Social Media Can Make You a #LifelongLearner

Giving a TEDx talk has long been on my bucket list. This week, I’m over the moon that I got to give my talk. It was a riveting road, full of twists and turns as well as ups and downs.

The down part was two nights before my talk. I was practicing on my captive family members, not loving how it was coming together, and bargaining with myself about how to get out of doing it.

The up part was being on stage. I delivered the 1,767 words I wrote and painstakingly memorized, and I fully enjoyed the experience of sharing a message that’s near and dear to my heart.

In my next post, I’ll give some insight into the process of being part of a TEDx event. And I’ll thank many of the amazing people who helped make it happen: Sara Robinson, Abby Robinson, Heather Myrick, and my family and friends.

For now, here’s the transcript from my talk at TEDxYouth@PVPHS. With the theme of Impressions and Successions, the event was held at my alma mater, Palos Verdes Peninsula High School.

The school’s Service Learning Leadership class organized and hosted the second annual event. The class raises awareness, promotes compassion and takes action in local and global communities. My daughter loved it so much she took it for two years.

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Social Media Can Make You a #LifelongLearner | March 22, 2019

The last time I was on this stage, there was no Spotify, no Instagram, no Internet.

As a sophomore in high school, I was not an aspiring actor, but a school play needed French can-can dancers doing a kick line. My dance group, Choreo, was invited to join the cast.

At the time, I never dreamed I’d return to this stage, on a completely different mission. Instead, I was consumed by questions you may have about your own lives as teens.

Where will I go to college? Will I enjoy it? What kind of work will I do? How about a family? If the term “bucket list” existed then, I would have wondered about that, too.

Imagine being in high school before smartphones and social media existed. It’s impossible, right?

But because I didn’t grow up with social media, learning to use it was like getting through a locked door without a key.

My job in the corporate world was VP of communications. One of my projects was bringing a form of social media to the workplace. Everyone creates a profile, forms teams, and works together in a social space.

This was my first real introduction to social media. Sure, I joined Facebook … kicking and screaming because a “friend” made me do it.

But the new project scared me. People on the tech team were throwing around words like “hybrid cloud,” and “on prem.” I had no idea what they meant. And I was the project leader.

At the time, Mindy Kaling, the entertainer, was on the cover of Fast Company magazine.

I felt like it was silently mocking me for everything I was not. I didn’t know what I was doing. I wanted to crawl under my desk and hide until the project went away.

But that didn’t happen. As you do when there’s something you don’t want to work on, I had to kick my fear to the ground and move forward through that hybrid cloud.

Launch day was looming. One morning I woke up and decided to start a blog.

If I needed to teach others how to do it, including our CEO, it might be helpful if I knew how to do it for myself.

I wrote about what I knew, the workplace, in posts like “Writing Irresistible Emails,” and “Failure is the Secret to Success.”

And I loved it – conversing in comments and connecting people across time zones.

When I didn’t know how to do something – like hyperlinking to an article – I just asked my readers. And they responded.

By experimenting and being willing to make mistakes in a public way, I learned valuable new skills.

Later, I launched a blog outside the company, writing about how people build their careers by using social media to tell their stories.

In part, I was intrigued by colleagues I’d never met in real life, but I felt like I knew them and their work through our social interactions.

One of the them was Sandra, who worked in another state. During our project, she shared content, posted comments, and encouraged others to use the platform. Although we never met in person, I saw her leadership in social media.

A few months later, Sandra’s name came up in a talent review. This is where team leaders discuss everyone’s performance. It’s similar to a teacher giving a grade in school. When we talked about Sandra, I had good things to say about her, all because of her social presence.

A study by Dell and the Institute for the Future estimates that 85% of the jobs that today’s young people will do in 2030 … have not yet been invented.

If this is even partly correct, in just over a decade, many of today’s jobs will be replaced by new and different ones. That’s a lot of learning!

A favorite of mine, Thomas Friedman, says that today’s American dream is more of a journey than a fixed destination. He describes the feeling as walking UP a DOWN escalator.

The only way to master it is to become a lifelong learner.

How do you do this? I believe the answer lies with two questions.

Who has a smartphone in their pocket?

And who used it today on social media?

Think about the impressions you saw. What you shared. How it made you feel.

Social media gets a bad rap. It saps our attention. It makes us depressed. It polarizes our world. And don’t get me started on the YouTube comments section.

The Pew Research Center says that teens especially can feel overwhelmed by social media drama.  You can feel pressured to post content that gets a lot of likes and comments.

I didn’t know I was supposed to delete Instagram posts that didn’t get 50 likes in the first hour, until my daughter told me. My early grams got about 4 likes. Good thing I didn’t know the rule.

But there’s an upside that doesn’t get this kind of attention.

Social media helps us learn. In new and different and fun ways.

Because learning isn’t over until you’re over. It’s forever a work in progress, no matter how many academic degrees you earn.

Access to anything you want to know is on the apps on your phone … for Instagram and Snapchat and YouTube. There’s also Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn … the network for professionals sometimes known as the spinach of social media. More on that in a minute.

By applying some strategy to the content you consume, you can get a degree in life – every day.

The impressions in social media – the stories, the tweets, the snaps – can be a powerful learning system. Social media can make you a lifelong learner in three different ways.

First, you can learn about any topic you choose.

Maybe you want to know more about technology. What’s the latest on artificial intelligence? Augmented reality? Robotics? How are they being applied to business or the arts or social good?

Maybe you want to learn about which media outlets you should trust to report the facts. Or about data science and how it helps companies decide what products to offer and which people to hire.

