Archives by: Dara McBride

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Write a Killer Social Bio

Nice to e-meet you!

There’s no second chance at a first impression, but on the Internet we do seem to meet each other again and again. We’re on multiple platforms and in various channels. We develop deep connections to others without every seeing them in person.

Your social bios represent a moment of truth: What do you do?

It’s time to pitch yourself clearly and quickly. If you’re at a loss, you’re not alone. Our messages don’t always get across. We use jargon. We fill our sentences with extra words. And then we’ve lost our audience.

Instead of writing a traditional bio, think about storytelling.

People are storytelling creatures. Crafting a story to explain who you are—or leading with an example—can help people remember us. You want to stand out. Be clear and constant. This is your story, and you’re sticking to it. If your story is not interesting or new, you will disappear in the noise of others.

Rely on others for introductions.

Do you have a best friend who knows you better than you know yourself? If you’re searching for the right words, it’s time to phone a friend. Ask others, “What do you think I do?” It’s a learning opportunity. You can find out what about your job isn’t getting across and gain a better idea of what to say next time.

Know and embrace your specialities.

Maybe you’ve worked hard to become known for a certain speciality. Maybe you have an array of interests. Find the theme that runs throughout what you do. What is the thing that makes you special? Build your message around that.

Include the little details.

The more specific you can be about who you are and what you do, the easier it will be for the right people to find you. Think about everything. Where are you located? How big is your company? What clients do you already support? What are your accomplishments and awards? It’s OK to brag a little. It will help others place you.

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Tweet Your Way Happy

Series of positive emojis: thumbs up, smiling face, sparkling heart, clapping hands, heart eyes

Positivity can lead to more positivity.

For anyone who has ever felt a smile spread across their face after seeing a good friend, it should be no surprise to hear.

We’ve heard before that feelings are contagious. Pass a grumpy colleague in the hallway and you may find yourself frowning too. Exchange a pleasant “good morning” with someone and you may find the day suddenly brighter. We’re guessing you’d rather see yourself surrounded with happy people if you had the choice—we would too!

So here’s another layer to this phenomenon: social media interactions can shape our feelings too. Surprised? Probably not. From personal experience, you know that your mood can change when you see a negative tweet or post.

Think about the kind of message you’d like to be spreading. How can you make your clients and connections live in a more positive community? A few ideas of how you can encourage happiness online:

Take action.

If you see a post the moves you or a pic you admire, like and comment. The person behind it will appreciate hearing from you. You may find they return the favor by becoming more vocal and supportive of your work as well.

Connect with others.

It’s not uncommon for bloggers to build communities of fellow bloggers. They can turn to each other for support and advice, while also lifting up one another’s work. Create or join a private group with others pursuing similar goals or working in a similar field.

Be honest.

When we don’t tell the whole story, gloss over the facts, or concentrate on the negative, we miss out on opportunities to be ourselves. You will have good days and bad days, but if you share them honestly, you may find your friends and followers understand you better.

If choosing to smile can trick your brain into thinking all sorts of positive things and improve your mood, why not fake it till you make it to a happier mood?

Let’s take that same positive energy online. Like, comment, share, and retweet your way happy.

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Growth Is Hard! Here’s Our Advice

Graphic design of flowers in bloom

It’s scary to put yourself out there.

All too often, we might know in our hearts what we want, but be afraid of the path to get there.

Perhaps you are the person in your office who is always intrigued by the latest gadgets and reports. Do you have an idea for a new way to do things? Do you think your audience could benefit from finding you on a different platform?

Maybe you are thinking about changing jobs. Is what you dream about doing the complete opposite of your current path? Is another position calling your name?

Possibly you are worried about taking a stand. Where do you find the confidence to speak up and become a leader?

Expert advice can be a wonderful help, and so often ultimately reminds us to follow our guts and do what we believe to be best. If you are thinking of trying a new path, experimenting with an idea, or exploring a fresh direction, remember you are in control.

“I describe my career path as a zigzag—not a ladder with a straight trajectory up.”

When asked on the Simmons Leadership blog if there was a turning point in her career, Denise Morrison, who served as CEO of Campbell Soup Company from 2011 to 2018 (and was the first woman to do so), responded that she’s “jumped the curve to seek new experiences.” When life served her an unexpected move to California, she took it as an opportunity to take on a new challenge and gain experience.

“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, ‘I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,’ that person cannot say, ‘I choose otherwise.’

