Time to “Brand” a New You?!

May 29th, 2018

Is it time to create a brand for yourself or to reconsider your current one?

Your brand evolves over time, reflecting a personal and professional commitment to your goals, beliefs and the expectation of others. A brand is what we (consumers, employers, colleagues, friends and family) trust you for.

Each of us has a personal brand – characteristics and experience we offer. Many, many articles and books discuss personal branding and the importance of authenticity and trust, and here are a few that offer insights and advice as you consider your approaches.

By Marla Tabaka, Inc. magazine

By Jayson DeMers, Inc. Magazine

  • Branding Yourself: 6 Tips for Professional Success, By Robert Half

https://www.roberthalf.com/blog/salaries-and-skills/branding-yourself-6-tips-for-professional-success

Ready to Create a Website Yourself?

May 14th, 2018

If you want to personally create your website but don’t know how, read on.  Luke Renn, graphic designer, will take you through the steps and resources that will introduce you to consumers interested in your services and products. “From establishing a domain name to learning how SEO attracts online interest, you will be ready for prime time,” Renn says. www.Lukerenndesign.com.

Domain Name and Web Host. Your new website needs a web address, where people can go to find you on the internet, also known as your domain name. You also need a web host, the service company that will store your website files. GoDaddy, HostGator and DreamHost are among the many possible hosts.

Luke Renn suggests that you “sign up with your host for multiple years, preferably three to five years. Or, if you want to sign up for one year, click ‘auto renew’.”  This is to avoid your website going offline in case you don’t check in on your hosting account regularly. Then consider what your email address will be (luke@lukerenndesign.com)  You can also use Gmail or other email services.

Website Design.  Now it’s time for the look or design of your website. The service company you choose will probably offer templates that you can adapt to your site. For example, WordPress has “themes.” Or, you can work with a website designer. Start the process by looking at other sites, including competitive companies. Ask colleagues for their feedback.

“You need to make sure your website has ‘responsive’ design so it can be easily seen on a desktop computer, tablet and cell phone. From a design standpoint, a website typically has a logo in the upper left corner, a header along the top with navigation links, and a ‘banner image’ or ‘slideshow’ on the homepage. The ‘banner image’ or ‘slideshow’ is generally horizontal in size and spans the width of the website. Other elements include social media icons,” Renn explains.

Renn reminds us that there are many resources for stock photos and images that are reasonably priced. One of them is the website, istockphoto.com.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization. If you want people to visit your website, then you have to learn more about SEO. It helps your business grow and meet your professional objectives. Because users trust search engines (e.g., Google) you want to include the keywords they are searching for and to increase your website’s potential and value.

This means that when you are developing and writing your website’s content, you have to research how people look for your type of business. Your copy and website content should “attract” search engine interest up front and throughout your site.

You will find resources about SEO and keywords and how to choose them at First Person Public Relations: http://sallychapralis.com/blog/?p=1102

“There isn’t a magic way to get good search results. It requires time, effort and maintenance,” Renn explains. Google and other search engines will return better search results over time as your website grows and establishes an online presence.

“WordPress is a free content management system that currently powers 30% of all websites online. Its themes or templates allow users to change the look of their website without altering the site content. Basic themes are free, although you may want to purchase a custom-designed theme that offers superior layout and customization, such as those found at https://www.elegantthemes.com/,” Renn adds.

These premier themes usually sell for under $100.

“An extensive library of plugins, which offer custom features such as Search Engine Optimization, Twitter feed, etc., allow users to extend the functionality of their WordPress websites easily and inexpensively.”

“Be warned,” Renn adds, “that WordPress can be vulnerable to security issues if not properly maintained. You must be diligent in keeping all of your themes and plugins updated. Also, strong passwords are a must for your site administrators.”

Learn more about WordPress at:  https://wordpress.org/

 

Do Your Customers Love You?

April 20th, 2018

Because “you need your customers more than they need you,” Jeb Blount offers the “Seven Essential Principles of Customer Service” in his book, People Love You – The Real Secret to Delivering Legendary Customer Experiences.

