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The Secret Behind Every Successful Executive and Business: Reinvention

Have you ever wondered what makes some people more successful than others? Sure, talent and experience are a part of the equation, but there is an even more important component – reinvention. Really successful people don’t stand still. They are constantly changing and reinventing themselves. For a more in-depth look at this, I had the chance, on behalf of Opportunities NB to speak to Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You and the soon to be released Stand Out.

MacLean: Reinvention is an interesting concept, which in this economic climate is likely more important than ever. What was the driver for this book?

Dorie Clark

Dorie Clark

Clark: Certainly through my own career and observing others, I realized that we are being called upon far more than we ever have to reinvent ourselves. It is really an anomaly to stay in one job or with one company throughout your career. It just isn’t the norm any longer. The world is changing so quickly, that people need to be able to change with it.

For example, I started out as a reporter and got laid off. I worked on a number of political campaigns and we lost. It took a while for me to find my own professional footing, but I did. I discovered a lot about the process in doing so. Now, for the last nine years, I have my own consulting business, I write, speak professionally, etc. So, it was that process that really got me interested and I spoke to dozens of people who also went through reinventing themselves. I wanted to capture best practices and give readers the tools to do it for themselves in a faster more efficient manner.

One of the people I spoke with for Reinventing You was Steven Rice, Executive Vice President, Juniper Networks in Silicon Valley. One of the things he shared with me was a question he always asks in interviews. The question: what are you doing to reinvent yourself?  He does this because he knows that the positions he is hiring for now, will likely be substantially different in two years. So, he needs to know if the candidates will have the agility and willingness to reinvent themselves. 

MacLean: Our economy and world is really changing as you mentioned, what do you think about organizations that exclude talent because they may have changed jobs several times in a three or five year period?

Clark: I think that is a ridiculously outdated notion and it might be that people who still propound this don’t fully understand how the economy has changed the landscape.

Of course you can look at a resume and make assumptions about why someone might have been in roles for a short period of time. But without further investigation, you might not fully understand the person has been working short-term contracts, held temporary positions or have had the misfortune of being laid off. Things are just not black and white anymore. Quite frankly by excluding such people, you are overlooking a huge talent pool with tremendous potential and experience. 

Layoffs, changing economies and changing work dynamics are all great reasons for people to take control of their careers. People need to be able to identify what is needed for the next change or the next role they will be in. They can’t wait for or expect someone to do it for them.

At the same time, I think that it is important for companies to realize that they tipped the scales in the 1990’s with huge layoffs. This created a realization for a lot of people that there wasn’t a huge benevolence occurring within the corporate world. As a result perhaps the most talented and marketable employees are keeping an eye on what was happening in the marketplace and often times jumping ship. It is now more important for employers to be aware of this and incentivizing their most marketable employees in order to keep them. Essentially, companies need to put more thought into the talent pipeline that they have and specifically how they approach retention. 

MacLean: Reinventing yourself is really about developing and maintaining your personal brand. Do people connect with the term “personal brand”? There are certainly critics.

Clark: As mentioned, the book came about as a result of my own experience, but it really goes deeper than that. I wrote a blog post on reinvention for Harvard Business Review and it was so popular that they asked me to expand it into a full length magazine piece and then a book.

So, yes people do connect with their personal brand. It is, after all, a synonym for your reputation. And, yes there has been some blow back in relation to building your personal brand. It is a modern term. It was inaugurated in 1997 by Tom Peters in a cover story he wrote for Fast Company, called The Brand Called You, but the concepts are much older. Because it really is your reputation, I would challenge any professional that claims he or she doesn’t care about their reputation, or doesn’t think it is important. Paying attention to your reputation – your personal brand – is important.

MacLean: You have really had a tremendous level of support and commentary from people about your book and their personal experiences, what can you tell us about that?

Clark: I have really been heartened by the response. There are so many people with so many stories. It is incredible. One such person is Blaire Hughes, a reader from Australia. He was a teacher by profession, but really wanted to get into the world of sports. After reading the book and using the self-assessment, he was able to set up internships around the world and he found a job that he absolutely loves.

MacLean: How important is it for the C-Suite in the process of reinvention?

ClarkReinvention is important at a corporate level and at an individual level. RIM for example, needed to reinvent itself into Blackberry and they are still evolving. It really comes down to the fact that if you find yourself in a position of what used to work, no longer working, you need to find a new find a new playbook. If you don’t, you are going to be out of business or out of work. Of course, it is also important that you don’t wait until the last minute. You need to be continually scanning the horizon for trends and plan accordingly. You don’t want to face a cataclysmic disruption and shift.

In fact, I like to think about reinvention in two phases:

  • First there is Reinvention with a capital “R: With Reinvention the change may be associated with something that doesn’t happen very often. For example, a complete career change or something that happens over a period of several years. 
  • Then there is reinvention with a small “r”. This reinvention is more about having an attribute of trying and being open and doing small activities that keep us fresh enough so that we are not thrown flat on our faces when bigger changes happen.

