Self-employed? LinkedIn is for you!

Recently, someone who is “self-employed” asked me how he or she could best use LinkedIn for his or her business ventures. Many self-employed people ignore LinkedIn because they believe that LinkedIn is only for people looking for a job, but that isn’t the case. LinkedIn is a great way for someone to promote his or her own business, find and be found by prospective clients, and connect with others in similar businesses. Here are a few LinkedIn steps for the self-employed:

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet, click here for a brief tutorial to get you started.

Step 1. Optimize your LinkedIn profile.
This will ensure your profile is displayed as a top result for searches related to your skills. To optimize your profile, determine what key words potential clients might use to seek out your service. Use these words throughout your profile to guarantee yourself a spot in relevant search results.

Step 2. Create an eye-catching headline.
Your headline should be a brief description of what you do. It should include your key words for optimization, as well as caption of your unique selling point, or what you have to offer. If your business is based in a certain location, include this in your headline and in other areas of your profile so potential clients looking for business in your area can find you first.

To add an extra air of professionalism to both your business and profile, I highly suggest you create an identity for your business and brand it. For example, who would you rather hire, John Smith – Unemployed, or John Smith – Smith Consulting?

Step 3. Include a “call to action” in the Summary section.
Chances are potential clients will read your profile summary to get a general idea of the business you do.  Including a request for action from these clients will create a better chance they will contact you for your services. Remember to also include the key words throughout your summary to increase profile optimization.

Step 4. Use the Experience section effectively.
This section of your profile allows you to fully showcase past works. List past projects or clients, in detail, in this section. There is the option to upload sample works, this can be helpful for those who’s business creates tangible items, or even written works.

Step 5. Add value for your connections.
As you connect to potential future clients and others in your professional network, it is important to have something to offer them on LinkedIn. Create posts that pertain to your line of work, this will not only show professionalism but also work to build your credibility. If you have a blog or website that is relevant to your business, you can link it to your LinkedIn account so that visitors to your profile can also visit your other pages. Follow this link to learn more about connecting a WordPress blog to your LinkedIn account.

Following these easy steps will help you professionalize your self-employed LinkedIn page, and optimize your page so potential clients find you first. In turn, you will watch your brand popularity and client base grow. If you are self-employed and having success with LinkedIn, leave your tips, or LinkedIn information, in the comment section below to help and connect with fellow business owners.

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Pinterest for Your Business

 New to Pinterest I started thinking about how a small business could utilize the site to gain traffic on their website, to generate interest in their brand, to attract new cliental or give current clients a new way to get involved with the company.  Pinterest’s highly visual platform allows for a unique way to market and brand your business.                         

Think Visuals

You want to build a visual plan for your business and Pinterest is the perfect platform to do that in.  Keep in mind an image creates an immediate appeal or disinterest.  You want your images to create an immediate positive reaction with the user.  Your visuals should be immediately captivating because you want to generate interest in the user.  According to Forbes magazine social media posts with strong images attached to them get three times more user engagement in comparison with posts with no images.  The traffic your image will get will keep your current followers engaged and hopefully attract new followers. 

Get your followers involved

Pinterest like other social media sites is great for automatic feedback.  To generate this feedback create a space for your followers to share their interests and involvement in your business, you can do this through creating guest pin boards.  Guest pin boards are a place where followers can show their interest in the brand and feel involved in the business.  These guest pin boards can be a great way to learn how followers see your business. 

Real people real business

Pinterest is a great space to use to show off the personal side of your business.  Create a page that serves as a bio page about your employees.  On this bio page post image of your employees with interviews with them.  The bio page can let followers see the faces behind the business.  By putting faces to your business you create a personal connection with followers. 

Promotion! Promotion! Promotion!

Use your Pinterest account to promote deals and sales. Use interesting graphics to promote what’s going on in your business.  Translate boring numbers into interesting and attractive visuals. 

Key things to remember

–          Make sure your account and boards are branded and organized.

–          Include descriptions of boards this will help you show up in searches.

–          Include an eye catching profile picture.  One that makes your brand recognizable.

–          Show the real side of your business.

–          Most importantly have fun!

 

Four Big Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Facebook Fan Page: Case Study

*For this post I will be using Radius Café + Urban Casual Dining (Hamilton, Ontario) as an example of effective use of Facebook for business purposes.

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I am an avid explorer of small and local businesses. Unfortunately, I don’t always have the time to stop by every interesting store or café I pass by.

