The 3 LinkedIn Etiquette Rules You Should Never Break

The 3 LinkedIn Etiquette Rules You Should Never Break

BY AMBER MAC
JUNE 26, 2012

LinkedIn is one social network where little mistakes can directly impact your financial future. Avoid these LinkedIn no-nos that could work against you when building your networking or looking for a job.

I first started blogging and hosting online videos for Fast Company in the spring of 2011. However, like many social networkers, I’ve been slow to update my LinkedIn professional profile in a timely manner (perhaps that’s no-no number one).

In an effort to practice what I preach about building and maintaining an online brand, I spent some time last week tweaking my current work positions, accepting invitations, and even going so far as uploading a video clip on my profile page, which can be done with theSlideShare app.

Within a few short hours of adding my not-so-new Fast Company role, my LinkedIn inbox piled up with messages that included the same enthusiastic subject line, “Congratulations on your new position!”  The note inside each correspondence looked strangely familiar, “I saw you’re now Blogger/TV Host at Fast Company and wanted to say congratulations!” Wow. Either my contacts were struck by grammatical lightning that supercharged these identical messages, or they broke a few of the most important LinkedIn rules for good etiquette.

1. Stop using LinkedIn’s auto-generated templates. 

Whether it’s congratulating someone on a new role or requesting a connection with someone, avoid generic messages. While LinkedIn does often pre-populate message fields, you will get a whole lot further with your networking efforts if you take some time to personalize your correspondence. Within a few seconds you can include a custom note to a contact (instead of “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn) and add a little context. For example, if you’re connecting with someone you just met at a conference, remind her about this meeting by including some details about your chat (including the date and any other relevant info). Using auto-generated templates time and time again is a sign of laziness, which is probably not the impression you want to leave with potential colleagues on the largest professional online network in the world.

2. Stop pushing your social updates to your LinkedIn status. 

When services such as HootSuite entered the social media space, they answered the prayers of many networkers trying desperately to update multiple online profiles at once. A good social media dashboard can come in handy when you’re trying to schedule messages or post a quick update. However, it’s an even better idea to tailor an individual post to a specific social network. For example, if you’re writing an update about your new job on Facebook, it’s probably okay to use more casual and enthusiastic language on that site if most of your connections there are friends and family. If you’re looking to share similar news with the LinkedIn community, go for something a little more polished. In terms of sending Twitter tweets to LinkedIn, it’s okay once in a while, but don’t make a habit of it (especially if you use a lot of Twitter terminology, such as @, RT, or MT).

3. Stop asking for LinkedIn endorsements from people you don’t know. 

In real life, it would be a strange networking move to request a testimonial from someone you don’t know. However, in my own experience, it occurs on a regular basis on LinkedIn, despite the company’s mandate since its launch in 2003. LinkedIn is very clear that their network allows you to connect with people you know. In fact, if you dig deep into the company’s user agreement, you will discover that you are in fact bound to specific rules building on this belief: “Don’t undertake the following: Invite people you do not know to join your network.” In short, requesting an endorsement from a stranger is a definite no-no and can only hinder your LinkedIn experience because it comes across as a naive and amateur move.

When it comes to LinkedIn etiquette, this is one social network where little mistakes can affect your financial future. To avoid mishaps, tailor your messages, customize your posts, and nurture relationships with people you know.

[Image: Flickr user Nicki Varkevisser]

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PROMOTE YOURSELF

Promote yourself!

02SundayDec 2012

Although individual users were the first to use social media, only companies have given a strategic role to these new tools, integrating them into their marketing plan. However, not being the director of a company doesn’t mean that we cannot promote ourselves. These are the four principles that will help you achieve this:

Myself Inc

1. You are your own business

Actually, you are the director of the company Myself, Inc. As a company, you have designed a business model. You have specific professional and personal interests and you are aware of your abilities. You know how you differ from other people, what products or services you offer and what problems you help to solve.

Obviously, you need a strategic plan. You have a personal and professional goal in the medium/long term that points the next phases to follow and the resources you will need in this journey.

2. The company you work for is your client

If you are your own company, the company you work for is, therefore, your client. The time when people joined a company at age 20 and left it at age of 65 is over. The company is not a second home, but a client we offer our services to help them grow up.

This approach is useful to always maintain a professional relationship with our company. Some workers tend to think that, by the fact that they have worked for a company for 10 years, they can take certain liberties and neglect professionalism. This is a mistake.

Obviously, this relationship with the company demands a higher level of self-demand, but at the same time, it also offers a higher degree of autonomy because we know that our job security doesn’t come from the company but from ourselves.

3. Invest in yourself

Like any business, you have your own program of Innovation and Continuing Training. With an open mind, you are always willing to improve, learn and explore new fields.

Your training program is not limited to the training offered by the company you work for. Your goals go far beyond because they are related with your own business model and your strategic expansion plan.

Try to be aware of new trends, identify what knowledge and skills could make you more competitive. Attend seminars, conferences, trade shows. Identify the leading experts and learn from them. Search your competitors and analyze their offer.

4. Create your own brand

Obviously, you also have your own marketing strategy. Use all the knowledge and know-how accumulated over the years in your daily work and other activities to make yourself known and to create a reputation.

Design a blog and offer your knowledge, take care of your LinkedIn profile and try to join groups related to your professional interests, engage with your community, advice other professionals.

