Monthly Archives: July 2014

Why are you Whispering?

Want to tell an embarrassing story or admit something you don’t want following you?  Then you are the exact audience apps like Whisper and Secret, which allow you to post anonymously, while also letting you chat with other users, thrive on.  This kind of social media platform is almost the exact opposite of Facebook and Twitter, where everything is linked back to your personal profile, and yet is growing in popularity.  So what does that mean for social media marketing?  And what does it mean for social media as a whole?

Unlike other social media platforms, apps like these are not good for marketing.  Promoting businesses and services isn’t as easy or acceptable on such an app, because not only can you not follow other users, but sponsored content is easily ignored and overlooked.  Not only that, but targeting users is almost impossible–there aren’t any filters and although Whisper does tag and categorize posts, the app does that on its own and can be very hit or miss.

But this is also a large part of the allure.  There isn’t any sponsored content to dig through, ads on the sidebar, or marketing to affect your social media experience.  It’s also pretty close to anonymous, where you don’t have to maintain a profile to stay relevant on the app.  You can passively enjoy secrets and whispers, or you can actively post.  Unlike Facebook, where some people feel pressure to consistently update their profiles and show off in their personal lives, these apps don’t produce the same pressure to perform.

Does this mean social media as we know it is dying?  Certainly not.  Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more are still thriving, and they still rely on the idea of an updated profile that allows you to follow other users and target your content.  Unlike Whisper or Secret, these platforms still help people to cultivate their online personas, and thus will never entirely go away.  If anything, the novelty of the “anonymous” apps is what is driving the increase in usage, and although social media will continue to evolve and change, this is not the future.

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The Importance of Cultivating your Online Presence

Social media is important.  You can’t discount that.  Although some will try to argue that it’s still just a fad, or that it’s just a distraction or means to brag, but totally ignoring your online presence is not only putting you behind your coworkers, but can be directly hurting your business and making yourself look less trustworthy.

“Wait,” you ask.  “How am I hurting myself by not updating my Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn account?”

 Let’s say you’re looking for a new restaurant to try out, and one of your friends brings up a restaurant they heard about.  Now, you don’t know much about that restaurant, so instead of just driving there on a Friday night for dinner, you Google search the name and get your information from there first.  You find reviews of the place, photos of the food, and a well designed website that piques your interest and you decide to set up a reservation.  But if there isn’t much information about the place online, are you still as willing to try it out?

A fleshed out LinkedIn account helps show off your professional prowess and ability.   Your Facebook is a good way to show another side of you–pictures of your pets or family, things you’re interested in–and makes you more personable.  And a well maintained Twitter account keeps you up to date on important news stories, and is a good, free way to advertise your work.  Don’t let these free means of advertising and getting your brand out there fall to the wayside because you don’t want to play into the “fad” of social media.  

How Linked is Your LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a social media platform that goes beyond posting pictures and mindlessly updating your friends about day to day life–when done right, your LinkedIn can showcase all the hardwork you’ve done at your job, the impact you’ve made in your field, and shows your progression as a professional.  But when done poorly, it doesn’t do much of anything.  If your LinkedIn profile is still a Beginner or Intermediate, here are a few steps you can take right now to boost your profile, increase visibility, and develop your professional network.  If you are missing any of these things, I highly suggest going straight to your LinkedIn and updating it accordingly.

  • If you don’t have a photo, get one.  It doesn’t have to be a professional head shot, but a flattering photo that shows you from the chest up, wearing business casual (or more formal) clothing immediately makes your profile more interesting.  Note of advice–if the picture you’re using is more than 5 years old, or you have undergone a major physical change since it was taken, I suggest updating.  This isn’t a dating site.
  • Add descriptions to your job positions.  Just listing your job title and the company name doesn’t truly showcase all the good you did, and it doesn’t do anything to promote how valuable you are.  If you were at a networking event and someone asked you what you did at X company, what would you say to them?  That’s exactly what you should be adding to your experience section.
  • Don’t forget to put in your interests.  You don’t just go to work(hopefully)!  If you’re interested in photography, working out, PC gaming, or vintage cars, add it to your LinkedIn profile.  You never know what might resonate with someone.  Of course, try to limit yourself to work appropriate activities.  If you enjoy illegal drag racing, this isn’t really the place to share that.
  • Finally, write a summary.  If you only had a paragraph to get someone interested in you as a professional, what would that paragraph say?  Sit down, figure that out, and write it.  Adding a summary will make your profile more personable and immediately interesting.

