Nicole Gets Blown Away

My guilty pleasure isn’t watching The Bachelor or indulging in macarons (although I do both on occasion). No, my must-have indulgence is a great professional blowout. Many women think that having a fabulous bag, killer shoes or a well-fitted suit will go miles in the workforce but truthfully, the ‘maintenance must’ that most women miss is their hair. I’ve seen countless messy buns, ponytails, frizz and split ends to know that polished hair speaks volumes about your professional presence. You might not be able to maintain the expenditure of getting a blowout weekly but I highly recommend it before a big event or an important proposal. The next time you have a sit down with your boss to discuss a raise or promotion, treat yourself to a blowout that morning. It will give you the extra confidence you need to seek the position and numbers you deserve. If you’re in NYC, one of my favorite places to get a blowout is at the Roy Teeluck salon. Your hair will never look or feel better—and neither will you.

The Glam Squad: Kai Pritchard, WORKS team member Jill Jacinto, myself and Roy Teeluck

The Glam Squad: Kai Pritchard, WORKS team member Jill Jacinto, myself and Roy Teeluck

The Power of Presence Event in NYC

So excited to be working with Marie Claire and Ann Taylor for a fashion filled and career enhancing night in NYC! Hope you can join us!

AnnTaylor

LinkedIn’s Posh Productive Pampering Event with Bobbi Brown Cosmetics in NYC

There’s nothing we love more here at LinkedIn than connecting talented professionals. Last night we invited dozens of fabulous female journalists (who work at outlets like CNBC, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Reader’s Digest, TIME, etc.) to network and mingle with one another while chatting about how important their online professional brand is. LinkedIn’s event took place at CORE: club, a veritable power portal for the business elite, just off of Park Avenue in Manhattan. The evening consisted of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, makeup makeovers, headshots taken by professional photographers, LinkedIn Profile makeovers and an amazing chat with world-famous makeup artist Bobbi Brown, the founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and author of the new book Pretty Powerful.

During the fireside chat I asked Bobbi:

How she built her company
Which business leaders she looks up to
How her company uses online networking sites

Below is an excerpt from the chat Bobbi and I had last night.

What inspired your business?

The business started 21 years ago basically as a result of my being a freelance makeup artist and realizing that everything that I used as a makeup artist I had to mix together and most of the cosmetics on the market were not easy to put on. They didn’t make you look better. So I started basically with a quest to create a lipstick that looked like lips.

What inspires you?

Friends, family, women I meet, my artists… You know, I get a lot of creative ideas on the treadmill and when I’m outside walking. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a creative idea in the office. Other things happen in the office.

Are there any business leaders that you look to for inspiration?

Mickey Drexler at J. Crew, who is also a friend, certainly Apple and Steve Jobs for his precision, Richard Branson at Virgin who focuses on the customer experience, and Howard Schultz at Starbucks.

What do you think of the word balance?

There is no such thing as balance all the time. There are days when you come home from work and everything is perfect and you feel like that for a second and then something happens. Sometimes I am more work focused, sometimes more family focused. You have to work to maintain balance.

What makes a powerful first impression?

It’s about showing that you have simple strength. You know, you have to be confident in what you do. Confidence is everything. And sometimes, if you’re not confident, you just have to act like you are.

Do use online networking sites?

I have a 14-year-old son, so when I can’t figure out something I turn to him. We have a corporate LinkedIn Company Page, and Estée Lauder as a corporation has a LinkedIn Company Page – and they use it for hiring, we look at everything. Every single employee that comes through, we check out his or her LinkedIn Profile.

We hope this post inspires you to host your own version of, “Productive Pampering.” Take 15 minutes to update your profile, rekindle a connection with a business contact you haven’t spoken to in awhile or upload a snazzy new head shot to your LinkedIn Profile… and then treat yourself. What would your ideal treat be? Is it a nice glass of wine or an amazing new work bag you’ve had your eyes on? Get ready to head into the weekend by sharing your idea of “Productive Pampering” with us on LinkedIn’s Company Page or by tweeting @LinkedIn with the hashtag #inwithbobbi.