***

Some companies may feel threatened by those employees who adopt this strategy of self-promotion. They may prefer traditional employees, who are nothing more than pawns. However, this perspective, besides being wrong, is negative for the own company.

Employees who promote themselves, who are a referent, are not only getting notoriety for themselves, but they are also helping to promote the company they work for, because a company with great employees is perceived as a great company.

ASK THE CAPITALIST: CAN I CONNECT LINKEDIN AND TWITTER TO REDUCE MY NEED TO POST TWICE?

November 06, 2012

Ask the Capitalist: Can I Connect LinkedIn and Twitter to Reduce My Need To Post Twice?

Smart people try to look for hacks that automate work.  For example, if you’re trying to create a relevant social content stream as a candidate, manager or recruiter, it make sense to answer the following question:

“Kris:

I do updates to build my professional brand on both Twitter and LinkedIn.  I don’t mind doing this, but since the updates are pretty much the same, it would be great if I could update one and it automatically updated the other.  For example, is it possible to set it up so if I post to Twitter it automatically shows up on my LinkedIn account as an update?”

-Christine

—————————-

Hi Christine –

I like the way you’re thinking.  You’re experimenting with the social tools and are looking for ways to be everywhere without taking the time to be everywhere.  Well played.   The answer is…. maybe.  In June of 2012, Twitter announced an end to their partnership that allowed users to sync updates from the two sites. According to Twitter, the site is increasingly focused on “proving the core Twitter consumption experience through a consistent set of products and tools.” This essentially means that LinkedIn users can no longer automatically sync their tweets to publish on LinkedIn.

Boo.  That sucked.  It was all Twitter’s fault, not LinkedIn’s.

Buffer screen shot

Users like you are now be forced to post their LinkedIn updates separately. Or, how LinkedIn positions it, “Simply compose your update, check the box with the Twitter icon, and click ‘Share.’ This will automatically push your update to both your LinkedIn connections and your Twitter followers just as you’ve been able to do previously.”

Basically, users can post from LinkedIn and have that message go out to its Twitter following, but not vice versa.

So no automatic API exists, so doing the manual dance above is one way to deal with it.

The other way?  Use a 3rd party tool like Buffer or HootSuite that allows you to link all your social accounts to the same account, then do an update and select all the social accounts that you want that update to appear on.  This type of system allows you to control your digital life, do one update and blast it out, and even time when you want it to show on each social account.  It’s a better way to deal with it.  The picture to the right of this post is a screenshot from Buffer, where I’m sharing a cool HR website via a social update, then sharing it across twitter and LinkedIn at the same time.

No direct API from twitter to LinkedIn?  Just another example of the man trying to hold us down.  Buffer doesn’t care.  Kind of like the Honey Badger.

-KD

9 Ways HR & Recruiting Technology Will Evolve in Next 4 Years

9 Ways HR & Recruiting Technology Will Evolve in Next 4 Years

123RF Stock Photo

Soon enough, we’ll have an idea of what the next four years at the White House will look like.

But technology is a bit harder to predict — and four years can have a dramatic difference in the products and services available for recruiters, HR professionals, and employers.

How will HR and recruiting technology evolve over the next four years?

1. Millennials will dictate evolution in HR Tech

Most of the 10 million Millennials entering the job market during the next three years will expect a far better candidate experience than today’s. This more-demanding “customer” of human resources dictates that HR technology be upgraded to initiate timely candidate interaction and utilize social media as a communication tool. Essentially, rather than the cold shoulder being given candidates now, evolving HR tools will deliver a digital handshake and a virtual smile.

Mark Babbitt, YouTern

2. Embrace social media, digital technology, online video hiring

With more and more applicants spending increasing amounts of their online time using social media, HR technology will find new ways to use the social space to find great candidates. Social media will be used to find a larger and more connected talent pool of candidates for companies looking for particular skill sets. While online video will be embraced as a better way to get to know these tech-savvy candidates faster and more personally than the traditional phone screens.

Josh Tolan, Spark Hire

3. Video & crowdsourcing will impact HR technologies

Because HR is always looking to lower hiring costs, HR technology trends will shift toward techniques that not only work, but also save money. Two dirt cheap techniques that are kicking up the recruitment space are the use of video and crowdsourcing in the recruitment sphere. Video allows employers to explain a lot of information to job seekers in a more engaging format that can also promote their brand. Crowdsourcing is basically a ton of free help in creating and promoting a job. Stay tuned.

Rob Kelly, Ongig

4. A shift toward social performance

The talent management industry isn’t currently keeping up with the demands of employees who want user-friendly performance management platforms. Social Performance is slowly seeing adoption across the workforce, and this will continue in the next three years since it’s easy to use and deploy–not only HR, but for every leader and manager–in order to drive autonomy and results. It’s also ideal in meeting the need for HR processes to be continuous, and allows for more informal feedback in real-time.

Morgan Norman, WorkSimple

5. Force HR to grow to a highly strategic organization

HR Technology is making our lives as HR practitioners much more efficient — even in spite of the huge learning curve that most professionals face in adapting to new technology. As HR Tech continues to collect and display metrics, more and more businesses will be able to make strategic business decisions as a result of these findings — not just from C-Level conversations that leave HR out.