Follow these tips and you’re profile will be on its way to all-star status!

5 Things Every Person should Experience at least Once

  1. Go out and truly experience nature. “So here’s the deal: Take a bunch of your closest friends, get into your cars and go out on a trip to a forest or a national park. Spend your day hiking, climbing, diving into pools or whatever you want to do. At the end of the day when you are worn out completely, take your cars to a clearing, spread out a blanket, lie down and look up at the sky. It ll take a fraction of a second to silence everyone around you and another half a minute to transport you beyond this world.”
  2. Help a stranger. “Help someone random. Someone who isn’t your relative, isn’t your friend or the friend of a friend, isn’t your coworker, isn’t your neighbor — some random person you probably never would have encountered in your life.  And I don’t mean giving a buck to a panhandler as you walk by, or donating to a worthy charity. I mean actually putting in significant time and effort to do something nice for somebody you had absolutely no social, moral, or legal obligation to help.  Now watch that person’s face.”
  3. Live alone, somewhere other than your childhood hometown. “When you live with yourself, you become more self-reliant and self-aware. Also, you realize what is important in your life. I don’t mean that just in the grand philosophical sense – but in the everyday sense, as well. When is your peak productivity? Do you like externally imposed structure, or one that is self-imposed and flexible? Do you like to work hard and then play hard, or work less intensely but consistently every single day, including weekends, while taking breaks for your interests? What do you like to eat for each meal? How do you like to organize your space? What minimum level of material comfort do you need besides basic amounts of food, clothing and shelter? (For me, they are a coffee maker and a hairdryer.)”
  4. Get lost! “Even if only for once, get lost. The thought of being lost is scary I know, both physically as well as mentally. We fear the uncertain more than anything else on earth.  To step on the path no one ever tread earlier, to explore the territory uncharted. If you’re always certain about everything you do, you’ll always know what to expect, and if you always know what to expect, how can you ever find something new, something undiscovered? No, you won’t.”
  5. Working a service job, or doing something for someone else. “Wait tables, clean houses, work at your local shelter, become a taxi driver (knowing every little turn in your hometown is an added bonus), courier for a packaging company, work the front desk at a government agency. Whatever. It has to have lots of interaction with the customer/solicitor/client, and require you to act politely and try to deliver the best results to them, as efficiently as possible.  You will expand your self-imposed world bubble to at least twice its current size.  The lessons gained from serving and giving to someone else, even if its for a profit, will last a lifetime, and really change the outlook you have on life.”

10 pieces of advice we would give to our teenage selves if we could go back

  1. “Keep track of your incomes and expenses.”
  2. “Keep your body in shape. You’ll thank yourself later.”
  3. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
  4. “Ask her out. You’ll get over it if she says no. You may not if you never give her the chance to even answer.”
  5. “If you’re depressed, you will be so much better off if you don’t delay getting help.”
  6. “Avoid sending anything in an e-mail or a text you wouldn’t want someone else to see. Assume it’s going to be seen by others…it helps you from sending off color comments.”
  7. “Chill out. Take everything just a bit less seriously.  Don’t stress.”
  8. “Travel.”
  9. .”Study your dreams before you chase them because you don’t want to find out your dream is a nightmare.”
  10. “Treat everyone with kindness and respect. The homeless guy, the janitor, the kid at Taco Bell. It’s the right thing to do.”

Getting Hired in the DMV

If you’re looking for a new career path in the DMV, you need to branch out.  Career Fairs aren’t just for college students–check out these events to see what’s available.  And don’t forget to read our post about interviewing tips.

