5 proven ways to improve your personal brand

lolafola

What exactly is a personal brand? There is no official definition but it’s artful combination of your expertise, talents and skills as well as the platforms that you use to present these. Many people focus only on their personal brand when they’re looking for a job, but the work doesn’t stop there. As a young professional, you can continue to find new opportunities and establish yourself in the job market by keeping your personal brand updated, fresh and in front of the right people.

Whether you are in your first job after youth service or a brand new entrepreneur looking to establish credibility in the market, below are 5 things you can do today to build and sustain your personal brand.

1. Define your brand

lovefolaWhat do you want to be known for? Are there certain attributes that you want to be linked to? What is your area of expertise? What are you passionate about? Once you establish this, you will be able to clearly define your brand. Be specific.

Choosing a general subject matter like “lifestyle” will not make you stand out of the crowd. According to Inc. Magazine, with a niche focus, you’ll have more opportunities to prove you know what you’re talking about. While your potential audience might be slightly smaller, it will also be that much more relevant.

2. Social media presence

lovefola

Social media platforms are great tools for promoting your personal brand. Make sure that the content on your profiles is consistent across the board and aligns with your brand. Flesh out your LinkedIn profile. Contribute to conversations on Twitter. Delete or untag yourself from questionable pictures on Facebook. Post regular updates about issues you care about on all three. Be careful about the images and videos you upload to Instagram. Remember that all the content you post online contributes to your personal brand.

3. Write

lovefola

Take advantage of writing opportunities. This allows you to not only share your knowledge but also establish yourself as an expert in your field. You can start by guest blogging for blogs that you admire. If you want to write more frequently, you can start your own blog or create a personal website. An added advantage of having your own website is that it increases the rank for your name on search engines. You can also reach out to newspapers and magazines, and write opinion articles to be published in them.

4. Network

lovefolaNetworking is important in building and growing your personal brand. Engage with other people in your industry both online and offline. Participate in online professional discussions and forums. Attend networking events and be ready to make connections with, share and learn from the people you meet. According to Forbes, your personal brand is strengthened or weakened by your connection to other brands. Find and leverage strong brands that can elevate your own personal brand.

5. Speaking engagements

lovefolaSpeaking at different events gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and meet new people. It also builds a rapport and trust with your audience. This will allow you to not only communicate effectively with them but also to grow your network. Interacting with people this way differentiates you from your competition and increases your credibility.

Cultivating your personal brand is not an overnight task. Like everything else, it takes patience, perseverance, proactivity and a lot of time. Don’t just limit your personal branding to online tools like LinkedIn and your website. Get out into the world and find opportunities to keep growing and connecting via media interviews, networking events and conferences.

Happy branding!

Images of and from Folashade Adeoso. Follow her here and here.

All the reasons no one is responding to your emails

Email

Even for tech-savvy millennials, emails can be tricky, especially in the workplace. Every once in while, when you send an email, you might not get a response. It could just be that the recipient hasn’t seen it yet, or perhaps started replying and then got distracted (this happens with texts all the time, no??).

But it could also be more than that. Here are a few things to consider when you don’t get a reply from your boss or colleague.

1. Wrong Recipient

This doesn’t refer to an instance in which you meant to email Tayo and ended up emailing Taiwo because they have similar email addresses (though that very well may be the case). Rather, this is when you email Taiwo about an issue that Tayo should be handling or is more suited to respond to.

Always make sure your email is going to the appropriate recipient. There’s no need to email the CFO of your company about something the Finance Manager can handle.

2. Unclear Content

Maybe you went into too much detail, maybe you didn’t go into enough detail. Either of these can lead the email being confusing for recipient and may lead to you not getting a response. With most emails, brevity is key. But every once in a while, you’ll need to send an email with lengthy project descriptions or detailed instructions.

Make sure to read over emails to ensure that they’re coherent. Proofreading may seem like a chore but with short emails, it won’t take you more than a minute. With longer ones, it’s important that there isn’t any miscommunication.

3. Poor Timing

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 2.35.03 PM

Sometimes a co-worker may not respond to your email because of the timing. Perhaps you sent them some information too late, or perhaps it’s a question that can be answered in a meeting later that week.