MacLean: What role do leaders play in reinvention?

Clark: Leaders play a critical role in encouraging people to reinvent themselves. They must create a culture for this. When you are reinventing yourself, or your organization, there is an iteration process. Some things will work and some things won’t. People need to in an environment where they feel safe to try and pivot when things don’t work. If however, you work in an environment that expects perfection, people won’t try. The culture won’t accept “trying”. This is dangerous. In these environments people won’t grow and neither will the organization.

MacLean: You have a new book coming out on April 21st, what can you tells us about that?

Clark: I am very excited about it. Stand Out, How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It is for people who have reinvented themselves and now want to build on it. For example, how do you become the recognized expert in your field? There are many voices out there and there are some people who are very noisy and they stand out. They might not have the best idea or the most knowledge, they are just the loudest. I wanted to hear what some of the world’s top thought leaders did to stand out. I interviewed 50 of these people and reverse engineered how they achieved what they did. It is my goal that this book will help people take the next step.

Want to learn more about Dorie Clark and her work and books? Click here. 

This blog post was prepared for Opportunities New Brunswick.

Social Media Profiles

3 Easy Tips to Freshen Up Your Social Media Profiles

When was the last time you updated your social media profiles? Has it been awhile? It has…hasn’t it? I know, I know, it can be daunting when you haven’t touched them in awhile. But relax, we have some really easy tips to freshen up your social media profiles. And, now is a perfect time to update your social profiles. After all, they are an extension of who you are – your personal brand. What do your profiles say about you? Let’s dig in:

1. Picture This!

Still have the egg avatar on Twitter? Is your LinkedIn image your company logo? It’s time to get a headshot of you! Remember, these are your personal reputation assets and they should serve as a way for people to recognize you, not your employer.

We know from research that profiles with photos get more views. Why? Well, primarily it’s about human nature. People want to connect with people. After all, social media is a means to be social, so be social. Say cheese!

Social Media Profiles

2. Don’t be Bio Shy

Whether in Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and on and on, be sure to always complete your bio. Do you have to write a book about who you are? Of course not. Each channel however, does have different character limitations in terms of length. A general rule of thumb is shorter is better. If you have a longer bio, you can always put a link to your about.me page.

Social Media Profiles

3. Some Simple but VERY Important LinkedIn Profile Tips:

  • Be sure to include a summary at the top of your profile, but please, please and please don’t speak in the third-person. That is just weird and creepy!
  • Update your LinkedIn url to be reflective of your name and not the default.
  • And be sure to turn of your auto notification setting so that every time you edit your profile, notifications aren’t sent out to your network. It’s easy to do really…just go to your Privacy and Settings click on “Manage” and then click on the “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts” as noted below. This will help ensure that you aren’t inundating people.

Social Media Profiles

Of course there are many other things that you can do to improve your profiles, but these are the basics that every professional can easily implement within only a few minuts …well maybe not the photo, but everything else. Your social profiles are an extension of you, the story you tell about yourself. They are your personal brand. Take control!

Looking for help with your marketing and social media? Click here, we’ve got you covered!

How to Have the Perfect Professional Twitter Bio

Do you use your personal Twitter handle for professional purposes?  Of course you do!  I recently surveyed 150 people and 99% indicated that they do in fact use their own Twitter handle to communicate, network and conduct research in a professional capacity. As a part of that survey, I also asked questions about their bios, how they were set up and what information they added to their bios.  A staggering 85% indicated that they did not put much thought into their bios.  And, 100% of those respondents were concerned that their personal brand was less than stellar and that they were not as professional appearing as they could be.  So, you are not alone if you have had these concerns.  To remedy the situation, here are 8 Best Practices to use to have the perfect professional Twitter bio:Social Media, Twitter

1. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Nothing could be more true.  When a Tweet appears, what is the first thing you notice? It is the avatar of course – good or bad.  So, if you want to have a professional appearance, the first place to start is your avatar.

Best Practice is to have the same professional photo that you would use for LinkedIn.  You want to look your part AND you want to be recognizable.  For occasions when you get to meet Twitter connections, it is great to actually recognize or be recognized!

2.  Don’t Be Cute with Your Twitter Handle

Not only are you a brand in and of yourself, you want people to be able to remember you. It is Best Practice to use your own name as your Twitter handle. Now, that can be difficult.  For example, there are a lot of Heather MacLeans out there.  I could have gotten my full name, but it seemed long and with a hyphen in there, that might complicate things.  So, I ended up using @MacLeanHeather.

As a point of reinforcement, there is a wonderfully talented person in the industry that I like to keep in touch with.  Unfortunately I always forget her Twitter handle as it is something obscure.  So, I inevitably have to resort to communicate with her via LinkedIn, even though I know that she is on Twitter more frequently.

3. Use Your Real Name

Again, searching, finding and connecting to people can be difficult if you don’t use your real name in your Twitter bio.  Best Practice states using your real name versus nicknames, or variations on your name.  Of course, if you don’t want to be found…

4. What to Include in Your Actual Bio

You are human and not a robot..right?  So, be sure to use a combination of key words that reflect your profession/industry, but also include some interesting personal information. I used to include that I was an airplane nerd, which I am, but I don’t tend to Tweet about airplanes.  Now  I include that I am a dog lover and wannabe chef.  That makes sense to me as I do Tweet, on occasion, about these things.

So, be professional, but have some fun too!

5. Use Links

The great thing about your Twitter profile is that you can include a link to your own website, LinkedIn profile, about.me profile, etc.  Take advantage of this to help people get to know you.

6.  Location

Be sure to include your location data.  People love to connect with people in their respective regions and/or in new areas.

7.  Use of Header

Be sure to select a header image that not only scales, but also reinforces who you are. Having a blurry out of scale image is not good. Neither of course is something totally inappropriate.  If in doubt, look to others that inspire you or that you admire. Get a feel for what they use. Don’t copy of course, but emulate.

8. Completeness of Information

It is Best Practice to complete the details above.  If you really want to connect with people, they will want to know who you are.  Remember, this is social media.  Many people, including me, tend to return follows of people that share no details about themselves.

So, in the end, these are easy tips and Best Practices to follow.  Still have questions, let me know.

Want to learn more?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

3 Quick & Easy Tips to Freshen Your Social Media Profiles for Spring

Think Spring cleaning is just for your home?  Think again.  Our social media profiles, whether personal or for our brands can also use a freshening.  Here are 3 tips to freshen up your social media profiles:

Updating Your Social Media Profiles - Image of TaylorMade Solutions

Updating Your Social Media Profiles – Image of TaylorMade Solutions

1.  Update Your Avatars (Profile Pics)

This should be the most obvious on the list.  When was the last time that you updated your social media profiles pics?  If you still are using the “egg” for your profile pic on Twitter, it is time to crack that habit and lay the groundwork for a professional pic that enables people to recognize you.

The same goes for outdated pics across all channels.  If you are using a picture for LinkedIn from your first day on the job and that was five years ago, it’s time to update!  If people can’t recognize you by your avatar, then your impacting your personal brand.

For corporate brands, has your logo changed?  Are you using an image that is now outdated?  Shake it up and update asap!

2.  Update Your Bio

Like your photo, a lot can change over a year or a few years.  It’s time to wipe the cobwebs off of your outdated profile.  Hobbies changed?  New job?  New blog?  Remember to add the appropriate keywords for what you now do.

The same goes for corporate “About” pages, etc.  While your core business may not have changed, business terms and keywords do change.  Make sure that  you are putting your best foot forward by freshening up your corporate information and reflecting current business strategies and tactics.

3.  Create or Eliminate

Equally important for personal and corporate brands, if you are not listening and engaging with your audience in the right channels, then find out what channels you need to be a part of and carefully determine if it makes sense for you to be in that space as well. If you find that your audience (customers, prospects and competitors) are all in that space and you are not, then you are likely loosing out.

The same goes for channels that no longer work for your audience.  If you have found that you are spending  time and money in a channel that is getting zero engagement due to the fact that your audience is longer present, it’s time to re-evaluate.  If it is no longer working, exercise judgement and eliminate this time waster.  Focus on channels that net results:  leads, conversions and sales.

Looking for some additional tips for setting up your profiles in order to meet best practices?  Check out these resource for LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Want to learn more?  Sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

10 Ways to Avoid Looking Silly on LinkedIn

LinkedIn continues to grow in popularity and is used by more recruiters than any other tool right now.  While you might not be looking for a job, you might want to use LinkedIn to enhance and maintain your personal brand.  But the question is:  where do I start?  Or, I have a profile, but don’t seem to be getting anywhere, what am I doing wrong?  Here are 10 ways to avoid looking silly on LinkedIn:

Image courtesy of swishdesign.com.au

Image courtesy of swishdesign.com.au

10.  Not Completing Your Bio

Be sure to put substance in your profile.  Don’t just list your employer.  Actually give context about “what” you do and “what” you are responsible for. Don’t be afraid to show  some of the professional interests that you have.

9. Talking about Yourself in the Third Person

I have to admit that practitioners find this odd when people do this.  This is your profile.  You own it and maintain it.  I don’t know many people who speak about themselves in the third person when having a normal conversation.  So, the question is, why in the world would you choose to do that with your LinkedIn Profile?  Advice: don’t.  It is that simple.

8.  Not Using Recommendations Correctly

Like connection requests, giving LinkedIn Recommendations should be carefully considered.  Remember, Recommendations are public and visible on your profile as well as the profile of the person for whom you have written the recommendation. Sure you can manage visibility, but why bother giving a recommendation if you aren’t willing for it to be public.   You have to manage and develop your personal brand.  That being said, not giving anyone a recommendation also sends a message and not a good one.

7.  Over Sharing

Depending on your contacts and your network, the level of sharing will vary.  It is important to remember that LinkedIn is not like Twitter or Facebook.  Sharing one or two really good pieces of content/advice a day would be more than appropriate.  I only share a couple of pieces of content per week, but tend to like or comment more on the content shared by others.

In addition, LinkedIn is not the place to share what you had for dinner, where you are going on holidays, etc.  Remember that this is a professional networking site. Keep it professional.

6.  Not Using  Groups Appropriately

Groups are a great source to make connections and learn from others.  It is important to join groups that you have some interest or connection with.  Be sure to contribute to the conversation when you have something to add.  Don’t use it as a source to spam people with your services and/or products.  It is also important to be professional.

5.  Don’t Show Your Birthday

Some practitioners might disagree with me on this one, but this is not Facebook.  Why in the world would you show your birthday on a professional network?  Are you looking for birthday wishes?  Do you really want that level of personal detail available to your entire network, the public and possibly recruiters?

4.  Connecting with People When There is No Obvious Connection

Choosing whom to connect with is something that people should give great consideration.  Different people have different criteria for who they accept when new people reach out to them.  Some for example, will only accept LinkedIn connections from people that they know well and are in their respective industry.

Others, including myself, will accept LinkedIn connections from people in my industry as long as they are connected to other people I know.  I do not connect with individuals whom I don’t know and there is no obvious connection.  I also don’t accept connection requests from people who either don’t have a photo of themselves and/or it is a logo or some other odd image.

3.  Spamming People

One of the greatest pet peeves that I have, and I know that others feel this way too, is having someone ask to connect with me and then when I do, they start spamming me with:

  • Vote for me to win or be recognized for X
  • Endorse me for X
  • Recommend me for X
  • Buy my product and/or service

I did not accept your connection to be bombarded with requests or sales pitches.  If you want to ask a question or have a conversation, that is one thing. The action or reaction you will likely get from me is a disconnection.

2.  Not Having a Professional Photo

Ensure that you actually have a photo for your profile.  You should even go one step further and have a professional photo.  The photo should only be of you and not you and  your significant other and/or a buddy.  This is YOUR professional profile.

1.  Not Being truthful

Remember that this is a public profile and someone will call you out for using a more important title and/or claiming that you had a team of 50 professionals reporting to you when you in fact had no direct reports.

Of course there are other things you should/should not do.  And, if you still have questions, let me know.

5 Tips for Students to Avoid Looking Like an Ass When Job Hunting

Whether you are in your first year of college or university, or your last, it’s time to start thinking about your personal brand.  Whether you are looking for your first summer job, or better yet preparing to graduate, you need to think about what your brand will be when you graduate.  And yes, you do need to be thinking about your personal brand now.  Here are 5 tips to get you started:

Student

1.  Think about what your dream job looks like

It is never too early to think about this and be sure to take courses that fit that view.  Don’t be afraid to stray outside your faculty for courses.  Think outside the box and how the new skills will help you get that dream job.

2.  Volunteer

Everyone should volunteer.  Not only does it build character and teach you how to work with people of different backgrounds, but it also enables you to test out what you learn in school.  Be selective however.  Don’t just volunteer for the sake of volunteering.  Think again of the dream job and be passionate about what you do.  Not only will it make the volunteering more enjoyable, but it will likely open more doors for you.

3.  Take time for R&R

Sure you need to relax and restore, but that is not what I am suggesting.  Instead be sure to read and research.  This might sound like a strange thing to tell a student, but you need to stretch yourself.  Be sure to read mainstream news each day.  Research companies, people and trends that you are hearing about in the news.

4.  Contribute

In addition to R&R, be sure to contribute your comments, thoughts, ideas and even pose questions when reading blogs or news articles.  This will not only help you learn more, but it will also begin to establish your name as someone who is knowledgeable and someone who contributes his or her own thoughts.

5.  Think before You Post Online

I saved this one for last and not because it is the least important.  Actually, it is just the opposite.  When thinking about your personal brand, you need to think about everything that you say and do.  You need to be consistent in all channels of your life.  This is particularly important in your online persona.  Remember every photo of you partying can and will come back to haunt you at some point.  Every stupid comment you make will resurface.  If possible, work with a professional to develop your LinkedIn profile.  It might cost a few dollars, but it will be worth it when you outshine your competition.

For more information on social channels and best practices, visit TaylorMade Solutions.