10 Reasons Every Professional Should be on LinkedIn.com

Among today’s leading social media platforms, LinkedIn.com offers intuitive features for connecting, sharing and networking.  Linkedin claims over 80 million members connect in over 200 countries.   A new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second and about half of their members are outside the U.S.

This electronic rolodex does much more than store your connections.  Here are 10 reasons why every professional should join LinkedIn and actively participate:

  1. Increase your visibility – Each new connections results in many more potential connections.
  2. Keep tabs on your connections – Perhaps your former co-worker now works where you are interviewing.
  3. Ask for advice – Post your question and wait for all the expert advice and opinions
  4. Build your credibility – Offer up your answers to others’ questions or promote your blog with easy plug-in apps.
  5. Showcase your expertise – With a resume-like profile
  6. Reach out to new connections – Network at functions, connect with them on LinkedIn
  7. Improve your e-footprint – Your profile page will be ranked on Google making your more searchable
  8. Research companies and individuals – Do your research before a sales call or interview
  9. Seek new clients – By participating in groups, you can reach out to new contacts that fit your demographic
  10. Stay current – Publicize your accomplishments, coursework and even current reading material

Linkedin’s statement summarizes it best, ‘Your professional network of trusted contacts gives you an advantage in your career, and is one of your most valuable assets. LinkedIn exists to help you make better use of your professional network and help the people you trust in return. Our mission is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. We believe that in a global connected economy, your success as a professional and your competitiveness as a company depends upon faster access to insight and resources you can trust.’

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The Importance of a “Unified Front” to Your e-Footprint

With all the social media outlets currently providing ways to connect, share and link, it’s more important than ever to create a unified ‘look’. Building the brand of YOU will have more impact and sticking power if your profile pictures, backgrounds, walls and style elements are in sync. This holds true whether you are a business, a passive or active job hunter or even a college-bound student.

First, obtain a profile picture that is clear and bright. Webcam pictures are not usually a good idea as quality and lighting are poor. If you don’t know a photographer who owes you a favor, ask a family member to facilitate this mini photo shoot for you. Try different angles, lighting and poses before you call it quits so that you have plenty of shots to choose from. Be expressive and show some personality – but don’t overdo it. A head shot is best to use since profile pictures in most programs are very small. You can use photo editing software to crop it in once you select your favorite pose.Profile Pics

Choose a color palette. Many applications allow you to customize your profile to include selecting background colors. Whether you choose a plain background or utilize online wallpaper building services, be sure to use the same colors each time. Color will become another element in the branding of your best asset, YOU! Make a note of your selected color(s) the hex# is best to assure consistency at each outlet. Click here to learn more about hex numbers.

Select a font. Occasionally, you will have the chance to select a font. Resist the urge to browse through the fancy or techy or commercial fonts. Stick with clean, clear fonts – the same one each time. Helvetica and Arial are highly recommended for content/body text. Use stylized fonts sparingly – but when you do, use only your chosen font each and every time.

Best bet.
Your best bet is to hire a designer to create your stylized elements. Many online services will provide the unified look you need to make a better impact. They often offer package deals that include Twitter wallpaper, blog header and more. Prices can range from $99 to $299, but are well worth the expense.

Creating a unified front when it comes to your web presence is a must for forward thinking professionals. It will increase your credibility, establish you in your chosen field and make your YouBrand memorable.

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Elbow Grease for the Web…Steps to Making a Name for Yourself

Roll up your sleeves and get ready to apply a little elbow grease to your web presence!

1. Create a blog that centers around your passion or niche

2. Start by creating 5 posts on your new blog and start tweeting and posting to FB with linkbacks to your blog

3. Build your brand on the blog, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn

4. Find other blogs that have a similar topic and post comments on them with linkbacks to your blog.

5. Tweet every day, follow people…they will follow you back. Find sites of interest to your target and tweet about them too. Re-tweet others posts.

6. Submit your blog to Technorati and Google (among others) for great page ranking.

7. Monetize by creating affiliate accounts at sites that would be of interest to your target audience. Start weaving banners and links in your blog to your affiliate links.

