Posts tagged ‘professional’

March 22, 2012

The Right Way to Connect on Linkedin

You’re new to Linkedin and finally completed uploading your resume, choosing a profile picture, and writing a summary. Now you do what any newcomer to Linkedin does. You look for some connections! Naturally, you will want to connect with the biggest influencers in your industry whether you know them or not. Most likely they are the ones with 500+ connections, 13 recommendations, and the manager of several groups. And who wouldn’t want to connect with these people? They are obviously the ones who know the most, like to network and can possibly do something for you in the future. Then there are some of you who are intimated to ask the high-rollers of Linkedin to connect and choose to go for those on your level who are just learning to the play the game. Well I’m willing to bet when asking for connections you are doing it the wrong way whether it be for a Linkedin popular or a newbie.

If you are sending requests to connect using the pre-written generic message, “I’d like to add you to my professional network,” this just might be one of the worst possible things you can do. This message doesn’t say anything about you other than, “I am too lazy or bored to take the time to get to know you, read your profile and personalize my message.” Since you are most likely requesting the person because you think you can benefit from the connection, you need to show them how you this person can benefit from connecting with you. A message like the one above, can very well get you ignored. At the very least, you need to give a reason for actually wanting to connect with the person; especially if you don’t know the person personally. (I know Linkedin “requires” you to know the person before you request to connect, but let’s not pretend like this doesn’t happen on a daily basis.) Besides, Linkedin has the potential to be much more powerful than Facebook. The last thing you want is to have a potentially good connection go to waste like a frivolous Facebook Friend. Make sure this doesn’t happen by saying something to start a conversation and building a what can potentially lead to a great relationship. After all, isn’t that the whole reason why you are requesting to connect? If not, you may just want to stick to Facebook and ignore the hundreds of trivial statuses by “friends” you don’t even like.

So what should you say in place of that generic message when requesting to connect? Luckily the options are endless.

Flattery: “I was looking through your profile and I must admit I’m impressed with your work. I hope one day I will get to your professional level. I’d like to add you to my professional network.”

College Connection: “Hey, I noticed we are both writing professionals and graduated from Rider University! Any plans to attend alumni weekend this June? Let’s chat! I’d love to connect.” 

Benefit Factor: “I saw your update discussing the upcoming contest for your company. Do you need help marketing it or coming up with conditions? I’d be happy to assist! I’d like to add you to my professional network.”

Group Buddy: “I noticed you are member of the Freelance Connection. Have you been following the discussion about marketing your writing services to local businesses? I’d love to know your thoughts. Let’s connect!”

Same Strokes, Different Folks: “Hey, neighbor. I grew up in Sayreville too! Tell me, do you hate Bon Jovi as much as I do or is he the source of inspiration in all of your work? Would you like to connect with me?”

Mutual Friends: “Seems we are both connected to Christine. She told me a lot about your plans to start a non-profit organization. As an entrepreneur, I am certainly interested. Care to discuss?” 

Following Fan: “During my search for all-inclusive resorts in Barbados, I came across your travel articles listed in Travel + Leisure and your blog about Groupon. You’ve earned yourself a new fan! I’d like to add you to my professional network.”

I’m sure there a few more options for connection request messages, but these are a definitely a great start. As you can see, the message need not be long. At most, it requires only a few minutes of studying the person’s profile to come up with a unique message to snag a new connection. But remember, once your connection request is accepted, continue the conversation and begin getting to know your newfound connection.

How do you feel about generic Linkedin messages? Have you tried writing personalized messages when requesting to connect?

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March 1, 2012

11 Things Nobody Told Me About Working From Home

When I started working from home, I thought I was living the life. I mean, what could be better than making money from your

Photo Courtesy of Mary B. Thorman

domicile? It seemed like an even sweeter deal when the gas prices started going up faster than I could blink. From the outside, it sounds like the perfect job opportunity and working environment. You save on gas, have easy access to the kitchen and there’s no boss looking over your shoulder. But there’s another side. A darker side that no body tells you about. They certainly never warned me about it. Had I known, I may have put a little more time and effort into making the decision to ditch the cubicle. Here’s 11 things no body warned me about working from home. Consider yourself forewarned…

1. You may lose your sanity.

If you thought it couldn’t get any worse than having your boss and co-workers driving you crazy everyday, think again. It’s even worse knowing that you are the cause of your own loss of sanity. And that’s exactly what happens when you work from home. Why? Because while everyone else is outside having a life, you are stuck sitting in front of your computer all damn day with no human interaction. Sure you’ve got phone and internet, but you can only stare at your bedroom door for so long. Soon enough you’ll get so lonely you’ll start talking to yourself.  It’s enough to drive anyone insane.

2. Vacations and sick days are hard to come by.

If you thought taking sick days were hard when you were going out to the office, you’d be surprised how difficult it is to take them when you don’t have to leave the house. You need to have a pretty good reason and have a very very high fever to not be able to get out the bed and walk down the hall to work. Before,  it was acceptable to take the day off for a cold when you drove into the office.  But when you work from home that’s just not good enough. You’ll get blank stares if you tell someone you took the day off because you have a headache or got a cold.

