Tag: LinkedIN

Building The Brand: LinkedIn

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

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So, when I sat down to write this post on building a personal brand using LinkedIn, I had a few false starts. Over the course of the past few months, LinkedIn has played a pretty big part of my activities online, so I needed to find my focus before writing about how I actually utilize this network. First, it started with someone sending me information about a job that I should apply for. Then, a friend asked me about how to beef up her profile and another asked for help on using the LinkedIn advertising network. Finally, last week, I got a promotion at work. Needless to say, my profile needed to be spruced up.

As for what to do with your LinkedIn profile, well, therein lies the challenge. If you’re already active on Facebook and Twitter, you might not want to jump right in to being active on another network. But if you’re job searching and want an opportunity to get some attention, you should absolutely be a presence on LinkedIn. For me, LinkedIn is where I get my industry questions answered. It’s also a place for me to establish a bit of credibility because really, at the end of the day, that’s what your online reputation is all about.

So, let’s dive into the three main parts of LinkedIn that I think are critical to personal branding: your profile, LinkedIn Answers, and LinkedIn Groups.

The first thing that you should know about LinkedIn is that it allows for you to announce your skills to the world, as well as the network you’ve built on there. Skills such as public speaking, writing, and marketing are just a few of the things you can emphasize when you put together your LinkedIn profile and luckily, this is a network that is very flexible. With tons of apps to be added to your profile, searchable skill sets, a resume-like setup, and the option for people to recommend you with testimonials, LinkedIn is a job searcher and networker’s best friend.  This is where professionals find each other. 

So, if you:

  • Are looking for a job,
  • Want to expand a skill set,
  • Need to build up your network,
  • Just graduated and need to start building a personal brand,
  • Want to improve your online visibility and reputation,
  • Want to establish yourself as an industry expert,
LinkedIn is the place to be.

LinkedIn Answers

One of my absolute favorite features of LinkedIn is the answers community. It’s sort of like Yahoo! Answers, only without the teenage drama. Most of the questions are industry or professional base, so in a way, you get to use this feature to pick the brains of people in the business without having to pay for a consulting fee. In the past, I’ve asked questions about copywriting, public relations pitching, and what books I should be reading outside of school, but really, you could ask about anything. If you have a question about what you should be doing or how to handle a professional or work-related issue, then this is a wonderful and free resource to consult. Plus, it’s a great way to expand your network.

When you participate in the LinkedIn Answers, you have the option to not just ask questions – you can answer them too. Answering questions and connecting with other professionals in this community is a great way to expand your personal network and show off your expertise. If someone sees that you’re a frequent presence in the Answers, they may come to know you as an expert in a particular subject or a resource in another. If they see you asking lots of questions, they may think that you’re someone who is always learning and inquisitive – two skills that can be a great match for a variety of positions. I mean, there’s no way to really tell how you’ll be perceived, but one thing is for sure: activity on LinkedIn will keep you at the forefront of your network’s minds and if you’re looking for a job, being on someone’s mind is a good thing.

Also, people want to connect with other knowledgeable people in their industry. When you show that you’re knowledgeable, people notice and may seek you out to connect with you to pick your brain, offer you a job, or just say, “hello.” All good things.

My Profile

Now, when it comes to your LinkedIn profile, this is where the personal branding business comes in. If you look at my LinkedIn page, you’ll see that I’ve filled it out almost in its entirety. Taking advantage of the space it offers is a good thing for me, since it gives you a much more well-rounded and complete picture of someone. There’s only so much a resume can tell you. LinkedIn lets you be creative and more importantly, expand upon those resume items that you usually note in your online profiles: position name, company, dates worked.

As for best practices, here are my biggest takeaways:

  • Underneath your name, in the headline, that’s reputation gold. Most LinkedIn users will notice your headline, name, and photo in quick succession and those are the things they remember (in my ultimate geekyness, I actually read a study about this a few weeks ago). So, for that headline, make it count. Most people go with their current job title, but you can also get creative with it.
  • In your profile, I think it’s also good to list some of your responsibilities and experiences to go along with your job, just like you would a resume. Maybe put 3-5 or so points below each position held, detailing what you did as well as any significant successes (e.g. Aided in coordinating Project X; grew budget by 50%, etc.).  This gives dimension to the jobs you’ve listed and can be a great way to emphasize what you can do.
  • Don’t forget about the Skills section. Add in specific skills, like Microsoft Word, as well as more “abstract” skills, like marketing, communication, project management, organization, public speaking, etc. These are things that people look at and say, “Hey, this is someone that could really fit well with the organization.”
  • Choose a professional picture. For the love of God, this is not Facebook. A simple head shot where you can clearly make out that it’s you will do. Aside from the headline and your name, this is one of the most heavily viewed areas of your LinkedIn profile.
  • Beef up your additional information too. Don’t be afraid to share a wide array of interests. If you love cake decorating, say so! Really into yoga? Note it! Again, this is something that people can connect with you over. Plus, it gives a much more “human” side to your professional achievements.
  • Link to your Facebook, Twitter, website, etc. If content is part of what you do,  having touch points for people to find it is important.

You can also play around with different LinkedIn add-ons, like WordPress, SlideShare, Amazon Book List, etc. to add dimension as well as portfolio material. Anything that you can share to show another user who you are and how you’d fit in their network makes a difference.

Using the SlideShare LinkedIn app, I’ve added a copy of my portfolio. Granted, my portfolio is always a work in progress, but this was a great way for me to show a little bit more about the work I’ve done without cluttering up the page. My portfolio is just your basic PowerPoint presentation. I’ll get into my portfolio in more detail in another post, but the goal is to convey examples of some of my best work in a variety of media. That media option is HUGE when  you’re job searching because it eliminates that extra step for people finding your work. You put everything you want right in front of them. Convenience is a powerful thing.

Finally, get some recommendations.  People may give these to you without asking, but don’t be afraid to ask for them if you need them. You’ll want to reach out to your connections and try to get recommendations for your work personally, academically, and professionally. There’s a reason that word of mouth is so powerful. Recommendations make you more than a resume – they make you a person. They establish trust. They give a feel for what you’re like.

LinkedIn Groups

I love the groups feature. Just like Facebook Groups or Facebook Business Pages, LinkedIn groups is a place where you can connect with others, expand your network, and again, show off your industry expertise. If LinkedIn Answers is like the library, then LinkedIn Groups is like that coffee shop you really like. Conversation is the name of the game in Groups, so if you want to have some more in-depth discussion on a particular industry issue or get some thoughts or feedback on some of your recent work, a Group may be the place to do it.

Most groups are divided into categories based on geographic location, industry, interest, professional society, etc. There is no shortage of opportunity for you to connect over something you have in common with others. Groups (as well as Answers and your profile) can sometimes lead to job offers or introductions to new people. They can also result in real-life connections, speaking invitations, collaborative projects…the list really goes on and on.

I’m sometimes bad about participating in groups. I would say about 80 to 90 percent of the time, I’m a lurker. I’m observing the conversations taking place. I should really chime in more, but sometimes, it’s just nice to listen.

As for developing your LinkedIn presence, I could write about how I manage my page, how I expand my network, etc. But I’ll save those topics for other posts in the future. These are really the three core features that I feel are most important if you’re just getting started with LinkedIn or want to start making something of your page.

Thoughts? Feedback? Discussion is welcomed!

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How I Build My Personal Brand

Research on Iran. by Negar Mottahedeh Social M...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about personal branding, but it seems like now is the perfect time to do so. After completing the #Trust30 Challenge and writing a few reflective posts, I’m ready to get back into marketing, social media, and branding. It’s what I know best and feel most passionate about.

In previous posts and in some of my guest posts, you may have read about ways to strengthen your presence on LinkedIn, blog successfully, or utilize social media tools like Facebook to grow your brand, either as an individual or an organization. In this next series of posts, I’m going to share a behind the scenes look at what I use to grow my own personal brand, both online and offline.