As Blount explains, “The fact is customers are not loyal to products, services or companies. Instead, they are loyal to people they like, trust and believe in.” So while the mechanics and process of servicing customers are important, your real goal is to build “strong emotional bonds with customers that last a lifetime.”

Thus, Blount presents “The Seven Essential Principles of Customer Engagement”:

“Principle 1: You Need Your Customers More Than They Need You. The number one reason companies fail is a lack of customers. Whether you are the boss, account manager or sales person, top customer service professionals believe their mission is to help their customers win and reach their goals. They are advocates for their customers. And they believe that by helping their customers reach their goals, they will reach their own.”

“Principle 2: Customers Are People. They are emotional, irrational and human. They feel fear and stress. They are overworked and underpaid. They are time starved. They have ambition and goals. They have an insatiable need to feel important and appreciated. They have families and priorities. Each interaction with a person crates an experience that they remember. Though you may believe that your product or service has a greater impact on your customer’s experience than you do, remember that customers don’t do business with companies, they do business with people – you.”

“Principle 3: You Are Always On Stage. Business is a grand stage and…from that stage you deliver customer experiences. Everything you say or don’t say, do or don’t do, your facial expressions, tone of voice and body language can and will have an impact on your customer’s experience. Your words and actions have meaning. A misspoken word, display of raw emotion, or slip of the tongue will impact the relationships you have with customers. … This is where customer experience is born. Yours and theirs.”

“Principle 4: Customers Act on Emotion and Justify with Logic. “One of the core principles of the ‘People Love You’ philosophy is the universal law of human behavior: People act first (or buy) on emotion and then justify those actions with logic.’ Yes, there are ‘folks who will argue this point to the death.’ And, yes it is true that we all try to make logical purchasing decisions based on facts, numbers, observations and stats. But it is the emotion we feel that causes us to act.”

“Principle 5: Customers Do Things for Their Reasons – Not Yours. Account managers or customer service professionals should embrace the belief that though customers may not always be right, they are always first. They stand in their shoes and view situations through their customer’s perspective.”

“Principle 6: Customers Don’t Do Illogical Things on Purpose. While some managers believe ‘customers do dumb things on purpose’ … there is usually an alternative explanation for their actions. … Top customer service professionals assume positive intent. In other words, they recognize that the customer thought she was doing the right thing. They know that when a customer is doing the wrong thing, there is a reason and it is in their best interest as a service professional (because they need their customers more than their customers need them) to investigate why the person is doing something that seems illogical rather than simply judge it as such. This helps them to either gain understanding or uncover and remove the root cause.”

“Principle 7: Always Give More Than Is Required. Generally, when discussing customer service, the cliché is to ‘exceed customer expectations.’ But, Jeb Blount explains, ‘it is not always possible to exceed their expectations, since you may not know what they are or can’t exceed them. “At my company, we have a simple value statement that we live by. We always do more than we have to and we will be kind to everyone, no matter what. … Focus on what you can control – your actions. … That is, ‘give your customers more value that they paid for.’ We often forget about our expectations and instead think about how good we feel and our experience.”

Blount discusses the “Five Levers of Customer Experience that help you move people to love you by tapping into the motivations that are driven by human emotion,” and he explains how to “make breaking up hard to do.”

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SEO and Keywords – We Can Find You!

April 11th, 2018

You will find lots of different opinions and suggestions on SEO and which keywords to use to attract your target markets and achieve your goals. If you want to be discovered by the right consumers, here are just a few resources that will help in your SEO keyword research.

Here you go:

There’s more, including KWFinder, Keyword Tool, and SEMrush (whew?!).

“Powerful Writing Changes Lives”

March 20th, 2018

“Oprah calls it a ‘heart song’ … for me, it’s a calling … and I’ve been blessed with two,” explains Carla D. Bass, retired Colonel, USAF and author of the award-winning book, Write To Influence!

Bass set her heart on a career in Air Force intelligence when she was in 7th grade. She followed her father’s footsteps … and her own dream … and served her country in locations worldwide that include Germany, Bulgaria, Korea, Turkey, Hawaii, and Washington, D.C. She retired in 2007 but in 2008, joined the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, where she is still happily employed.

