Blogging to Tell Your Story

Blogging to tell your story could be cathartic. Everyone has a story to tell, and it can be good, bad, or ugly. There may be happy or sad endings. LinkedIn is one of many places to share your story.

On LinkedIn, you can share your story by creating a post, an article, a document, or a video. If you share a video blog, it is known as a vlog, and you are a vlogger who creates video content.

In contrast, a blog, which is created by a blogger, is written content. 

Blogs can entertain, empower, educate, engage, or enlighten – the five Es of content marketing.

While most of my writing is to educate, I have a personal story to share about fire. Fifteen years ago, I lost everything in my life to fire, including my pets. I shared this sad but true story on LinkedIn

Fortunately, there was no human life lost, but after I recovered from the experience, I decided to volunteer as a business member for the Berwyn Fire Company and still help with fundraising events. One of my main contributions is supporting the annual Turkey Raffle and silent auction, and I utilize my technology skills. 

At this time of year when we give thanks, please support your local fire company and EMTs financially. Their budgets have been hit with all the COVID-19 PPE costs and more. Have no fear, they are there for you 24/7/365, ready for you on the front line. 

In a previous article on How to and Why LinkedIn Publishing, you will find useful information for writing your blog on LinkedIn. Some of the information is also applicable to other platforms. 

If you have not yet written an article on LinkedIn, it’s a great time to start. When you write this article, you can consider it a blog, and you can publish it on your website (if you have one) or other platforms.  If you don’t have a website, you can create a blog site on several different platforms.

When interviewing two local bloggers, they had a couple of tips to share about blogging:

Brandyn Campbell shared one of her favorite anonymous quotes: “One of my favorite pieces of advice for bloggers is, ‘If you’re your authentic self, you have no competition.’ Don’t worry about whether a topic has been written about before. Adding your spin and experience to post makes it yours, which makes it unique.

Brandyn does anti-racist communications consulting and is passionate about helping her clients, committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, articulate their values into the language of their business. Her experience as a blogger enables her to help organizations shape the next steps in their story. 

If you want to follow her, here are her handles: 

Facebook Twitter Instagram 

Another local blogger, Christine Tarlecki Trimble, is the author of Engchik Eats, a local food, and lifestyle blog. She notes, “I write what I know. Starting a blog is daunting and scary. When I was laid off, I began to think about what I liked and what I wanted to write about – so food was the obvious answer. I seek out local chefs and local restaurants. Especially in this climate, I seek to create relationships with my local community.

This year hasn’t been easy, and like many of you, I was laid off (again!). But I have a strong writing and digital marketing background, so I can use my blog and my skills to earn a freelance paycheck.” 

Christine notes she has been lucky with people reading her blog, and she has promoted it on social media. Readers have voted her blog the best local blog because of the relationships she has built with them. 

She also just started a podcast because she loves interviewing people as much as she loves writing about them! Christine has found subject matter experts to interview for features, and as a skilled blogger, she can tell their stories and create my blog, one story at a time.

If you want to follow her, here are her handles: 

Website Facebook Twitter Instagram Podcast

>>> What’s your first blog going to be about, and when will you start? What emotions will you add-in?

Leverage the LinkedIn Algorithm to Boost Your Personal and Business Profile
You can leverage the LinkedIn algorithm to boost you personal and business profile if you can keep up with its mysterious and ever-changing nature.

Some recent research from the Netherlands, as well as from a LinkedIn expert in Chicago, may help you with your LinkedIn strategy.

If you understand a little about the algorithm, you can leverage how you approach LinkedIn to build your business and/or profile.

Two connections in my network have shared the latest updates on the algorithm, and you may want to follow them, so they are in your feed – Richard van der Blom from the Netherlands, who did the research published in October 2020, and Andy Foote from Chicago who wrote a nice recap of this research as well as another article

I don’t need to reinvent the wheel, so below, I am just listing the main topics researched, so you know these are LinkedIn essentials that you need to understand better. 

