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Personal Brand

How to Get an All-Star Profile on LinkedIn

It’s safe to say that when someone wants to learn more about you (particularly employers and recruiters), they are going to search for your LinkedIn profile. But with over 400 million users (and counting!) on the platform, how do you stand out?

Well, you not only make sure your profile is complete, but it is a strong profile. Like any social media platform you may use such as Instagram, LinkedIn does have algorithms and they reward completed profiles by ranking them higher in searches. In other words, sure, you may be a great candidate for a job in terms of experience and credentials- but you may be ranking on the last page of a search (which means recruiters won’t find you) because you haven’t spent time completing your profile.

But again, a complete profile is only half of the battle. The more content you add, the strength of it will increase. Have you ever noticed the profile strength meter on the right hand side of your profile?

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There are 5 profile strength levels:

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • Expert
  • All-Star

So, now you may be wondering – how do you get a All-Star profile on LinkedIn? Well, here are the profile sections you need to strengthen in order to reach All-Star status:

Photo

Having a high-quality professional headshot for your LinkedIn profile photo is one of the best investments you can make for your personal brand. As one of the profile elements that is “above the fold”, your photo is the first thing that people look at so it must be a positive reflection of you.

Headline

Your headline will always appear beside your name on LinkedIn which means it’s prime real estate that you need to take advantage of. Make sure you include your current job title or if you’re currently job searching, make it known that you’re on the job market and indicate the role and/or industry you’re looking to get into.

Custom URL

Securing your custom URL will allow you to better share the link with others whether it be on your resume or business cards. When you initially set up your profile, your URL will be a set of random numbers but by customizing it with your first and last name (add a few numbers if your name is common), it instantly adds to your professionalism.

Summary

I tell my clients all the time that the summary is the most valuable element of your LinkedIn profile. Sure, the employers wants to look at your job experience but your summary will allow you to really highlight what makes you remarkable. You can be personable, funny (to a certain extent) and share your career story. This is also the place to include relevant keywords to your industry.

Ready to take your LinkedIn to the next level? For a limited time only, I’m offering LinkedIn audits (including writing your custom summary!) for only $45. Book now: www.dowelldresswell.com/services

Experience

Don’t just fill in your company and job title. Provide some background on the company (especially if it’s not commonly known) and your specific accomplishments.

Volunteer experience

Show potential employers that you’re well-rounded by showcasing the work that you do in the community.

Skills

What key skills do you possess? Make sure that every single one is present on your profile.

Endorsements

Although the actual reliability of endorsements is questionable as it seems people fill it out for others without actually knowing their skill set, having endorsements on your profile is valuable and will contribute to an all-star profile rating.

Recommendations

Reach out to former colleagues and managers and get them to write up a quick recommendation for you! Not many people bother to do this and you’ll definitely stand out among recruiters if you have strong recommendations.

Publish

There is power in the LinkedIn publishing platform. With an existing audience ready to consume interesting and educational content, it’s a great place to showcase your writing skills, expertise and increase your exposure on the platform.

Remember, it’s not just enough to simply be present on LinkedIn – you need to create a presence which starts with having a strong profile. If you dedicate some time to filling out your profile so you can achieve an all-star rating, you’ll be 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn. I mean, my business bestie Jeanne just moved to Cayman Islands for her dream job because she was recruited to become the marketing manager for a new hotel. Want to know how they found her? LinkedIn. Trust me, you could be only a few LinkedIn profile updates away from your dream opportunity!

 

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Building Your Personal Brand Through Content

Your personal brand is made up of a variety of different elements but out of all of them, there is one that your visibility is dependent on – content.Content is what allows you to demonstrate your expertise, highlight your value and showcase what makes you remarkable.

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How to Prepare For Your Personal Brand Photoshoot

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Having professional photos is one of the key elements of your personal brand. It’s the first thing that people look at when they come across one of your social profiles and within a matter of seconds, they make a judgement on who you are as a person. So, let me ask you this – who would you take more seriously? Someone with a professional headshot or someone with a selfie?

Last October, I had the opportunity to work with Laura from LLB Creative on my first personal brand photoshoot. I’ve always had a photographer take my headshots in the past but I knew it was time for me to make the investment in a full professional photoshoot. Having one headshot is not enough. From interviews, award applications to website photos, the photos from a personal brand shoot come in handy more than once.