To start, you can find the leading experts through Twitter – or Instagram, LinkedIn or YouTube. You can follow their feeds and view what they post.

You can connect with almost anyone on social media. Commenting on someone’s content or asking a question can often start a conversation. Sometimes I do this with authors and podcasters.

You could try this with your professors when you get to college. You could do this with leaders at a company where you work, especially if it’s hard to meet them in person.

You never know if they’ll reply. People who seem really accomplished are often accessible on social media.

Second, you can learn about the social media platforms themselves.

You can learn about the algorithms that determine who sees what posts. You can study the psychology of online behavior. You can get to know how advertising works and influences you.

You can then use this to your advantage. For example, as my son told me, to make an unwanted ad go away, say for lava lamps, just search on “I hate lava lamps” a few times. No more ads.

Why else is this important? Because social media is a topic you can perpetually study but never master. Two writers, Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick, say the term “social media guru” is an oxymoron,  because nobody really knows how social media works.

“No matter how smart you are,” they say, “best practices always change, because the platforms change how their sites work. Everyone needs to keep experimenting.”

I took that advice to heart. In one of my experiments, I posted to LinkedIn every weekday for a month to see what would happen. I was curious to test the data point that it takes 20 LinkedIn posts to reach 60 percent of your audience.

I put my data into a spreadsheet to analyze patterns. I wrote about it, and people wanted to know more. They started asking questions and inviting me to speak.

Third, you can help others learn about you.

A top skill of the future is making yourself known. It’s communicating who you are and what you do in a world where you’re often changing jobs.

In every impression you post in social media, you’re telling your story – like Peninsula High School Service Learning Leadership does here. You’re building your reputation, also known as your personal brand. You’re sharing what you’re doing to make the world a better place.

What’s not recommended is the humblebrag – a boast wrapped in fake humility that makes people want to facepalm when they see it. No one wants to hear just how hard it is to choose among multiple Ivy League acceptances.

What is required is getting on LinkedIn, the network for professionals. This is where you share what you do and what you want to do in the work world. It’s your always-on, 24/7 resume. It’s the way you tell your professional story.

A college admissions officer might look at your profile – especially if you put a link in your application. It’s also a way for people to find you. A job recruiter might contact you, possibly because your dream job wants to slide into your DMs.

People will come to know and trust you. Posting positive impressions lets you manage transitions and successions in life more easily. If social media had existed throughout my own life, my transitions would have been easier. I could have learned faster and shared more about me.

When I got to college, I quickly realized I was in the wrong place. So I transferred to a new school. I got a degree in economics because it seemed practical. I worked in early jobs I didn’t like very much.

Then I got a master’s in communications and found work I loved. I married a great guy and started a family. I worked at a dozen different jobs so far, from a fast-food cashier to a corporate vice president to a business owner today.

Were there ups and downs? Yes. Doubts if it would all happen? Absolutely.

But remember that scary social media project? It turned out to be one of the foundations of my business.

What made this happen? Learning. Growing. Experimenting. Every day.

This is why we all need to be social seekers – of new knowledge, perspectives and experiences.

Social media is the key that opens the door.

Being Active on Social Media When Your Life Explodes

my picture of serenity

I was going to publish my book today. Life intervened. As life often does.

It reminds me that many cliches are true. Or at least they have a kernel of truth in them. Otherwise they wouldn’t be cliches.

Sayings about life and about writing have been ringing in my ears much more these last few months.

Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans. –Allen Saunders, John Lennon and perhaps others

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. –Ernest Hemingway

The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. Mary Heaton Vorse

So, what’s been happening in my life these last few months? In a nutshell, it’s been an incredible and an intense kaleidoscope of highs and lows.

I had the opportunity of a lifetime to say farewell to the corporate world after many wonderful years and start my own business. I write, research, consult, speak and teach about what successful people do in social media to build their careers and companies.

It’s incredibly exciting to build something from the ground up. So much needs to be done and created out of thin air. A name. A trademark. A limited liability company. A book. A group of fabulous clients. A TEDx talk to give soon. A class syllabus to complete. And the list goes on.

My son also started his senior year in high school. That brings a lot with college applications and big questions about what’s next for my League of Legends grand master player, the top 500 players in North America. (Really. People with access to a League client can find him at “ExodLa”)

My mother-in-law needed more help managing her life last fall, so I stepped in with other family members and picked up her finances. Sadly, she passed away in December. As she said shortly before that with courage and dignity, “ninety-one years is a pretty good run.” Indeed. We miss her every day.

My husband Kevin is opening a restaurant, and I’m his marketing person. My marketing and social media plan for the best new steakhouse in Redondo Beach, California is done, and now it’s all in the execution. Exciting, yes. Easy, right? 🙂

My daughter asked for help last night picking her spring quarter classes in college. If only I could recall or quickly find the graduation requirements for psychology and literature. But it was fun to talk about the pros and cons of childhood or adolescent psychology and Victorian or 1960s literature. There’s even a lit class (as in “literature,” not the Urban Dictionary def) about the TV show Jane The Virgin. Sign me up!

My mom was ready to replace her iPad and we waded through all the options together (iPad Pro? how much storage? which keyboard?) to find what would work best for her. I’m so excited all of her new tech goodies arrived and she’s having a blast.

Every day for the last week, we had the whole family and many helpers on deck to prepare my mother-in-law’s house for sale. It’s the first time it’s on the market in 50 years. All I will say is that’s a lot of clearing and cleaning.

