So You’ve Created Your LinkedIn Account, What’s Next?

Career, Social Media

Congratulations! You have created your LinkedIn account! You are now part of the world’s largest professional network with over 700 million members and executives from ALL Fortune 500 companies. (and if you are reading this without having created an account, read why you should today).

Add your photo

I know we all think that no one could possibly forget us, but the truth is we remember faces more often than names. As well as if you have a common name you need a photo to go along with your profile to distinguish you from the other three thousand Kelly Smiths. (even if you spell it Kelli with an “i”, most people won’t know that either.  People I work with on a daily basis still write me e-mails saying, “Hello Christine”.

Grab your individual LinkedIn Link

link Right now your individual LinkedIn Link may look something like this:

“www.linkedin.com/pub/firstname-lastname/9/6a0/966″.

When editing your profile change this to your full name, www.linkedin.com/pub/firstname-lastname”.

Fill out your profile

This seems like an obvious one and LinkedIn gives you lots of prompts to get your started, yet I still come across those who leave their profile blank.  Leaving a profile blank makes you look lazy, not a great reputation in the job world.

Connect with everyone you know

Connect with everyone you know past and present: friends, co-workers, family, clients.  See my post on Linking up on LinkedIn Credibility for more information on how to pick and choose when to not link-in with someone.

Follow Influencers

Influencers are people on LinkedIn that write articles to share with the LinkedIn community.  They are the top voices in the professional world and becoming an Influencer is by LinkedIn invitation only.  Pick Influencers to follow that release content relevant to you and your network.  The more you follow the more articles you can see posted to your home feed. LinkedIn will also suggest relevant Influencers for you to follow.

Why Follow Influencers? influencers

Once you start receiving their content you might just find that it’s extremely relevant and beneficial to you. You can there share it on LinkedIn and Twitter becoming your very own Influencer to your followers and industry.

Design the life you want

Career, Inspiring Songs, Wellness

Similar to the themes of finding yourself personally and professionally, choosing a job that’s right for you, and finding your strengths; Sometimes we also need to take a step back and look at the big picture. We get so caught up in the day to day and year to year tasks that we may lose sight of the greater vision of our life. What do we want our whole life to look like? What do we want our careers and family life to look like? What things do we want to achieve and experience? What items are on our bucket list and do we need to make active choices to cross them off? What is your fear holding you back from doing? I recently took part in a twitter chat “#leadfromwithin” with Lolly Daskal @LollyDaskal. The questions brought forward really made you prod your mind and heart to bring to life your true goals, and ultimately think about how to design the life you really want.

Q1 What is the greatest vision you have for your life?

Q2 What are your five top values?

Q3 if you were to write a headline about your life what would it be?

Q4 What would you be doing in your life if you knew you absolutely could not fail?

Q5 what if the most important moment in your life is this one? How will you choose to spend the next one?

Q6 finish this sentence: i feel strong about passing on this lesson____________________

Q7 when was a time when you put your own interest ahead of others? Was it worth it?

Q9 if you had ten times your wealth and ten times your income what would you do?

Q10 what are the most important words you want to communicate.

One answer of mine that I’d like to share is for question six, one lesson to pass on, one that we all know is don’t sweat the small stuff. Things have a way of working themselves out and sleepless nights and frustration solves nothing. To quote a lyric from Bob Marley’s song, Three Little Birdsevery little thing is going to be alright”. I think this is something that I have had difficulty with, especially when balancing so many demanding things. I’m learning to just breath and things really do come together as they should.

What are your thoughts on these questions? Anything you would like to share? I look forward to reading your comments!

Can our strengths become our liability?

Career

We all have strengths and weaknesses.  We tend to separate these two in a very black and white way.  We promote our strengths while we hide our weaknesses.  We take on tasks and projects that will showcase our talents and continue to develop our strengths.  While our weaknesses, we take in stride and plan to work on them in our “spare” time.

Yet with so much attention on our strengths is it possible to over use them? Is it possible that they could become our liability over our actual weaknesses?  Is there such a thing as a dark side to our strengths?

Glain Roberts-McCabe, Founder and President of The Executive Roundtable, believes that there is.  In a recent DeGroote Executive Education Women’s Breakfast Seminar that I attended, Glain took each of the audience members through a simple but effective exercise to see if this theory proves true.  We were handed a list of “strengths” to consider.  Upon marking those we identified with, a flip of the paper showed how those strengths can quickly be turned into our weaknesses.