Either way, make sure to consider the timing of the email if you find yourself wondering why you haven’t gotten a response.

4. You were rude

Hear us out! You may have not intended to be disrespectful, but we all know how emails can be misconstrued. This depends largely on the recipient and his/her perspective, so to be safe, it’s best to use language that is either pleasant or at least neutral and innocuous.

If however, you intended to express displeasure or be combative, don’t be surprised when you don’t hear back, as some people would rather not engage in heated email exchanges.

5. A response isn’t required

Some emails just don’t need a response. If you send your boss some information she asked for, she may respond or she may not and will discuss it with you at a later time.

Other times, if you’re sending a thank you email or an email about something that is not pertinent, it’s possible you won’t hear back. In most cases, it’s nothing personal, so there’s no need to worry.

All in all, remember that proof-reading and clarity are very important when emailing at work, along with being polite. Emails rarely get lost, so if you don’t hear back, consider one of the five instances above. Then call to make sure the recipient has seen the email or send another email following up.

3 business lessons I learned from Beyonce’s Super Bowl Weekend

Beyonce formation

Ok, so Beyonce happened this weekend and apparently so did the Super Bowl! I don’t know who has fully recovered from it because none of my social media feeds have. That’s the Beyonce effect. I mean she has me wanting to eat at Red Lobster and I live in South Africa??!! Do they deliver?

Apart from the epic dance moves that I need to start practising, I think there is something we can learn as business-minded women from the event!

1. Let’s get information

Education and self development are important for us as women, especially in these days where almost every company/ institution/ government wants to be seen to be progressive by empowering the women in their societies. There are so many free learning opportunities that exist we have to look around us and take advantage of them- especially in tech and business management.If you can’t find free, look for cheap, but credible courses. We can find Chanel on the low low so lets channel that to finding Harvard learning on a budget. MIT has free online course materials; you won’t get a degree but it does boost your confidence.

Beyonce did an interview looking back at her 2013 halftime show and she said “part of the reason I rehearse so much and part of the reason I study everything is so that I can completely let go and relax, so I am not in my head and I am confident.”

Be like Beyonce and study as much as you can so when opportunities arise, you are confident to put your hand up in that meeting! You should lean all the way in!

2. Let’s see that coordination

How dope were the black panther women in their fros and leather ensembles? Wouldn’t you love to have seen Beyonce in an afro? I have read some interesting articles for and against Beyonce’s support of the black panthers.

I won’t get into the political debate, but I think we need to look at collaboration and coordination within the black community. It’s an open secret that black women have challenges working together. I have heard this story endlessly and have been a victim of black on black discrimination.

On 31 January 2016, thousands of black girls gathered in Johannesburg in a celebration of ‘militancy, magic and melanin’. I think the mobilization was great, the atmosphere electric – but my only criticism is there was no formation around a common goal. For example, we have to support black owned businesses or actively connect college black girls to career black women so as to help us survive the jedi mind tricks of corporate culture. Prime example, Beyonce gave a shout out to Red Lobster and their year to date sales went up by 33%??!! 

Beyonce said, “prove to me you got some coordination.” This reminds of a picture posted by Ava Durvenay of 3 little girls with their afros holding hands. The caption of that picture read, “if there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”  I think this challenge of working with other black girls comes from the ‘just enough’ mentality we were raised with. In our homes, there were just enough resources and we’ve transferred this mentality to our work. We think there is just enough ‘shine’, that the “enemy” is onto us, so they reserve only 1 spot for us at the 18 seater table, and we all clamour for it.

We don’t have to play by those rules anymore, especially if we play together! Come on, lets twirl on the haters together, it’s better for optics!

3. Slay…consistently

I think this is pretty self explanatory. Beyonce is a lot of things, but consistency is probably number 2 on the infinite list. She was on hiatus for almost a year, but when she hit that stage, it was like she never left. Be known for your craft and excellence: ” You just might be a black Bill Gates in the making!”.

Beyonce sparked something. We have to keep the flame burning so we can afford tickets to her Formation World Tour.