In his well-known self-help book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey shares that we have the power to control our paths by the way we respond to situations around us. If you lead your life with emotional strength and integrity, Covey believes we can shape better lives for ourselves.

“I’m like a tree. My leaves might change color, but my roots are the same.”

Athlete Rose Namajunas reminded her fans that we remain ourselves at our core. We may win or lose, gain insights or skills, but experience and knowledge only add on to who we are. When we think this way, we have the freedom to change our leaves. We can still be ourselves even if we try on a different set of colors to see how they work for us.

So feel motivated to get out there, be yourself, and work hard to chart your own course!

And remember: “He who never makes an effort, never risks a failure.”

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Everything Is Shareable Online. Or Is It?

Text of "all rights reserved?" in typewriter font overtop three red question marks

Let’s take this back to the college lecture halls: Do you understand copyright law?

We don’t mean to scare you! In fact, learning about the dos and don’ts of copyright might be easier than you think. It’s definitely important.

Online, it can feel like everything is free, accessible, shareable, and oh-so easy to use. But there are times when just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.

For example, it’s acceptable to download content for your own personal offline viewing…but it’s not acceptable to do that if you are trying to make money off someone else’s content. It’s also acceptable to add free music to the videos you make…but that music needs to be free of royalties.

Are you following along?

Copyright may seem annoying at times, but it’s here to protect you and people like you—aka creatives.

Think about the last time you worked long hours, trying over and over again to generate something new, something memorable. If you make something, you want to share it, but not at the cost of losing it.

To understand copyright is to be a better creative.

When you have the understanding of something, you can reach new heights in your own work. But you don’t need to go to school and earn a degree to brush up on the meaning of fair use and work for hire.

Check out this series of 12 videos from William W. Fisher III, the WilmerHale Professor of Intellectual Property Law at Harvard University.

Don’t worry! They are free and available for you to access under a Creative Commons license. What’s that? Find out by heading to Fisher’s lectures.

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Generalists Can Excel Too

Single arrow with "specialist" written on it and arrow with multiple heads with "generalist" written on it

As we join different platforms and are tasked with filling in more and more bios (and using fewer and fewer words for each one) it can be difficult to define ourselves. How do we whittle down what we do into a few crisp keywords?

Your social media bios can open doors for you.

They are your virtual handshake, a wave to the world, and your online “hello.” This is your chance at a first impression, and you don’t want to mess it up. If you do, it could mean a missed connection.

The pressure to present yourself in a clear and concise way can be overwhelming. Generalist or specialist? It can be hard to present yourself quickly online if you excel in many fields. But your diverse experience is a strength.

It can feel like a specialist’s world on social media, especially when we see others who so easily and powerfully identify themselves in a handful of characters and handles.

If you’re someone with a range of experience, take comfort in the lessons of David Epstein’s book “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.”

You may be familiar with that old adage: “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” This is how generalists can excel over their specialized peers, even while worried they aren’t perfecting a certain skill set or becoming well-known experts in one major field, Epstein argues. That they have different experiences means they can approach problems creatively and seek more opportunities.

As Epstein explains in the book, often through real world examples, we benefit and can ultimately succeed in our careers if we draw on a variety of experiences.

In the first pages of the book, Epstein notes both Tiger Woods and Roger Federer took different paths. Whereas Woods focused on golf from a young age, Federer explored many sports, eventually landing on tennis.

Similarly, Epstein points to Duke Ellington, who took drawing lessons and played baseball as a kid, and mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, who wanted to become a writer, as examples of people who didn’t necessarily take the path of a specialist to success. We think things worked out anyway!

So, who are you, really? If you’re someone taking the scenic route, don’t fret. Epstein reminds us both generalists and specialists can excel:

“While it is undoubtedly true that there are areas that require individuals with Tiger’s precocity and clarity of purpose…we also need more Rogers: people who start broad and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives while they progress. People with range.”

Embrace all that you do and don’t be afraid to say “yes” to the unexpected yet intriguing opportunities. Learning doesn’t stop at graduation. Who knows where you will end up if you aren’t afraid to embrace all of who you are.

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Leaders Share Digital Lessons

Chalkboard with "LEADERSHIP" written in multiple colors

Good leaders inspire us. They motivate us and encourage us to be our best selves. Thanks to the connections we can make today online, at any moment we are close to potential mentors and managers who can help us find the right path, answer our needed questions, and consider something anew.

