The Social Marketing of Diversity

Scientific research indicates the brain transmits 90% of visual information and processes it 60,000 times faster than information in text form[1].  Digital media has transformed the reach of visual content. Digital images such as pictures, videos, infographics, word clouds, etc., can be posted and shared quickly on social networks. On Facebook alone, 75% of content posted globally are photos. On Twitter, photos and videos are re-tweeted 63% more than other types of content (see chart below). In 2013 LinkedIn purchased Pulse, a news reader that presents content visually to its member base.

Retweet stats

The consumption of visual digital content has also led to the creation of many popular platforms such as YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Flicker and Vine (just to name a few).

youtube

Instagrampinterestvine

 

 
 


Its popularity has also had an impact on marketing and recruitment; specifically in the areas of diversity. As populations become increasingly diverse it continuously creates new customer and employee needs. These demographic shifts in both consumer base and talent pools have put pressure on organizations to build workforces that reflect the markets they are trying to serve. Companies such as RBC have created an integrated approach (as shown below) recognizing the fluidity between consumer, employee and community member[2].

RBC_diversity

Consumer marketing has created digital brand strategies to tap into new demographics and create an emotional experience. The image below is a great example of this. The experience is reflected in the image to create an emotional response. To make you picture yourself using the product. It’s powerful because people can more easily relate if they see images that reflect themselves.

diversity_11

Talent acquisition is no stranger to developing diversity strategies to build their workforce. For years organizations have tried to create programs to attract, source, hire and retain diverse candidates. Few have been able to claim bragging rights. Diversity recruitment has always relied on images to depict inclusion and representation. Social media has enabled this approach to go viral.

Even though diverse images and videos are much more prevalent, prospective candidates have also shifted their approach. They now rely on employee experiences to validate the diversity proposition and actual representation of their prospective employer. According to a Glassdoor.com survey; candidates are signficantly influenced by employee experiences and how they perceive their employer.

 recommendations

 They’re looking for more meaningful and authentic messages from employees that reflect themselves.

A poster for Lakeridge Health is shown in this undated handout photo. The Ontario hospital group is turning QuebecÕs proposed restrictions on religious clothing in the public sector into an opportunity to recruit nurses and doctors.

As employees build their online presence they also provide insight to the demographic composition of their organization. Candidates now have more visibility into representation both vertically and horizontally than at any other time in history. It represents the shift from an aspiration to something that is achievable. It’s this reflection of inclusion through employee experiences that are emotional and impactful. Consider the brand of two employers below:

non_diversity

diverse_workforce

Which one would you click on to find more?

People overwhelmingly chose the image on the bottom. They felt diversity and inclusion were represented and reflected by real employees. It felt more authentic. The visual digital collage created an emotional reaction. A connection. An experience.

The goal is to make you picture yourself working at this organization. It’s employee experience that lies at the heart of talent branding. Creating an experience that resonates with potential candidates. An authentic experience delivered through employees.

I’d love to hear your perspectives on topic! Share them with me @annzaliebarrett or through LinkedIn.

_______________________________________________________________________________

[1] http://tech.co/visual-content-will-rise-2015-2015-01

[2] http://www.rbc.com/diversity/why-does-diversity-matter.htm

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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 Resistance to Social Media @ Work Futile?

SEO Manager, Community Manager, Mobile App. Developer, Virtual Lead Generator and Recruitment Optimization Specialist. Most of these jobs were unheard of ten years ago. The high rates of user adoption on social media platforms have created new jobs to support technological development and new ways of working. Traditional jobs have also evolved as social tools permeate into our day to day work. Companies have realized they need to embrace social as part of their overarching strategy in order to remain competitive in the market. Resistance to social media may not only hinder company performance, but can widen the skill gap between you and your competition in the job market.

Don’t believe me?

Selling-Through-Social-Media-to-Close-More-Leads-InsideviewLet’s take a look at sales as an example. Traditionally sales people spent a significant amount of time cold calling and cultivating relationships to build their client base. There were limited ways of tracking information, let alone mapping out connections. Social media has revolutionized the approach to lead generation. Virtual networks help sales people identify, learn and connect with potential and existing clients by showing recent activity, new connections, job updates, people movements, status updates, etc. The savvy salesperson uses social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) to market themselves, and research people they want to get in touch with before making a call. The picture above shows the correlation between social media usage and increased lead generation.

Traditional Approach                                       Savvy Approach

  • Blind cold calling to generate leads      Uses social to research leads/ introductions
  • Relies on paper                                      Leverages mobile to get information on the go
  • Manually track clients                            Leverages social /CRM
  • Not on social media                               Use social media to engage and communicate

How about Marketing? This one is a no brainer. The introduction of targeted content marketing on the internet andsocial-media-industry-report-benefits-marketing-stelzner-march-2009 social platforms means messaging is reaching relevant audiences. So, if you’re a sales professional you won’t see job adverts meant for java programmers. Social media data also provides key insights to understanding consumer preferences, demographics and metrics around success/failure of targeted messaging. Content marketing has also evolved to become interactive. Savvy marketers know that fostering engagement between the company and their audience through a social forum builds brand awareness and relationships which can translate to new customers and customer retention.

Traditional Approach                                   Savvy Approach

  • Relies on push content strategy          Creates an interactive strategy to foster engagement
  • Limited/static social presence            Offers content types through social platforms
  • No mobile strategy                              Optimizes content for mobile

Recruitment has typically been an industry leader using social media . New-Rules-of-Recruiting-PromoNew industry terms such as Recruitment 2.0, Social Recruiting and Social HR have emerged to describe the shifts in recruiters work and tool kit. Think about it. Job boards, applicant tracking systems and staffing vendors were key sourcing channels to generate a just in time candidate pool. However, high memberships on social platforms have resulted in a shift to proactive sourcing to seek out the best candidate instead of just relying on the applicant pool. The savvy recruiter participates in social media to promote their brand, connect, search through networks and leverage managers networks to build proactive pipelines.  Savvy campus/college recruiters understand that pro-actively cultivating relationships with students and providing a forum to interact builds an emotional connection to the company and brand.

Traditional Approach                                       Savvy Approach

  • Spends time screening out applicants    Pro-actively searches and engages candidates
  • Requisition based searches                     Uses social to build candidate pipelines
  • Relies on career centre postings             Cross promotes jobs on social networks
  • Only interacts on campus                        Uses a variety of social platforms to interact
  • Opts out of using social media                 Cross promotes company social channels

One last point to think about is the new work force. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that young people have the highest

Edison-research-graphuptake on social media platforms (as shown). As they enter the workforce they have an expectation they will use some sort of social media platform (internal or external) in their job to collaborate and/or communicate.  As a result companies have started to transform the way they communicate, engage and collaborate internally.

So, to stay relevant and competitive you need to be willing to embrace new ideas and adopt change.  Job descriptions now incorporate using social tools as part of day to day operations. Whichever way you look at it, social media at work, is inevitable. Which means resistance to social media in the workplace is futile.

By: Ann Barrett, Director eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy

The Evolution of Social Media for Visual Marketing

CnnI remember when CNN was first launched in 1980. Many people wondered how successful a specialty news channel could be. Would there even be enough content for a 24×7 channel? Almost 25 years later Ted Turner’s risk paid off, making CNN one of the most available and watched channels around the world. The success of that specialty channel paved the way for the television industry to think about marketing content for specific demographics. Other specialty channels soon followed such as MTV (1981), the Cartoon network (1992) and the Food Network (1993) just to name a few.

imagesSocial media is also evolving. Traditional social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and mobile platforms had limited image presence. Status updates, tweets and texts were quick ways to communicate. As a result specialty social channels started to emerge focusing on different types of media content. In 2004 Flickr was launched as a social site to store and share photos. Its popularity took off, but after Yahoo’s acquisition the product direction changed limiting its usage and availability. The launch of YouTube in 2005 offered a forum to communicate, teach and learn through video. Videos are publically available and accessible through search. Its success is astounding. More than 3 billion global views a day and more than 48 hours of video uploaded every minute.

pinterest_smallThis availability of visual content (images and videos) has shifted the way people view and seek information. If someone wanted to learn how to change their privacy settings on Facebook, they would probably download a video on YouTube that shows them how to do this. Most people now prefer this approach rather than reading  pages of instructions. Even bloggers have started to use images to help attract readers to their content. The desire for visual content has resulted in social media channels now using image content as the primary interaction point.

The launch of Pinterest and Instagram in 2010 and Google+ images in 2011 are great examples of how social media continues to evolve to solicit interaction and foster browniesengagement. One may wonder, like in the early days of CNN, what traction can Pinterest or Instagram have? Images evoke an emotional response.  In the words of Fred Barnard “A picture is worth one thousand words”. If you’ve used Pinterest you’ll know you can search, view and “pin” images to a board to visualize your dream kitchen, your favourite foods, shoes, clothes, travel destinations, the list goes on. That emotional response has a powerful draw that keeps people coming back. Think about the brownie picture on the right from Pinterest you’ve been eyeing, what feeling does it evoke?

In only two years Pinterest has developed a huge following, to the tune of 1.9 billion global page views per month, making Pinterest a marketing goldmine.

2013 saw many social platforms make updates to expand its use of images and graphs. Facebook launched its Graph search allowing users to create broader searches on images, videos and other content. LinkedIn removed its partner applications and replaced it with the ability to add video and images from websites directly onto your own personal profile. Twitter also launched its video app Vine, allowing users to embed 6 seconds of video into tweets.

graph search_fb

Innovative employers have realized that visual product and company branding marketed through social media channels builds followers through emotional connections. According to www.mdgmarketing.com the impact of articles featuring compelling images averages 94% more total views than those without.

Recruitment functions can also realize the benefits of image marketing through employment branding. Adding employment branding images and/or videos to postings, communications and social media presence can increase reach to potential candidates. Recruiters should leverage their LinkedIn profiles as front line employment brand ambassadors of the company. Every time a prospective candidate looks up information about a Recruiter, employment and/or company branding should be part of what they see to build that emotional connection with the company.

SLF_Ebrand

So, consider the opportunities your company can have using visual marketing build your customer base and attract talent.

by Ann Barrett, Director eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy

Who’s Using Social Media Anyway?

Facebook. Twitter. Google+. Pintrest, Instagram, LinkedIn. They all have become mainstream words we use in our everyday conversation. They have penetrated all forms of media including print, TV, radio, video and digital. It would almost seem strange not to hear or see those familiar icons.

Instagrampca_icon_linkedin_111w_116h googleplustwitter Copy of YouTubeCopy of pca_icon_facebook_111w_111h

For a long time, there seemed to be a perception that only younger people (under 25) were “on” social media. So why then are companies putting so much time, effort and money into using social media platforms for marketing, branding and engagement to a small segment of the population?

Think about it:

  • Almost every company, globally, is using a social media channel for branding and engagement
  • News channels use Twitter to solicit questions and comments
  • Commercials almost always have a “check us out on” Facebook or Twitter as part of their closing
  • For reality TV shows… Twitter is a staple
  • For mobile, social channels are readily available
  • Many web sites enable you use your Facebook, Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts to sign into other accounts such as Pinterest, TripAdvisor, etc.
  • Some companies provide the ability use your social accounts such as LinkedIn to apply for jobs.

So it’s not just young people who are using social media channels.

age_demographics

As social media becomes more intertwined with consumer marketing, recreational activities and personal transactions (such as banking), it encourages more people across a wider demographic to use these channels. Mobile technology also offers social media as a core part of their smart phones (including tablets) which make social media channels readily accessible and easy to use on the go.

In the last two years we can see a steady increase across all demographics of people using social media.

Edison-research-graph

No surprise that the highest usage is the under 25 age group. But what we are seeing is the year over year increase of people over 45 using social media. In just one year the 45-54 age group increased 10% shifting to more than half of that demographic now using social media channels. Another interesting observation is an 8% increase of those 65 and over using social media between 2011 and 2012.

The marketing of social media on traditional channels has increased conversion to use these channels and apps to engage and perform transactions. The upsurge in usage for those 55 and over may also be attributed to the way they have determined how the use social media. Research shows that as people get older they tend to take a more thoughtful approach to social media; separating their professional and personal social channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Friends and network connections tend to be people they know, instead of casual acquaintances.  Increased ability to control privacy settings also make people feel more secure about social networking and sharing information.

As more people start to use social media we also see them expanding and using a variety of different channels. If we think about personal usage on channels such as Facebook we can see in the chart below, there is a broad distribution of users across all demographics. If we look at LinkedIn, we can see more usage for those over 25, the highest among those in the over 55 age bracket. Twitter on the other hand has broader usage for those under 25 and the least amount of usage for those over 55. What they all have in common, are all demographics are using these channels, but at a different capacity, based on what they deem the channels are useful for. What we will start to see is a rise in channels like LinkedIn for those under 25 looking to build their professional profile.

social-media-demographics-age2

The results show us that social media is being used by all demographics. With technology making it easier to connect we can expect to see a continued rise in the number of “older” people using social media. This is key if you are thinking about possible avenues to market your products, services and jobs.

Consider where you could source your next new hire or business opportunity from using a social media platform.

Ann_Nov_2012

by Ann Barrett, Director eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy

The Social Networking Etiquette Guide- Part 1

Technology has enabled us to communicate and connect with each other faster than at any point in history. Mobile technology has pushed the envelope even further allowing us to connect on the go. Platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Orkut, Google+, etc. provide forums for people to connect with one another to share information, pictures, and emails, thus classifying them as social networking sites.

imagesCAGEOSCEWhile technology has made it easier to connect, there is still a social etiquette we need to follow when socially networking. For example, have you ever received a “networking” invite from someone you didn’t know? Chances are if people don’t know you, your request will be ignored, or worse deleted. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use social tools to network or meet new people, but sending a connection request to someone you don’t know is a social faux paux.

Most people think that the bigger your network is, the better it is. I would challenge that assumption. Quality is no substitute for quality. While you may think that having more people in your network means you have the potential to hear about more information, think about the purpose of your network request. If you are networking to learn more about a subject area, hear about jobs or interact, consider networking through groups.

Here are some etiquette tips to successfully socially network on LinkedIn:

  1. Start with your own profile- The first thing people do when they get your network request is look up your profile. By putting yourself out there you need to be prepared to be looked at and judged. People will be looking at you to assess whether it’s worth their while to connect. People don’t want to network with a blank profile. Take the time to enhance your profile by adding a picture, updating your summary and work experience and skills. Your profile is a reflection of you, what first impression will you make? Social etiquette tip, don’t start seeking connections until your profile is presentable.
  1. Join groups or alumni. One of the most under estimated resources available to people are LinkedIn groups. Groups are one of best ways to engage, meet new people, participate in discussions and find jobs. The best thing? You don’t have to individually connect to anyone to join. Groups allow you to take time to cultivate a relationship, and get to know people. Think of it as dating without a commitment. Social etiquette tip; once you start to build relationships take it one step further and network one on one. This builds the quality of your network.

netiquette

  1. Group interaction. If you are participating in a group, remember, everyone has an opinion. That opinion may not be the same as yours. Social etiquette tip; when commenting or sharing your opinion, don’t belittle someone else or dismiss their comments. Share your opinion and be respectful of others comments.
  1. Ask for introductions. If you want to connect with someone who is a 2nd degree connection, (connected to you through someone else), ask your direct connection to make an introduction. Social etiquette tip, be prepared to articulate why you want to connect, not simply to “network”. This will help the person making the introduction craft a better message. People are far more likely to respond and read information from someone they know.
  1. Send a Message before sending a connection invite. Most social networking sites allow you to message people you don’t know. Social etiquette tip, rather than send a connection request, send a message introducing yourself and the context of your request to connect. This gives the recipient some more information about the nature of your request. Once interaction take place it makes sending and accepting the network request more genuine and relevant.
  1. Be Relevant: When you need information, help finding resources, or are looking for new staff/jobs, reach out to your current network and groups for help. Post a status update on your profile and groups so it appears in your networks newsfeeds and groups discussion thread. Social etiquette tip, don’t bombard people with information. If you start to clutter your networks new feeds, chances are you may be moved to the “hidden” and no longer show up on newsfeeds.
  1. Networks are for sharing: Networking etiquette isn’t only about receiving, it’s also about giving. Have you received an InMail that someone in your network may benefit from? Social etiquette tip, share information that is relevant and beneficial to your network. Sharing information will build your credibility and keep your network interactive.
  1. Cultivate the relationship. Networking is ultimately about building relationships. It shouldn’t be treated in a just in time way. Meaning, don’t reach out only when you need something. Good networking takes time. Successful networking is exemplified by having regular interactions. Social etiquette tip, add a social component to networking. Reach out to your network to touch base, have a causal lunch or meet up at an event.

