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Aug. 12, 2021

220: How To Digitally Transform Your Personal Branding - and Yourself [Khaled ElAhmad Interview]

220: How To Digitally Transform Your Personal Branding - and Yourself [Khaled ElAhmad Interview]

We all know how important personal branding is important in today’s world. That’s why we need to invest more in it. Despite the need, have you already transformed your personal branding to fit the digital age of today?  I

In fact, let's take this thought one step further: Have you digitally transformed yourself?

In today’s episode, Khaled ElAhmad joins us to talk about how you can digitally transform your personal branding. Khaled is a “guide” based out of Jordan that helps business professionals with not just personal branding but also in Social Media Marketing in general.  He has worked with the Jordan government and Zain telecommunications network before opening his own consultancy on the same. Tune in to listen to the interview as he shares his journey, and how you can transform your own personal brand.

Key Highlights

[02:57] About Khaled ElAhmad

[04:07] Where it all started with personal branding and digital marketing

[07:28] Shifting from content creation to creating own content

[07:54] The three types of content

[09:22] Moving to Jordan and grabbing the opportunities.

[13:11] Creating a digital first impression

[17:05] Offering value after building digital first impression

[21:03] Polishing your digital skills

[25:15] Advice for people on their next personal branding journey

[27:30] Building a digital community

[29:27] Connect with Khaled

Notable Quotes

●      You don’t have to be an expert. You can be a guide and guide people to the right way when it comes to certain topics like digital media and personal branding.

●      The first thing with the digital presence: my profile, username, cover photo, and bio are my digital first impression.

●      All these little skills must be digitized. You must learn how to do that.

●      I would advise everyone who’s into personal branding to reinvent themselves and reevaluate their digital presence because the algorithms are changing. 

Connect with Khaled

Neal Schaffer Links

Transcript

Neal Schaffer:

Personal Branding. We know it's something that we always need to invest more in. But have we really transformed our personal branding for the digital age of today? In other words, what about the digital transformation of our own personal brand? To help you do just that, I have a very special guest on today's episode of The maximize your social influence podcast. Welcome to the maximize your social influence podcast with Neal Schaffer, where I help marketers, entrepreneurs, and business owners grow their businesses using innovative marketing techniques, leveraging the concept of digital influence throughout digital and social media. Everybody, Neal Schaffer here, welcome to the maximize your social influence podcast. For those that don't know me, I help businesses spark growth, through my uniquely innovative, data driven, and most importantly, digital first approach to marketing. I help this on a one on one basis with clients in a fractional cmo model, as well as group coaching through my digital first group coaching membership community. And on that note, I'm really excited today to introduce you to one of the fantastic members of that community who is all about personal branding, and is truly a thought leader in his space. Now, when I say his name, his name being Khalid al Ahmad, you might not have yet heard of him. However, if you speak Arabic, you probably and you follow social media, you probably know the name of Khalid, my friend is actually based out of Jordan. And he is he's been doing this for more than a decade. I mean, he'll introduce himself in the interview, but he is clearly a shining light in that part of the world, and really leading professionals and businesses not just in the personal branding, but in their social media marketing in general. So, yes, personal branding is like our corporate branding. It's something we always need to be investing in something that I haven't really talked a lot about on this podcast. So I'm really excited to introduce Khaled to you. And hopefully you can leverage his wisdom for your personal branding. So without further ado, here's my interview with Khaled and Ahmad. I'd like to welcome Khaled al Ahmad, calling in from the beautiful country of Jordan to the maximize your social influence podcast. Welcome, Amy. How are you? Thank you for having me. Hey, I am doing awesome holiday. And I know we're going to talk today a lot about personal branding, how you become known for it also the advice that you have for our listeners. But before that, I sort of want to get into knowing more about you. I have only gotten to know you over the last few months, and I believe it was clubhouse of all places that brought us together. Right?

Khaled ElAhmad:

Right. It was a great opportunity. I rarely go there. But when I went, I'm glad that I met you and zhaan your digital community as well, which I learned a lot. I advise anyone, not only people in marketing or digital marketing, but also trainers with all types of sectors. If they join your digital community, they will learn a new way of reaching out and learning together within a community. So I advise everyone to join your community. I learned a lot.

