4 Ways to Improve the Visibility of Your LinkedIn Profile

This article originally appeared on GenTwenty as part of the GenSocial column.

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When it comes to social media and career advancement, LinkedIn is the go-to place. LinkedIn serves as an online resume that’s easy to view and update. LinkedIn also offers the chance to connect with other people from our field. With a simple request to connect, we can add up contacts in our industry and potentially get endorsements and recommendations on our own profiles. If we’re trying to strengthen our careers and reputations, there’s no excuse not to be on LinkedIn.

However, our work isn’t done just by signing up for the site. Plenty of people have LinkedIns, but don’t properly utilize them. Profiles should be highly accessible and easy to read. A good profile picture, aka headshot, is also essential. However, there’s something else that most users don’t consider: visibility.

In order to maintain a highly visible profile, there are a few steps we can take. Doing all of these will only take a few minutes, but their effects could have career-long implications. By having visible profiles, we can ensure that other people quickly find and connect with us. We’ll also be able to share our LinkedIn profile more easily with others, like on business cards or other social media sites. These steps will help us make the most of the site, simply by changing some of our profile settings.

Here are 4 ways to improve the visibility of your LinkedIn profile:

1. Change our public profile URL to our name. LinkedIn automatically gives us a URL when we sign up. Normally it’s linkedin.com/aseriesofnumbershere. But what we can do is make it so that our name comes right after the forward slash.

How: To change it, log in and click Edit Profile, then click Edit Public Profile URL. LinkedIn has a more detailed article here.  It takes seconds, but the act helps optimize search results when someone looks us up online.

2. Edit public profile settings. When people browse LinkedIn profiles, they see public profiles of others. This means that they’re not yet connected with the individuals. Typically people reserve more detailed information for their approved connections.

However, for people new to their industries, it’s beneficial to have most of our information up to those looking. We’ll want to make sure that people can see our past jobs, internships, and skills without being part of our connections.

How: To do this, log in and click on Privacy and Settings. Then click Edit Your Public Profile. Once we click on that, we can choose to make specific sections public or our entire profile public. Most of the time though, it pays off to include as much information publicly on LinkedIn.

3. Consider LinkedIn Premium. Joining LinkedIn is free, although there are a number of paid plans for interested individuals. LinkedIn Premium allows users to message people who aren’t their connections. It also gives them advanced search options and ways to increase the visibility of their networks. In short, LinkedIn Premium is a helpful investment for those who are looking for a job and may not have a lot of contacts.

How: Rates are as low as $30 a month and may pay off when a user gets a job lead based of LinkedIn’s advanced features. Click here for more information.

4. Emphasize buzzwords in our profiles. In order to show focus on our careers, we should try and make our profiles concise and nuanced. We should make sure that our titles and profile descriptions match, as well as our past positions and skills. Ultimately we need to show a well thought out plan on our careers.

How: Let’s say we’re new media journalists. We’d want to reflect that in our profiles to show our experience and expertise in the field. We may want to emphasize words like “digital” and “SEO.” Creating buzzwords helps us distinguish ourselves from competing profiles, as well as show our knowledge in our fields.

These are the starter steps to having a more visible LinkedIn profile. To continue to strengthen it, we should also connect with others, as well as join groups and frequently update our information. Do you have any tips to improve your LinkedIn profile? Let us know about them in the comments!

Here We Go

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 Downtown Athens, GA

Tomorrow starts my final semester of school. It will be my 11th (not counting summers) semester at UGA. 11 semesters, two bachelor’s degrees and one master’s degree to show for it. I’m giddy– not just because I like starting new classes, but that come January I’ll be in another stage of my life.

Going to UGA for graduate school has been a real blessing. Many of my undergrad friends were still in town. I knew the community scene of artists and business owners. I also figured out a place to live downtown. However, after a few months, I felt that I was playing it a little too easy. Some of my peers had traveled across the world to attend my graduate program, while I had already done two degrees at UGA. I didn’t think I had done enough.

But come January I’ll be really thrust outside of my comfort zone. I’ll be permanently done with school and looking for a new job. Honestly, I think that’s a good thing. I like being challenged; it’s what I’m constantly seeking. Graduate school has certainly been challenging in its own ways. But in terms of the environment it’s been in, I’ve been very fortunate.

