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Useful Tools to Save you Time

As a social media professional, I am always seeking ways to make more efficient use of my time.  I belong to a couple of forums and groups that often discuss free tools or low-cost options.  I would like to share a compiled list here with you:

  • Hootsuite – still one of my faves – but they have changed things up. Now for free you get 2 social account. I am now paying $75 a month for what I used to have in the legacy edition for $5.99 per month.  This was a big shift and what they promised me isn’t working out. I still have enough slots for all my customer accounts but… (updated 7-2021)
  • Trello – this is a Kaizen board tool to help you track projects!!! Love this tool. (updated 7-2021)
  • Miro – this is a flow chart tool. It is just cool. Play with it. I used it for an on-line baby shower and everyone got to play at one time. (updated 7-2021)
  • Slack or Teams – communication tool to help you stay in touch without having to send emails. (updated 7-2021)
  • Zoom – virtual meeting tool (updated 7-2021)
  • Thryv – CRM tool – I wish they had the ability to use one log-in for multiple accounts. Right now, I have to have a separate email for each account I manage for customers. (updated 7-2021)
  • If This Then That – will help you do just that with about 11 social platforms – ex. if [Twitter mention] then [thank them] – will work with Facebook pages.
  • Buffer – share your posts at a later time on any Twitter account or Facebook personal pages
  • Dreamstime – free photos for use in your materials – they also have photos for purchase.
  • DIIGO – similar to Dropbox for websites you want to save for later – lets you bookmark in a cloud favorites by keyword.  You can even highlight things, place sticky notes on pages and share it with connections.
  • FanTools – the free side lets you set up one Twitter and one Facebook page, upgrades available for planning, coupons and deals.
  • YouSendIt – sending large files through email is no longer a problem, use YouSendIt.  You upload, the receiver downloads.  You must stay under a size limit for it to remain free.
  • Morgue File – more free photos. Has a connection with Dreamstime.
  • CutePDF – makes pdf files for any of your printable documents for programs that don’t already convert them.
  • Join.me – screen sharing
  • Skype – video calling and screen sharing, have a group video conversation for a monthly fee.
  • MailChimp – e-newsletter system free up to 2000 emails
  • FreshBooks – on-line accounting, up to 3 clients for free, up to 25 clients $19.95 mos.
  • BeFunky – photo effects editor
  • Zoho – CRM on-line tool.
  • Gimp – photo editing software – you download it.  You don’t need Photoshop with this one.
  • Inkscape – modify vector art similar to Illustrator.
  • ClipArt – open clip art library
  • AVG – anti virus
  • Adobe Browser Lab for website testing
  • WeTransfer – for sending files
  • PrimoPDF is also free PDF converter
  • Hamster – another Free video converter
  • MyPictr – Avatar creator – for profile pictures on social networks – not sure if its up to date but you can manually change the px size
  • DaFont – Free Fonts
  • OpenOffice – The Free and Open Productivity Suite
  • LastPass – Online Password storage.
  • Malwarebytes – Don’t run windows without it – not free
  • Nitro PDF Reader – recently added thanks to SME club thread
  • Toggl – Time tracking, great when you are billing by project
  • Avast! – Anti-virus, some free, but all the bells and whistles cost
  • Audacity – Sound recording and editing
  • TeamViewer – Screen sharing and more.
  • SNAG-IT – screen capture. pro version for a small upgrade is no longer available.  Will have to switch to Snag-it or Camtasia.
  • FileZilla – FTP management
  • CCleaner – keep your hard drive clean and optimized
  • Synergy – use one mouse and keyboard to connect multiple computers (from Zoho)
  • Any Video Converter – convert any video, aptly named
  • Dropbox – store and share files online
  • Google Docs, Calendar, mail, keyword tools, alerts, analytics, insights for search – access docs that you share, share with others, check your calendar, multiple email accounts from you desktop, phone, or laptop, find what keywords you need to use, set up alerts for anything you want to track from the web and blogs, add analytics to your website and track traffic to your site, .
  • Evernote -remember everything, anywhere
  • Readitlater – don’t have time to read that article now, save it to readitlater.
  • SimpleNote – similar to Evernote, jot yourself a note anytime, anywhere
  • KeePass – another password compiler
  • Free Conference Call – teleconferencing line available 24/7. Each call accommodates 96 callers on an unlimited number of 6 hour free conference calls.
  • SuveyMonkey – free survey tool
  • Evite – free party planning tool
  • Producteev – task management app, helping to organize office days. It’s cross-platform, desktop and mobile.
  • AnyMeeting – web conference meetings
  • Bit.ly – link shortener and tracking
  • Box.net – add files to this on-line application and link it to your LinkedIn profile
  • Scribd – post your pdf files and documents to share on your social networks if you don’t want to post them on your website.
  • Visual.ly – create your own infographic
  • Get Listed – enter your business name and zip code.  The tool finds the location sites on which you are or aren’t listed.
  • Timeline Image Tool – helps you build custom tab images without needing design software.