The fourth truck from the junk haulers pulled away from the property just 45 minutes before the photographer arrived so the house could be listed that evening. The backyard is pictured above, by the way. The serenity is a much-needed contrast to our 21st-century lives. 

It is strange to feel incredibly blessed and completely overwhelmed all at the same time. Much of it has to do with how I like to live my life. I love being surrounded by fascinating people and interesting projects and big problems to solve.

As one of my former bosses, Joe Bosch, used to say, “Caroline, I can see your fingerprints on everything.” I think (hope?!) he meant that in a good way. I see connections between people and projects and ideas, and I like to bring them all together.

But what happens when life gets so overwhelming that it reaches the breaking point? One of the questions I’ve been struggling with is how to get my book published and how to share about it in social media. That means I also struggle with wanting everything to be perfect … or as close to perfect as it can be.

Let’s start with the easy parts. First, the book is written. It’s just about ready to become available as an ebook and in print (not that it was easy to write, but the hard part of writing and editing is done). It’s called What Successful People Do in Social Media: A Short Guide to Boosting Your Career.

Second, I know I’m supposed to be sharing more about my book on social media before it launches. But I also want the content I post to be as good as it can possibly be. And that takes time.

This is where I have to gently remind myself to just get it out there. Even if it’s not perfect. And when I’ve done that these last few weeks, I’ve been so humbled and heartened by everyone’s response.

It also reminded me that perfection is boring. It’s what puts people off rather than brings us together in our shared humanity of imperfection. We never truly know the challenges others are facing.

I can only imagine the labyrinth of issues you will navigate today. My heart goes out to you and wishes you courage and strength to work through it. And also that you might enjoy and cherish this wild and crazy experience called life and all of the wonderful people in it. 

This year I came up with five mantras for how I want to feel and act every day. When I start to get spun up about this or that, I remind myself of them. Here they are:

  1. Feel good now (thank you, Rhonda Byrne)
  2. Just do it (thank you, Nike)
  3. Deep work first (thank you, Cal Newport)
  4. Progress every day (thank you, Teresa Amabile)
  5. Enjoy every day (thank you, Linda Simon)

These might lend themselves to a future blog post, to fully describe what they mean and how they shape my days. But for now I’ll simply say from personal experience that the way to keep going is to be kind to yourself and others.

Recognize you’re carrying a heavy load. You don’t have to do it alone, and you don’t have to be perfect. Just be kind to yourself and others. Be committed to taking steps to move forward every day, even if you can’t complete the whole project you had in mind right away.

I hit some inevitable bumps in the road, and I made adjustments. I’m excited to say my book is coming … in March instead of in February (or last December or September) as I originally planned. I’m so excited to share it with you and with the world. I hope it will help you be all you can be by telling your special story on social media.

To wrap up, here are some of my other favorite quotes about life and writing that keep me moving forward …

Start before you’re ready. –Steven Pressfield (big ups to Tina Quinn for telling me about his book The Artist’s Journey)

Don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work. –Pearl S. Buck

You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page. … and … You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not. –Jodi Picoult

On my seemingly endless “to do” list, I had a note to publish a blog post before the end of February. Where was I going to find the time? I wasn’t. So I just decided to sit down this morning and write what was in my heart … guided by the principles of striving to be as positive, upbeat and helpful as I can.

So there you have it. The secret to being active on social media when your life is bursting at the seams is to just take the next step forward. Give some thought to what you could share about your own experience that could help your friends and colleagues on their journeys.

What are your secrets for sharing on social media when your life explodes?

How Will Social Media and AI Shape Your Career This Year?

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What’s the #futureofwork and how will it shape your career in 2019?

That was the subject of a Facebook Live for USC alumni I moderated this week. Fellow alums Dr. Terri Horton, a workforce futurist, and Jennifer Zweig-Dwomoh, an executive recruiter, shared their expertise and insights.

The USC Alumni Association and USC Career Center teamed up to bring together this Facebook Live event from the ever-fabulous USC Annenberg Media Center, Studio A. Catch the replay here and read on for key takeaways.

The role of AI in the recruiting process

We began with a look at how AI  – or artificial intelligence – is being used in the recruiting space. We talked about what candidates should know about ATS, or applicant tracking software.

Using keywords in your application is a must. Take a look at the job description and make sure the keywords in it are reflected (appropriately, of course) in your application materials. The goal is to pass through the ATS screening and start interacting with a person.

Even better is to skip the online application process entirely and tap into your network. Who do you know who works at the companies of interest to you? A warm introduction from them to a hiring manager or recruiter can accelerate your candidacy.

Top jobs and skills for the future

We talked about the top jobs and skills that employers are looking for today and in the future. The World Economic Forum has a few valuable lists in the jobs landscape for 2022, starting with data scientist and AI and machine learning specialists.

As someone who writes, consults and speaks about what successful people do in social media to boost their careers, I’m personally happy to see sales and marketing professionals on the list. But that doesn’t let me off the hook to continue to learn and grow.

Portions of some jobs may be automated via AI, which means many jobs may evolve and be reimagined. And while some job types may go away entirely, new jobs will also appear. It’s wise to keep an eye on the landscape, evaluate the changes, and adjust your career focus and learn new skills on an ongoing basis.

While many of the future-focused jobs are tech-related, there’s also a rise in emphasis on soft skills. Creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, empathy, innovation and resilience, to name a few, are increasingly important. These are the skills that machines can’t currently perform.

How social media can accelerate your career

We looked at how social media can help you with your job search. A consistent focus on building your LinkedIn network with everyone you know – and everyone you want to get to know – is critical.

