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16 Ways to Damage Your Personal Brand

16 WAYS TO DAMAGE YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
I’ve already mentioned all the nice things you could do to brand yourself and build a memorable online presence. However, if you’re not a born doer you might find all these suggestions a bit difficult to implement and to follow, right? That’s why, in this blog post I would like to make your life easier and just let you know about the things you shouldn’t do instead. So, let’s get started.

#1 Don’t use a fake name on social media

You don’t need to be Albert Einstein to realise that if you don’t use your real name on social media no one will ever be able to find you. Although it sounds obvious, it’s a common mistake that many people make. Initially they don’t fancy online exposure and they prefer to be anonymous so that they are able to post whatever they want and act however they like. But guess what? When they finally decide that they want to have a professional online presence they will need to get rid of this taboo and just be and act “normal”. Some will ask:

Why can’t I build my personal brand around my nickname?

Sure thing, you can build a personal brand around your nickname but you need to be clear about this from the start and you need to understand that you will create a brand that will not be linked to your original name.

15 Ways to Damage Your Online Personal Brand

Pic taken from blog.oskoui-oskoui.com

#2 Don’t use a variety of alias

This is another big mistake people do when it comes to building their online presence. Loads, when they sign up to online platforms, use a variety of alias and in this way they cannot be affiliated with one single name. What’s the problem you ask? I will give you a simple example:

2 months ago I was asked to help a researcher build his personal brand. When I did an initial research to find the organic results regarding his name through a simple Google search, I could find only half of his scientific publications. Why is that? Because his name had 2 variations and when submitting his papers to the journals he used to switch from one name to the other. As a result, some publications were under his name and the rest under his short name and therefore someone like me who would like to find information about his publications wasn’t able to find the full list.

#3 Don’t use inappropriate images on your social media profiles

This is another point that makes total sense to everyone and doesn’t need an explanation… However, if you don’t get the point, just imagine that you’re a professional psychotherapist and your profile picture on your social media is you in the jungle dressed as Tarzan. Would I trust you to be my therapist? I don’t think so… So, if you’re wondering how to brand yourself using an inappropriate profile pic on your Facebook or Twitter profile, this is not the way.

16 WAYS TO DAMAGE YOUR ONLINE PERSONAL BRAND

Bad Facebook profile pic example

I recently helped an architect who wanted to create a strong personal brand. He had graduated around a year ago and was searching for a job. When I first did my initial research to find out about his online presence I couldn’t find any info about him on Facebook or Twitter. He then told me that he used a fake name (his surname backwards) and as a profile picture on his Facebook page he placed Joker’s picture… I instantly told him that he needs to switch to his real name (it’s extremely easy to change your name on Facebook, just read this guide) and upload a proper-professional picture that will bring out the best of him. We also updated some info and cleaned up his “backyard” from all the inappropriate posts and images that he had posted so far.

The key point here is that moment he finally uploaded his professional picture and he wrote about his new venture as an architect, he got close to 200 likes (out of 600 friends) which gave a good boost and exposure of his brand new self. Keep in mind that your Facebook friends want to see your face and not a random picture. And also remember that they are going to congratulate you and support you when you finally decide to show your real face and act as a mature professional.

#4 Don’t use inappropriate language and images on posts, emails and communication

Inappropriate-offensive language is a no-no when it comes to any profession. Racist, sexual and shocking comments can really harm your personal brand. Be extremely careful with the language of your content that can be associated with:

  • Racism
  • Harassment
  • Intimidation
  • Exploitation
  • Violence
  • Hatred and Intolerance

First of all, the above type of comments look and sound bad. Secondly, all of the above can be associated with an amateur, unprofessional, rude and disrespectful persona.

You have probably heard a dozen of times about people who wrote something inappropriate on their social media which caused a backlash right? If you can’t recall any, just see the following examples:

1. Lindsey Stone who posted a photo at Arlington National Cemetery and ended up getting fired.

2. Justine Sacco who got fired after sending a racist’ tweet before her trip to Africa.

15 Ways to Damage Your Online Personal Brand

Lindsey Stone’s photo pic on her Facebook profile – Pic taken from dailymail.co.uk

If you want more examples, here are 10 other people who lost their jobs over social media mistakes and here are 10 more.

#5 Don’t start conversations without a purpose on professional groups on LinkedIn

Don’t talk just for the sake of it. Talking rubbish or repeating what others have already mentioned and giving useless information make you look/sound like a fool. There’s actually an old saying:

“Better to be quiet and thought a fool than to talk and be known as one” – Unknown 

So, when you don’t have anything useful or clever to say, it’s better to do more listening than talking. Below I mention some things you shouldn’t do:

  • Don’t use LinkedIn Groups to promote your products / services
  • Don’t just post your blog posts into LinkedIn Groups. Instead, try to provide useful information and share interesting, meaningful, and reputable content that can help the other members. Inside the message you can include your blog post, but only if they truly serve that purpose.

Find out more about how to network using LinkedIn groups through this guide.

#6 Don’t have inactive social media profiles on démodé social media platforms

If there is no particular reason to have a profile in a platform that you don’t use, then why to have one? There are people who start heavily using one social media platform for some days, weeks or months. Then they get bored and they switch to another one. Thus they end up having a dozen of profiles all over the internet.

You need to be selective with the social media platforms that you use.

  • Pick 2 to 5 social media platforms that you want to use and commit to using them regularly.
  • Take some time to delete all your inactive profiles in social media platforms that have no use for you anymore. There are more chances that the outdated content that someone can find there, might be harmful and not beneficial for your personal brand.

 

#7 Don’t underestimate LinkedIn

If you’re reading this post and you’re interested in personal branding, you are probably aware of LinkedIn as being one of the most important tools for building a great personal brand. That’s why you should take advantage of LinkedIn and be active on it. Personal branding is all about marketing yourself and your career and LinkedIn is the tool that will help you establish your brand and spread the word about it.