Neal Schaffer:

Oh, thank you so much. And hopefully the learning will continue and not not past tense, their future tense as well. But But hey, so yeah, we got together clubhouse, and then it was just when I was launching digital first. And thank you so much for your membership. And it's really through that, that I've learned more about you and the incredible influence that you've built. And maybe some of us, the United States may not known. But if you speak Arabic, and you live in the Middle East, and you're into digital marketing, personal branding, aha, that is probably a household name by now. So why don't we take a step back? And how did this all start? How did you get to become known and build that influence around personal branding, digital marketing?

Khaled ElAhmad:

Sure. And I lived in the states for a while. And then I moved back to Georgia then in 2009. But I did not have any friends or network there. So and that was almost the beginning of social media. So I rode that wave, and I was following a lot of people like yourself, and I got to learn about personal branding and content marketing and social media management back then. So I started learning and curating content in so I would I would see something in English that's really valuable. I will summarize it, then I will not say I will translate it, I will advise it. So make it, really localize it and Then share it with the people here with mentioning the source, of course, and the credit. And now I became a content curator in a specialized topic, which is social media, digital media, back where in 2009. So I started teaching people how to use Twitter and so on. And this this identity, this personal branding branded me as a social media trainer, before they were any, or you know, that was very rare here in Arabia. And so whenever you hear someone and say, I'm looking for a social media strategy, or I need help with social media presence, or I need to do this, I don't need to do that. Everyone stop pointing fingers, go see her, go to Sephora, go see her and he shares a lot of stuff. He should be he must know what he's talking about. So this is how it started. So I just build that brand. And I gave a lot of free information for people. I tried to educate people sector level, not brand level. So that gave me the reputation, the digital reputation that I was aiming for.

Neal Schaffer:

That's amazing how that's it's really interesting. I have a friend in Japan. And it's almost a similar story to give him a shout of curiosity, Cigala, for some of you that might know him. But very similar in Japan, nobody was following these topics. He started basically doing what you were doing, but doing a Japanese version. And then he became the go to person and became a successful author, consultant, what have you. So it's interesting how you go from content curation. But when you start sharing this information over time, people begin to see you as an expert, don't they? And maybe that's one of the one of the ways we begin to sort of dig into this this topic of personal branding.

Khaled ElAhmad:

You don't have to be an expert, you can be a guy that you guide people. There you go, I learned this information. Sounds very interesting. And I advise you guys to go and dig deeper into it. So I'm not an expert. I don't like that word. I just guide people to the right when it comes to certain topics like digital media, and personal branding. So So yeah,

Neal Schaffer:

this is how it started. But at some point, and I think that's great. And especially if you're creating content, from you know, influencers that you want to engage with people that you want to get to know better, and you tagged them, you get the added benefit of that. But I'm curious, at some point you shifted, though, I'm assuming from content curation, to creating your own content. So what does that look like?

Khaled ElAhmad:

Definitely. So So after seeing multiple topics or strategies about certain topic, like personal branding, and so on, I started developing my own content, my own strategy. So for example, when it comes to content strategy, I start saying that you should have three types of content one, that's brand content that talks about your product or services, to sector content that you need to start teaching people about sector topics that you are in nothing to do not salesy. Nothing to do with your product or services, and free social content, which is the type of content that generates a huge amount of engagement. And that's what's gonna help you with your reach. So I start creating my own plans, my own stuff, where from what I've been reading and curating in the past.

Neal Schaffer:

That that's great. And I think that so many people think they need to be that expert. I call that like r&d. I will also In fact, I sometimes write blog posts as part of this, this r&d process of creating a summary but in the form of a blog, but it's my own research and sharing that perspective. So, so Yeah, and I think that's also interesting. You're talking about the branded content, the sector, or I guess, you could say, industry or non branded content, and then social content, which obviously more and more gets a lot of short form video and reels, and, and that seems to be getting the most impression these days. But how, at a certain point, so it sounds like you went back to Jordan, and you found the niche, you began to talk more about it? And I'm assuming over time, you were able to build a business out of that. I mean, what does that look like?