New Year, New You

With the recession slowing down and jobs growing – people are resolving to focus on their career and move up after sitting back these last few years. In fact, based on a new LinkedIn survey, more than 74% of us globally added a professional goal to our lineup in 2012. Rather than wanting a new job, most professionals wanted to learn new skills in the new year.

What I’ve seen over the last few years is that we’ve finally come to realize the classic resolution to “lose five extra pounds” may have something to do with the fact that we’re wandering into the pantry because it’s been years since we’ve acquired a new skill and we’re bored. That the “get out of debt” resolution we’ve had on the list since college may have something to do with the fact that we haven’t negotiated a raise. Or that we haven’t “met a new boyfriend” because we haven’t extended ourselves and met anyone new professionally or otherwise in the last year.

I’m sure you have long since realized that creating a list isn’t the hard part, it’s sticking to it that finds us with more weight, more debt and sitting alone at our desk come March. Three weeks in and while you’re still going strong (or if you’re not, you can start again without anyone even knowing) here are some tips for staying motivated!

Use the Green-Eyed Monster: I’m not particularly proud of this story but I’m willing to share because it worked for me, and may for you too. Having moved to NYC to build the next phase of my career, I was sipping a coffee while watching a national morning show when all of a sudden there she was…the woman I competed with most closely in my professional space, sitting across from the anchor in the seat I coveted.

While truly I come from a place of abundance and wanted her to do a great job, I could tell by the feeling I had in my gut that I needed to turn my envy into my own reality. In the days that followed I created the “I want that” model of career accomplishment and it goes something like this: Once you identify someone whose shoes you’d like to find yourself in, use LinkedIn to study the trajectory of her career success. What skills does she have, what Groups does she belong to, where has she worked, which positions did she accept to land her current position, who is she connected to? There’s a ton you can learn about how to get where you want to go by walking in someone else’s shoes.

Create Accountability: There’s nothing like telling someone you’re going to do something to get your butt in gear. Use LinkedIn to share your professional goals and even better, some of the tips and tricks you’re learning to accomplish them. You may also want to invite some of your connections to join you in a “Goal Group.” Facilitate the conversation around why you’ve chosen this goal and express some of your challenges and innovative ways you’re succeeding. The one thing I’ve learned in the support group model is that it’s a mistake to only invite those in your industry. Some of the best, most innovative and inspiring ideas may come from the fresh eyes of someone who doesn’t do what you do. Having a goal is the foundation, not a specific industry or job.

Get a Handle on Your Why: The goals that keep us on track long into the New Year are those that are tied to something beyond paying the rent (although don’t underestimate that one as well). By ‘Find the Why,’ I mean that the basis of willpower and perseverance is founded in a specifically articulated reason for committing to this goal in the first place and the more intimate, meaningful, life-affirming and even vulnerable it is, the more likely you are to see it through. The best example I have for you is fitness. Prior to my son being born it was all about fitting into my jeans and I missed more classes than I took. Now, it’s about being around to see him walk down the aisle or have his own kids.

If you’ve lost track of your why in the day-to-day grind of your career, the key is to connect with others. Identify leaders in your field and ask what inspired them to get into their career. This is a great question in that it’s not one they are likely to be asked or reflect on often enough and in the process of sharing, you’re creating a more meaningful connection than what would come with a standard connection request. Another equally motivational tactic attached to your why is sharing ‘yours’. Find someone to mentor by looking for fellow alumni or using your own Company Page to identify someone who is in a similar position to where you started out.

Professional-Goals-2013

Are Your Buzzwords a Buzzkill?

In the face of the down economy the strategic, disruptive approach is to identify influencers with extensive experience in creating problem—solving results.

Yep, that’s a real life sentence, found in a real life publication. But what exactly does it say? In a word that actually means something: nothing. At a time when there is more content out there than you could ever possibly hope to read, quality—and not quantity—has become the absolute standard for standing out and getting noticed.

Back when I started working with LinkedIn, we released our very first ranking of the most overused profile buzzwords. I remember thinking how important it was to steer clear of “extensive experience” (the number one overused term in 2010) if you wanted to shine among the 85 million professionals who were touting their years in the trenches as their defining characteristic.

Well, it’s three years later and with over 100 million MORE professionals on LinkedIn, the stakes to stand out from this year’s very “creative” (this year’s most oft used adjective) crowd are even higher. Here are a few tips for saying what you mean with words that will get you noticed.