When a local business catches my eye, I either search for it on my smartphone right away, or send myself a reminder to search the name of the business when I get home. If the business doesn’t have a website, Twitter account, or Facebook page where I can find more information about it, I’ll likely forget about it or lose interest in it.

One business that I’ve come across that made superb use of online promotion, and Facebook in particular, is Radius Café + Urban Casual Dining.

Radius opened in Hamilton, Ontario in the spring of 2012. When the café first opened for business, they didn’t even have a sign above their door yet. I found out about the business through their effective use of online promotion. Upon my first visit, it became my favourite café in Hamilton.

Below are four ways that Radius effectively makes use of their Facebook fan page, and four reasons why you should be doing it for your business too.

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Sure you can press capture….But will anyone “like” your picture?

Step 1

Content: When taking a picture to post on your Instagram account is important that it is tasteful and unique, or at least represents a positive message for what you’re trying to express through your Instagram picture.

Step 2

Lighting: It is ideal when taking the picture that you have enough light in the picture. Try to avoid using flash because it will take the clarity out of your picture.

Step 3

Angle: It is important to optimize your angle. Try choosing something that will get your whole object in it, or at least a unique angle to capture the object from.

angle

Step 4

Grid: It is important you use a grid on your phone to align your picture properly. Use the grid to make everything in your picture somewhat symmetrical.

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Step 5

Take your picture: When taking your picture, use your actual camera not Instagram’s camera, this will allow you to take more then one picture so you will have options as to what picture to choose.

Step 6

Filter/ effects: Instagram offers 20 unique filters and effects to spice up your picture. There is also a brighten button, a border button and a fade button.  Choose which one ads the most to your picture! I personally use outside filter aps, like PicFX and VSCO, which are excellent for getting that fresh film look.

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Step 7

Caption: Make sure the words you choose for your picture are tasteful and do not offend anyone.  You may tag you friends in posts by either putting an @ symbol before their username, or by pressing the “add people” button. Avoid using too many hastags, or hastags that do not apply to the subject of your photo.

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Step 8

POST YOUR PICTURE! Watch the likes go up and the followers increase!

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@trashhand

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@rbw @trashhand

Twitter is the future, so make it your present: How your business can reap the benefits of Twitter

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In a world where new applications and technologies are being invented every day, it can be intimidating to venture into the unknown and incorporate these new developments into your company’s action plan. Ignoring them, however, is not the route to take.

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From increasing customer interaction to marketing, there are many  benefits to using Twitter for your business.

After setting up an account, it’s time to start reaping the benefits of your new social media tool, and here is how.

Broaden your audience 

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You already know your followers care about what you have to say – that’s why they followed you. However, to broaden your Twitter scope and get your message out to more people, use hashtags. Hashtag common topics or themes so that users can find your tweets and take in your message.

Another tip –  incorporate trending hashtags in your area into your tweets. By following an account like @TrendsOttawa, you can see what people are tweeting about and incorporate this into to your tweets in a creative way.

That being said, don’t simply use a hashtag just for the sake of using a hashtag. Using too many hashtags is not visually appealing and it can also cause the key message behind the tweet to be lost.

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Interact with your followers

When a customer takes time to personally contact you through Twitter, you should respond. If it’s a positive comment, retweet it, favourite it, or simply send a reply saying thank you. If it’s negative, send the individual a direct message to discuss what has been said. Replying in a respectful and professional way is a great way to show your customers that you care and that you value what they have to say.

On the other hand, if you want your followers to respond to  your tweet in a certain way then tell them! If you want them to retweet your tweet, then ask them to do so. But be careful how you phrase it…

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Link to your website

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Customers may have questions about your product or brand that can easily be answered by checking out your website. Make sure there is a link in your biography to your site, and don’t be afraid to tweet the link every so often.

On that note, it’s very easy to provide a link on your website for your Twitter account, as well as other social media accounts. Linking the two websites can increase traffic in both directions.

Promote your brand

Twitter is a great, cost-effective tool to be able to promote your brand, as well as anything associated with it. Keep your followers up-to-date on what is going on so that they too can reap the benefits of following you on Twitter.

If you’re hosting an event – tweet about it! If a sale is going on – grant your followers the first opportunity to hear about it. This way, your message gets out, but it also gives your followers a reason to keep following you.