Joey Price, Jumpstart:HR

6. Social capabilities integrated into the platforms

When a candidate applies for a position, a HR manager or hiring manager will see the application and their social profiles as an integrated aspect of their application. For example, it will show what company the candidate worked at, the recommendations they received while at that position from his or her LinkedIn profile, recent tweets, and Facebook wall posts.

Sudy Bharadwaj, Jackalope Jobs

7. More advancements in technology, but focus on people will prevail

Technology has an important place in recruiting, but it cannot entirely replace human interaction. Technology will continue to enable quick and cost-effective recruiting through applicant tracking, screening, evaluating, and communicating. Smart hiring managers will use technology to their benefit, but recognize the need for in-person meetings and phone calls to discover who the candidate behind the computer is.

Michele St. Laurent, Insight Performance

8. Technology determining fit will Be critical

The ubiquity of a professional persona and the amount of structured and unstructured data surrounding it has created a massive problem determining signal from noise. The ability to create intelligent applications that leverage these data to quickly determine intent and fit will be critical to the success of any new recruiting technologies, otherwise there can only be incremental improvement to legacy systems.

Michael A. Morell, Riviera Partners

9. Employer value proposition, branding will be real recruiting difference

It will become much more like CRM and less tailored to the application of active job seekers. Employer value proposition and branding will be the real difference makers and the technology will evolve to support this. It will enable talent acquisition leaders to engage with a community of talent via multiple channels.

Larry Jacobson, Vistaprint

LinkedIn Blog » How to Showcase Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn: 8 Tips

How to Showcase Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn: 8 Tips

Like professional athletes, we now live in a time of career free agency, where we must regularly prove our unique value in a competitive and frequently changing marketplace. This means that it’s no longer enough to have a good reputation in one’s current position. We need to think about how we’re perceived in the broader marketplace by potential future employers.

Even if you intend to stay in your current job forever, clarifying your unique value is something you need to attend to. Clients, conference planners, awards committees and other professionals may be checking you out — primarily online — and you want to make sure that they find the best representation of you.

We’re talking about personal branding, a key element of success in the Internet Age.

A term first coined by Tom Peters in 1997, personal branding includes your professional reputation, online image and personal characteristics such as your work style, community engagement and worldview. It incorporates the particular skills, talents and areas of expertise you’ve cultivated. When I host workshops on personal branding, I ask participants the following questions to help determine the elements of their personal brands:

  • How would your colleagues describe your strengths?
  • On what issues are you the go-to person in your organization?
  • What do you know more about (web design, compensation plans, marketing to baby boomers) than most people?

Once you’ve defined your personal brand, it’s time to showcase it to recruiters, bosses, customers and others who may be assessing you. Here’s how LinkedIn can help:

  1. Be authentic. The best personal brands are genuine and honest both in person and online. It can be tricky to showcase your personality on the web (you might love puns, but those don’t go over well on a professional profile), but it’s possible with a bit of effort. For instance, if your personal brand includes a balance between your detailed accounting skills and your friendly personality, your LinkedIn profile can include both your technical credentials and the fact that you belong to several networking groups. You can also ask former and current colleagues to write LinkedIn recommendations highlighting this combination.
  1. Create a distinctive LinkedIn profile headline. Your headline is your brand’s tag line. It’s the first — and possibly only — description of you that many people will see, so make it count. Go back to the words and phrases your friends and colleagues used to describe your uniqueness: “IT support manager and trusted Mac expert” or “Experienced admin assistant who never misses a deadline.”
  1. Be consistent. Make sure your LinkedIn profile, resume and all other elements of your personal brand are consistent. While you can go into more extensive detail on LinkedIn and perhaps be a bit more personal on Facebook or Twitter, all of your job titles, dates of employment and specific accomplishments need to match up everywhere they appear. Consistency is important so as not to confuse people or send mixed messages about who you are and what you want in your career.
  1. Increase your visibility. If you have a great personal brand but no one knows about it, then you won’t benefit much. Increase your exposure to people in your network by including your LinkedIn profile URL on your business cards, your resume, other social media sites and anyplace else people are interacting with you online or offline. You can also build exposure by consistently updating your LinkedIn status. Tell people what projects you’re working on, what conferences you’re attending and what books and articles you’re reading. Remember that your brand is not just who you are; it’s what you do.
  1. Build your strategic brand association. We generally think highly of people who keep good company, so building your LinkedIn network simultaneously builds your personal brand. Connect on LinkedIn with trusted friends, former colleagues and classmates, industry leaders, vendors and other professionals. And don’t be shy about asking your contacts for introductions to people in their networks. Strong brands are always growing.
  1. Regularly add to your knowledge. Another way to showcase yourself and your brand is to have an expert level of knowledge about your industry. Be well read on topics you care about (For example, LinkedIn Today can help), answer relevant questions in LinkedIn’s Answers section and follow important companies in your field. For instance, if your personal brand includes your interest and knowledge in special education, follow and share news about developments in this field so people think of you as a valuable resource if they need information on that topic.
  1. Share your expertise in LinkedIn Groups. The Groups you join on LinkedIn contribute to your personal brand by indicating where your interests and skills lie. For example, if you want your brand to include a strong knowledge of manufacturing in China, then people will expect your profile to feature groups related to Chinese manufacturing. Inside these groups, you can also showcase your brand though your activity. Every comment you post and question you answer is an opportunity to market yourself and your skills and to build your brand.
  1. Give generously. Finally, helping others is a crucial — and enjoyable — way to build your personal brand. Give advice, volunteer your skills, share client leads, write recommendations, agree to informational interviews and congratulate people on their successes. When people know they can rely on you, they remember you and recommend you to others.

