How Much Does Klout Score Matter? | WebProNews

How Much Does Klout Score Matter?

How Much Does Klout Score Matter?

“While you may abhor the idea of a company like Klout judging or grading you on a daily basis, it’s already happening and companies are paying attention, so we shouldn’t just ignore this trend.”

That’s a quote from the book The Tao Of Twitter, by Mark Schaefer. It comes from a chapter about influence on Twitter, something that many businesses and individuals continue to strive for. Sure, there are no doubt plenty of influential people who could care less about their Klout scores, and certainly plenty that feel they are above this kind of judgement, as Schaefer says, but you have to admit, he has a point.

How much does Klout score matter? How much is it being paid attention to by others? We reached out to Schaefer for more thoughts on the subject. After all, he did also write a book about Klout score.

“I think the most succinct answer is that if you cut through the emotion of being publicly ranked, Klout’s PR missteps, and the silliness of being an influencer on a topic like lamps or teddy bears, then yes – they are on to something,” he tells us.

“A Klout score simply shows whether you are somebody who can move content over social media channels that creates reactions,” he adds. “And if you think of how many jobs depend on that ability these days, this can be a very useful number to consider. I hear of more and more companies using Klout scores as a topic in job interviews. Controversial, but it’s happening.”

Indeed, there have been quite a few articles to come out this year about this. Consider this one from Wired, which begins:

Last spring Sam Fiorella was recruited for a VP position at a large Toronto marketing agency. With 15 years of experience consulting for major brands like AOL, Ford, and Kraft, Fiorella felt confident in his qualifications. But midway through the interview, he was caught off guard when his interviewer asked him for his Klout score. Fiorella hesitated awkwardly before confessing that he had no idea what a Klout score was.

The interviewer pulled up the web page for Klout.com—a service that purports to measure users’ online influence on a scale from 1 to 100—and angled the monitor so that Fiorella could see the humbling result for himself: His score was 34. “He cut the interview short pretty soon after that,” Fiorella says. Later he learned that he’d been eliminated as a candidate specifically because his Klout score was too low. “They hired a guy whose score was 67.”

More recently, Forbes reported:

…Klout is on its way to becoming an integral part of the job search and recruiting process for many individuals and companies.

“We look at this as similar to an SAT,” says Klout spokeswoman Lynn Fox. “It is one of many factors that is considered when a person applies to a university. Likewise, the Klout Score can be used as one of many indicators of someone’s skill set.”

Here’s Klout CEO Joe Fernandez talking to TechCrunch about the trend in hiring managers taking Klout scores into account:

“On the other side of the aisle, companies like Nike, Disney and American Express are using these social scoring platforms like Klout and Appinions to connect to powerful word of mouth influencers,” Schaefer tells us. “When companies like that are involved, it kind of gets your attention. And of course Microsoft just invested in Klout as a partner. Yes, you need to pay attention to this.”

Yes, Microsoft just invested in Klout, and Klout has been integrated with Bing (which just came to Xbox in web search form, not to mention Windows 8).

Klout also recently started taking Facebook Pages into account, which could actually serve to make the score a more significant factor, given the fact that Facebook has 1.01 billion monthly active users.

How to Increase Your Klout Score | PCWorld

How to Improve Your Klout ScoreMaybe you’ve never heard of Klout, the San Francisco-based startup founded in 2009 that purports to measure how influential users are across social networks. But that doesn’t mean Klout hasn’t heard of you: If you have a Twitter account, you have a Klout score.

According to Wired, marketing consultant Sam Fiorella was recently passed over for a job when, during his interview, he confessed that he had no idea what a Klout score was. He subsequently learned that his Klout score was 34–not too bad–but the guy who got the job had a Klout score of 67.

Klout assigns people a score of between 1 and 100–with 1 being someone who’s never seen social media, and 100 being Justin Bieber. The average person has a score of 20; anything higher means that you’re at least moderately influential in your area of expertise. Everyone with an active Twitter account has a Klout score, though they can opt out of the system if they wish.

Your next job interview may not include a question about your Klout score, but I wouldn’t recommend ignoring it entirely. According to Matt Thomson, Klout’s VP of platform, having a higher Klout score may soon enable you to nab earlier plane boarding times, free access to airport lounges, hotel upgrades, and discounts from retail stores. Gilt Groupe recently offered discounts based on Klout score–from 20 percent for users with scores of 20 or lower, to 100 percent for users with scores of 81 or higher.

What Is Klout?

Klout attempts to measure your online clout–that is, your ability to influence people on the Internet. Using data aggregated from social networks, Klout determines how good you are at persuading other people to act.

“Klout defines influence as the ability to drive action,” says Lynn Fox, Klout’s head of communications. According to Fox, “we analyze a number of social media engagement variables to measure influence, including Twitter retweets and mentions, Facebook comments and likes, LinkedIn comments and likes, Foursquare tips and to-do’s, and Google+ comments and reshares.”

Klout’s website notes that a Klout score takes three major factors into account: True Reach (how many people you actually influence), Amplification (how much you influence those people), and Network (how influential your network is).

To increase your Klout score, you need to focus on these three things–increasing the number of people who respond to and share your content, ensuring that your tweets and status updates are easy for people to respond to and share, and strengthening your network by engaging with people who have high Klout scores.

How to Increase Your Klout Score

Though Klout does not share its reputation calculation algorithms with the public, figuring out how to increase your Klout score doesn’t require an advanced degree in Bieberology. Here are ten unofficial tips on how to become a social media maven and a VIP at venues responsive to that sort of status.

1. Go Public

Everyone who has a semi-active Twitter account automatically has a Klout score. If your Twitter account is private, though, your score will hover around 10–no matter how actively you post to it. That’s because Klout, as a third-party application, can aggregate only public data or private data that you explicitly grant it permission to access.

If you currently keep your Twitter account private, a surefire way to increase your Klout score is to log in to Klout, allow Klout to access your private data, and make your Twitter account public. Having a public account increases the chance people who are not in your network will share and respond to your content, thereby increasing your score.

2. Link Your Social Networks

You may not be a Twitter superstar–I’m certainly not. But even if Twitter isn’t your thing, you can cobble together a respectable Klout score. You can link up to 13 social networking accounts to Klout, including Blogger, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, Last.fm, LinkedIn, WordPress, and YouTube. Klout plans to add at least seven more social networks, including Yelp and Posterous, to its roster.

Link your social networks to your Klout account, and watch your score steadily climb.

Klout says that connecting networks can only help your score, and it recognizes how “nearly impossible [it is] for any person to be consistently effective across every network.” That said, you should link only to accounts that you keep up with, according to social media expert (and founder of new media agency Plastick Media) Tori Kyes. You should also make your linked accounts public.

3. Build Relationships

Your True Reach is a measure of people who not only follow you and friend you, but who actually engage with the content you produce. Having 3 million Twitter followers won’t mean much if they follow you but otherwise ignore you.

