Don’t Assume Anything!

As part of my job search for a new role as a Learning and Development Manager I am very focused on ensuring that I maintain my visibility online across various platforms.

I have also been working to ensure that my Online CVs are both right up-to-date and promoted. This last weekend I was talking to a friend who works in recruitment. They commented to me that it would be really good if, in addition to having domains that use my own name, I could have a domain that reflects the role that I do.

When we were discussing it we thought that it was highly unlikely that there would be a domain name available that exactly matched the type or role that I do.

Later in the weekend I was working on the computer and I suddenly thought to myself — why not check what domain names are available and who has the domain name that I would really like.

You can I am sure imagine my surprise when I checked on my preferred domain name provider and quickly discovered that was available! I nearly fell off my chair!  Within a few hours I had a new domain waiting to be populated with content.

In less than 24 hours and with some quick work and updating I had a keyword optimised CV online at Learning and Development Manager

The moral of the story — never assume anything until you have checked!

Should I Tweet or Should I……?

With job applications to complete which can take several hours, interviews to prepare for, telephone calls to recruiters to make and so much more when it comes to job hunting the temptation to a little procrastination can be as real as it is in the workplace. So how do we ensure that we avoid procrastination whether we are in a job or looking for a new role?

Let’s start by recognising that we are not alone! Procrastination is one of the most common ways people sabotage themselves and don’t get all all they want from life. By putting things off, they are not as efficient and productive, and can cause damage to their professional and personal lives.

Fortunately, there are several quick and easy ways to stop procrastinating and start moving forward with all your important goals.

  1. Make a list of what needs to be done – Then you can start tackling these tasks.
  2. Rank that list in order of priority – Put those with the closest deadline at the top of the list.
  3. Break large projects into little steps – In this way, we won’t feel overwhelmed and can create a pattern of slow but steady progress.
  4. Organise your workspace – A cluttered work area will be harder to be productive in. Organize your space with a place for everything, and everything in its place. In this way, you won’t waste valuable time hunting for things you need.
  5. De-clutter your computer – Your computer should also be well organized, like a filing cabinet, with folders and files all named something meaningful that will help you find them again. Don’t just dump everything into Documents or litter your desktop screen with everything that “you might just need.”
  6. Rearrange your room – If your desk is facing a window or something else that might be distracting, such as a TV, it might be time to move around the furniture so your room says “Work!” instead of “daydream” or “waste time”. If it is a multipurpose room, such as your office and also a guest room, group the furniture together by function. And don’t hang out on the bed with your laptop all the time, or you will be in danger of falling asleep.
  7. Keep a paper calendar – Carry a small calendar with you. It’s useful for writing down important dates and checking availability.
  8. Use time management techniques – Time management is the art and skill of making the most of the time you have by organizing it and using it efficiently. Start by seeing where your time is going each day. Track yourself on a spreadsheet in 15-minute increments. Write down what you do: Get up, go to sleep, break for lunch, have a meeting and so on. Do this for a week. Chances are you will find things that are eating up your time but have no real value.
  9. Avoid eating up time with email, Facebook and so on – Email, Facebook and other social sites can be handy for communicating and marketing, but they can also eat up a lot of time. Try to look at them no more than three times a day: morning, noon and night. You will be amazed at how productive this can make you.

If you struggle with procrastination, try some or all of these tips and see what a difference they can make to your life.

How Effective Is Your Online Personal Brand?

Have you given any thought to your Online Personal Brand? Whether you have been online for years or are only really getting into it of late, you need from time to time to review how you are using “online” to support and maintain your intentional personal brand and also broaden your reputation.

The tools offered online to communicate and network are incredibly powerful in terms of the opportunities they give to communicate your personal brand, strengths and areas of expertise.

If the area of online personal branding is new to you then the following will help you to get a head start.  If you have been online for some time then a litttle time spent reviewing how you are doing is always time well spent.