Here’s what you can expect to hear from me:

  • Why I keep things PG-13 on Facebook
  • What social network I’m still exploring
  • Why I have two Twitter accounts
  • What’s in my portfolio
  • How I pay it forward
  • How I was a guest poster even before I got into blogging
I’m not a celebrity in social media by any means. What I’m writing about isn’t gospel, but it’s what’s working for me right now. I’m just sharing my perspective. Other opinions and points of view are welcome!
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Guest Post Round Up 10/4


More guest posting goodness from around the internetz.  Stay tuned for upcoming posts on The Next Great Generation, Search Engine People, The Communications Blog, and The Solid Cactus Blog :)

Interview with a Communications Professional: Gini Dietrich – TheCommunicationsBlog.com

Interview with a PR Pro: Deirdre Breakenridge, Part I and Part II – The CommunicationsBlog.com

5 Tips for a Better Online Portfolio – TheCommunicationsBlog.com

Using LinkedIn to Build Your Online Reputation – The Solid Cactus Blog

Coming Soon: The New Twitter.com – The Solid Cactus Blog

Session Recap: Email Marketing, Meet SEO and Social Media – The Solid Cactus Blog

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Making Friends - Marketing Cartoon
Image by HubSpot via Flickr

A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with an old classmate from LLHS. Andy, who is currently living and working in Asia, is living the dream. He’s traveling and doing what he loves – and to me, that’s pretty darn awesome.

He and I chatted about what we were up to and though we never talked much in high school, we had the chance to connect over the idea of connecting. More specifically, social media.

This brings me to my point: connections.

No matter what you decide to do in life, you have to keep in mind your network. The people you connect with can be responsible for you losing or finding a job, getting an interview, or even finding your life’s true passion.

I call myself a communicator, but when it really comes down to it, I’m a connector. I like meeting new people and expanding my network. I connect people I know with others who may provide them with some help or advice. I connect people to information they may find valuable. I share my connections.

It’s not easy.

Keeping up one’s network takes a ton of time and effort and while some consider it to be worthless to try to keep up, I beg to differ. I say “Happy Birthday” to people on Facebook. I reply to emails. I send a random “How are you?” every once in awhile to some friends. I’m not perfect about it, but I do make an effort, and believe me. It can be a huge challenge.

Challenge yourself to connect with your network for 10 minutes today. Email some old friends. Facebook someone to catch up. Meet someone new on Twitter. Write a recommendation for someone on LinkedIn. Really take the time to contribute to your network and keep it up. Just ten minutes every day can make a huge difference.

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Making Your Online Portfolio Stand Out

Virtual Resume & Letter
Image by Olivier Charavel via Flickr

My blog is a lot like a patchwork quilt. A little bit of writing skill here, some expertise there, and a stitch of what things interest me. It is designed to be both a form of self-expression and a portfolio, which makes it difficult to hone down exactly what I’m doing. Chances are, I fall into the huge category of young professionals trying to differentiate themselves from the competition by taking an active role in their web presences.

An online portfolio shouldn’t be dry or boring or cookie-cutter. It should pop and really speak to your strengths and personality. Over the past week, I’ve been reading about how you can make your portfolio stand out and here are some of the tips I found most helpful:

1.) Give Your Portfolio a Human Side:
a short bio of who you are, what you like, what you’re interested in, and what you’ve accomplished gives a prospective employer or client more information about you. They get a feel for who you are and what you might be like to work with. Plus, it shows you’re not just another producer of bland content.

2.) Pay Attention to Design: this is especially critical for those looking to enter an artistic or visually-driven industry. Having a killer design captures your audience and gives your portfolio a chance at standing out from the crowd. Plus, it’s another way to express your personality and reinforce personal branding.

3.) Clear, Crisp, Concise: we don’t want to be bogged down with a lengthy tale of your career history. Short, sweet, and to the point information will get your point across quickly to a prospective employer or client without making anyone feel agitated in the process. Slim and trim your paragraphs. Write actively. Keep the reader engaged and make sure your resume, case studies, or project descriptions are clean and neat.

4.) Make it Available: this is one of the biggest mistakes people make when they put a portfolio online. Either they put it in a place where it can’t easily be found or they make it difficult to share, save, or email. Make sure that your online portfolio or resume is saved in a PDF format (it’s pretty universal) and can be downloaded easily. Also, you may want to think about adding a share button so that it’s easy to email or post.

Try adding a link to your portfolio on social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Brazen Careerist. You can also create a button for your blog so that prospective employers and clients can find your stuff and access it easily.

5.) Show Off Your Skills: Be sure to provide a body of work that displays your talents and really speaks to your abilities. Don’t just put in one or two samples of work in the same field or genre. Try to tailor your porfolio to a specific career goal, or go all out and show a little bit of what you’re capable of. As always, only put in your best work.

