Don’t let buzzwords harm your brand

During a training I offer on personal branding, I ask everyone in the audience to stand up and think about their resumes.

Then I ask everyone who touts themselves as creative to sit down.

Anyone who writes on their resume that they are motivated also is asked to sit down.

This continues with a few more words that communicators usually use to describe themselves.

As you might expect, in short order no one is standing (sometimes a few individuals remain standing).

The problem is that many of us rely on buzzwords, which keeps us from standing out and properly branding ourselves. Tweet: Many of us rely on buzzwords, which keeps us from standing out and properly branding ourselves @PriceCynthia in

According to Linkedin, the top 10 global buzzwords are

  1. Motivated
  2. Passionate
  3. Creative
  4. Driven
  5. Extensive Experience
  6. Responsible
  7. Strategic
  8. Track record
  9. Organizational
  10. Expert

How can you strengthen your brand?

Start by reviewing your resume (and Linkedin profile) and highlighting any of these buzzwords. (Highlighting will keep you honest!)

To eliminate the words, use concrete examples to describe your skills and achievements. (Don’t simply use a thesaurus!).

Once you do this, you will have strengthened your brand.

Tips for Using LinkedIn

I wrote that I had been helping individuals in their job searches. One of the first pieces of advice I give is to update the LinkedIn profile.

“LinkedIn magnifies your networking for good or bad,” said Stephen Dupont, who gave a webinar on networking through LinkedIn. “A sparse profile looks like you don’t know what you are doing.”




Here are some tips to maximize your LinkedIn profile:

  • Use your LinkedIn address in your email signature. That will enable people to click and learn more about you.
  • Edit your profile descriptor as that is what shows up on Google. Most people have it as their current job title. Is that really how you want to be known? This is where you define your personal brand.
  • Share details about you and your company.
  • Position yourself as a thought leader. Post a comment about a trending topic relevant to your field. If you write a blog, post it to LinkedIn.
  • Post jobs on LinkedIn for your company or that you know about.
  • Make it easy to contact Include your email address and phone number and why a person should contact you.
  • Post a photo. People are seven times more likely to look at your profile if you have a photo. People want to know with whom they are dealing.
  • As with any writing, be sure to proof it before you post it.

As with anything, it’s also good to know what your goals are for being on LinkedIn.

Are You Career Ready?

Several friends are currently looking for work because of company closings and downsizing. A few friends, who are gainfully employed, have expressed concerns about shaky futures with their company.

While none of us can accurately predict the future, we can prepare for it. As someone who handles crisis routinely, I follow certain steps and procedures to ensure readiness.

The same holds true for career preparedness. Here are five steps to keep you career ready:

  1. Update your resume. I review my resume at least once a year, and sometimes more. If I join a board, earn an award, add new responsibilities, I update the resume. It’s best to do it when the information is fresh.
  2. Maintain a list of companies/dream jobs: You may have a good position at the moment, but if there is a company that you dream of working for, follow it on LinkedIn or routinely check its website. That’s what I did with my most recent position. Keep the list and review it regularly. All of my jobs came when I wasn’t necessarily looking, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
  3. Be active on LinkedIn. Speaking of LinkedIn, it’s good to keep your profile updated and to check in at least once a week to review the latest openings in your profession and to see what others are talking about. The top stories often surface during job interviews. It’s also good to share information that would be of interest to others in your network.
  4. Network. Years ago a trusted advisor encouraged me to have lunch at least twice a month with individuals within my network. I took that to heart and went so far as to track my efforts and what was discussed until it simply became part of my career habits. I regularly meet with others in my network to share ideas and best practices, to learn what they are doing, to provide connections to others and, yes, sometimes to ask for something. It’s amazing how many people you will meet with in a year if you make this part of your routine.
  5. Collect work samples. Keep copies of your output offsite. You don’t want to be scrambling on the last day to find a copy of a great press release you wrote so that you have it to share at a job interview. Be sure to also maintain a list of key contacts away from the office. It’s one of the reasons, I find LinkedIn so valuable – I can always reach someone within my network through LinkedIn even if I can’t immediately find the person’s phone number or email.

LinkedIn Celebrates 200 Million Members

LinkedIn InfographicAre you on LinkedIn?

If you’re not, then you may be missing out. LinkedIn announced that it has reached 200 million members and noted that about two members per second join LinkedIn.

It also put together a cool infographic about who has the most LinkedIn members (United States) and the fastest growing countries on LinkedIn (Turkey).

The most followed on LinkedIn are Richard Branson, Barack Obama, Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins and Jeff Weiner.

I’m not on the site each day the way I am with Facebook. I do get on at least weekly, and more so when I’m recruiting to fill a position. I also appreciate updates from those in my network. I want to know who has a new job or who recommends a book or article to read.