How To Build Your Online Personal Brand – Start with Google

In evaluating your online reputation, ego surfing or vanity surfing (going to Google or Yahoo, putting your name in quotes and seeing what turns up) will help you determine your existing  visibility and indeed your credibility. You might learn, for example, that something has been posted online about you that is less than flattering. Is your name the same as a convicted felon? Maybe that’s why clients aren’t calling you back or the job offers aren’t coming in!

On the other hand, you might find that your ego is a little bruised when you find that nothing shows up. You might even stop and wonder if you even exist! This  lack of results could be a result of not being focused on your online presence. The good news is that you can fix this!

First, prepare a Google profile by visiting Google Profiles. There, you will be prompted to post information about yourself, your career and your interests. This tool is completely free and tends to rank high in Google searches. A Google profile is similar to a LinkedIn profile where you control the content.

LinkedIn and Your Online Personal Brand

LinkedIn provides you with a tool to start building your online reputation by offering space for you to write about your professional background, including your specialties, experience, education and interests. Once you’ve populated a profile at LinkedIn with your photograph, summaries of your experience and education, you can start connecting with colleagues. Find people who you’ve worked with in the past, who you’ve met at networking events and who you work with currently. Send them invitations to connect and become part of your network online.

LinkedIn also provides an impressive extension to your professional networking efforts. On LinkedIn, you can join groups that bring like-minded professionals together to discuss important questions and issues within their areas of interest. These can be professional groups, alumni associations, interest groups, etc.

Facebook and Your Online Personal Brand

Imagine if you’re sharing something or building a relationship with somebody in your audience and they decide to share that with their audience. That circle of influence is growing and growing!

I use Facebook to bring my brand to life and to humanize myself to online audiences. If done well, Facebook offers a great way to build a personal reputation and credibility within your network of “friends.”

Facebook Groups

Facebook also has groups. Groups are similar to business pages but are intended more for special interests or clubs, such as an alumni association or Neighborhood Watch program. Each group has an administrator, and members can be selected or limited, just like a club in the real world.

Blogging and Your Online Personal Brand

I think blogs are fantastic, if done right(as the one you are on is – I hope!). If you want to attract and retain readers, it’s important to be clear and organized with your blog focus.

Just like the other social platforms we’ve discussed, blogging is a form of dialogue. Even though you publish the content, you want a conversation. You want people to comment on your posts and even to link to your blog in their blogs or websites.

Be sure to blog about things that are consistent with the positioning that you’re building. Comment on other people’s blogs. Start a conversation. Build a community around a topic.

Blog readers spend one to two minutes reading a post, so you want to make sure that your content is interesting and engaging to your audience. The ideal blog post is 250 to 750 words in length.

Twitter and Your Online Personal Brand

Unlike a blog, which is unlimited in content, Twitter gives you only 140 characters with which to express your point in posts called “tweets.” This can be tough! People who are interested in what you have to say can choose to follow you on Twitter. Your tweets are fed through all sorts of RSS (Real Simple Syndication) formats.

The tweets by all the people you follow are fed into a home page that opens when you log into Twitter, or into a Twitter application that you can set up to sort and filter your incoming Tweets, or into your mobile device.

One well tested strategy for Twitter is to connect with peers, clients, potential clients and a targeted online community while building your reputation. Allow some of your personality to come through on Twitter, as you should do on all social networking sites. People want to connect with real people. Being human, authentic and expressive online gives credibility to your personal brand.

YouTube and Your Online Personal Brand

The beauty of YouTube is the simplicity with which you can share all of this. Let’s say you’re in interior design, residential real estate or web design. You can easily produce some very quick, one- or two-minute videos on best practices or suggestions to help others. You don’t have to be a videographer or produce highly formatted edited content. A simple webcam or camcorder is enough to create a video of decent quality.

Effective Online Personal Branding

They say that for websites “content is king” when it comes to online personal branding then credibility is king. To gain visibility and recognition, you must walk the talk of the values you promote.

For instance, if you say you are about collaboration, then you must engage in dialogue with others, share resources and celebrate the success of others as well as your own. The online community is extremely focused on transparency, and they’ll expose an impostor in a very public way.

