Personal Branding: The Lighthouse Branding Model

More and more people are talking about the importance of personal branding, both in career searching and in career development. Effective personal branding not only makes you stand out from the crowd to employers and recruiters, it can also increase your job security by communicating your value as a leader and team player to your organization.

What is personal branding?

Personal branding is the process of identifying the unique and differentiating value that you bring to an organization, team and/or project and communicating it in a professionally memorable and consistent manner in all of your actions, both online and offline, to all current and prospective stakeholders in your career.

The Lighthouse Personal Branding Model

The lighthouse is a great model for breaking down the branding process into four key steps: the foundation, the beacon, the tower and the beam.

Foundation:

Your foundation is your unarguable strengths and experience in your chosen area. To identify your own foundation, write down the strengths that differentiate you from the rest and ask your friends, family and colleagues/managers to do the same for you. Identify the top three to five overlapping strengths that support the career direction you want to pursue.

Beacon:

Your beacon is the memorable and consistent communication of your strengths and experience. Now that you have identified your foundation, it’s time to create your beacon by finding a word or phrase that represents these strengths and can become your brand. Develop a short pitch that can follow your brand, describing your strengths in more detail. Ensure that your word or phrase is versatile and can change with your direction.

Tower:

Simply put, your tower is your visibility, reach and presentation, both online and offline, which support the beacon. This is really everything you do to proactively build your personal brand. The higher you build your tower with your efforts, the more visible you will be to potential career stakeholders. Here are some ways to proactively build your brand and credibility in front of your target audience:

Create a LinkedIn profile and follow the suggested steps to complete your profile 100 percent, making sure you include your personal brand and pitch in your subtitle and summary sections.

Create a Google account and profile for improved search engine optimization.

Include your personal brand on your resume, cover letter, business cards, email signature, voicemail message and across your other social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Consider creating a personal website/blog site where you can house all of your information, including experience, education, skills, honors, entrepreneurial efforts and more.

Start your own blog with a unique point of view on your industry/area of interest.

Contribute value in your book or product reviews, your tweets, your comments on other blog posts, your own blog articles or articles for print publications, your discussions in LinkedIn Groups and your advice via LinkedIn Answers or other forums.

Start a company full-time or on the side with relevant and valuable products/services/resources for the industry.

Publish and offer print and/or electronic publications.

Get quoted in the media by joining HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and contributing advice, experiences and insights to writers and journalists seeking expert sources.
Beam:

Your beam is your career direction and more active personal branding and career search strategy. It involves you gaining and projecting a strong understanding of where you want to go, what you want to pursue and how you will pursue it. First, you need to determine what functional area, geography and industries/companies you want to target. Then, you need to actively network your brand with potential career stakeholders. Here are some ways to start:

Join associations or networking groups within your industry and attend events to meet new contacts and build your target network. Be sure to share your personal brand with those new contacts.

Conduct informational interviews with target network contacts (whether or not you’re seeking a job) and share your personal brand with them in your introductions.

Find ways to bring fellow industry thought leaders together on a project or at an event.

Find ways to contribute to the projects or events of fellow industry experts.

Get recommended on LinkedIn and display testimonials from customers, clients and partners
Personal Application

I used this model to help develop my own personal brand during my MBA career search. Having identified my foundation to be my endless energy, out-of-the-box creativity, relationship building and problem solving, I looked for a word that could pull all of those strengths together into one memorable brand message. The beacon I chose was “generator” as I generate energy, creativity, relationships and solutions to problems. I was pursuing a career in marketing and brand management, and therefore, I became a brand and marketing generator. I proactively built my tower by incorporating my brand directly into my online profiles, my resumes and my entrepreneurial efforts. I then took a more active approach, targeting the “beam” by incorporating my personal brand in my interview responses, networking introductions and informational interview outreach. It was this process that helped me successfully secure my current employment, and this model continues to help guide all of my professional and entrepreneurial ventures.

Paying Utilities For REO Properties

I Want to List REO’s, but How Much will it Cost?I’ve written in the past about how to list REO’s for banks, but what many agents overlook are the related expenses that go along with carrying many REO listings.Listing REO’s can be very rewarding, but many agents neglect to plan ahead and understand that they will be paying utilities for REO properties that they have listed.This HUB will detail exactly what you can expect and give you some tricks and tips on how to not get in over your head as you start paying utilities for REO properties.What Types of Bills WIll I have to Pay for My REO Listings?Read this twice: It’s not just utilities and its not just while you have the REO property listed!It is incredibly important to understand the lifestyle of a REO listing as you start to budget paying utilities for REO properties. Most REO listings start out as “an assignment.” This means that the bank or asset manager have decided that you will list the property. However, many times the property is in no condition to be listed.To get the assignment ready to be put on the market, you may have to have one or more of the following services performed:
Trash Out (all debris, junk and left over belongings removed and hauled away)
Cleaning
Water shut off / Winterization
Pipe Repair
Lawn / Snow MaintenanceObviously these services are not free. What many agents fail to realize is that the banks expect you to pay for these services up front. Yes they will reimburse you, but it can take anywhere from 30 to 120 days.Once the REO Property Becomes a Listing…Once your REO assignment becomes a listing, most of the major costs have been paid for (trash outs, pipe repair, etc). Hopefully your client will reimburse you quickly.Now is when you need to make sure you are current on the REO listing’s gas, water and electric bill. In colder climates, If the heat gets turned off, the pipes will freeze and your home will never sell. If you have no electricity, buyers can’t view the home.Also, don’t forget that if you don’t stay current paying utilities for REO properties, they can become a lien on the home. If there is a lien on a REO listing that you are trying to sell, it can delay a closing substantially. That means you’re waiting even longer for your money.Tips for Paying Utilities for REO PropertiesNow that I’ve scared you out of the business, let me try and give you some tips for paying utilities for REO properties. This could save you thousands of dollars and help you avoid the huge cash drain that getting into the REO business can create.

Know Your Contractors: I can not stress this enough. If you have a good relationship with your services you can save a substantial amount of money for the services. If your contractors know they will get all of your business, their rates will be lower. If their rates are lower, you have less money that you are waiting to be reimbursed for.

Negotiate with Your Contractors: As you get into this business, you’ll be contacted by many service providers in every industry trying to earn your business. That’s great for your cash flow situation! Set up agreements with them that you will pay them immediately AFTER THE BANK SENDS YOU A CHECK. Even if its only $100, once you get up to 30 or 40 listings, that money adds up. If they won’t wait for the bank to pay you, offer to pay them half up front and half once you are reimbursed. As you get started listing REO’s and paying utilities for REO properties, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can carry the costs because “it’s only one listing.” Take a long term approach and think about every transaction multiplied by 40 listings.

Talk to your local bank: Many banks will be more apt to make a small business loan if you explain that the money will only be used for paying utilities for REO properties. If you can show them your client list, many banks will take that into consideration when factoring in risks. When they are lending against big name lending institutions and know that you will be reimbursed, its much easier for them to justify loaning you the money than if you were using it for marketing or business expansion.
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