Then work on your LinkedIn profile. Focus on your headline, your summary, and your work experience. Make sure they’re saturated with the keywords that reflect both your experience and where you want to go next. This makes you more discoverable to recruiters, hiring managers, and others who might have interesting opportunities for you.

Your profile picture is also important. Be sure to upload a clear picture of your face, ideally smiling, closely cropped, and in the attire appropriate for your industry.

Don’t use the default background image in blue with lines and dots. Take advantage of a personalized background photo. A photo of you in action on the job or a picture of your geographical location are a few starter ideas.

Companies are looking for you in a strong economy

We also talked about the state of the economy. With unemployment at a nearly 50-year low, companies want to hire you. That creates a vast array of opportunities for you. This is an ideal time to consider your next move, whether it’s in your current company or at a new one. 

Just be sure to be the professional that you are, treating everyone with respect and not burning bridges. You never know where or when your paths will cross again or what shape the economy will be in.

We also talked about newer graduates and how they can start building their careers. With freshly minted degrees, their skills are in high demand, so that can be leveraged. It’s also never too early (or too late) to begin building a “platform” – a few social media channels of choice where you both create and curate content.

Reimagining work and reasons for optimism

In our 2019 world, while change as fast as it is happening can be scary, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. The 2018 Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum predicts that AI and robotics will create almost 60 million MORE jobs than they destroy by 2022.

How can you take advantage of that? The main takeaways from our conversation were to keep learning every day, stay flexible and agile, and embrace the reimagining of work.

How are you preparing for the #futureofwork?

A Surprisingly Non-Tech 2019 Social Media Trend

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‘Tis the season for social media trends for the coming year.

For what’s ahead in 2019, I read several articles. Expecting to see a preponderance of tech-related trends – such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and new platforms – I was surprised to conclude that the biggest trend is decidedly non-technical.

But let’s start at the beginning, with some of what I read and the three key trends I took away from it. My perspective on trends has to do with how they will help you grow your career and/or your company in the year ahead.

Worth a read or a listen on your own are the following:

7 Marketing Trends for 2019 (That Are Here to Stay) from Sumo

13 Social Media Experts Share Their Biggest Piece of Marketing Advice from the Buffer podcast The Science of Social Media

11 Content Creation Hacks: Strategies & Tools to Take Your Social Media to the Next Level – the most popular 2018 episode from The Science of Social Media podcast according to its listeners

Planning Your 2019 Social Media Calendar? 13 Tactics to Step Up Your Game from the Forbes Agency Council

Top 5 Social Media Trends for 2019 (And How Brands Should Adapt) from Hootsuite

From those sources and more, here are my three big takeaways for 2019 trends.

First, video continues its explosive growth. By 2021, video traffic is forecasted to be 81% of all traffic on the Internet. This is according to Cisco, in the 7 Marketing Trends for 2019.

The article has great stats on how Google searches more and more are including video. So not only is video a great way to make your content more discoverable, it’s increasingly the way people prefer to consume information.

Keep it short, under 30 seconds or so. Shoot vertical video. Experiment with documenting the non-proprietary parts of your work days to see what resonates the most with your networks.

Second, Instagram Stories are a must. Related to the ongoing video trend, Stories are “now growing 15 times faster than feed-based sharing” in Instagram, according to Hootsuite’s Top 5 Social Media Trends. In the next year, Stories will “surpass feeds as the primary way people share things.”

If you’re not yet using Stories to showcase what you’re doing in your work life, this is the year to experiment. Going to a conference? Giving a talk? Delivering on a big (non-proprietary) project? Volunteering in the community? These and many more are perfect for sharing in Stories.

To get started, begin viewing stories from others to see what resonates with you. Approach Stories with a learning mindset and have some fun by experimenting with the various features. Here’s a great guide from Hubspot to getting started with Stories and making them like a pro.

Third, social media success is all about quality content. Whether the form is videos, images or words, nearly every trend piece I read emphasized the importance of quality content. That gives you a multitude of opportunities to grow your career through social media this year.

Everything you do could lend itself to creating great content through short posts, articles, links, photos or videos. At the start of the year, look at what’s ahead month by month and start creating a high-level content calendar. Of course, as always, don’t post proprietary or competitively sensitive information.

Content planning is the key advice from Sunny Lenarduzzi, one of the experts featured in The Science of Social Media podcast. She says, “if you wait to the last minute or ignore creating a content calendar for the month, your content will suffer because you’re rushing everything.”

It’s also important to take time to get to know your audience and what’s important to them. In the same podcast, Donna Moritz from Socially Sorted was featured as advising to, “focus on creating quality, core content on a platform that you own (your blog/website, podcast or video) that helps solve your audience’s biggest challenges.”

Also highlighted, as Gary Vaynerchuk said in a recent interview, “My show and my social accounts are not a platform from which I talk about what’s important to me. It’s a platform from which I talk about what’s important to you.”

Ultimately, high-quality content is critical to your success because “it will help you show up on Google and it will help your posts show up and get more engagement on social media sites,” according to Bill Widmer in the Sumo marketing trends article.

The most important element of this content focus is that it’s something you can control. Your discipline in sharing content on a consistent basis with a point of view that adds value to your connections is what it’s all about.

No one else has experienced the work world in quite the same way as you have. No one else has the unique perspective that you do. Sharing your original content that adds values to the people in your network is the most important thing you can do in social media.

What trends are you focused on in the coming year?

What’s Your (Social Media) Theme for 2019?

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What are your hopes and dreams for the new year?

In taking your journey toward them, do you want a fun way of getting there?

Here’s an idea. Choose a theme word for your year.

