Category Archives: Personal development

What’s your career game plan?

I was recently interviewed by B2B Marketing Magazine for a feature they ran in the January 2013 issue, entitled “Game Plan”. For those of you that aren’t subscribers to the magazine, I’ve included the article on my Slideshare account, embedded below with kind permission of B2B Marketing.

If you’re in B2B Marketing and not already a subscriber, I’d strongly recommend checking out the benefits of B2B Marketing membership. The article is also now live on the B2B Marketing Knowledge Bank, where you can see lots of other useful articles.

What’s your career game plan for 2013? How will you drive your career forward by implementing a personal action plan? What have you found to be effective in your own career to date? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Who does Google think you are?

Name badge showing marketing and branding terms

If we’re honest, we’ve all done it.

Some call it the “vanity search” or even “ego surfing”. Whatever you call it, it makes good sense to regularly ‘Google yourself’ in order to proactively manage your Digital Personal Brand.

In an increasingly digital world, many people’s first impression of you will be formed as a result of your online profile, so putting your name into Google and seeing who it thinks you are makes sense for anyone serious about managing their online professional reputation.

So what sorts of things should you be looking out for? Here are a few things you should consider when looking at your name search results:

  • Do you have any namesakes that appear high in the rankings?
  • How visible are your personal social media profiles, and would you be happy for a prospective employer or client to see them?
  • How easy is it to find the ‘professional you’?

You wouldn’t go to a business meeting or interview without clean shoes, a freshly ironed shirt and sharp suit, so why not pay as much attention to your online appearance?

Here are three simple things you can do to boost your online search visibility and make sure the ‘professional you’ is projected in search results for your name:

1) Make sure you have a complete and search-friendly LinkedIn profile

I’m assuming that many readers of this blog will have a LinkedIn profile, but not everyone will have a custom URL containing their name, like Not only does this look more professional than the default LinkedIn profile URL, it will also help your profile to be displayed in Google searches for your name.

I’ve created this short video to show you how to do it…

2) Secure your name URL, and publish a basic website or blog

Building and hosting a professional looking website is easier than ever thanks to platforms such as WordPress. Even if you have no plans to start blogging, you can still secure your name URL, like, and build a site with a static homepage to use as a gateway into your professional online profiles. This will also help to get you up the Google results page.

You can easily check if your name URL is available and get it hosted on Here’s a couple of screen grabs to show you how to check this without having to sign up. homepage

  • Then enter your name into the ‘blog address’ field to see if your name URL is available. If it’s taken, you’ll see suggestions that are available. Make sure it contains your full name though- ‘’ would be better than ‘’.
  • Clicking on the drop down tab will show the domain name extensions available along with their annual cost. This can be a very cost-effective way of establishing an online presence.

WordPress blog address finder

3) Register your name on key social media sites

As well as LinkedIn, I’d recommend that you set up accounts on both Google Plus and Twitter in order to help get you up the first page of Google search results for your name.

Google Plus is a long, long way off being the ‘Facebook killer’ some hinted it may be at launch, but you’d be crazy to ignore it as the vast majority of search traffic in the UK is via Google. It also has other advantages over Facebook through its ‘circles’ functionality, which allows you to create lots of bespoke segments for sharing your updates across different aspects of your network according to the relationship you have with them – friends, family, colleagues, people you play cricket with etc.

Although Google announced in August 2012 that ‘Custom URLs’ were being rolled out to selected brands and celebrities, they are not yet [as at Jan 2013] widely available to general Google Plus users.

Registering a real name twitter account such as will not only help establish your presence in Google results but will be a small (140 characters at a time) glimpse into the sorts of things you’re interested in and want to share with your network. You can also tweet updates from your LinkedIn account (but not the other way round) so don’t feel you need to have an onerous publishing schedule of content.

Do you Google yourself? Have you found anything that surprised you? What tools have you used to get your name up the  search results? I’d love to hear your experiences.

If you need any help or advice in brushing up your digital personal brand, please drop me a line.

2012 blog review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for my blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

I’m happy that this represents a c. 30% increase in views from 2011, especially as I didn’t write any new posts between June and December. In total, the site’s had over 4,200 views since mid 2010 when I first started blogging.

In 2013, I’m committing to publishing posts far more frequently than in 2012, so I hope you find them useful. I’d love to hear your feedback, so feel free to leave a comment on any post or drop me a line.

In the meantime, thanks for following my blog and I wish you and your loved ones a healthy, happy and successful 2013.

What Spongebob Squarepants taught me about Social Media

SpongebobIf ever a picture told a thousand words, it’s this one, which recently appeared in my timeline on Facebook- sadly because a ‘friend’ had ‘liked’ it.

The complex relationship between God, cancer and Spongebob Squarepants must have passed me by, but it illustrates the beauty and the curse of socially referred, user-generated content- quality control is only as strong as the weakest link in your network.

It’s annoying when spam appears in your timeline from large brands, but this is no more annoying than an ad and you tolerate it because of the huge benefits that ‘free’ access to a tool like Facebook brings. Plus, you know it’s an algorithm’s ‘opinion’ rather than one of your nearest and dearest actively engaging with the content by clicking ‘like’.