But, choosing a photographer is the easy part. The real question is how do you actually prepare for this photoshoot to ensure you achieve your objectives and of course, get your money’s worth?

Here are my three tips for successfully preparing for a personal brand photoshoot:

Create a moodboard

Starting with a moodboard helps you to get all of your thoughts in one place. I had a vision in my head of how I wanted my photos to look but I needed a way to accurately describe it to Laura. After spending time on good ol’ Pinterest, I was able to find photos that highlighted the look I was going for including main colours, locations and types of shots. 

The overall mood of my photos needed to be bright, friendly and personable. I wanted my photos to look less like a fashion editorial and more everyday working woman. Lots of smiling and fun shots that showcased my style and personality.

 


Make a shot list

Although you may think of different shots when you’re “in the moment”, the best way to get the most of your time is to make a list of shots before hand. The shots you choose should best represent you (and your business, if applicable). For my shoot with Laura, I wanted the following shots:

  • Headshots
  • Close-ups of my accessories
  • Action shots of a working woman (on my phone, walking confidently)
  • Table shots on my laptop with books

Select all outfits that highlight your brand colour(s) and messages

The outfits you choose to wear in your photos are one of the most important decisions you can make for your shoot. Your outfit is what will communicate who you are, what your brand stands for and the message you want to portray.

Ask yourself two questions before you choose your outfits: What are my brand colours? What brand messages do I want to communicate?

This will be easier to answer if you have a business as you would typically select your outfits in these colours. Since pink is my primary brand colour, I selected a number of outfits with pink. But, I took it a step further – whether it comes to applying for a job or picking an outfit, I inspire my clients, followers and anyone else to make a statement. Statement necklaces have become a part of my brand. I knew that this particular notion of “making a statement” needed to be made clear in my photos so each outfit featured a statement piece. Whether it was my heels, accessories or pairing a bright pink dress with a black blazer, I strategically selected my clothing to highlight one of my most important brand messages.

This still applies regardless of whether you have a business or not – you still have a brand that you need to communicate. Maybe you’re looking to land a new job? I think it’s pretty clear what type of message you would want to communicate in your photos: professionalism and friendliness. In terms of colours, think about the colour that best represents you – do you have a colour that you wear most often or perhaps a colour that you use in your resume? Allow that colour to come through in your photos.

And here’s a tip: make sure you try on every single piece of clothing before your shoot. Ensure that everything fits the way you want, you don’t have any rips and/or missing buttons and if a shirt is a bit sheer, you have something to wear underneath.

Now, that’s my perspective as someone who recently completed a personal brand photoshoot. But, what does a photographer consider to be essential in preparing for a shoot? Here are 5 tips from my photographer, Laura on how to have a fabulous photoshoot:

1) Set clear (and reasonable) objectives for your brand photography shoot.

A professional brand photographer should work extensively with you before any actual shooting takes place in order to establish your visual and marketing objectives.

What are your business’ core values? What colour palettes do you gravitate towards? What style of photo do you prefer? What subject matter do you wish to shoot? What emotion do you wish your business to convey? Do you have an art concept in mind or do you need your photographer to dream up something amazing specifically for your company? These are just a few of the questions that you should have clear answers to before stepping in front of the camera.

At the same time, it is essential to remain reasonable with your photo shoot objectives. Your photographer should be able to assist you in deciding what is and isn’t possible for the scope of your project and budget in a manner that still achieves your overall objectives beautifully.

2) Stay away from trends

Try not to base your brand photography vision on a current trend, because in this digital world trends literally change overnight and what might have looked current one day can suddenly become dated. Instead think outside the box and come up with a concept that will stand the test of time. Brand photography is an investment, something most established businesses invest in every 3-5 years, so be sure to come up with a concept and style that will remain timeless, thus providing your brand with added longevity.

3) Make, don’t mimic

Creating a mood board for your brand photo shoot is a fantastic way to gather and organize your ideas in a visual way. However, be mindful that you only use that secret Pinterest board for inspiration. Replicating exact photos is a huge no-no (yep, I’m talking copyright infringement), plus it doesn’t serve your brand in the long run. Be yourself and let that personality shine through your whole brand.