Side note to Beyonce: Africa is a part of the world, so don’t be planning world tours and excluding us! We are not represented by our colonisers in France and Britain. You need to come by and see us!

That said, I think black girls in Africa should start a petition for Beyonce to bring her tour to Johannesburg. Ok, now ladies lets get in formation!

[Quiz] How much of a pushover are you at work?

see your life meme

There are levels to this being a pushover thing. Perhaps you are not ripe banana soft but are you rock solid?

Are you doing all of the work in the office? Feel the need to respond to every demand you client makes? Are you speaking up only in 1-on-1s?

Saying, ‘yes, ma’ to everything.

Take our quiz to find out.

10 Instagram accounts that breathe life into your career

You’re a hard-worker with a vision to bring into fruition. From the moment you wake up to the last seconds before you sleep, you spend your days calculating how to navigate your way to success.

Splendid.

So you plot, put plans into action, finesse execution, and network, all the while finding ways to maintain productive relationships and a healthy personal life. Managing that balance is extremely tough, especially when stress begins to limit your positivity. We know, trust us.  

Luckily, we’ve found ways to use the omnipresent social media to your advantage during your leisure time. Here are 10 Instagram accounts that never-fail to serve up amazing career advice, professional tools and inspiration to make your vision clearer and your travel worth the journey.

 

@Womeneur

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 4.30.08 PM

Are you a new business owner? Looking to start your own business? Womenuer is a new online publication with a marvelous Instagram account that seeks to connect, enlighten and empower business-minded women looking to excel.

Though, based in the greater NYC area of US, Womeneur speaks to the universal business code of professional success. Riddled with practical quotes and honest accounts of business decisions, Womeneur is definitely a great account to follow.

 

@BusinessRulesForWomen

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 4.56.43 PM

BusinessRulesforWomen is an interactive account that gets its followers to spill their rules and discoveries for being a successful business woman.

From great career based questions, providing a weekly Monday checklist, to posting innovative quotes, BusinessRulesforWomen allows business-minded women to keep her mind active as she scrolls.

 

@ForbesWomanAfrica

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 4.48.07 PM

Busy is as busy does. Seeing different types of successful African women and reading their words of wisdom is a  journey worth following. ForbesWoman Africa allows followers visual access to a community of professional sisters that you may not have immediate access to.

You’ll learn about their stories, read quotes and hear about future endeavours that you might want to be a part of. Also you get to witness active black sisters like yourself, rocking the world, professionally. 

 

@ForbesAfrica

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 4.47.33 PM

If you follow ForbesWomanAfrica, don’t skip a beat, and follow ForbesAfrica, as it is also a leading business publication in Africa. Learn about different entrepreneurs in Africa who are gaining public attention as powerful influencers.

 

@MyFabFinance

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 4.45.10 PM

The way you spend money, whether personally and/or in your business, speaks of your habits, motives and your ability to use money as a powerful tool for success. Tonya Rapley founded MyFabFinance to encourage millennial  women to become financially powerful and in-control of their finances by strategizing with their flow of income.

Tonya is a financial educator and Black Enterprises’ new face of Wealth Building. She keeps it real to groom success in all of her followers.

 

@FoundrMagazine

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 4.47.49 PM

Home to entrepreneurs seeking to sustain their ambition, FoundrMagazine keeps the business mind alive. This Instagram account is decorated with proactive messages meant to diminish any doubt about your sense of worth.

 

@LevoLeague

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 5.00.06 PM

LevoLeague promotes healthy thinking through its fresh minimal design. Levo League exists to help followers navigate their careers towards success. The League even offers book recommendations.

@LinkedIn

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 4.47.16 PM

We all know LinkedIn as a stellar platform for connecting professionally. It has also entered the world of Instagram, adding a new air of professionalism as it initiates critical progressive thinking and promotes better habits.

 

@CareerContessa

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 4.43.43 PM

CareerContessa is a nurturing space that provides words of encouragement, great reads, and access to sources that will provide clarity when discovering career directions.

@Entrepreneur

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 4.31.23 PM

Read quotes from successful entrepreneurs  and professionals from all walks of life. Read about their current endeavors and the advice they choose to share with others through Entrepreneur.

