May 11, 2010

10 Ways to Cultivate a Balanced (Personal) Brand.

“Keep in mind that all employers want new hires with these four skills: strong communications (including being able to write clearly and use correct grammar), great interpersonal and teamwork abilities, enthusiasm, and a willingness to work hard. ‘While you’re researching job openings, make sure you stand out in those four areas,’ says Habelow. ‘Combat the Gen Y stereotype. An employer can teach you the technical aspects of a job, but they can’t give you those essential traits. You have to bring them with you.'”
~ Anne Fischer, CNN Money

Whether you teach yoga, own a massage practice or find yourself in the position of searching for a job right now, your presence online (or personal brand, as it’s sometimes called) matters as much as your activities offline.

Future clients will Google you. Potential new bosses Google you. What comes up in the search results when you plug in your name?

If you’re looking to balance (and/or cultivate) your online presence, read and act on these ten principles.

1. Your face matters

Your profile photos on your social profiles give people a glimpse of who you are. Photos taken while you’re at a party, photos taken by iPhone and grainy photos don’t work for the web. Pay for an afternoon with a photographer and get yourself some shots that reflect who you are and the message you want to convey.

How do you know it’s time to get a new head shot? Your hair has changed significantly since the last time you had them done. You’ve never had them done. You’ve changed careers. Or you’d like to change careers. All solid reasons to get a fresh set.

2. Cultivate yourself

Cultivate yourself online as well as offline. I used to teach 16 hours a week at my yoga studio in Japan. Then I read an article in Yoga Journal in which a senior teacher suggested you should practice two hours for every hour you teach.

After that, I started hiring teachers so I could get back to the mat for myself. This principle applies to any sort of work we do. If you take the time to cultivate your practice on the mat, consider doing the same for your online presence (for instance, hire a web designer to create the web site that best represents you).

3. Get clear on offering

Get clear on your offering. “I teach yoga at Studio X” is fine.

“In my yoga classes I focus on alignment and heart-opening asana based in the Anusara tradition… classes are held at Studio X” is better.

4. Always share your availability

“In my yoga classes I focus on alignment and heart-opening asana based in the Anusara tradition… classes are held at Studio X.”

Then, hand them a schedule with your availability.

5. Be visible online

Folks Google you before they take classes or get their hair cut or a massage with you. What’s being said about you online? (Google yourself now.) If your Facebook profile page comes up first, what does your profile photo say about you?

(See principle 1 – make sure your top result communicates your message)

6. Get outside your comfort zone

Yoga instructors are expected at drum circle performances and meditation retreats.

Yoga instructors aren’t expected at a business networking event.

Go where you’re unexpected.

7. Dress for Life

What you wear and how you present yourself outside of work matters as much as what you wear to work. Dress for the life you want to lead.

8. Be consistent

If you’re a hairdresser, cuts have to be consistent. If you’re a yoga teacher, classes have to be consistent. Businesses grow through consistency. That means that if you got in a fight with your boyfriend before your class starts, take a moment to come back to yourself.

Then teach as though your livelihood depends on it.

It does.

9. Ask for it

Ask your friends for feedback on your personal brand. If they’ve worked with you, ask them for a testimonial to add to your site. If they feel comfortable telling you (or a moderator/coach) what they don’t like about your offering, that’s invaluable feedback.

10. Self-reflect

Sit with it.

Go to the cushion to reflect on what you’re offering.

Modern-day warriors don’t carry alms bowls or beg for food. But if we did, our personal brands would be our alms bowl.

Further reading: Gwen Bell on Personal Branding

Twitter: @gwenbell

Ele Exclusive: Get $10 off a one-on-one consultation or the upcoming May 22nd Reach Yr Peeps workshop in Boulder when you mention Ele in the survey comments.

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