Consider the Opposite: You wouldn’t mention how disorganized or irresponsible you are, and their antonyms (organized, trustworthy, etc) are wasted words too. Why you ask? Because these are the traits that an employer, client or co-worker expects you to have. Even if you scramble to find your shoes hiding under your bed each morning or frequently find yourself uttering the words “I’m going to be a few minutes late,” the expectation by all 85 of the Fortune 100 companies looking for talent on LinkedIn is that you can and more importantly will pull it together for the office.

Show, Don’t Tell: Rather than telling everyone who is willing to listen just how creative and effective you are, demonstrate it by using hard data. Integrate numbers to quantify your effectiveness and/or links in your profile to illustrate your creative talents. This is especially important on LinkedIn where you are 12 times more likely to have your profile viewed if you include more than one position. Yes, you were creative and effective in every job and volunteer position you’ve been in, but if you want to get the credit you deserve you need to get specific when giving a rundown of your work experience.

Consult the Experts: Looking for synonyms to replace the “analytical,” “motivated,” and “innovative” words that litter your profile? Check out the largest professional thesaurus on the planet. Get yourself in touch with the movers and shakers in your industry via LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Today and see what new words are on the rise. You also should follow companies that you’re interested in working with (or competing against). What terms are they using to describe the types of candidates they’re looking for? What skills do their top executives have listed in their profiles? If you’re nervous about coming up with fresh ways to describe the work you do, don’t sweat it. There are plenty of stellar profiles on LinkedIn that you can look to for inspiration. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get creative, but you do need to be running out in front of it.

Check out the full 2012 list of overused buzzwords here.

Does your To Do List need a makeover?

If you’re like the majority of people around the globe, a day in your life consists of a never ending to-do list that doesn’t always get completed. According to LinkedIn’s latest study, professionals around the world use a pretty even mix of paper and technology to capture their daily tasks. We are also easily distracted and, especially if we work in law, chances are we’re not likely to knock off the majority of things on our to-do list.

At the end of the day, not all to-do lists are created equal and the quality of your list is tied to your success. So, does your to-do list need a makeover? Find out how here (right after the infographic):

Best ways to do a To Do List Makeover:

1. Make a list…and put EVERYTHING on it: Unless you’re craving the pleasure of the ‘scratch-off’ that comes with completing a task, it’s not likely you’re listing tasks like bathroom break, call mom, shop Gilt, and chat with Jenna in accounting, but the fact of the matter is there’s a lot of our day that we spend dilly dallying.

Most of us need a little down time over the course of the day to take a breath and stretch our legs, but it’s worth finding out if you’re spending an inordinate amount of time on unproductive tasks. One of my favorite ways of shocking people is to ask them for one week to make a record of all the time they spend on on-work essentials.

10 hours, 20 calls and 15 to-die-for-sales later, it puts the reality of your to-do list in perspective. You can have non-productive time in your schedule each day, but just be sure to add it to the list. It will quickly become clear why you didn’t get to that report.

2. Build an efficiency routine:
Having spent some time on a farm in my youth, it didn’t entirely surprise me to learn that LinkedIn found professionals working in agriculture claim to be most productive: 83 percent stated that they regularly fulfill most of all of their planned tasks. The regularity of routine (due to sunlight, seasons and the fact that if you don’t feed the pig, the grass, the chickens… well, they die) is real motivation to get your to-do’s done and something those of us outside of agriculture can learn from.

With 26 percent of the professionals stating that they are easily distracted, having a regular list of tasks that need to get done each and every day will help not only keep you focused but also ensure you’re able to respond to inevitable diversions of your attention. For example, if your boss walks by your office and asks what you thought of the latest industry news, you’ve already read LinkedIn Today and can thoughtfully respond; or if someone in your industry backs out of a speaking gig and you happened to connect with the organizer last week, he may end up asking you to come to the rescue.

Starting your day with a list of efficiency to-do’s, including: being up to speed on industry news, contributing to LinkedIn Group discussions and reaching out to key contacts on LinkedIn, is the key to getting the things on (and off) your list done!

