Organizational Culture – The Foundation for Great Branding

Organizational Culture - The Foundation for Great Branding

A Solid Foundation

It seems like discussions surrounding organizational culture are all the rage these days with the business kids. As an ED of a local non-profit, I often share with our rm2g clients that a strong organizational culture is the foundation for great branding. Spend time working on the inside, and it becomes much easier to communicate who you are to those on the outside. If your organizational culture or health is weak and your focus is on external branding, you are building a house of cards.

What is Organizational Culture?

Business writers Ravasi and Schultz state that organizational culture is a set of shared mental assumptions that guide interpretation and action in organizations by defining appropriate behavior for various situations. A definition I like even more comes from Gary Kelly, President of South West Airlines. He simply says organizational culture is “WHO you are.”

Leadership and Organizational Culture

As a leader, it is your responsibility to spend time studying, observing and fostering healthy culture. It’s where your brand starts. At Family Life Services we are going through a great book by Patrick Lencioni called the Advantage. In it, Lencioni says the best companies—the ones with the true advantage have a healthy culture and spend time nurturing it.

Non-profit leaders, listen up. If you don’t spend time building this foundation, your clients, staff, board of directors and other stakeholders will sense that your brand is off. And that means you aren’t going to get total buy-in for your mission.

The Advantage of A Great Organizational Culture

Here’s a great video in which Michael Hyatt interviews Lencioni about his new book and this “advantage”. At Rocky Mountain Media Group, we know you can’t have a great brand without first building a strong internal culture .We hope this post gets you thinking about how your organizational culture is shaping your brand.

Patrick Lencioni talks about core values versus aspirational values in the video. What is a core value that shapes your organizational culture, and what is one aspirational value you are striving for?

 

 

5 Lessons Learned From Failed Blogging Attempts

Failed Blogging Attempts

Hello, My name is Julie and I have multiple failed blogging attempts. Please don’t hold this confession against me. I am using my past failed blogging attempts to help you. In spite of my past failures, I know that blogging is important. I just got sloppy and distracted and gave up.

Here is how it all broke down…

After my second attempt at blogging fizzled out, I took a long leave of absence. It was stressing me out and I was frustrated with the direction my  blog was going. I vowed I wouldn’t come back. Then, this Spring I did something I often do—I remembered why one of my personal mottos is “Never say never.”

I jumped back in with a plan. Here is what I discovered through these failed blogging attempts, and hopefully my lessons learned can help you too.

  1. I finally registered my own personal domain. I wanted to be serious and I realized having wordpress, blog spot or blogger in my URL wasn’t communicating I was serious to my readers or myself. It’s not hard to purchase and register a domain and set up a blog. Go do this now. (Here’s a link to a screen cast by Michael Hyatt on “How To Launch A Self-Hosted WordPress Blog in 20 Minutes or Less
  2. I’m not a great writer. I know this about myself. But, I am a communicator. I realized that in my previous attempts I used way tooooooo much text. A picture is worth a 1000 words. And since I try to keep my blog posts between 300-500 words, I started using them. I even use an occasional video. I realized that my wall of text was scaring people away. I should have known better. I rarely read a full blog post if it doesn’t have pictures. [Read more…]

Everything I Needed to Know About Social Media I Learned From My Mom

With Mother’s Day coming up we thought we would give a little shout out to those ladies who steered dragged us down the right path of life. So many life lessons our moms taught us growing up apply to the digital space. In fact pretty much everything I needed to know about social media I learned from my mom.

This mama would like to translate some of those mom lessons to the digital world:

1. Don’t have a potty mouth.

When you use profanity, it usually makes you look less intellegent. Sure there may be times when a expletive slips through or you use it to emphasize a point. But don’t allow your Twitter stream to become a profanity laced rant. It’s tacky and unprofessional. I don’t care how young or how old you are. Sure you want to be authentic, to be yourself, but keep it in check. You only get one chance to make a first impression.  [Read more…]

Non-profit Executives on Social Media

One question that comes up consistently at rm2g from our non-profit executive friends is, “If my non-profit has a social media space, do I still have to personally engage on these platforms as well?”

The answer is simple.

Yes, yes, yes and yes.

My question back to them is always this—Why wouldn’t you?

As a nonprofit leader, would you ever walk out of, or even refuse to enter a room full of people talking about your organization or the issues you care about? Would you just ignore them?

I don’t think so. Not ever.

But unfortunately, that is what you are doing everyday you avoid the social space. And trust me, your constituents are noticing.

If you are not personally engaging on these platforms you are frustrating your organization’s advocates, who want to hear from you. You may even be causing them to wonder what are you trying to hide.

And trust me, they aren’t thinking the things on the list you have in your head. The I can’t be on social media, they might think… That list. You know the one.