“87% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find high-quality candidates” – Source: Adweek

Not having a LinkedIn profile might mean for your future employer or customer that:

1. You are not an up-to-date professional

2. You are not a social person

3. Or even worse, that you’re not a professional

GET YOUR FREE PERSONAL BRANDING QUESTIONNAIRE

#8 Don’t have a useless – empty – inactive LinkedIn profile

Having an empty LinkedIn profile (see example below) or an inactive one, might be as bad as not having any. For your employer or customer, an empty LinkedIn profile might mean that:

1. You don’t have any experience or qualifications to show

2. You are too lazy to fill out your profile properly

3. You are unable or too bored to finish what you already started

15 Ways to Damage Your Online Personal Brand

Example of an Empty LinkedIn profile

Be sure that you use LinkedIn correctly. Include important information such as:

  • Professional Profile Picture
  • Mission Statement
  • Working History
  • Skills
  • Certificates
  • Volunteering Experience

 

Need help building your personal brand?

Get in touch to discuss about how you can increase your online reputation and get a memorable personal brand to stand out from the crowd.

#9 Don’t be a troll and don’t engage in online rants.

Complaining, attacking, criticizing and leaving negative comments all over the internet is something that you should definitely avoid. Who likes negativity? No one… Who likes a complainer? Again, no one… and find out here why. By being negative, you can only harm your online reputation and your individual brand.

Negativity is a downer. No one likes, hires, or promotes a troll or a whiner.

#10 Don’t show off all the time.

Another extremely annoying and unpleasant type of person, is the narcissistic showy dude or dudette who is obsessed with themselves and their lifestyle. Their only concern is to show off day and night. If you’re not a fashion blogger or a Pinterest celebrity (who most certainty become famous due to self-centered, self-projected pictures and posts), you better put down your ego and be modest instead of a braggart. A bit of showing off every now and then is normal, and many times it happens by accident. The best way of showing off to others is not to brag at all! Let the other people realise how good you are instead of saying it out loud. Read this nice article about the different types of showing off.

#11 Don’t talk bad about your colleagues, clients, and friends. Being a hater in general.

Same as in point 9, negativity is the devil’s aspect. No one likes a complainer or a hater. Here are some wise words from my lovely mother:

“A person who is always arguing with others and talks bad about others, at one point he/she will also argue with you and talk bad about you.” – My mother

So, if you talk bad about most people, it means that you will potentially also talk bad about the person next to you (potential employer, client, or colleague).

16 WAYS TO DAMAGE YOUR ONLINE PERSONAL BRAND

Haters will always hate!

#12 Don’t follow or like people, brands or posts which might hurt your brand

Be careful who you quote, the pages and posts you like, and who you follow. Always read carefully and think twice before sharing a quote, liking a post or a comment or recommending a page. There are hidden traps that might leave doors open for trolls to shame you and create a backlash. Here is an example:

Imagine, that you see a post on your feed from one of your contacts and you find the title interesting. Thus, you share it without even reading it. However, the post is an actual racist post with an interesting/cozy title, that aims to attract clicks and shares. The people who might read this article via your share, might think that you share the same views as the author and therefore that you’re also racist.

Beware, it doesn’t take much these days to cause a backlash. Everything you do online can be tracked so always be careful!

#13 Don’t drink and twit

Don’t do social sharing when drunk. Basically, keep away from social media when drinking as you might end up doing most of the above don’ts (such as the 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12) and maybe having a visit from the FBI.

16 WAYS TO DAMAGE YOUR ONLINE PERSONAL BRAND

Don’t drunk and twit – Pic taken mettermedia.com

#14 Don’t promote your company or products continuously

Imagine a door-2-door sales man who is knocking on your door every day, trying to sell you his goodies or services. What kind of feeling do you get for this kind of person? Not the best one I assume… You would probably try to avoid him as much as you can, correct? The same goes for self-promoters. No one likes them, no one wants to talk to them, and no one wants to be around them.

You’ve probably, met a dozen shameless self-promoters who are continuously talking about themselves and their accomplishments (sometimes they also talk about themselves in 3rd person…!) every single chance they get. There is scientific evidence that these people don’t even realise that they are bragging and that they are annoying. However, I am almost certain that 99% of the population out there would agree that these type of people are boring and irritating.

So, keep in mind that promoting and selling are two different things. You can indirectly promote yourself as a field expert by providing useful, well thought and unique advice and information to the public without selling yourself, your skills or your services once. Sure, while promoting you can also sell your services, but don’t sell yourself. Let others decide if you are an innovator, a guru, or an expert in your field, you don’t need to brag about it.

#15 Don’t be fake

Personal Branding is about being yourself and being unique.

“All good things which exist are the fruits of originality.” – John Stuart Mill

Originality rocks and so will you, if you decide to stay true to your personality and beliefs. The strongest and most memorable personal brands are based in originality. So before you start to build your personal brand, you should believe in yourself and your personality and figure out:

  • Who you are
  • Who you want to be
  • What makes you unique
  • What are your skills
  • What are your values
  • What are your passions?

Keep in mind that being someone else is difficult and stressful, while being yourself is easy and original.

#16 Don’t be all-over the place

Don’t be vague in your services. The more targeted and focused in one direction you are, the more expertise you can show. In contrast, the more vague you are, the most difficult and exhausting it will be to transcend, as you will try to be everywhere without adding much value to your brand.

So, first thing you need to do, is to find your niche. Then, you’ll need to find everything about it. In the end, you should feel like you have acquired a “PhD” on this niche. You should eat, sleep, breathe, and dream your niche and always stick to it.

That was it! 16 don’ts that will bring you closer to creating a memorable and concrete personal brand!

Ready to build your personal brand?

Just get in touch to discuss about how you can increase your online reputation and get a memorable personal brand to stand out from the crowd.

Tips On Creating a Great Website for Your Boutique Hotel

Manolis Zografakis Creative Strategist - Digital Consultant
You are the owner of a beautiful boutique hotel. You have spent an immense amount of time, money and effort to build your dream business but you have no website, or an old-school site built back in the late 90’s. What do you do? You create a brand new, fresh, user-friendly, responsive website.