  • Company page strategies
  • Content with the most success
  • Dwell Time
  • Engagement
  • Formating
  • Hashtags
  • Links (best to include in an edit after posting)
  • Likes vs. Comments vs. Share and Comments are King!
  • Social Selling Index Score
  • Tags
  • Times to post for best results
  • Videos 

As with all technology, it is ever-changing and sometimes hard to keep up. Hopefully, these few bits of information will help you optimize on the platform.

AUTHOR BIO

Lynne Williams is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group, a 501(c)3 nonprofit with over 6700 members and alumni providing career education and networking. Lynne also writes for vista.today, montco.today, and delco.today.

How Do You Enable the Open for Business Feature on LinkedIn?
Did you know as a business owner, you can enable “Open for Business” feature on your LinkedIn profile? 

Providing info about your business will push you out in a search.

When people are looking for the specific services you offer, you will “show up” and can receive messages if you have enabled the “Open Profile” setting.

If you visit my profile in the section right below my picture, you can see how it looks. I have chosen ten items for the “United States” “in person or remote” via “free messages.”

LinkedIn does not offer writing or optimizing LinkedIn profiles, so I made my best choice from what was available. I can clarify more details and keywords in my headline and elsewhere in my profile. 

Although this is still being rolled out to all LinkedIn users, if you do have it available, here are the steps to turn it on:

  • Click on your round ME on the menu bar at the top of your page
  • Click view profile
  • Click add services from the showcase services section 
  • Follow the instructions
  • Click add to profile
  • You can also highlight your services by adding a section to your profile

What services can you add for your business, and how many? You can add up to ten services, and these are the current choices of the overall categories. There are submenus you do not want to miss to further detail what you offer:

  • Accounting
  • Financial Advisory
  • Bookkeeping
  • Financial Accounting
  • Mortgage Lending
  • Tax Preparation
  • Personal Tax Planning
  • Small Business Tax
  • Coaching & Mentoring
  • Consulting
  • Design
  • Events
  • Finance
  • Home Improvement
  • Information Technology
  • Insurance
  • Law
  • Marketing
  • Operations
  • Photography
  • Real Estate 
  • Software Development
  • Writing

Don’t miss taking advantage of this advertising opportunity on LinkedIn.

AUTHOR BIO

Lynne Williams is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, that provides career education and networking. Lynne also writes for vista.today, montco.today, and delco.today.

How to Set Up a LinkedIn Profile

How do you set up a profile on LinkedIn? It’s easy. Start with going to https://www.linkedIn.com and just begin.

With over 722+ million people on LinkedIn as part of the world’s largest business networking platform, many people are still not on it, so it’s time to jump on board. 

Click here for some screenshots and step-by-step instructions of a recent profile set up (with private information blacked out). 

Even though it is very intuitive and you read and follow the prompts provided, many people are still intimidated by the platform because they don’t know what they don’t know.

There are a few solutions for that so you can get LinkedIn and not be left out.

  1. Ask Google, “How do I set up a LinkedIn profile?”
  2. Search on YouTube
  3. Search on meetup and Eventbrite
  4. Join me at the monthly LinkedIn workshops on Zoom (limited to 100) on a Saturday from 10 AM to 1 PM. Believe it or not, the three hour workshops are free to you as a library patron, sponsored by the Friends of the Chester County Library. LinkedIn Part 3 is on Nov 28th, Part 1 on Dec 5th, Part 2 on Jan 16th, and then every third Sat after that in 2021. Click here to register. 

Upcoming November Online Zoom Events

Register per the instructions on the website. Join our meetup (see step one of this Google doc). To attend the speaker meetings for free for a year, become a Bronze or BENG member. Your membership or sponsorship supports our nonprofit to help job seekers in career transition and self-employed and employed with career management. Consider sponsoring a job seeker in need and help pay it forward!

  • 11/16 Career Success Group
  • 11/16 Virtual Job Seeker Support Meeting
  • 11/16 Business Executives Networking Group (BENG) Meeting
  • 11/17 Your Networking Toolbox
  • 11/17 Lehigh Valley Business Executives Networking Group
  • 11/18 PowerThinking Resiliency Building Call
  • 11/18 Job Market Outlook, Hiring and Onboarding
  • 11/18  Business Executives Networking Group (BENG) Meeting
  • 11/19 Q & A on Careers In Nonprofits
  • 11/19 Optimizing Your Resume
  • 11/19 Business Executives Networking Group (BENG) Meeting
  • 11/19 Beating the Applicant Tracking System
  • 11/20 Blogging to Tell Your Story

Author BIO

Lynne Williams is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides career education and networking. Lynne also writes for vista.today, montco.today, and delco.today.

How to Use Hacks at Your Virtual Events for a Fun Factor
Want to improve your online host skills or add a fun factor to your virtual events? Below are several new hacks and resources.
LinkedIn Events

On October 22, 2020, LinkedIn Marketing hosted a live webinar to share new updates about their events platform for both private and public events. They have a decision guide to help you determine the best path for your event. 

The options available could be useful for the solo practitioner to the marketing professional for mega-events and everything in between.  

To create an event, refer to this article from October 2019 or go straight to this link.

Here are some of the enhancements or important factoids that LinkedIn shared in their webinar:

  • Add free registration form of event attendees
  • More organic discovery features
  • Personalized dynamic recommendations
  • Notify page followers
  • Promote events with ads
  • Seamlessly retarget event attendees to nurture campaign
  • Use keywords for the title for the event, and they will get used in the back end
  • The event can be online or offline 
  • Broadcast link can be on LinkedIn Live (if approved) or via a 3rd party
  • Speakers can be tagged and will get notified, and the speaker’s contacts will get notified, which they noted is very powerful
  • Event visibility – can be public or private
  • You can add in a privacy policy link, and here is LinkedIn’s Privacy Policy
  • You can invite your connections to the event
  • You can engage attendees through polls as part of the event to create continual engagement
  • There will be some organic distribution
  • LinkedIn will even recommend some events
  • You can recommend the post to the attendees two times per week
  • There is a campaign manager for brand awareness, consideration for website visits, and conversions
  • There are targeting options available to promote the event
  • You can measure event registrations and click event registrations and view image registrations as metrics
Audience Engagement Ideas and Other Hacks
Event Management Platforms, Virtual Training, Webinar and Online Software, and More Remote Tools
Online Learning to Enhance Your Skills

The above links are not a comprehensive list by any means, but you will hopefully find some of the links helpful as you spend your time online. Hope to see you at the Friday happy hour! It’s a BYOB!

AUTHOR BIO

Lynne Williams is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group, a 501(c)3 nonprofit with over 6700 members and alumni providing career education and networking. Lynne also writes for vista.today, montco.today, and delco.today.

The Qualifications and Skills Today's Businesses Are Looking For

The workforce is changing drastically. Today’s professionals need to have more specialized skills that fuel our data- and tech-driven society. The organizational landscape is moving towards a more remote and digital direction — a transition that’s been fast-tracked by the pandemic. In turn, this trend is changing the qualifications and skills that business leaders are now looking for when hiring.

Non-traditional training in focus

The ongoing health crisis is also changing how the workforce is being prepared to tackle and thrive in uncertain conditions. There is more focus on online training for professionals in the tech sector and beyond. It’s a trend that is being reflected in education as well. Business leaders have noticed that professionals are now coming from a much broader academic background. Many move away from traditional full-time courses to take either part-time or full-time online courses. 

Universities are also encouraging this shift. An online master’s in management and leadership will prepare business professionals by developing essential qualifications such as communication and people management, at the same level as an on-campus course. Alongside how online qualifications are becoming just as valuable, those who study online also have an advantage in preparing for the modern remote workplace.

Being trained online equips professionals with essential skills that traditionally trained individuals may lack. It’s not just tech-savviness that’s important. Knowing how to manage or collaborate with others remotely is one of the most crucial skills in an increasingly digital society. Collaboration is something that today’s business leaders are acutely aware of in an online environment.

Soft skills that thrive in a remote workplace

Two of the primary soft skills that employers seek are communication and adaptability. As mentioned, communication is critical, given that many organizations are working remotely or at least adopting more flexible arrangements. Remote work doesn’t mean working alone. Team collaboration is still vital, and each member needs to overcome the challenge of being in a different physical space through constant communication to maintain productivity.

More than that, you need to be highly adaptable to succeed. Adaptability means being able to adjust quickly as circumstances change. These changes can be about anything that affects the business, whether it’s a new competitor or a pandemic. Having flexibility means standing out from a pool of talent. You also need to be adept at problem-solving and exercise resiliency.

Technical expertise in a tech-driven society

Of course, employers are on the lookout for technical and more specialized credentials. What has been highlighted recently is the need for professionals skilled in blockchain, cloud computing, and affiliate marketing. Blockchain pertains to a kind of code that is publicly recorded and cannot be altered. In general, blockchain expertise is demanded by cryptocurrency companies, given their dependence on the technology. However, the tech is also being used by various industry giants such as IBM, JPMorgan Chase, and Amazon for applications beyond finance.

Meanwhile, cloud-based skills are fundamental to a business’s digital transformation. Experts who can help organizations develop and maintain digital solutions are crucial to their sustainable success. Finally, an affiliate marketing expertise is critical in the retail sector. It’s been reported that consumers have developed a mistrust in traditional advertising but engage more with brands that advertise through affiliates. These brand partners are more effective at pushing brand messages because they understand how to connect with consumers and nurture those relationships.

With the economy gradually picking up, businesses are on a mission to find and hire qualified applicants. Nonetheless, finding employment has never been more competitive and frustrating. If you’re struggling to land a job, develop these soft and hard skills that employers value in their potential employees and future leaders

Trilingual Employee Benefits Professional Learns from Speakers, Job Seekers, and Career Success Group Leader

Tell us about yourself and your career.

My name is Daniel (Dan) Singer, and I am a trilingual employee benefits professional committed to providing outstanding client experiences. Although I am currently in the Insurance and Employee Benefits industry, I started in the federal government, followed by international client-facing roles in manufacturing and information services. The last downturn in 2009 made me switch to insurance and employee benefits, starting in sales, then I eventually entered into service roles in different areas of benefits. In 2014, I landed a Benefits Specialist role in managing benefits for 8,000+ employees. However, in late 2016, I found out that the position would be relocated to North Carolina. Fearing unemployment, I grabbed opportunities in the Benefits Compliance and Consulting areas of employee benefits. My most recent role was a new role, supporting two insurance areas within a major insurance brokerage and risk management firm.

Why were you looking for a job?

Despite the great culture and fantastic people at my last job, I realized the job itself wasn’t the best fit. It was a brand new position supporting two different areas of insurance. I accepted the job, assuming my language, problem-solving, and team-collaboration skills would all be used (all three of these skills were constants throughout my career). At specific points, I wondered, Was this why I got into employee benefits? Despite my efforts to make the job work, we mutually parted ways in February of 2020. I felt relief, as well as frustration. 

With the help of a friend who himself happened to have a fantastic professional career, I then determined what I did and did not want in my next job. This friend also helped me jump start my networking strategy (which I’ll describe below). I began to reach out to my LinkedIn contacts, some I hadn’t spoken to in over seven years!  

I set a schedule and kept a journal to keep me motivated and focused. I found an app to keep my language skills sharp (Duolingo). I exercised more, and I read the Old Testament. But I felt something was missing, and, at times, I wanted to separate myself from the process entirely because it was so frustrating. Nonetheless, I was grateful to be home with my family and be safe. 

How did you discover PAGCG?

An ex-colleague of mine from the Information Services’ industry suggested the group. And boy, I’m so glad she did. Not only did I find other individuals to network with, but it was also cathartic for myself and others who were in transition. We had slight differences on how we ended up being in career transition, but we had the chance to vent to each other and support one another. 

How did PAGCG help you in your job search?