3. Conquer the dregs:
You don’t need to be an expert to-do-er to know the trap of the dregs. These are the things that you find on your list again… and again… and again because they are either hard, non-essential or are things that frankly, you just don’t want to do.

This is the part of our list that literally and figuratively hold us back from the satisfaction and motivation that come from a clean slate. Write down your dreg list and divide it into the three categories. For the ‘hard’ pile, go to LinkedIn Answers and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and ask for insight. You don’t need to do it alone, and hard problems are most often solved through group-think – or rather, by someone who’s also endured the same ‘hard’ problem and knows how to solve it.

The non-essential pile should be reviewed by a trusted colleague (this list more often than not really should be in ‘hard’ or ‘don’t want to do.’) If in fact, these are non-essential tasks, so take them off. The ‘don’t want to do pile’ is my favorite. The key to this list is delegation. Do an Advanced People Search to find someone to take on the task. Whether it ends up being a willing intern or new vendor, your to-do list just got shorter!

Locking Down Your Dream Career

LinkedIn announced some fascinating stats about cool careers this morning and it reminded me of a conversation I once had with someone about their dream job. When I worked at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, my very first client told me that he dreamed of being a pilot. Being legally blind he knew that flying a plane wasn’t in the cards for him, but after exploring what about being a pilot was so exciting and interesting to him, we were able to find other options that spoke to both his passions and talents. He ultimately landed a job as a project manager for a prominent business where his skills at encouraging different departments to work cooperatively and his great instincts for priority led to a successful career.

It never hurts to dream big and sometimes they really do come true: nearly one in three LinkedIn members say that they either currently have their childhood dream job or work in a related field. But if your childhood fantasy was to become a professional swimmer or an Olympic athlete (the top choice for U.S. men surveyed) chances are you may need to have backup plan. However, if you think about what it is that you love about competition—either in the pool or on dry land— you might find exactly what you’re looking for in the career you already have. And if your dream career is within sight, but you just need a little help bringing it into focus, LinkedIn can help. Here’s how.

Do some digging. Make a list of the people who are working in your dream career and then hit up their LinkedIn Profiles or their employers’ LinkedIn Company Pages. What was their trajectory? What skill sets do they have? Armed with this information, think about what transferable skills and experiences you can bring to your own job that will make your existing career more enjoyable. Are there volunteer experiences that you can add to your career repertoire? If you have a limitation (degree, age, etc.) that prevents you from getting the job done, take a look at what these people did before and after. This may awaken you to other options out there.

Reach out. Once you’ve tracked these people down, they’re the quickest way into your dream career, so connect with them ASAP. Odds are they’ll be happy to help you out—people who are working in their dream careers generally love what they do and are delighted to talk about it. In fact, more than 70 percent of those surveyed said that “taking pleasure in your work” was the most important characteristic of a dream job. Ask educated questions about how to build the experiences and skill sets you need to break into the career, including whether it’s really worth it (we often have fantasies that don’t always reflect the reality of the job). This is the person to ask about the day-to-day ups and downs.

Talk it up.
If you’ve had a dream career (and remember that it may be someone elses’ dream job even if it isn’t yours) make sure to add it to your profile. One of the misnomers about LinkedIn is that it’s only for people with traditional careers. With 150 astronauts and 30,000 wine and beer specialists on the list we can safely say that if you’ve done it, we want to hear about it! Did you join the circus to pay for college or start your career as a quarterback before becoming a businessman? Include it! After all, there are very few people in the world who can claim that they are legitimately a, “Living Logo – Mermaid at Atlantis Resort, Bahamas” who “creates her own functional yet highly exquisite artistic mermaid tails.” The career experiences that you’ve had make you unique and they may be the very things that differentiate you from your competition.

It’s a Small Business World After All

With passion in my heart and incorporation documents in my hand, I was sitting in my newly furnished office when a good friend stopped by to wish me congratulations on my business venture. I’d been at it for almost two months and between marketing materials, website design and hiring an assistant, I’d yet to actually get out there and make a sale. I loved the business and believed with everything in me it would change people’s lives, but I was missing something critical: revenue. On the way out the door, my friend (and successful business man) gave me a piece of advice I somehow missed in the throes of starting my small business.