Taking a hard look at my own negative strength behaviors quickly convinced me that this may be one of the most valuable bits of advice I receive in my career.  Perfectionism leading to inability to delegate and work with a team, Innovative ideas becoming confusing to others by constantly changing concepts, or being great with details causing time “wasted in the weeds”.

Upon reflection of ourselves the audience and I quickly realized just how many of these strengths we were overusing.

Here’s a list of some of the strengths and their derailing behaviors that Glain shared with us:

strengthsweaknessesDONOTDISTRIBUTE

This list has been posted with permission from The Executive Roundtable  Please do not distribute without further permission.

So once you’ve identified your strengths and their dark sides, what’s next? How do we move forward?  Of course the positive thing is, admitting that one has a problem or fault is the first step on the path to victory.  By now realizing and acknowledging where we falter we can begin to correct the issues.

Glain’s method for overcoming these derailing behaviors:

  1. Identify the behavior and think about how you’d like to be seen as instead.
  2. Ask for suggestions and ideas from those around you.  (Co-workers, Managers, Staff, Friends, and Family).
  3. Listen, thank, and record their suggestions.
  4. Implement changes and track your progress.
  5. Ask for feedback on your progress.

I believe that the strengths you are hired for can become the very weaknesses that you are overlooked on a promotion for or even fired because of. It’s important, as in all things, to keep balanced so we don’t overuse our “superpowers”.  Speak with those around you and set “check in” reminders for yourself to help nurture your “new behavior” characteristics to ensure we are being seen the way we intend to and strive to.

So did any of these strengths and their possible weaknesses resonate with you?  Any suggestions on overcoming the negative attributes?

 

Glain Roberts-McCabe

Glain Roberts-McCabe

Glain Roberts-McCabe is Founder and President of The Executive Roundtable Inc. (www.theexecutiveroundtable.ca), a membership-based leadership organization for mid-career leaders on the fast track. The Executive Roundtable programs combine mentoring and peer to peer coaching to help driven leaders succeed. We connect them with others who’ve “been there” and know the practical realities of what really works.

 
 
ERT logo
The Executive Roundtable is the partner of choice for organizations seeking to engage and retain their most “mission-critical” leadership talent. Pepsi Canada, WIND Mobile, Torstar Digital and CAA South Central Ontario, are just a few of the clients turning to The Executive Roundtable to help accelerate their top leadership talent.

Is having the last word affecting our ability to shut off?

Career, Wellness

Yesterday was one of those days where I felt very productive. I was making phone calls, cleaning out my inbox, and making headway on my current projects.   As I inched closer to the end of day I set mini goals for myself so finalize a few things. E-mails were sent, items were checked off, and I thought I was heading home in a reasonable amount of time while still leaving the office in great shape!

Then I got a reply.   It only needed a quick answer and I had already read the e-mail so I figured it was a better use of time to just reply back now. (Notice the beginning of a bad habit creeping up…)  Before I knew it I was two hours past my set leaving time, late for a personal engagement, and technically, no further ahead.

As I was determined to leave with all my e-mails answered and to dos checked off, I was persistently trying to have the last e-mail sent.  This was not my first attempt at this ground-breaking idea…

So what does this mean? It means we’re all working late that’s for sure (as email communications are a two way street). It also means that we all struggling with trying to limit the piling up of emails, missing out on updates (F.O.M.O), or falling behind, that we sacrifice our personal time to stay “real time” with work.

The bigger question is, does this keep us ahead? Of course there are times where it does, but consistently sacrificing our downtime and keeping our stress levels supercharged is not sustainable. It’s a one step forward, two-steps back strategy. Eventually we suffer, the symptoms begin to show (such as we are tired and irritable, unable to shut off and sleep, our eating and exercise habits become affected), and we begin to lose focus on what really matters in life. (Check out this great article, “The Top 5 regrets people reveal on their deathbed”)

The BBC recently posted an article on, “Could work emails be banned after 6pm?” in response to France’s initiative to protect employees from work email disturbing them outside office hours.  The article poses, “Would a law to this effect be feasible elsewhere?”

Another article of consideration to this topic is, “Thursday is the New Friday: Embracing the 4-Day Work Week” by Ilya Pozin. Which suggests changing the work day structure to allow for longer days (which I’m sure we are all, already doing anyways) and a three day weekend.

Both of these articles are great and theory but have their own set of challenges if these practices are not universal.

