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Personal Branding

There’s more to you in-person than on-paper. While the action verbs and adjectives peppered across your resume and cover letter are definitely your friends, they can only take you so far. What they can’t do is serve as a substitute for an infectious laugh or a big, bright smile. They also don’t capture the passion you have for [insert industry here] or describe how hard you worked to achieve [insert result here]. You tell me, what’s more memorable? Reading about some of your accomplishments or listening to you describe them, showing off your passion for the subject matter at hand? So how come so many people are apprehensive when it comes to “making the first move” and setting up networking meetings? In talking with countless students and young professionals, there's a genuine fear to do so – which I feel stems from a fear of rejection, the dreaded “what if they say no?” The truth is, some will ignore you... no point in sugar-coating that. But, others won't. And it's those others that you really want to capitalize on. Look at it this way: asking a potential employer or professional in the industry you’re exploring to meet over coffee helps humanize you and your candidacy/brand. And the value of building relationships before you ever craft a cover letter or polish your resume can’t be overstated. If you wait until your dream job is posted to reach out, you’re nothing more than a small fish in a vast ocean of candidates. Consider these other benefits that asserting yourself and setting up informal conversations can bring about:

$4.2 billion in gambling. 30-second TV ads worth $5 million apiece. Over a billion chicken wings. Super Bowl 50 is nearly upon us…and clearly, nobody does it bigger than the NFL. While residents of the Carolinas and Denver are hyped up for their teams to lock horns in San Fran for football’s ultimate prize, I’m still feeling deflated over the Patriots loss a few weeks back (yes, pun intended). But despite not having a horse in this weekend’s race, there’s a part of me still looking forward to Sunday for a few reasons. Given its status as one of sports and entertainment’s largest social and cultural institutions, there’s a ton of slick production value that goes into promoting the Super Bowl and the teams involved. I’ve always loved getting to know specific players and coaches through the various interviews and featurettes that are published and created in the weeks leading up to the game itself. Super Bowl This year is no different and I’ve got the Carolina Panthers to thank for that. The combination of Cam Newton as MVP-to-Be Quarterback, Thomas Davis as unbreakable Linebacker and Ron Rivera as Head Coach has produced an almost perfect run to Super Bowl 50. An embrace of disparate personalities, a refusal to submit to doubt, a rock-solid culture and a vision – not a dream – have all propelled the Panthers to the biggest game of their lives. And along the way, I think they’ve truly inspired the fan base, their counterparts in the NFL and everyone else paying close enough attention. Here are a few of the lessons in leadership that Cam and company have taught me this season:

Wait, today's date is WHAT?!

No joke: February is right around the corner, and just like that, we're a month closer to 2017.

Time really does fly.

But hopefully you've spent the first 27 days of the New Year wisely, eliminating nasty habits from 2015 and getting after your professional and personal goals.

Truth be told, I don't normally struggle when implementing new tasks into my routine (just don't consult my waistline!)

For me, the hardest part has always been building and maintaining momentum.

It's one thing to introduce changes – but finding ways to make them stick is a whole other animal.

Come to think of it, it's no different with your brand.

How many times have you said “This is the year we blog!” or “I'm going to cut our marketing costs by doing XYZ!”

And in many cases, I'm sure you followed through.

But for a day... maybe a week?

Becoming a reputable brand that consumers want to do business with takes a measured, consistent and honest approach.

And it normally doesn't happen overnight either!

Here are 3 keys that will help you implement habits that produce results and ensure you maintain momentum:

I know that making New Year’s resolutions isn’t for everybody. And I have to admit, I’m on the fence as to whether or not it’s an effective practice, and that’s mainly based on let-downs from my past when the sobering realities of life crushed my unrealistic goals or strategies. But you’re lying to yourself if you think you don’t have anything to improve on in 2016. Nobody’s perfect, right? Some of us recognize this latter, much more logical notion but take it to the extreme, trying to improve in too many areas of our lives all at once, resulting in disappointment or failure. The key really, is to strike a balance between the constant desire for more and feeling satisfied with your efforts and results… but it’s actually quite difficult to accomplish. This is why I’m suggesting you make shaping your reputation – as a brand, person or professional – your primary resolution for 2016. This year, it’s time to focus on an area of your life you really can control: and by definition, your reputation is exactly that.

Apps have become modern day lifelines. Consider this: in 2014, the way we do business changed forever when Internet usage on mobile exceeded desktop usage for the first time ever, with accessing content and information leading the way for reasons why. With mobility empowering the workforce more than ever before, offering your customers (and employees!) a great experience with your brand on their smartphones is non-negotiable. As somebody who spends a good hour or two on LinkedIn each day, my hopes were high when I first heard about ‘Voyager,’ in a presentation from CEO Jeff Weiner during Talent Connect Anaheim 2015. Aptly named after the 1972 NASA mission that sent a man-made spacecraft further than any other in history, the revamped app represents a dramatic overhaul from both functionality and design standpoints. Things just work better and look slicker. This idea of helping LinkedIn “[go] further than [they’ve] ever gone before” definitely intrigued me. Up to this point, I always felt as if I was on a weaker version of the desktop when I browsed LinkedIn on my smartphone. In fact, over time, I would rather wait to hop on my MacBook after-hours instead of using the app during my lunch. That’s the opposite of what you want your customers or members doing in 2015. Nonetheless, after spending a few days using ‘Voyager,’ I am happily immersed and excited to see how this new mobile experience impacts my efforts on LinkedIn. A quick watch of 'The Making of the new LinkedIn app Project Voyager' should give you a sense as to how much energy and how many hours were spent in development. Here’s why I feel this launch is a huge move for LinkedIn as we head towards 2016: