Learning to network

February 20, 2009

How to create the best profile picture

Filed under: career, Publishing, Self-marketing, Social Media — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 3:37 pm

Having done plenty of work on the written elements of my personal brand, its now time to take a look at … well … how I can look my best? Because online networking is so common nowadays it really helps to publish a picture wherever you write, which aims to serve two primary purposes:

  • People who know you recognise you instantly
  • People who don’t know you yet begin to get a great impression of you

And actually, these two things can meet together in a third, combined purpose

  • People who know you remember you in a positive way

We are so used to picking up visual signals when we deal with people that a tiny static image next to something we write can have a tremendous impact on the way that people feel about us when we read it. This is why it is so important to get your profile picture looking as good as you possibly can.

There are two elements to getting a great profile picture – having the right image, and publishing it well. There are actually two great articles on the Personal Branding Blog that can help you do this:

  1. To get yourself the ideal picture to start with, have a look at 11 Rules for Best Personal Branding Results with Avatars
  2. Once you have captured the best of you in a file, here are precise “mechanical” instructions for how to prepare that file for upload so you look the best you can on all the popular social media sites: The 2009 Personal Avatar Size Reference Guide
    . And even better, it explains a tool you can use to do all the hard work for you!

January 15, 2009

Do you want your resume to be fancy, or just plain findable?

Filed under: career, Self-marketing — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 1:21 am

I am updating my personal profile and CV, and part of this is my list of Specialities. Naturally I want to create the best possible impression, but perhaps I should actually consider compromising some of my principles.

Because I see my list of specialities as about “doing things”, I think that Verbs make the point most clearly, and I always prefer to use plain language when I can

for example:
 – implementing systems
 – defining requirements

However most people seem to write resumes and job specifications using nouns

 – systems implementation
 – requirement definition

These are not plain language, nor do they have the feeling of action – they are static and staid. Also they are slighty longer and and actually more difficult to get your mouth around if your read them out loud. I just feel that the verb versions are simpler and better.

However, the modern dynamics of curriculum vitae, resumes and profiles is driven by a new imperative, “findability”. It is becoming increasingly rare for a resourcing manager or recruitment consultant to discuss key roles with their contacts or thumb through their rolodex or file of quality personnel. Nowadays it is far more likely that they will search through a series of online resources looking for good keyword matches.

In other words, your online career profile must have good SEO.

You may be able to rely on some of the recruiters’ search portals having sensible thesauruses, but at the end of the day you are more likely to score hits if you include the same precise terms in your profile as the ones that recruiters are looking for.

January 8, 2009

One-trepreneur: running a Company Of One

Filed under: career — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 4:12 pm

Towards the end of last year I considered starting a business. Following some valuable conversations with other entrepreneurs I made the choice to stick at being a company of one, for the time being. The simple reason is that, for now, I choose to place my parental responsibilities higher than any other responsibilities to employees to a larger customer base or to official authorities.

I’m sure you can understand how I could get far more pleasure from teaching my four young children new games, activities and skills, rather than sweating day and night laser-focused on building a successful business. The fact is that right now they’re all at an age where they enjoy and crave my attention, and there’ll be plenty of time for me to think about commercial growth once they’ve all turned into teenagers and turned their backs on uncool old dad.

So I plan to focus on client projects as a skilled individual resource, making a singular commitment as a professional rather than spreading myself as business owner over a wider range of responsibilities. However that does not mean to say that I don’t desire to learn and develop my company of one. In fact there are plenty of areas in direction,marketing and in operations where it is important for me to improve and grow.

That is why I am choosing to be a Onetrepreneur, an enterprising business focused around a single person.

December 4, 2008

Growing by blogging

Filed under: career, Learning, Manage my network, Publishing, Self-marketing, Social Media — Tags: , , , , , — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 5:15 pm

Inspired by a discussion with Karin H. on her 1 plus 1 makes 3 blog about using blogging to grow, I started to think about all the things you can grow with a blog:

  1. To grow your own personal understand of a subject.
  2. According to Yogi Tea “To learn, read. To know, write. To master, teach” – in other words the act of writing what you have learned consolidates it in your own knowledge. And of course in blogging the fact you share it with others is simply an act of generosity

  3. To grow your own personal awareness of the world
  4. This starts from the similar point 1 above, except that it leads blogging from monologue into dialogue. Your participation in the blogosphere, groups and lists means that you are interacting with the topic of your attention, and with other sharing similar interests, so your growth of understanding is accelerated.