Khaled ElAhmad:

Okay, so I'm gonna tell you about the opportunities, the US the two opportunities that I got the first one, we had a very progressive Prime Minister that he was establishing a team for his upcoming government. So he found all the job titles that was in 2010. And there was one job title missing digital media director for the government of Jordan. And at that time, when they asked and they have, you know, all these consultants help helping the government finding the suitable guy for this position. Each time they asked Someone and they say, we never heard such a thing here in Jordan. But there is a guy who tweets about digital all the time. So who wouldn't want to Twitter guy would either professionally guy, so but after they heard the guts, there's so many referrals more than one time they called me in. And I went for the interview with the experts. And they noticed that my digital skills, knowledge is high higher than usual. And after a second and third and a fourth interview, I was hired as a digital media director for the government. So I did that for a year. And then after that, I started offering consultations and training went back to freelancing. And then I approached that we had in 2011, we had the top 10 telecom company here in Jordan, Zane started with social media so that they were the first company to have a social media presence. But it was via an agency. So I emailed the CEO, and I pitched myself, I introduced myself, This is what I did, this is what I do. And I pulled them from reading the trends in the West, most telcos started investing in establishing an internal social media department. Few time allows, for a 15 minutes coffee break, I can talk to you about how we can together do this at your company. And that got me an interview. And I went to Zane and established the social media department and stayed with them for eight years. So these two job opportunities gave me a boost with the personal branding. And I always kept the freelancing I always have this mentality that I my job should not take more than 80% of my time. And there's always 20% for my freelance time. So I have a huge I worked on the foundation of freelancing, ever since I never I never left. So since I left these two big companies, these two big jobs when I went into freelancing have a good base. So now, for example, now I work from home, I have the community I have I do trainings, consultations, and that,

Neal Schaffer:

yeah, no, that's amazing, you really, you proactively approached them and took advantage of those opportunities. And I think that's all it takes one or two to be able to build, you know what you've built. I also love that 80% for company 20%. For myself, I am very similar to my friend, when I do my fractional cmo consulting, I have my own time sort of blocked out. And I will cap it a certain number of hours so that I ensure that I have that 20% which for me is Friday Fridays like my day a content creation and podcasts and blog posts and what have you. So that's awesome. So since then you've you've been freelancing, you've been doing a lot of different things I know you're really active course creator, community builder, I want to dig in to this personal branding. And when we were talking about what we were going to discuss today, you talked about the digital transformation of yourself may immediately just love that. I think when we think of digital transformation, we think of it and in my bio, I'm always like, it's about the digital transformation of sales and marketing. And you take it one step further and talk about yourself. So I guess, you know, where do we get maybe it's it's that that digital first impression that we discussed as well, what is a digital first impression, and why is it important? And how can people sort of perfect their own?

Khaled ElAhmad:

Okay, you know, everything is, especially with the COVID COVID speed up things, so everything is going digital. And it is mandatory that we have digital skills. Some people work like before, but the measure did not. And now they're forced into working on their digital skills. So when you go to a job interview, or when you meet someone for the first time, they're gonna have a first impression of you from the first 10 seconds. The way you dress, the way your body language, the words you choose when you talk to them. So this is the first impression the rest of the time in a job interview they say they're gonna go ahead and confirm that first impression or deny it. So the first impression The first thing second is the killer. The first thing with with the digital presence, so the digital presence, my profile doesn't matter which platform if I'm actively say on LinkedIn, or Twitter, so my username, my photo, my cover photo and my bio. These are my first impressions my digital first impression. So when when I comment, for example, on LinkedIn, My photo, my name and the headline, this is what people see, when I comment someone else. And this we're gonna, we're gonna help them decide to visit my account or not. So I always I, whenever I teach social media and digital skills, the first things, some people don't think it's relevant, or it's important. It's really important, the very detail of your profile, the photo you pick, and I take them to tools, like one of the tool for the photo, there's a tool called photo feeler that people vote on your photo, and from different KPIs. Until you have this photo was fit for business, which is LinkedIn, or for Snapchat, which is maybe Twitter or Facebook. So it is important that we work on our digital first impression, because that was going to help people visit your profile, and when they visit your profiles, your chances of following you is going to be higher than before. So that's the third lesson first impression.

