I'm a Social Media Entrepreneur, Professor of Digital Marketing, Author of 5 books, Podcaster and an Organic Farmer.



Personal Branding for Introverts

Four excellent tips on Personal Branding for Introverts. Actually, these work for everyone.

Original Link: http://t.co/NDTgcfvU80


I had just finished a talk at a leading technology company when an engineer approached me. “I liked your ideas about personal branding, and I can see how they’d work,” he told me. “But most of them aren’t for me — I’m an introvert. Is there anything I can do?” What he didn’t realize is that (like an estimated one-third to one-half of the population) I’m one, too.

Despite the common misperception that all introverts are shy, and vice versa, they’re two very different phenomena. (Author and introversion expert Susan Cain defines shyness as “the fear of negative judgment,” while introversion is “a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments.”) I actually like giving talks to large groups (that day, there were 180 people in the room and another 325 watching online). I’m happy to mingle and answer questions afterward. But at a certain point, I’ve learned through experience, I have to get away and go somewhere by myself.

Conference organizers and attendees will often ask you to join them for dinner the evening before, or cocktails afterward. Rationally, it’s a win-win: they perceive more value because they get to interact with you personally, and you can make interesting business connections and learn tidbits about attendees that allow you to personalize your talk. For those good reasons, I’ll often say yes, but I’ve had to learn my limits: if I’ve been traveling too much, or had a frenzied schedule that day, or my social chops are hampered by lack of sleep, it’s far better to refuse. Like a car that requires periodic oil changes, I have to recharge with quiet, alone time.

It’s true that many of the best ways to establish your brand in the professional world are still weighted toward extroverts: taking leadership positions in professional associations, starting your own conference or networking group, or — indeed — embracing public speaking (all of which frequently entail extended social contact).

Over time, I’ve learned “when to say when” and graciously call it an evening. But for many introverts, it’s a tough balance. One executive at a large consulting firm once asked me how she could be truly authentic in her dealings with others, given how uncomfortable she was when it came to networking; she worried she’d have to put on a smiley, hypersocial façade. Yet I’m convinced it’s possible to be real about building connections and developing our personal brands, while still respecting our natural tendencies.

First, social media may actually be an area where introverts, who thrive on quiet contemplation, have an advantage. With a blog — one of the best techniques for demonstrating thought leadership — you can take your time, formulate your thoughts, and engage in real dialogue with others. Indeed, while extroverts desperate for their next fix are trading business cards at cocktail parties, you can build a global brand on the strength of your ideas.

Next, with a little strategy and effort, you can become a connector one person at a time. A friend of mine used to work at a large research hospital; it was a sprawling institution with countless divisions and initiatives. She made a simple commitment: each week, she’d ask a person from a different office or department to lunch. Often, she’d meet them initially at company meetings or through project work; if the suggestion to have lunch together didn’t arise naturally, she’d tell them about her project, and they were almost always intrigued enough to join her.

Within a few months, she had begun to build a robust network inside her organization — on her own, quiet terms (Susan Cain herself told HBR that we ought to “be figuring out ways where people can kind of pick and choose their environments, and then be at their best.”) My friend’s “lunch initiative” exemplifies the research of Ronald Burt at the University of Chicago, who urges workers to “bridge structural gaps” in their organizations. In other words, you can make yourself professionally indispensable if you develop connections that enable you to break through silos, and identify and surmount knowledge gaps.

Introverts can also use subtle cues to establish their personal brand. As well-known psychologist Robert Cialdini told me during an interview for my book Reinventing You, simply placing diplomas or awards on your office walls can help reinforce your expertise to others. (Cialdini saw this powerful effect in action at an Arizona hospital he advised; exercise compliance increased 32% almost immediately after the physical therapy unit started displaying their staff’s credentials.)

Finally, use your downtime strategically. You’re likely to need more “thinking time,” as introvert and former Campbell Soup Company CEO Doug Conant advised in an HBR post. So while the extroverts may be schmoozing with colleagues after work, you can ensure you’re being productive while you recharge by reading industry journals or thinking creatively about your company and your career. (Introverts often do their best thinking on their own, as Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino suggests, rather than amidst the scrum of an office brainstorming session.)

In popular imagination, personal branding is often equated with high-octane, flesh-pressing showmanship. But there are other, sometimes better, ways you can define yourself and your reputation. Taking the time to reflect and be thoughtful about how you’d like to be seen and then living that out through your writing and your interpersonal relationships (and even your décor) is a powerful way to ensure you’re seen as the leader you are.

Shot with Speakers at the World Bloggers & Social Media Conference

A group shot of the speakers at the World Bloggers & Social Media Conference as part of the Malaysian Social Media Week event. We shot this photo right after the speaker briefing on the eve of the event. Speakers have flown in from US, Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, India, Singapore, China, South Korea and ofcourse Malaysia.

Tips to Blog Every Day

Today is the 9th day of the New Year. This is my 9th blogpost this year. I’m not smiling yet because the first week is usually the easiest to keep up the new goals. It starts getting difficult from here onward. How do I know? Well, lets just say that I’m talking from experience of previous years!!

I want to see if I can buck the trend and continue to post one blogpost every day of 2013. That’s 365 blog posts. I know many others who wanted to do the same too. So, I invested my time in researching for ideas. Here are some ideas that you might find useful.

1) Scribble Down the Topics: The easiest way not to stare at a blank screen (the dreaded Writer’s Block) is to have a list of topics. Jot down topics that comes to your mind. Don’t wait. Just scribble it in a piece of paper or email yourself. When you sit down to blog, you will have a healthy choice of topics to choose from.

