“Aim High” Personal Branding for Speakers, Speaker Magazine

Thought this article was relevant, given the Superstar Speaker Academy coming up next week. Check it out – all about speaker branding. Want to learn more? Sign up here: http://www.SuperstarSpeakerAcademy.com.

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A-ha! Moments…

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I live for those blinding flashes of insight that literally have you stop and go “wow!! I get it now!” Lucky for me, I have these “a-ha! moments” all the time, pero like, ALL THE TIME. And if you know me, you know my mantra: “the uh-oh precedes the a-ha!” In order to have an a-ha, there must be an “uh-oh” that necessitated it.

So recently I decided to learn about a-ha! moments, investigate them and start understanding why and how we have them — and how to have more. One thing I realized (a-ha!) is that one if the best times for me to experience the phenomenon is early in the morning, in that halfway period between awake and asleep. (Problem is, I’m usually so sleepy that I don’t want to get up and write it down!)

Well this morning, I had one, and I came here to write it — because this was my a-ha! moment (actually this was the uh-oh that preceded the a-ha!): I write thousands of words a day and have tons of original, interesting thoughts each day… Yet I struggle to put together content for my blog, emails and social media. What’s THAT all about? Ridiculous.

The realization I had right after that, is that all those thoughts are being recorded in random, scattered places, with a large chunk of them being written by hand, in Sharpie or just recently, by hand with a stylus the iPad “Penultimate” app.

My a-ha!: I love to write by hand. Instead if trying to fix or change that, why not embrace it and post those notes… Just as they are, in real-time? I can always type up an intro to explain them, if needed. Gotta figure out logistically how to make that work, but at least now I realize the big disconnect — I prefer to write by hand, and my notes are interesting and beautiful just the way they are — and now that I am aware, something can shift.

What’s the lesson in here for you? No idea. Why don’t you tell me!?

Ciao for now,
Michelle Villalobos (vee – ya – low – bos)

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This Is Your Brand. This Is Your Brand Online. Any Questions?

On Sunday I had the honor of presenting at Mashable Social Media Day Miami – an amazing event – and I delivered a brand-new case-study based presentation called “This Is Your Brand. This Is Your Brand Online. Any Questions?” The room was PACKED – standing room only (or sitting on the floor!) If you missed it, the good news is that you can see the slideshow here!

Who loves you!!??

Forget Brand Loyalty… Try Brand LOVE

In business, the most profitable brands are those that people with money to spend LOVE (and love to HATE). Think about it: Apple (definitely has its fair share of lovers and haters), Christian Louboutin, Porsche, Whole Foods, and the list goes on and on…

By honing in on the real lovers of your brand, you can start to develop the most compelling messaging for them… which is the direct path into their hearts. And being in people’s hearts breeds loyalty.

On a related note, it also helps to “unload” those clients, prospects and audiences with whom you do NOT resonate.

Just recently I removed 20% of my contacts off of my email list. That’s right. I unsubscribed people from my own list. That may sound crazy to you… especially if you’re trying to build your email list. Why would I do such a thing? Simple. Metrics showed I didn’t resonate with them enough. And if I didn’t resonate, they’d never contract me or refer me business.

In addition to cleaning out my email list, I also eliminated several service offerings and stopped taking small, project-based or “one-off” clients (unless they pay a LOT more).

The result: some awesome free time to spend having a life.

Here’s to “blinging your brand!”

Michelle Villalobos (veeyalowbos)

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You: The Online Brand Slideshow, July 16th, 2009 Miami Social Media Workshop

Brand Your Name Online – 7 Basic Steps To Get Your Personal Google Search Results Up!

When people look for you on Google, what do they find?

These days, it’s likely that someone will “meet” you online, before they every shake your hand. What does your online presence say about who you are, and what you can do for your prospective clients or buyers?

Developing and cultivating your online brand is as important (and in some cases, even more important) as developing it it through more traditional channels (i.e., through networking, advertising or PR). When you build brand equity online, you don’t have to push, peddle or shamelessly promote yourself, instead you’re “pulling” opportunity to you.

So how do you do it? It’s both easier and harder than you think it is. Easy because it’s not rocket science, but hard because it requires some patience and dedication. It doesn’t happen overnight.

The steps?

1. Define your brand. WHO ARE YOU? Define it as narrowly as you possibly can and distinguish yourself as much as you can from everyone else. Embrace your uniqueness and remember: you can’t be top of mind for everything in your field. Ask yourself what you need to be top of mind for. Then brand yourself as that.

2. Start sending valuable information out into the cyber-verse. Blog, upload content to your website, tweet, make videos on YouTube… no matter what you choose (perhaps start with just one), just make sure you name it and tag your name on EVERYTHING. Oh and don’t forget to buy your URL – http://www.yourname.com. Make sure that you’re linking everything to one central place, this will prevent the clicks from getting diluted by going to a bunch of different sites/places. Another great idea is to guest post on other blogs that have lots of traffic.

3. Get a GREAT profile pic! One that reflects your brand – not a crop of a personal photo. Not one that’s 10 years old. A professional headshot, like these:

A portrait that is both professional, yes shows personality.

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And here are the first batch of pictures from the Headshot Workshop, taken by Little’s Portrait Studio photographers. I’ll be adding more periodically as we receive them.Jessica Before & After Headshots.007

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Notice that depending on the pose, the props and the crop, the same person can look completely different! Choose carefully – pick something that aligns with your brand. For a fun touch (i.e., Facebook or Twitter), juice up your photo with at http://www.befunky.com (turns any photo into a cartoon!)

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4. Twitter is another great tool, since it gets crawled by Google and can quickly start popping up in Google search results. Problem is, most people sign up and either never tweet, or they start promoting themselves/their business. It doesn’t really work that way. The idea is to deliver value to your target audience. They WILL find you if you do this. In addition, if potential clients are looking for you and find some great tweets about your area of expertise, they’ll be more likely to trust you. Also, set Twitter alerts to notify you when people are looking for what you provide (i.e., I have alerts set for “speaker needed conference Miami” so that I know when there’s an opportunity for me out there.

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5. Lock in your profiles at LinkedIn and Plaxo and any other industry-specific business networking sites that make sense for your niche or industry. Flesh them out, and use hyperlinks (when you type in a link to your blog or website, make sure you always type “http://” before the address so that it automatically becomes an active link wherever possible). Make all of your profile public if you really want to start getting some results from LinkedIn. Link back and forth between your LinkedIn Profile and your website (use a LinkedIn Logo and make it clickable to your profile.)

Michelle Villalobos LinkedIn Profile

6. If you do speaking engagements or research projects, start uploading content to sites like SlideShare, Vimeo and YouTube. Tag the title with your name and company!

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7. Own your name everywhere you can: Facebook (don’t forget to get facebook.com/yourname if you still can), Digg, StumbleUpon, Flickr, etc… You want to own it so no one else can get it and also so you can link even more back to your central site. By the way, you can use a service like Ping.fm to update the status of all of your profiles at once.

Michelle Villalobos Facebook Profile

If you do all of these things (it does take time), I promise that you’ll start to see the results. In fact, take a “baseline” right now. Do a Google search of yourself, and count the number of times you come up. In a month, then 3 months, then 6 months then a year, do it again to see how far you’ve come.

Good luck and happy personal online branding!!

Michelle Villalobos
http://www.MichelleVillalobos.com