Building Your Best Online Professional Brand

The social realm is all about building your brand. With social sites and blogs people can define the persona they want to present to their friends, family, co-workers and the general public at large. The dilemma is separating your personal person(s) from your professional one. LinkedIn provides the perfect social platform to build out your professional brand.

LinkedIn-RolodexWith more than 225M global users and a whopping 155M user visits per month*, LinkedIn has become the virtual Rolodex for professionals. It’s the place where you can showcase your professional experience, build out your networks, participate in discussions and showcase your professional portfolio of accomplishments. Savvy users have realized its potential by using it as a marketing and talent tool to promote their professional brand by seeking recommendations and showcasing their career journey.

 LinkedIn can also launch students and new grads into the talent market through their professional profile. Students have realized that employers are using LinkedIn to proactively communicate, promote jobs and source new talent. Extending engagement beyond on site campus/college events. That’s why it’s important to create the best impression.

Here are ten tips to building your stellar online professional brand on LinkedIn:

    • A professional photo- I cannot stress this LI Photoenough. Photographs help create an emotional connection. Most people are better at recognizing someone based on their picture then just their name. Choose one that best represents the image you want your professional network and employers to see. 
    • Summary– Your LinkedIn profile is about you. The summary section provides a great way to introduce yourself. What makes you a seasoned professional? What’s your area of expertise? What are you passionate about? What makes you stand out? Put some thought into this. The best practice is two to three paragraphs. Write your summary in the first person. There’s nothing more annoying than reading a profile where people reference themselves in the third person. 
    • Showcase your work experience- Your career history is important to building your professional journeybrand. It outlines your career journey and showcases all of the experiences, knowledge, skills and expertise that you have built up over the years. The best practice is about 8-12 bullet points that accurately reflect the work you do. What are your key responsibilities? What business groups do you work with? What are your outcomes? Do you specialize in a job family or region? 
    • Education– Your university/college. This can help build your network as LinkedIn may suggest other people who went to your school to connect with. If you’re a graduate, only list your post-secondary education. No need to put dates. For students ensure you document your education with your forecasted graduation date. This helps employers seek out students who will be graduating in the upcoming year(s). 
    • Skills– What skills have you acquired? What industries have you worked in? You may wonder why this is important when you may have documented this in your work experience.  The skills section makes it easier for others to read, and for your network to endorse you. It’s a great way to showcase skills you’ve acquired from all of your experiences, work related or not. For students, this is a LI_recommendationsgreat place to showcase skills you’ve acquired in school, through volunteering and/or work. 
    • Volunteering– What things are meaningful to you outside of work? Are passionate about any causes? Students, what volunteer experiences have you completed? Volunteer work is also important in shaping your skill set. You may acquire skills in your volunteer work that are broader than your work skills. Take a few moments to think about your volunteer experiences. How have they built your skill set and/or shaped your career path? 
    • Certifications– In addition to your education if you have obtained a license or certification (e.g. Society of Actuaries, PMP, CSC, LLB, etc.) this section lets you document it with ease. Other similar professionals looking to expand their network can find you easily. Certain LinkedIn groups’ require designations as a pre-requisite to joining their groups. 
    • Languages – Languages can become an important part of building broader networks. Not only canedit_profile you add languages on your LinkedIn profile, but you can create your profile in more than one language. This increases your network reach. If you speak more than one language make sure you have your profile available in those languages.
    • Add your Awards– Have you been recognized at work, in your community or at volunteering? Are you a recipient of an award?  The awards and honours section is a great way to showcase your recognized accomplishments. You’ve earned it, so show it off!
    • Solicit a few recommendations –People put a lot of credibility into recommendations becauseyoure_awesome they’re hard to get. While skills can easily be endorsed recommendations require more thought and are specific to you. A good place to start is asking previous employers, community leaders and work placement leaders. Recommendations are about quality not quantity. Think about what skill sets and work experiences you want someone to endorse. Those are the people you should reach out to for recommendations. 

These are just a few examples of tips you can use to boost your brand presence. What tips would you recommend?

by Ann Barrett, Director eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy

*according to Techcrunch.com

The Mobile Revolution Continues: How Social Media Revitalized the Food Truck Business

social_food_truckMany articles and blogs have focused on how social media has helped corporations grow their business. There are so many great tips and success stories on how social media has impacted HR, marketing and digital media functions. Social media has also revolutionized many industries, providing a platform for creative entrepreneurs to develop, market and launch their products. One such example is the food truck. Now for many of you who are over, let’s say 30; you may have memories of food trucks as sterile mobile canteens that served basic drinks (tea, coffee, and soda), hot dogs and cold pastries. The 21st century has seen the rise of the social food truck. Many creative chefs have chosen to fuse the restaurant and street food food_truckexperience on wheels. The food truck offers a mobile option to inexpensively introduce great food to the masses. It is the purist reflection of what social media embodies. Meeting the masses where they are.

Through social media the food truck industry has literally been re-vitalized, creating a niche market for cooks and chefs alike. Their popularity has transcended the social realm into syndicated television shows such as Eat Street and Anthony Bourdain’s series Parts Unknown.

So how did social media rejuvenate the food truck industry?

Building The Brand

The first step with any good product launch is building a brand presence. Food trucks are no longer sterile, silver vans that lack personality or ffood_truck_pics_phonelare. On the contrary, they are works of art, reflecting the theme of the food, the character of the chef with playful, catchy names like Roaming Dragon, to build brand recognition.

Once the brand is established, the food trucks use a social media ecosystem to promote their products. Within the ecosystem you will find, at a minimum, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google. Let’s not forget the delivery channel. Like the vehicle, it’s mobile.

