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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 April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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