If you have a few minutes and are in need of some leadership, we suggest these TEDTalks themed around leadership in the digital age for inspiration and motivation.

We hope you’ll check them out or explore the leadership topic on your own!

Efficient leadership in the digital era with Charlene Li

According to Charlene Li, “The biggest barrier to digital transformation is culture—and leadership drives culture.” A social media and innovation thinker who encourages leaders to thrive in an age of digital disruption, Li encourages people to rethink what they know.

In this TEDTalk, Li, questions how today’s culture of rapid decision-making and technology has changed leadership. What does it mean to be an effective leader today? For Li, it’s about empowering employees.

How diversity makes teams more innovative with Rocío Lorenzo

Is it true that diverse companies better at creatively pushing the envelope? Media and telecommunications consultant Rocío Lorenzo and her team surveyed 171 companies to find out.

“My personal experience working with diverse teams had been that while they require a little bit more effort at the beginning, they did bring fresher, more creative ideas,” Lorenzo shares in this TEDTalk. “So I wanted to know: Are diverse organizations really more innovative, and can diversity be more than something to comply with? Can it be a real competitive advantage?”

What I learned from giving up everything I knew as a leader with Jim Whitehurst

Jim Whitehurst, former Chief Operating Officer of Delta, had long looked at leadership one way. “I thought I was the person ultimately responsible for solving the problems facing my organization,” Whitehurst says in this TEDTalk. “I was the one who was supposed to bring order and structure.”

But, when he changed organizations, he got a lesson in leadership. As CEO of Red Hat, an open-source software company, Whitehurst discovered unexpected changes and challenges.

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5 Ways Small Businesses Can Add Video

"Open" sign hanging on business window

You own a small business and want to try video. Where to begin?

As business owners look to incorporate more and more videos into their marketing strategies—and report positive results—you may be wondering how video can fit into the marketing plan for your own small business.

But, with social platforms making video even easier to use, there’s no need to worry about downloading complicated software of buying expensive equipment to try your hand.

You still, however, need to decide what stories to tell. We’re here to help with a few ideas for your small business video marketing plan.

Announce who you are.

You may have a written mission or vision statement somewhere on your website or perhaps even hung on the walls of your office. If you met someone at a cocktail party, how would you quickly and effectively describe the value and purpose of your business?

Having that human voice and casual contact can drive home the importance of who you are and what you do. How could you express this through a video? Take a minute to say hello to your followers and give them a tour of your office.

Introduce staff and leaders.

It’s time to get personal. Great people make great businesses, and clients and customers want to know the people behind their favorite products. Who are your employees? What are their thoughts and specialities?

Using video to connect the public to your employees strengthens your relationships—and could maybe even convince people to bring their needs to you.

Launch a new product or service.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it. With video, you can give folks a mouthwatering view of a new dish at your local restaurant, show off how your latest invention works, or demonstrate the quality of your service. Just as you can introduce people through video, you can introduce what you do and sell as well.

Go behind the scenes.

Everybody loves to be an insider. Use video to offer a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes work that goes into their favorite product. Be there with your smartphone or camera to record key moments not everyone normally sees.

Get to know fellow customers.

You aren’t just creating a business when you work at the local level. You are creating a community. Chances are, you may already see some of your biggest fans chatting and tagging you on social. If they love you, they want to show it. Invite them to your platforms to share with others who they are.

What’s great about each theme is that they build on what you already know. Talk to your clients, customers, teams and loyal staffers. What do they have to say? What do they want to know about you?

Keep these video content themes in your marketing rotation, and we know you’ll all find a deeper connection.

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Your Messy Inbox

It’s been said that a messy desk is a sign of genius. OK, so what does a cluttered inbox mean?

As personal notes, promotional messages, invitations and subscriptions flow in every hour on the hour, our inboxes quickly fill up. According to technology market research firm Radicati, the average office worker receives about 90 emails a day. How can we keep track of everything?

Journalist and economist Tim Harford thinks a little digital disorganization isn’t a bad thing. The author of Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives suggests there’s a benefit to embracing chaos.

When faced with the choice to clean or not to clean, we create our own systems, he says.

“It turns out that usually leaving it on your desk is a better strategy,” Harford said in an interview. “It looks disorganized. It looks messy. But your desk is actually organizing itself. The good stuff you’re touching rises to the top of the piles of paper and the stuff you’re not touching goes to the bottom.”