What comes next I don’t know. Hopefully a full time job in my career of choice. I’d love to be lined up with a job by graduation. But life is never as simple as it seems. In January, I may still be job hunting– or have even decided to change cities. I’m not quite sure yet, but the chance of something new really excites me.

So here marks the start of my final semester at UGA. UGA and Athens, you’ve both treated me well. I hope my next job (and city of residence) is just as great.

Best Sources for PR News

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Image via assignmenteditor.com

As a public relations professional, I try to stay in touch with the latest PR and social media news. Sometimes it can be hard with keeping up with national and international news, let alone specific industry updates. Luckily there are a few great sources that aggregate PR news and send it directly to your email inbox. Below I list some of my preferred sources for finding out what’s new in the world of PR.

  • PR Daily is one of the easiest websites to sign up for. Visit prdaily.com and you’ll see a button to subscribe to their News Feed. The site initially will sign you up for a large number of daily emails. If it ends up being too much, you can always adjust your settings to your needs. PR Daily is a consistent and reliable source of PR-relevant topics.
  • PR News Online is also a savvy source of news for communicators. When visiting the homepage, visitors can enter in their email address to get industry alerts. Like PR Daily, PR News Online includes both news articles and tips for professionals.
  • Unlike the other two, The Skimm isn’t exclusive to PR professionals. However, The Skimm acts as a supplementary source of other news. Working in PR often requires practitioners to keep up with current events. The Skimm is one of the easiest ways to do this, given their daily emails that summarize the biggest headlines in the world.
  • PR Week gives readers more traditional headlines like who’s elected to corporate PR positions or the contracts that certain agencies are signing. PR Week is a straight forward source of industry news that helps give a big picture look at the field.

What sources do you use to stay up-to-date? Share your favorite PR blogs and websites in the comments!

Get Certified in Social Media

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(My post originally appeared on gentwenty.com)

Social media is often a hobby for twenty-somethings, but did you know you can get certified in social media? We grew up with it, so it makes sense that most of us continue to use it on a regular basis. For some of us though, social media extends beyond a past time. Some millennials work full time in social media, managing the accounts for businesses or individuals.

Plenty of job opportunities, many of them being in public relations or customer support, exist in social media. Public relations specialists or managers often handle social media as one of their duties. For larger companies, multiple individuals are needed to work primarily on related social media accounts. It depends on the kind of online traffic that organization gets and what budget they’re working with.

While social media might sound like an appealing job, it requires a number of personal and technical skills. Social media managers must be willing to adapt easily to change. Many of our beloved sites (Twitter and Instagram) are less than 10 years old, and more social media sites will emerge in the coming years. Social media managers must stay on tap of trends and determine what sites are best suited for their audiences.

Along with technical skills, professionals must be creative in their social media engagement. Simply advertising a product or deal on Facebook won’t bring fans in. Social media managers must think of ways to draw new fans, as well as retain their current audience base. This can be through the form of contests or highlighting valued customers.

Interested in a job in social media? Sometimes the easiest way in is through experience. Complete an internship or two in social media and that will help future employment opportunities. Another way to show our commitment is through social media certification. There are a number of places that can help us get certified in the industry.

Four places to get certified in social media:

1. Social Media Course from the University of Georgia. The course, called “Using Social Media to Build Business,” consists of four main topic sections and two big assignments. While the certification is pricier than some other options, it’s worth it given that the certificate comes from UGA and that it’s endorsed by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

2. Certified Social Media Manager from the Management and Strategy Institute. The class, which is a current Groupon deal, costs about $99 for certification. There are no prerequisites to take the course. Participants go through seven modules to eventually take a manager-level exam through the institute.

3. Certification exam from the National Institute for Social Media. The institute has a number of options for people who want to get certified. They can self study and then pay the fee for the exam. They can also take a sponsored course to prepare for the class. If a professional feels they’re prepared regardless of self study or the class, they can go ahead and take it for the cheapest option (around $295).