What’s that? It’s a single word you pick to characterize the kind of year you want to have.

While there’s a lot going on the world that is beyond each of our individual control, there’s one area of life where we have complete control. And that’s ourselves. Our thoughts. Our decisions about how to choose to show up in the world. Our choices about how to respond to adversity or to good fortune.

Our thoughts and feelings are powerful forces. A theme word can help focus and channel them toward action to achieve our deepest desires.

As I shared at the beginning of another new year, a theme for your year can help you in four ways.

First is MOTIVATION. A theme is a personal rallying cry you can apply to everything you do, in social media and in real life. It can give you the motivation to take small steps toward your goals, day after day. Big things happen through small, consistent actions.

Second is FOCUS. A theme is a continual reminder of what’s important to you. And what’s not. It helps you decide in an instant if you’re spending your time in the most important ways to you — and with the people who are important in your life.

Third is INTEGRATION. A theme brings everything in your life together, both professional and personal. Your actions support and build on each other in an integrated way. It’s a powerful form of working smarter, not harder.

Fourth is MEANING. A theme gives purpose and meaning to every action you take. Your reason for choosing your theme gives you the “why” of your goals and actions. That makes you more likely to continue working toward them and ultimately achieving them.

When I wrote about theme words in two previous years, I was impressed and inspired by the words people shared with me as their own theme words. Opportunity. Strength. Momentum. Inspire. Feedback. Stretch. Courageous. Development. Fancy. Growth. And so many more.

2019 is my ninth year of having an annual theme. The first year, in 2011, was motivated by struggling with feelings of burnout after a particularly intense work project. The work was a success, but my life wasn’t.

So I embarked on a path of thinning out my commitments on my calendar, my clutter in my home and office, and even myself with better nutrition and exercise. That is how THINNING became my theme word.

Last year my theme was BUZZING. That requires a bit of explanation. The full story is in my post about 2018. But the quick story is that standout marketer and entrepreneur Seth Godin writing about about “buzzer management” inspired me.

Seth started the quiz team at his high school. But as he wrote, it “took me 30 years to figure out the secret of getting in ahead of others who also knew the answer (because the right answer is no good if someone else gets the buzz): You need to press the buzzer before you know the answer.”

He went on to say that once you buzz in, the answer will come to you. And even if it doesn’t, the penalty is small. He says “buzzing makes your work better, helps you dig deeper, and inspires you. The act of buzzing leads to leaping, and leaping leads to great work.”

I’m here to tell you that he was right. By picking buzzing as my theme last year, I spoke up and spoke out more often than I had in the past. I said things before I was fully ready. Of course, being a balanced risk taker, I backed up my buzzing with planning and acting and building a foundation in the direction I wanted to go.

And how did things turn out?

I’m happy to say I launched my own business, long a dream of mine, called The Carrelle Company. It grew out of this blog, a side gig I kicked off on New Year’s Day 2015. I’ve been observing and researching and writing about how people build their careers and companies through social media. Now I’m writing, consulting, speaking, and teaching about that as my new career.

One of the newer rituals I added this year was inspired by Danielle LaPorte, a soulful author, speaker, and entrepreneur. Her belief is that by being clear on our feelings, we can design our lives around taking actions that lead to feeling the way we want to feel most of the time.

At first this concept was a bit challenging for me. On the Myers-Briggs personality spectrum, I’m on the “thinking” rather than the “feeling” side, meaning that I prefer logic to emotion. Yet I yearned to feel differently than I did.

So I dipped into Danielle’s workbook to identify what she calls “core desired feelings.” After reflecting on I was grateful for and what wasn’t working, I eventually landed on five words that are my core desired feelings.

One of them is “creative.” Its definition of “originality of thought,” along with “inspired” and “visionary,” really spoke to my soul. Given that writing, blogging, consulting, speaking, and teaching all rest on a fountain of creativity, I was drawn to it as a core feeling.

As I thought about the most important thing for the coming year, it’s being as creative as I possibly can. That led naturally to my theme word for the year: CREATING.

One step at a time, I’m creating my new business. I’m writing a series of books on what successful people do in social media. I’m developing social media plans for clients. I’m preparing for several speaking engagements. And I’m designing a social media class to teach in the spring.

I look forward to sharing much of this creativity with you through my blog and my books.

Every day, I’ll be focused on creating.

How about you? What theme word will inspire and integrate your year?

Six Social Media Strategies for the Last Week of the Year

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Ah, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. It’s the last one of the year. A time to spend with family and friends. A time to reflect on the past and its lessons. A time to plan for the future.

And a time to take a few actions to close out your social media strategy for the year and get it ready for the coming year. Here are six strategies for what could become an annual ritual. You don’t have to do them all. Just pick and choose what speaks to you the most.

Reflect on your accomplishments and update your social media. A former colleague Angelica Kelly is the inspiration for this one. Every year she says she “takes stock of the personal and professional, considering what I’m grateful for and what I want to improve.”

She uses LinkedIn “like a notepad” to do an annual update after her reflection process. She puts everything professionally relevant in her LinkedIn profile. This includes accomplishments, interests, volunteering, and big projects that highlight her transferrable skills and new knowledge she’s gained.

If you did a year-end performance assessment as part of your job, you can easily flow those updates into your LinkedIn profile. You could also look at your Twitter, Instagram and other profiles to see if anything should be refreshed.

Assess your social media activity against your goals. Did you want to ramp up your engagement with any particular social platform? Share more content relevant to your professional interests? Build your network and connect with a diverse group of people?