They aren’t thinking:

  • How much time is he/she spending here?
  • Is this what my donation is going to support?
  • Why don’t they just get a volunteer to do this?

On the contrary, when you are personally engaged online and you take the time to answer questions about the non-profit you manage, from your own profile, your supporters are wowed.

They are more likely thinking:

  • Wow, that was quick. And a personal response!
  • This person truly cares about the mission of the organization and about me.
  • How great that I can get in touch with them and connect on a personal level.

I’m not saying that hiring someone or allowing a volunteer to manage your organization’s accounts is always bad. But I am saying that doing so doesn’t give you a permission to check out of the space. And having someone else manage your personal accounts just doesn’t work. It is you they want to hear from as a leader, and you come across as phony when someone else is writing your posts. And if you think they won’t find out, think again.

Your constituents expect you to be there, in your own voice, joining in the conversation, sharing your leadership lessons and telling the story of your organization. Don’t disappointment them.

We can help you with executive training and get you socially engaged on the  platforms that are right for you personally.

If you need assistance, please contact us. This is one of the most favorite things we do at Rocky Mountain Media Group.

Are you connected with any non-profit executives on social media who are doing this well? Who?

Personal Branding and Your Blog – Your Space and Style

On Monday I presented you with the idea of thinking about your blog as your online home. Today I’m going to provide you with some creative ways to start thinking about taking your offline personal branding and translating that to your blog.

Your Space

When you walk into the Abel home, you have entered into my space. I am an expert at where things are and how they relate to our family. Begin to think about your blog themes and topics in the same way. Most people who are thinking about personal branding have some idea of subject matter they want to blog about, but that isn’t always the case. Some blogs are focused on a single topic, while others tackle a wide range of material. As you think about what it is you want to blog about, or what you want your personal brand to be known for, answer this question. What is it that you just can’t stop talking about? As you are talking to your friends, what is the one topic that they might get frustrated with because you weave it into every conversation?  That topic might must be the subject of your blog. You’ve already established that as part of your personal brand offline, and maybe it is time to get serious about it online.

Also, I want you to think about your long-term goals as you develop your brand. For example, I have seen some bloggers build their platform around a new baby and the challenges of being a new mom. Well, soon they wake up to a child that is in middle school.  Building a platform around a situation that is a state of flux is okay, but you have to have a plan for taking your readers on that journey. You also need to go around your home and update your style every once in a while. Remember avocado green appliances?  If you need to transition your subject due to life-change, employment or educational shifts,this is also a good time to look at what changes need to happen on your blog. Think strategically about how you are going to rearrange the “rooms” of your blog home.

Your Style

We live in a world where people are obsessed with sharing what they love. Hello Pinterest? In the blog world sometimes the owner’s online style doesn’t match up with their personalities, and something always seems off. This is hard to explain, but trust me, you know it when you see it. When developing your online style, really hone into things that you love. Look at your style online in terms of design. Are you artsy or structured? Do you like bold color or are you more into sensible and classic?

One exercise you can do is take pictures of your “stuff”. Grab your phone or a camera and walk around and take pictures of your home. Snap photos of  your favorite items, fabrics, textures, whatever you see and like. Your style will start to emerge.  I want to also give a word of caution. You know how I joked about Pinterest earlier? It is a great way to capture and organize style ideas, but just be careful if you use this platform to do this exercise. Sometimes what you pin there is not a true sense of you, because you are capturing wants and wishes rather than reality. It can also become a huge time suck — not that I speak from experience or anything.

In a few words describe your personal style? Do you see the overlap between your home and blog? Leave your comments below and link to your blog so we can all check out your style.

 

 

 

Personal Branding and Your Blog – Your Home

 

Your Home

Your home is a place of comfort, community and hospitality. If your desire is to develop a memorable online presence, your “blog home” is essential. In the same way that developing your personal home style takes time and effort, the same is true for your blog. One thing I recommend to clients, based on personal experience,  is to spend a good bit of time thinking this through. I have mentioned before how I have gotten wild-hair ideas about things that I wanted to talk about, and how I have abandoned not one, but two personal blogs. I am learning, and the next go round will be more strategic. So don’t feel like you have to do this all in one day, take some time and plan.

While you need to spend some time on social media spaces (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.), your blog is where you and your content lives. It is your space. A place where you invite others in for a cup of coffee (or in my case some sweet tea) and conversation. As you are developing your personal brand, spend some time making sure the space fits you well. In future posts I will be talking about very specific ways to do this.

If you are developing a personal brand, having your own domain is essential.  Using a WordPress.com or blogger site to get started blogging is fine, but if you are thinking about personal branding, it’s time to take it up a notch. Find a domain name that fits you and your brand. Later on in this series I will be giving more specific ways things to think about concerning this. It is important. Stay tuned.

