6 Valuable Snippets of Career Advice I’d Tell My Younger Self

After reading some of the entries in the popular #IfIWere22 LinkedIn series, I was inspired to think about what I would tell my younger self. Hindsight is 20/20, right? So here I go…

college graduation photo

Yours truly at 22 — ready to take on the world!

6 Snippets of Career Advice I’d Give to My Younger Self

Don’t let yourself be used. Yes, it pays to be a hard worker and to chip in where you can. Some of your best opportunities may come from projects outside of your ‘job description.’ Yet, it’s not helpful to willingly work 70-80 hours a week and become a catch can for the company while others maintain an actual work-life balance. There’s nothing in the Ten Commandments about burning out before you’re 25 and routinely doing other peoples’ jobs for them.

This point also refers to regularly ‘covering’ for co-workers or even your boss while they’re sleeping in, out socializing or living their life. In group environments, you’ll always have people riding others’ coattails. Sometimes, these people promise ‘exposure,’ promotions, even raises. Unfortunately, these are often empty promises.

Start networking now! Your professional network can be a big boost to your career, but it’s up to you to build and maintain it. I’m not just talking about collecting business cards or adding connections on LinkedIn (although that’s a great place to be!). Get to know professionals in your industry, offer your help when appropriate and pick their brain. Remember to give twice as much (of your time, talents, etc.) than you receive.

Speak up. You may be the low man (or woman) on the totem pole, but don’t hesitate to chime in when appropriate. If your boss asks your opinion, speak up. As a newbie to a company or situation, you can offer a fresh perspective that veterans cannot. Besides, the simplest solution is often the best, and others may be over-thinking the project. Your superiors will notice when you routinely offer valuable insight and fresh ideas.

Speak up -- and shine like a star!

Speak up! Your insight and ideas can be just as valuable as someone twice your age.

Learn from every opportunity. You were excited to land an internship at a great company but all you’re doing is picking up coffee, making runs to the mail room and updating endless spreadsheets. First, do whatever tasks you’re assigned to the best of your ability — even making coffee runs. If you can’t handle the routine, why would anyone give you more responsibility? Look for opportunities to improve the situation — save the company money, enhance a report or bring efficiency where you can. If your supervisor doesn’t notice, bring it up (appropriately of course). Then, ask for more. Let your boss know that you’d love to sit in the next brainstorming session or be involved in a conference strategy session, and offer your help — to take notes, order lunch, etc. It may just be that the powers to be have so much going on that they don’t realize you’re being shut out. (This applies to seemingly non-related jobs and experiences as well. You’d be surprised what you can learn from working at Walmart or helping your youth group.)

Try new things! You’re young, so it’s OK if you don’t know what you want to do for the rest of your life. This is where talking to other professionals, shadowing them and volunteering for opportunities will help. For example, volunteering at an American Diabetes Association walk may show you a love for event planning or participating in student government could spark an interest in public service. The more you experience, the more confident you’ll feel in your chosen career path. Change your mind at your first career stop? No big deal. Keep looking for what you want to do and avenues you can take to get there.

Don’t burn bridges. It may be tempting to walk out of a job on the spot or tell that professor what you really think of his teaching, but it’s probably a bad idea. We’re a mobile society today, so you never know where or when you’ll run into someone again. That professor? He may be a consultant for a company you apply at. Your internship supervisor? It turns out his brother-in-law works in HR at your dream company. It’s amazing how small the world turns out to be. So try to act professional until the end, even if that means graciously leaving an opportunity before you explode.

What’s your advice?

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

Is there a decision you made when you were younger that you love or regret?

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?

p.s. Entering the workforce? Changing careers? CCC can help you with a number of personal branding needs, including resumes, cover letters and social media profiles/usage. Learn more or contact us to discuss your needs today!

Older and wiser,
Jaime

Building your professional network? Connect with CCC!
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Are LinkedIn Groups Working For You?