Know when to tweet

People are more likely to click on your tweet if you tweet on weekends and if you tweet later in the day. If you find this a challenge because you don’t want to have to worry about tweeting after leaving work, set up an account on Hootsuite or Buffer. These applications allow you to easily schedule when your tweets will be published.

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This Twitter venture may seem intimidating at first glance, but companies like Dell, who increased profits by $6.5 million, are proving that when done effectively, it is very worthwhile. Whether it is as an interactive, promotional or traffic-generating tool, Twitter is the future and should be incorporated into your business’s present.

If you have any real life examples of businesses who are really reaping the benefits of Twitter, or any tips you and your business use, we’d love to hear about them in the comment box below!

If it didn’t happen on Facebook, did it really happen? – A Guide To Creating Your Personal Image Through Facebook

Although Facebook allows you to post your job information, it’s not useful or practical to use it as a professional online resume like LinkedIn. But that doesn’t mean it can’t also serve as a tool to show off how awesome you are.

Meaning, you should take advantage of Facebook’s encouragement of personal over-sharing to demonstrate how put-together and well rounded you are in your personal life (even if you think you’re not). Potential employers are looking!

Below are tips on how to make the most of Facebook’s various features to create your personal image.

Sharing Pictures:

Posting pictures on Facebook is a great way to form your personal image, because they give your Facebook friends a way to visually interpret who you are.

Your Profile Picture and Cover Photo:

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On Facebook, you can be a bit more casual than on Twitter and LinkedIn. Your profile picture doesn’t need to be a professional-looking headshot. Feel free to use a family photo or a picture of you and your friends. Just make sure it reflects an aspect of yourself that you want others to know about you, and that it doesn’t include anything that could be considered inappropriate (examples: nudity or alcohol).

Similarly, your cover photo should reflect a positive aspect of yourself or your interests that you want others to know about.

Your Photo Albums:

Uploading appropriate photos from various vacations or outings and events you attend will show your Facebook friends where you like to go and who you hang out with in your spare time.

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Keep in mind that there are some memories that are better preserved offline. Pictures from your 21st birthday party at a strip club, if you must keep them, should be kept on your hard drive.

Reminder: If you’ve linked your Instagram account to your Facebook profile, the pictures that you post and like on Instagram will show up on your Facebook Timeline and on your friends’ News Feeds.

What to Include in Your ‘About’ Section:

  • Work and Education: Include.
  • Birthdate: If you choose to include this information, don’t include your birth year.
  • Relationship Status: Not necessary, but use your own discretion.
  • Contact Information: Only include if you want to be contacted through those means.
  • Political views: Probably a bad idea, especially if you’re young. Your politics are likely going to change and develop as you go through life. Only do this if it’s also relevant to your professional life.
  • Religious views: Not necessary, but use your own discretion.
  • Favourite Books/Movies/Music: Include, but make sure they are reflective of the image you want to portray.

Posting Status Updates:

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Facebook status updates have a huge character limit, which gives you much more space than Twitter to post a lengthy heat-of-the-moment rant about how much you hate your:

  • significant other
  • family member
  • teacher/professor
  • coworker
  • or boss

Don’t do that.

If you need an outlet for your thoughts and/or frustrations, write them out in a journal (or word document if you prefer to type!) or call a friend.

Use the Facebook status update tool to post about your (mostly positive) thoughts on an event you attended, an occurrence that you witnessed, or about exciting things that have happened to you.

You should also every so often share links to articles that you think your friends will find interesting, and that will also make you look interesting.

Clicking the Like Button and Commenting On Your Friends’ Posts: 

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Always keep in mind that the posts that you like and comment on can show up on your friends’ Facebook News Feed.

So don’t like your friend’s ‘go make me a sandwich’ post (delete this friend instead), or comment on a post about Rush Limbaugh saying that you agree with everything that Rush Limbaugh has ever said.

Instead, show how supportive you are of your friends’ successes and life happenings. And like posts about jokes that are actually funny and clever.

General Tips: 

  • Be consistent with the image you’re portraying.
  • Use proper spelling and grammar. 
  • Be sure to not post any information about yourself wouldn’t want your boss (or your professors!) to know, even if you believe they’ll never see it.
  • Try to wait five minutes and read a potential post over a few times before submitting it.

And, of course,

  • Absolutely do not ever post anything that is in any way racist, sexist, homophobic, or elitist.

Do you have any additional tips on how to create or improve your personal image on Facebook? Let us know in the comments below!