  5. To grow a community of like-minded individuals
  6. This extends from point 2 to focus exclusively on a given topical area, and many people share the podium instead of one. This either becomes a group blog or it could be based on other media such as mail lists.

  7. To grow your own individual career
  8. Rather than focussing on self-education under point 2, this becomes more informative and the conversations exploratory.  This is of course the art of personal branding, where you turn yourself into a thought leader in your chosen subject by sharing your wisdom (at least that which you’re prepared to give away for free) and nurturing communications with people in your same field

  9. To grow your own business
  10. This could be similar to 1 or 2, but the objective is more commercially oriented.

  11. To grow the market’s awareness of your business proposition
  12. Like the personal branding in point 4, this is the commercial branding that helps get your message out.

  13. To grow a community around loyal customers and interested prospects
  14. Perhaps this is the true way forward for growing your business by blogging. You give your prospects free information to help them make their choice. This encourages you to distinguish yourself by making your proposition more enticing or even “remarkable”. And at the same time you nurture a community that includes existing customers as well as potential customers, who can all give you very direct feedback about what they want, what they have liked, and what they would love more of.

Of course all this potential for growth relies on people making time to share their ideas with others, so there is a cost. But if you think about the nature of the relationships you can build within the micro-communities that form around you, that sounds like an excellent investment in your future.

November 4, 2008

Standing on the brink…

Filed under: career — Tags: , , — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 9:19 pm

What is it about Novembers? It was just two short years ago, in November 2006, that I decide I needed a change of pace, started learning about networking, blogging, personal branding and myriad other ways to find my feet in the world (yes even 40 years on) and carve a niche for myself (or gouge my existing one deeper).

Having successfully made that transformation and enjoying its fruits, I am now teetering, slightly fearfully, on the edge of another potential major transformation and considering whether I really want to start up a business. OK, so I’m not talking about giving up a day job in one market and going out chasing a dream in something completely new, I’m merely talking about a step change from being a consultant to owning a consultancy, and starting it in the market I already know and love.

What concerns me is the idea of sacrificing the nice steady (as steady as contractors can ever be) pace of income in order to chase after something based on some feelings and desires about what should be possible. The upside is an ever expanding experience where I am the person who defines my own limits in life, and where I am constantly driven to new experiences and marvelous discoveries. The downside is a father who no longer has time for his young children, his wife or himself, and who has used all his savings, shortcuts, belt-tighening and favours and is still clinging on to the dream because he’s “almost broken through” …

Interestingly enough fellow LinkedIn Blogger Scott Allen, a familiar name on this blog, has collected a great list of starting points for me to work out whether or not I’m really made of “the right stuff”, in his section Becoming an Entrepreneur.

I think there’s plenty of material in there that’ll help me decide whether I’m right for it, so now I guess the simple way for me to work out if its right for me (before taking the final plunge) is to speak to a few people who’ve done the “start up” thing themselves, and find out how they found the experience.

Any opinions? …

July 18, 2008

Upsizing your Personal Brand

Filed under: career, Self-marketing, think positive — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 12:59 pm

One of the issues I’ve always struggled with in the past is the fact that I am my own product, as a consultant I only have a certain number of hours in any given day that I can spend with clients and bill to them. Although there is often room to negotiate rates up, depending on the circumstances you move yourself into, this still a major limiting factor on ones income.

Well, if you are well-versed in how to identify, develop and project your own Personal brand, then the next logical step would be to grow this into a fledgling Corporate brand. All you need to do is to find a way to remove yourself from the critical path, or if you have already learnt to think big, remove your foot from the hosepipe. Whether you encourage trusted ex-colleagues to take on parts of your role, put yourself out of a job by developing a tool that does some of the wonderful things clients want without you needing to be there, sell some of your experience in the form of courses or books, the choice is yours. At the end of the day, you can find ways to accept more clients who will value the extra special something that is behind your USP.