Neal Schaffer:

Yeah, such great points. And it really is a core digital skill at this point. I think with some generations, it's LinkedIn, that's where people are gonna, you know, look you up. And I work with a lot of real estate agents, realtors, and they're all about Instagram. I mean, that's like, where all the eyeballs are the the impressions and what have you. But, you know, there are people that will still look, even though you may not like LinkedIn, you're not active there. People, especially professionals, will will vet you there. And I think it's a great reminder for everybody to have and don't just say, why don't you upload a photo? What will you do? Because it's all about that digital first impression how that and it was really interesting looking at my kids, that Instagram is the place where newer generations are making their first impression, the place where my kids will look people up, and they'll see it becomes this visual first impression. Versus, I mean, there's a bio like LinkedIn. But yeah, it's just very, very interesting how the Times have changed, but but there you go, hopefully, some homework for some of you. So after you perfect that digital first impression, you know, one of the things you talked about was offering value in return for money, or maybe not in return for money, but just offering value as part of building that personal branding. So we have that first impression belt. Where do we go from there?

Khaled ElAhmad:

Yes. So and most people when they when they design, their content strategy, they're talking about how can we build a post that talks about our brand that sells our product or services, and they forget the non branded content, they forget the sector content, which is the most important because you should have I call it a plan B objective, which is, beside itself. Let's say your goal in your digital presence is maybe brand awareness or generating leads, let's say that's your main goal. Fine. I have no problem with that. But you should have also aside a plan which is building thought leadership, how and why should you build thought leadership leadership, because you want to be the go to person in your sector, you want to build that digital reputation, you want to attract referrals to you a word of mouth? And how can this happen when you offer value. So if I want to invite you to my house, I'm cooking dinner for you. For example, I'm not going to give you the recipe and attilio here, cook it yourself in my house, I'm gonna go grocery shopping, cook it, prepare it, make it fancy, and give it to you ready to eat. The same thing with content I have to go and research for good content, summarize it, make it none boring. Like for example, and some of the the tweets, what I tell my students do not use a full length sentence. Instead, make the sentence instead of eight words, make it four words. So now short sentence on a tweet, then space, another structure. Now it's easy on the eye even though it is takes, and it's not a visual thing. But once it's organized, structured in a very nice way, it's easy on the eye to read it so I can read it. Now the tweet instead of narrow tweet is a longer tweet. So takes a bigger better space in the timeline of the reader. So all these things, some sort of value. I am educating people about my sector so to say I am selling courses in social media. This is my content. But I want to inform everybody about social media, train people about social media, give them free information about social media. This year, we'll build thought leadership. And this will be the foundation of word of mouth for me. So people will say, Okay, I'm looking for whenever somebody asked in on Facebook or somewhere, I'm looking for social media classes, everybody will start tagging me. Why? Because they learned one or two tips for me on my account. So this, I see most people ignore this type of valuable content. And this is important.

Neal Schaffer:

Yeah, it's such a great point, call that value of curated content, I think that if you're just talking about yourself, unless you're already a thought leader, you can't build thought leadership, you just look like someone that's doing self promotion, right. But when you share others, it can lead to you getting your own business, it's a little counterintuitive, but it actually works. And you're a you know, role model for that. You also, you know, before we got together for the interview, you talked about polishing your digital skills. So, you know, I sense from talking to you that digital personal branding is this core digital scale, beginning with your bio sharing information and value that you know, relates to your products and services, building that thought leadership, what does polishing your digital skills is it like that tweet and bringing it up making it easy on the eye are there are there other things?