8. Subscribe to other blogs and COMMENT! People are curious and they will check you out!

9. Get listed! Find complementary blogs or lists and suggest they add value for their audience, by linking to you!

10. Back to Step 1 and repeat…repeat…repeat!

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Book Review: Social Media Gem Discovered

The Zen of Social Media Marketing” hits the nail on the head with a no-nonsense guide to effectively using social media to market yourself or your business. Filled with practical tips and real-life examples, Shama Hyder Kabani illustrates strategies for utilizing Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to market effectively and identifies stumbling blocks to avoid going “too far”.

If you are just diving in to the Social Media world, this book is a fabulous intro. In addition to being thoughtfully organized and relateable, it is an easy and enjoyable read. Shama clearly outlines effective strategy in layman’s terms with practical tips and reachable goals. She spotlights real, everyday people and how they are using social media to successfully achieve their marketing goals.

This is a book that you will want to refer to again and again. Each time I open it, I find a new sidebar article I hadn’t read before, or a tip that I overlooked. If you spot this bright yellow book, don’t pass it over – its a social media gem!

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Writing Linked In Recommendations Doesn’t Have To Be Hard!

Yes – it’s happened again.  Writers block!  Only this time, all I have to do is write a few simple sentences about why I think Joe Smith is great.  And I really do think he’s a fabulous manager.  He has really turned around productivity in the customer service LinkedIn, recommendations, michelle minix, graphic design, writingdepartment.  I remember when he made a suggestion to change the customer lead form that revolutionized our process…or the time he implemented his “Service is the Key” reward program; that was a great moral booster. Good stuff.  Boy, he sure will be missed around here.

[double-take] [bulb illuminates over head]
[keys tap furiously]

What you’ve just witnessed is what’s known as the “a-ha moment.”  That instant when things fall into place and you realize maybe you’ve been over-thinking a problem. Such is the case with writing LinkedIn recommendations.

A few weeks ago, I posed the question on LinkedIn:
Do you have a format you use when writing a LinkedIn recommendation? ..or does it just “free-flow” from your brain?

I truly appreciate all the wonderful advice that was freely given.  Compiled here is the shortlist about writing LinkedIn recommendations:

social media nut t-shirt

Buy this shirt. Click here.

1. “First, state how and in what capacity I know the individual; then, characterize their work style and/or accomplishments; third, provide an example or two; finally, close with a strong “vote of confidence” statement.”

2.  “…be concise and specific using numbers (facts) where possible.”

3.  “They should sound natural, but they cannot be amateurish either, or they lose credibility, and that includes attention to grammar. They must be sincere and to the point, but enthusiastic about the person.”

4. “Saying the truth according to your core values of honesty, accountability and transparency, and not in function of a convenient or polite lie, is all that is needed to write meaningful and sincere recommendations that will prove to be helpful to whom might require it.”

5. “If you are going to use a formula, or give standard script recommendations, then it says little factually about you, but much about both peoples lack of character. Approving a duff and formulaic recommendation is worse then giving one.”

6. “A generic recommendation, which is what it would be if it’s ‘formatted’, means absolutely nothing and may actually ‘harm’ the person to whom you’re intending to give a recommendation.”

7. “I only recommend those that I know, personally. In my business, we only have our reputations.”

In summary, your recommendations are like gold.  Don’t give them to just anyone.  Write them from the heart based on your true impression of the person.  Here’s what I ended up with for Joe Smith:

“Joe Smith is a fabulous Customer Service Manager.  He implemented a process in our department that revolutionized a form submittal process, saving us about 8 hours of admin time each week. His vision of a “Service is the Key” reward program was a great moral booster that resulted in superior service by our reps. Joe’s leadership and training skills have greatly benefited our organization. I highly recommend Joe as an excellent Customer Service Manager.”

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Dear Client: Please Photocopy Your Own Flyer

Dear Client,

It’s been a pleasure working with you on your new website, business cards and online presence.  The new in-office brochures you want are almost ready for final review…they are going to really button up the whole branding cycle.  That is, if you decide to move forward with them.

The other day you mentioned that a certain someone said , “Just make photocopies of your MS Word flyer. Why waste the money – they end up in the trash anyway.”

I got to thinking and came up with 10 reasons you SHOULD take their advice and get your butt down to the local copy shop.