Strive to put your own twist and flair on your photo session, something that is uniquely you. The goal of any brand photo shoot is to help make your business stand out, not blend in, so dig deep into your creativity and don’t be afraid to try something new. Your photographer should be able to offer fresh, imaginative concepts to assist you in defining your brand in a memorable manner.

4) Be organized

Organization allows you to maximize your shoot time and have fun! This means bring only what you need to the shoot (a lot of excess items create unneeded mess, clutter and chaos). Try to have everything you need for your shoot prepped and ready to go at least 24 hours before the shoot so that you have a whole day to relax.

If you yourself are being photographed, try on your outfits before the shoot to make sure you love them. Consider taking your makeup and hair styles for a test run. Arrive early to your photo shoot location so you have time to chat with your photographer, have a cup of coffee and get the lay of the land.

5)  Get a good night’s sleep

Not only does a solid eight hours of sleep combat pesky dark circles under your eyes, but it also allows you to think more clearly, remain energized, keep focus and do your best work. So unplug early and turn in at a reasonable hour the night before your photo shoot.

And of course, have fun with it! Professional brand photography will help to bring your dream job to life, so celebrate the experience!

So, with that being said, we have an exciting offer to provide to Do Well Dress Well readers! If you’re ready to invest in your first personal brand shoot:

Mention the code ‘DOWELL75‘ by January 30th, 2017 to save $75 on Laura’s “Spark Branding Photography Package.” 

But, maybe you need a hand in prepping for your shoot:

I’m excited to announce that I’ve launched my Dress Well services! My Well-Branded package will help you to get organized so that your brand and personal style is clear to everyone who comes across your photos. With a total investment of $45, you will receive:

  • 30 minute consultation to discuss your vision and branding
  • Creation of a moodboard that highlights your brand colours and potential shots
  • Development of 3 outfit ideas that fit your personality, including shoes and accessories

Contact me today to get started! I can’t wait to see your brand come to life.

10 Ways to Boost Your Personal Brand Over the Holidays

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As soon as December hits, many of us tend to mentally turn off as we take time to relax, attend parties and dinners and simply curl up with a cozy blanket. We think back to the past 11 months and how hard we’ve worked and it only seems right that December becomes our month to shut off before restarting in the new year.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m all for taking time for breaks and self-care and to be completely honest, I plan to do just that. But the holidays are actually the perfect time for personal brand building! Think about it – with tons of invites to parties, dinners, events, etc., it provides you with tons of opportunity to network – probably more opportunities than you have throughout the rest of the year. Also as everyone is in a state of reflection and goal setting, it’s also a great time to start seeking out new opportunities, such as a new job.

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5 Ways to Maintain an Active Presence on LinkedIn

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When was the last time you were on LinkedIn?

Be honest! If you haven’t been on it in the last month, don’t worry – you’re not alone.

Almost every week, I end up having a conversation with someone that just doesn’t get LinkedIn. Sure, they have a profile set up just to be present on the platform but they have not made any effort to have their presence known. They barely have information on their profile, if any (perhaps their profile photo is a selfie – you can’t see me right now but I just cringed as I wrote that) and they simply do not make LinkedIn a priority.

You see, there’s a very big difference between just having a dormant profile and actively maintaining your profile. The former does absolutely nothing for your personal brand while the latter actively builds your brand familiarity and expertise.

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The idEATe Networking Lunch

I’ve always been a huge advocate for networking, taking every opportunity I can to meet new people and expand my network. Networking has helped me immensely throughout my career by opening doors that wouldn’t have otherwise opened. I consider myself to have a pretty diverse networking strategy – I make sure that I network in a variety of ways (conferences, Twitter chats, etc.) to ensure that I’m not only meeting as many people as possible but also strengthening the relationships with those I meet.

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Why You Need to Create a Diverse Networking Strategy

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Think about the last three times you networked. Were they all in different formats (an event, conference and a one-on-one coffee chat) or did you network the same way each time? Sometimes the latter can be purely coincidental, but as a young professional, it’s important to proactively build a diverse networking strategy. With a variety of formats available (both online and in-person), each come with their own set of unique advantages that will help you build a strong professional network and advance your career.

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How to Brand Yourself With a Signature Accessory

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As I’ve said in a previous post, it’s pretty fair to say that there is likely tons of other people that have similar if not identical professional qualifications and experiences.