While PAGCG didn’t give me my new job, it more than provided me with the tools, forum, and opportunities to improve my personal brand and fine-tune my search. For me, it was Paul Cecala’s presentation in July of 2020 on “Project Planning Your Job Search” hosted at the Tuesday Great Careers Meeting out of King of Prussia. Before the presentation, I had separate documents describing my ideal job, target companies, skills, and position (in addition to my resume). Paul’s presentation made me re-examine my job search efforts, and I set out to create my personal Marketing Plan, which genuinely became central to my job search efforts. The plan made me more strategic with whom I wanted to network, which companies to target for employment, and what unique skills I had that would allow me to contribute to a job effectively.

Next, I carefully chose the PAGCG sessions I thought would benefit me most, especially those focused on creating a professional brand. These sessions helped me take an in-depth look into my accomplishments and what differentiates me as a candidate. I immediately set out to refining my 30-second intro and enhanced my presence on LinkedIn, based on what I learned at the sessions. I will say I’ve been on LinkedIn since 2006, but this group taught me how to exploit this invaluable platform to my advantage best. Please note: if you’re attending the sessions and not applying what you learn, why do you attend? 

One of the more memorable sessions was with Jessica Koch (another speaker on personal branding). We ended up networking separately, and she re-introduced me to a free CRM program (zoho.com) I used years ago when I first entered the insurance and benefits field. Gone were my spreadsheets keeping track of networking discussions – it moved to the cloud.

The last and most important contribution was choosing a Career Success Group Meeting. For me, Deep Damle’s Career Success Group meetings, typically on most Thursdays, made me feel very much at home in the group, especially with Deep’s chill style and professionalism. His weekly feedback helped me to continually refine my brand and the delivery of my elevator pitch. In addition to networking, I met some fabulous people I could learn from, and we supported one another on days we questioned our worth. The group made us accountable each week for our actions and encouraged us to follow through on what we said we would do during the meetings. 

How did you find your job? How long did it take? 

Before joining the group, I already had a networking strategy in place. However, it was that strategy, together with the tools that PAGCG provided me, and with fellow PAGCG job-seeking member, Lauren Conley. Lauren, who has also landed a job, introduced me to a recruiter she knew and someone I wanted to network with mentioned by another contact. That recruiter would eventually lead me to my current job, so I credit Lauren in part for helping me land this job!

It took me a little over seven months to find a job. Armed with a personal marketing plan, a desire to network one on one via Zoom or phone, a highly structured schedule Monday through Friday (with the ability to switch/pivot), and the perseverance to keep going, I treated my job search like an actual job. Most importantly, I knew when I needed to back away and take a break. 

The job I have now was one of my target companies listed on my marketing plan. When I interviewed, I demonstrated to my interviewers:

1) I researched the company 

2) I showed my excitement for the company and the role I was interviewing for, and

3) I explained how I would add value if selected for the position

What kept you motivated during the job search, especially during the downtimes?

Many things kept me motivated during the job search, including:

1) Daily exercise (including running, walking, and yoga)

2) Highly structured schedule with blocks of time allotted to different activities (something I learned nearly ten years ago)

3) A spiral notebook to document my activities (so if I wouldn’t question myself as to what I accomplished)

4) Staying engaged through networking and friends, and 

5) Self-care (e.g., knowing when to put the job stuff away, reading religious scriptures, etc.) 

At my core, I have, and I think always will be a positive person. I’ve been through downturns before and knew the consequences of allowing negative thoughts and feelings to take one down. I knew that not every day would be rosy or as productive; however, I wanted to end each day, knowing I did everything I could to be productive and manage my time as wisely as possible.   

What were the lessons that you learned during your job search?

The biggest lessons I learned included: organization, vision, clarity, perseverance, and the power of your personal brand. 

Organizing my week kept me on track and ensured I didn’t spend too much time on one task. It also ensured I correctly followed up and managed my networking connections so that they wouldn’t be forgotten after the first meeting. 