The last article I’d like to leave you with is by one of my favorites, Gregory McKeown, “There Are Only Two Kinds of Email You Get On The Weekend

We all must be realistic with what we can accomplish within a reasonable amount of time in a day. There are definitely times where we need to put in the extra hours but as far as getting the last word, or in my case, sending out the last e-mail is not possible and therefore a futile plan.

Understanding the decision making process to create better follow through

Career, Wellness

We make thousands of decisions every day; most snap decisions of when to look up or what time to leave. But of course some decisions just aren’t that simple.  The “big” decisions of life when we (usually) have to sit down and think about when to make a move. When opportunities present themselves and we have to decide whether or not to take one. Or it may be we recognize a characteristic or situation we would like to change. No matter the dilemma we ultimately reach that fork in the road knowing it’s time to make a decision.

However the interesting thing is, how many times we reach the brink of the decision but then walk away from it afraid to take the first step? A good indicator that we need to change what we are doing is when this keeps happening, when the decision keeps posing itself to us. Unfortunately it usually takes things to get negative before we will voluntarily make a difficult decision, and even once we finally do, over 80%* of us turn back, unable to follow through with our decision. It’s a vicious cycle that doesn’t end, as the change needs to be made, but we keep turning back.

Perhaps if we understand the process of a decision perhaps this can help us to get to the other side.

Kurt Lewin’s Change Model**

lewins-model

This is a very simple diagram of a decision. We have a decision to make but we are frozen in our current state. As we begin to transition through, we begin melting our old behaviors, or “Unfreezing”. This is a challenging step as we begin to move away what we know to be “normal”. All of a sudden fear steps in causing us to doubt why we ever made the decision to “unfreeze” in the first place. Perhaps it was a job we left or a relationship, but all of a sudden that thing that was driving you absolutely crazy doesn’t look so bad from here. But this is just the feeling of stepping outside of our comfort zone.

Traditionally speaking when one participates in this activity, (stepping outside their comfort zone) it becomes a positive or rewarding experience. Yet at this point 80% of us are turning back to something that was making us miserable. So if we can understand that we are simply stepping out of our comfort zone, that we are about to grow, change, experience something different, and in the end we will be grateful that we did it, don’t you think we can just keep putting one foot in front of the other to get to the other side of our decision? Which is of course, our new normal. That’s when you will look back at your old normal and be able to say, “what was I ever thinking?!”, and “I definitely stayed too long”.

It’s a process, but the theory of it helps to put it in perspective when we are going through it.  I hope you found this helpful and hope you can apply this in your life to change something that your gut has been communicating with you to do.

 

*80% of the population, once they have the guts to make change, start walking, hit a wall and then turn back” ~ Just Change It, Peggy Grall.
** The Sage Handbook of Methods in Social Psychology: Lewin’s equation
By Jill Heyer

Use balance to limit the effects of loss

Career, Wellness

I speak a lot about balance in my blog and stress the importance of having it. We all understand the common sense of balance and work-life balance, to make sure we are giving time to everything, giving us a full life, and keeping our stress rates lower. But there’s also another reason for balance. That’s because of loss.

Consider this, if your whole life revolved around work or a man and then suddenly you lost it, it leaves a hole.  Be it fired, dumped, quit, whatever the reason is, you no longer have that in your life and it was all you cared about.

CASE A
WHOLE LIFE WITH JOB

 

Work

 

 

WHOLE LIFE WITHOUT JOB

 

 

 

In Case A, as soon as the job disappears life becomes unbearable. No wonder people have breakdowns and feel empty. No wonder people have the urge to replace that relationship immediately. There’s nothing left. Therefore you begin to rush into bad decisions out of fear. Consider a life of balance.

CASE B
WHOLE LIFE WITH JOB

Contribution Hobby Leisure
Family Alone Time Personal Growth
Work Relationship Friends

WHOLE LIFE WITHOUT JOB

Contribution Hobby Leisure
Family Alone Time Personal Growth
Relationship Friends

All of a sudden things look a lot brighter. We may go through a tough time in one area, or make a decision to impact an area, but as long as we are balanced in having more than one focus in our life, we are still successful and filled.

So what does your life chart look like?

LinkedIn: The one social media platform everyone should be on

Career, Social Media

No matter where you are in your career LinkedIn is one social media platform that is always a great idea.  Whether you’re still in school, raising kids, a fresh graduate, changing careers, drumming up new business, or maintaining connections, LinkedIn becomes an invaluable resource.

Think of LinkedIn as your virtual Rolodex and handrail along the corporate ladder.

