Category Archives: Personal Branding/Online Profiles

How to make a lasting first impression

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to make a lasting first impressionBuilding a network to become a valuable working asset is a key component of your future career success. So how do you turn those people you meet at industry events or conferences into strong connections that help you (and them) succeed in the future? Many people we talk to don’t have a problem meeting people – it’s the staying in touch in a meaningful way that they struggle with.

So you’ve just met a new contact at an event and you really hit it off – your like-mindedness on so many issues was surprising and refreshing. You exchange business cards or details and mention you’ll keep in touch. If you’re like most people, following that exchange, nothing much will ever come of it. Sure, if you run into them again, you’ll strike up a conversation, perhaps picking up where you left off, however in terms of creating any meaningful or long lasting relationship, following through on that initial meeting falls short.

Here’s a few quick tips on what to do to significantly expand your contacts and start to build a network that’s valuable for your career.

  • Be interesting AND interested: If you’re meeting someone for the first time and you are truly interested in learning about them – this will show. While it’s good to have something to offer in terms of advice or support, often when you meet someone for the first time professionally, simply being interested in them and what they do will have a positive and lasting impression. If you’re genuine in your interest about who they are and what they’re doing, your conversation and connection will often flow more easily.
  • Take notes: After meeting someone new, take some brief notes about your exchange and include both personal and professional information if you can. It’s a great idea to do this straight away while all those details are fresh in your mind because once life gets in the way, you won’t remember them. Store your notes anywhere that works for you – a list on your phone, in Outlook, under your phone contacts, in a purpose built database, on the back of their business card, in your diary or you could use one of the many purpose built tools out there like Evernote – whatever works best for you. You’ll be able to use that information to strike up a future conversation or reach out for a catch up when it feels right. If it feels appropriate, send them a short email thanking them for their time and mentioning how much you enjoyed the conversation. You could also suggest a future catch-up time (then set a reminder to follow up so you don’t forget).
  • Use LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the best tool for professional networking. As soon as you get back to your office, send your new connection a request to connect and include a short personalised message about your time together. Doing this makes it very easy to stay in touch in a personal but non-pressured way. You can comment or like their updates, share articles and announcements you think they might be interested in, or even send personal messages where it’s warranted.
  • Schedule a catch-up: It’s great to meet someone, get along, take notes and connect with them on LinkedIn but if you want to keep in touch and develop that relationship further – schedule a catch-up. Ideally you’d wait a couple of months before touching base. Contact could be in a variety of ways – examples include sending them a friendly email asking how they are; sharing a link to an article you think they might be interested in and suggesting you get together; specifically inviting them to meet up for coffee (don’t forget to remind them how you met and what you had in common in case they’re not as organised as you!); or use an upcoming industry event as an excuse to connect.

While networking is about meeting people, it’s also about making meaningful connections and developing lasting relationships that can help you (and them) with future career goals.

Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If so our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive Career Coaching. We also offer LinkedIn Profile Writing Services with experienced writers who can help you connect with like-minded industry experts and ensure your profile sets you apart from your competitors.

 

9 effective networking tips – even if you’re an introvert

Article by Belinda Fuller

9 Effective Networking Tips - Even If You’re An Introvert Research suggests that a huge proportion of jobs are now found through networking alone with many jobs never even advertised. This can make it difficult if you’re an introvert since the prospect of making small talk with a roomful of potential ‘contacts’ can be very daunting. If you find it hard to establish rapport with new people, we’ve discovered some sure-fire tips to help you handle it.

Small talk doesn’t come easy to many people and it can be a huge effort to establish rapport with people you’ve never met before. I was fairly shy when I was younger and I really struggled to open up to strangers. As a marketing communications manager for a global IT firm, I was expected to attend many functions for work and this was often intimidating for me. I learnt little tricks to help me navigate this essential ‘social’ part of my career and here’s a few I thought I’d share:

TIP # 1 – Prepare: If you get nervous talking to new people, research who’s going to be there and have some questions or topics pre-prepared. If it’s a networking event, you can talk about their career or yours – questions like ‘How did you get started?’, ‘What do you like best about what you do?’, ‘Why do you attend networking events?’, and ‘What other networking events do you attend?’ are all great starting points.

TIP # 2 – Realise you’re not alone: Think about how others feel and recognise that you won’t be the only person feeling this way. Remember that many other people are also not fond of networking events so just start a conversation – you might be helping someone else to feel more comfortable! ‘Have you been to this event before?’ is a good opening line.

TIP # 3 – Listen: Once you start a conversation, try to remain present. Ask lots of questions and listen to what the other person is saying. Don’t let nerves get the better of you by constantly worrying about what you’re going to say next. Practice your listening skills and be interested in what the other person is saying. This will drive further questions and contributions from you and hopefully you can have a mutually enjoyable exchange!

TIP # 4 – Smile and keep your body language positive: Don’t hide with your arms crossed in the corner. If you’re looking more casual and giving off positive vibes somebody might just walk up to you and initiate a conversation. This won’t happen if you’re not looking approachable.