What have I missed?  What do you like best?  What wouldn’t you use?

 

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Resume vs LinkedIn

What is better a resume vs LinkedIn?

If you are thinking that you only have time to do one thing, what would it be a resume vs LinkedIn? Well I am here to tell you that you can build one and the other will benefit. Read on to find out how. Take a look at the graphic to gain some extra tips.

Keywords

I advocate that keywords are imperative for LinkedIn and nowadays we need them in a resume. So many companies are using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that focus on keywords or phrases prescribed by the job posting that keywords MUST be used in a resume.

Functions

Headlines and summaries on LinkedIn allow you to focus on the functions of your job by employing the keywords I just mentioned. Functions are a great way to build a resume for someone who has tons of experience or very limited actual work experience. When you focus on functions, make sure you tell a story about a problem you faced, an action you took and the result that happened. If you can relate it to savings or a gain in money, time, percentage or number a reader’s interest may pique.

Experience

Using functions allows you to include experience that may have volunteer roots rather than paid experience. Depending upon the type of resume that you build, the listing of job experiences can be a chronological listing or may necessitate including the particular functions of that job right there. On a LinkedIn profile you are forced to include your job experiences in a chronological fashion. If you have gaps in W-2 jobs, try to fill in with “consultant” type work. At the time of this writing, LinkedIn is promoting stay at home experiences because of the explosion of child care and elder care happening these days.

General Tips

  • Leave off the address – you really only need an email address, phone number and LinkedIn profile custom URL.
  • Skills – bullet list your top 15 skills. If you can complete your list without using things like Microsoft Office (this is expected knowledge for many jobs) or employability skills the better your resume will work in an ATS reader.
  • Time – avoid including dates on education or experience older than 15 years. While you can tout subject matter expertise, it could eliminate you from the original pool of applicants.
  • Practical and focused – For the initial contact, make sure your resume is focused and succinct. No more than 2 pages. 1 page is better. Leave the artistic resume for the “leave-behind” at the interview. Don’t include an image on the resume you submit initially, the business isn’t supposed to accept it. In this situation, LinkedIn is a must-have. You can have the image; you can add attachments and links; your summary and each work experience can have 350-400 words; you can have as many jobs as you want that are applicable; you can list all of your certifications; you can include 50 keyword skills; and, you can have as many  endorsements and recommendations as you can gather.

Summing it up

You need a resume. You probably need a LinkedIn profile.  Take advantage of the tremendous amount of information that can be added and edited in LinkedIn to pick the best of the best to use on your resume. Take advantage of the file uploads to put your best generic resume on LinkedIn as a file. Both tools can be fluid. Make sure you aren’t building either one and leaving them out to get stale.

Blog Regularly

Do you Blog Regularly?

I am not the best example of someone that does blog regularly. I just realized the last blog I wrote was almost a year ago. I am like the shoemaker and his kids shoes. Or the parent who says do as I say, not as I do.

The best thing about writing a blog regularly is that you have new content on your website that web crawlers can find and report to help with organic growth and reach.