This social media platform gives you an opportunity to connect with people that you have met at any point in your life.  Be it classmates, colleagues, clients, or friends, LinkedIn gives you the ability to showcase your connections as well as build a resource list that you can refer to over your entire career.

LinkedIn May 2014 New Features

LinkedIn May 2014 New Features

*New* for May 2014 LinkedIn offers the “Where you met” feature where you can store notes about:

i) Why you are connecting with this person,
ii) Where you met them, and
iii) if someone introduced you.

These notes are kept private for you and no one else is able to see them.

 

Reminder Feature

Reminder Feature

Another *new* component is the “reminder to connect” feature where you can set reminders to follow up with each of your connections. This is a great tool to help you stay top of mind with your connections as well as track your touch points throughout the year.

Lastly the new abilities to write notes and create contact tags (a great way to organize your contacts).  All of these new features are extremely useful, helpful, and most of all strategic.

How to *Find* Yourself Professionally

Career

How does one “find themselves” professionally speaking?  We all reach a point in our careers where we are trying to figure out either:

1. What we want to do
or
2. If what we’re currently doing is really what we want to be doing.

We are trying to find our passions that will enrich our lives.  Albeit “finding yourself” personally and professionally is probably one of the biggest struggles we will continue to face throughout our existence, I do think there are some strategies around this.  Recently I attended a DeGroote Executive Education Women’s breakfast series event where the attendees and I were mentored by Glain Roberts-McCabe, Founder and President of The Executive Roundtable.  Glain brought to light some great tips and practical tools to do just this.

1. Trust your Gut.

I know we have all heard this many times before.  Trust your gut.  However when push comes to shove, how much do we actually do this? We hear it but do we listen and follow it? A good question to ask yourself is when has your gut ever been wrong? Can you think of an example in your life that listening to your gut would have been a bad idea? I am straining to think of an example in my life to date.  Sadly I can only think of the opposite scenario.  Countless times of when, if I did listen to my gut, things would have turned out significantly better.

2. Create a Love it and Loath It List

Keep an ongoing list nearby and jot down things that either irritate you or excite you throughout the day.  As your list builds this will help you to recognize your own patterns and triggers.  This then gives you hard data to back up your gut feelings that may already be trying to point you in certain directions.

3. Clarify your values.

What are your values? Family? Health? Friends? Financial? Career? Knowing your values and what you need to be happy can help to point you in the right direction.  If you’re values are your family and your personal time then heading into a career that extends well beyond the 9-5 work day may not be a satisfying choice.

Watch out for the “shoulds” as you think about values.  I “should” choose family over work, I “should” choose finances over career.   If these are not your true personal choices then you are setting yourself up to fail. Taking a moment to be honest with yourself can save you from a road of disappointment and guilt.

4. Ask for feedback

Talk to those you work with and who know you the best.  Ask for three things that you are doing well and one thing you should change.  This helps build a picture for you of what other people see are your strengths and passions, as well as weaknesses.  The weaknesses may also point out directions that you are just not that into.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Confucius

Further reading: 8 Ideas for Building Your Personal Brand from The Executive Roundtable resources

Photo By Caroline Gutman

The rejuvenation of creativeness

Career, Wellness

There’s something so exciting about the anticipation of going on a trip. The days leading up seem shorter, those you cross paths with seem more cheerful, and your work – so much more enjoyable. A pending vacation can bring out the best in people!

Creative JuiceThere are lots of benefits to be had from taking a vacation. Namely, the rejuvenation of creativeness.

As I make my way to the Buffalo airport, I am excited about the prospect of heading to a new destination. Full of fear of the unknown of course, but full anticipation for my soon to be replenished cup of creative juice.

As an event planner and friend maker by trade, this is one cup {creative juice} that needs constant refilling.

Personally I find the best way to get creatively refreshed is to go somewhere new and be exposed to something out of my normal. Be it, a far away destination or a local one, a new culture or a new scene. Sometimes all I need is to walk a different direction to be inspired.  Recently I attended a seminar from the DeGroote Executive Education women’s breakfast seminar series where the keynote speaker, Carey-Ann Oestricher suggested to spice up the creativity in your team meetings at work by trying walking meetings!  A great tip to be sure, and one I hope to try soon!

What do you do to be inspired? What can you commit to doing differently today to stimulate your own creativity?

 

// While I have promoted the DeGroote Executive Education women’s breakfast seminar series event from the perspective of a participant, I’d like to disclose that I do work for the DeGroote School of Business.  This post and blog is written from a personal point of view and all opinions are my own.  It bears no connection with the DeGroote School of Businesses or McMaster University.