Perhaps in being messy, Harford thinks, we also embrace creativity and autonomy. We are not constricted by rules and wasting time categorizing our thoughts and conversations, but keeping what is important front and center.

Indeed, his claims are also backed up by the way we traditionally work in email. A University of California Santa Cruz study found that while people may in fact use their own complex folder systems to store and retrieve important emails, a lot of the time it’s faster and more natural to simply use an email search feature.

So where do we go from here? Perhaps it’s best to have a limited system, but not go overboard when it comes to tags and folders. Create too many rules, and you may find it difficult to follow them all.

Remember, Harford writes: “Life cannot be controlled. Life itself is messy.”

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Yes, You Can Use Video on LinkedIn

Laptop with speech bubble saying "Let's connect"

Everybody’s on LinkedIn—even celebrities are on this social platform known for networking. And while this may not be the platform you go to for fun, it is the platform you should be on for professional connections.

According to numbers from LinkedIn’s Sophisticated Marketers Guide, there are more than 400 million professionals are on the platform. If you want to talk to leaders, savvy thinkers, ideators, marketers, communicators, head to LinkedIn. If you want to grow your business, and show off your skills to current and potential employees and clients, head to LinkedIn.

But don’t just be there—be part of the community.

This is how you can set yourself apart from the millions of users. This is how you can position yourself and your company as a thought leader and drive your business.

Increasingly, one way to do this is through native video on LinkedIn, which launched in 2017. You can start a video ad campaign, embed videos or upload and create on LinkedIn’s platform, which, it should be noted, are often more effective. You can share product launches, promote company news, drop insider offers and exclusive looks, and tell stories and introduce key figures.

Sure, you could similarly share these updates through static images or text. Video is one more avenue to connect. Additionally, data from LinkedIn suggests viewers spend more time with video and may be more likely to start conversations around video content.

LinkedIn is interested in pushing its community toward using more video too: In February, the company launched a live video feature in beta. The company continues to pilot live video streaming with a few broadcasters. The feature isn’t currently available to all members, but LinkedIn does offer an option to apply to become a live video broadcaster.

For everyone else, LinkedIn also offers support and encouragement to pursue the creation and uploading of original videos.

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions has a quick guide to using video on LinkedIn, and even goes as far as helping participants consider why video might be important to their strategy. (There’s also LinkedIn’s special Tech Marketer’s Guide to B2B Video.)

If your objectives include building brand awareness, encouraging clicks and new viewers or driving leads to your website, LinkedIn argues posting video on the social media platform is good for you.

As with any video strategy, it’s important to do what’s right for you and your audience. Come up with an idea and see it through, then look at the feedback and adjust. Adding in video doesn’t mean eliminating all other content and touch points. But it does offer a way to set yourself apart from others and create another opportunity for viewers to connect with you.

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4 Quotes to Inspire Your Entrepreneurial Habits

Resilience, curiosity, focus and follow through—the skills required to be an entrepreneur are good ones to have no matter what industry you’re in, and no matter whether you own your own business.

Working with an entrepreneurial outlook can be beneficial even if you’ve never considered writing “entrepreneur” as your job description. It means you aren’t afraid to tackle a challenge, won’t easily give up and always ready with an idea.

So, whether you aspire to officially call yourself an entrepreneur or not, there are still a few things to learn from this mindset. Take it from the quotes of the entrepreneurs below and read their stories for inspiration.

What will you be able to do with a little push?

“Being an entrepreneur can be learned, and that is exactly what I have done. You don’t have to be born with it or have had the ‘lemonade stand.’ But, you do need to have the passion, devotion, conviction, and sheer will and drive to make it happen.”

Julia Hartz, co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite, in Entrepreneur

“A person who sees a problem is a human being; a person who finds a solution is visionary; and the person who goes out and does something about it is an entrepreneur.”

Naveen Jain, founder of several companies, including Moon Express, Viome, Bluedot, TalentWise, Intelius and InfoSpace, in Inc.

“As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned how crucial it is to be able to call a spade a spade and avoid falling in love with a particular strategy or product. Instead, you need to let the customer tell you what she needs—and to change her as she changes.”

Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, in Fast Company

“Being an entrepreneur is a mindset. You have to see things as opportunities all the time. I like to do interviews. I like to push people on certain topics. I like to dig into the stories where there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer.”

Soledad O’Brien, journalist and CEO of Starfish Media Group, in Mediabistro
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