If you can’t make any money, you don’t have a business – you have an idea.

OK, so I get how obvious this little tidbit is, but I honestly believe his statement was the kick in the butt I needed to build a successful business and not just an idea. It’s a mantra I come back to time and time again as a reminder that while in many aspects of life, money isn’t everything – but in terms of business survival, it is.

SMBs have unique challenges in terms of making money. In a world where sensitivity to the economy and a need to stay on top of new revenue streams are crucial, LinkedIn offers more than a few ways to help you keep the doors open.

Get Global:
You don’t necessarily have to have an office, or even a presence, in another country to broaden your global business knowledge and reach. Our infographic below shows that small business professionals live all over the globe. Get out there and meet these fellow SMBs by asking and answering questions in the Startups and Small Businesses Category of LinkedIn Answers and joining LinkedIn Groups. You can also find your peers (or mentors) by doing a LinkedIn Advanced People Search by title, company size and a whole host of other facets.

Be the Expert: Whether you’re selling insurance, stocks or paper clips, the key to being at the top of your game (and your earning bracket) is to be the recognized expert in your industry. In a competitive economy where the buyer is in control, the best way of differentiating yourself is with a qualified reputation as the best in your field. And get this – it doesn’t have to take years to attain. The quickest and most effective way to be identified as an expert is to act like one. Your name should be synonymous with skill, authority and know-how in your industry. Set business standards by frequently sharing updates on LinkedIn and leading LinkedIn Group discussions about essential industry news. Be the influencer that your peers look up to. Is a merger occurring among two leading businesses? Is there a great conference you’ll be attending? Did you just listen to a great TED talk? These seemingly innocuous tasks act as advertising for your brand. If people see you as a trusted and educated leader in your industry, they’ll think of you when they (or someone else) needs your product or service.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled: So your business is in the black and your customer flow is constant. Think you’re ready to sit back and relax? Not quite. To be a successful business owner means that you’re not only on top of what’s going on in your industry, you’re in front of it. If like most small and medium-sized businesses you don’t have an enormous budget for R&D, I have great news for you: you don’t need one. Follow the industry big-wigs on LinkedIn and let their research dollars do the talking. Everything from company news to the comings and goings of key people will tell you an enormous amount about what your competitors have in the pipeline (and alternate directions you may want to consider). Another amazing way of both saving and making more money? The old fashioned focus group made new (and cheap) by virtue of technology, and the fact that legitimate professionals building their own reputation are eager to give their two-cents worth.

Help People Find You: This is a true story. Three weeks after my baby was born, after one too many nights of 3am wake-ups, I logged onto LinkedIn sure I was going to find the night nurse that a fellow working mom friend had told me about. I could remember her name, but little else in my sleep-deprived stupor. Guess what? I couldn’t find her, but, unfortunately for her, I did find a handful of other well-qualified candidates. We’re a very whim-oriented society in need of immediate satisfaction. It’s your job as a SMB to be as accessible as possible. If a customer can’t find you online, then you’ve got a big problem. Make sure your company has a LinkedIn Company Page with a great overview that includes a Products & Services tab. If you’re a night nurse, your personal LinkedIn Profile better be 100 percent complete and include LinkedIn Skills like infant nutrition, weaning, and first aid. The more specific you are, the better. Don’t miss out on potential clients because your name isn’t out there. Online professional networking is the new Yellow Pages – make sure you’re listed.

Get Lucky

Are you lucky? As I’ve written here in my LinkedIn blog this is one of my favorite and most telling career (and frankly life) questions. For the last couple of days I’ve been interviewed about this recent survey and one writer, confused about the definition of luck asked, “what’s the difference between luck and success?” To which I answered: Not much…luck is the quickest way to success. For one week act as if you’re the luckiest person in the world and let me know what happens.

Long and Deep

Apparently that’s exactly why women are more effective networkers than men! You can read all about it in Business Networking and Sex. Had the pleasure of sitting down with author Ivan Misner in an interview with Hoda and Kathy Lee on The Today Show.

Now for the important stuff: Yes, they genuinely like each other. No, I don’t think they’re actually drunk. And yes, they coordinate their outfits based on color scheme and who will wear a solid or pattern each morning before they go on air.