What tips do you have?

Ann_Nov_2012

by Ann Barrett- Director, eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy

Get Your Career Plan Into Shape

It’s the new year. We’ve made our resolutions, committed to losing the “holiday weight” and thought about what we will do differently this year. For many of us this includes making a career move.

Career planning is typically treated like dieting. We only focus on it when we want to make a change. Once we achieve our goal we stop. Successful career planning shouldn’t be thought of in a just in time manner, instead it should be approached in the same way as a healthy lifestyle. We can build mental exercises  positive thinking and networking into our daily routine creating a more holistic approach to career planning. Over time this daily regiment will help us grow, develop and learn where we can shape our own career path.

Here are some quick things you can build into your everyday routine to get your career plan in shape:

Exercise Your Mind:  Getting into shape means exercising your body and mind. Your brain needs to work out to be alert and focused. The more your brain works out, the more you stimulate creativity and build memory retention. Here are two key mental exercises you can start doing today:

newspaperRead something new every day: With so many blogs, eBooks, audio books, articles and news items, there is a plethora of rich content available for consumption. Technology has made it even easier to access and read information on the go through an eReader, iPad or smart phone. Reading is an important element in development and education. It’s a way to actively listen to content being presented and form an opinion about it. Expanding the scope of what you read is also important in building your comprehension skills and getting your creative juices flowing. Keeping up to date on new developments within and outside your industry or profession will also keep you relevant and allow you to contribute new ideas and perspectives in your job.

artLearn something new: Life is busy and we often get consumed by our routine to break out and try something different. Career balance is about being well rounded in a variety of areas within and outside work. Taking on something different not only challenges us to move outside our comfort zone, but may also reveal a hidden talent! Learning something new contributes to both your personal and professional growth and may help steer you in a career path you hadn’t considered before.

Socialize: Meeting new people sharpens your interpersonal and communication skills. Socializing on a daily basis is a great way to get introduced to new ideas which can energize your creative juices. Here are two ways to stay actively social:

meetNetworking– Connecting with people within your career stream or industry on a regular basis can foster interesting discussions and ideas which you can leverage in your current or new career. Social tools such as LinkedIn make it easy to connect and participate. Why not join a group on LinkedIn and start a discussion?

MB900434888

Meet people in person: Can you participate in your next meeting in person? If so, take a moment to have that meeting face to face. Meeting people in person helps build relationships and trust. It also gives you an opportunity to practice and show off your communication and presentation skills. This will come in handy in your next career move!

MC900433947Market Yourself: In the era of social media everyone can create their own personal brand. What do you want people to know about you as a professional? No one knows more about your accomplishments , projects you’ve worked on, awards, recognitions,  etc. than you. Update your LinkedIn profile with your projects and awards. Have you had positive feedback? Ask for recommendations or endorsements on LinkedIn. Your profile will help you to track all of your successes as they occur.

excerciseHave a positive outlook: Is your glass half empty or half full? Getting in shape means focusing on the larger plan, not only what happens today. Feel good about the work you produced. The way we feel about our successes affects our self-esteem, concentration, relationships and the way we approach our work. A healthy outlook focuses on the positive, our glass being half full.

Which of these will you start doing today?

Ann_Nov_2012

By Ann Barrett, Director eRecruitment & Social Media Strategies