5 Action Steps To Refresh Your Online Brand

Mid-year is a great time to reflect on your progress towards your goals – and it’s also a great time to review your online presence to ensure that your profiles are up-to-date and on-point with your personal branding strategy.

Your life and career are continuously evolving, and social and online platforms are continuously changing, so it’s important to set aside some specific time each year to do a thorough review of your online presence to ensure that it’s accurate, current and presented in the best way possible.

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30-Day Commitments: The Sexier Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions

If you’re in the majority, you made some sort of New Year’s resolution. According to this Infographic, 62% of Americans do, but unfortunately less than half maintain those commitments beyond 6 months.

I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I’ve stopped making New Year resolutions.

Why? Because I don’t like to start something I can’t win – and I’ve never crossed the finish line victorious after 365 days of success with a new habit.

Each year, I’ve had good intentions to lose weight, eat better, get more organized and create more margin in my life for spending time doing the things that I love. But so far, those things have not happened consistently for any length of time.

Sure, I’ll be moderately successful for a few days or weeks, but soon the enormity of committing to a life change for such a long time – 365 days – makes the activity seem a bit overwhelming. Once a day gets skipped, the slope becomes very slippery and the likelihood that I’ll slide backwards down the hill of success increases exponentially.

So this year, I’ve decided to try something different. I’m going to make 30-day commitments in three areas of my life – personal, health and business.

Why 30 days? It’s a shorter distance to the goal line. It’s doable and not overwhelming. Plus, I’ll be able to try at least 36 new things in 2014 that I may not have done otherwise!

Part of my inspiration for this idea is this popular and short (3:27 minutes) TED talk  from Google Engineer Matt Cutts on trying something new for 30 days. (email subscribers click here to view)

I like it. I can do this.

Here are my three 30-Day Commitments for January 2014:

Personal – I will get out of bed by 7am every day for 30 days (even weekends)
Health – I will do some form of exercise every day for 30 days straight (no rest days)
Business – I will create and post content (good stuff) on my blog 5 days per week in January 2014

Want to join me in committing to something for 30 days instead of 365?

I’d love to encourage you in your journey. Leave a comment and share with me your commitment(s)!

The World Needs More Balcony People

A few years ago, as I was beginning to take the mental steps towards stepping out on my own and starting Unbridled Talent LLC, a mentor* encouraged me by expressing belief in my skills and talents, as well as my ability to make the right choices for my future.

He said, “Just know that whichever path you choose, I will always be your Balcony Person. I’m here for you and I want you to succeed.”

At that time, the mental image of looking up and seeing someone in the balcony cheering me on really resonated with me. And the statement and sentiment meant a lot to me then, as it still does almost four years later.

It’s a powerful thing to know that someone wants you to succeed and believes in you.

It’s even more powerful when that person cares enough to provide honest coaching and feedback, as well as support – even when you screw up. Especially when you screw up.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about how I can become a Balcony Person for more people in my life. As a result, here are some action steps that I plan to take:

1. Be intentional about encouragement.

For me, if it’s going to get done, it needs to on my calendar or logged into my To Do list. I don’t want this important activity to get lost in the “nice-to-do” pile.

2. Listen more and better.

We all want to be heard. I plan to work harder at being a better listener.

 “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”  ~Ralph Nichols

3. Solve fewer problems and facilitate more victories.

As a problem-solver, my tendency is to listen to people and attempt to offer solutions to their problems. Instead, I want to listen to them and ask how I can support them in creating the best solutions.

4. Have the courage to share constructive feedback – even if it’s difficult.

I’ve found that the people who care about my success the most are the people in my life who are willing to deliver constructive criticism when I need it. They are also the people who help me the most to improve and continue to grow.

5. Recognize and thank the Balcony People in my own life.

I want to show more appreciation for those that are an encouragement to me by sending an unexpected card, email, text or gift just to say thanks. The first victim? My mom. She’s the original, all-time best example on the planet of a Balcony Person. Thanks Peggy.

If you have a Balcony Person (or People) in your own life, consider yourself blessed!

Now, I encourage you to multiply that blessing by being intentional about being one for someone else. Who will it be?

* Thank you to Mike Sipple, Sr. for being a genuine and wonderful example to me and so many others of what a Balcony Person should be.

Question: Who are the Balcony People in your life? Give them a shout out or encouragement in the comments section!

Unbridled Talent LLC is a consulting and advisory firm providing services to clients in the areas of leadership development, executive communication skills and talent strategy. Jennifer McClure offers keynotes, workshops and training that inspire and teach business leaders to be more effective in their careers and as leaders of their organization’s most valuable resource – people. Contact us to schedule an event or to discuss our strategic consulting and advisory services.