4. Social Media Certificate Program from Media Bistro. A well known source, Media Bistro prepares professionals with hands-on assignments. Participants learn the ins and outs of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube. Unlike the other options, applicants must apply to the program. Media Bistro’s is the most expensive, but comprehensive, program that prepares professionals for social media marketing.

This list covers just a few of the options available for professionals working in social media. What certification we pick ultimately has to do with where we are in the industry, what our budget is and what we want to learn. Have any recommendations for social media certifications? Post them in the comments!

9 Must-Have Apps for Young Professionals

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(My post originally appeared on gentwenty.com)

Social media can be an invaluable tool for young twenty-somethings in the working world.

Users have the opportunity to network and collaborate in ways they could never before. Many of us are already on some of the bigger social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, there are other social media sites we can use to help us. In this case, they are ideal for getting a start in the professional world.

9 Apps for Young Professionals:

1. A free mobile app, Mint allows users to manage their finance and bank accounts. Users can set spending limits on different items, like food or clothes, per month. Mint allows young professionals to use money wisely, especially around the time we often seriously start our savings.

2. Evernote serves as a quick and fast storage space for ideas. It’s a all-in-one virtual workspace where users can make sketches, come up with business places, write articles or schedule events. Evernote can be accessed at any time and is a great place to store working projects.

3. Boomerang helps schedule when emails will be sent and received. Often times we’ll find ourselves sending emails outside of traditional work hours. Boomerang helps schedule those emails for early in the morning. They can also help queue important emails that must go out on specific dates, a tool that’s perfect for most fields.

4. RescueTime shows professionals how much time they spend on certain websites. Available for desktops and Androids, RescueTime breaks down how many hours are spent on things like email or Twitter. The app can help identify which sites are time wasters and help increase productivity.

5. Jobr helps new professionals seek out jobs and career opportunities. It connects to our LinkedIn profiles to help find the right job boards. Users can swipe left or right on jobs they’re interested in. If we select right, our profiles will be sent to a job recruiter. Jobr is one of the easiest ways to look for open positions.

6. Google Docs work well as both a desktop and mobile feature. Available on Google Drive, Google Docs serve as handy, online worksheets. They’re perfect for sharing information almost anywhere, so long as there’s an Internet connection.

7. Wondering where to get lunch near the office? Use Yelp! to track down nearby businesses. Users post personal reviews of products and services. Yelp! can help determine where to bring our business next.

8. Spotify shows that in an office environment, there should be room for fun. Spotify offers make-our-own music playlists for free. Users can also listen to what others have created. It’s an entertaining, collaborative service that is perfect to listen to while typing emails or finishing up reports.

9. My Fitness Pal lets users count calories and manage their health through an electronic device. Before dining out, users can see how many calories are in certain items. My Fitness Pal helps those who work in a sedentary office environment boost their health.

Public Relations Reading

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It’s almost the end of the first year of grad school. It feels like it went by fast, but August actually feels like a long time ago. I want to compare it to being submerged under water. Finally I can come up for a breath of fresh air. As I much as I love school, this past semester’s worn me out. I’m looking forward to the summer, which will be here in less than three weeks.

As a nice break, here’s some PR reading I plan to do over the summer. Feel free to post your recommended reads in the comments!

  • Recipe for Press by Amy Flurry. This guide boasts do-it-yourself public relations tips. It includes ways to get the best media coverage and simple steps to being your own publicist.
  • This Is How You Pitch by Ed Zitron. This no-nonsense guide gives honest tips to secure media buzz. It’s meant to help young professionals succeed in creating professional relationships with reporters and editors.
  • Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time by Bill McGowan. Emmy-winning correspondent McGowan teaches readers how to communicate things accurately the first time. McGowan shows PR professionals how to pick the right language and create the right message.
  • Strategic Public Relations: 10 Principles to Harness the Power of PR by Jennifer Gehrt. Gehrt’s book helps professionals be strategic in their public relations approach. It also discusses the changing landscape of PR and how to take advantage of the 24/7 news cycle.

Open PR and Communications Jobs

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Image via paulstallard.me

Finding the right job is no easy task. Normally I find jobs through listservs or referrals, instead of first turning to Google. I’ve had a number of part time PR jobs or internships, but I’ll be looking for a full time job at the end of this year. Here are some of the websites I’ve found that provide PR professionals with a starting place for the job search.

