Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Dreaded LinkedIn Profile Photo

By Rose Strong

Did you know that the likelihood of your LinkedIn profile being viewed is 11 times higher if you have a profile photograph of yourself than if you don’t?

In today’s technological business world, it’s been said that a website is a company’s front door. If that’s the case, then LinkedIn must be the window through which we are seen as employees, employers, recruitment managers, and business networking opportunities.

By the end of 2014, the social network had 347 million members, according to Statista.com, The Statistics Portal

According to the marketing site, ExpandedRamblings.com, LinkedIn reaches more than 200 countries and territories and is available in more than 20 languages. The site draws about 187 million unique visitors and more than 40 percent of them log onto the site each day.

With that widespread influence in mind, let’s get back to the photo. Don’t like to have your picture taken? A bit squeamish in front of the lens? Or do you fall the other way and turn into a ham or have a few crazy shots of yourself drinking from the keg hose at the frat party? Having a photo is important, but using the right ones and knowing the damage the wrongs ones can cause is imperative (take that frat party picture down ASAP) to you being taken seriously in the business world.

Just recently, I sent an invite to connect with someone on LinkedIn and suddenly got a screen of headshots or silhouettes of people I might know and may wish to connect with. I caught myself ignoring the blank ones and focusing only on the ones with photos. I’m not a career coach or hiring manager, but some of the photos I saw were clearly not advantageous to the folks’ professional profiles.

One was a selfie taken on a plane. Really? In plain view were the overhead luggage compartment and the head rests of the seats behind the person staring out at me.

Several profile photos were of people being interviewed or filmed by local media or even a cover shot of a magazine. I know it may seem impressive, but all the viewer sees is the distraction of the news people, camera or microphone or the magazine cover.

Pets in photos, yea or nay? There were more than a few of these. If you’re the executive director of the city humane society or president of the region’s farm animal rescue,  a tasteful photograph with a relaxed animal may be appropriate. However, cuddling your Bearded Dragon lizard or Asian Box Turtle or letting Polly your Rainbow Lorikeet sit on your shoulder may not be quite the image you wish to project.

Spouses in the same photograph won’t do anything to showcase your individuality and strengths. Although you may love one another and work together, you’re not joined at the hip; you each have something to offer the world. Stand out on your own, with an individual profile and a photo.

Glam shots in your wedding dress, gazing pensively out the window or your long, flowing hair covering one eye with your head tilted just so, aren't the shots of someone moving up the corporate ladder.

If you’re trying to do something different, that’s okay, but you want to stand out and be the center of the viewer’s attention, not a distraction. Your credentials may be stellar, but that view of your photograph can make or break what someone thinks in those first few seconds.

The old cliché that you only have one chance to make a first impression rings true even on social media. For more guidance on choosing the appropriate image, this article by Tommy Landry for Business2Community.com gives some excellent tips on how to make the most of your LinkedIn profile photograph.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Social Network Sites: How do they Work for you Personally?

By Rose Strong

What started out in 2004 as a small network at Harvard has grown into something much, much bigger than just a group of students using “the facebook” to connect with one another on a Massachusetts campus. Besides giving us the ability to keep up with friends and family, social networking sites became the go-to space by which business connected with their audiences / clients / customers.

In PR and marketing we know what it’s used for: pushing out product information, connecting with customers, seeking new business leads and the like. But, how do you make use of sites such as Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook for your personal connections that have nothing to do with business?

How do you use social media personally?

A few weeks ago, my wife had a medical emergency just after we had eaten dinner. After heading to the emergency room and sitting there for hours on end amidst a sea of flu-stricken adults and toddlers, I kept my friends and family updated through Facebook’s Messenger app. When texts wouldn’t go through, the Messenger app, posting directly on Facebook or sending a picture through Instagram worked!

The best thing about using social networking sites during an emergency like we experienced was that my friends, several of which are insomniacs or in different time zones, were there and supported me through a very long and intense night.

This is just one example of how these sites also have given us ways to get information out en masse to those we wanted informed.

How’d we do it back then?

In the olden days – she said very sarcastically – I would have had to wait until I returned home to make many phone calls to family and friends. It would have been exhausting. By the time things were stabilized at the hospital and I was able to go home at 6:45 a.m., I only had to make a few personal calls and take a much-needed nap.

According to a survey done by PewInternet.org, Facebook remains the most popular social networking site today, although its growth has slowed somewhat. Other popular sites, meanwhile, are making headway and seeing growth.

From the highlights of PewInternet.org survey, I found the following pretty fascinating:
  • Social networking sites are increasingly used to keep up with close social ties
  • The average user of a social networking site has more close ties and is half as likely to be socially isolated as the average American
  • Facebook users are more trusting than others
  • Facebook users have more close relationships
  • Internet users get more support from their social ties and Facebook users get the most support
I know it may sound strange, but I’ll admit that I have friends online whom I’ve never met but who still mean a lot to me. I belong to several closed Facebook special interest groups. The people in these groups share my interests and we often speak beyond our interests either online in the group or through email or instant messaging, becoming distant participants in each other’s lives simply through social networking.