How have you used LinkedIn to build and showcase your personal brand? Please share in the comments or tweet us @linkedin.

3 Tips for Using LinkedIn’s New ‘Endorsements’ | Entrepreneur.com

3 Tips for Using LinkedIn’s New ‘Endorsements’

In case you missed it, LinkedIn has a new feature called “Endorsements.” It allows users to endorse skills or expertise of any members in their network — including skills they haven’t listed. This allows potential networking partners to quickly identify your strengths.

So, how should you take advantage of this new feature? Before you send a mass email asking your entire network for endorsements, remember that networking — first and foremost — is about connecting people with value. Whether it’s through your expertise, or someone’s skill, your goal should always be to bring value to your network.

Consider these three tips for using endorsements on LinkedIn:

1. Endorse others first and endorse fairly.
Begin by endorsing your network first, before asking for endorsements from others. By doing this, you’ll equip others to see where their strengths lie. But this also means you have to be brutally honest.

Don’t just click on all the skills someone has listed. Really think about it and only highlight those areas of expertise you’d be willing to put your reputation on the line for. As a bonus, the people you endorse will be notified about your actions though LinkedIn, which means they may return the favor.

Related: 7 Ways LinkedIn Can Drive More Traffic to Your Website

2. Keep it easy for your ‘inner circle.’
Everyone has a professional inner circle of about 10 to 20 people we can call at any time to ask for a small favor or advice. These are the people we should be approaching first, but it should be personal and easy.

Send your inner circle a personal e-mail, or give them a call and ask if they’ve heard about the new endorsements feature on LinkedIn. Then let them know that you’ve already endorsed them (step No. 1) and you’d appreciate it if they could pick one or two skills of yours to endorse. Not everything — just one or two. That’s how you can keep it personal and easy.

3. No mass e-mails.
The last thing you want to do is send an e-mail blast to everyone on your list. A mass email asking for a favor is likely to feel like spam and be ignored.

If you’re going to send an e-mail to multiple recipients, try segmenting your network into different lists according to how you met them or what industry they’re in. You can then write a personal e-mail to a specific group, telling them that their in your (fill in the blank) group of people and feel they best understand your expertise in (fill in the blank) and would appreciate an endorsement — if they feel you deserve it. This kind of approach demonstrates you’ve taken the time to consider them specifically.

Related: 5 Underutilized LinkedIn Marketing Tools

Have you started using LinkedIn’s Endorsements yet? Let us know what you think so far in the comments below.

Read more stories about: Social media, Networking, Linkedin, Social media marketing, Tools

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7 Tips For Building a ‘Power Network’ on LinkedIn | Entrepreneur.com

7 Tips For Building a ‘Power Network’ on LinkedIn

Among the social networks, LinkedIn can be one of the most useful when it comes to cultivating critical, lucrative business opportunities, since it has a high concentration of business decision makers. The trick is going beyond connecting with cousins and college buddies to strategically building a “power network” of individuals who should be potential clients.

But building a power network on LinkedIn doesn’t happen overnight. Here are seven tips for making the kinds of connections that can benefit your business the most:

1. Optimize your profile: One of the easiest ways is to update your profile picture. LinkedIn views this kind of update as “freshness” and it can help your ranking when others are searching for someone like you.

2. Tell people who you are, who you help and how you help them in your headline: A headline that communicates these points is often what grabs a person’s attention when searching the site. I should be able to read your headline and know exactly what you offer and why I should get in touch with you. Be clear and compelling.

Related: 5 Underutilized LinkedIn Marketing Tools

3. Fill out all current and past work experiences: You never know who’s looking for you, possibly a co-worker from an old job, or maybe a classmate that’s suddenly feeling nostalgic and wants to see who they can find online. By listing all of your places of employment — including your educational institutions — you can create a larger net for capturing searches. Plus, these connections could be second- or third-tier connections to people you’ve been trying to meet.

4. Join targeted groups: This can be one of the most effective ways to connect with like-minded professionals who are serious about using LinkedIn to form deeper business connections. Participating in these groups also enables you to share your knowledge and to learn from other members.

5. Create a targeted group: Not only can leading a group give you a certain level of credibility, it allows you to connect with people who are influential within your specific industry.

6. Send personal invites: These, in my opinion, always trump generic requests to connect. The invite is your first communication on LinkedIn, so make a good first impression by writing a personal request and asking how you can help the person, or whom you can introduce them to.

Related: 3 Tips for Using LinkedIn’s New ‘Endorsements’

7. Get endorsements and recommendations: This can help enhance your profile, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do this. Don’t send a mass or generic e-mail to clients or colleagues asking if they can endorse your skills or write a recommendation. First, identify people who have a great story to share about you and your skills. Contact those people directly, via phone or e-mail, and let them know you’re personally reaching out to them because of (insert how you’ve helped them here) and would appreciate it if they’d be willing to write a quick recommendation for you, based on that story.

