Why I moved to Portugal…

Now I’ve started my communications work in Portugal, my friends, business partners and colleagues start asking me the reasons for my move. This is, of course, a very legitimate thing to ask. Let me share some of my thoughts on this.

If you check out my bio, you’ll discover that I’ve quite a record when it comes to communication. Coming from a Dutch entrepreneurial family with international ties, it is natural for me to look across borders. However, this is the first time I took the step of really moving out of my native country for work. Why oh why?

The challenge

First reason: this is a challenge. Look at my CV or bio, and you’ll see that within my profession I always took on major challenges. Like starting up the PR for the then new car brand Daewoo. Or, some years later, setting up the corporate communications department of the listed B2B multinational Vopak. More recently I was involved in developing a social media and privacy strategy for a leading major healthcare organisation. I love complex project. I love building. Coming to Portugal poses a new challenge. Focusing on international communication, I am thoroughly challenged.

The possibilities

A challenge alone is not enough to make a move. Having been a regular visitor to Portugal, I have seen not only those challenges, but also increasing possibilities and opportunities. I believe in the products and services coming from this country, which combine innovation and tradition with craftsmanship and sustainability. However, I also believe that the communication deserves a boost. I’m convinced that my multinational background will add to what is already here. It is not just about marketing, it is about bridging invisible barriers and connecting in new ways.

The perspectives

‘The grass is always greener…’, I’m sure you know the saying. Portugal is, in many ways, a unique part of Europe and definitely different from my country of origin. So far, I’ve learnt a lot about the societal, social and cultural climate here. I had to step way out of my comfort zone when moving here. In return I gained new perspectives and reflections. I don’t believe the different climate is or should be a deciding factor, though I’m not going to complain about the weather here. Let’s be realistic: it should never mask the other qualities Portugal has to offer. In short: I’m finding new perspectives.

‘Cross the bridge when you get there’. Well, I’ve arrived.’

The diversity

Portugal is a fascinating place to be. Interestingly, it shares a common world-conquering history with my native country. However, the way its colonial past has been absorbed into daily life is quite different. Having been active in various areas of diversity, I have become inspired by the Portuguese approach towards diversity and inclusion. I realise how sensitive this matter is, and I’m sure there are lessons to be learnt for me in this area. Yes, I’ve come here to learn.

The passion

So, you see there are many reasons for me to be here. Last and definitely not least I want to mention the most personal one: love and friendship(s). These have been the ultimate triggers to not only continue my professional life here in Portugal, but also rebuild my personal life. To me, there is no difference in personal and professional.

This is all about passion and the pursuit of dreams. It’s real life. As one of my friends taught me: ‘Cross the bridge when you get there’. Well, I’ve arrived. And I’m now crossing the proverbial bridge…

 

 

 

 

 

Make your content work: 5 basic rules

You’re pressed for time, but you need to get your message online. You’ve been there. Let me give you some quick basic expert advice on making online content that engages and gives you results. Based on my extensive experience in producing content for a wide range of purposes I’ve selected these 5 basic rules. If you follow these, I’m sure you’ll be more effective online.

1: Keep it simple

Focus on what is most important in your content and stay close to that focus. If you want to attract more real-time visitors for your event, then you have to make your online content massively relevant to your online visitor. Get to the point and stay there – so avoid long sentences or texts and technical terms. Try to make it easy to understand in one glance what the message is about and highlight relevant information and links.

2: Keep it authentic

Your content should be unique. There’s a lot of irrelevant copy-pasting and use of generic photos or graphics. Here’s the thing: you want your visitors to understand you are offering something special, so they will stay with you – and hopefully stay with you. For my customers I create unique content based on journalistic principles (text), graphics that are in line and consistent with your specific identity, and photography that is (once again) unique and engaging.

3: Define your targets

Make sure your content is relevant for the people or customers you want to reach. Start by defining your target group(s) and your goals and hold on to that. Use the (social) media that are most effective to your purpose. Be clever: try to use content that can be used in other (social) media. For instance: the content I produce for my customers is “modular”. In other words, you can take out or insert parts of texts, information, links, graphics, data, or photos in order to suit your message to the medium and to the target groups.