Proprietors want people to know what kind of food they’re serving, recognize the truck and of course, communicate where they’ll be so you can buy the food. Applications like Instagram (100M users), Pinterest* (47M users) and Vine (via Twitter) provide the perfect channels to do all that. The beauty of these apps is customer can also participate in the experience by adding their own pictures and comments. They are then instantly shared their with friends through other social platforms in the ecosystem. Best part? No cost.

Engagement

Entrepreneurs rely on building their customer base by getting the “word” out there. With 1.1B people on Facebook, 500M on Twitter and 343Mfood_truck_phoneon Google* they represent the biggest, free, social distribution channels in the world. Every day menus and locations are posted and tweeted to a growing customer base. While content is pushed out, customers also engage in the conversation by posting comments, taking pictures of food, by asking questions and telling owners which locations they should include in their route. Tweeting or posting endorses the vendors and their products.  As we know, recommendations carry considerable clout. People are much more likely to try a new product or service if it’s recommended by someone they know. That translates into tangible sales.

Marketing Your Location

One of my favourite things about food trucks is their use of integrated GPS apps. Food trucks don’t necessarily go to the same spot every day. They diversify their routes to expand their customer base. Customers who want to experience new food trucks can download apps that track the ones closest to them.  All done in real time, on mobile.

food_truck_appMy blog post wouldn’t be complete without weaving in how this ties into social recruiting. With such an integrated social ecosystem, proprietors can easily advertise job openings to their fan base. 

The rise of the food truck through social media is an interesting and creative story. It’s another demonstration of how social media is creating new markets.

Kudos to all of those creative food proprietors who operate food trucks and offer good quality, flavourful food, at reasonable prices.

 
Support local businesses by finding the food trucks near you.

US:                 www.foodtruckfiesta.com

Canada:         http://streetfoodapp.com/

Toronto:       http://torontofoodtrucks.ca/

* Data courtesy of Digital Marketing Ramblings

By Ann Barrett, Director eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy

Is Your Organization Ready for Social Recruiting?

It’s hard to believe that less than five years ago many companies were still contemplating whether social platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter could be used as sourcing channels. Fast forward to 2013. The landscape of recruitment has significantly changed. The industry is in the midst of shifting away from traditional recruitment practices to what is now called “Social Recruiting”. Social recruiting is a model focusing on pro-active sourcing, brand marketing, engagement and metrics on social and mobile platforms. In a 2011 Jobvite survey, more than 80% of companies indicated they were using social media as part of their recruitment efforts.

So how are companies successfully using social media to assist with recruiting? Here are a couple of key suggestions to help you move to a social recruiting model:

  • Don’t treat social media as an add-on to your existing recruitment process – Social recruiting is an interactive, candidate centric model. It means socialinteractionthinking about sourcing in a drastically different way. Traditional recruitment focuses on a requisition centric approach. Recruiters spend administrative time screening out applicants to get to a qualified pool. Social recruiting turns this process upside down focusing on pro-actively finding qualified individuals and engaging them to market job opportunities. Instead of recruiters narrowing the applicant pool, they’re generating a qualified candidate pool through engagement. Successful companies have realized that social recruiting should focus on engagement, marketing and proactive sourcing. So, if you’re using social media as a job posting board it’s like using a smart phone to only make phone calls. If you don’t use the other options you won’t truly yield all the benefits.
  • Focus on engagement to build talent pools– Social media provides potential candidates with the opportunity to learn about your organization in an open and transparent way. Platforms such as Glassdoor and Indeed allow people to anonymously provide feedback about their experience with New-Rules-of-Recruiting-Promocompanies. In the social world, opinions carry a lot of clout. Most people will take feedback into consideration to help them form an opinion about a company. Candidate behavior is also shifting as social media becomes more commonplace and accessible. More than 60% of candidates expect to use a social media platform to engage with recruiting. Successful companies have realized that having a social media presence means providing a forum for people to interact. Candidates need to have an avenue to ask questions, provide comments or talk to someone if they want more information. What channels are available for your potential candidates to connect and communicate with you?
  • Really Proactively Source– Many companies buy into the concept of proactive sourcing but have trouble successfully executing. The shift from traditional post and pray to proactively searching can be a huge change for recruiters. It requires a thorough jobseekers_statsintake conversation to understand the search criteria. Most of all, it requires patience and perseverance. Statics show that 88% of all job seekers have at least one social networking profile. Successful companies have realized that they need to invest in training to ensure recruiters have the necessary skill set to execute. Consider partnering with a third party vendor with expertise in boolean search. If recruiters understand the basic concepts of online searching they will feel more confident executing.
  • Use metrics to anchor your strategy– Like any good strategy, metrics should be a core element.  Successful companies have realized that metrics can be used to tie their strategy together:
    • Measure to anchor accountabilities: Develop guidelines around what will be measured. Set expectations around ROI, and anchor accountabilities by creating benchmarks and frequently measuring against them. Hold people accountable for their performance.
    • Expand what you measure:  Traditional measures such as source of hire and cost per hire only tell part of the social recruiting story. Consider adding engagement and branding measures such as #followers, InMail acceptance % and talent reach to your dashboard to show the broader picture.
    • Refine your strategy based on results:  What is the data telling you? What are the accomplishments and gaps? What are the trends? As you consider your strategy for the next year let the data help you make the correct decisions. Make sure you communicate and share the your findings so there is transparency into the model.

These are just a few suggestions you can use to help build your social recruitment strategy. What tips would you suggest?