However, if you’re looking for another way to be creative, try writing a blog post that features some of your not-so-best work and discuss what you learned from the experience and what you’ll do better next time. This can be a great way to show an employer that you’ve got some mad critical thinking skills and that you care about improving.

What are your favorite portfolio tips?

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10 Reasons to Be on LinkedIn

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

LinkedIn has been getting buzz in the professional world since its launch, however, many people aren’t choosing to take advantage of the network. Why should they invest time in another social media tool? Don’t they already use Facebook enough?

Here are 10 reasons why I think people should take advantage of what LinkedIn has to offer.

1.) First off, it’s a great way to network with your friends after college. We go our separate ways after graduation and keeping up with everyone after jobs have started can be difficult. LinkedIn, like Facebook, makes it easy – however, in a much more professional environment.

2.) LinkedIn can help you grow your professional network. You can connect with professors, colleagues, friends, or people you’ve just met at a conference. Either way, y our network is going to prove vital once it comes time to get answers to a question, leads on a new job, or even a reference for an upcoming job interview.

3.) LinkedIn Answers is a great resource for finding answers to specific industry questions. Think of it like Yahoo! Answers all grown up and gone to college. It’s smart, likeable, and everyone’s favorite invite to the party.

4.) LinkedIn isn’t a “set it and forget it” kind of resume. It’s a dynamic professional presence that allows for you to bring together references from past and current employers, your social media profiles, your resume, and your personal interests to give employers a good look at who you really are and what you have to offer. The key is to keep interacting on the network, growing your connections, and reaching out to others to give references, answers, and input.

5.) LinkedIn can be a way to get your foot in the door at a specific company. Take for example GE. For a school project, I worked with other students on developing a presentation on the management strategies employed in the company. To get some first-hand accounts of what it was like to work at GE, I turned to LinkedIn. I searched for employees and sent them messages asking for their help. Out of the seven I contacted, I heard back from four. I got answers to my questions, some great insight for my presentation, and I made connections with four people within a major organization – four people who may provide a good word should I apply for a position with GE.

6.) LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to network by joining online groups. These groups can help you find professional organizations, people with similar interests, and even great news articles and blog posts that relate to your industry.

7.) LinkedIn can help you control your online identity. Prospective employers tend to search for applicants on Google before conducting and interview and having a great LinkedIn page can be a strong first impression that can help you land that position.

8.) LinkedIn helps you search for jobs! I know how frustrating it can be to look for jobs and sometimes you feel like you’ve looked everywhere. Luckily, LinkedIn offers a wider network of jobs to pull from, which means more chances for you to find the position that fits your skills best.

9.) LinkedIn helps you prepare for interviews by helping you find out more about who may interview you as well as the company you’re hoping to work with. Profiles of people who work for a specific company may provide useful info on their job history and background, not to mention, their roles within an organization.

10.) LinkedIn helps you stay in touch with your contacts on a more professional platform. You can connect with friends, family, teachers, coworkers, or even that volunteer coordinator you worked with once at a fundraiser. Just keep growing that network!

I’m on LinkedIn and I’ll be your first connection!

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Are You Engaging?

In recent interview with The Weekender (pick up a copy this week to read the story by Donna Talarico), I was asked about what kinds of posts I find to be most useful on Twitter. Hmm…good question.

To me, inspirational quotes or little tidbits of knowledge are always the most useful. If you get me to click your link or stop to consider the quote you’ve tweeted, you know that you’ve done your job. You drew me in, kept my attention, and engaged with me meaningfully.

So what does this mean for you?

Whether you’re a site owner developing a social media strategy or an individual looking to make some connections, rmemeber that the secret to success is meaningful engagement. In the social media sphere (LinkedIN, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) other networkers are going to make or break your success based upon what you offer up to the constant flow of communication. If you enter into the Twitter stream only looking to sell your product (or yourself for that matter), prepare to be unfollowed. Users want something more than a sales pitch. They want personality, not just a brand or a few empty tweets per week. They want a forum to connect with you and voice their concerns. They want a meaningful engagement.

Can you give it to them? If not, social media may not be the best place for you. However, creating a successful web presence can yield benefits well worth the effort. Believe me, there’s nothing like taking part in the constant flow of conversation between hundreds, if not thousands of people at once. It’s connectivity in a global village at its best.

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