Khaled ElAhmad:

You know, for example, I have fear of public speaking, long time ago, and I had to work on that and be comfortable with talking to people and the crowd. And then I found out this is talking to the camera is another issue. So I have to learn how to be comfortable with talking to the camera. So the communication skills we need to work on especially the digital communications, we need to know like one of your videos how to have a setup for your podcast, or for your YouTube channel. So we need to learn, for example, there's this thing that how to fast read how to fast watch videos, this is now becoming like a trend. And there are all kinds of things that you can watch to learn how to do that, how to search, Google Search hacks, how to search for the right things to get the right things. So public speaking now when in the past when, for example, I'm not a designer, I'm not a graphic designer. So if I want to learn how to do graphic design, I have to learn how to work on Adobe, Photoshop and so on. We don't have to anymore, now we can go and learn on Canva how to do all your social media design. So all these little skills, now you have to be digitized, you have to learn how to do that the art of writing an email the right way, and the art of responding to people how to be responsible when somebody sent you a private message, how to talk back to them now with with the sales funnels and landing pages and email marketing. Also, it is important to learn about it I tried to learn about but I can't But anyway, but there are tools coming out that makes this process very easy for you. For example, Zapier and so on and everything. Like if I have an event, and I want people to register for this event, I use, for example, Google Form, and that takes it to Google Sheet, then I can I can link my Gmail to Google Sheet for every time there's a new line, a new email goes to this line, and so on. So there are so many things that we can learn digital to help us with connecting with people will create a means with sales and so on.

Neal Schaffer:

Those such great points on almost thinking, the personal brand, or building a digital personal brand, is almost a great excuse to get immersed in these digital skills that that become the core of of sort of what you need, especially people listening to this podcast, you know, business owners, entrepreneurs, obviously, marketers, these are things that we all have to know how to do the good thing is it's easier than ever. And there are more resources and ever to help us learn. And so there's really no excuse, you know, if you were to go to a Neal schaffer.com slash membership and look at the logo for digital first membership community, my 16 year old daughter actually created that in Canva, right, she creates podcast images for the school of influence podcast now. In fact, if you were to apply to blog at my site, she's going to be the one responding. So and you know, and for her, it's natural. And I think that this is something that we also need to be building these similar skill sets. I think if we want to stay relevant, but also for our business, they're just so key. So we've covered a lot of the landscape collect going forward. For those that are listening and they feel that they have been building their personal brand. They sort of want to know what's next. You know what they should focus on. We've seen the emergence of audio, a lot of us obvious We met on clubhouse Twitter spaces. And you know, Spotify grew and what have you, we're still talking about video, you got reels. I know a lot of people are focusing their personal branding on that, you know, LinkedIn, you know, every other day, I hear new podcasts of someone going viral on LinkedIn. Obviously, there's a lot of opportunities out there. What advice would you give everybody, you know, what they should focus on next in their personal branding journey.

Khaled ElAhmad:

They have to always try to reinvent themselves re evaluate their digital presence. So the algorithm of changing Instagram is changing. And there are changes happening, right, maybe hashtags won't be relevant as they used to be. Photo videos are taken over photos, LinkedIn is coming back, again, with much more of a bigger opportunity than Facebook. So I would advise everyone who was into personal branding, to re evaluate the presence and the social platforms they're on, I am still a huge fan of Twitter and LinkedIn more than anything else, I feel, I feel the value from them is coming. Also, like your digital community, I'm trying now, I built additional community, and I'm trying to have two pins I just started two days ago to have a free area. So I said, Okay, all the stuff that I post on social media, I'm not gonna post there anymore. So what I'm going to do is, I'm going to post it here on the platform on the community, this is the free area, I'm going to go to the social media, tease about it, and book, the link of the post on social media to bring people attract people to register goods free, I'm not selling them anything. So I'm attracting people to the community. And now we have around 140 people 110 are paid and free. So yeah, that's it.