After you have your domain, you need to think about design. The design of your blog needs to fit your personal style, but it also need to have a layout that is functional. Spend some time looking at other blogs and at some templates. Make note of what elements you like and want to incorporate into your blog. You may have to spend a little more money here if you want something that is truly unique, or you can go with an off the shelf theme if you are looking for something clean and simple. Functionally, either option will work and it just depends on how personal you want the space to look.

Developing a blog that is a reflection of who you are and what you want to say is important. Sometimes it can also be overwhelming. Just like those times you have to hire an interior designer or professional organizer, sometimes you need to hire a professional social media consultant to get you strategically started. At Rocky Mountain Media Group, we love bloggers. You have made the web interesting and personal. What you have to say is important. We would love to assist  you on your journey to developing a meaningful and memorable space on the web that is your home.

If you are currently blogging, leave a comment and a link to your “home” below.

 

 

Five Tips For Optimizing Your Volunteer Experience Using Facebook

 

At Family Life Services, we use Facebook to connect, engage and thank our volunteers. Here are five quick tips to help you optimize your volunteer experience through your Facebook page.

 

    1. Prior to  a work group from an organization coming to your facility you should like their company or ministry page. It will make it easier to  tag the group on your page when time the time comes, and  by tagging their name in your post, it will also show up on their page as well. This is a great way to acknowledge them publicly for their service and let their fans, as well as yours, know how great they are.
    2. Make sure you have all the volunteers sign a release form before they do any work.  The release form should include a line about releasing all photo and video images for use in ALL forms of media. This way you can post pictures of them working hard on your page right away. At Family Life Services we host a large number of teen groups. If you have a group that has volunteers under 18 years old, be sure to have parents sign the release for their children.
    3. Be sure to mention individuals or groups before the actual workday happens. This not only builds anticipation and energy for the volunteers before they even get to work, but lets your fans know that you are partnering with another organization and encourages them to support that organization as well.
    4. During your orientation session with the volunteers, be sure to invite them to like your page prior to them diving into the work. At Family Life Services, our Volunteer Coordinator thanks folks for coming and welcomes them into the family. One way we do that is by asking volunteers to join the community on Facebook. Many times they will take out their phones and like our page right on the spot. Don’t miss this opportunity. Also remind volunteers as you are taking pictures of them throughout the day that you will be putting these up on Facebook and invite them to go in and tag themselves.
    5. Always follow-up volunteer engagements with a personal thank you. Social media is a great way to recognize volunteers, but it should never replace a personal touch. So send a note, or make a phone call to follow up with individuals and groups who volunteer after the work is done. Don’t rely completely on Facebook to say thank you.

 

Maybe you have some of your own strategies as well. In the comments please share the ways you like to be recognized through social media, or other ideas to optimize Facebook for volunteers.

 

(The photo is of a group of volunteers from Axis, an organization that volunteers regularly at Family Life Services)

Five “C”s to better blogging

Do you want to generate more blog traffic? Are you finding it challenging to maintain a consistent readership? Here are five “C”s that will help you take that next step as a blogger. After each I have included a couple of examples for you to check out.

Content

Many beginning bloggers don’t have a strategy for generating content. Developing a plan focused on a few specific topics that you are knowledgeable about is key. The old saying “Content is King” is just as true today as it always has been. The most successful blogs all have great content. These are the blogs you return to again and again because you know the author has put the time in and will deliver. Our picks for content kings are Michael Hyatt’s and Ron Edmondson’s blogs. Both pack a content punch where leadership material is concerned. Even if you aren’t into leadership material, take note on their content structure. They are the best.

Character

Did you know blogs have personalities? If yours doesn’t, this could be a problem generating traffic. Is your blog funny or serious? Can you be trusted? Ideally your blog is an extension of your personality. Spend some time working out what the character of your blog will be. Are you too guarded? The best blogs are authentic. Two of our favorite blogs that are extensions of the authors personalities are Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff, and the Barefoot Executive by Carrie Wilkerson. If I ever get the chance to meet these online superstars in person, I am sure they will be the same in person as they are online.

Consistency

Not only writing great content, but doing so on a consistent basis is essential for a creating a successful blog. For some, this is difficult. It is why I have started not one, but two personal blogs only to let them die a slow and painful death. (Third time is a charm. I am learning from my mistakes and hoping to launch my new consistent personal blog in January) Some words of wisdom here — you have to develop a schedule of when you will have new posts. Your audience expects this from you, and if you don’t stick to a schedule you will lose some of them. The details of the schedule aren’t as important as having and sticking to one. So decide how often you will post (Mon, Wed, Fri or Tues, Thurs, or every day) and make a commitment to stick with it. Without consistency, you won’t be able to achieve our next “C”. A couple of bloggers that I read consistently are  Seth Godin and Maurilio Amorim.