Her first heart song led unexpectedly to the second … empowering people to change their lives by teaching them to write. How did this happen? When she commanded a unit of 480 people, Bass saw the direct correlation between powerful writing and career progression. Talented, deserving people lost professional competitions because their bosses couldn’t write powerful nominations.

She analyzed her own writing, composed a small handbook, and taught her unit to write. They swept the awards … often! She’s since taught thousands of people. Her battle cry is “Powerful writing changes lives!” because it opens doors to opportunity.

Bass’s experience and drive to help others led to Write To Influence!, published in January, 2017. Its audience is expansive, as the subtitle indicates, “Personnel Appraisals, Resumes, Awards, Grants, Scholarships, Internships, Reports, Bid Proposals, Web Pages, Marketing, and More.”

According to Bass, “Powerful writing is the lifeblood of effective organizations. Employers value people who write concisely, conveying messages in minimal words and time. But, they struggle to find that skill set.” Therefore, Bass teaches people to capture and retain attention. How? She replies, “Make each word count and every second of the reader’s time play to your advantage.”

Write to Influence! consists of a four-part journey: 1) Word Sculpting – tools to craft hard-hitting sentences, 2) Strategies to Make your Case, 3) Strategies to Clinch the Deal, and 4) Exercises (with answers and explanations). She explains, “This is not a grammar book. It’s entertaining, fun and effective.”

When interfacing with clients in her workshops – students in high school or college through work force professionals – she applies the same open-handed, easy going approach, teaching techniques that enable them to better compete for jobs, selective career opportunities, promotions, and awards.

“Ace Your Annual Review,” “College Applications – Essays that Open Doors,” “Powerful Writing … for Professionals,” “Write to Influence! – The Fundamentals,” and “Powerful Resumes – Stand Out from the Crowd,” are just a few of her offerings.

As Bass explains, “My goal is not necessarily to sell books, but to empower people through their own writing to achieve goals they might not have imagined.”

For more information on Bass, her book and workshops … see, http://carladbass.com. By the way, she celebrated her book’s first birthday – with a cake! Scroll down to see the photo she took on her kitchen table! Happy 1st birthday, Write to Influence!

Professional Associations Help You Succeed

February 25th, 2018

Thousands of professional associations – local, national, international – serve their members in many rewarding ways. Whether you’re new to your profession or an experienced pro, you will see how invaluable they can be in your career – from networking with knowledgeable peers to a variety of important professional resources, ongoing programs and services, and new jobs.

►Why Join a Professional Association?

http://www.ilcounseling.org/?page=whyjoin

►Top 10 Reasons to Join a Professional Organization

https://blog.cccctech.com/top-10-reasons-to-join-a-professional-organization/

►Millennials Have Rediscovered the Benefits of Joining a Professional Organization

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246691

►13 Basic Benefits of Joining a Professional Organization

https://www.educba.com/joining-a-professional-organization/

►Professional Associations and Why They Matter

http://www.slaw.ca/2012/01/20/professional-associations-and-why-they-matter/

►American Society of Association Executives

https://www.asaecenter.org/

►The Encyclopedia of Associations covers thousands of professional associations categorized by subject. You can find it at your local public library or online.

Here’s to your success and the professional associations that help you achieve it !!

New Approach to Mentoring Strengthens an Organization’s Culture

February 8th, 2018

“Our Mentoring Excellence Masterminds™ program brings mentors and mentees together through an approach that builds community and accountability. They learn from each other and from mentoring experts,” explains Lisa Z. Fain, CEO, Center for Mentoring Excellence. “MEMs is a great way for an organization to foster and benefit from a mentoring culture.”

The MEMs approach provides a separate forum for mentors, mentees and for the people who are responsible for their organization’s mentoring programs. Participants learn best practices from the group facilitator, who is a mentoring expert, as well as from each other, and their questions are answered in real time. They acquire new knowledge and skills that help them motivate and respond to their colleagues in a safe and confidential space. MEMs’ content and coaching is driven by the needs of the participants.