We rely on the concept of “personal branding” to set ourselves apart – essentially creating a professional persona that no one else can imitate.

Your personal brand is what makes you unique. But, more importantly, it’s what makes you memorable. And what better way to add to your memorability than by branding yourself with a signature accessory?

What’s a signature accessory, you ask? It’s a tangible item that you wear consistently that over time has become a unique identifier for your brand. And why would anyone want or need a signature accessory? As it becomes a part of who you are, people will begin to make a positive association. Also, when you put it on, you’ll instantly feel more confident and complete.

The thing about a signature symbol is that you don’t need to start wearing something new and hope that over time people will come to associate it with you. Simply start by asking yourself these four questions:

1) What’s unique about you?

2) What do you find yourself wearing often?

3) What do people currently associate with you?

4) What would I like to be associated with?

signature accessory

To help you figure out what your signature accessory is, here are a few to consider:

Statement Necklace (or earrings)

Of course, I had to start with this one. Do you have a love for statement necklaces like me? I absolutely love how they instantly complete my outfit and allow me to showcase my personality. Over years of consistently wearing them because I simply love them (not necessarily because I was hoping it would become my signature accessory), I now have people that send me messages when they wear a statement necklace, see one they like or see a quote about accessories because I instantly come to mind.

For example, my cousin came across this perfect Michael Kors quote on Instagram and thought she would share it with me, knowing I’m a huge fan of accessories:

“I’ve always thought of accessories as the exclamation point of a woman’s outfit” – Michael Kors

Michael Kors couldn’t be anymore true. In my world, when I wear an outfit without an accessory, it’s like I’m adding an ellipsis (…) at the end of my outfit. Similar to a sentence that ends with an ellipsis, the outfit isn’t finished and leaves room for something else. You could add a plain normal necklace to your outfit and leave it at that but again, to me, that will just add a period at the end of your outfit. It’s complete but doesn’t make an impact or have any personality. But, a statement necklace on the other hand? It’s like adding an exclamation mark. It completes the sentence like a period does but in a way that causes people to look twice.

Glasses

Perhaps you have a pair of glasses that you wear that are in a unique style or colour? You can continue to wear these consistently as you’d be surprised at how many people have grown to associate them with you. 

Scarves

Find yourself wearing scarves all throughout the year? Maybe this is your signature accessory!

Bright Colours

Or perhaps, your signature accessory is colour. Whether it’s in the form of a necklace, glasses, scarf, earrings or your clothing – people know and recognize your brand because you’re unapologetically bold with the colours you choose to wear. Remember to also use these colours across all of your branding elements, in addition to your clothing. Your social media profiles, resume and cover letter can all incorporate your brand colours to give you a consistent image. 

Hairstyle

I first cut my hair about 6 years ago and it’s amazing to see how it has become such a signature part of who I am. A few months ago, I admittedly got a little bored of my hair and decided that I would grow it out again. Never have I ever felt so unlike myself! My short hair had become so part of my look that my confidence really took a blow. Every time I looked in the mirror, I felt as though I was looking at some other person. Needless to say, my plans of growing my hair were short-lived and I quickly booked a hair appointment and cut it shorter than ever. I even put some highlights in to add in some personality. But, yes, long story short – your hair has the potential to become a symbol of your brand.

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It’s very possible to have more than one signature accessory. For example, people associate my brand with statement necklaces as it is rare to see me without one. They are truly apart of who I am. But, I also am known for my love of patterns, prints and bright colours. Oh yeah, and of course, my short haircut. So, what’s your signature accessory? Whether it’s one of the examples I listed above or something different, be consistent and of course, wear it with confidence.

 

How to apply the principles of dressing well to your personal brand

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A quick online search of “personal branding” will uncover a million and one results. This makes it hard for anyone to figure out what exactly is involved in the personal branding process and what they can do to ensure they are successful. But, what if I could make this easier by telling you that all you need to do is think about the principles of dressing well? 