TIP # 5 – Leverage social media: Introverts often communicate better in written format, so taking advantage of social media, email and other online forums is a great natural fit. You can use this strength to your advantage after any physical networking opportunities since many people never even take the opportunity to follow up. Sending a brief post-event email or LinkedIn connection request is a quick and easy way to cement your new contact.

TIP # 6 – Focus on quality not quantity: Don’t focus on how many people you talk to, but rather the quality of the conversations you do have. If you make one quality connection at an event, that’s better than talking to ten different people and making no connections. And forcing yourself to speak to lots of different people will put you under even more pressure whereas giving yourself permission to do much less takes the pressure off.

TIP # 7 – Learn to brag: Kidding……. kind of. You need to be vocal about your accomplishments, however this can be hard if you’re not that kind of person. Try thinking about your achievements and accomplishments as little mini stories you can tell about what you’re good at. Think about the things and projects you’ve worked on that make you feel good, and that you’re excited and/or passionate about. It will be easier to talk about these with strangers and it will feel more natural talking up your achievements.

TIP # 8 – Challenge yourself to a time limit: If you’re at a physical networking event that you really don’t want to be at, set yourself a time limit. This could be 30 to 45 minutes which really isn’t very long. Grab yourself a drink and something to eat and put some of the tips from above into action. You’ll be amazed at how quickly that time goes – who knows, once that time is up, you might even feel like staying longer!

TIP # 9 – Follow up: Since introverts are often good at written communications – this part is easy! Many people are terrible at follow up so just by dropping an email or sending a LinkedIn connection request (always with a short customised message reminding your contact who you are) means you’ll be ahead of the game in no time.

Some experts suggest that as many as 80% of jobs are not being advertised, but we find most people are still spending the majority of their job search effort looking for advertised roles. While networking will certainly help you to find a job and advance your career, it’s not just about that. Finding new clients, building new business relationships, and identifying partner opportunities are all benefits that will also result from networking. So what are you waiting for?

Do you cringe at the thought of networking? Would you like to learn new networking strategies designed to increase your job opportunities? If so, please see our Job Search Coaching Services and Career Counselling Services.

Facebook or LinkedIn? Which one for career development?

Article by Belinda Fuller

Facebook or LinkedIn Which One for Career DevelopmentBoth popular social networking sites designed to connect individuals online, the two represent different types of connections with different goals and objectives. LinkedIn is focused on professional networking, and is currently the highest used tool for professional networking, whereas Facebook is considered more social with a focus on personal use.

The fact is that LinkedIn was designed specifically for the global business community – to enable members to establish networks of people they know and trust professionally. Your LinkedIn page emphasises employment history, education, professional memberships and other associations. So which one should you be using for career development purposes?

Unfortunately, the answer is not straightforward. While LinkedIn definitely remains the global standard for professional networking online, both sites may have a place in your career development process – particularly if you are a consultant, freelancer or run a small business. There are certainly advantages to LinkedIn that could never be as easily achieved with Facebook – the fact that LinkedIn was designed specifically for business networking makes it very easy to connect with past and present colleagues, build relationships with potential partners, find a new job, discover prospective sales leads, influence your customers, and find viable candidates for roles within your organisation. However, Facebook can also provide an ideal way to share content and build your brand, reputation, and community of interested potential customers.

In addition, it’s important to remember the reach of Facebook is far greater with an estimated global active monthly user base of 1.59 billion, compared to LinkedIn’s 100 million. That means Facebook may be more relevant in business than many people believe. Some of the ways you can tap into the professional community on Facebook include:

  • Establishing a business page to share content and drive traffic to your website or LinkedIn profile (to sell products, educate your target market, or influence buying decisions);
  • Establishing a Facebook group focused on your business and regularly sharing content;
  • Participating in existing relevant Facebook groups to connect, discuss, share content, and network with others in order to grow your professional network; and
  • Using Facebook advertising as a way to reach new customers.

Although some people have debated which one is better, we believe a LinkedIn profile carries more weight professionally than Facebook for the majority of people – however as mentioned above there is certainly a place for Facebook. Your LinkedIn profile content is focused on professional experience and qualifications with a clean, structured and organised presentation and appearance. In many situations, this makes it easier for people to quickly identify whether or not they should be working with you.

If you are seeking a new job, it’s important to make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to scratch – according to LinkedIn, “users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.” Likewise, if you’re seeking to network with colleagues and potential business partners, LinkedIn is probably your best bet. However, if it is new customers or improved business branding you’re after, then Facebook might be the way to go.

Do you have trouble networking? Are you lacking a good quality online profile to help you find and connect with like-minded industry experts? If you would like assistance writing a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors, please see our LinkedIn Profile Writing service.