The same goes for endorsements, which are much easier to give since it’s just a click of a button. It also helps if you mention you’ll be endorsing their strongest skills as well.

In what ways do you grow your network on LinkedIn? Let us know in the comments below.

Read more stories about: Growth strategies, Networking, Linkedin, Finding customers

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The Brand Called You | Fast Company

Aside

The Brand Called You

It’s a new brand world.

That cross-trainer you’re wearing — one look at the distinctive swoosh on the side tells everyone who’s got you branded. That coffee travel mug you’re carrying — ah, you’re a Starbucks woman! Your T-shirt with the distinctive Champion “C” on the sleeve, the blue jeans with the prominent Levi’s rivets, the watch with the hey-this-certifies-I-made-it icon on the face, your fountain pen with the maker’s symbol crafted into the end …

You’re branded, branded, branded, branded.

It’s time for me — and you — to take a lesson from the big brands, a lesson that’s true for anyone who’s interested in what it takes to stand out and prosper in the new world of work.

Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.

It’s that simple — and that hard. And that inescapable.

Behemoth companies may take turns buying each other or acquiring every hot startup that catches their eye — mergers in 1996 set records. Hollywood may be interested in only blockbusters and book publishers may want to put out only guaranteed best-sellers. But don’t be fooled by all the frenzy at the humongous end of the size spectrum.

The real action is at the other end: the main chance is becoming a free agent in an economy of free agents, looking to have the best season you can imagine in your field, looking to do your best work and chalk up a remarkable track record, and looking to establish your own micro equivalent of the Nike swoosh. Because if you do, you’ll not only reach out toward every opportunity within arm’s (or laptop’s) length, you’ll not only make a noteworthy contribution to your team’s success — you’ll also put yourself in a great bargaining position for next season’s free-agency market.

The good news — and it is largely good news — is that everyone has a chance to stand out. Everyone has a chance to learn, improve, and build up their skills. Everyone has a chance to be a brand worthy of remark.

Who understands this fundamental principle? The big companies do. They’ve come a long way in a short time: it was just over four years ago, April 2, 1993 to be precise, when Philip Morris cut the price of Marlboro cigarettes by 40 cents a pack. That was on a Friday. On Monday, the stock market value of packaged goods companies fell by $25 billion. Everybody agreed: brands were doomed.

Today brands are everything, and all kinds of products and services — from accounting firms to sneaker makers to restaurants — are figuring out how to transcend the narrow boundaries of their categories and become a brand surrounded by a Tommy Hilfiger-like buzz.

Who else understands it? Every single Web site sponsor. In fact, the Web makes the case for branding more directly than any packaged good or consumer product ever could. Here’s what the Web says: Anyone can have a Web site. And today, because anyone can … anyone does! So how do you know which sites are worth visiting, which sites to bookmark, which sites are worth going to more than once? The answer: branding. The sites you go back to are the sites you trust. They’re the sites where the brand name tells you that the visit will be worth your time — again and again. The brand is a promise of the value you’ll receive.

The same holds true for that other killer app of the Net — email. When everybody has email and anybody can send you email, how do you decide whose messages you’re going to read and respond to first — and whose you’re going to send to the trash unread? The answer: personal branding. The name of the email sender is every bit as important a brand — is a brand — as the name of the Web site you visit. It’s a promise of the value you’ll receive for the time you spend reading the message.

Nobody understands branding better than professional services firms. Look at McKinsey or Arthur Andersen for a model of the new rules of branding at the company and personal level. Almost every professional services firm works with the same business model. They have almost no hard assets — my guess is that most probably go so far as to rent or lease every tangible item they possibly can to keep from having to own anything. They have lots of soft assets — more conventionally known as people, preferably smart, motivated, talented people. And they have huge revenues — and astounding profits.

They also have a very clear culture of work and life. You’re hired, you report to work, you join a team — and you immediately start figuring out how to deliver value to the customer. Along the way, you learn stuff, develop your skills, hone your abilities, move from project to project. And if you’re really smart, you figure out how to distinguish yourself from all the other very smart people walking around with $1,500 suits, high-powered laptops, and well-polished resumes. Along the way, if you’re really smart, you figure out what it takes to create a distinctive role for yourself — you create a message and a strategy to promote the brand called You.

What makes You different?

Start right now: as of this moment you’re going to think of yourself differently! You’re not an “employee” of General Motors, you’re not a “staffer” at General Mills, you’re not a “worker” at General Electric or a “human resource” at General Dynamics (ooops, it’s gone!). Forget the Generals! You don’t “belong to” any company for life, and your chief affiliation isn’t to any particular “function.” You’re not defined by your job title and you’re not confined by your job description.

Starting today you are a brand.

You’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop. To start thinking like your own favorite brand manager, ask yourself the same question the brand managers at Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop ask themselves: What is it that my product or service does that makes it different? Give yourself the traditional 15-words-or-less contest challenge. Take the time to write down your answer. And then take the time to read it. Several times.

If your answer wouldn’t light up the eyes of a prospective client or command a vote of confidence from a satisfied past client, or — worst of all — if it doesn’t grab you, then you’ve got a big problem. It’s time to give some serious thought and even more serious effort to imagining and developing yourself as a brand.

Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors — or your colleagues. What have you done lately — this week — to make yourself stand out? What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy (as in, worthy of note) personal trait?