Washington, DC

The Washington Post Career Fair (Engineering and Technology):  This event is open to anyone regardless of security clearance, but does have a separate pavillion specifically for different levels of clearance.  It will be held on July 15th in the Washington Post building.

The Washington Post Career Fair (Nursing, Therapy, and Allied Health):  It’s recommended that you have experience in the given fields, and the event is open for all levels of experience.  It will be held on July 16th in the Washington Post Building.

Maryland

Diversity Job Fair:  On July 17th, Diversity Job Fairs will be hosting an event at the Double Tree Hilton in Baltimore.  Baltimore City Police Department, the Maryland Department of Transportation, and MassMutual are just a few of the companies that will be attending.

Andrews Air Force Job Fair:  If you or a member of your family are in the air force, then check out the job fair on Andrews Air Force Base on July 17th.  Companies registered for the event include Allstate Insurance, Stratford and Strayer University, Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Park Police, and many more.

CYBER Security Hiring Event:  This event is only for people who have security clearances.  On July 31st, there will be a hiring event that is great for veterans, and will be held at the Westin Baltimore Washington Airport.

Columbia Career Fair:  On July 24th, United Career Fairs will be hosting a career fair at the Sheraton in Columbia.  Hiring managers will be looking to fill positions in sales.

Baltimore Job Fair: On August 5th, the Baltimore Job Fair will held in the Best Western Plus Hotel.  The event is sponsored by Enterprise Rent-a-Car and Paypal, and is open to the public.

Virginia

National DC Career Fair:  Meet hiring managers face to face on July 22nd, in Arlington, VA.  Remember to dress well and bring plenty of resumes to hand out.  Register now and allow employers to see your resume ahead of time.

Virginia Peninsula Military Job Fair:  Hosted on July 17th at the Hampton Roads Convention Center, this event is free for all military veterans and dependents, has over 70 employers registered, and will also be hosting seminars.

Military Job Fair:  This event is open to all transitioning military, veterans and military family members at no cost, on July 23rd, in Norfolk.  The event will have over 40 military-friendly employers.

Getting and Staying Focused at Work

No one wants to admit that they might be a little scatter-brained. Whether you’re a young professional, distracted by your friends being crazy on Facebook, or a parent, distracted by your children being crazy on Facebook, keeping focused can be more of a struggle than it should be. As a computer science student, web designer, and social media marketer, I find myself constantly in front of a computer or on my phone for work related purposes. But when my work resembles what I do in my free time, sometimes I have to steer myself back onto the right path, and remind myself that as fun as it might be to check out the celebrity articles on Huffington Post, I need to focus on more work appropriate content for my clients. From having to keep myself on track, I’ve developed a few tips on how I keep myself focused, that will hopefully help you as well.

Pick a (doable!) major goal or project, and work on that until it is done. Ignore the small things that pop up and power through until the main endeavor is finished. When at work, if I’m writing the copy for a particularly wordy webpage and see that the CSS is a little wonky, I make a quick note and continue on. Stopping and addressing every little thing that comes up will distract you from your main goals and will end up taking more time than it would have if you just finished the main project and fixed the little problems later. This advice may seem basic, but the key is having to remind yourself to keep on track.

Keep a ticker of what you need to get down, and cross things out as you complete them. This works in two ways–the first being that if you can visualize all of the things that need to be done on a given day, and the rate at which you are completing them, you know when you are falling behind and wasting time. But it is also a nice pick-me-up when you’re able to cross things off of your list, and see all of the tasks you’ve accomplished.

Pick something constructive to do when you feel yourself getting distracted. If you find your mind wandering, instead of logging on to Reddit, checking Facebook, or doodling, get up and grab some water, take a quick walk, or use a bit of time to assess the latest project that you finished or are currently working on. Sometimes, you just need a different activity for a small amount of time to get you back on track, so pick an activity that will allow you to still be productive.

Hopefully these help!