  • PRSA has a job center for members to either post jobs or apply for them. It’s a useful site, but requires membership before going through the postings.
  • Indeed.com allows people to search jobs by type and location. When typing PR jobs into a search engine, Indeed was one of the first to pop up, with my location already entered.
  • Simply Hired is another job website that automatically filters for location and job type. It supplements what Indeed doesn’t pick up.
  • LinkedIn seems like one of the first places to go. However, LinkedIn is also one of the most popular and competitive sources of jobs. Users can see how many people, oftentimes in the hundreds, that applied to a single job. It’s wise to use LinkedIn in addition to other sites when job hunting.
  • Monster remains one of the leaders of job sites. Users can sift through postings from all over the country. After posting their resume, people can easily attach it to multiple postings.

Salaries and Gender in PR

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Public relations tends to be a woman’s world, with women making up over two thirds of the industry. Forbes reports that number falls between 73 and 85 percent of the professionals. Although women make up of the majority of practitioners, they are underpaid compared to their male counterparts.

Bloom, Gross & Associates released a study this week about salaries of PR professionals. One of the findings was an average pay gap of $47,500 between men and women. That’s right. Women make a salary’s worth less than men. This finding echoes the unfortunate trend of women generally making less than men in the workforce.

Supported by PR Week, the salary survey asked over 1,000 professionals in the United States about their careers. On the bright side, the PR industry seems to be on a roll. Most people had healthy salaries and left their jobs only for more opportunities or responsibilities at another organization. With the growth of the economy, PR has reaped the benefits.

Overall though, it’s alarming to see the pay discrepancy between genders. Pay should be based on experience and talent, not whether a professional is a man or a woman. PR is a blossoming industry to be in, though it needs improvement on how women are paid versus men.

To read the full study, click here.

French Girls App Review

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Enjoy taking selfies? Or doodling in your free time? Then you may enjoy the French Girls app, a free app created in 2014.

Named after the famous line in the movie Titanic, French Girls promotes a community of artists of all levels. Users have two main options. They can take a selfie and wait for another person to draw it. They can also choose to draw someone by picking from a number of selfies.

The drawings range in quality, from the humorous interpretations (see below) to premium drawings, where top-rated artists draw users for $9.99.

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If users don’t want to spend the $10, they can also opt for the selfie boost, a 99 cent feature where people can put their selfie at the top of the line. However, users may find that the premium drawings are well worth the money. Premium drawings (see below) are typically the highest ranked on the app and show the time and effort that the artist put in.

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I spent the $9.99 and got back an excellent drawing of me incorporated into Back to the Future. Most professional artists would have charged well over $9.99. The premium drawings are really a great deal and a way to financially support the app.

While the app makes for a fun and creative pastime, beware of mean-spirited users on it. Some people will draw selfies of others giving them exaggerated, unattractive features or even write on them mocking text. The best thing is to ignore those users, since they are the minority. Like any online community, there are a few cruel users. To really enjoy French Girls, pay no attention to them.

Another tip for users would to be patient while waiting for a drawing. People post selfies every minute, meaning artists have a wide selection to pick from. In order to get a selfie drawn, give it time. Also consider posting multiple selfies for others to pick. The best part of the app is the surprise. Users never know when a sketch could become a masterpiece.

February 2015 Social Media Recap

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Image via theweek.com

I’ve let this blog fall to the wayside and I admit full responsibility. It’s almost spring break though and I’m ready to make up the blog posts I’ve missed. To start with, here’s all the social media news from last month.

Social media’s biggest challenge challenge? Keeping brands in check via Forbes

How 3 Ordinary Americans are Getting Paid for their Social Media Posts via ABC News

How social media is shaking up recruiting; Punt, Pass & Pork via Sports Illustrated

Get More People to Share Your Posts on Social Media With These Top 6 Tips via Huffington Post

How social media can make your small business go gangbusters via The Week

8 Social Media Mistakes That Are Killing Your Brand via Entrepreneur

Cable news and social media go all in on #LlamaWatch via CNNMoney

Twitter’s new tool should help curb those embarrassing social media hacks via The Washington Post

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