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Careers: Personal Branding from the Floor Up

How does a self-described “floor guy” become a social media expert?

How does a self-described “floor guy” become a social media expert?
If you’re Rob McNealy you fall into it (pun intended). After a marine business he had started wasn’t making money, he accidentally got into the flooring business by way of a friend who had a flooring company. Four years later, he not only has a successful flooring business but a thriving business empire that includes several floor businesses, a startup radio show and web consulting business along with a medical consulting firm (co-run by his wife, Kristie).
Here is Rob’s story of how it all happened:
“I’m an ex-corporate refugee who hated the corporate life. After my flooring company took off, I asked my wife, ‘Do you mind if I become the floor guy?’ And, she turned to me and asked, ‘Do you mind if I don’t do a medical residency?’ She was finishing medical school at the time. And, that’s how two entrepreneurs got born.
“I was the hardwood floor expert for a radio show and as a hobby started a radio show on small business. I interviewed some people on the show doing new media and got the idea to put the show on the internet. I got much more traction online than on the radio. The blog and podcast took off after that.
“People started asking me for help with their media work and before I know it, we had become web consultants.”
Don’t for a minute, however, think that Rob is simply running businesses. A marketing maven, he had the foresight to realize that he needed to create brands. As he puts it:
“Branding is nothing more than simply looking at yourself as a product, and marketing that product.  At this time, I have two brands that overlap, Rob the “Startup Story” Entrepreneur Guy, and Rob, the Floor Guy.”
Rob also had the insight to recognize that Twitter is a branding tool and in just a year as become a top 100 Tweeter. He’s also active on LinkedIn and Facebook.
“Twitter is the best relationship building tool on the web at this time,” he says. “Twitter is a great way to communicate with others, as well as communicate your brand to a large audience in a very efficient manner.  You get to have conversations from your desk. You don’t even need to buy someone coffee. The great thing is, you are talking with many people at once.
“The strategy for me is to meet great people.  Those connections can lead to friendships, business ventures, investment opportunities, and of course, promotion for Startup Story (his radio show). Most people tend to hang out on only one social media platform, so it made sense for me to play in many sandboxes at the same time.”
How does he do it all?
“Ancient Chinese Secret,” jokes Rob. “Actually, I am usually multitasking.  I run multiple montiors, and have multiple social networking platforms running in the background. I will often be twittering or on Facebook while working on clients’ social media projects, or doing paperwork, etc. I put in three to four hours a day of screen time on social media, however, rarely is social media the only thing I am doing. “We work a lot, as we run several businesses. Most of the time, we work 12 hour days.  I currently run two workstations with two monitors each. My wife and I use five computers between the two us.  However, one of my affiliate marketing friends runs four monitors, so I still have room to grow.”
Here is some advice from Rob on using social media to grow your presonal brand and business:
“Web/Social Media offers the best bang for the buck for marketing,  hands down!  Not only is it cost effective, it’s a great way to market your personal brand, so people get to know you.  Once your brand is known, work will come your way, as you are the one that people think  about.  For instance, in the social media and entrepreneurship networking circles, I really promote Startup Story and entrepreneurship as my brands.  However, I’ve also gotten dozens of flooring projects, as people know that I am a floor guy, even though I don’t promote the flooring business in that way.”
How are you using social media to build your business? I’d love to hear from you.
Wendy Marx, PR and Personal Branding Specialist, Marx Communications
Personal branding, public relations, personal brand, Rob McNealy, social media

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About the author

Wendy Marx is President of Marx Communications, an award-winning boutique B2B Public Relations agency known for turning companies and executives, including start-ups, into thought leaders. Follow her on Twitter @wendymarx and on Google+ @ plus.google.com/+wendymarx.

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