Realizing I had gone through two jobs in nearly two years simply because I wanted to stay “employed” was a difficult pill to swallow, but it gave me the clarity to realize what I want and don’t want in my next job. As I assessed my skills and accomplishments and conducted searches, those activities drove me closer to the job I started on October 5th. 

With the pandemic, it is probably one of the worst times in US history, and world history for that matter, to be in career transition. A few people told me that “a job doesn’t define you,” and I still believe that. Having been in transition before made me aware of the consequences of overly negative thoughts. With my religion and self-care to lean on, this time in career transition, coupled with the vision I mentioned previously, I had the will to take each day as it came until I got the news of a job offer.

Finally, and most importantly, your personal brand. Thank you, Lynne Williams, for all that you do for this group and the sessions you run, and for making us feel our worth. Coming up with branding that has now carried over into LinkedIn and my 30-second commercial (aka elevator speech), I think I will always stay with me. Working on my personal brand, together with my marketing plan, networking activities, and clarifying what I wanted in my next job, really prepared me.

Do you have any networking tips or tricks that you can share?

As someone commented in a previous “landing” article, LinkedIn is crucial. But it’s nothing more than another platform to connect with contacts online, nothing more. My networking strategy involved connecting via LinkedIn and following up with those LinkedIn connections to schedule a half-hour phone or zoom call with each.  

With the help of a friend (the same one who asked me to write what I did and didn’t want in my next job), I created what I was going to say when looking for my next opportunity. I also wanted to hear about others’ experiences and, at the same time, expand my professional network. My meetings were always organized. One of the first things I did was be considerate of that contact’s time, to ensure I watched the time and our meeting didn’t spill over the allotted time. The hardest thing for me to do was reach out to contacts I hadn’t kept up within seven years. Fortunately, a few of them were kind enough to make time for me. I’m determined now not to let more time pass to keep those connections alive. 

My networking strategy was enhanced when I created my personal marketing plan and created my personal brand (which included my 30-second commercial and LinkedIn profile). As a result, my contacts knew what I wanted and where I wanted to land–potentially. Before being aware of my personal brand, it made some of these one-on-one meetings challenging. Having both my brand and personal marketing plan gave me the confidence to know exactly what I wanted. It allowed me to network with individuals who reached out to me on LinkedIn (including a brokerage I didn’t even know existed). 

After the one-on-one meeting, I’d ask my contact if he/she knew one anyone else I could talk to, based on what I’m trying to do and who would be a suitable introduction for them.  

Always, always ask for an introduction. And to quote Deep Damle, when you network, it’s not about you, but how you can help others.  

Try not to get discouraged if you reach out, and they don’t reply. I would follow up every couple of weeks or so if you’re requesting an introduction or meeting. At the same time, don’t waste your time if your follow-ups are not being reciprocated. You are worth more than that. 

Keep tabs on how many times you’ve reached out to a client and/or whom he/she had introduced you to. I started doing that on spreadsheets; however, I was reacquainted with the free CRM system Zoho to track and monitor my networking contacts and job opportunities.  

What will you do in your new role?

I will be a Benefits Administrator at an insurance brokerage dedicated to servicing non-profit and social service organizations’ employee benefits needs. At the core of my job, I’ll get to use the language, problem-solving, and collaboration skills that have marked my professional career, even before getting into employee benefits. 

What is one takeaway or nugget of wisdom that you would like to share?

I have two nuggets: Plan (the verb plan and the noun, an actual plan) and keep at it (i.e., treat the job search like a real job).  

Whether on a computer or a legal pad, plan what you want/don’t want in a job. Plan your week. Plan to attend only the webinars/meetings you think will best benefit you. Plan to follow up by phone or zoom when you’ve connected with someone on LinkedIn. Plan to apply to only those jobs that are your target jobs (provided, of course, you have your marketing plan that will confirm what your target job[s] is[are]).

Keep at it. Unfortunately, unless you’re in an industrial union, federal government employee, or a tenured educator, being in career transition is a part of working in the private sector. Sometimes it’s made worse by our age or circumstances. We’re lucky that we have groups like the PAGCG to keep us moving. Accept the bad days and move forward with each day.