 

And one bonus

She Leads Africa …serving career and entrepreneurship inspiration for women of and in the African diaspora through vibrant images of black women and poignant quotes.

Why 20 somethings ought to experiment

millineal

If you’re in your twenties, you’ve been deemed a “millennial”, and likely to be underemployed, over-educated, entitled, not-so-recent college grad possibly living (or soon to be) with your parents.

Whether or not you subscribe to the mainstream definition of a “millennial”, the one defining attribute virtually all twenty-somethings have is that we’re constantly seeking to transform the world around us because we’ve been thrust into an unpredictable, and sometimes unforgiving, economic environment.

From a cultural perspective, millennials crave spontaneity and thrive off adventure. We love to connect and are incredibly collaborative. We seek authenticity in all forms, aiming for a world more compassionate, innovative, and sustainable. As such, we invest deeply in our personal and intellectual development.

Any college grad knows they’ll be scavenging for jobs and internships at one of the bleakest times in economic history. So, the question is how how do you navigate this treacherous, foreign landscape known as the job market.

Well, I’ve got the solution for you.

Recently, numerous developmental programs are popping up to bridge the gap between what millennials have to offer and what top companies desire from prospective new employees. Say hello to your new best friend, Experiential Learning. Experiential learning enables young millennials to acquire marketable knowledge from direct, hands-on experiences outside of the typical academic structure.

It can manifest itself in many ways: internships, mentorships, service learning, scholarly research, job shadowing, international excursions, and other creative, professional work experiences. A well-established, supportive experiential learning program can enrich academic inquiry through promoting career discovery, sociocultural awareness, interdisciplinary learning, leadership, and other professional skills. HINT: these skills are currently hot commodities in the job hunt and can get you that much closer to that dream job.

A few tips on how to optimize these experimental programs:

Tip #1 To know yourself is to know all else

It’s imperative to possess a level of introspection with every cause or initiative you tackle. Be thoughtful, be passionate when reflecting on personal or professional experiences that have shaped your  life. Translate these experiences into key reasons why you’re committing to a developmental experience program.

Introspection isn’t just about positive reinforcement, so don’t go easy on yourself. You also need to be your best and worst critic. Truly know yourself!  Know where you stand in life currently, know where you want to be in the future, and know what it will take to make it happen. Do not be a dreamer but a doer. Once you’ve got a handle on who you are as an individual, you’ll simultaneously realize what your life’s mission is.

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 11.25.38 AM

Tip #2 – Stay Classy. Stay Polished. Stay on top (of the resume pile)

Now that you “know yourself”,  put it all on paper. Here’s a quick note on drafting applications for experimental programs or direct jobs/internships because no one likes a bland application. Even a standard, lukewarm application will get you axed from further consideration. Remember, hiring committees are looking to select a group of talented, qualified individuals. So, your application should stand out in a loud crowd.

Most top companies boast offer rates between 1-15% these days. Yep, it really is that hard! Hiring committees initially try to “clear the applicant pool”, meaning they try to find quick easy ways to reject applicants. Avoid being thrown into the reject pile by following standard application instructions for these positions. It may seem simple, but things like numerous grammatical errors, lack of company knowledge, or lack of drive and interest are magnified in an application. Don’t be “that” person.

A good resume will highlight brief education, work experience, leadership, and any skills or interests if you have them. Normally, it won’t go over one-page. A great resume won’t just have all these elements, but will also quantify them. How do you quantify? You speak to your accomplishments and challenges by providing measurable results. So, quantify, quantify, quantify!

Tip #3 – Don’t do all the talking. Have others do it for you!

The best evidence of your work ethic and character won’t come from you. Let’s face it, if it did, we’d all give ourselves amazing recommendations. What will be most compelling will be the commentary coming from those who know you on a personal and professional level. Do you have advisors, former supervisors, professors, or connected friends? If not, you probably want to get on that ASAP!

These people will account for a significant amount of the knowledge and guidance you gain along your career journey. Additionally, experiential learning programs, jobs, internships, and graduate schools will require that you have two to three reference from these types of individuals. Having a tight circle of knowledgeable mentor figures can further your own narrative in your application.