Go back to the comparison between brand You and brand X — the approach the corporate biggies take to creating a brand. The standard model they use is feature-benefit: every feature they offer in their product or service yields an identifiable and distinguishable benefit for their customer or client. A dominant feature of Nordstrom department stores is the personalized service it lavishes on each and every customer. The customer benefit: a feeling of being accorded individualized attention — along with all of the choice of a large department store.

So what is the “feature-benefit model” that the brand called You offers? Do you deliver your work on time, every time? Your internal or external customer gets dependable, reliable service that meets its strategic needs. Do you anticipate and solve problems before they become crises? Your client saves money and headaches just by having you on the team. Do you always complete your projects within the allotted budget? I can’t name a single client of a professional services firm who doesn’t go ballistic at cost overruns.

Your next step is to cast aside all the usual descriptors that employees and workers depend on to locate themselves in the company structure. Forget your job title. Ask yourself: What do I do that adds remarkable, measurable, distinguished, distinctive value? Forget your job description. Ask yourself: What do I do that I am most proud of? Most of all, forget about the standard rungs of progression you’ve climbed in your career up to now. Burn that damnable “ladder” and ask yourself: What have I accomplished that I can unabashedly brag about? If you’re going to be a brand, you’ve got to become relentlessly focused on what you do that adds value, that you’re proud of, and most important, that you can shamelessly take credit for.

When you’ve done that, sit down and ask yourself one more question to define your brand: What do I want to be famous for? That’s right — famous for!

What’s the pitch for You?

So it’s a cliché: don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle. it’s also a principle that every corporate brand understands implicitly, from Omaha Steaks’s through-the-mail sales program to Wendy’s “we’re just regular folks” ad campaign. No matter how beefy your set of skills, no matter how tasty you’ve made that feature-benefit proposition, you still have to market the bejesus out of your brand — to customers, colleagues, and your virtual network of associates.

For most branding campaigns, the first step is visibility. If you’re General Motors, Ford, or Chrysler, that usually means a full flight of TV and print ads designed to get billions of “impressions” of your brand in front of the consuming public. If you’re brand You, you’ve got the same need for visibility — but no budget to buy it.

So how do you market brand You?

There’s literally no limit to the ways you can go about enhancing your profile. Try moonlighting! Sign up for an extra project inside your organization, just to introduce yourself to new colleagues and showcase your skills — or work on new ones. Or, if you can carve out the time, take on a freelance project that gets you in touch with a totally novel group of people. If you can get them singing your praises, they’ll help spread the word about what a remarkable contributor you are.

If those ideas don’t appeal, try teaching a class at a community college, in an adult education program, or in your own company. You get credit for being an expert, you increase your standing as a professional, and you increase the likelihood that people will come back to you with more requests and more opportunities to stand out from the crowd.

If you’re a better writer than you are a teacher, try contributing a column or an opinion piece to your local newspaper. And when I say local, I mean local. You don’t have to make the op-ed page of the New York Times to make the grade. Community newspapers, professional newsletters, even inhouse company publications have white space they need to fill. Once you get started, you’ve got a track record — and clips that you can use to snatch more chances.

And if you’re a better talker than you are teacher or writer, try to get yourself on a panel discussion at a conference or sign up to make a presentation at a workshop. Visibility has a funny way of multiplying; the hardest part is getting started. But a couple of good panel presentations can earn you a chance to give a “little” solo speech — and from there it’s just a few jumps to a major address at your industry’s annual convention.

The second important thing to remember about your personal visibility campaign is: it all matters. When you’re promoting brand You, everything you do — and everything you choose not to do — communicates the value and character of the brand. Everything from the way you handle phone conversations to the email messages you send to the way you conduct business in a meeting is part of the larger message you’re sending about your brand.

Partly it’s a matter of substance: what you have to say and how well you get it said. But it’s also a matter of style. On the Net, do your communications demonstrate a command of the technology? In meetings, do you keep your contributions short and to the point? It even gets down to the level of your brand You business card: Have you designed a cool-looking logo for your own card? Are you demonstrating an appreciation for design that shows you understand that packaging counts — a lot — in a crowded world?

The key to any personal branding campaign is “word-of-mouth marketing.” Your network of friends, colleagues, clients, and customers is the most important marketing vehicle you’ve got; what they say about you and your contributions is what the market will ultimately gauge as the value of your brand. So the big trick to building your brand is to find ways to nurture your network of colleagues — consciously.

What’s the real power of You?

If you want to grow your brand, you’ve got to come to terms with power — your own. The key lesson: power is not a dirty word!

In fact, power for the most part is a badly misunderstood term and a badly misused capability. I’m talking about a different kind of power than we usually refer to. It’s not ladder power, as in who’s best at climbing over the adjacent bods. It’s not who’s-got-the-biggest-office-by-six-square-inches power or who’s-got-the-fanciest-title power.

It’s influence power.

It’s being known for making the most significant contribution in your particular area. It’s reputational power. If you were a scholar, you’d measure it by the number of times your publications get cited by other people. If you were a consultant, you’d measure it by the number of CEOs who’ve got your business card in their Rolodexes. (And better yet, the number who know your beeper number by heart.)