How are you using LinkedIn?

Social Media Tidbits

The social media platform continues to evolve. In the past few weeks, I’ve read several good articles and found some helpful apps. I’ve collected several of them in this blog to share with you.

Linkedin Follow Company Buttons

Companies will be adding this button to their websites, making it easier for any consumer on the web to begin following companies of interest, on LinkedIn. Whether you are looking to stay up-to-date on company news, career opportunities or industry trends, following companies on LinkedIn is a great and easy way to gain insights and stay connected.

Copyright Issues and Pinterest

I love Pinterest. It’s fun to get inspiration. For the most part I’ve been pinning photos I’ve taken, but I’ve repinned photos of others that I liked. I don’t always know the copyright of those photos, and I suspect you don’t either. And that’s a problem. Pinterest’s Terms Of Use itself requires that “you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content as contemplated under these Terms.” Megan O’Neill wrote a clear piece on the problem for Social Times.

Telling a Story Using Video

I started my career as a print reporter. A photographer was assigned to capture an appropriate image to accompany the story. When I moved into PR, I took my own photos for newsletters. I had studied photography so it wasn’t too much of a stretch, although I would have preferred a professional photographer on staff. Today, I have to think about videos to go on my company’s blog, Facebook page and website. I do the same for my personal blog. If you want to learn more about how to tell a story through video, Poynter has an article with 9 helpful steps.

Favorite Apps

Trello organizes all of your projects and tasks.

Trello organizes all of your projects and tasks and who is assigned to them in an easy-to-view format. Even better, the mobile and web versions contain the same features.

Now that the weather is getting nice, my trainer is encouraging me to get outside and run. I want to know my distance so MapMyRun is my go-to app.

I’m always finding articles to read. Sometimes I go down scary rabbit holes and forget what I started off searching for. Now I use InstaPaper, an app that lets me bookmark interesting web pages for later reference. The best part is I can read it on my phone when I’m waiting for an appointment or stuck in line.

What have you read lately that’s worth sharing?

3 Ways to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile

The other evening I was approving members for the NFPW group on LinkedIn and deleting some individuals who are not members of NFPW. The NFPW LinkedIn group is a closed group, meaning it is open only to members of NFPW.

For a communications group that seems a bit odd, but we had to do it because we were receiving so many solicitations. Many of the conversations had nothing to do with communications and the mission of NFPW.

I realized as I was checking names that it would be helpful if members included a profile picture. I may not have had conversations with everyone I come in contact with at national conferences, but I do have a good memory for faces. Also, because it’s a professional site, I’m left wondering why a person doesn’t want their photo included.

That led me to think what else you can do to improve your profile.

Post at least once a month. Speaking of conversation, I often hear, “I don’t have time to be on LinkedIn every day. It’s hard enough being on Facebook.” No one is saying you have to update every day on LinkedIn. Providing an update every few weeks is good because when you update your profile, an update is shared with everyone in your network. It’s a good way to get yourself noticed. If you blog or tweet, use a widget to automatically pull in your posts or tweets so others can see what you are saying.

Explain what you do. When you share your career highlights, provide more than your job title. As with any resume, you want to describe your role and explain how you helped your organization. This will help set you apart with all the other members who have the job title of “reporter” or “communications specialist,” for example.

Grow your connections. Each time someone hands you a business card, update your LinkedIn connections by adding that person. It’s an easy way to keep up with your contacts. Once you have several connections, join LinkedIn groups, including NFPW. It’s a simple way to meet other relevant contacts.

Who are you going to link with today?

How to Help a Student

I had breakfast this morning with a student from VCU. I was introduced to him by email through a colleague who had spoken with him. James wanted to know more about PR and, specifically, about PR work in nonprofits.

Early in my career I had good mentors and met with individuals who were willing to share their experiences and advice so I’ve always tried to do the same. I have one rule, though, if we’re going to meet in person, it has to be breakfast. That way I can tell how committed they are.

James was committed. He arrived by bike through thick fog and had lots of questions. He shared his experiences, too, and he’s on the right track. I suggested some articles for him to read and websites to review. I also encouraged him to get on LinkedIn because most college students aren’t, but most recruiters are. I encouraged him to connect with me. I’m perusing my list of contacts for some additional introductions for him.

So why take the time out of my schedule to meet with students? I enjoy helping them. And I love recalling my college days and the anticipation of what was ahead of me. The students always remind me of why I do what I do and of some of the basics that may have slipped.

It’s a win for both of us.

I hope it was worth the bike ride, the fog and the early morning breakfast. I think his tweet means it was.

Have you thought of offering your wisdom to a college student? If you’re already doing it, what other advice would you offer?