Dressing well is more than just clothes. Quite often, when you see someone that you believe “dresses well”, it’s not just the clothing that you’re admiring but it’s the confidence they exude and the way they pull everything together. Dressing well requires strategy and believe it or not, the same strategic principles that you apply to dressing well and maintaining a functional wardrobe can help you brand yourself well and maintain a strong personal brand:

 

Get the basics

Just like the foundation of any functional wardrobe are basic pieces such as a little black dress, black dress shoes, a white dress shirt and a good suit, it’s important that as you build your personal brand that you have the basic essentials. Without these personal branding basics, it’s pretty hard to take you seriously as a professional. The basics include:

  • An active social media presence, especially on Linkedin
  • Business cards
  • A professional headshot
  • A branded resume and cover letter

 

Less is more

On social media, we’re given particular restrictions that we pretty much have no choice but to abide by. Whether it’s a 140-character tweet or a certain number of characters in our social media bios, we’re forced to say more with less. Let’s also think about our elevator pitch – we know that as we meet people whether it’s actually in an elevator or at a networking event that we only have a few seconds to introduce ourselves and interest them in what we do. No one is going to stand there for 5 minutes as you go on and on about yourself so when it comes to personal branding and networking, less is definitely more. And yes, make sure you also apply this principle when it comes to your wardrobe. Does it make sense to have 5 cheap dresses (that shrink or fade after one wash) or one really good quality dress? Which brings me to my next point…

 

Invest in quality pieces

Not only will investing in quality clothing pieces save you more money in the long run, but it will allow you to stand out and project a professional image. This same principle can be applied to your personal branding items. For example, I recently created business cards for Do Well Dress Well and instead of getting them printed on the standard business card paper, I decided to print on a thick card stock. Was it more expensive? Of course it was. But, is it worth it when I hand them out and I instantly receive compliments on how nice they are? Yes, it sure is. Think about it – people typically collect tons of business cards at a networking event. I’m also sure I’m not lying when I say that most people typically throw them out afterwards. However, if you create a high-quality card, they are probably a lot more likely to keep it and remember you for it. That is a personal brand success, my friend.

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Conduct a regular audit

Creating a personal brand is not one of those things you just set up and then leave it. Creating a personal brand is one thing, but maintaining it is what matters. Similar to how you should go through your closet every few months to figure out what you need to add and remove anything that is too small or you simply just don’t like anymore, you should review your personal branding elements. Here’s a few things you should review:

  • Linkedin: Is it up-to-date? Do I have a description for my current role? When was the last time I updated my headshot? When was the last time I shared or created content to engage with my connections?
  • Twitter: Is my bio complete? Do I need a new headshot? Should I update the link in my bio? Am I following like-minded people? Is there anyone I should follow and anyone I should unfollow? How is my engagement on Twitter?
  • Resume: Is it up-to-date? Could I be more concise with my job descriptions? Does it have the right contact information? Should I change the design?
  • Business cards: How many do I have left? Should I order more? Are they still reflective of me and my brand or should I design new ones?

 

Have a signature accessory

A signature accessory becomes a symbol for your brand and makes you more personable and relatable. In a world where it’s very possible for someone to have the same professional credentials as you, what will make you stand out and become a positive representation of you and your brand? For me, I have made statement necklaces my signature accessory. Whether you know me personally or you just follow along online, you should know that my favourite outfit is one where I can add a statement necklace. They not only add that finishing touch to my outfit but it adds a pop of colour and allows me to stand out wherever I go. Sometimes, I end up networking unintentionally with people because of it. To be honest, this wasn’t something that I did intentionally but somehow they have now become a symbol for my brand to the point where whenever someone sees a nice statement necklace, they let me know that they thought of me. So, what’s your signature accessory? Yours may not be a necklace like mine but think about an accessory you like to wear whether it’s a scarf, earrings or even your glasses.

 

Be intentional

To me, this is the ultimate key to success in both the way you dress and your personal brand. You shouldn’t just throw something on just for the sake of it. Before you get dressed, you should think about where you’re going, who will be there and what image you need to portray. Nothing you put on should ever be random and nothing you share on your resume or social media channels should ever be random. We know that all it takes is one tweet to completely ruin your image and career. It can also take dressing poorly one time to an interview or a work event to permanently make a bad impression. Dress yourself and brand yourself with intent and you’ll never go wrong.
Creating and maintaining your personal brand may seem like a lot of work. But like anything else you want done well, you start by creating a strategy and then implement. However, if we’re able to use the same strategy we use for dressing well to also brand ourselves well, we can spend less time strategizing and more time implementing and of course, networking.