It is absolutely essential for every small business to have its own website and the same applies to the hotel industry. If you’re the owner of a boutique hotel you should pay great attention on your business’ online presence – the same way you pay attention to your offline presence.

“57 % of all travel reservations made on the internet” – Statisticbrain

By having a fresh mobile-friendly website you show professionalism and respect towards your customers. However, just having a website is not enough.

Nowadays, people use the internet to find answers to their everyday problems and in the same way tourists use it for finding accommodation for their upcoming trips. Your online presence is the first impression an online user will have about your hotel. That’s why it should have an exceptional online presence, so that it rises above the competition.

Last year I visited Hotel Gutkowski, a beautiful boutique hotel in Siracusa in Sicily, Italy. First I was astonished by the hotel’s great aesthetic and atmosphere but at the same time I was surprised by its poor website. After talking with the hotel’s manager I was asked to develop their brand new website.

During that period I researched a lot about the hospitality industry and therefore I would like to share with you some thoughts, tips and advice on how to create a successful website for your boutique hotel. If you want your hotel to have an exceptional online presence you definitely need to consider the following key points:

#1 Have a responsive website

It’s a fact that there is a continuous increase of mobile usage and lots of internet experts admit that mobile is the future of everything. On May 2015, Google confirmed that it’s currently serving more Google searches on mobile than desktop computers. That means that you need a mobile-friendly website and not just an old-style website. Users are switching from desktop web browsers to smartphones and tablets continuously and the website’s user experience is extremely important for converting those visitors into actual customers.

“65 % of same day hotel reservations are made from a smartphone” – Statisticbrain

That’s why your future customers should be able to access and use your site in every type of device (PC, laptop, mobile, tablets). Moreover, Google gives great value to mobile-friendly websites and it is positioning them in a better place compared to non-mobile-friendly sites. Therefore, if you have a mobile-friendly site and your competitor doesn’t, you have a better chance of ranking in a higher position than them in google searches.

Tips On Creating a Great Website for Your Boutique Hotel

Calluna hotel responsive theme

#2 Have a fast website

Having a fast-loading website is also of great importance. Speed is one of the most important Ranking Factors and that means if you have a fast-loading website you may experience better search rankings. Moreover, internet users, and especially mobile users, don’t wait too long for a page to load:

“40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load” – Kissmetric

If your page takes more than 3 seconds to load you will lose visitors and therefore potential customers because according to Kissmetrics:

“A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions” – Kissmetrics

So, all in all speed matters and that’s why your site should be fast. If you already have a website you can have a look to see how fast it is compared to other sites via gtmetrix.com or pingdom.com. If you find that your site is slow there are ways to speed it up.

#3 Have a great design that reflects your hotel’s actual design

Your boutique hotel’s site should be simple and straightforward and the aesthetic and design should be in line with the hotel’s brand identity and similar to the style of the actual hotel. For example if you have a boutique hotel you should have a fresh, well designed website that reflects the image of the actual hotel.

“46.1% of people say a website’s design is the number one criterion for discerning the credibility of the company” (Hubspot)

Tips On Creating a Great Website for Your Boutique Hotel

Calluna hotel theme

#4 Pay attention to the colours that you use

Another key point to consider is the palette of colours that you use in your site. The colour palette that you choose to have on your logo, site and brand visual identity as a whole are core parts of your hotel’s brand identity and that is why they are of great importance. If you already have a logo and a colour palette then you can use those colours throughout the website. However, if that’s not the case, you need to do research about the meaning of each colour before choosing the final ones.

“Research has reinforced that 60% of the time people will decide if they are attracted or not to a message – based on colour alone!” – Colourmatters

You can find some important information on choosing the right colour for each occasion here.

Tips On Creating a Great Website for Your Boutique Hotel

Colour Palette

#5 Have an image oriented site

They say “a picture is worth a thousand words” and they are absolutely right. Users love images more than actual content. If you can present the beauty of your hotel just with some stunning images then go ahead and do it.

“90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text.” – Zabisco

Keep in mind that you will also need good, quality text for describing your services and amenities, and for delivering your message to your clients. So the best way is to have a balance between text and image.

Tip: Don’t forget that the text is also super important for the website’s SEO (see point 7).

#6 Have call to action buttons

The “call to action” is that online element: a button, link or banner which invites the user to perform a specific action. There are various call to actions that you will normally notice in a website. Usually the call to action contains an imperative verb followed by an object (e.g.: Book a room, Book your tickets, Sign up to our newsletter, etc.).

For example, in the hotel’s case the call to action button could be implemented in the booking tool. Visitors should be able to find and use the booking tool with ease to check the availability and book directly online. I would advise you to check out some of the best hotel websites out there so that you see what kind of booking tools they use and how they have incorporated them into their websites.

Below I mention some key factors that play an important role in the success of a call to action button:

  • Size
  • Wording
  • Colour
  • Position
  • Contrast with the rest of the page

Example 1 – Horizontal Booking Tool:

Tips On Creating a Great Website for Your Boutique Hotel

Hillter hotel Template booking tool

Example 2 – Vertical Booking Tool:

Tips On Creating a Great Website for Your Boutique Hotel

Hotel Gutkowski Booking tool

Tip: You should consider using a secure SSL page for the transaction. SSL (Secured Socket Layer) allows sensitive information such as credit card numbers and login credentials to be transmitted securely. In this way your visitors will feel safe during the whole booking process and it is more likely that they will book directly through your hotel’s website.

#7 Link to your social media

Your fans should be able to find your social media pages directly through your site. Thus, don’t forget to link to your social media channels through your header and/or footer. Find the social media buttons that better suit the whole aesthetic of your website. You can choose from rounded and rectangular to water drop and leaf style icons.

Check out some beautiful free vector social media icons to choose from.

Tips On Creating a Great Website for Your Boutique Hotel

Free social media icons

#8 Have a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy

If you want to beat the competition you will need to have a well thought-out SEO strategy. If you have never heard of the term SEO before, it’s time to do a bit of studying… Have a look at this simple guide by Google explaining what SEO is and how to take care of it.