3. Weight gain is highly likely.

Remember up post I mentioned that easy access to the kitchen a benefit of working from home? Well it’s also one of this unfavorable things no body warned me about. Easy access to the kitchen means time for morning snacks, mid-morning snacks, lunch, “I have writer’s block” snacks, “My computer is acting slow” snacks, “I just don’t feel like working” snacks,”My favorite TV show is on” snacks and dinner. I’m sure you can come up with many more snacks, but you get the picture.

Than there’s the fact concerning your lack of movement and physical activity all day. When you worked outside the home, you had to at least walk from the last parking spot in the lot to the front door. Now the further you have to travel is across the hall. The increased access to the refrigerator coupled with limited mobility can’t possibly mean anything good for your waistline. Unfortunately, no body told me that part…

4. Social skills may be lost.

When your kitchen table becomes your “office”, email may be your only chance to be “social” Consider yourself lucky if you get to make phone calls. After conducting so much business by staring at the computer all day, you’ll suddenly find yourself frazzled and nervous when the time comes for you to actually conduct business face- t0 -face. (And no, I don’t mean via Skype sessions.) Simple things such as when to shake hands and passing along your business card may suddenly seem foreign to you. You just might need to brush up your social skills a bit by reading up on it or practicing with friends.

5. You may never look good again.

Hate to break it to you, but that new spring wardrobe you purchased just might be the biggest waste of money ever. Turns out when you work from home, you never leave the house so you don’t have to look good for anybody. Gone are the days when you spent hours applying the perfect makeup or fixing that shape up before that big meeting. Now it’s putting on your best pair of sweatpants IF you bother to get dressed at all. Word of advice: Either cut your clothes shopping budget in half or be prepared with tags to sell when you don’t use. If you don’t, you’ll be wondering what you were thinking investing in clothes you may only wear once.  Which leads me to my next point…

6. Investing in a good set of pajamas is smart.

Chances are you’ll loose all motivation to get dressed in the morning and just want to stay in your pajamas all day. So now might be a good time to get those silk pajamas you’ve been eyeing (or maybe even Pajama Jeans). Just promise me you’ll still find time to get dressed at least every once in a while. There’s something to be said about dressing the part. After all, you are still at work. Besides, I never seem to be as productive when I’m stuck in pajamas all day.

7. Beds have never seemed more comfortable.

Remember those days when you just wanted to recuperate in bed  for a little bit but you could never fall asleep? Don’t count on that ever happening again. Those days will now only be a distant memory. Once you start working from home, you’ll develop a magnetic attraction to your bed that you just can’t resist. Suddenly your pillow will be fluffier and your mattress will be much more comfortable and inviting than usual. When you are covered with your sheets, you’ll instantly feel like you are enveloped in love. Once it’s time to  get out of bed and head to your work area of choice, those plush sheets and pillow will be beckoning you to come back.

I know it’s hard to resist, but you just have to learn to say no. You’ll never get as much work done when you work from the comfort of your bed. In fact, it took everything in me to get out of bed this morning and write this blog post at a table.

8. Homesick doesn’t mean what you think it does.

When you were a little kid being sent off to summer camp for the first time you knew home sick to mean not being able to have fun because you missed your home and family too much. Apparently, that was a lie. The real definition of home sick is as follows:

Homesick (adj.) – That nauseating and frustrating feeling you get when you realize you have to be at your home for another day.  Symptoms are involuntary twitching, muscle spasms, mood swings, potty mouth, irritability, restlessness and lack of motivation

9. You have no reason to watch the morning news.

I don’t know about you, but when I actually left the house to work the only reason why I watched the news in the morning was to find out about traffic reports and the weather. Now that I have no traffic to avoid or weather to accordingly for, the news never gets turned on in the morning. On the off days that I do need to know the weather, I know turn to my trusty widgets provided by Verizon Fios.

10. Daytime television has drastically improved. 

The time when you couldn’t find something to watch on those days off from work will never happen again. You’ll soon find there have been major improvements to daytime television when you work from home and you’ll never want to work again. You’ll discover yourself keeping the TV on while you work or trying to schedule your work day around you favorite TV shows. In most cases it doesn’t really work well in your favor. Who knew soap operas, talk shows, old sitcoms and documentaries about Whitney Houston could be so interesting? Luckily, God invented DVR, rewind buttons, and instantly replay. I suggest you learn how to use them.

11. Friends won’t take you seriously.

From the outside looking in, it seems as though people who work from home are living the life. They can take breaks whenever they want to. Go on vacation on a whim and don’t even have to worry about daycare for the children – which may be true for some work from home people. But friends fail to realize that we can’t just drop things on a minutes notices and sometimes making deadlines means working around the clock. Basically, they don’t always think of what you do at home as work. My suggestion is to find some other friends  in addition to the ones you have who also work from home. Those friends won’t be too upset when you have to cancel a dinner date last minute to complete a client’s project.

Did I miss something? What do you wish you had known before making the decision to work from home?