It can be easy or hard to actually take the time to write. If you blog regularly, it is easy if words and thoughts come out of your brain and onto paper or keyboard easily. It may be hard to blog regularly, if you have the thoughts and aren’t around your keyboard to post them.

One of the other things about blogging is that getting people to your website may be a challenge. One thing that you can do is take the content that you write on your website and share it in a newsletter, link to it on social media, and take the best part of it and post it as an article on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a good option for anyone who does not already have a website with a blog platform. There are hundreds of millions of potential readers AND if you link back to your website, you may end up with a following on your RSS feed if you have one or a new connection on your social media.

A few tips for your blog:

  • 275 – 300 words minimum
  • include an image
  • use your keyword frequently

Call me if you need some thoughts or guidance. I am much better at helping my customers than doing my own!

Your Best Generic Resume

How do you make a Generic Resume?

I know that everyone tells you to customize a resume based on the skills listed in a job posting. That is well and good. But, I propose that a generic resume is needed as well.  You need to have a resume ready to go at the drop of a hat in the event that you are out and about and run into someone that says, “Hey, you got a resume that I can give to my buddy? He is looking for someone like you!”

Generic Resume Components

Contact Information – nowadays, I support the premise that you don’t need to include your address on your resume. Phone, email and LinkedIn URL are sufficient in addition to your name. So many companies are allowing remote or virtual workplaces, or working from home to cover a territory that living close to your work is not always necessary. Personally, I have had clients in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Being able to work virtually truly depends upon the job you do, but it is becoming more and more prevalent.

Skills – in a bullet list. Include  your primary skills, and keywords. Read articles on keywords here, here, and here.

Functions – this works very well for job seekers with over 20 years of experience. Address a specific keyword with a problem you faced, an action you took, and the result. The result needs to related to money, time, percentage or number of something that you either saved the employer or gained the employer. One example I use is in my LinkedIn Summary. It says that after working with me, one client noticed a 35% increase in traffic to his website. Pick four or five keywords that you can address.

Experience – for this save some space on your resume and list chronologically the Company name, your title, the city / state of the business, and dates your worked there. Don’t go back further than 20 years. If you need to break one employer up to show different positions, do that.

Education – DO NOT include the dates of graduation unless it is within the last 10 years. DO NOT include the date of High School graduation ever!! If your education is newer, you may want to place it above your experience.

There you have it. The best generic resume you can write.

Now where can you put it besides in an envelope in your car or backpack?

  • Post a PDF version to your LinkedIn profile.
  • Add it to an on-line portfolio.
  • Add it to Dropbox or Google docs to send out quickly to someone by email.

Hope this works out for you. If you want a great tool in which to build a resume, check out the tool on Illinois workNet. So many great functions available for FREE!

Marketing Your Skills

How are you marketing your skills?

Marketing your Skills is simple as long as you know what your skills are.

For those of you that know me, you know that LinkedIn is my favorite social media platform. You may have even heard me speak about the importance of marketing yourself when you are in job search mode as if you were marketing your business. You need to know what skills you have in order to know how to market them effectively.

When teaching one of my LinkedIn workshops, I share that it takes 5-7 times for someone to see your name or face to remember that they have even seen it. It can take as many as 21 times for a person to take action. That means that you have to have your skills prominently displayed wherever and whenever you can.

Let’s define skills – they are the things that you can perform and possess that you use on a job. They can be digital, technical, or workplace related. Illinois workNet has a wonderful guide to help you discover the job skills that you need. Check here. Now we need to translate that to how you can market them.  For marketing purposes, skills equals keywords.

So how do you find out what your keywords are?  Read this article.  Briefly, look for 5 jobs to which you qualify to apply, copy the job description into a word cloud tool. Make the word cloud. The bigger and darker the word, the more important it is. Those are your keywords.