Armed with these tips, it is important to note that there are organizations and institutions there to help you along the way. These accelerators’ mission is to help you lift off; use them.

These 16 programs are helpful for everyone, especially for racial and social economically diverse students.

Pre-MBA programs

1. Harvard Business School Summer Venture in Management Program

http://www.hbs.edu/svmp/Pages/default.aspx

2. Yale School of Management, Global Pre-MBA Leadership Program

http://som.yale.edu/programs/global-pre-mba

3. Dartmouth Tuck Business Bridge Program

http://bridge.tuck.dartmouth.edu/

4. Stanford Graduate School of Business, Summer Institute of General Management

https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/programs/summer-institute-general-management

Career development – Business

5. KORU

www.joinkoru.com

6. Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT)

www.ml4t.org

7. Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), Internship Placement in Finance industry

http://www.seocareer.org/

Career Development – Media and Entertainment

8. Howard Foundation

www.t-howard.org

9. Emma Bowen Foundation

www.emmabowenfoundation.com

Career development – Technology

10. Code.org

https://code.org/

11. CODE 2040

http://www.code2040.org/

12. Black Girls Can Code

http://www.blackgirlscode.com/

Career development – Government and Public Service

13. The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

http://www.cbcfinc.org/

14. The Charles B. Rangel International affairs Program

http://www.rangelprogram.org/?contentid=0

15. Public Policy and International Affairs Program (PPIA),

http://www.ppiaprogram.org/ppia/

16. She Leads Africa (SLA), SheHive and SLA Courses

https://www.sheleadsafrica.org

There you have it! Now, you’re officially prepared to take ownership of your own career, at least in your 20s.

5 ways to upgrade your LinkedIn profile

Improve your LinkedIn profile in just one

Your LinkedIn profile is your introduction to the professional world. It is just as important as your resume/CV. However, the two are different. If your LinkedIn profile is an exact copy of your resume/CV then you are doing it wrong.

LinkedIn provides users with a platform where then can include more aspects in their profile than they can fit in a standard resume/CV. Use that to your advantage. Think of it as a marketing tool.

Remember that recruiters are now using LinkedIn to not only vet job applicants before an interview, but also to find and contact potential candidates.

Wondering how to upgrade your profile? Here are 5 ways you can do it:

1. Get a great headshot

Yes, it is necessary! No one wants to click on a profile without a picture. You want your profile to get the attention it deserves so upload a photo. Not just any photo either. That means no selfies, group photos or pictures of you turning up.

Put up a high-resolution picture of yourself without anything distracting in the background. Dress appropriately and smile. You want the picture to exude confidence and happiness.

Read more here: 3 Ways To Transform Your LinkedIn Profile From Crappy to Fabulous

2. Add a creative headline

The headline is one of the first things that people looking at your profile will see. It should grab their attention and compel them to read on. Think about your next career step.

Where do you see yourself? What kind of opportunities do you want to explore? Use this to inform how you craft your headline. Incorporate keywords and structure it in a way that it shows exactly who you want to be.

 Think of your LinkedIn headline as a condensed mission statement. 

3. Write a concise summary

A well-written summary will help recruiters and potential partners find you. Make it personal. Share your passion about the industry you are in or are looking to transition to.

What is your background? What have you achieved so far? What are your career goals? Use keywords and weave your responses into a career story that will give recruiters insight into who you are, and make them want to meet you.

Read more here: Three Steps To Writing The Perfect LinkedIn Summary

4. Add media

LinkedIn allows users to incorporate media to their experience section. It’s a great way for people to get a sense of what you have done.

Have a presentation, video, photo or document that you worked on? Upload it. Is your work online? Link to it. Add media that you are proud of and that showcases the range of your abilities.

Take advantage of the media add-ons on LinkedIn to SHOW people exactly what you are capable of.

5. Skills and endorsements

Be strategic about the skills that you list. Limit them to the ones you are most confident in and that you want to be known for.

Endorse your colleagues’ skills. Chances are they will do the same for you. Endorsements show that you have the skills and expertise that you say do.

Have you tried any of these tips? Were they helpful? Any others I didn’t mention? Go ahead and share them with me below.