10 Year End Tweaks & Tips

Reindeer GuyWhat would the end of the year be without lists? Best books, worst movies, most dramatic failures, the most influential people; the list of lists goes on. In that spirit, but hopefully much more useful, are some quick tips and tweaks that you can complete in a few minutes each.

  1. How is your profile photo? If you aren’t happy with your headshot that you use for LinkedIn, Twitter and other sites, take a moment during the holidays to take a new one. You will probably be dressed nicely and with other people, and everyone has a camera, so do it. Don’t wear the reindeer sweater!
  2. Scroll through your LI contacts with this question in mind: “What good work do I remember about this person doing on which I can base a LinkedIn recommendation?” Start at Z in your contacts for a change, and work your way from the bottom. Write the recommendation. It will be a wonderful holiday gift that will be appreciated much more than the Scooby Doo Chia Pet from Walgreen’s.
  3. Review just your current job’s block in your LinkedIn profile. What have you done this year that isn’t included. Update this and your résumé with your 2012 accomplishments.
  4. Again, review your contacts. Whom have you not spoken with in a long time? Send a note or make a call. Check in. Keep your network alive. A “Happy Holidays!” wish is always a great reason call.
  5. Invest some of your downtime (New Year’s Day, perhaps) taking inventory of your volunteer work. You haven’t done any? Check Catchafire or VolunteerMatch for ideas, or look close to home. The Rotary, Lions, faith communities, and the Boys & Girls Clubs are great places to start.
  6. Start that blog you have been thinking about. WordPress and other sites couldn’t be easier to use. You have great ideas to share. What are you waiting for?
  7. Check your privacy settings in your social media accounts. Are they still appropriately set for your needs? While you’re at it, change your passwords to something more secure than 123456.
  8. Update your signature block in your email account. Be sure that it reflects your professional brand as it should and that all information is current.
  9. Actively participate in a different LinkedIn or Quora conversation once a day for a week. See what it does for your thinking, creativity and networking.
  10. Drop the cash for a box of personal business cards. 123Print and Vista Print are good, cheap sources to get your personal networking cards printed.

What are you working on? Do you have other ideas for quick-hit tweaks for the final days of the year? Please share them.

Do you want to know more about Catchafire? Read about my experience here.

Bill Florin, CPRW is the President of Resu-mazing Services Company in Monroe, CT.

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Lay Off? Move. Now!

If you or someone you know has gotten laid off, or expects it soon, get ready to work hard and fast to get back into the workforce right away. If that means working some 12 hours days and weekends during the first days and weeks of unemployment, so be it. A column in Bloomberg Business Week shares some sobering data, including the point that long-term unemployment does not help workers and likely hurts as job skills and professional networks get stale.

What should you do if that pink slip and cardboard box for your personal items comes your way? Here are a few ideas:

Get all of your career marketing materials refreshed. This includes your résumé, LinkedIn profile, executive biography and executive project summary/portfolios, as well as any online presence you may have.

Quickly move to contact people in your network. Let them know that you are available and open to discussing new opportunities. Don’t rely on an email. Pick up the phone and make a call. Buy coffee. Get out there!

Get creative in considering what you will do next. It may be that a less than perfect job now is better than hanging on hoping for just the right thing that may never come. Don’t forget the lessons of the long-term unemployed: it is a downward spiral that can be tough to overcome.

Build a routine to stay sharp. Get out of bed, get some exercise, get dressed and get ready for the opportunity to meet people. What if you pick up the phone – or someone calls you – and you have to get across town in 30 minutes for a cup at Starbucks? Will you be ready?

Plan your day and week like you would on the job. Check off your task list as you complete it. The accomplishments and record of achievement will give you a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.

Rely on your support system. Friends and family are going to play an important role. Keep talking and sharing your wins and frustrations. Sometimes talking can make a huge difference as others can give you outsiders’ perspectives on your own blind spots.

Engage in professional groups. This can include on-ground physical groups or virtual groups on LinkedIn, Quora or other forums. This will keep you thinking about and staying current on your profession.

Work hard, work fast and get back to work.  

 

Social Media: What Are You Waiting For?