To increase your True Reach, you must build online relationships with people. The easiest way to do that is by talking to them–responding to their content, asking them questions, or commenting on their profiles. This will put you on their radar, and in the future they’ll be more likely to respond to your content.

Klout says that it never punishes users for interacting with people who have lower Klout scores, so you should try to talk to everyone when you have the chance.

4. Pay Special Attention to Influencers

Since Klout rewards you for engaging with people who have higher Klout scores, it’s worth your while to identify “Influencers”–people who have high Klout scores in your field of expertise–and try to engage with them without looking like a suck-up or a social climber.

“Don’t just retweet them; that means nothing,” says Rachel Hutman, an account executive at Clearpoint Agency. “Respond to what they are saying. Ask them additional questions. Be enlightening, funny to get their attention. The more followers someone has, if they then talk about you, your Klout score will undoubtedly go up.”

Klout uses mysterious algorithms to compute who your top influences are.

You can also engage with Influencers who are not in your field of expertise, but you’re more likely to receive a retweet or a comment if they have a reason to talk to you. As a tech writer I’m more likely to get a comment from another tech writer (say, about technology) than I am to get a comment from rapper 50 Cent. Though it would be awesome if I got a comment from 50 Cent, it makes more sense for me to solicit comments from other tech-focused people.

5. Ask Questions

The more questions you ask, the more answers you’ll get. People love to give their opinions–whether about the weather in Seattle, which Android phone to buy, or how insane traffic is during rush hour in New York City.

Tweeting something like, “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get a cab at rush hour in NYC?” will elicit more responses than, “Ugh. Trying to get a cab in NYC.” Likewise, asking people if the sun ever shines in Seattle during the summer will net more answers than just complaining about the weather.

One especially effective strategy is to ask people to share their own stories. People love to talk about themselves, especially on the Internet.

6. Know Your Audience

Once you get to know your audience, you’ll be able to share, comment on, and ask questions about topics that interest them; and in turn, they’ll be more likely to engage with you. If your audience is mostly teenagers, you probably shouldn’t tweet incessantly about politics and finance. If your audience is mostly Silicon Valley computer engineers, you probably shouldn’t bore them with makeup tips.

It’s also smart to find out where your audience is located. If you have a ton of followers from Japan, for example, you might want to send out tweets at times when they’ll be awake. If the vast majority of your followers are on the east coast, you can taper off the tweets at around 10 p.m. Pacific time.

7. Make Your Content Easy to Share

One of the quickest ways to raise your Klout score is to pile up Twitter retweets, Google+ reshares, and Facebook shares. The key is for people to see your content and think “I absolutely have to share that.”

Aside from making your content appealing, you’ll want to make it easy to share. You can do this in a few different ways: by using tagging to give others credit, by adding hashtags and keywords to make your content searchable, and by cleaning it up–avoiding swearing, keeping your entries simple, using proper English when possible, and so on. People want to be able to click and share; they don’t want to have to edit your tweets to make them searchable (or inoffensive).

8. Post at the Right Time

If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? And if a tweet goes out at 3 a.m., does it have any impact? The answer to both questions is maybe. But “maybe” isn’t good enough if you’re serious about increasing your Klout score.

If you constantly think intriguing thoughts and achieve fascinating insights in the middle of the night, consider using a third-party application such as HootSuite, Twuffer, or FutureTweets to defer the posting time of these updates to ensure that they hit the Web at peak traffic periods. You can also use services such as Timely, which analyzes your followers to determine when your tweets should go out, and publishes them accordingly.

9. Quality Over Quantity

According to Klout, “being active is different than being influential,” and your score depends far less on how much content you create than on how much engagement you generate. So while teenage girls may be superactive on Twitter and Facebook, they’re rarely very influential, even within their own network.

The best course is to maintain a steady flow of interesting, engaging content–not just content for content’s sake. If you update your Facebook page 3000 times a day, but people comment on it only 5 times a day, your Klout score will be lower than if you update your page 10 times a day with the same amount of comments.

10. Don’t Stress

Your Klout score isn’t everything, of course. Just because one person reportedly was passed over for a job because of his Klout score, that doesn’t mean that you should treat your Klout score as the ultimate objective measure of your social and professional worth.

For one thing, your Klout score doesn’t measure your offline influence and success, which helps explain why, until very recently, tech pundit Robert Scoble had a higher Klout score than President Barack Obama. (Justin Bieber has the highest Klout score, period, but he is arguably more influential than even the President.)

Though Klout’s ever-changing algorithm remains somewhat mysterious, you can (and should) feel free to game it to your advantage, just like any other arbitrary scoring system. But don’t let such considerations cloud your judgment–and don’t lose any sleep worrying over your Klout ranking.

Sarah is a freelance technology writer and editor based in Silicon Valley, with a Klout score of 48. Follow Sarah on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

6 Unofficial Way to Increase Your Klout Score

6 Unofficial Ways to Increase Your Klout Score

Oh no… not another klout blog post!! YES! another one. Several months ago, I had my internship in Singapore and I didn’t really have much time to tweet, so I expected my klout score to decrease. It fell from 80+ to 72 within a month. (Little tweets and engagement in a month)

So I thought it would be fun to try out how I could get the score back up again, therefore I tried several methods from simply tweeting and sharing tweets to trying the other types of tweets. The results? Here are

6 UNOFFICIAL WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR KLOUT SCORE.

1. CREATE CONTENT WORTH SHARING

Easily said than done, what type of contents or tweets are worth sharing?

  • Niche tweets: Tweets regarding your niche. If you’re a social media consultant, you could share tweets on social media such as tips, how-to’s etc. Share something that people can benefit from your tweets.
  • Quotes from your niche: Quotes are great because people can easily relate to them. Two years ago, I shared tweets that get retweeted easily and one of them is quotes. The reason is because it is short and people can easily consume it compared to the links to a blog post.
  • Photos: A picture is worth thousand words, in this case, pictures get retweeted easily. Like quotes, it is easy to consume and the funnier the photo, the more it gets shared.

Example:

increase klout score

  • Share tips: Sharing tips is another great way to create contents that are content worthy. Be sure to keep that under 120 characters so people can retweet them with ease. One of my most retweeted tweets that has been retweet for more than a year is “retweet someone once, they will know you, retweet them a few times they will remember you”

2) START A DISCUSSION

Starting a discussion is tough, however when you have already built a community, you can start a discussion. One way you can increase your klout score is to have“feedbacks” from people or more “actions” taken upon your tweets. You can do so by posting tweets such as:

  • Questions regarding your niche: Ask questions or ask opinions and people will be more than happy to share their opinions with you. You can ask questions like, “What do you think the future of social media will look like?” or if you’re in another niche, try asking them questions regarding to your niche.
  • Wishes: Some twitter users say that you shouldn’t post tweets like “good morning” etc. I find that a bit ridiculous as it takes away the “human elements”. I don’t think there is any problem with posting such tweets. Usually every morning (In the US time), I’ll send out tweets like “Have a beautiful day/weekend” or “wishing you have a wonderful day ahead”. Tweets like these gets tons of feedback as people will thank you, and wish you have a wonderful day too.Join blog chats:
  • Blog chats are a great way to connect with new people and start a discussion. I find blog chats really active and good to start new and meaningful conversations with others. There are weekly blogs chats that you can join and participate in.