Getting and using power — intelligently, responsibly, and yes, powerfully — are essential skills for growing your brand. One of the things that attracts us to certain brands is the power they project. As a consumer, you want to associate with brands whose powerful presence creates a halo effect that rubs off on you.

It’s the same in the workplace. There are power trips that are worth taking — and that you can take without appearing to be a self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing megalomaniacal jerk. You can do it in small, slow, and subtle ways. Is your team having a hard time organizing productive meetings? Volunteer to write the agenda for the next meeting. You’re contributing to the team, and you get to decide what’s on and off the agenda. When it’s time to write a post-project report, does everyone on your team head for the door? Beg for the chance to write the report — because the hand that holds the pen (or taps the keyboard) gets to write or at least shape the organization’s history.

Most important, remember that power is largely a matter of perception. If you want people to see you as a powerful brand, act like a credible leader. When you’re thinking like brand You, you don’t need org-chart authority to be a leader. The fact is you are a leader. You’re leading You!

One key to growing your power is to recognize the simple fact that we now live in a project world. Almost all work today is organized into bite-sized packets called projects. A project-based world is ideal for growing your brand: projects exist around deliverables, they create measurables, and they leave you with braggables. If you’re not spending at least 70% of your time working on projects, creating projects, or organizing your (apparently mundane) tasks into projects, you are sadly living in the past. Today you have to think, breathe, act, and work in projects.

Project World makes it easier for you to assess — and advertise — the strength of brand You. Once again, think like the giants do. Imagine yourself a brand manager at Procter & Gamble: When you look at your brand’s assets, what can you add to boost your power and felt presence? Would you be better off with a simple line extension — taking on a project that adds incrementally to your existing base of skills and accomplishments? Or would you be better off with a whole new product line? Is it time to move overseas for a couple of years, venturing outside your comfort zone (even taking a lateral move — damn the ladders), tackling something new and completely different?

Whatever you decide, you should look at your brand’s power as an exercise in new-look résumé; management — an exercise that you start by doing away once and for all with the word “résumé.” You don’t have an old-fashioned résumé anymore! You’ve got a marketing brochure for brand You. Instead of a static list of titles held and positions occupied, your marketing brochure brings to life the skills you’ve mastered, the projects you’ve delivered, the braggables you can take credit for. And like any good marketing brochure, yours needs constant updating to reflect the growth — breadth and depth — of brand You.

What’s loyalty to You?

Everyone is saying that loyalty is gone; loyalty is dead; loyalty is over. I think that’s a bunch of crap.

I think loyalty is much more important than it ever was in the past. A 40-year career with the same company once may have been called loyalty; from here it looks a lot like a work life with very few options, very few opportunities, and very little individual power. That’s what we used to call indentured servitude.

Today loyalty is the only thing that matters. But it isn’t blind loyalty to the company. It’s loyalty to your colleagues, loyalty to your team, loyalty to your project, loyalty to your customers, and loyalty to yourself. I see it as a much deeper sense of loyalty than mindless loyalty to the Company Z logo.

I know this may sound like selfishness. But being CEO of Me Inc. requires you to act selfishly — to grow yourself, to promote yourself, to get the market to reward yourself. Of course, the other side of the selfish coin is that any company you work for ought to applaud every single one of the efforts you make to develop yourself. After all, everything you do to grow Me Inc. is gravy for them: the projects you lead, the networks you develop, the customers you delight, the braggables you create generate credit for the firm. As long as you’re learning, growing, building relationships, and delivering great results, it’s good for you and it’s great for the company.

That win-win logic holds for as long as you happen to be at that particular company. Which is precisely where the age of free agency comes into play. If you’re treating your résumé as if it’s a marketing brochure, you’ve learned the first lesson of free agency. The second lesson is one that today’s professional athletes have all learned: you’ve got to check with the market on a regular basis to have a reliable read on your brand’s value. You don’t have to be looking for a job to go on a job interview. For that matter, you don’t even have to go on an actual job interview to get useful, important feedback.

The real question is: How is brand You doing? Put together your own “user’s group” — the personal brand You equivalent of a software review group. Ask for — insist on — honest, helpful feedback on your performance, your growth, your value. It’s the only way to know what you would be worth on the open market. It’s the only way to make sure that, when you declare your free agency, you’ll be in a strong bargaining position. It’s not disloyalty to “them”; it’s responsible brand management for brand You — which also generates credit for them.

What’s the future of You?

It’s over. No more vertical. No more ladder. That’s not the way careers work anymore. Linearity is out. A career is now a checkerboard. Or even a maze. It’s full of moves that go sideways, forward, slide on the diagonal, even go backward when that makes sense. (It often does.) A career is a portfolio of projects that teach you new skills, gain you new expertise, develop new capabilities, grow your colleague set, and constantly reinvent you as a brand.

As you scope out the path your “career” will take, remember: the last thing you want to do is become a manager. Like “résumé,” “manager” is an obsolete term. It’s practically synonymous with “dead end job.” What you want is a steady diet of more interesting, more challenging, more provocative projects. When you look at the progression of a career constructed out of projects, directionality is not only hard to track — Which way is up? — but it’s also totally irrelevant.