You want action

4: Be attractive

You want to attract visitors and involve them immediately. You may just want to sharing information, but most of the time you want action: users should buy your goods online, visit your event, make an appointment etc. When creating the content, be sure that everything needed to get the action is there and easy to use. So, don’t forget dates, addresses, links, forms and other relevant information that the user will look for to do WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO DO. Being attractive doesn’t mean “being cheesy” or “being cheap”, but that is a matter of personal taste.

5: Timing!

I’ll finish with a very short piece of advice which seems so natural that it gets overlooked more than you care to know. This is: consider your timing carefully. First of all, take care you’re not too early or too late. And consider the dynamics of different media. Check out the peak moments of the different social media you want to use (you can find them online). Great content can go down the drain with bad timing.

Let me finish with this remark: there’s a lot more you can do to get your content working more effectively. This post is about tactics and basics: how to make effective content quickly. For my customers I usually develop a long-term (corporate) content strategy which will lead to a more sustained engagement of their target groups. And usually, I produce the content. Don’t worry though. If you don’t have the time or budget, these tips will get you off to a great start!

What happens in Portugal, stays in Portugal?

Well, of course not. Being one of the leading countries of the European Union, Portugal has a lot to offer and to tell abroad. That is a main reason for international communications specialist Alfred Jansen to move his work to Portugal. Now based in Lisbon, he focuses on multinational companies with a seat in Portugal and Portuguese companies with activities and/or ambitions abroad.

Are you dealing with other European countries? Then you’ve experienced that communication is not always the same as it is at home. Even if you consider Europe to be united, business is not as synchronised as it could be. Companies from outside Portugal with a seat here, know the issues. They are not only cultural and language differences, but many more subtle aspects of communication.

Alfred Jansen has, for most of his career, worked on an international level. He sees many opportunities for growing the international activities of companies based in Portugal.

The right tone

Are you managing a company in Portugal? Do you deal with other nationalities? Then you’ll know how hard it is to set the right tone, either with your international staff or customers. Communication is a vital aspect of all your activities, from marketing and publicity to human relations and customer relations. Sometimes you need to refine the strategy, sometimes you need to develop the right tone in how you communicate to your audiences.

Adding value

Alfred Jansen has always focused on results. In other words: communications activities should always add value. In his words:

“Communication is not merely communicating, it is making communication work.”

In Portugal he distinguishes three areas where he’ll really add value:

  • Internationally operating multinational companies and organisations in Portugal
  • Portuguese companies with cross-border activities (or ambitions)
  • Individual communications training (Be One) for managers

Depending on the company’s needs, his approach will be strategic, hands-on and result-driven.

Specialisations

Having dealt with many different types of companies (and governmental and non-governmental organisations) in different areas, Alfred offers his services to all ambitious, quality-driven businesses. You can check out his profile here, and you’ll find that his main specialties are in automotive, transport, logistics, ICT, GDPR/Privacy, tourism, fashion, healthcare and inclusivity, both business-to-business and consumer-related. In addition to the communications services (producing content and media), he’s got a great track record in training, events and presentations.

Personal communication

The best way to communicate is by personal contact. So, please get in touch for talks and a short but effective presentation so we can get to point as soon as possible. Share your international business ambitions with Alfred Jansen and he’ll show you how you can get your communication on a higher, more international level.

Call +351 936 814 043 or contact Alfred online.

5 Most Misleading Myths of Personal Branding

I’ve come across some pretty interesting viewpoints about Personal Branding – one of the understandably popular subjects on LinkedIn. I’d like to help you out a bit by discussing the 5 Most Misleading Myths about Personal Branding. Here you go.

For most of my career I have been guiding both companies and individuals in the best ways to communicate. Based on my vast experience I developed the “Authentic Communication” approach with the “Manifesto” as an effective working tool for all levels of communication. This tool also fits those who are interested in their Personal Branding. I’ll get to that at the end, but first: The Myths.