By taking care of your site’s SEO you make it easier for search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo to crawl, index and understand your content. Therefore, you will have more chances to rank well when a user searches for a hotel in your area. But how can you take care of your SEO, right? There are several search engine ranking factors and that’s why you need to have a SEO strategy.

It’s absolutely essential to do a keyword search and analysis before writing your site’s content. You will need to find the best keywords to include in your texts. For example if your hotel is situated in Barcelona, Spain you should do a keyword search to find the most important and highly used keywords that internet users use when they search for boutique hotel accommodation in Barcelona. Then use these combinations in webmaster tools to find out suggestions of important keywords according to search volume and competence. Check out how to do a keywords search in webmaster tools.

Tip: If your content is in more than 1 language then you should do different keyword searches and analysis for each language.

#9 Take care of your site’s onsite SEO

You will then need to take care of the basic onsite SEO factors such as having optimised titles and meta descriptions, proper use of headers (H1, H2 and so on), optimised images, an xml sitemap and more. Below I have mentioned some important things to remember:

  • SEO is extremely important but never put SEO before user experience
  • Create great, useful, relevant content keeping users in mind
  • Use optimized title tags and Meta descriptions
  • Use optimised Headers: H1 tags, H2 tags and so on
  • Don’t forget to optimise (reduce the size so that they are made for the web) your images
  • Site speed matters so be sure that your website is fast enough
  • URL structure matters
  • Have a proper internal structure of your website
  • Use breadcrumbs properly
  • Do internal linking

 

Tips On Creating a Great Website for Your Boutique Hotel

SEO Ranking Factors

Tip: You can check out the most important Search engine ranking factors for 2015 according to MOZ.

#10 Have an easy to find contact form

Your visitors should also be able to contact you without effort. Therefore your hotel’s contact info should be mentioned in the footer but also in the contact page which should be linked via the menu. The contact information should include: name of the hotel, address, telephone and email address. It’s also good to embed a Google map so that the visitors can check out the exact location of the hotel. Remember that if the visitors face any problems when trying to book via the booking form, they should be able to contact you directly via email or via the phone.

Tip 1: The best free contact form plugin for WordPress is Contact Form 7.

Tip 2: If you have a 24/7 receptionist you may consider adding a live chat where users can ask questions.

Tips On Creating a Great Website for Your Boutique Hotel

Hotel Gutkowski’s contact page

#11 Have all the important sections a hotel’s website should have

There are some specific sections and information that you should definitely include in your site. You should have general info about your hotel, the rooms, the amenities, the various services you may offer, how to book and how to contact you. Here are some pages you should include:

  • Hotel
  • Rooms
  • Services
  • Book
  • Contact

 

#12 Have the site translated to at least 2 languages

If your hotel is situated in a non-English speaking country, you should consider creating your website in the native language, but also in English. If a big percentage of your online reservations come from a specific country (for example, Italy, Spain or Germany), you should also consider translating your content in that language too.

By translating your content you can increase your online visitors and thus the potential of direct bookings.

You could use Google Translate or a plugin to do the translation but it will not be accurate and will have a lot of mistakes. Having a bad translation can look unprofessional and in some cases it may even discourage your foreign visitors to book with your hotel. Therefore, I advise you pay a professional translator to do the job for you.

Tip: Beware that, if you translate your website in various languages you may give fake expectations to your potential customers, as they will expect that your staff speak their language and they may be very disappointed when they find out the opposite.

#13 Have a Blog

Having a blog and posting fresh, unique content every now and then is the key to differ from the competition. Useful content matters and visitors will appreciate your exclusive insider information and tips. Your blog posts should always have a strong, unique style and personal feel that inspires customers to visit your area and book with your boutique hotel.

It may feature blog posts and videos about the area’s history and culture, the nightlife, the local cafes and restaurants, the beaches (if any) and any other useful information that visitors might look for. If you pay close attention to your customer’s questions at the reception of your hotel regarding the city life you may end up with some great content ideas! Remember to include in your blog posts some stunning photos of the hotel and the area so that you highlight their beauty. Finally, make sure your content is credible travel journalism and that you never over promise what customers should expect when they visit your hotel or the area as a whole. You can find some useful tips on how to write a blog post here.

Tip:  Include one or two call to action phrases inside your text, and guide the customer towards a booking with internal links to deeper content and product pages.

Congrats! You now know exactly what you have to do in order to create a great website for your boutique hotel!

Do you need help and advice for creating your hotel’s website?

Get in touch to discuss about how I can help you built a modern responsive website for your boutique hotel so that you stand out from the crowd.

Tips On Personal Branding For Jobseekers Part 2

Personal Branding for Jobseekers Part-2
In my previous blog post I explained what personal branding is and mentioned the most important information you need to have to build your own brand. If you are still asking yourself what personal branding is, you might need to reread the first part. In any case here is a short summary to refresh your memory:

Personal branding is the way others think and talk about you as an individual-professional. More precisely it’s who you are, what separates you from everyone else, and what’s going to make you relevant and compelling to others.

Or according to Tim Feriss:

“Personal branding is about managing your name — even if you don’t own a business — in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records. Going on a date? Chances are that your “blind” date has Googled your name. Going to a job interview? Ditto.”

Most employers use the web to search for talent and conduct employment background searches. That’s the way recruiting works nowadays and that’s why you should have a professional and up-to-date online presence. According to CareerBuilder in 2014, 43% of employers used social networking sites to research job candidates. Thus, you should always keep in mind that everything you do online is a representation of your personal brand.

So, whether you’re a jobseeker, a business owner or an artist, wherever you go and whatever you do, your online presence is there, visible to all, 24/7 and it really matters. You may not even know it, but you also have one. You have a Facebook page, a Twitter or a LinkedIn account and so on, and all of those are key parts of your online presence. The problem is that most people have an online presence, but in most cases it’s just a basic one.

In my first blog post about personal branding, I mentioned some essential tips to help you come up with the core of your online brand. In this post, I will guide you on how to use the information you have gathered to build or boost your online presence and online brand. Below you’ll find the steps you need to take to build a strong personal brand.