We share our lives with each other. And only what we want to share. Several people have lost husbands or wives, some long-time members have passed on, family members of the group associates have become sick, graduated school, seen the births of their first grandbabies, and lost pets or adopted new ones, been in car accidents, won awards, traveled around the world, been laid off, fired or found new jobs. In each instance, members of the group rally, be it with tears, kind words, encouragement or congrats.

Without these folks from all over my social network sites, I don’t know what I’d have done to get through such a long and arduous night in the emergency department. I found it a godsend to be able to keep my friends and family updated and gain their support back as I needed it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Throwback Weekend and the Future of The Internet

No Google maps, no GPS, no weather app - a weekend at a ski cabin demonstrated just how much the author depends on her smartphone to navigate the modern world.

By Kim Tarasiewicz

I recently spent a weekend in a ski cabin that had no Internet, cable TV or cell service, which I thought I would enjoy. I do love unplugging every once in a while, and I loved the idea that the kids had to find my kind of “old fashioned” fun, like jumping into 5-foot snowdrifts. But there was a snowstorm coming and I realized that I needed a weather report so we knew when to pack up and leave before it hit.

So my challenges?
  • No GPS or Google Maps to use on my phone – I had to use a paper map.
  • No weather app or weather channel for the storm – I panicked and called my cousin (on a landline, to my horror) to check her TV weather station.
  • I needed more food (I had nine teen boys with me) and couldn’t Google a grocery store location – I asked one of the reps at the ski resort for directions to one close by.
Of course, I use technology daily; most people do in today’s world. And while there is always much debate on how this generation of young people uses technology, I thought about how integrated into my life it has also become over the past 15 years.

Then I drove home to watch the Advertising bowl (I mean the Superbowl) and I saw the BMW i3 Electric Car commercial with a throwback clip from the Today Show where they talk about “What the Internet is” from 20 years ago. I began to wonder what the Internet would be like 20 years from now.

Everyone has a prediction on how technology will evolve and where it will help or hurt humanity. Technology will certainly continue to change the labor industry, with changes in manufacturing and production lessening the need for human jobs. On the other hand, it may increase positions in new areas such as robotics and Internet security; either way, it will result in a shift in the workforce for the next generation.

We already have online classes for colleges and some charter schools, but there may be virtual learning opportunities for students with the possibility of staying home and taking classes while recovering from a contagious disease such as the flu, making schools safer and healthier.

Our technology will certainly change in size, which we can see happening already with the Apple iWatch coming and phones becoming lighter and more manageable. We now have smartphones that react to speech, but will we be speaking to our computers? Chances are the answer is yes, and they will be smarter, too, saving our preferences and using this to make our lives easier. Marketers are already using this - if you have ever clicked on an ad while on a website, notice every time you open a tab on the Internet, you are “fed” a similar advertisement.

So will the future be like living in a Star Trek movie? Maybe, maybe not, but I do have faith that society will learn to adapt to any new technologies, just as we have done in the past 20 years.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

5 Ways to Take Advantage of Blogging Opportunities on Snow Days

By Megan Quinn

At Furia Rubel, we have learned to adjust to all kinds of wacky Northeastern weather. Our most recent snowstorm got me thinking...how can professionals make the most of their workday while snowed in at home?

One project that is custom-made for a snow day is working on a company or firm blog.

We recommend to many clients that they establish a company blog. Blogging helps you and your business to:
  • Gain exposure
  • Demonstrate expertise
  • Establish thought leadership
  • Support search engine optimization (SEO) 
  • Reinforce the company’s brand 
  • Manage your reputation 
  • Raise awareness of your company's services
  • Drive traffic to your company's website
But we also know that for many of our clients, blogging is just one more thing they have to do in a day that is already jam-packed with work.

While blogging efforts can and should be sustained through daily or weekly effort, the cancellation of day-to-day business by bad weather can offer a brief reprieve from daily pressures. Here are five productive ways to put that bad weather to good use.
  • Take photos to use for future blog posts. Today's content is highly visual; blog posts get more attention and more shares when they are illustrated with photos. But you can't just grab any old photo from a Google Images search. If you're a decent photographer, use your down time to take generic photos - a stack of law books, a close-up of the dictionary definition of your major practice area, etc. - that you can use as visual content on your company's blog.
  • Brainstorm topics for your next blog post. Millions of blog topics are waiting to be explored. Do a quick search of trending topics online at Google Trends to see what the world is talking about. Tie the issue in to your own industry or niche and provide your own unique perspective on current events.
  • Research potential industry blogs to which you can contribute. If you haven't already, identify the leading blogs and influencers in your industry. Email the editor to see if they accept guest blog posts and find out what kind of content they want most. Guest blogging in your niche industry is an opportunity to promote your company and showcase how well-versed you are in the subject area.
  • Reach out to your contacts and ask them to collaborate. Networking is vital at every stage of business development, but established companies especially sometimes let relationship building fall to the wayside. Getting back in touch with contacts and asking them to work with you on a blog post is a great way to enhance your relationships with professionals in your industry. By collaborating on a blog post, you can learn more from one another about your niche industry area and can showcase your work to more people.
  • Review existing material to see if it can be re-purposed. We encourage clients to maximize their time by re-purposing information whenever they can. Did you recently write a legal brief? Turn some of that information into a blog post. Did you recently speak at an industry event? Use some of the information from your talk for a blog post. 

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