3) CONNECT OTHER NETWORKS

Recently klout allows you to connect other networks such as Facebook, Youtube, Foursquare and other networks. I recently connected my foursquare despite only having less than 100 friends there and It helped me to increase my klout score (only a point). Klout mentioned that adding new networks will not decrease your klout score, so you should try to connect it too. I’ve friends that were able to increase their klout score by 3 points by adding only one addition network.Start a small community

4) BUILD A SMALL COMMUNITY

This is a great way to increase your klout score. The reason is because when you have a small community of your own, you’ll be able to get retweets and drive conversations easily compare to just sharing RSS tweets which brings no value when you don’t have a community to read them.

5) ENGAGE WITH INFLUENCERS

The last method is to engage with influencer users in your niche. Jump into their converastion, tweet them, respond to their tweet but make sure that its something that they can respond back too.

Robert Lavigne (@RLavigne42) tested this on twitter and he manage to increase his klout score from 13 to 44 in two weeks.

6) USE BUFFER

Last week at iStrategy, I discussed how using Buffer will increase your klout score, in summary, buffer helps you to optimize your tweet to send out during high traffic hour, therefore giving you more exposure and increasing “actions” such as responds, clicks, etc.

The results? My klout went up from 72 to 83 in less than a month. What about you? Have you tried other stuff that has helped you increase your score?

Oh… I’m not trying to teach you how to game klout. Share your thoughts below.

This blog post is an updated and republished a blog post i wrote at iStrategy blog

Does Your Klout Score Determine Your Value? | Social Media Examiner

Does Your Klout Score Determine Your Value?

By Patricia Redsicker
Published August 16, 2012

social media book reviewsWhat makes Adele a better singer than Rebecca Black?

Is it her magical vocals or her higher Klout score?

And if Seth Godin (Klout score: 0) chooses not to interact on Twitter, does that mean he’s less influential than Uncle Pete, whose Klout score is 35?

These are some of the tricky questions that are being asked since the emergence of new systems that attempt to measure people’s online influence through social scoring.”

But the question is this: How exactly is “influence” measured? And how do those who make such personal yet inflammatory verdicts decide the scores?

seth godin twitter

Twitter would look very different if Seth Godin were on it.

You Have Become a Number

If you have a social media account, your value as an influencer is already being calculated based on how often you tweet, connect, share and comment.

The measure of your “personal power” is your Klout score. The higher your score, the more “powerful and influential” you are. A high Klout score (say 70 and up) will almost guarantee your chances of getting a better job, higher social status and maybe even better luck on the dating scene!

tom webster twitter

Influence determined by social scoring is the new way of online marketing.

Believe it or not, there are people who are taking this number very seriously. Some have even started to question the wisdom of going on long vacations after working so hard to build up their Klout scores.

In his book Return on Influence, Mark Schaefer explores these controversial new developments, discusses why they’re important for businesses and why you should be taking notes.

If you want to become more influential—or just want to figure out who the influencers are—here’s what you need to know about Mark’s latest book.

Author’s Purpose

mark schaefer pic

Mark Schaefer, author of Return on Influence.

Mark Schaefer wrote Return on Influence to help you understand how you measure up on the social web and what that score means to your career or your business.

“Why must I measure up?”, you ask. Because there appears to be a fascinating connection between unprecedented business opportunities and this new thing called personal influence.

For the first time ever, companies can now identify, quantify and even reward valuable word-of-mouth influencers who have the power to drive demand for their products.

While the idea of being rated by some obscure online system seems outrageous, the fact is you ARE being judged whether you like it or not! And so you need to educate yourself about this issue so you can make some important decisions of your own.

What to Expect

roi book coverAt 206 pages, Return on Influence (ROI) is a highly readable and provocative book. It introduces the notion of “personal power” on the social web, but it also cautions that influence is by definition elitist.

Through dozens of stories, interviews and case studies, Return on Influence will sway the way you think about your own power, how to leverage it, and of course, how you can increase it (if that’s what you want!).

Fair warning—If you’re lucky enough to have a high Klout score, you will LOVE this book! You’ll even pay closer attention to the care and nurturing of “your number.”

But if your score is low or mediocre (50 or less), then prepare to be thoroughly unnerved. In fact, you’ll probably be offended!

Highlights

#1: The Citizen Influencer

When Virgin America opened their Toronto route last spring, they asked Klout to find a small group of influencers to receive a free flight in the hopes that they would effectively spread the word.

Calvin Lee, a graphic designer from L.A., was one of the lucky ones on that free flight simply because he was a prolific tweeter. Lee, who describes himself in his Twitter profile as a “social media ho,” is a human news service. When Lee tweets, people respond and his growing influence has won him celebrity-status perks.

Lee says, “I tweet at least 200 times a day… I look for interesting links from my friends and sift them through for good stuff… I think people feel that I’m a real person who is part of their lives.”

These days, you don’t have to be George Clooney or Lady Gaga to get an invitation to the exclusive world behind the velvet rope. Brands are turning to regular folks (like you!) to tell their stories. Instead of spending millions of dollars on television ads, they’re inviting thousands of people—citizen influencers—to talk about their products and influence their friends.

#2: Klout, Social Proof and Reciprocity

Social proof is the idea that if you have a high Klout score, thousands of followers or hundreds of retweets on your blog posts, then you’re worthy of people’s attention. But let’s talk this through, shall we?

There are those in the online world who appear to have power and influence, even without a shred of experience, intelligence or accomplishment.

Matt Ridings, founder of MSR Consulting, has a slightly lower Klout score than the mayor of his hometown of St. Louis. Both of them, however, have a lower Klout score than one @common_squirrel, a (spammy) Twitter account whose content consists only of posts such as “acorn,” “sniff” and “jump, jump, jump.”

spammy twitter account

Just about any online system can be gamed and Klout is no exception.

While he (Matt) engages on a one-to-one basis with his followers and tries to deliver useful content, the other account doesn’t engage, network or do anything for anyone—it simply doesn’t care.

So the question is, how did Klout assign this spammy account a higher measure of influence than an authentic person?

Mark concludes this section by reminding us that true and lasting influence is not the ever-changing badge of scores; rather, it’s about humanity, credibility, meaningful content and an engaged group of followers.

Reciprocity too is another thorny issue.

That’s because much influence on the social web is built on a promised return of favors; for instance, “You retweet this and I’ll retweet yours” or “I’ll like your page if you like mine.”

The trouble with reciprocity, as we know, is that it’s not always clear if you’re leveraging your relationships or just using people. Doing favors so that people owe you favors should never be the motivation behind developing relationships. But who knows what someone’s true intentions really are?