#1 Google yourself

First thing you need to do is to open an incognito browser window (or just delete cookies and browsing history) and google yourself to see what info comes up. You have probably done it already, but you should do it once again while keeping your personal brand in mind. For example, you may find an old forgotten, but still active, Myspace profile. This profile might contain shameful info or pics of you partying as a youngster, which may eventually harm your image and personal brand. Sure, these pics might have been cool when you were 18 or 20, but now, when you are trying to build a professional online brand, they might just be a BIG con don’t you think? So, what should you do? Follow the steps below:

  1. Google your name and surname.
  2. Go over the first 3-5 pages and see if there is any information about you.
  3. Find pages or profiles that you think might harm or do no good for your personal brand and try to delete them.

Tips On Personal Branding For Jobseekers Part 2

Tip: You can use justdelete.me to find direct links to delete your account from web services.

If you can’t find any page talking about you do not worry, below I will tell you how to bring results related to you on major search engines.

#2 Have your own personal website

The best way to brand yourself is by creating your own website. You can use this site to talk about yourself and showcase your key accomplishments. It’s true that not everyone needs their own website, but if you are, for example, a freelancer, artist, or influencer, a website will help you enhance your personal brand.

Your site will be the main highlight of your personal brand and online presence. Via your personal website, you will be able to showcase all the information you want to show to the world. One of the biggest benefits of having your own site is that you can optimize it, so that it ranks well on online searches of your name in Google, Yahoo, Bing and other major search engines.

If your site has a clear and accurate title and meta description (the short description that appears below the site’s title on search engines), it will probably be the first link that people will click. And if recruiters, random people or even customers find all the information they are looking for on your site, they might not spend more time surfing the web for relative info about you.

What are my options?

Creating your own site is not a difficult task. But it requires a good amount of time, effort and money in order to be 100% professional, beautiful and effective. There are paid but also free ways to get a personal site up.

The most professional way to do it is to buy your own domain and webspace. In this way you will be able to have your own custom URL like mine for example “www.manoliszografakis.com” as well as your personalised email such as “hello@manoliszografakis.com”. If you want some help on building your personal brand and your own website just get in touch to talk about how I can help you and what options you may have.

If you don’t have a big enough budget to invest in your personal website, you can set up a free one via a website builder like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace or Doodlekit. These website builders give you the option to create and host your site for free without any strings attached. There are also some great personal website builders that you could use. Websites like about.me and branded.me are exclusively dedicated to personal branding.

Google Yourself

Nevertheless, having a free site in one of the above mentioned platforms has various limitations (for example it will provide limited amount of space, advertisements will be placed on your website and more). In a future blog post, I will mention steps and tips to help you build your own website (free or paid) and the most important things to consider when choosing between free or paid website.

#3 Start Blogging

After setting up your personal site, you can start expressing your ideas through blog posts. Blogging is a great way to showcase your expertise and knowledge of your industry or profession. You don’t need to be a journalist or an author to write blog posts and, of course, you don’t need to write a brand new blog post every single day (although some sort of regularity in posting is important).

Blogging on a regular basis can be a useful tool for building your career and personal brand. I recommend having a fresh blog spot once a week or at least every 2 weeks.

Tips:

  1. Pick a subject that you are familiar with and write articles around different topics on that exact subject.
  2. Feel free to write your own thoughts and ideas and try to be creative.
  3. Include news, trends, analysis, infographics, commentary, links and of course your own views.
  4. After publishing a blog post you can let people know about it on your social media or in various related groups on LinkedIn or Facebook.
  5. You can also do guest blogging in blogs and sites related to your sector. In this way you build authority around your name and when employers google it, they will find several references where you have contributed, written or shared content related to your field.
Need help building your personal brand?

Get in touch to discuss about how you can increase your online reputation and get a memorable personal brand to stand out from the crowd.

#4 Have a professional email address and signature

Your email address – through which you contact potential employers – should reflect a professional image. Therefore, as I said above, if you have a budget to invest, you should definitely buy your own webspace and domain name. In this way, you own a custom domain name and email address.

If you don’t have a budget for this, fret not. There is a still professional way to have a decent professional email address. The best option is to set up an email account using a simple version of your name. For example, if your name is John Doe, you could set up an email address like johndoe@gmail.com or jdoe@gmail.com.

Professional Email Signature

Perhaps, you have received in the past an email from a random person, friend or colleague and you were astonished by their beautiful signature, right? I should let you know that you can easily have a similar professional signature without spending a penny. There are several free to use websites that can help you build a beautiful email signature in just a few minutes.

They offer many well designed templates that you can use. Moreover they let you import all the important info you need to communicate who you are and what you do. For example, you can include:

  • Photo
  • Name
  • Title
  • Company
  • Phone
  • Website
  • Email
  • Address
  • Social Profiles with icons

 
For example, check out below a sample signature that I created for myself with the free signature builder Wisestamp:

Tips On Personal Branding For Jobseekers Part 2

#5 Use Social Media Wisely

Social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube can help you establish your reputation and stand out from your industry. They provide a great way to reach your audience. Here are some major tips:

General Tips:

  1. Find the platforms that most of your target audience uses. Try to focus your attention and effort to 2 or max 3 social media. I suggest you to have at least a Facebook and LinkedIn page.
  2. Pinterest and Instagram are image-oriented social media. Therefore, both are great for photographers, artists, designers, companies or professionals who can use images to promote their work.
  3. Upload the same profile photo to all different social media sites that you use, so that you’ll be easily identifiable across your networks.
  4. Use your real name instead of your nickname or alias so that people can find you easily. You can use Knowem to see if your name is available on over 500 popular social networks.
  5. Use a catchy distinctive headline or bio that describes you the best. You can use your elevator pitch or a shorter version of it.
  6. Have a consistent aesthetic (colour, style and tone) across your profiles.

Content and Posting Tips:

Review all your social media profiles to be sure they are up-to-date containing your most current information (current work info, correct email, website URL, etc.)