February 1, 2012

Why I Love HARO

As a journalist, there are a few tools I depend on to survive in this crazy world of media. One is the Associated Press Stylebook. The other is my subscription to Media Bistro. I also can’t go on without my MacBook Pro. And I can’t forget about Google Alerts.  Then there’s my digital recorder…  Ok, so there are a lot of things I can’t survive without in the journalism world (learn about them here), but I’m here to tell you about one of my favorite survival tools, Help A Reporter Out (HARO).

HARO is an email list in which media professionals can submit queries regarding sources they are in need off and have it sent to thousands of subscribers who can then contact them directly. It has come in handy in several occasions when I needed to find sources in short time periods. I highly suggest any business professional looking for exposure to sign up. However, that’s not the only reason I love HARO. Unbeknownst to many, HARO is great for many other reasons and uses.

One thing I like to do is  look at each media outlet and see if there is a publication I never heard of that I would like to target for freelance opportunities. I then begin researching that company and see what kind of topics they look for. This method isn’t just for freelance writers, though. Any business professional can go through HARO queries and find businesses they may like to work with in some way. Think of it like an innovative “phone book.” (Whatever, you do refrain from using the email listed in the query for other business opportunities. That’s a big no-no.)

I’m a big fan of random fun facts. Every once in a while, queries list an interesting statistic that you otherwise never would have given a second thought about. And those interesting statistics, I found thanks to HARO then become great conversation starters. – Not to mention they end up serving as inspiration for future pitches I may want to craft.

But  when I’m sick of writing pitches or queries, and choose to be on the other side of the computer I turn to HARO to become the source of a journalist’s dreams. I’ve been quoted in many articles and I’ve gotten lot’s of opportunities from using HARO to be the source. Hey, writers like some exposure too…

And I thoroughly like the exposure to like-minded professionals. Freelancing can get kind of lonely sometimes, so I find it find to interview or be interviewed and continue to stay in touch with the person. For some reason, I tend to feel a sense of camaraderie with my sources and interviewers. Sometimes, building a relationship with them has led to some great business opportunities. Just goes to show you that networking can happen anywhere.

On those days, I like to be anywhere but here, I turn to HARO and hope to find some tidbit about a different location. HARO founder, Peter Shankman, is an avid traveler and tends to include very short blurbs about his destinations at the top of some of the emails. Just the other day, he mentioned something interesting about Europe and Los Angeles. On the days, that he doesn’t mention anything about his travels, I simply use the top portion of those emails as a shopping guide. Every email has a short paragraph about advertising a service or product you should think about purchasing.

And of course, when you read as much as I do, sometimes you run out of things in your stash. Reading HARO queries allows me to pick out stories I may find interesting and make a mental note to look it up once it’s published. After all, I can’t write them all so I might as well read it all when I get the chance!

November 22, 2011

5 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Freelancer

Photo credit: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Most businesses know that hiring someone to produce quality work can do wonders for their bottom line. What they don’t know is hiring a new employee or an agency is not their only option. There’s the freelance option. In fact, taking the freelance route, can not only save  money, but insure better work in half the time. Need more convincing? Here are five reasons why you should hire a freelancer.

1. Less is more.

In case you didn’t know, freelancers are generally cheaper than big-time agencies. With freelancers you don’t experience huge mark-ups and extra fees, because freelancers don’t have to worry about big overheads like agencies do. But don’t let the price fool you. Even with lower rates, a good freelancer can produce high-quality work.

2. One contact person

Hate having to deal with the run-a-round at big time agencies? Freelancers eliminate that problem. When working with a freelancer, you are given one contact person – the person who will be working on your project! So there will be no talking to X, Y and Z in the hopes that your information gets passed along to A. You get to speak directly with the person in charge of your project, and not the boss that will eventually give your job to the intern.

3. Motivated professionals

Unlike employees, freelancers only get paid when they have work. Paid holidays don’t exist in the freelance world. Neither do sick days. One bad month could mean a few weeks in the poorhouse. In other words, we work hard for that money… and client satisfaction. Freelancers are extremely motived to churn out high-quality work in the hopes that it leads to more opportunities and a chance to put food on the table for another week!

And remember much of a freelancers livelihood depends on the referral. So if you are happy with the work, pay it forward and refer, refer, refer!

4. Deadlines made easy

Projects that require quick turnaround time are easily handled by freelancers. They don’t need to get approval from their superiors, and it’s much easier for them to adjust their schedule in order to fit your project in. A rush fee may apply, but they are usually much less than the rush fees quoted by agencies. Rush fees may not even be necessary as freelancers usually have quicker deadlines than agencies. Freelancers usually work on one project at a time so they have  the ability to dedicate a lot of time to your work as opposed to an agency employee who probably works on several projects at once.

5. Gift of flexibility

Work on the west coast but have a freelancer that lives on the east coast? No problem. Even though freelancers do operate via business hours they specify, many of them have the flexibility to work around your schedule. I’m pretty sure you’ll have a hard time trying to find an agency willing to make calls at 9:00 pm their time in order to accommodate your time difference.

Are you convinced yet? Visit my website, writingbyterri.com and see what I can do for your business.