I can’t help contrast this with my LinkedIn timeline. No doubt helped by the removal of automated twitter feeds into LinkedIn, the stream of updates from my professional network of over 550 contacts on LinkedIn (some of whom are also Facebook friends) doesn’t suffer the same pollution of ‘like spam’.

Accepting it’s not in any way scientific, there appears to be a clear difference in behaviour by the same people on Facebook as on LinkedIn. Hardly ‘hold the front page’ stuff, I know, but with more and more talk of the drive from “B2B” (business-to-business) to “P2P” (person-to-person) communications being fuelled by social media, there’s clear evidence to me that people do fluctuate between their “work” and “personal” self, and use separate social media platforms to power these dual personas. For this reason, I struggle to see how Facebook will ever evolve into a truly valuable social media tool for engaging B2B audiences.

Maybe 2013 will be the year Google+ really starts to take off. The segmentation possibilities that its ‘circles’ functionality give you help alleviate some of the issues I’ve touched upon above.

How do you use social media tools? Do you have different platforms for your ‘work’ and ‘personal’ self? In what ways do you manage your digital personal brand using social media?

Are you ready for the big day?

So it’s that time of year again.

The excitement starts to build. You count down the number of ‘sleeps’ until the big day. You know you’ve been good all year, but has this been noticed and will it be rewarded?

Don’t worry, your annual performance review meeting will be here before you know it!

Now, there are some excellent line managers out there who take the annual review process extremely seriously, really taking time to consider your contribution to the team and wider business objectives throughout the year. But they’re only human. They’re likely to have a number of annual reviews to do, so you need to make it as easy as possible for them to see and understand the impact you’ve had on the business over the past 12 months. It’s your career, after all.

I’ve illustrated my top 3 tips using a legal metaphor, not to suggest that your career is ‘on trial’ during the annual review meeting, but it’s certainly a ‘hearing’, and needs approaching with preparation, structure and care. This post is intended to help you get your annual performance message heard.

Close up of man writing in a notebookGather your evidence

Ideally, and most likely according to your company’s HR policy, you’ll be regularly reviewing your objectives and progress towards them with your manager throughout the year. In the real world, however, this can sometimes get lost amongst the day to day pressures of working life.

It’s vital, though, to keep a note of your achievements in whatever way works best for you. One of my former team members had a ‘brag file’ where they’d accumulated positive feedback from project stakeholders as the year had progressed, along with detailed metrics and results from the projects they had worked on.

Don’t just focus on the ‘whats’, though. Are there any behavioural or attitudinal ‘hows’ that you’ve consciously worked on in the past year? What did you commit to in your personal development plan, and what successes or challenges have you had? How have you adapted these development goals as the year has progressed?

Ask the 10-15 stakeholders that have the biggest impact on your ability to succeed in your job (peers, subordinates and superiors) for their open and honest feedback about your performance over the past year. You can use simple frameworks like Stop/Start/Continue or even ask for some candid feedback over an informal coffee.

Present your caseClose up of briefcase

Even if you do have a significant ‘brag file’, don’t be lazy and include it all. If your firm has a template, use it. Be guided but not constrained by its structure, ensuring you address the key elements of the process. Be prepared to add selective supplementary documentation only where it helps illustrate your achievements.

Tackle your shortcomings head on. If any parts of your year haven’t gone so well, or you’ve missed one or more of your key objectives, it’s best to acknowledge these and demonstrate that you understand why they happened, what you’ve learned from the process and what you’d do differently next time. If it’s highlighted a particular skill that you need to brush up on, now’s a great time to enlist your manager’s support in developing it.

Most importantly, consider the needs of your manager at this time of year. Sending a 14 page document is more likely to enrage than enthuse. And as for timing, I’d suggest you send the paperwork and accompanying evidence to them at least 1 week in advance of the review meeting- that is, assuming you want them to actually read and reflect on it ahead of your review.

Two men in suits having a conversationBe prepared for cross-examination

This doesn’t mean that your review meeting should be in any way confrontational!

I’m simply suggesting that reading around your specialist subject (you and your performance) means you will be able to talk confidently and with structure around how you feel the past 12 months have gone. Be honest with yourself about the highs and lows- your stakeholder feedback will help inform this if you’ve asked a truly representative sample of those you work with.

Really take the time away from your desk to prepare for your review meeting. Step back from the process and the paperwork to reflect on the previous year and what you’ve contributed to the business (and to your CV). What are your goals and ambitions for the coming year? Share them with your manager- contrary to popular belief, they are not a mind reader!

Well managed performance review meetings are a two way process, so make sure you take this opportunity to ask your manager for their thoughts on your performance and to get any further support you need in setting and achieving your personal and organisational objectives for the coming year.

How do you communicate your achievements to your boss? Do you have a ‘brag file’, and what sort of things do you keep in it? What other ways have you seen to proactively manage the annual performance review? I’d love to hear your comments.