It all comes down the the notion that we are the people who set our own limitations – if you can just encourage yourself to think that little bit bigger, then the sky becomes your limit!

March 10, 2008

Four top reasons why clients hire Interim Managers

Filed under: career, Self-marketing — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 2:14 am

Executives Online have carried out a recent survey of the UK interim sector. They have included their findings in their New Interim Report, which draws together “Research and Analysis on the UK Market for Interim Management and Other Fast-Track Executive Resourcing”. It supplies an interesting range of facts, figures and evaluations that may be relevant to clients, but which are most definitely very pertinent to people who are looking to place themselves into interim roles.

Benefits of interims

For me, one of the most valuable findings concerned the reasons why clients chose to hire Interim Managers. Executives Online found that over two thirds of clients cited one of the following amongst the most important qualities of interim managers:

  1. Skills/experience for job
  2. Strategic but also implement (sic)
  3. Results focused
  4. Quickly get people on side

The report suggests that clients like to reduce risk by employing someone who’s “done it before” – obviously no great surprise there. However, once you understand the other key qualities clients appreciate, then it makes it easier to emphasise to them that you are capable of delivering.

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January 26, 2008

Sharing with others does NOT take away from yourself

Filed under: career, Manage my network, Privacy, think positive — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 10:17 am

I found some excellent market research yesterday that could well help me find work in the future. I wanted to post it to my technology-related blog, but I had strong reservations about actually publishing it (Look who’s been doing my market research for me). “But should I share useful information with my competitors?”, went my self-protective thoughts. “Other people I know are effectively in competition with me for roles, so I should keep this to myself.”

Fortunately I published it anyway, and this morning I realised why this was the RIGHT thing to do. Even if my ex-colleagues are in the same sector as me, offering similar services, and aiming at similar prospective companies, this can still be an advantage to me.

You see I am me, with a different personality, different characteristics, different experience and a different approach from other people I know. If its the right role for me, it is quite possibly not right for the other person, so I would be more likely to get the work. Likewise, if it’s right for the other person and doesn’t really suit me, then why would I want to be doing it anyway? Because we are unique individuals we are not actually direct competitors, and have nothing to fear from each other.

What’s more, by sharing openly with others, when I find a role that doesn’t quite suit me, I could easily recommend that the other person goes for it instead. And because what goes around comes around, other people I know, and who I share openly with, are more likely to approach me if they find a role that they are not ideally suited to. So we continue to help each other, not compete with each other.

Helping each other and sharing is always a better approach than “us and them” – it enriches everyone.

January 9, 2008

Leading the pack from within

Filed under: career, Learning — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 4:11 am

I know this is slightly off-topic, but Brandon Henak’s guest post in Personal Branding Blog gives a description of leadership that really resonates with me currently…

Find something you are passionate about and learn what it takes to lead by interacting with people who have similar beliefs. Gather the thoughts, opinions and goals of the group, combine them with your vision and help the group achieve them by planning a strategy with them, not for them. Your passion to lead change, in any group whether political, academic, athletic or otherwise, is directly translatable to leading in the constantly changing corporate environment.

January 7, 2008

How are you doing against your Personal Branding checklist?

Filed under: career, Self-marketing — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 1:07 am

Its great when someone publishes a list of “X important things you must do in order to…” , because it provides a fantastic way of metering your own progress towards your goals. Personal Branding guest blogger Jason Jacobsohn gives a classic example at with 13 Important Drivers to Developing Your Personal Brand. What could be more reassuring than counting the achievements you have already ticked off? If you already have plans to accomplish the others, it only encourages you further.

In fact, I find it highly satisfying that Jason lists only one important driver that I do not esteem – personal note cards. But anyone who has tried to decipher a scrawled personal message from me in the past decade will appreciate that no amount of gold-emblazoned bonded card stock could ever make my handwriting appear professional.

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