10 Steps to Get the Most Out of LinkedIn [Beyond the Basics]

LinkedIn is a great tool for growing your professional network, communicating your personal brand and connecting to opportunities to help you grow your career and your business. But are you going beyond the basics in how you utilize LinkedIn?

Beyond creating a Profile, connecting with your co-workers and joining a few Groups, here are 10 solid steps you should take to get the most out of the opportunities that being a part of the LinkedIn network presents:

1. Post relevant and helpful information in the “Share an Update” box on a regular basis.

Want to build your personal brand and professional reputation? Then become known as a resource or “go to” person in your field or industry. Read a great article? Share it with a comment. Aware of an interesting networking or professional development event? Share it and let your network know you’re going.

I share a ton of links and resources with my network via TwitterFacebook, and Linked In, and in my experience the engagement is often higher and of better quality (i.e. informative threaded discussions, new connections made, etc.) when shared via my status update on LinkedIn.

Action Step: Share a LinkedIn Status Update with your network at least 3 times per week. Add this activity to your calendar or To Do list to ensure it gets done.

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Introverts: Just Like Extroverts, Only Better

Most of you who read this blog haven’t met me in person, but you may have assumed that I’m an extrovert because my chosen career involves people, or the fact that I regularly speak to large groups of people at large conferences and events.

But you would be wrong. I’m actually a card carrying introvert, and think that we as a species are wildly misunderstood.

Recently, one of my favorite bloggers, Sacha Chua, shared a great Slideshare presentation called The Shy Connector. It’s so awesome that I think this should be required reading for anyone who says that they’re an introvert , but can’t possibly bring themselves to network with others.

Personally, I don’t see introversion/extroversion as the difference between being shy or outgoing, as many people do. I like these simple definitions best:

Introverts – Recharge by spending time alone.

Extroverts – Recharge by being around people.

It’s really that simple. So an Introvert can be the life of the party – but then they’ll probably crash and burn afterward in order to reboot – and an Extrovert doesn’t necessarily have to be the center of attention at all times who can never stop talking. Although if the shoe fits…

Sacha’s presentation got me to thinking about some of the other interesting things I’ve read on the subject and I thought I’d share a few of them to encourage my fellow Introverts out there and also to help the Extroverts to better to understand us.

  • Funny and accurate: Caring for Your Introvert – Money Quote: “Now I am here to tell you what you need to know in order to respond sensitively and supportively to your own introverted family members, friends, and colleagues. Remember, someone you know, respect, and interact with every day is an introvert, and you are probably driving this person nuts.”
  • Why Introverts Can Make The Best Leaders – Money Quote: “Introverted leaders are energized by spending time alone. They suffer from people exhaustion and need to retreat to recharge their batteries frequently. These regular timeouts actually fuel their thinking, creativity and decision-making and, when the pressure is on, help them be responsive, not reactive.”
  • How to Network: For Introverts – Money Quote: “Introverts typically don’t like to talk about themselves – we prefer to talk about ideas. Force yourself to discuss some of the things you’ve done. Don’t brag, make sure they are relevant to the conversation. Then the extroverts can talk about you and pass your achievements along.”
  • Job Search Tips for Introverts – Money Quote: “Value your listening skills. When you’re searching for a job and reaching out to others, you’ll do this much more effectively if you’re a good listener.”
  • Top 5 Things Every Extrovert Should Know About Introverts – Money Quote: “Introverts have more brain activity in their frontal lobes and when these areas are activated through solitary activity, introverts become energized through processes such as problem solving, introspection, and complex thinking. Extroverts on the other hand tend to have more activity in the back of their brain, areas that deal with processing sensory information from the external world, so they tend to search for external stimuli in the form of interacting with other people and the outside world to energize them.”

Do you feel like being an introvert has held you back in your career in any way – or has it helped you to get where you are today?

Extroverts – do you understand us? Or do you think that anyone who doesn’t get excited about dressing up to go see the Rocky Horror Picture Show for the 57th time is just plain weird?

(Because we definitely think that about you when you do.)

I Hate Recruiters! Why Do They Pigeonhole Me?

The short answer? Because they don’t know you.

Last week, I spoke to a group of MBA students at a local University about how to use social media in their job search. At one point in the workshop, a young gentleman raised his hand requesting permission to ask a question that was “off-topic”. Since I’m always up for a good off-topic question, permission was quickly granted, and he continued.

The student shared that he wasn’t very fond of recruiters in general (present company excepted of course), because they only view him based upon his past experience, not for what he wants to be – or can be. Since he currently held a sales position in a hot industry, recruiters were very interested in talking with him about similar roles, but not about the career move he wants to make – a leadership role in another industry.

“How do you get a recruiter to pay attention to you when you contact them because you want to make a career change, or change industries?”

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