Community

Your blog can be a gathering place for conversation around whatever topic you are passionate about. It can be about motherhood, exercise, leadership, horses or spiritual development. The choices are endless. Regardless of the topic you choose, you can create an atmosphere that builds community. These are the blogs where the comments and conversations are just as important as the blog post itself. To reach this level of blogging you must be inviting. The comments need to be open and conversations friendly, even when people disagree. One of my favorite blogs that has an active community is Ann Voskamp’s blog AHolyExperience. Ann has built a whole movement with her followers who are passionate about sharing their “1000 Gifts”. It is a community of gratitude and it is simply beautiful. Another example is Carlos Whitaker’s Ragamuffin Soul.

Connections

All that wonderful content you are creating is just sitting there without connections. It still blows my mind the numbers of bloggers that Jeff and I talk to who don’t utilize social media to drive traffic to their sites. Especially Twitter. Twitter is almost a must use for bloggers. Sharing when you have a new post with your followers can not only get them to your blog, but allows them to easily share your post with their followers too. You can essentially share your post with thousands of people you don’t know. If you haven’t set up your Twitter profile yet, you can check out our earlier posts on getting started. Through Twitter and other social media platforms you can build a steady stream of new readers that share your passions and will contribute to the community. You should also make it easy for your readers to share your content via social channels. Most blog platforms allow plugins (like the ones on the left of this post) that allow readers to share valuable content with just a click. (Go ahead, share this post — you know you want to). Another way to build connections is reading and commenting on other blogs that cover similar topics. Almost all of the bloggers I have listed do this really well.

 

So there you have it. Five “C”s that can help you take the next step as a blogger. Maybe you are just getting started and need to focus on what kind of content you will produce. Or maybe you haven’t developed the voice or character of your blog. Perhaps you just haven’t committed to consistency. If you have already done those things, I encourage you to focus on building a community and making connections. Which “C”s do you need to work on? Let us know in the comments and let’s help each other out as we journey together.

Getting Started on LinkedIn – Five Essential Tools

While creating your profile and making your initial connections are important steps, to get the most out of LinkedIn you need to tap into the power of the unique tools it offers.  In this post I will highlight five of the most powerful features and give you some suggestions for how to best use them.

The LinkedIn Search

This tool is the real power behind the LinkedIn platform, and one you should become familiar with.

  • LinkedIn is really nothing more than a huge database of information about people, companies, groups and job opportunities.
  • Utilizing this feature helps you make focused and informed decisions about your connections and allows you to maximize your networking potential.
  • Spend some time using the search feature and play around with your search settings to narrow your results.

Answers

This is a cool feature on LinkedIn that I just recently discovered.  It is located under the “More” tab in the menu box.

  • In the answers section you can ask questions and search through the questions others have asked. You can also answer others’ questions.
  • People are asking for your help—this is a great way to be helpful and to connect!
  • People can vote for the best answers. If you give good answers, you are able to promote yourself and your organization.
  • News sources have been known to watch the answers section in LinkedIn to find thought leaders in a particular field. What a great way to position yourself as an expert.
  • This feature is awesome. Your answers help people who are looking for specific information and you benefit if your answers are good. It’s a win-win for everyone. [Read more…]

Getting Started on LinkedIn – Making Connections

In my last post I wrote about the importance of LinkedIn for your professional life, and how to create your profile. Today I’m going to walk you through some of the more specialized features of this platform to help you maximize your connections.

Finding Connections You Already Have

There are several ways to find and make connections with people you already know and may or may not have contact information for.

  • First, you can begin by selecting the  “Add Connections” on the top right of the home page.  This will allow LinkedIn to search through your address book to find people who have created profiles with matching information.  You can add connections from this page, but I recommend you wait.  Just make note of who is on LinkedIn and come back to this later.
  • You can utilize the e-mail contact feature here as well by entering email addresses and inviting people to connect.  (I would recommend holding off on doing this also, as it has a spammy feel to it. More on that later in the post)
  • You can also use the search field to enter names of people who you already have connections with and let LinkedIn find them for you.  Be aware that there may be quite a few John Smiths out there.
  •  If you enter the name of your current employer in the search field and select people, you will get a list of those who have indicated they work or worked there.
  • You can also enter a college or university to find connections you went to school with. And don’t forget to check out alumni groups.  (More on groups later)

Keep It Personal

All business is personal. When you send out invitations on LinkedIn you want those to messages to have a personal touch beyond the automated “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”. [Read more…]