1. You want to attract a class of people who also value copy-shop flyers.

2. You hate trees and want to waste as much paper as possible.

3. It would be an unfair advantage to give yourself an edge over your competitors.

4. Your clients may be bored since your appointments are usually behind schedule so you kindly supply them with a dual purpose flyer so they can work on their to do list or sketch funny pictures of each other.

5. You don’t really have the staff to handle additional clients…so photocopy flyers are fine.

6. Your 4th grader created this unique flyer for you in school and you want to boost her self esteem.

7. This is your slow season so you really can’t be bothered with the extra expense.

8. You definitely don’t want this flyer to make it to their friends and neighbors…somebody might expect a discount for the referral.

9. You photo-copy all your home-spun pieces because it looks artsy-bohemian…and that’s good enough for your $500 a pop product.

10. You don’t value your future clients so you aren’t willing to spend money to make money.

In all seriousness, dear Client, please don’t underestimate the power of a professionally designed and printed brochure.  THAT is the kind of thing that people pick up, read and hold on to. They may use it as a bookmark for a while, it may get lost in a pile of bills…but eventually, they run across it again and are glad they kept it so they can call the number, visit the website or pass it on to a friend.
Yours humbly,
12 year design veteran
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5 Steps for Successful Freelance Graphic Design from Home

Starting a new business can be a scary task. Where do you even begin? This quick guide provides 5 basic steps to success in your new adventure.

1. Get your bookkeeping in order. This is the step you will love to hate! Most designers are not good bookkeepers…it’s just not in our nature! It’s in your best interest to visit an accountant. He will be able to set you up with a Tax ID and provide other valuable guidance regarding sales tax, income tax, etc. Save yourself some money by handling the invoicing yourself. Your accountant will naturally want to provide this service to you, but if you’re working with a small budget, use a tool like Quickbooks or paperfreebilling.com. Paperfreebilling.com is perfect for those on the move as it allows you to manage your invoicing from anywhere you can connect to the internet!

2. Produce a General Rate Sheet. Use this sheet as a guide when quoting projects. This way you will be consistent and accurate. For projects such as multi-paged brochures, catalogs are other larger projects, define an hourly rate and use that rate to calculate the number of hours you expect the project to take you; then add 25% to the time you estimated for unforeseen “time-wasters”. That will give your client a rough estimate. Make sure you state on the quote that time spent may be higher or lower and you will communicate with the client if the actual billable time exceeds higher than 10% of your quote. Some services will be better served with a solid rate. For instance, full-color business cards design fee could be $49, plus the cost of printing.

3. Brand yourself. Add automatic credibility to your business with a professionally designed website. Take the time to build a simple, attractive website, and design a logo and business card. Don’t spend weeks on this – after all, your time is valuable. Keep it simple and uncluttered. Put more effort in a clean layout than building elaborate backgrounds and rollover buttons. There are many free website builders that allow you to quickly build a site and customize options to make it your own. One such site is www.123gosites.com which allows you to choose from hundreds of templates, easily add pages and provides domain name and email addresses quickly and easily. There are hundreds of other options for easy, do-it-yourself websites – even if you’re not a website expert!

4. Make a list of resources. The age of the internet is here to stay. Make use of the great prices offered by such sites as gotprint.com and vistaprint.com. Find out where your local quick print shops are and you’ll want some local traditional printing sources too. You’ll want to keep the local printers in a database so you can communicate with them when you are ready to start marketing your services.

5. Time to market your services – Take that list of local printers (the one you saved from last step) and write them a professional letter outlining your services…printed nicely with your logo and contact information on it. Make it short and precise. A bullet list of services is helpful for busy people who will inevitably skim it Mail it, give it a week and then follow up with a phone call. Your phone call should be short and sweet. “Hi, my name is…”, “how are you”, “would love to work with you”, “when can I stop by”…Bam! Out of 25 letters sent – you may hook up with 2 or 3 printers. Do this quarterly to build your client base. But don’t stop there….target small to medium sized business and do some detective work to learn who the right person is to contact. In any given business, it may be the Marketing Manager, VP of Sales, President or Owner. It really depends upon the size of the business. Then proceed the same way: a personalized letter with a follow up call.

With perseverance and the right attitude, you will be making money in your freelance business in a few months!

This 5-step guide has been developed by Michelle Minix as a result of her freelance journey from green newbie to 12-year veteran. http://www.michelleminix.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michelle_Minix

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