See how you did against any social goals you set at the beginning of the year. One of my big goals was to conduct social media research to understand in a data-focused way how professionals are using social media to build their careers. It was a big learning experience and something I plan to do annually.

Another goal was to start consulting with people on how to boost their careers in social media. I worked with a few people pro bono in the first half of the year to develop and refine my approach. You know who you are, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity.

This was invaluable when I my business The Carrelle Company was born on Labor Day. One of the most pleasant surprises was that my blogging and LinkedIn article writing generated a group of people interested in working with me.

Show your network some professional love. Take time to scroll through people’s content. By commenting on great content, you can easily connect with members of your network. That keeps you top of mind with people you care about, whether it’s for them to seek professional advice from you or consider you as a job candidate.

Think about who’s not in your social networks who should be. Sure, look at the algorithms to see who pops up. But also think about the projects you’ve worked on and the organizations you’ve been active in. There may be some people you should connect with. Or maybe there are some aspirational connections you’d like to make with people you want to get to know better.

Share your #bestnine2018 from Instagram if they are professional in nature. These could be your actual best performing posts of the year, or you could choose your favorite nine. Post them anytime up through New Year’s Eve, and share them in other networks like Twitter and LinkedIn.

Here are some tips from Dawn Geske writing for the International Business Times on how to do it. Also, scroll through the posts of others for ideas on content and captioning. Leave comments on ones that speak to you the most strongly. It’s a great opportunity to touch members of your network and share year-end greetings.

Listen, watch and read up on 2019 social media trends. Check out what experts are saying about what the new year will hold for social media, so you can up your own game for your career.

As a start, give a listen to 13 Social Media Experts Share Their Biggest Piece of Marketing Advice. It’s from one of my favorite podcasts, The Science of Social Media by Brian Peters and Hailley Griffis at Buffer.

My main takeaway? Always focus on your audience and what’s in it for them.

In an upcoming post, I’ll do a roundup of the top trends for the coming year.

Consider a theme for the new year to guide your social efforts. Every year since 2011 I’ve had a theme word for my life, and that includes how I choose to show up in social media. Because I launched a new business in 2018, my theme word will have a lot to do with that.

Watch for more to come in an upcoming post about theme words. It will cover why they’re so powerful and how you could think about choosing a word that unifies and focuses all you do in the new year.

How else do you take stock of your year in social and get ready to shine brighter in a new one?

How to Write a Blog Post People Will Love: Part 2

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When you’re trying to write a blog post that people will love, sometimes you can’t fit everything into the ideal length of 600 to 800 words. What can you do? Break it into a series of shorter posts.

Part 1 of this topic covered themes, points of view, headlines, opening words, and the ideal length. Here’s part 2 covering creating visual interest, engaging others, weaving in data and research, ending strong, editing your post, and reading other blogs for ideas and inspiration.

Make it visually interesting

Include photos, videos and/or infographics to make your post eye catching. You can also spice up your text by using subheads, bullets, numbered lists and white space. My rule is to keep paragraphs at four lines or less to make them reader friendly.

Use formatting options in platforms like LinkedIn to draw attention to call-out quotes by way of bold italics. You can also sprinkle images and/or videos throughout your post for visual interest.

Engage others

Consider how you can weave others into your post. If you can quote someone or highlight a best practice that they do, this rounds out your post with a variety of perspectives. This provides supporting points for your overall message.

It also potentially increases interest in and engagement with your post. The people you’ve included may be inclined to comment on and share your post. You can also mention them as you promote your post in various social networks, so they’re sure to know you’ve included them.

Bring in the data

Cite interesting facts and research in your post, and link to them. This anchors your post in data and supports your key points.

Influencer Neil Patel, for example, cited research that “marketers who blog consistently will acquire 126% more leads than those who do not.” If that data point doesn’t convince you of the value of blogging, I don’t know what will.

Be sure you’ve read the full link and are comfortable with its contents before linking to it. Why? Because every bit of content you create, like, or link to reflects on you and your professional image.

End strong

Your ending is almost as important as your lead. Here you want to spur your reader into action. What will they do differently as a result of reading your post? How have they accomplished what you talk about in your post? What questions do they have and will they leave a comment?

Career blogger Penelope Trunk had great advice in her online course, Reach Your Goals through Blogging. She advises to “write and write until you find the thing that surprises you.”

Edit, edit, edit

Set your draft aside and come back to it later, whether it’s the next day or the next hour. Read it with fresh eyes. Ask yourself if the piece flows appropriately from one idea to the next.

Look for areas that might need more explanation for your readers. Edit out repeated words (always a challenge for me) and unnecessary phrases. Make sure all the links work properly.

Read blogs

Study what types of blog posts and articles appeal to you. Ask yourself what specifically engages you. I love reading posts from many of my former colleagues in the corporate world – Anne Chow, Mo Katibeh, L. Michelle Smith, John Stancliffe and Jason Dunn, to name a few.

Sometimes it’s the things you don’t want to write, or that seem too personal, are what people love the most. A few recent examples on the more personal side are A Love Letter to the Amazing People I’ve Worked With and my corporate farewell remarks in Are You Doing What You Really Want to Do?

I almost didn’t write my post about 7 Things Not to Do in LinkedIn. At the time, I didn’t think I’d be adding anything new to the existing body of knowledge. But I wrote it because someone left a comment asking for it. And it became one of my most-read pieces.

That’s my moment of surprise. Sometimes the topic that doesn’t seem exciting to you will be of great interest to your network. If you look at the analytics of all your posts, you may find your own surprises to inform your upcoming posts.