#3: Increasing Your Klout Score

Increasing your own Klout score boils down to three practical steps:

1. Build a relevant network that includes a content strategy and a network strategy.

Provide content that delivers some kind of personal or business benefit to a targeted audience that is interested in you and what you’re doing.

Have more people following you than you follow on Twitter. However, the size of your network isn’t as important as having those people react to your content.

Don’t just accumulate followers or only send links. Followers who never interact with you will not help your score. Neither will sending out links 100% of the time because it says that YOU can’t be influenced into acting.

2. Have a strategy to provide exceedingly useful, helpful, interesting and entertaining content.

You can either curate content or generate original content. However, creating original content from your own blog is a key element for success with Klout.

Create the kind of content that will survive longer and be passed along for several days—this really rocks your Klout amplification.

Finally you must be consistent. This is one of the most controversial policies of Klout, but if you stop participating in the social web for even a few days, your score begins to drop!

3. Systematically engage influencers who are most willing to distribute your content.

Klout has made it clear that engaging with people with higher scores will tend to increase your own score as well.

If you’re able to engage with influencers and they in turn respond to you, this is a validation of your potential power.

Try to connect with your offline friends and turn online connections into offline friends. In both cases, these people will be more willing to engage with you and share your content along.

When networking offline, make sure people know how to find your online platforms so that they can engage with you there as well.

klout score

Engaging with people with high Klout scores increases your own score.

Personal Impression

Mark’s latest book has definitely earned itself a space on your shelf. It’s highly significant, extremely relevant and you’d be ill-advised not to read it. But the subject matter is not pretty—quite the opposite, frankly.

Consider the evidence:

  • A system that cold-heartedly defines “the valuable” and “the irrelevant” members of our online society
  • The same system proceeds to encourage you to hob-nob with the former and toss aside the latter
  • This system can deem you influential and powerful, even without a shred of experience, intelligence or education
  • That one can devote so much time, effort and even brain cells just to increase a silly number that has no bearing on the quality of real life is remarkable
  • And when you consider that Klout is still in its infancy, you wonder how anyone can take such a flawed system so seriously

But to Klout-less rebels such as myself, Mark would argue that it has some value: Companies can now (cost-effectively) identify the people they should be interacting with, Klout helps to monitor and filter engagement and it opens up new marketing channels.

Mark presents a fair and balanced perspective on this hot button issue and he doesn’t sugar-coat the problems with Klout either. He is not saying that Klout is good or bad—just that “it is what it is” and that people are taking note of it.

In the end it’s your call, but Mark wants you to answer this question for yourself: What is true and lasting influence? After all, Seth Godin had clout even before Klout was Klout.

Social Media Examiner gives this brilliant and extraordinary book a full 5-star rating.

Over to You

What do you think? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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Tags: book review, content strategy, engagement, influence, influencer, klout, klout score, mark schaefer, network strategy, networking, online connections, patricia redsicker, return on influence, social proof

7 Personal Branding Trends for Job Search in 2012 – CareerEnlightenment.com

1. Headshots Everywhere

I’ve been in the business of helping people build their brands for a decade and each year, I publish my personal branding trends for job seekers. Take a look at this year’s trends and decide which will help give you an edge and attract the attention of recruiters and hiring managers.

Do you have a professional headshot?

People want to connect a face with a name. We have come to expect a photo alongside a blog post, Facebook profile and online article. People are less likely to click on a photo-less LinkedIn profile; and they’re less inclined to believe Web-based content if the picture of the person who contributed it is missing. Yet many people are still reluctant to post their photo to the Web. Some fear age discrimination in hiring; others just aren’t happy with the photos they have. Since it’s becoming common for hiring managers and recruiters to use Google and social networks to find candidates, your first impression could be your LinkedIn profile or other online content.

What does this mean for you?
Ensure those who are researching you get to connect a face with a name and credentials. Because there are so many places where your photo will appear — from your Google profile to your You Tube channel or about.me page — get a series of professional headshots and upload them to your social network profiles and Flickr or Picassa account. You don’t want someone doing a Google image search and seeing one photo replicated 30 times.

2. Crowdsourcing for Professionals

What do others say about you?

You’re only as good as the collective opinions of those who know you. Consultants have always understood the value of client feedback. Now, with the ease of requesting and providing recommendations, you too must be mindful of the power of external reviews. Virtually every new social network or app includes the opportunity to request and display reviews. LinkedIn calls them recommendations, BranchOut and BeKnown call them endorsements. Honestly.com calls them reviews. Regardless of what you call them, they’re extremely important to those who are making decisions about you. A Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey determined that 90% of consumers trust peer reviews. Although no research to my knowledge has been done about this topic as it relates to people, I predict we will quickly become accustomed to using crowdsourcing to make decisions about each other.

What does this mean for you?
If you are looking for a job, what others say about you will be critical to getting hired. Get out there and get testimonials, recommendations and endorsements and make them visible through various social media and your own Web site. Hiring managers will be dubious of those without any external recommendations.

3. Personal QR Codes

Do you have a QR code?

QR codes are taking off in all kinds of ways that weren’t originally anticipated. For example, according to brandchannel.com, it’s now possible to place extremely large QR codes on the tops of buildings that will be photographed by the satellites that feed Google Maps. The QR code will cause a logo of that company to appear when someone looks at their building’s images on Google. Putting a giant QR code on the top of your house may not be the best way to land a job. But you do have the opportunity to use QR codes to point those who are evaluating you to your Web sites, blogs and other relevant career marketing content. I have seen QR codes on the top of resumes, on business cards and on networking name-badges. Vizibility.com allows you to customize what people see when they click on your QR code – and change it often, so you can direct hiring managers to the perfect presentation of your capabilities.

What does this mean for you?
You have a great opportunity to direct recruiters to the content you want them to see. If one of your brand attributes is ‘innovative,’ think about how you can use QR codes to tell others what you want them to know about you. If you’re a more seasoned professional and want to demonstrate that you’re innovative and on top of the latest trends, using QR codes on your resume and business card is like digital Botox. It will demonstrate that you are connected to what’s happening.

4. Job Postings R.I.P.

Are you relying on job postings in your search?

Job postings are inefficient. Many unqualified candidates apply — especially in a down economy. The volume of resumes received can be unmanageable. As social networks make it easier to identify qualified potential hires, job postings will become obsolete. More and more, when hiring managers and recruiters have an open position, they’ll scour the Internet and reach out to their social networks to find the perfect candidate. When SHRM conducted research in 2011, they learned that 56% of HR managers use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to source candidates (it was 34% in 2010). The number one reason they’re using social media in this way is to recruit passive candidates (84%). The Facebook app, BeKnown, finds and recommends jobs for you based on your skills and experience (from your profile) — before you even do a search.

What does this mean for you?
It’s becoming more likely that your next job will come to you — if your virtual brand is visible and compelling. Ensure your social network profiles are engaging and up-to-date. And make sure you use all the appropriate keywords in everything you post online so you’ll be found by those who seek your expertise.

5. Professional, DIY Video

Are you using video to stand out?