  1. Take care of your existing photos, posts and info (delete the ones which can harm your online brand) and carefully curate your future ones, so that help build up your brand.
  2. If you use twitter: According to a recent study those who tweet more have the most followers.
  3. Use each social media wisely. Keep in mind that the way you post changes depending on the social media channel — for example, every Twitter post can be maximum 140 characters, while on Facebook it can go more than 60,000 characters.
  4. Think twice before posting. Be sure that the message you’re trying to communicate cannot and will not damage your personal brand. Every post matters, so always post carefully, because the world is watching (people that you know, but also strangers can see your posts). For example, don’t post about how much you hate job hunting or recruiters and hiring managers or about how many beers you drunk the night before.
  5. Don’t post negative comments about your previous employers and don’t be critical all the time. You want to show a nice image of you as a pleasant person to work with.
  6. Use hashtags properly. Most of the social media support hashtags, so you need to know how to use them properly. Check out the dos and don’ts of how to use hashtags.
  7. Find groups and pages that are affiliated with your sector and participate in conversation and exchange of ideas and respond to questions and comments. Quora, Focus and LinkedIn are all places where people ask and answer questions related to business sectors. By answering to those questions, you get exposure and you create value around your name.
  8. Remember that it’s good to answer to a question when you are sure you’ve got the answer and that you will bring an added value to the conversation.
  9. Post consistently. According to bufferapp’s recent research the best practise is:

Facebook: 2 times per day

Twitter: 3 times per day

LinkedIn: 1 time per day

Google+: 3 times per day

Pinterest: 5 times per day

Instagram: 1.5 times per day

* The following graph from blog.bufferapp.com shows the correlation between Tweeting more and getting more followers.

Tips On Personal Branding For Jobseekers Part 2
 

#6 LinkedIn

LinkedIn is essential for job seekers because it is the number 1 career related social media network. That’s why you need to pay great attention when building your LinkedIn profile. There are various reasons why LinkedIn is very important for your online reputation. Via LinkedIn you can:

  • Showcase your CV and work experience
  • Connect with others in your industry
  • Express your ideas and share your tips regarding your industry
  • Find new jobs
  • Get referrals
  • Post articles about your industry to enhance your brand and reach new audience

 
There are several tips for building a great LinkedIn profile. Below I mention some essential ones.

  1. Customise your profile picture and headline (you could use your elevator pitch here)
  2. Use rich multi-media such as pictures, slides, video, and other graphics in your Summary and Experience sections.
  3. If you have a short video of a talk that you have given you can incorporate it into your profile to make it look fancier.
  4. If you feel confident about your knowledge on your field you should join LinkedIn groups and discussions to express your thoughts on hot topics. You can use these groups to present yourself as a passionate and well informed professional. Don’t talk about your job search but rather start interesting discussions, share your opinion and relevant articles and answer questions related to your sector.
  5. Remember to always be polite and think twice before posting because hiring managers are monitoring and also participating in these same discussions.
  6. Take a nice professional photo for your LinkedIn. Surely you can ask a friend of yours to take a half-decent picture of you with their camera or iPhone. You should be alone without your cat, dog, pals, kids or better half. If you need to wear a suit in your profession then wear a suit also for the photoshoot).

You can find more interesting tips through this guide.
If you follow the above tips you will manage to create the base of a strong personal brand and online presence. That’s all folks!

Ready to build your personal brand?

Just get in touch to discuss about how you can increase your online reputation and get a memorable personal brand to stand out from the crowd.

Tips On Personal Branding For Jobseekers Part 1

Personal Branding for Jobseekers Part 1
In case you haven’t noticed, in today’s job market you need to think of yourself as a “product”. It doesn’t sound that appealing right? You can either:

A. Get used to the idea and play by the rules – Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. I have a way that you can trick yourself so that you feel a bit better about it. You just need to pick your favourite product (it might be a car, a pair of shoes, the iPhone 6 or whatever else you are passionate about) and identify yourself with it. You feel a bit better now, right?

B. Play by the rules until you feel ready and confident enough to start your own business.

C. Avoid following the crowd. Play by your rules and start your own thing straight away.

In this blog post I will talk about the first two cases and I will cover case C on a future blog post.

Employers think of job seekers as products and if you want to land that corporate dream job you should do the same. When an employer screens job applicants, they check their pros and cons in the same way as a consumer checks the specs of a luxurious product for which they intend to spend a heck of a lot of money.

So yes, you need to consider yourself as a quality product and if you want to be a successful product (if you don’t like the wording just use the word job candidate), you need successful branding. Thus, you need to highlight, strengthen, and market your skills as well as your pros and brand yourself as the ‘perfect’ job candidate.

My goal through this blog post is to help you understand what personal branding is and how you can use it to build your online reputation.

# What is personal branding?

Think about your personal branding as the way you present yourself to others. Everyone has their own brand identity, but not everybody knows what it is or how to use it for finding a job. Your brand identity is all those qualities that make you different and unique. By building your personal brand identity and taking care of it, you control the way you are perceived by others and the market.

# How can personal branding help me as a job candidate?

Personal branding can be extremely useful to you as a job seeker as it helps you stand out from the crowd and make a memorable and positive impression.

What about my CV and cover letter? Are these part of my personal branding or not?

You got that right. Your CV, cover letter and the job interview are 3 core parts of your personal branding as a job candidate. Polishing your CV and cover letter is important for your personal brand. Yet, it’s just 1/5 of the job you need to do to brand yourself as the perfect job candidate.

Everybody has a CV and a cover letter but not everyone has a memorable online presence. A great way to be remembered and to stand out from the crowd is to be unique. Having a strong online presence will help you make you a memorable job candidate.

# Important factors of the job seeker’s Personal Branding

There are a lot of things you need to consider even before writing your CV and cover letter. Taking care of these things from the start will help you build a coherent, clear and effective branding. By using the “Socratic method” of questioning and discussion with yourself you can gather the most important information. This information will be the core of your personal branding as a job seeker and also as a 21st century digital boy/girl.