Myth 1: You can create a personal brand

Let me get this out of the way first. Many “experts”, “coaches”, “HR-gurus” or whatever they call themselves are happy to help you create your personal brand. You might be disappointed to learn that you already are a brand. There is nothing to create. All you need to know is how to identify your characteristics (good and bad) and use them to your advantage. You are not a company, a product or a service (see point 4). You are a real-life person with your fingerprint already fully embedded. Your authenticity is your strongest and most enduring asset.

Myth 2: Your online presence reflects  your personal brand

There’s a lot of emphasis on how to present yourself online, in particular on social media. As for LinkedIn, you are most likely using it to advance your career or secure your future. Of course I’m not going to tell you how to spend your time, but have you noticed how much information you like or endorse on social media without even understanding the perspective? Let me ask you this: does your profile reflect you in real life? Have you become conformist or do you stand out as you are? The easiest way to determine how real (authentic) your profile is, is to compare your profile on different accounts like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. If you want to brand yourself properly, you will have one identity with a margin for different goals on different platforms. Do you have one consistent online fingerprint?

Do you have one consistent online fingerprint?

Myth 3: You have to be out there

Being your personal brand means nothing more than being aware of who you really are and also being aware of the way you represent yourself. If you are a salesperson, it’s good that you have the extravert qualities needed to persuade customers. If you’re not an extravert (I guess most of you are not), then it is quite reasonable to expect that you will do other work and have a different social life. Your average Personal Branding guru will encourage you to go out and be more “out there” and extravert. Now, if you are not like that, there is absolutely no need to follow such advice. You will do what feels – and consequently ís – right for you. This will deliver the best results. People – in both private and work circumstances – will appreciate who you are, if you are who you are. You might lose out on a flashy career in the spotlights… So what?

Myth 4: You are a product

Honestly, I can’t even believe I wrote this sub-header. More and more, marketing approaches are used to “improve” your Personal Branding. You are a person in your own authentic way and that is your strongest trait. You’re not going to be a better person, because you already are. Start believing it. Believing yourself. Contrary to companies, products or services you have your own gut to rely on. Treating yourself as a product, or allowing “experts” to treat you as a product may seem very clever, but it won’t hold in the long run. What I suggest you to do is to stay as real (authentic) as possible. Find out about yourself, be aware of this and learn how to represent yourself.

Myth 5: It’s hard work

Now, this is a point where admittedly I’m in doubt. Being consistent is hard work. Sure. You’re only human so you’ll respond to different situations and challenges in different ways. Still, I argue that Personal Branding is easy, once you have figured out who you are and how to deal with it from your unique (and singular) perspective. You’ll have to take a hurdle to get there, and that may be the hard part. Please realise, in my opinion and based on my own experience, that once you have created the awareness of who you are, you’ll start acting more consistently and that simply takes less energy. You’ll be able to filter out more BS and use your time more effectively. Which will improve your real-life qualities, both socially and professionally.

People – in both private and work circumstances – will appreciate who you are, if you are who you are.

How I do it

I’m curious what you think about the points I made above. I’m sure you’ve all come across discussions about Personal Branding and wondered how that would work out for you. What I say is this: find out who you are, be aware of who you are and see how anything that comes your way fits your story.

Don’t believe so-called experts, believe yourself first.

I’ve been pretty consistent myself, using my own Manifesto for many years. I’ve printed it on the back of my business card and you’ll find it on my website. I developed it using the approach of “Authentic Communication” for businesses. It is a technique I also commercially use for people who get stuck in their Personal Branding. An authentic Personal Manifesto should reflect their qualities, identity, personality and expectations. I’m a guide for others in this area, no more and no less, using my experience in areas relevant to them.

Sometimes I’m asked: “Where did you find that Manifesto of yours?”. I try not to feel offended, but this question reflects how much some people just copy-paste their identity online. My answer I didn’t find it at all! My Manifesto is me!

A final piece of advice: don’t be a copy-paster!

Feel free to contact me if you want to know more…