Next use those keywords everywhere:

  • Resume – make sure that you use them in a skills summary list, in a functional resume – use them as section headers, in a chronological resume – use them within the description of that job. Make sure that an ATS reader will pick them out!
  • Cover letter – be sure to include at least one paragraph that includes a bullet list of the keywords that apply to the job that the cover letter addresses.
  • Business card – it has two sides. Use one side for contact information and the other for a list of your keywords.
  • Leave Behind brochure – include a visual representation of yourself in a brochure format. Resume’s have too many words and aren’t easy to scan. Make something pretty that you can carry with you and ‘leave behind’ with a potential employer or business connection.
  • Social media profiles – when you describe yourself in the profile on any social media platform, include at least two career related keywords.
  • LinkedIn – the three areas that need keywords the most are the headline, about section, and skills & endorsements. Adding them to any other job listing is a bonus.
  • Posting – whatever blog or social media post you do consider frequently interspersing a post about a skill that you have and how you are using it at the time. (Like right now I am talking about marketing with social media)

Without being overly pushy casually bring up an example of how you solved someone’s problem with a skill you possess. Marketing your skills is very similar to selling a product or service. As much as I hate doing it, always be selling. Just don’t make it sound like you are selling all the time!

9 Tips to Network Virtually

2020 is the Year everyone learned to Network Virtually

Networking in person is hard enough, but knowing how to network virtually can be extremely difficult. I would liken it to cold calling. There aren’t too many people around that think cold calling is the best thing since sliced bread. I am not a fan. But, networking virtually is not anywhere near as hard as cold calling. In fact, I promote the theory that to network virtually can help you warm up cold calls.

Let’s examine  my list of options:

  1. Sign up for LinkedIn – and not only sign-up but get some help to optimize your profile (hint – I can help you with that.) LinkedIn is the largest professional network. At the time of this writing, there were 690M+ users on the platform with 169M+ in the US. Click here for the current stats.  Granted there are a bunch of duplicate profiles out there because people forget how to access or lose access, but this gives you a huge pool of professionals from which to choose to build your personal network.
  2. Build the relationships you have – networking is akin to marketing. You need to get your name out in front of people for them to remember who you are. Use the tools at your disposal in Facebook or LinkedIn to be in touch. Wish people happy birthday, congratulate them on work anniversaries, promotions, or new positions. If you see an article that may be of interest to someone share it and tag that person in the comment.
  3. Take it off-line – building upon the last comment above, if you see something really compelling to share with someone, send it in an email AND, take it off line and make a phone call to talk to the person about your idea.
  4. Text – if you don’t have time for a phone conversation, send a text. Schedule a chat for later.
  5. Physical to Virtual Networking – many groups have had to change from meeting in person to meeting over one of the many apps available these days. You may be “Zoomed” out, but it is a great way to continue to keep your presence in front of your network.
  6. Allocate Time – did you meet someone in a webinar or virtual networking meeting? Can’t meet in-person for a “coffee meeting”? Try to schedule something virtually. So many options are available: Zoom, Google Hangouts or Google Meet, Facetime for iPhone users, What’s App, and Facebook Messenger all give you free options to hold a video meeting. Then there are the other platforms that are subscription based – Zoom, WebEx, Adobe Connect and so many others. Take the time to schedule a virtual sit-down with someone new.
  7. Tweetchats – This is an opportunity to participate in a forum type conversation in certain industries. Here is a schedule to check. Get to know who people are by their Twitter handle, AND in the meantime, learn some new things in your industry.
  8. Meet new people – so the people you met in the Tweetchat – perhaps connect with them on LinkedIn. You never know what sort of business relationship might develop. Use the advanced search functions to look for 2nd degree connections on LinkedIn who seem interesting and may be able to provide guidance, leadership, or information, OR just be someone worth having a chat with virtually.
  9. Join Groups – this is a good idea in person and virtually. Find a group on Meet-Up, LinkedIn, Facebook or Eventbrite. Other organizations that are career related may have a virtual presence as well. Participate in virtual conversation threads and when possible attend in-person events.

spreading wings

Now that you have a few tools to try, it may be easier to network virtually.  I always say, “It isn’t about who you know, but who they know!”  When you are talking with your existing network, take the extra step and ask if they know anyone to whom they could recommend  you. Pay it forward and introduce your connections to someone that could use their talent or service. Now go, spread your wings and your network virtually!