 

How to avoid ruining your career using Facebook

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Avoid Ruining Your Career Using Facebook

While Facebook may seem harmless if you don’t post anything untoward yourself, you should definitely be aware of the negatives. A recent study from three US-based universities suggests that your Facebook profile can be a predictor of job performance. In an experiment, three “raters” (one university professor and two students) evaluated the Facebook profiles of 56 students with jobs. After spending just 10 minutes viewing each profile, including photos, wall posts, comments, education and hobbies, the raters answered a series of personality-related questions, such as “Is this person dependable?” and “How emotionally stable is this person?” Six months later, the researchers matched the ratings against employee evaluations from each student and found a strong correlation between job performance and the Facebook scores for traits such as conscientiousness, agreeability and intellectual curiosity.

So what can you do to avoid a down fall? Some simple tips from experts of what not to do include:

  • Posting inappropriate photos – this goes without saying but these obviously can affect your image at work. Although this isn’t just about wild parties and drunken antics. Think about inappropriate or offensive attire too. Even just posting a seemingly innocent photo in a social situation may not be appropriate for the industry that you work in.
  • Complaining about your job or work – there’s the famous case last year of a worker who vented about her boss on Facebook and was publically fired by that same boss (via a responding Facebook comment) the very same day. While you might not get fired, negative posts about work can make you appear immature, untrustworthy and simply not committed to the role or the company. Sometimes after a bad day at work you just want to vent – but take a deep breath first and think about whether you’d say the same thing in person – if not, then resist the urge to post.
  • Divulging conflicting or confidential information – employers will often use Facebook and other forms of social media to ‘confirm’ claims made in your Resume. If they don’t match, watch out – you won’t be called in for an interview. Conflicting details ring alarm bells for most employers and where there are plenty of candidates to choose from – this is a reason to exclude you. Likewise, divulging confidential information about your company that perhaps hasn’t yet been released to the public domain could land you in hot water.
  • Doing one thing and saying another – again this goes without saying but you’d be surprised at the stories we’ve heard. Take for example, the employee that was supposed to be ‘working from home’ who posted a status update that she was away for a long weekend. Don’t forget that Facebook isn’t a private conversation with an individual or even a group of friends – it’s always open to public scrutiny.
  • Being controversial – this is a tricky one because obviously you want to be true to yourself, and your opinions and feelings, however posting strong opinions on controversial topics could be seen as negative in the eyes of your employer or colleagues. Facebook can be used to validate your professional persona and/or undermine your credibility so be careful what you say.

If you are a Facebook user, make sure you take some time to understand your security and privacy settings, but don’t use that as a security blanket because it’s not foolproof.

If you would like assistance auditing your online profile – perhaps developing a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors, please see our LinkedIn Profile Writing service or check out our Job Search Coaching Service

Want the job? Audit your online profile

Article by Belinda Fuller

iStock_000018975885_SmallIn a recent report on the current state of hiring in Australia, 9 out of 10 Australian hiring managers felt the need to look beyond the active applicants to fill a role. That means it’s never been more important to make sure your online presence brands you for the job you’d like to achieve.

While your active presentation of yourself is important to secure your dream job, recruiters can now explore your background more proactively through social media, which really has changed the recruitment world forever.

There are two sides to the story though – while it is important to have a clean profile on social media, and ensure your privacy settings remain tight, a positive online footprint can be just as important in securing you your dream role. We’ve spoken before about the importance of thinking about yourself as a brand and maintaining consistency with your message throughout all your job search tools. This includes your Resume, social media profiles and other online content. A negative and unappealing presence can result in you missing out, even if you’re a great candidate in all other areas.

By exploring a person’s online activity, recruiters can determine if the face you put forward in your application is a representation of your true self. Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs and other social media can be easily accessed by recruiters and usually don’t lie. If you are expressing strong opinions or comments and sharing controversial photos or topics, this could ruin your chances of securing your dream role. For example, using social media to ‘voice’ negative feelings over situations at work, or bragging and sharing photos about questionable things you get up to at work, or worse still posting nasty comments about bosses and co-workers is a definite no no.

Perhaps more importantly though, recruiters are using social media to find the positives – searching for cultural fit through positive aspects of your life and activities. I’ve heard many stories of recruiters having two or even three equal candidates but narrowing it down to the ideal candidate based on a final review of their social media profiles. Leverage your social media pages to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects through improved social responsibility. Take out photos or comments that may be offensive or suggestive to others. Think about what is going to make you stand out from the crowd and focus your content on positive hobbies and interests. Make sure you include any additional interests, volunteer work or charities you support. Don’t be afraid to use positive statements as part of your social media, since it encourages yourself and others.

Social media cuts both ways. Most companies have websites, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Take some time to research the companies you are hoping to work for. Immerse yourself in their culture by following them on social media – it’s a great way to get to know the company before you get to the interview stage. You can also research current employees on LinkedIn to gain a better understanding of their backgrounds and skillsets.

Overall, it’s important to ensure your online footprint reflects the best version of you. Tidy up photos and content, and adjust privacy settings if need be. If you know someone who recruits staff, ask them to look over your social media profiles and give you feedback.

If you would like assistance auditing your online profile – perhaps developing a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors, please see our LinkedIn Profile Writing service or check out our Job Search Coaching Service.