Professional, DIY video. Those used to be two different options for getting video produced – professional or DIY. Now, you can have both. For example, Distance Record from videoBIO (disclosure: videoBIO is a partner of my company, Reach Personal Branding) allows you to record your own video in your home and send the video file to them for editing. In addition, you can have a producer on your computer screen directing you through the video. In the past, there were two things standing in the way of using video to build your brand: 1. Self-produced video looked amateurish and didn’t always create the best impression; and 2. Studio shoots produce professional video but they come at a cost and are time-consuming. These new, hybrid services will certainly increase the use of video as a way of building your brand.

What does this mean for you?
Video is a differentiator. It helps you stand out in a job search. It allows you to deliver a complete communication. Produce a video bio. First, write your branded bio (combining your credentials, experience and successes with your personality and passions). Then, create a script. Practice, don’t rehearse. Then work with an organization to get a high quality video produced. Upload your final video to YouTube, and other video sharing sites, and use the app in LinkedIn to embed your video bio in your LinkedIn profile.

6. Permanent Unemployment

Do you appear unemployed?

In a July 2011 study, CareerBuilder learned that employers prefer hiring people that already have jobs over those who have been laid off. If you’re unemployed, this must seem depressing. But it need not be. What it means is that instead of being unemployed, you need to remain active — even if you’re no longer at the company you were working for. Taking on a volunteer activity, putting your own shingle out or getting involved in a project you are passionate about are valuable ways of remaining a compelling candidate. If it looks like your full-time job is looking for work, you’ll be less attractive to recruiters and hiring managers.

What does this mean for you?
Don’t consider yourself unemployed. Be prepared to consult or volunteer if you find your name on the layoff list. In the future, you’ll probably move from being employed by companies to self-employment and back. Get in this mindset now to ensure you remain an attractive passive candidate. And be visible where hiring managers will find you. Use the right keywords in everything you post on the Web. Contribute thought-leadership content to job function or industry portals. Keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date and compelling (this is the number one site hiring managers check according to a SHRM study).

7. Personal Qwikis

How do you present your qualifications?

Qwiki delivers interactive, multimedia presentations of information you’re researching. It’s a 3-D way of representing information – making it more impactful and easier to digest. Think of it as a multimedia, customizable Wikipedia. This is part of a trend away from text-based content — to richer, more effective communications. In last year’s personal branding trends, I stressed the importance of combining video and images with text content to tell your brand story. Soon, with a series of Qwiki-like tools, you’ll be able to create a multimedia personal brand presentation. Instead of resumes or portfolios, you’ll be able to use a personal Qwiki to present your qualifications in a more attractive way. And you can direct people to this multimedia presentation via your personal QR code (see trend number 3 above).

What does this mean for you?
Multimedia is becoming even more important to you as you build your brand. Ensure you take every opportunity to create and obtain video and images related to your brand. When Qwikis become personal, you’ll be able to put together a compelling, customized presentation about your brand — accomplishments, thought leadership, passions, etc. The more content you have to work with, the better your presentation will be. Multimedia is a must!

Credited with turning the concept of personal branding into a global industry,William Arruda is the founder of Reach Personal Branding and author of “Career Distinction” and the upcoming book, “Ditch. Dare. Do!” You can learn more about him at www.personalbranding.tv.

Personal Brand Identity and Career Management « Above The Rim Executive Coaching

Personal Brand Identity and Career Management

In our current job market and economic climate, one of the most sought after yet difficult to attain aspects of our career is job security. With the average tenure at corporate positions, especially the more senior ones lasting an average of two and a half to three years, where can we get our security? The answer lies in our personal branding. It is through Personal Brand Equity that we can establish our value to employers past, present and future. However, where does our brand equity come from? Often times at networking events, I ask people what they do, and they respond by telling me their function, or possibly defining themselves by the tasks or processes they do at work. The problem is that this does nothing to indicate how well they do those tasks and processes, and it does nothing to differentiate them from everyone else who performs the same tasks and processes. When developing our personal brand identity, it is very important to understand that each of us has a unique shape that is a blend of skills, education, experiences and passions. It is through these that, in the process of doing tasks and processes for a company, we achieve accomplishments that contribute to the bottom line of an organization’s success. Over the next few weeks, I will be writing several blogs illustrating how to identify this blend of attributes and the accomplishments achieved throughout a career. Once you have this foundation of your personal brand, we will explore how to use this information to articulate your value proposition throughout your career management.

LinkedIn Blog » How to Showcase Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn: 8 Tips

How to Showcase Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn: 8 Tips

Like professional athletes, we now live in a time of career free agency, where we must regularly prove our unique value in a competitive and frequently changing marketplace. This means that it’s no longer enough to have a good reputation in one’s current position. We need to think about how we’re perceived in the broader marketplace by potential future employers.

Even if you intend to stay in your current job forever, clarifying your unique value is something you need to attend to. Clients, conference planners, awards committees and other professionals may be checking you out — primarily online — and you want to make sure that they find the best representation of you.

We’re talking about personal branding, a key element of success in the Internet Age.

A term first coined by Tom Peters in 1997, personal branding includes your professional reputation, online image and personal characteristics such as your work style, community engagement and worldview. It incorporates the particular skills, talents and areas of expertise you’ve cultivated. When I host workshops on personal branding, I ask participants the following questions to help determine the elements of their personal brands:

  • How would your colleagues describe your strengths?
  • On what issues are you the go-to person in your organization?
  • What do you know more about (web design, compensation plans, marketing to baby boomers) than most people?

Once you’ve defined your personal brand, it’s time to showcase it to recruiters, bosses, customers and others who may be assessing you. Here’s how LinkedIn can help:

  1. Be authentic. The best personal brands are genuine and honest both in person and online. It can be tricky to showcase your personality on the web (you might love puns, but those don’t go over well on a professional profile), but it’s possible with a bit of effort. For instance, if your personal brand includes a balance between your detailed accounting skills and your friendly personality, your LinkedIn profile can include both your technical credentials and the fact that you belong to several networking groups. You can also ask former and current colleagues to write LinkedIn recommendations highlighting this combination.
  1. Create a distinctive LinkedIn profile headline. Your headline is your brand’s tag line. It’s the first — and possibly only — description of you that many people will see, so make it count. Go back to the words and phrases your friends and colleagues used to describe your uniqueness: “IT support manager and trusted Mac expert” or “Experienced admin assistant who never misses a deadline.”
  1. Be consistent. Make sure your LinkedIn profile, resume and all other elements of your personal brand are consistent. While you can go into more extensive detail on LinkedIn and perhaps be a bit more personal on Facebook or Twitter, all of your job titles, dates of employment and specific accomplishments need to match up everywhere they appear. Consistency is important so as not to confuse people or send mixed messages about who you are and what you want in your career.
  1. Increase your visibility. If you have a great personal brand but no one knows about it, then you won’t benefit much. Increase your exposure to people in your network by including your LinkedIn profile URL on your business cards, your resume, other social media sites and anyplace else people are interacting with you online or offline. You can also build exposure by consistently updating your LinkedIn status. Tell people what projects you’re working on, what conferences you’re attending and what books and articles you’re reading. Remember that your brand is not just who you are; it’s what you do.
  1. Build your strategic brand association. We generally think highly of people who keep good company, so building your LinkedIn network simultaneously builds your personal brand. Connect on LinkedIn with trusted friends, former colleagues and classmates, industry leaders, vendors and other professionals. And don’t be shy about asking your contacts for introductions to people in their networks. Strong brands are always growing.
  1. Regularly add to your knowledge. Another way to showcase yourself and your brand is to have an expert level of knowledge about your industry. Be well read on topics you care about (For example, LinkedIn Today can help), answer relevant questions in LinkedIn’s Answers section and follow important companies in your field. For instance, if your personal brand includes your interest and knowledge in special education, follow and share news about developments in this field so people think of you as a valuable resource if they need information on that topic.
  1. Share your expertise in LinkedIn Groups. The Groups you join on LinkedIn contribute to your personal brand by indicating where your interests and skills lie. For example, if you want your brand to include a strong knowledge of manufacturing in China, then people will expect your profile to feature groups related to Chinese manufacturing. Inside these groups, you can also showcase your brand though your activity. Every comment you post and question you answer is an opportunity to market yourself and your skills and to build your brand.
  1. Give generously. Finally, helping others is a crucial — and enjoyable — way to build your personal brand. Give advice, volunteer your skills, share client leads, write recommendations, agree to informational interviews and congratulate people on their successes. When people know they can rely on you, they remember you and recommend you to others.

How have you used LinkedIn to build and showcase your personal brand? Please share in the comments or tweet us @linkedin.

50 Personal Branding Tips | Reinventing Yourself – How To Reinvent & Brand Yourself

Reinventing Yourself – How To Reinvent & Brand Yourself

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50 Personal Branding Tips

Posted on July 30, 2012 by Jan Marino

  1. Remember, YOU are the product
  2. Determine what makes you unique and marketable
  3. Establish your personal brand by determining your measurable accomplishments
  4. Ask five colleagues to give you three descriptors of you and use them in your value statement
  5. Create a vision statement for yourself
  6. Decide what contribution you make to your organization
  7. Take back your career by being accountable for it
  8. Be prepared to reinvent yourself every five years.
  9. Stay current on your industry trends
  10. Cultivate a dynamic network-include professionals outside of your area of expertise
  11. Volunteer your time and give back.
  12. Exercise at least 15 minutes a day
  13. Remember to breathe when you’re stressed
  14. Help someone who’s in a job search….you’ll probably be in one soon…it’s the way of the work world these days.
  15. Build an accountability team for yourself.
  16. Set daily goals and celebrate reaching them
  17. Uncover your current career fitness level.
  18. Learn to network like a pro.
  19. Read a funny book to stimulate your sense of humor.
  20. Hide your tattoos – really, I mean it!
  21. Create your value statement-“I am very good at_____. What that means to my clients is_______.
  22. Invest in a professional headshot-it’s worth the investment because you want to be perceived as professional
  23. Listen more than you talk
  24. Learn to listen for needs
  25. Become a guest blogger and increase your visibility on line
  26. Write a weekly blog on industry trends
  27. Become a resource center for clients
  28. Don’t burn bridges – it leaves scorch marks
  29. Look for the best in everyone
  30. Keep your Linkedin profile updated
  31. Join Linkedin groups and start discussion. You will increase views of your profile.
  32. Create a website for yourself and highlight your accomplishments
  33. Update your resume yearly focusing on your measurable accomplishments
  34. Decide how you want to be perceived in the marketplace i.e. professional, organized, expert
  35. Remember, your Linkedin profile is not your resume….keep is short and interesting to read.
  36. Create a PowerPoint presentation for yourself – post it on Linkedin and Facebook
  37. Eliminate all party pictures from your Facebook – especially the bathtub shots!
  38. Learn to read body language
  39. Practice what you preach-your career depends on it
  40. Be a mentor
  41. Praise your team when they excel
  42. Call a contact you haven’t talked to several months and ask how their business is
  43. Attend one “in person” networking event a quarter
  44. Join an industry association and become involved in a project to increase your visibility
  45. Take a different route to work tomorrow – change is good
  46. Stay away from office gossip….it’s messy
  47. Always dress professionally and appropriately
  48. Accept defeat gracefully
  49. Save “hissy fits” for the drive home
  50. Show up every day

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The Brand Called You | Fast Company

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The Brand Called You

It’s a new brand world.

That cross-trainer you’re wearing — one look at the distinctive swoosh on the side tells everyone who’s got you branded. That coffee travel mug you’re carrying — ah, you’re a Starbucks woman! Your T-shirt with the distinctive Champion “C” on the sleeve, the blue jeans with the prominent Levi’s rivets, the watch with the hey-this-certifies-I-made-it icon on the face, your fountain pen with the maker’s symbol crafted into the end …

You’re branded, branded, branded, branded.

It’s time for me — and you — to take a lesson from the big brands, a lesson that’s true for anyone who’s interested in what it takes to stand out and prosper in the new world of work.

Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.

It’s that simple — and that hard. And that inescapable.

Behemoth companies may take turns buying each other or acquiring every hot startup that catches their eye — mergers in 1996 set records. Hollywood may be interested in only blockbusters and book publishers may want to put out only guaranteed best-sellers. But don’t be fooled by all the frenzy at the humongous end of the size spectrum.

The real action is at the other end: the main chance is becoming a free agent in an economy of free agents, looking to have the best season you can imagine in your field, looking to do your best work and chalk up a remarkable track record, and looking to establish your own micro equivalent of the Nike swoosh. Because if you do, you’ll not only reach out toward every opportunity within arm’s (or laptop’s) length, you’ll not only make a noteworthy contribution to your team’s success — you’ll also put yourself in a great bargaining position for next season’s free-agency market.

The good news — and it is largely good news — is that everyone has a chance to stand out. Everyone has a chance to learn, improve, and build up their skills. Everyone has a chance to be a brand worthy of remark.

Who understands this fundamental principle? The big companies do. They’ve come a long way in a short time: it was just over four years ago, April 2, 1993 to be precise, when Philip Morris cut the price of Marlboro cigarettes by 40 cents a pack. That was on a Friday. On Monday, the stock market value of packaged goods companies fell by $25 billion. Everybody agreed: brands were doomed.

Today brands are everything, and all kinds of products and services — from accounting firms to sneaker makers to restaurants — are figuring out how to transcend the narrow boundaries of their categories and become a brand surrounded by a Tommy Hilfiger-like buzz.

Who else understands it? Every single Web site sponsor. In fact, the Web makes the case for branding more directly than any packaged good or consumer product ever could. Here’s what the Web says: Anyone can have a Web site. And today, because anyone can … anyone does! So how do you know which sites are worth visiting, which sites to bookmark, which sites are worth going to more than once? The answer: branding. The sites you go back to are the sites you trust. They’re the sites where the brand name tells you that the visit will be worth your time — again and again. The brand is a promise of the value you’ll receive.