Instead of making yourself a slave to the concept of a career ladder, reinvent yourself on a semiregular basis. Start by writing your own mission statement, to guide you as CEO of Me Inc. What turns you on? Learning something new? Gaining recognition for your skills as a technical wizard? Shepherding new ideas from concept to market? What’s your personal definition of success? Money? Power? Fame? Or doing what you love? However you answer these questions, search relentlessly for job or project opportunities that fit your mission statement. And review that mission statement every six months to make sure you still believe what you wrote.

No matter what you’re doing today, there are four things you’ve got to measure yourself against. First, you’ve got to be a great teammate and a supportive colleague. Second, you’ve got to be an exceptional expert at something that has real value. Third, you’ve got to be a broad-gauged visionary — a leader, a teacher, a farsighted “imagineer.” Fourth, you’ve got to be a businessperson — you’ve got to be obsessed with pragmatic outcomes.

It’s this simple: You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today. Or else.

Tom Peters (TJPET) is the world’s leading brand when it comes to writing, speaking, or thinking about the new economy. He has just released a CD-ROM, “Tom Peters’ Career Survival Guide” (Houghton Mifflin interactive). Rob Walker contributed the brand profile sidebars.

7 Ways to Find a Job Using Social Media

http://socialmediatoday.com/christian-arno/906366/7-ways-find-job-using-social-media?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=linkedin

When it comes to job hunting, most of us know the saying: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In this age of social media, we’re more connected than ever before. More job seekers are using social media to find and research new opportunities – while employers are using it to suss out candidates.

But many people are still making basic mistakes. We’ve all heard of the dangers that an inappropriate Facebook photo, or ill-judged Tweet can do to our careers. Miss Seattle 2012 (a.k.a. Jean-Sun Hannah Ahn) recently learned this lesson the hard way. She almost lost her title after Twitter rants such as “Take me back to az! Ugh can’t stand cold rainy Seattle and the annoying people.”

But other smaller mistakes could be harmful. Not updating a LinkedIn profile, or not separating private and professional social networks can damage your career prospects. And few people use the full power of their social networks.

A survey by Kelly Services Inc. found that only 24 per cent of American job seekers were more likely to use social media than traditional methods, such as newspapers, job boards and recruitment firms. And many people aren’t aware that well-known companies such as Starbucks, Citibank and UPS use Twitter and Facebook to recruit. TweetMyJobs found an impressive 45 percent of companies planned to invest more in social recruiting in 2012.

Here are seven ways to find your next career move, and stand out from the crowd for the right reasons.

Join LinkedIn – and make sure your profile is up to date

There might be dozens of social media sites, but LinkedIn is the most career-focused one. Your profile has room for all the information on your resume, while the summary section is the perfect place to let potential employers know you’re looking for new opportunities. A useful feature is it tells you whether someone is a “first, second or third degree” connection, meaning you can ask one of your existing contacts for an introduction.

There are several ways to make your profile stand out. Ask former employers or colleagues to write a recommendation or endorse your skills. You can even add a video to introduce yourself. Join relevant LinkedIn groups, post news, and contribute to discussions. There are more than 1 million groups, so find the most popular ones for your chosen field.

Set up an alternative Twitter and Facebook

If you’re serious in your job search, it’s best to separate your personal and professional profiles. Set up Facebook and Twitter profiles aimed at future employers, and make sure the settings on your personal accounts are private. Include your main skills and selling points in your Twitter bio, and include a link to your resume. Make sure your avatar looks professional. Try to establish yourself as an “expert” in your field, by tweeting about the latest industry news and trends.

Use social jobseeking tools

As well as following companies you’re interested in, investigate the growing number of social recruitment tools. Services such as TweetMyJobs allow you to enter your preferences and receive regular alerts with job adverts by mobile, email or Twitter. Use tools such as LinkedIn’s Job Change Notifier to keep up to date when your connections get promoted or move company.

Engage with potential employers

How you make contact will depend on the platform. LinkedIn allows for more private conversation, so this is a good way to introduce yourself directly. But on Twitter it’s best to start with following companies and employers you’re interested in. Try to communicate your knowledge and skills before jumping in and asking about a job. While social media can be a great way of making yourself known, don’t be shy about suggesting a face-to-face meeting over coffee.

Remember, most jobs aren’t advertised. Even if a company isn’t advertising for any vacancies, you might find they have a need for someone with your particular skillset.

Research the company you’re applying for

It’s becoming more common for interviewers to ask candidates what they think of their social media feeds. Even if they don’t, it’s a good way to know the latest news about the company. It will also give you an insight into their culture, and how formal the workplace is.

Monitor your online reputation

It should go without saying that you’ve cleaned up your Facebook profile, deleted any embarrassing photos and controversial tweets. But it’s vital to be vigilant about your reputation online. If you’re concerned about this, there are a number of tools such as Google’s Social Mention that can monitor your name across social networks. And make sure you “untag” yourself in any unflattering pictures posted by friends.

Don’t forget smaller networks

Having set up professional LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts, you might think you’ve covered all bases. But depending on your industry and skills, it’s worth considering other platforms. Blogs can be a great way of interacting with people in your field, and demonstrating your enthusiasm and expertise.

There are also a number of niche social networks that can be useful tools. These range from the recently launched SumZero, which allows investors to share tips, to UnTappd, a community for beer enthusiasts and the brewing industry.

Looking for a position is always tough, especially in a crowded market. But with a little effort, social media can help you make the most of your connections and find new opportunities.