1. What are my skills? What is my unique selling point?

Think about your most important skills. Ask yourself:

  • What am I really good at?
  • What am I best at?

 
Through the second question you can find out your unique selling point – a special skill that makes you stand out among all job applicants.

Tip: A good technique to help you find your best skills is to think about how your family or friends think of you as an individual and how they describe your personality. If you don’t remember just ask them. If that doesn’t work and you still can’t think of any skills you can check out this list of skills to get inspired. You can also do this online assessment to test your skills and identify your strengths. Personal Branding Tips for Jobseekers

2. Which of my personal and professional experiences can be used to strengthen my personal brand?

You need to think about your career so far and write down all the experiences you have had which could be associated with your personal brand. If you don’t have any work experience try to find important events that can be linked to your professional path. The following questions will help you find what you need. Ask yourself:

  • Do I have any professional experience at all? Could this be used for my personal brand?
  • Do I have any volunteer experience*?
  • Have I ever won an award? (I don’t mean the gold medal that you got at the age of 9 at a table tennis contest).
  • Did I graduate from a prestigious university?
  • Did I graduate with Honours?
  • Do I have any published articles, conference presentations, or other work?
  • Do I belong to any professional organizations/associations?

*Don’t underestimate your volunteering experience. Without a doubt, any volunteer experience can be a valuable addition to your work history and to your CV.

3. What are my values?

This is one of my favourite parts. If you want to live a happy and balanced life you need to pay attention to your values as they are the core of your being. Your core values are the operating principles that give meaning to your everyday life and your existence as a whole. If you have a job that is aligned with your values you will be super happy, efficient and successful. Follow the 2 steps below to identify your core values:

First step: You will need to identify the times you were:

  • Happiest.
  • Most fulfilled and satisfied.
  • Most proud.

 
Second step: You will need to:

  • Determine the top values at that time, based on the above experiences of happiness, pride, and fulfillment.
  • Prioritise your values according to their importance.

Tip: Check out this list of 400 core values to get inspired and pick the ones that most resonate with you. Personal Branding Tips for Jobseekers

Need help building your personal brand?

Get in touch to discuss about how you can increase your online reputation and get a memorable personal brand to stand out from the crowd.

4. What are my passions?

Your passions are the things that you love doing the most with your time. We all have personal and professional passions. For some people their passions might be obvious. Others might struggle to identify them. So, if you are one of the latter you can ask yourself the following 5 questions:

  • What do I love doing in my free time?
  • What am I doing when I feel happiest?
  • What are the topics that I can talk about endlessly?
  • Which activities am I passionate about?
  • What am I willing to try right now?
  • What is my current reputation?

 

5. What are your benefits compared to other job seekers?

This may overlap a bit with your skills and your unique selling point. You need to think about something that you have a great reputation for. Think about the talents that differentiate you from others. Ask yourself:

  • Is there something that I do better than anyone else?
  • What skills do people notice mostly in me?
  • Why would I hire myself?

 
Tip: After finding your number 1 talent, you need to find out how to emphasize the added value you will bring to the company due to this talent that you have.

6. Who do you want to reach?

Think about your ideal job. Ask yourself the following:

  • Where can I find my dream job?
  • Which are the companies I need to reach out to?
  • Am I willing to relocate?

 
Tip: Have a look at current job vacancies regarding the exact role and find out what type of skills and experience they require. Then try to match your own skill sets, values, passions and experiences with the job requirements.

# Elevator Pitch

After having found the above answers to all the questions you will need to write down your elevator pitch. This will be an intro of 140-200 characters (spoken approx. 30 seconds) about yourself that you can use to introduce yourself whenever you meet a business contact. It summarises who you are, what you do and why you’d be a perfect candidate. Here is an example:

“Hi. I am John. I am a creative strategist and digital consultant with more than 7 years experience in project management and online marketing and I’m looking for an exciting, challenging career opportunity in a values- driven start up.”

If you want to find out more check out Forbes’ guide to writing the perfect elevator pitch.

Final Tip: Don’t try to be different. Just be yourself and differentiate yourself by highlighting your uniqueness.

The above answers will help clearly define who you are, what you want and how to get it. The answers will be a great guide to writing a strong CV and cover letter and building a successful personal brand. This whole process will also help you understand your potential as a job candidate. You will find out how to present yourself with greater confidence and clarity.

Now you can start building your online personal brand as a job seeker. There are many ways to brand yourself which we will cover on a later article.

Download the free personal branding questionnaire to build the core of your personal brand with ease.

Continue to the second part here.

Get Your Free Personal Branding Questionnaire
Ready to build your personal brand?

Just get in touch to discuss about how you can increase your online reputation and get a memorable personal brand to stand out from the crowd.

Search Engine Ranking Factors 2015

Search Engine Ranking Factors 2015
Last week Moz released a study about the 2015 search engine ranking factors. For those who have no clue about SEO, the study reveals the most important factors for ranking well in search engines like Google and Bing. Writing great useful content daily/weekly and building your brand is super important and this will never change. However, there are some key factors that play an important role in your SEO visibility and it’s good to know them.

Below you will find some key points you should consider when setting up your SEO strategy, structuring the technical elements of your site and creating content. However, I strongly advice you to have a look also at the original study.

MOZ ranking factors 2015

# Meta descriptions

One of the most important ranking factors is the presence of a meta description on the page. A generic page description may positively impact your rankings.

Remember to use a different meta description as well as title for every page, and to include your main keywords for organic rankings, but also for increased click-through rates.

# Headings

As always, headings are extremely connected with high rankings. Therefore, your pages should always include heading tags, especially an H1 tag and if you can an H2 tag.

# Keyword based domains

Keyword based domains don’t seem to matter anymore as there was a decrease in keyword-based domains. Therefore, you don’t need to incorporate your keywords into your domain, unless is a natural fit or they are directly tied to your brand.

# Use of images

Include eye catching images in your posts and pages and don’t forget to optimise them. According to the research, top-ranking landing pages contained 25% more images than in 2014.

# Fonts

Try to use an average font size of 14 pts in the navigation bar and header, and 12 pts in the main body.

