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5 Ways to Grow Your Brand

5 Ways to Grow Your Brand

In a world filled with Kickstarter’s, start-ups, and various other “self-made” mediums – it can be difficult to find your way ahead of the pack. We live in a generation of entrepreneurs. Thanks to the internet, the world is experiencing a myriad of thriving independents, who’ve discovered a way to make a living, solely off of their ingenuity and hard work.

We jealously applaud their achievement, while we wonder “how they made it”. In this list, I’ll provide you with some of the key things that those successful people knew and applied to their strategy – that led them to success. With these tools, you will be able to grow your brand and be on that path as well.

1. Utilize Free Resources

One of the more obvious things that you should be privy to, is the mass amount of free resources out there. These resources can help you to establish your brand on several platforms. No matter what your service, skill, product, etc. is – your first and foremost concern should be to translate that into these mediums. These include (but are not limited to) – blog sites, podcasting sites, Youtube, and of course any of the social media sites, (but we’ll get to that later) .

All of these are generally free – unless you opt for advanced memberships. By taking advantage of multiple platforms, you expand your message to a broader audience who may not have been reachable otherwise. When you translate your message to these free resources you not only expand your potential clientele but infinitely grow your opportunities to prove to the consumer why your (insert business here) should be experienced.

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An added bonus to this is that the more landscape you cover, the more legitimate your business appears. It should go without saying that this method drastically improves your chances of success by expanding your virtual visibility. Did I mention that it’s free?

2. Take Advantage of Trending

Some would call it being a culture vulture, however, those in tune with their inner entrepreneur, understand it simply as masterful marketing. Now, by no means am I saying that you should lie to, or mislead your potential consumer, (click-baiting is a sure way to a speedy demise), but you should make every reasonable attempt to fit what you’re selling into what’s selling, (via Search Engine Optimization, tagging, etc.).

For example, if you’re a podcaster whose topics specifically cover finance or business, you should be researching things and events that can potentially (if loosely) coincide with those mediums; ergo: new technology, blockbuster movies, popular investments, etc. Your primary focus should be in making a viable and meaningful connection.

By learning to fit your skill into popular trends you will not only increase your audience but will be able to provide deeper insight beneath what is commonly known, (or at the very least provide a supplement to it). Though not everyone will be interested in your take – you will attract and keep those who are. This will build a following and sure-fire followers, who will read, discuss, and (most importantly) share your view on the topic at hand.

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This tactic works across the board -whether you: cook, clean, entertain, inform, etc. Though not everything will be relevant – your job is to keep an eye out for what can be. Just remember to keep it honest and not to pander. It’s up to you to provide a level of integrity to your brand. Be willing to do the work, or don’t do it at all.

3. Sell Yourself (Social Media)

We live in the age of transparency, very dissimilar to the “cloak and dagger” generation that preceded us. Though secrecy was the creed of the past – with the advent of technology – we now live in a world where this only leads to distrust and eventual loss of interest. Don’t let this discourage you because chances are, you’ve already transcended this social phenomenon.

Social media is undeniably one of, (if not) the most imperative asset that we all have. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. If you don’t know what any of these are, I suggest you stop reading now and go on a Google binge. These outlets not only provide a direct link to your potential consumer but also provides a way for them to get to you. It is because of this that it is important to sell yourself.

If you’re funny – be funny. If you’re direct – be direct. If you’re a tomato – be a tomato. The point here is, to not to put on a facade. Remember, we live in the age of transparency, because of this the consumer can smell a fraud a mile away. So be yourself. Not everyone will like you, but those who do will be infinitely grateful and much more likely to return to and recommend whatever it is that you are providing them. Being you is free, and the only truly infinite resource at your disposal. Take advantage of it.

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4. Consistency

Bearing the previous in mind, it is also important to be consistent. If you make a promise – keep it. If you offer something – deliver on it. Never attempt to give more of yourself than you actually can. Many people enjoy taking on the challenge of pushing themselves beyond their known limits. Though this trait is admirable in many fields, selling your brand is not one of them.

Keep the old saying in mind: “It takes years to build a reputation, and only seconds to destroy it”.

The consumer is fickle. This isn’t to say that mistakes don’t happen. However, you should be adept at limiting them, or avoiding them all together. This isn’t necessarily a “fair’ standard, but with the mass amount of competition out there, it’s the only way the consumer knows how to separate the worthwhile, from the worthless. Set a standard, stay there, or raise it. Any other direction will be detrimental to the growth of your brand.

5. Quality over Quantity

Despite everything I’ve just said, one of the more somber rules to keep in mind is to never stretch yourself beyond what you can do. If you can’t handle a blog and a podcast, just do one or the other. If having an Instagram and a Twitter is too intimidating, again, pick one. The problem that many businesses (especially self-starters) have is their need to over commit. Though this will expand your exposure, once the quality of your service begins to wane, this will only hurt your brand.

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Know your limits, and expand accordingly. If you feel you’ve hit your productive limit – stop there. It is at this point that you should seriously consider either monetizing to afford hired help or seeking out volunteers to assist you, so that you can transition forward smoothly. Remember, quality over quantity. It’s always better to have a pound of gold than hundred pounds of dirt.

Conclusion

With strategy, patience, a little bit of luck, and a lot of hard work any of us can grow our brand to its’ peak potential and watch it flourish. All that’s truly required of us, is the commitment to make it happen and see it through. In this business chisel beats hammer. Give it time, give it care, give it love – in return it will provide you with a level of satisfaction solely reserved for the ones who’ve earned it. See you in the winner’s circle.

Featured photo credit: duco_events via flickr.com

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Antwan Crump

Novelist, blogger, essayist, podcaster.

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

More Tips on Advancing Your Career

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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