Your goal is to create a real, genuine and engaging online persona that will attract the attention of people who care about issues similar to yours. You cannot use the online space to create an alter ego and show up as someone you’re not. Stick to your personal brand plan and you won’t go wrong.

If you take the time to build your initial strategy and let it guide you through your online personal branding journey, the details will fall into place. Have fun and be yourself. I look forward to seeing you online!

Four Unexpected Benefits of Social Networking

Benefits of Social NetworkingIn the series of pages in the Social Media Guide section of this blog you will see that I talk about how it’s a truly social web out there. No one can argue that. People are flocking to Facebook (a billion active monthly users) and are spending a large portion of their Internet time on social networks. Because of this, the experts tell us, as business owners, we also need to be on social networks.

It make sense. It definitely does.

But beyond simply trying to connect with our target audiences, social networking offers some other unexpected benefits including…

SEO Benefits: More and more, search engines are taking cues from social media to discover what content is truly valuable and what they should include in their search results. That’s why it’s not just important that you are present in social networking, but that your target audience is talking about your content. Make it easy for them to share your blog posts and create buzz for you. It will not only increase your traffic from social networks, but it can also increase your traffic from organic search.

Knowing People Before You Meet Them: Okay, I’m not talking about stalking anyone here, but there is tremendous value in already knowing a lot about people before you make a connection with them. Social networking gives you the opportunity to find people who share similar interests and values as you before you attempt to make a connection. Then, when you do approach someone, you can use the information you already have to get their attention and show them you’re someone who has done their homework.

Knowledge is PowerLearning About Stuff: Social media is a great research tool that allows you to learn new things about your subject area, get business advice and more. If you’re approaching social media simply as a broadcasting tool, you are missing out on a much more enriching experience. Always be selective in the people you follow, so you can get the best results from your social media streams as possible.

Media Coverage: If you’ve positioned yourself as a person knowledgeable in your subject area and have grown a nice following, congratulations. You have become an expert that can be called on by various members of the traditional and new media for opinions, interviews and more. It’s not uncommon for reporters to find their sources through social media, so put your best foot forward and showcase your knowledge.

It’s clear that the social web is here to stay and that’s definitely a good thing. There is so much value it can bring us if we approach it responsibly and wisely.

Deciding Which Social Media Sites You Should Use

There’s an amazing array of social media sites out there isn’t there! They range from the “giants” like Facebook to small, niche-oriented sites you could hardly find if you didn’t know them. Whether you are an individual, a charity or a small business it’s almost impossible to create and effectively manage a profile on every site on which your target market might be found. Instead, what I would suggest you look at is choosing the most effective and most active social media networks for connecting with your customers.

Different Types of Social Media

Social media sites come in all shapes and sizes. The first step is to identify what kinds would work best to communicate your marketing messages. I have linked to some of the sites which I think are the most useful and where I haven’t provided a link and you think that it might meet your needs then they are easy to find! The main categories include:

General Sites – These are sites like Facebook and Google+ that are meant for people to hang out and connect with friends.

Microblogging – The most popular microblogging sites are Twitter and Tumblr. These sites allow you to make short posts in real-time.

Blogs – Blogs are a form of social media on which a business or individual can write posts and readers can comment. You can host your blog yourself as I do here or use a platform like Blogger or WordPress.

Video Sites – These are sites for sharing videos. The most popular is YouTube, but there are many others as well.

Coupon and Check-in Sites – Another important type of social media site is one where businesses allow users to check in to offline locations, write reviews, and get coupons. These include Groupon, Yelp, CityPages, and Foursquare.

Visually Oriented Social Media –These include image-oriented sites like Pinterest, Tumblr, and Flickr.

Music and Entertainment Sites – Some sites are excellent tools for bands and recording artists, such as MySpace and BandCamp. They’re specially designed for posting and sharing audio files.

Professional Networking Sites – Sites such as LinkedIn are primarily B2B sites for professional networking or recruiting.

Finally, there are niche-specific social media sites based around the common interests of a specific group.