Think back to a time not long ago when people used the term “computer literate” to describe themselves and their skills. Understanding how to power up a PC, attach a printer and use productivity software like Office or WordPerfect was a pretty big deal. Having this skill could give you an advantage over your competitors. Those skills are assumed now and you better have them. Remember that every kid coming out of college has been using a computer since birth.

We are at that same tipping point in the use of social media. If you know how to use Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora and other sites, especially in ways that help your organization and your professional reputation, you have a marketable skill. If you haven’t taken the plunge and signed up and figured it out, you are getting lapped by the field.

Think about how you are going to use these tools to stay connected. In the world of many employers and organizations, if you aren’t on line, you don’t exist.

Quora: What do know? Everyone is good at something and has special knowledge to share. Get into it by following topics that interest you and post quality answers. Ask questions and give feedback to the answerers.

LinkedIn: Use the site’s learning center to understand everything it can do. Start with a simple profile with a good photo of yourself (think corporate headshot, not party pics) and tell the world what you do. Start working it to find people you have known professionally and personally. Use the site’s news feature to track industry stories and social media updates.

Blogging: WordPress and others allow you to share longer ideas like this. It also gives others – including potential employers and clients – the chance to understand your thinking and evaluate your skills in a non-threatening way. Take the time to post quality work, and keep it fresh. You don’t have to post every day, but you don’t want to fall into the land of
abandoned blogs, either.

Twitter: Stay current on topics that interest you. Send out tweets that use industry jargon and you will soon have followers. Link your Quora and LinkedIn accounts to Twitter and your thoughts will get out into the world.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Social media activities have short shelf lives, and you can always delete from your own profile. Jump in, experiment and see where it takes you. With some effort, you may be able to say you are no longer “social media awkward.”

Manage Your Rep, Save Your Sanity

There are countless companies that want to help you manage your online reputation, but there are things that you can do yourself for free that can make a big difference. Here are a few ideas that can keep the paranoia monster at bay as you take positive action.

  1. Log in to Google Dashboard. Take control of your image by setting up your profile. Not only will you stake your claim using this important Google resource, you can specify the links that Google shows the world when they look for you.
  2. Search for your own name regularly. Using the major search sites (Bing, Google, Yahoo), search for your name and see what comes up. If there is something that shouldn’t be there, Google offers a tool to address the issue: Me on the Web (available on Dashboard).
  3. Generate positive content. Frequent and professional use of various social media sites can dilute the effect of older content that you may not like. Consider setting up a blog (like this one), use LinkedIn and Quora, or create your own website to define the conversation about you.
  4. Be Smart Online. It is easy to let your guard down and say something you may regret. Before you post it, think about how it will look or sound a year from now to a potential client or employer.
  5. Share the Love. If you see a blog or other content you like, let the author know. Link your blog or site to the ones you like. The favor may be returned with an incoming link that will raise your site and its content in search results.

Do you have other thoughts or experiences to share concerning online reputation management? Feel free to share your comments and stories for all to see. Thanks for sharing!

Are You Part of the Big Brain?

On what topic are you an expert? Maybe you spend hours each week working in a discipline that has allowed you to develop expert level knowledge in some area. Maybe you have a passion outside of work that others would find valuable. If you haven’t explored Quora, you are missing an opportunity to learn, share and bolster your personal brand.

Inc. Magazine offered a useful tips article for Quora users. Visit Quora, read the article and understand what the site is all about. Then consider this.

If you have a skill that you could share to benefit others, consider engaging in this forum. Pick a topic and search for some of the people who are also involved in the conversations. You will find thought leaders on every topic freely sharing their knowledge, asking questions and engaging in dialogue. If you want to know what the leaders in your field or industry are discussing, this is a great place to visit.

Think about how you can burnish your own personal brand on the site. I have been visiting and posting to help people with questions concerning resumes, cover letters and other career marketing issues. What do you know a lot about that you can share?

File this pointer under “New Things I Have Learned This Week.” Take a few minutes, see if the site and the conversations resonate with you, and decide if this can help you develop your professional brand and online reputation. If so, jump into the conversation, have some fun and show us how smart you are.