The past week we’ve focused on LinkedIn, the largest professional networking site on the planet. It tends to be a platform that most people aren’t utilizing effectively, because they’ve either posted a profile years ago and haven’t been back, or they share every tweet, which is a little overboard. So far, we’ve covered general tips in LinkedIn: Are You Connected? and focused on the foundation of the site in LinkedIn: The Essence of a Profile. (Feel free to catch up on those posts if you missed them. I’ll grab a macchiato… )

Are LinkedIn groups working for you?

original photo via Esther Vargas’ photostream by CC BY-SA 2.0 // edited by CCC

Now we’re moving on to the power of groups. Are you taking advantage of this feature on LinkedIn?

Participating in groups can:

  • Increase traffic to your profile. Group participants (not just members) receive four times the number of profile views, typically from people who are interested in what you do.
  • Showcase your expertise in key industries/subjects. In our current age of information, business professionals want to be ‘thought leaders’ or experts in what they do. By commenting intelligently in group discussions, you can build your credibility and even win new business opportunities.
  • Warm up a potential customer. When you’re active in groups, you’ll begin to get to know other active members of the group: potential customers, employers, business partners, vendors, etc. You never know where this type of conversation might lead, and it makes pursuing a business relationship with these individuals a little easier.

Creating a group can:

  • Grow your business. Give customers and prospects a place to ask questions, discuss their needs and stay up-to-date on the latest news in your field. An active group is a great place to promote your business by offering value — and value brings in referrals. (If you have a company page, don’t forget to feature your group!)
  • Connect you to your audience in a safe, professional environment. Tired of Facebook’s pay-to-play movement? Not a blogger? Hosting a LinkedIn group gives you a professional forum to discuss key issues and take the pulse of your customers and prospects. What are their biggest struggles? How can you solve them? Plus, you can close the group in order to have more control over who joins (like your competitor posing as a buyer).
  • Provide content for your marketing efforts. By taking the pulse of your customers, prospects and industry professionals, you can come across some thought-provoking content ideas. Ask your audience for their opinion on a subject, take a vote and gain real insight into what your connections and followers are looking for. Providing value = more business.

Comment on This Discussion

Are you active on LinkedIn?

Which groups are your favorite? (Feel free to tell us about your own group!)

Have you secured a new client, job or business opportunity on LinkedIn?

Thanks for reading,
Jaime

Connect with CCC! We’d love to be a part of your professional network.
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LinkedIn: The Essence of a Profile

You created a bare bones profile and uploaded your resume to LinkedIn a few years ago, and you haven’t been back. You’re done, right?

LinkedIn: Essence of a Profile

original photo via smi23le’s photostream by CC BY 2.0 // edited by CCC

Similar to other social platforms, the more you put into LinkedIn, the more you’ll get out of it. And just like other platforms, it all starts with your profile. What’s in a LinkedIn profile? Let’s break it down.

(Read my) Headline

First, let’s start with what it’s not. Your headline does not have to include your title or current employer. That information is already listed elsewhere in your profile. Your headline is what you want people to think of you (and contact you) for. Are you a content marketing maestro? QuickBooks queen? WordPress whiz? Let the world know about it.

Here’s the deal with headlines: you want to come up in as many relevant searches as possible. The format is up to you. List your specialties: Writing Services | Marketing Services | Social Media Services | Content Creation or create a phrase: Writer (aka content creator, communications connoisseur) reaching consumers’ minds and pocketbooks since ’04. Spend some time playing around with your headline: tweak it, change it, have friends and colleagues read it. This is how you pull people in — or don’t.

Profile Picture

As we’ve touched on previously, it all starts with your profile picture. You need a good head shot, which is easier than ever today. It helps to show your face, so people know who you are. Remember, people do business with people, not companies. Let them know who they’ll be working with. Stay away from group shots, pictures of your kids (or other people) or anything related to a mugshot. Your personal Facebook page? Fine. Your LinkedIn profile. Not so much. Smart phone pics work fine. Just make sure you’re in good lighting, don’t have anything distracting behind you and don’t move the phone/camera. Oh, and stay away from duck lips. They may be hot, but they probably won’t help you land new clients or opportunities.

Summary

After a well thought out headline and appropriate profile pic, this is it: the most important part of your profile. Prospects, potential employers and investors will often decide whether to read on and contact you from your summary. This is your time to shine and let readers know why they should want to work with you. What can you do for them? Think of it as your elevator speech or 30-second spot to sell what you do. Always think of the reader — what do they want to know? Include any relevant statistics or numbers to back up your claims (i.e. consistent double digit growth, 25% year-over-year ROI).

Experience & Education

This is where you spell it out (briefly, of course). Tell people how you succeeded at previous opportunities, including going above and beyond. Share relevant examples, statistics, key responsibilities, numbers and any details that may impress a prospect or potential employer. Bullet points work great! Also, add projects that you worked on, including published works. (p.s. Published doesn’t have to mean The New York Times; it can be in a company newsletter or on a blog.) Don’t forget about the Education field, even if it was “forever ago.” Chances are you accomplished a few noteworthy achievements in school and should let everyone know about them: internships, awards, minors & additional areas of knowledge, overseas studies. It’s amazing what could attract someone’s eye!

Skills & Endorsements, Recommendations

These two areas can provide validation to your profile. Select the skills that you most want to be known for to display on your profile, so people you work with can endorse you for them. It’s fine to ask for endorsements or recommendations; just be tactful about it and be prepared to return the favor. Yes, that means you shouldn’t blast a recommendation request to all of your 900 connections unless you’re prepared to write 900 recommendations. Be selective about who you ask: did you provide value to a client? Did you succeed on an important project for your boss? Make sure that anyone you ask has a reason to recommend you, and being your best friend probably isn’t a legitimate reason.

There are other sections of course, and they all add value to your LinkedIn experience. But we’ve covered the “meat and potatoes,” so to speak. Go ahead, implement a few changes, and show the professional world what you’re really about!

Related reading: LinkedIn: Are You Connected | Are LinkedIn Groups Working For You?

Connect with Us

What tips do you have for LinkedIn profiles?

Share an awesome example of a LinkedIn profile or section — yours or someone else’s.

Have you landed a job, client or business opportunity via LinkedIn?

Your professional networker,
Jaime

Connect with CCC! We’d love to be a part of your professional network.
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LinkedIn: Are You Connected?

All of your colleagues and fellow business professionals keep telling you to get on LinkedIn, but you’re not looking for a job. So what’s the point, right?

LinkedIn: Are You Connected?

Wrong. LinkedIn is the Rolodex of the 21st century and so much more: an organized way to store your professional contacts, an easy way to follow up with new connections (made on or offline) and an amazing way to connect on business ventures across town and across the world.

How should you stand out on this popular networking site? It depends on your objectives, but the following tips should help you break free from your competition.

Do

  1. Be active. People tend to set up their profile and walk away. You don’t need to post as much as on other social platforms, but it is helpful to share valuable content at least a few times a week.
  2. Set up notifications. Remember that LinkedIn is a great place for new opportunities: business ventures, clients, careers, volunteering. Set up notifications, so you know when someone contacts you and can respond accordingly.
  3. Engage. Don’t just connect with people and forget about them. Cultivate your network! If you come across a resource that would benefit a connection, send it to him. Take some time — even 5 minutes twice a week — scrolling through your feed to like, comment or share on your connections’ posts. This is a helpful way to stay abreast of the latest news and stay top of mind with clients, prospects and business professionals.
  4. Help. Are you knowledgeable about the topic of a group discussion? Chime in! Do you have a solution for someone’s problem? Share! At it’s core, LinkedIn is a forum for business professionals around the world to connect, collaborate and grow.
  5.  Be selective. Some people are obsessed with having the most connections, but it’s really about quality, not quantity. Only send connection requests to people who genuinely interest you: a possible client, new connection at a conference, colleague or possible partner in a business venture, for example.

At it’s core, LinkedIn is a forum for business professionals around the world to connect, collaborate and grow.

Don’t

  1. Spam. Some people use social media like they do email marketing — to spam you with constant sales pitches, special offers and information about them. It’s OK to post this information sometimes, but remember the tried-and-true customer mantra, “What’s in it for me?” Post valuable information for your audience, and don’t feel the need to post constantly. (So please think long and hard before connecting your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.)
  2. Spam. This isn’t just about posting updates; it’s also about sending messages and posting to groups. Don’t spam anywhere. While an effective message to new connections, old contacts or prospects can open doors, blasting people with tired sales pitches, daily specials or repeated requests for ‘favors’ can slam them shut.
  3. Always have your hand out. One of the numerous benefits of social media is the ability to connect with people from all over the world, including leaders in your industry or field. These ‘rock stars’ can be a tremendous asset to growing your network and creating opportunities. However, don’t constantly ask these folks (or anyone for that matter) for favors or hit them with a request right after connecting. They don’t like to be used either.
  4. Stalk. Just hang up the phone with the HR director at a company you’re interviewing at next week? You may want to hold off on sending a connection request. Some people aren’t comfortable connecting with prospective employees in order to avoid showing favoritism. Did you meet with a prospect for coffee? Feel free to send him a connection request with a thank you message, but don’t go overboard. Inundating him with 5 messages over the next 2 days isn’t necessary.

Enjoy these tips to enhance your LinkedIn experience, and let us if you’re able to put them to good use. Keep an eye out for additional posts in this series: LinkedIn: The Essence of a Profile and Are LinkedIn Groups Working For You? (If you have any additional requests for posts on LinkedIn, let us know!)

Connect with us:

Do you agree with the aforementioned tips? What did we miss?

Have you landed a new client, career opportunity or business venture on LinkedIn?

How do you use LinkedIn vs. other social platforms?

p.s. If you’re on the largest professional networking site in the world, connect with CCC. We’ll be happy to answer any questions or offer a few tips.

Cheers,
Jaime

Connect with CCC! We’re social creatures.
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Celebrate Your Safety: Thank A First Responder Today

Tomorrow is July 4th, and people all over the US are looking forward to a fun holiday weekend. By all means, celebrate. As Americans, we have so much to be grateful for that we often overlook in the day-to-day monotony of life.

Thank a firefighter. They shoulder a heavy load.

As you’re celebrating the 4th of July this weekend, thank a first responder. They put their life on the line for others every day. // “Courage” by Kara B via CC BY ND 2.0

But please be safe. Before you do something questionable or stupid, remember that you’re putting others at risk too. Every day, hundreds of thousands of first responders around the country (and millions around the world) risk life and limb to rescue people from harrowing situations.

I have the privilege of working with some amazing first responders, specifically firefighters and EMS professionals. What they do on a regular basis is incredible, and the majority of them are volunteers or paid little. That’s right: they risk their lives to save yours, and they’re not even paid for it (or not nearly enough). 

So as you’re watching the local 4th of July parade or enjoying the community fireworks, look around. There will be first responders there making sure that everything’s running smoothly and ready to act if anything goes wrong.

Shake a hand. Tip your cap. Say thank you. They deserve it.

Any first responders in the CCC audience? Chime in! Let us know how you serve. And thank you for your service!

Have a safe and happy 4th!
Jaime

While you’re celebrating, get social with CCC!

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Social Media: For Better or Worse?

In honor of the fifth annual Social Media Day yesterday, we wanted to stay on subject. While pouring over the coverage, it reminded us how much social media and the digital revolution has changed our lives — for better or worse.

 

How has social media changed our lives?

Social media and the digital revolution have made some amazing rags-to-riches stories!

Social media and the digital revolution have created some amazing rags-to-riches stories!

For Better

  • Connecting people around town and around the world
  • Giving brands direct access to their customers/fans
  • Spurring revolutions/progress
  • Easy publishing platform
  • Crowdfunding/fundraising

 

Is Facebook the new cigarette?

Is Facebook (or social media in general) the new cigarette?
Photo by JulieFaith via CC BY NC ND 2.0

For Worse

  • Spreading intolerance/hate/stupidity
  • Spam Spam Spam Spam Spam Spam (the new email!)
  • Creating a time suck/productivity black hole (Candy Crush, anyone?)
  • No boundaries (“head in phone syndrome”)
  • Theft epidemic of virtual resources

Related reading: Facebook Makes Me Want to Shout and/or Murmur | Social Media’s Nice, But It’s Not IRL | Get Social: 4 Easy Ways to Join the Conversation

 

Your turn –> Social Media: For Better or Worse?

Do the pros outweigh the cons for social media?

Share an example of how social media has affected your life — positively or negatively.

Do you spend more or less time on social media than a year ago?

 

p.s. Don’t forget that CCC can help you with all of your social media needs!

Let’s get social,
Jaime

Get social with CCC!

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