What other ways do you write posts that people will love?

How to Write a Blog Post People Will Love: Part 1

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Blogging is a powerful way to share your expertise and establish yourself as a thought leader. My blog, as an example, has led to speaking invitations, consulting projects, publication opportunities and more.

What does it take to write a great blog post?

Here are tips to write a post that people will love. Sometimes the hardest part is getting over the fear. But what makes your post stand out comes in the editing process. During the writing process, the most important thing is to simply get the words down.

You may need to silence your inner critic until you do that. Just suspend that self-critical voice until you have a first draft completed. Write continuously for a set period of time, such as 60 minutes.

Set your draft aside and come back to it, ideally a day later and at least an hour later. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised that your first draft is much better than you expected.

This is all worth it in light of the benefits of blogging. Bestselling author Dorie Clark cites content creation as one of the three pillars of “standing out in a noisy world.”

It enables you to share your hard-won expertise, establishing you as a person with a valuable point of view. As a result, interesting career opportunities may come your way.

Here’s how to get started.

Have a theme

This is about having a strategy for what you blog about. By focusing in one area, you will be better able to build up a devoted readership over time. Be clear on why you’re writing and who you want to reach. Once you have your topic identified, you can relate almost anything to that subject.

It’s okay for your focus to evolve as your career does. My blog began as an exploration of the future of corporate communications. When my job changed after a corporate acquisition, I wrote about marketing analytics for a short time. Ultimately that wasn’t something I wanted to spend hours of my weekend and evening time on, so then I explored how people learn.

After that I had a serendipitous moment at a leadership conference. Reese Witherspoon, the entrepreneur, producer and actor, talked about the white space in social media to work with people on building their reputations.

It was my “a-ha” moment. I knew what I wanted to focus on – writing, consulting and speaking about what successful people do in social media to boost their careers.

Share your point of view

People read blogs to learn, to be entertained and to be surprised by a new twist. Think about the point of view you can bring to your topic. You don’t have to be an expert to start blogging about it. If you’re fascinated by it and dedicated to learning in the process, you can bring value to your audience.

Your point of view is why people will read your posts. No one else except for you has had your unique experience in the work world. What you’ve learned and experienced along the way can be helpful to others.

Come up with a compelling headline

You could write the best blog post in the world, but if no one reads it, your light and your ideas haven’t truly reached the world. As I learned by experimenting, it’s important to devote almost as much time to creating a compelling headline as you do to writing the overall post.

There are headline analyzers such as CoSchedule that can help you improve  your headlines to attract more readers. It’s almost a gamified approach, if you keep entering headlines to increase your score. Try to write 25 headlines for every blog post. Then pick the best one.

Of course, your headline has to be true to your subject. No clickbait for you. Deliver to your readers what your headline promises.

Focus on the first few words

The first first words and sentences have to pique your readers’ interest from the start. There’s no time to warm up and get to the point. Spend as much time on your lead as you do on your headline. What are the opening words and sentences that will grab a reader’s interest?

Those first few lines show up now for LinkedIn articles in your profile. Carefully consider what you want your first 30 words to say.

Get the length right

About 600 to 800 words is ideal. This is approximately the length of a newspaper op-ed article. It’s okay, though, to go shorter or longer if your topic warrants it. For something really long, you can break it into a series, as I did for my bio posts and my research on social media.

Since this post has hit that limit, watch for the remaining tips in a part 2 post coming soon.

How to Share Your Great Speech on Your LinkedIn Profile

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Do you give speeches, talks and presentations as part of your work?

Have you wondered where to share them on your LinkedIn profile?

It’s a bit of a conundrum since there isn’t a specific section for speeches and talks at this time. But that gives you options, depending on how much you want to emphasize the speaking you do.

There are a few starting places. You could showcase them in your summary, as part of a specific job, or as a separate job listing as a speaker.

Another option is to use one of the Accomplishments sections. In this area, you can provide content for:

  • Honors & Awards
  • Publications
  • Certifications
  • Projects
  • Patents
  • Test Scores
  • Organizations
  • Courses
  • Languages

At this point in my career, I hope no one would be interested in my GRE or GMAT scores, even if I could remember what they were. I’m still struggling to learn Spanish. And I’m not anticipating a patent any time soon. So test scores, languages and patents are off the table.

But speaking engagements?

In reflecting on this year alone, I realized I’ve given a talk at least once a month – at mentoring circles, at a legal conference, in town hall meetings, at a women’s leadership event, in a video series, at a sales and service center, in a social media podcast, and so on.

My LinkedIn profile was missing this important aspect of my work. In updating it, I discovered some tips that may be helpful to you in determining the best ways to share your own speeches.

A bit of research led me to a decision point between Publications and Projects.

I already had one project, Social Media for Innovation with Michael Ambrozewicz, Thyda Nhek Vanhook and Gerry Ledford. It was a series of case studies and innovation experiments on engaging employees and customers through social media. It was clearly not a speech. So there would be some cognitive dissonance to overcome in including speeches alongside this project.

That’s where the dictionary came in handy.

A publication according to Dictionary.com is “(1) the act of publishing a book, periodical, map, piece of music, engraving or the like; (2) the act of bringing before the public; announcement.”

And publish means to “(1) issue for sale or distribution to the public; (2) issue publicly the work of; (3) submit online, as to a message board or blog; (4) announce formally or officially; (5) make publicly or generally known.”

The sense of bringing something before the public felt analogous to giving a speech and sharing information publicly.