Neal Schaffer:

Yeah, that's great. And that's something as in, by the way, I mean, colored is a is a very, very humble guests. But his community has been I mean, you know, since launch, very, very successful in terms of, you know, numbers of pain members, but also the results that you have, and the learning that you're doing there. So we'll definitely post the link to that in the show notes for those that are interested. But yeah, I think for I think we both believe in the power of community. And, you know, somewhat the, I won't say the future of businesses community, I wouldn't go that far. But it I think community is an important part of any business, right, and trying to get more people involved in that. And then trying to get those people once they're in engage. These are also very, very complex issues. But I love that concept of reinventing yourself. And I have rebranded myself several times. For those that remember I was with Mel network. In fact, this podcast used to be called Social Business unplugged. And then it was called maximize your social and then as I released the age of influence, it became the maximize your social influence podcast, and maybe someday will become the digital first podcast, I don't know. But and it's totally natural, right? Because the algorithms are changing, you're gonna find, you know, success on some platforms, more than others. And I believe that, that over time, and we've been doing this since you know, 2008 2009, your passions change as well, maybe you get really into video, and you get really into YouTube, and you rebrand yourself that way. And I think that's totally fine. You know, people will change industries with their career. And with that, they will change their personal branding as well. It's a very natural outcome. So it's a good reminder that a personal brand is sort of a living organic entity, and you need to change with it. And in doing so, in parallel, your business is an organic living entity as well. And those same things, you talked about how we need to check, you know, and audit how we're doing. I mean, businesses need to do this too, right. And they need to pivot, and shift. And yeah, for my digital first community, and I haven't really done any podcasts specifically about the community and renting it what I've learned, but definitely that freemium model is an interesting model of thought of, and obviously the platform circle that also allows you to do that. So I think that's a great idea. I'm, I'm still doing other other avenues that I'm exploring but yeah, there's, as you know, in anything we're talking about here, there's no one right or wrong answer. It's only what's, what fits you and what you want to do. And we all learn from that. So Hello, thank you so much. And yeah, this is not a podcast about me, it's a podcast about you, but you've you've inspired me to want to you know, add on my thoughts here. So Khaled for those that are listening, where can they find out more about you? And do you have I know obviously, your main you know, your your community and your products are normally in Arabic. Do you have any? I believe you have an English website as well

Khaled ElAhmad:

how on website and I have a book but unfortunately, everything is in Arabic. So and my user name is should know which means in English whatchamacallit. So as you can, anyone can search for this and they can find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and that's The girl

Neal Schaffer:

sh u s. Mo. Exactly. Gotcha. And your website URL. It's just not me just Madani. Okay, beautiful. Well, there you go. There's the personal branding in action. same username, same website. Love it. I'm the same way. Neal Schaffer. So awesome. Well, hello, thank you so much for your time today, I know that I've learned a lot. And I look forward to continue learning together with you in our community. Thank you very much. Thank you for having me. and have a nice day. Thank you. I hope you enjoyed that interview with that, I hope it gave you some ideas for your own personal branding. And, you know, when I wrote the age of influence, I didn't really talk much about personal branding there. But there definitely is this connection we can make between influence, and niche, and content creation, and our online branding. And hopefully, after this, and how Khaled talks about personal branding, you'll be able to sort of make that connection as well, and hopefully, be more active in social media. Because if we want to digitally transform our personal brand, that's gonna be a big part of what we need to do. And if you'd like to join a collider myself, in the digital first group coaching membership community, just go to Neal Schaffer comm slash membership, it is where I am present on weekly zoom calls, answering any question you have, also holding you accountable. And really, it's not just myself, but the other members, who are true thought leaders in their own right, that are helping other members as well. So it truly is a community. And I love to serve those people. They're there. They're my tribe. And I want to make sure that everything that I learned from all the work that I've done over this plus decade experience that I have, that I'm giving my best for all of them. So I hope you'll join us. But regardless, I really do appreciate your listening to and continuing to subscribe to this podcast. I look forward to hearing back from you, whether it's on my website in social media, or if you love to post some feedback. Hopefully it's positive. But regardless, any feedback is great feedback. Feel free to write a review for this podcast on your favorite podcast app. Well, that's it for another episode. Until next week, make it a great social day. Bye bye everybody and SEO nada