# Content

Try to keep your most important content on your root domain, as 75% of top-ranking results were on root domains and not on subdomains. Most of the top ranked pages had pages with content that was more than 1100 words per page. Therefore, try to write more than 1000 per post/page on average, but keep in mind that you should only use important information that is relevant to the topic and valuable for the readers.

#Formatting

Make your content easy to digest by including headers, menus, lists, bullets and other formatting. Users will find it easy to read and search engines easy to crawl.

# Social Factors

Social media are still not a ranking factor. However, there is a correlation between top-ranking sites and strong social media signals. Remember that a good social media presence means that you are driving more traffic to your site and you also increase brand awareness.

# Mobile Ranking Factors

The percentage of top-ranking mobile-friendly websites has increased, meaning that having a mobile friendly site is very important. Nevertheless, the so-called Mobilegeddon update that took place in April has not been as disastrous as most of the people out there thought it would be.

# Inbound methodology

Inbound links have always played an extremely important role in rankings, but now their role and value seem to be on decline. However, you should always consider doing internal linking and especially having a corner stone article, which Google loves a lot.

# Use of video

Use YouTube to host your videos, as you will have a better chance of getting the videos ranked in organic search results.

So to recap, here are some important points to remember:

  • Never put SEO before user experience
  • Create great, useful, relevant content keeping users in mind
  • Use optimized title tags and Meta descriptions with LSI keywords or semantic keywords
  • Use optiptimised Headers: H1 tags ,H2 tags and so on
  • Don’t forget to optimise your images
  • Site speed matters
  • URL structure matters
  • Have a proper internal structure of your website
  • Use breadcrumbs propertly
  • Do internal Linking

 

Take a look at the periodic table of SEO success and make it your desktop background or even a poster, so that you always remember what’s important when it comes to SEO.

periodic table of seo 2015

Important Things to Consider when Starting your Own Business

Manolis Zografakis

Entrepreneurship is not the easiest way to jump into the market; it’s rather one of the most difficult paths you may choose. Among other things, you will need to be eager to work without counting hours, acquire many new skills, pay a lot until you see your idea becoming reality and probably wait a lot until it starts paying off. However, it is for sure a fascinating venture which may make you stronger, wiser and more skilled.

If you decide to take the leap of faith to start your own business have these 5 tips in mind:

#1 Do your Research

Important Things to Consider when Starting your Own Business

The moment you get this brilliant idea do a research to see if it already exists. If it doesn’t exist, it doesn’t mean that there is a reason why people haven’t tried it already. In contrast, it might be one of those billion dollar ideas, so if you strongly believe that it will work and you think that it’s feasible, have the guts to make it happen! However, if you find out that your brilliant idea already exists but you think that it could be implemented in a different or better way, or be launched in a country where it’s not yet launched then there might be a good opportunity which you should consider. A perfect example is Rocket Internet, which by using a ‘copycat’ model became a billion dollar company. Rocket Internet basically copied successful American websites such as Ebay, Airbnb and Groupon and launched them into the European market.

#2 Team up with skilled and trustworthy partners

Try to find reliable, skilled and hardworking partners to pair up. It’s better to have companions in your venture instead of going all alone. Trust me on this, it took me more than a year to realise that it’s 10 times better to share the partnership of your startup with 1 or 2 skilled partners who you respect, trust and value than doing everything alone. Remember to try to find partners with different skillsets so that everyone brings a unique value to the company. You will be able to share workload, responsibilities, costs, ideas and emotions with others which is very important. If you can’t find the partners that you desire through your circle you can attend a meetup for co-founders. This type of meetups give you a great opportunity to screen skilled individuals who may end up becoming your future partners. There are also online matching platforms. Below I mention some of the best:

builditwith.me
cofounderslab.com
founderdating.com
younoodle.com
founders-nation.com
doerhub.com
foundrs.com
startus.cc
startupweekend.org

#3 Learn how to listen

Listening is such a simple act and you can learn a great deal if you learn how to listen carefully. It’s good to ask your friends, family and people you trust and value for their opinion about your idea and business; however don’t take every single opinion for granted. The most important thing is to learn how to listen and evaluate every opinion or comment. I know that your idea is your ‘baby’ and you may feel hurt whenever someone criticizes it, but don’t be too sensitive. Instead, listen carefully and try to be objective by analysing the comment to see if it has a dose of truth and if it has, how this comment can help your idea to become even better. So, the conclusion is always to listen to others opinions by keeping your emotions away and not being offended.

#4 Learn how to ask for help

Starting your own business can be a challenging venture, especially if your initial budget is limited and you haven’t secured any type of funding. You will need to work on tasks you’ve never worked on before and there will be many moments that you will need consultation and help in web development and design, online marketing, accountancy, sales, PR, legal and so on. I strongly believe that it’s good to try to deal with the various tasks yourself in order to get a glimpse of your business at a whole, but if you think that you can’t do it, I would advice you to hire a professional  to do the job. If you don’t have the budget to hire a full-time professional you can hire a freelancer or a consultant that will set your strategy and tell you what you have to do. However, if you don’t have any money to spend on this, just ask for help from friends and family. You will be surprised to see how many friends or friends of friends, who may love your idea, are eager to help you. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t take advantage of every single person you know and be grateful for their help by showing your appreciation and repaying them in the way you find appropriate. This can be a nice gift, a nice dinner or an exchange of services as they will help you on something that you need help and you can do the same. Finally, if you have the budget to hire a professional then just do it.

#5 Learn how to work hard

Learn how to work hard and don’t give up easily. If you’re a person that gets bored easily or gives up at the first difficulty, maybe entrepreneurship is not the best career path for you. It’s true that nothing comes easy. You will need to work A LOT and many times (or most of the times) sacrifice your free time for the sake of your business. Moreover, according to statistics 8 out of 10 new businesses fail within the first three years; this makes you better understand that the startup world is not the paradise as it looks like at first sight. It may sound paradoxical but as you need to learn how not to give up at the first or second difficulty, you will need also to learn how to give up after a reasonable time has passed.

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