2) Shoot Lots of Photos: I’ve realized that photos make for wonderful content. Its also easy to write a description of the photo.

3) Write the Outline: Write down key points of the article. Don’t worry about sentence formation or grammar at this point. Just the important points. You can later expand them and proof-read to refine the article.

4) Expect Mood swings: There are days that you will feel energetic and ideas will flow freely. There will certainly be days where your mind blocks up, your body is tired or you will have crazy deadlines to meet at work. Just be prepared mentally. Make use of the good days and see if you can prepare extra blog posts. This way, even if you miss a few days, you will still be on track.

5) Enjoy Sharing your Ideas: It all boils down to this fundamental point. Are you having fun writing? This is key. If you enjoy writing and sharing your experience, then writing everyday will be a breeze.

6) Write in the Mornings: It helps to wake up early. You will have less distraction to deal with. Write when your mind is fresh. Read my post on how to write 500 Words before 9am.

7) Read Point #1 Again: The best way to ensure you have content to write everyday is to start off with a bunch of topics. The trick is to keep filling this list. So, remember to write those topics down as soon as it comes across your mind. This is key.

Are there other tips that you found useful? Please do share them in the comments section below. Here’s wishing you good luck on your mission to write regularly. Cheers.

Make Your Blog Awesome: 7 Key Lessons from TIME’s Top 25 Blogs

TIME Magazine Logo
Time Magazine has made a list of the Top 25 blogs in the World.  I came across this list today and the timing couldn’t be better. I was looking for ways to get back to active blogging and this list gave me an idea. What can we learn from these successful blogs? What is it that makes these blogs awesome? Is there a success pattern that we can adopt for our own blogs? I decided to find out. And so, I patiently visited each of these 25 blogs and made notes as I went along.  Here are my findings from my 5 hour mission.


1) Pick a Niche Topic:  This clearly stands out as a success pattern. Almost every blog listed in the TIME’s list has focused on one particular area and focused deep into it.  Lets take a few examples.

TheBillFold is about money. The site’s tag-line says it all, “Everything about Money you were too polite to ask”!

DesignSponge has fascinating ideas and lovely photos of home decorations.

BookShelfPorn does not talk about books. It only focuses on the book shelf designs and there are hundreds of great ideas.

Well, you get the idea.  Pick a niche space that you are passionate about. Then focus on covering that area alone. Easy recipe to differentiate yourself.


Invite Guest Authors: There’s only so much that one can write.  A good blog requires regular dose of good content to attract and retain audience.  Mike Dang and Logan Sachon, the owners of  TheBillFold do that cleverly by inviting writers from around the globe to contribute articles on their personal experiences with money. 500px, a great photo community thrives on fantastic photos shot by its members.

A possible lesson here. Open up your blog and invite your readers to participate. This ensures that your blog don’t get cobwebs for long. And its good to have company too.


Use Facebook Plugin for Comments:    Commenting platforms like Disqus sucks. People hate registering on sites. Besides, they never update their avatars. See this page.    FB commenting system works great, gets repeat audience and helps build a conversation going. For example, scroll down this page and take a look at the comments below.  You can embed similar FB plugin from the Facebook Social Plugin Page.

Photos for Every Blog Post
:  Almost all the blogs in the Top 25 list use a picture to accentuate their blog post. Not only does it make your blog post look good, it provides visual relief from the monotony of text.  Even better if you can mix audio and video into your posts.

Talk About Things that Others Won’t:
  Its very rare for people to openly talk about failures, embarrassing situations or difficulties in life. When people do, they immediately stand out and earn the attention and empathy of the readers. Take Emily Rapp, a mother  who writes a blog  about her 3 year old son Ronan, who is slowly dying from Tay-Sachs disease. He can no longer move or see.  Its a very difficult situation for a mother but the fact that she is opening talking about it and how she is handling the situation is what makes people love her.

Controversy is Good
:  Take the case of Martha Payne, a 9 year old student who started posting pictures of school lunches everyday in her blog. Not many knew about her blog until the School Council decided to ban her blog. Word leaked out and this created a  outrage on social media. Mainstream press started to cover the censorship and a senior minister had to step in to overturn the ban.  Her blog helped raise over Rs.1 crore in charity money and she now has a book published. Goes to show that there’s nothing called bad publicity.

Well Researched Articles and Strongly Opinionated
: Across all the 25 blogs, I noticed that the blog posts average around 200 words. That’s about 4 paragraphs. Long enough to write a well researched piece.  Leave brevity for Twitter and Facebook. Blogs thrive on longer content. Also, remember that people come to your blog for *your* opinions. Say it the way you feel it.

So, these are the 7 trends that I found. What other trends did you notice from the Top 25 Blogs? Got any new ideas to improve our blogs? Please do share.

Past, Present and Future of Books

Madras Book Club and BookandBorrow.com presents an interesting Panel Discussion on the topic, ‘Past, Present and Future of Books’. The Panelists are Noted Historian V.Sriram, Popular Tamil Writer Sivasankari and Yours truly.

This is an invite only event and the organizers want to personally invite 10 bloggers/Tweeps. If you are interested in attending, please write to me at Kiruba@Kiruba.com or leave your details here in the comment below.

The event takes place at C.P.Ramasway Convention Centre, 1, Eldams Road, Alwarpet on July 15th at 6:30 pm.

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