The same holds true for that other killer app of the Net — email. When everybody has email and anybody can send you email, how do you decide whose messages you’re going to read and respond to first — and whose you’re going to send to the trash unread? The answer: personal branding. The name of the email sender is every bit as important a brand — is a brand — as the name of the Web site you visit. It’s a promise of the value you’ll receive for the time you spend reading the message.

Nobody understands branding better than professional services firms. Look at McKinsey or Arthur Andersen for a model of the new rules of branding at the company and personal level. Almost every professional services firm works with the same business model. They have almost no hard assets — my guess is that most probably go so far as to rent or lease every tangible item they possibly can to keep from having to own anything. They have lots of soft assets — more conventionally known as people, preferably smart, motivated, talented people. And they have huge revenues — and astounding profits.

They also have a very clear culture of work and life. You’re hired, you report to work, you join a team — and you immediately start figuring out how to deliver value to the customer. Along the way, you learn stuff, develop your skills, hone your abilities, move from project to project. And if you’re really smart, you figure out how to distinguish yourself from all the other very smart people walking around with $1,500 suits, high-powered laptops, and well-polished resumes. Along the way, if you’re really smart, you figure out what it takes to create a distinctive role for yourself — you create a message and a strategy to promote the brand called You.

What makes You different?

Start right now: as of this moment you’re going to think of yourself differently! You’re not an “employee” of General Motors, you’re not a “staffer” at General Mills, you’re not a “worker” at General Electric or a “human resource” at General Dynamics (ooops, it’s gone!). Forget the Generals! You don’t “belong to” any company for life, and your chief affiliation isn’t to any particular “function.” You’re not defined by your job title and you’re not confined by your job description.

Starting today you are a brand.

You’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop. To start thinking like your own favorite brand manager, ask yourself the same question the brand managers at Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop ask themselves: What is it that my product or service does that makes it different? Give yourself the traditional 15-words-or-less contest challenge. Take the time to write down your answer. And then take the time to read it. Several times.

If your answer wouldn’t light up the eyes of a prospective client or command a vote of confidence from a satisfied past client, or — worst of all — if it doesn’t grab you, then you’ve got a big problem. It’s time to give some serious thought and even more serious effort to imagining and developing yourself as a brand.

Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors — or your colleagues. What have you done lately — this week — to make yourself stand out? What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy (as in, worthy of note) personal trait?

Go back to the comparison between brand You and brand X — the approach the corporate biggies take to creating a brand. The standard model they use is feature-benefit: every feature they offer in their product or service yields an identifiable and distinguishable benefit for their customer or client. A dominant feature of Nordstrom department stores is the personalized service it lavishes on each and every customer. The customer benefit: a feeling of being accorded individualized attention — along with all of the choice of a large department store.

So what is the “feature-benefit model” that the brand called You offers? Do you deliver your work on time, every time? Your internal or external customer gets dependable, reliable service that meets its strategic needs. Do you anticipate and solve problems before they become crises? Your client saves money and headaches just by having you on the team. Do you always complete your projects within the allotted budget? I can’t name a single client of a professional services firm who doesn’t go ballistic at cost overruns.

Your next step is to cast aside all the usual descriptors that employees and workers depend on to locate themselves in the company structure. Forget your job title. Ask yourself: What do I do that adds remarkable, measurable, distinguished, distinctive value? Forget your job description. Ask yourself: What do I do that I am most proud of? Most of all, forget about the standard rungs of progression you’ve climbed in your career up to now. Burn that damnable “ladder” and ask yourself: What have I accomplished that I can unabashedly brag about? If you’re going to be a brand, you’ve got to become relentlessly focused on what you do that adds value, that you’re proud of, and most important, that you can shamelessly take credit for.

When you’ve done that, sit down and ask yourself one more question to define your brand: What do I want to be famous for? That’s right — famous for!

What’s the pitch for You?

So it’s a cliché: don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle. it’s also a principle that every corporate brand understands implicitly, from Omaha Steaks’s through-the-mail sales program to Wendy’s “we’re just regular folks” ad campaign. No matter how beefy your set of skills, no matter how tasty you’ve made that feature-benefit proposition, you still have to market the bejesus out of your brand — to customers, colleagues, and your virtual network of associates.

For most branding campaigns, the first step is visibility. If you’re General Motors, Ford, or Chrysler, that usually means a full flight of TV and print ads designed to get billions of “impressions” of your brand in front of the consuming public. If you’re brand You, you’ve got the same need for visibility — but no budget to buy it.

So how do you market brand You?

There’s literally no limit to the ways you can go about enhancing your profile. Try moonlighting! Sign up for an extra project inside your organization, just to introduce yourself to new colleagues and showcase your skills — or work on new ones. Or, if you can carve out the time, take on a freelance project that gets you in touch with a totally novel group of people. If you can get them singing your praises, they’ll help spread the word about what a remarkable contributor you are.

If those ideas don’t appeal, try teaching a class at a community college, in an adult education program, or in your own company. You get credit for being an expert, you increase your standing as a professional, and you increase the likelihood that people will come back to you with more requests and more opportunities to stand out from the crowd.

If you’re a better writer than you are a teacher, try contributing a column or an opinion piece to your local newspaper. And when I say local, I mean local. You don’t have to make the op-ed page of the New York Times to make the grade. Community newspapers, professional newsletters, even inhouse company publications have white space they need to fill. Once you get started, you’ve got a track record — and clips that you can use to snatch more chances.

And if you’re a better talker than you are teacher or writer, try to get yourself on a panel discussion at a conference or sign up to make a presentation at a workshop. Visibility has a funny way of multiplying; the hardest part is getting started. But a couple of good panel presentations can earn you a chance to give a “little” solo speech — and from there it’s just a few jumps to a major address at your industry’s annual convention.

The second important thing to remember about your personal visibility campaign is: it all matters. When you’re promoting brand You, everything you do — and everything you choose not to do — communicates the value and character of the brand. Everything from the way you handle phone conversations to the email messages you send to the way you conduct business in a meeting is part of the larger message you’re sending about your brand.

Partly it’s a matter of substance: what you have to say and how well you get it said. But it’s also a matter of style. On the Net, do your communications demonstrate a command of the technology? In meetings, do you keep your contributions short and to the point? It even gets down to the level of your brand You business card: Have you designed a cool-looking logo for your own card? Are you demonstrating an appreciation for design that shows you understand that packaging counts — a lot — in a crowded world?

The key to any personal branding campaign is “word-of-mouth marketing.” Your network of friends, colleagues, clients, and customers is the most important marketing vehicle you’ve got; what they say about you and your contributions is what the market will ultimately gauge as the value of your brand. So the big trick to building your brand is to find ways to nurture your network of colleagues — consciously.

What’s the real power of You?

If you want to grow your brand, you’ve got to come to terms with power — your own. The key lesson: power is not a dirty word!

