the table. When I look at your LinkedIn profile, what do you want me to know? Are you a B2B rockstar? A Content Marketing Mastermind? And a data-driven professional?

Whether you are a 20-year professional or just starting out, you should consider how to promote yourself through LinkedIn. With more than 350 million users, it is becoming harder on LinkedIn to stand out from the crowd. With storytelling in mind, here are my seven steps to telling your personal brand story on LinkedIn.

Step One: Create Dynamic Headlines

Much like storytelling, your personal brand story needs to make sense and persuade folks to read your profile. You can certainly use your current title; however, think about how someone potentially will search for you. Use keywords in your headline. For example, I highlight my broad range of marketing and communications skills, so my title is “Marketing Leader. Social Media Strategist. Communications & Public Relations. Speaker & Writer. Problem Solver.” Jot down your ideas in terms of these areas to highlight what you want to your brand to stand for.

Step Two: Craft a Well-Rounded Summary

What areas of expertise do you want to highlight? Be strategic. You can use your summary section from your resume, but be short and sweet. This section should be your online elevator pitch. The summary area is also a great place to post all your SlideShare presentations or other multimedia content that provides the social proof that you are a great asset.

Recently, LinkedIn made it easier to create the best keywords for your profile by allowing you to access your data archive. Viveka von Rosen, host to one of the largest Twitter chats about LinkedIn #LinkedInChat, wrote a blog post about how to use the export tool to improve an organization’s marketing, but I believe you can also use it to improve the marketing of you.

Step Three: Show Diversity in Your Experience

If you are the main character in your personal brand story, how will you support your central theme? For example, if I want to be known as a digital-marketing expert, how will I convey this information?

What do you want people to know? It’s more than listing your accomplishments and responsibilities. Think about how you would describe your coherent roles and how the roles relate to your overall goal or next career move. All your roles should have a purpose. LinkedIn job positions should show progression and that through the years you have deepened your knowledge in a specific area.

Step Four: Sharpen Your Skills

Did you know that LinkedIn allows users to add up to 50 skills to their profiles? Jennifer McClure, president of Unbridled Talent LLC, mentioned in her Mashable interview that listing relevant skills helps candidates differentiate themselves from their competition: “Often LinkedIn profiles aren’t fully completed either because people are intimidated by the idea of writing a professional summary or aren’t skilled at effectively summarizing their experience. LinkedIn profiles should be viewed as a personal marketing brochure, and as such, they need to be concise, informative, and compelling.” Bottom line: Focus on your expertise, strengths, and skills to be more discoverable.

Continue reading the full article on LinkedIn.

Online Retailers Missed Opportunity: Female Gen Xers with Millennial Tendencies

Recently, I researched the topic of online clothing retailers and their buyers for a grad school project. I find the retail world so fascinating since many retailers have had to adopt their mass-market approach for the online world. Some have succeeded, others continue to struggle to compete. What was interesting in conducting this research was finding a particular small, but influential group of female buyers that most retailers are missing – a subgroup influential because of their buying power and influence.

These women are not quite Gen Xers, but potentially too old to be millennials. They watched Reality Bites, but maybe didn’t feel as jaded. Potentially, they could have gone to a Nirvana concert and still wear their t-shirts.

Gen Xers with Millennial Tendencies

Photo Credit: Salon. Gen Xers are between the ages of 35-44 who grew up during the materialistic 1980s and saw the aftermath of gluttony in the 1990s.

After reading the blog post Social Media Week: Oregon Trail Generation on SMW, I thought I would share my findings about this subgroup. As marketers, we sometimes have to remind ourselves that marketing to a generation is not always about their age, but about their behaviors.

Below is an excerpt from my project. Happy reading.

Female Generation X with Millennial Tendencies

Before millennials were texting their friends using their first iPhones, there was a generation of women who knew of a time before the Internet, Generation X. Gen Xers are between the ages of 35-44 who grew up during the materialistic 1980s and saw the aftermath of gluttony in the 1990s. They are also digital adopters: Gen Xers were the first generation to grow up with computers and technology, although this occurred later in their lives. Today, they remain tech-savvy and habitually research items online prior to purchase (JWT Intelligence, 2010).

They break rules and redefined a slacker generation

Women of this generation are adventurous, daring, quirky, informed, responsible, and skeptical. Nostalgic, Gen X women gravitate towards happier times from their past (Han, 2012). This public can afford higher-end items because they are more established in their careers and have higher spending power. Because Gen Xers write their own rules, she could be a recent mom or a childfree career powerhouse.

They shop too, but often buy less and look for deals. Most female Gen Xers make shopping lists using a variety of tools, half review circulars, and coupons. Fifty-one percent download coupons from retailer sites and 38 percent research products online. About one-third use deal sites, 31 percent use social media to get coupons, and 23 percent look for updates from retailers and manufacturers via texts or e-mails (McClain, 2012).

Why are Gen Xers with Millennial Tendencies Important? Go Back to Why Women Rule the Purse. 

Though shopping is synonymous with women, there are several reasons why women rule the purse and the economy (Brennan, 2011). First, women are the gateway to household budgets. They not only shop for themselves, but also for others— spouses, kids, friends, family, colleagues, and often their older parents. This multiplies their buying power and influence (Brennan, 2013).

Second, women have a strong connection to community both online and off-line. In their community, people connect with one another to help others realize their potential inside and out, and to make life happier for everyone (Brennan, 2011). Millennial females regard shopping as a group activity, shopping twice as often with their spouses, friends, or family members as non-millennial females (Solomon, 2014). The strong connection to each other is easily seen in their business and personal relationships as well. Women prioritize and cultivate personal and business relationships because creating these networks of family, friends, and colleagues is a primary source of joy and fulfillment (Brennan, 2011).

Finally, women are typically connectors, and that makes them the source of valuable information to the people in their network or community. If women are happy with your business, they are delighted to tell people they know— especially if you provide an incentive for them to do so (Brennan, 2011). From loyalty programs to referral programs, if you are not leveraging your female customers to bring in their contacts, you’re leaving money on the table.