“To our knowledge, no one else has developed this kind of peer learning experience, giving mentors and mentees what they need when they need it,” notes Fain. The MEM is customized to the specific needs of each cohort.”

Every session is conducted by video conference that employees and participants can join wherever they are as long as they have internet access. If they cannot participate in the live session, they can access the video recording. They can also communicate with each other between sessions.

“Clients can become involved in several ways, whichever they choose. Purchase an entire Mastermind. Purchase a certain number of seats. Develop specific programs for mentors, mentees and administrators. Provide a forum for the people who are responsible for an organization’s mentoring program. The approach is tailored to a client’s specific needs,” Fain explains. “We want to help them create a community that remains accountable to each other after the MEM experience.”

The Mentoring Excellence Masterminds™ program and video conference respond to another challenge: the growing need to reach an often remote workforce that is often geographically diverse.

Mentoring Excellence Masterminds™ was developed because “clients have told us that the Center’s programs are so valuable that they wish they could have access throughout the year. Now they can,” Fain says.

The MEMs help organizations create a mentoring culture in which ongoing community spirit and accountability ensure goals and participation are maintained so everyone benefits.

For more information visit:

www.centerformentoringexcellence.com/masterminds

Meet the Man Teaching Baby Boomers How to Turn Their Age into an Asset

January 29th, 2018

“While it’s not a pretty picture for most older workers in the corporate job market, we’ve shown hundreds of boomers how to turn their age from a disadvantage to an asset when running their own businesses,” notes Jeff Williams, CEO of Chicago-based Bizstarters.com, a coaching company that helps boomers start their own businesses. jeff@bizstarters.com

2018 marks Bizstarters’ 30th year guiding boomers find rewarding entrepreneurial opportunities that reflect their experience and preferred lifestyles. “We show our clients that even though corporations may not hire you after 50, they’ll sure buy from you. And so will a wide variety of consumers.”

Jeff Williams’ long-held love of teaching and training, primarily as an unpaid volunteer, led him to conceptualize his first business – a walk-in entrepreneurial training center, located in suburban Chicago. He launched the business right in the middle of the 1990 recession, when a large local population of downsized corporate managers presented an attractive group of entrepreneurial prospects.

In 1999, using the power of the newly established World Wide Web, Williams enlarged his business footprint internationally by launching a new online company, using the company’s current name of Bizstarters.com.

Following an eighteen-year career as an MBA-trained corporate marketing executive, Williams worked at entrepreneurial training centers, taught college courses in writing business plans, and worked with the Private Industry Council, a nonprofit organization that operated employment, education and training programs. The entrepreneurial training program Williams led for the job training agency won a national award for program excellence in 1992 and funding from the U.S. Department of Labor was renewed for seven straight years.

By the time Williams was in his late thirties, he realized from speaking to his friends, college buddies and corporate colleagues that boomers were developing a  perspective on retirement that was very different from that of their parents; Today, many boomers don’t see retiring anywhere near the traditional retirement age. They find that with their skills, experience and talent, they can often replace corporate work with entrepreneurial work. “While it can take more time and effort to grow your income from running your own business compared to a job, I will always trust a group of satisfied customers to stay more loyal to me than any corporate boss I ever had,” Williams emphasizes.

“Our clients have launched a wide variety of businesses, from designing and selling custom jewelry to consulting on health and safety issues with Fortune 500 manufacturers to selling vintage drum sets to serious collectors around the world. There is a demand for almost any type of work skill, life interest or long-enjoyed hobby in the entrepreneurial marketplace today.”

Bizstarters helps boomers launch their entrepreneurial ventures through the company’s Virtual Incubator™ business startup coaching program whose mantra is ‘Do What You Do Best. We’ll Do the Rest.” It reflects a dual-track process, where a coach guides the boomer client through his or her essential marketing and selling decisions, while at the same time a support team executes all essential organizational tasks, ranging from website design to installing and using accounting software.

Williams notes “that the same corporations that don’t seem to want you on their payroll will gladly pay you top dollar for your talent and experience as a freelancer or consultant. Boomers certainly can turn their age into an asset.”