In fact, power for the most part is a badly misunderstood term and a badly misused capability. I’m talking about a different kind of power than we usually refer to. It’s not ladder power, as in who’s best at climbing over the adjacent bods. It’s not who’s-got-the-biggest-office-by-six-square-inches power or who’s-got-the-fanciest-title power.

It’s influence power.

It’s being known for making the most significant contribution in your particular area. It’s reputational power. If you were a scholar, you’d measure it by the number of times your publications get cited by other people. If you were a consultant, you’d measure it by the number of CEOs who’ve got your business card in their Rolodexes. (And better yet, the number who know your beeper number by heart.)

Getting and using power — intelligently, responsibly, and yes, powerfully — are essential skills for growing your brand. One of the things that attracts us to certain brands is the power they project. As a consumer, you want to associate with brands whose powerful presence creates a halo effect that rubs off on you.

It’s the same in the workplace. There are power trips that are worth taking — and that you can take without appearing to be a self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing megalomaniacal jerk. You can do it in small, slow, and subtle ways. Is your team having a hard time organizing productive meetings? Volunteer to write the agenda for the next meeting. You’re contributing to the team, and you get to decide what’s on and off the agenda. When it’s time to write a post-project report, does everyone on your team head for the door? Beg for the chance to write the report — because the hand that holds the pen (or taps the keyboard) gets to write or at least shape the organization’s history.

Most important, remember that power is largely a matter of perception. If you want people to see you as a powerful brand, act like a credible leader. When you’re thinking like brand You, you don’t need org-chart authority to be a leader. The fact is you are a leader. You’re leading You!

One key to growing your power is to recognize the simple fact that we now live in a project world. Almost all work today is organized into bite-sized packets called projects. A project-based world is ideal for growing your brand: projects exist around deliverables, they create measurables, and they leave you with braggables. If you’re not spending at least 70% of your time working on projects, creating projects, or organizing your (apparently mundane) tasks into projects, you are sadly living in the past. Today you have to think, breathe, act, and work in projects.

Project World makes it easier for you to assess — and advertise — the strength of brand You. Once again, think like the giants do. Imagine yourself a brand manager at Procter & Gamble: When you look at your brand’s assets, what can you add to boost your power and felt presence? Would you be better off with a simple line extension — taking on a project that adds incrementally to your existing base of skills and accomplishments? Or would you be better off with a whole new product line? Is it time to move overseas for a couple of years, venturing outside your comfort zone (even taking a lateral move — damn the ladders), tackling something new and completely different?

Whatever you decide, you should look at your brand’s power as an exercise in new-look résumé; management — an exercise that you start by doing away once and for all with the word “résumé.” You don’t have an old-fashioned résumé anymore! You’ve got a marketing brochure for brand You. Instead of a static list of titles held and positions occupied, your marketing brochure brings to life the skills you’ve mastered, the projects you’ve delivered, the braggables you can take credit for. And like any good marketing brochure, yours needs constant updating to reflect the growth — breadth and depth — of brand You.

What’s loyalty to You?

Everyone is saying that loyalty is gone; loyalty is dead; loyalty is over. I think that’s a bunch of crap.

I think loyalty is much more important than it ever was in the past. A 40-year career with the same company once may have been called loyalty; from here it looks a lot like a work life with very few options, very few opportunities, and very little individual power. That’s what we used to call indentured servitude.

Today loyalty is the only thing that matters. But it isn’t blind loyalty to the company. It’s loyalty to your colleagues, loyalty to your team, loyalty to your project, loyalty to your customers, and loyalty to yourself. I see it as a much deeper sense of loyalty than mindless loyalty to the Company Z logo.

I know this may sound like selfishness. But being CEO of Me Inc. requires you to act selfishly — to grow yourself, to promote yourself, to get the market to reward yourself. Of course, the other side of the selfish coin is that any company you work for ought to applaud every single one of the efforts you make to develop yourself. After all, everything you do to grow Me Inc. is gravy for them: the projects you lead, the networks you develop, the customers you delight, the braggables you create generate credit for the firm. As long as you’re learning, growing, building relationships, and delivering great results, it’s good for you and it’s great for the company.

That win-win logic holds for as long as you happen to be at that particular company. Which is precisely where the age of free agency comes into play. If you’re treating your résumé as if it’s a marketing brochure, you’ve learned the first lesson of free agency. The second lesson is one that today’s professional athletes have all learned: you’ve got to check with the market on a regular basis to have a reliable read on your brand’s value. You don’t have to be looking for a job to go on a job interview. For that matter, you don’t even have to go on an actual job interview to get useful, important feedback.

The real question is: How is brand You doing? Put together your own “user’s group” — the personal brand You equivalent of a software review group. Ask for — insist on — honest, helpful feedback on your performance, your growth, your value. It’s the only way to know what you would be worth on the open market. It’s the only way to make sure that, when you declare your free agency, you’ll be in a strong bargaining position. It’s not disloyalty to “them”; it’s responsible brand management for brand You — which also generates credit for them.

What’s the future of You?

It’s over. No more vertical. No more ladder. That’s not the way careers work anymore. Linearity is out. A career is now a checkerboard. Or even a maze. It’s full of moves that go sideways, forward, slide on the diagonal, even go backward when that makes sense. (It often does.) A career is a portfolio of projects that teach you new skills, gain you new expertise, develop new capabilities, grow your colleague set, and constantly reinvent you as a brand.

As you scope out the path your “career” will take, remember: the last thing you want to do is become a manager. Like “résumé,” “manager” is an obsolete term. It’s practically synonymous with “dead end job.” What you want is a steady diet of more interesting, more challenging, more provocative projects. When you look at the progression of a career constructed out of projects, directionality is not only hard to track — Which way is up? — but it’s also totally irrelevant.

Instead of making yourself a slave to the concept of a career ladder, reinvent yourself on a semiregular basis. Start by writing your own mission statement, to guide you as CEO of Me Inc. What turns you on? Learning something new? Gaining recognition for your skills as a technical wizard? Shepherding new ideas from concept to market? What’s your personal definition of success? Money? Power? Fame? Or doing what you love? However you answer these questions, search relentlessly for job or project opportunities that fit your mission statement. And review that mission statement every six months to make sure you still believe what you wrote.

No matter what you’re doing today, there are four things you’ve got to measure yourself against. First, you’ve got to be a great teammate and a supportive colleague. Second, you’ve got to be an exceptional expert at something that has real value. Third, you’ve got to be a broad-gauged visionary — a leader, a teacher, a farsighted “imagineer.” Fourth, you’ve got to be a businessperson — you’ve got to be obsessed with pragmatic outcomes.

It’s this simple: You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today. Or else.

Tom Peters (TJPET) is the world’s leading brand when it comes to writing, speaking, or thinking about the new economy. He has just released a CD-ROM, “Tom Peters’ Career Survival Guide” (Houghton Mifflin interactive). Rob Walker contributed the brand profile sidebars.