How about a project? It’s “(1) something that is contemplated, devised or planned; (2) a large or major undertaking, especially one involving considerable money, personnel or equipment; (3) a specific task of investigation, especially in scholarship.”

In a stretch, a speech could be considered a project. But to me it feels more like a publication.

And the information fields for both areas in LinkedIn are very similar. One minor difference is a Publication lists an author or authors, and a Project lists a creator or creators. Also, the Project entry lets you identify which specific job or educational degree the work is associated with.

Ultimately it’s up to you which area to choose. The good news is you have options. And perhaps a future LinkedIn update will add a “Presentations” or “Speeches” section to Accomplishments, making this a moot point.

What’s a good way of choosing which speaking engagements to include in your profile? In my case, there were three criteria.

  1. Could it be shared publicly, i.e., was it not confidential or sensitive?
  2. How relevant was it to my current and future work?
  3. Was there a public link to the video or audio?

That’s what led me to add Publications entries with 5 talks so far this year, including as authors the people who interviewed me or produced the segment – Josh Ochs of the Smart Social Podcast, John Stancliffe who rebooted a Women in Technology video series, and Shelley Zalis who founded The Female Quotient.

And I’m excited about a few more talks in the queue.

On Monday, October 29, I’ll moderate a USC Annenberg Facebook live with alumni session on starting your own communications firm. These are learning sessions that Annenberg’s Leticia Lozoya creates a few times each year. In this one, business owners Maggie Habib, Tom Henkenius and Rebecca Meza will share an inside view of how to launch and grow your own company.

I’ve also been approached about giving a TEDx talk in spring 2019, speaking to professional associations, and talking about personal branding for women. The invitations often result from my presence on LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media.

If you want to speak more to develop your career and your reputation as a thought leader in your field, consider adding your speeches to your LinkedIn profile and sharing your expertise through articles and posts.

You may be pleasantly surprised that you’ll be invited to talk about those subjects to audiences you care about.

Where do you share your speeches and talks in your LinkedIn profile?

When is the Best Time to Post on LinkedIn?

What’s the best day and time to publish an article on LinkedIn?

It’s wise to check the data frequently, because it often changes.

A year ago, studies suggested the sweet spot was 10 to 11 am on weekdays, and especially on Tuesdays.

In 2018, Sprout Social says the best time is on Wednesdays between 3 and 5 pm. Tuesdays through Thursdays are ideal, with the least engagement coming from Fridays through Mondays. That makes sense, given the cycle of the work week.

Co-Schedule aggregated several studies and concluded midweek from 5 – 6 pm, 7:30 to 8:30 am and at 12 pm. Essentially, it’s ideal to post before and after “regular” work hours (if there is such a thing anymore), in addition to lunchtime when people may be taking breaks.

Today and in the coming weeks I’ll test the Wednesday afternoon data with my own articles. Generally I post an article every Wednesday. Rather than posting in the morning, though, I’ll try the 3 – 5 pm window in Pacific Time, my local time zone.

I’ll post right at 3 pm since some of my network is in earlier U.S. time zones. Fascinating fact: almost 80% of the U.S. population lives in the Eastern and Central time zones.

My LinkedIn articles are based on my blog on how people use social media to build their careers and their companies. Sharing my blog post content on LinkedIn has been a valuable way of reaching a broader audience that is likely to find value in the content.

Wednesdays weren’t a data-driven decision in the beginning. Most of my blog post writing was on weekend mornings. My teens were sleeping in, and I had quiet time for writing. Wednesday became my reposting day on LinkedIn simply to give myself a few days to get it posted.

In the process, I began collecting and analyzing my own data. With my Excel spreadsheet of 18 months of posting an article roughly every week, I went back through my data to see if my experience aligns with the industry studies.

One of the questions when I shared my data six months ago was from a former colleague, Sarah Groves. She was curious about the ideal day of week and time of day to share LinkedIn content. At the time, there wasn’t a clear cut answer in the data, meaning that any weekday was fine. As I’ve collected more data, I’m curious if anything had changed.

Looking at my top 20 articles for views, likes, comments and shares, a few data points jumped out.

First, 60% of them were posted on Wednesday. But the highest scoring article was posted on Tuesday. And all days of the week were represented.

Second, 65% of them had strong headlines. They scored in the “green zone” at a score of 70+ in the Co-Schedule headline analyzer.

Third, 80% of the top 10 were posted in 2018 vs. 2017. They’re reaching a broader audience probably because my network has grown by 1,000 people.

What are the takeaways from this?

The quality of the content matters more than the day and time it’s posted. It’s ideal to focus on offering your network your best thinking in your articles. Write about the expertise and perspective that is unique to you that would be valuable to your network. Then to make sure it has the best chance of reaching the broadest audience, post it on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

Headlines matter. You can write the best article in the world, but if the headline doesn’t pique people’s interest in clicking on the link, you won’t reach a broad audience. Write several headlines for every article. See how they score in a headline analyzer. It’s almost a gamified approach to headline writing, because you can keep entering headlines to try to get a higher score.

The size and quality of your network is important. Keep building a high-quality network of connections on LinkedIn. Connect with people you meet and want to meet. Be sure to personalize your invitations to strengthen your relationship. By increasing your connections and followers, your content will reach a broader audience, which is likely to increase engagement.

It’s wise to experiment with different days and times. All the data in the world is meaningless if it doesn’t improve your unique situation. You can try posting on different days and times of the week, and track the views, likes, comments and shares from your articles. What trends do you see over time? What are the patterns in your top articles? How might the engagement be affected by the local time zones of your audience?

What day and time for posting LinkedIn articles has gotten the most engagement for you?