 

 

Public Relations Trends in 2018

January 1st, 2018

It’s January, the first month of the year when we often explore new professional opportunities. If you work in public relations you might be developing a PR plan for a client or yourself and would welcome more information.

Check these links for PR possibilities that you might not have considered.

► 20 Insightful PR and Marketing Predictions for 2018

https://www.swordandthescript.com/2017/12/pr-marketing-predictions-2018/

► 10 Bold PR and Marketing Predictions for the Year 2020

https://www.inc.com/steve-cody/10-pr-marketing-tips-for-the-year-2020.html

► 4 Key PR Trends to Watch in 2018

http://www.prnewsonline.com/prnewsblog/4-key-pr-trends-to-watch-in-2018/

► The most important media and PR trends for 2018

https://business.twitter.com/en/blog/most-important-media-PR-trends-2018.html

►Public Relations Today

https://www.publicrelationstoday.com/2018/trends/

► Ask the Experts: Predictions on the Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2018

https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/marketing-trends-for-2018/

Happy New Year.

 

Ready for a career change? Or, are you a new graduate or student looking for career options?

December 12th, 2017

“A person may have outgrown or be unhappy in his or her current job but doesn’t know how to find a rewarding new position. On the other hand, a student or new graduate may not understand his or her strengths, or potential opportunities and how to proceed,” notes Marilyn Fettner, President of Fettner Career and Life Counseling. www.fettnercounseling.com

When she first meets with a client, Fettner explains, “We discuss his/her goals and expectations. For example, an experienced person might ask ‘how do I deal with my manager or colleagues’ or ‘how can I qualify for another job or be considered for a promotion.’ From another perspective, a college student or new graduate may want help identifying and focusing on appropriate career possibilities.”

Career Change

There are several reasons people would want a career change. Fettner explains, “For example, a person may have outgrown his or her current job, may not be engaged in the work, or may be stuck in a rut and frustrated. As career counselors, we explore clients’ key interests, personality style, personal values, natural abilities, favorite skills, work-life balance, and workplace environment needs. We also discuss practical factors, such as, their desired commuting time, and budget, compensation, and benefits’ considerations.”

Marilyn Fettner is certified in several counseling areas and helps clients through understanding and applying the results of career tests, assessments, and exercises. Fettner guides clients to explore careers that correspond to their dreams, and then coaches them in developing a practical marketing and job-search plan. “I work with clients to help them identify targeted employers, develop resumes and LinkedIn profiles, explore networking opportunities, conduct interview practice, and get organized to land a new job.”

High School or College Graduates

“When you choose a major, you can benefit from clarification regarding the reality of daily work in careers related to your selected major,” Fettner notes. “Information interviews and job shadowing are very important to help people understand the reality of working in a particular job, and deciding whether or not it’s a good fit for them. I help students and new graduates in the process of finding organizations in relevant fields and reaching out to schedule informational interviews,” says Fettner.

Fettner suggests an important resource to explore careers and clarify career focus: “O*net Online (onetonline.org) is a database for occupations, and includes information such as earnings, projected hiring, and most everything you would want to know about an occupation. Its database describes almost 1,000 occupations covering the U.S. economy. It offers occupation-specific descriptions, and includes groups of similar occupations, along with the skills, tools and software that are needed in the occupations. The O*net Online database also includes information to help people find occupation-related training and jobs. “You’ll learn more about salaries, hiring projections, job growth, and advanced degrees you might need for a career,” says Fettner.

Fettner also helps graduates, as well as career changers, identify professional associations that focus on different industries and professions to help them gain knowledge about careers of interest and make strategic networking contacts.  Additionally, she works with clients on resumes, interviewing practice, as well as challenges they may face in new professional careers.

I feel passionately about helping you achieve satisfaction in your professional and personal life.  With experience in career counseling including assessments, resume writing, executive coaching, and job search, I also bring expertise in life coaching/counseling to help you navigate challenges in both your personal and working life. I offer compassion and empathy, as well as actionable strategies to help you make meaningful positive change.