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5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Irish or Saint Patrick’s Day

TaylorMade Solutions (Canada)

Did you know that New Brunswick’s oldest City – Saint John – is known for its strong Irish roots and history? And for those ready to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, we thought we would share a few interesting tidbits with you. If you have more to add to the list, let us know!

1. According to The Irish Story, more than 150,000 immigrants flooded to Saint John between 1815 and 1867. That’s 150,000 people!

2. Following the Great Fire which levelled much of the city’s central peninsula on June 20th, 1877, Saint John was rebuilt almost exclusively by Irish labour.

3. St. Patrick wasn’t Irish and he wasn’t born in Ireland. Patrick’s parents were Roman citizens living in modern-day England, or more precisely in Scotland or Wales (scholars cannot agree on which). He was born in 385 AD. By that time, most Romans were Christians and the Christian religion was spreading rapidly across Europe.

4.The original colour associated with St. Patrick is blue, not green as commonly believed. In several artworks depicting the saint, he is shown wearing blue vestments. King Henry VIII used the Irish harp in gold on a blue flag to represent the country. Since that time, and possibly before, blue has been a popular colour to represent the country on flags, coats-of-arms, and even sports jerseys.

Green was associated with the country later, presumably because of the greenness of the countryside, which is so because Ireland receives plentiful rainfall. Today, the country is also referred to as the “Emerald Isle.”  

5. Corned beef and cabbage, a traditional Saint Patrick’s Day staple, doesn’t have anything to do with the grain corn. Instead, it’s a nod to the large grains of salt that were historically used to cure meats, which were also known as “corns.”

Now of course, this post is just for fun. If you are looking for help with your Marketing and Communications strategy, and specifically to be cybersecurity communications preparedness, connect with us. We can help.

How to Spot a Bad Social Media Practitioner

social media, TaylorMade Solutions

I had one of those moments this morning.

You know that exact moment when someone says something, or you read something and your jaw just drops. You can’t believe what you are hearing or reading! Thankfully I was alone when I had this reaction. Not a flattering look I am sure.  And, on top of that, I had some commentary that just slipped out without my filter being turned on. So what made me react this way? No, it was not travesty or injustice for human-kind. I am grateful for that. No, it was more related to my profession, and specifically using social media to communicate and market your product, service or region. So, this inspired me to write this post: How to Spot a Bad Social Media Practitioner.Social Media

Now, let me start by saying that I am sure that the person in question was only doing his job. I am sure that he has processes, procedures and protocols in place. Despite this however, what he was recommending went against everything I believe in, when it comes to communications. His recommendation to people – business people- was to use it in the same manner that people used advertising 15 years ago. It was all about push communications and not REAL communications. Needless to say, the end results, I suspect, will not net the results expected.

So, let;s turn around a negative and look at 5 ways to help you select a marketing/communications practitioner who can actually help you:

1.  Resist the Urge to hire the Person or Company Who Claims to be a Social Media Expert.

Like Malcolm Gladwell said, it takes at least 10,000 hours to become a master. Very few people consider themselves masters in social media, including me – despite having 10,000+ hours into it. Why? The answer is simple, there is more to using social media than meets the eye. Practitioners like myself know that there are many layers to doing it well. Each scenario is different and we have to draw upon many levels and years of experience to make it work.

2. Avoid a Person or persons Who Only Focus on Social Media

This is a recipe for disaster. Social media is not an means to an end. No, social media is tool in the toolkit. However, to effectively use that tool you need an overall integrated marketing/communications plan. Everything must work together to reach an overall goal and objectives that all align to your overall corporate objectives. That is why it is very important to hire either a full-time resource and/or consultant who understands that social media is not a stand-alone. Social media must be part of the larger integrated strategy.

3. Hire Based On Experience/Strategic Abilities – Not Age

I have written about this before. While I fully support hiring new graduates, you shouldn’t expect a new graduate to know how to develop strategies tied to business objectives. Remember, and this is very important, using social media for personal purposes is very, very different than using it for business purposes. If you want to build a quality team, hire a seasoned professional and then let that person build his or her team, which will likely include new graduates.

4. It’s Not About You! Remember That

More than a decade into social media and inbound marketing, I still encounter so many companies that only want to talk about themselves, who they are and what they do. Research, company case studies and results continue to indicate that customers and potential customers don’t really care about hearing about your awards, what your team did last weekend, etc. Your clients/customers and prospects want to be educated. They want to know that if they work with you, they will be getting value for their money and getting benefits from the relationship.

Your marketing, including your social media should not be about you. It should be about your clients/customers and prospects. And, with that in mind, you should be using the channels where they are, not where you want to be. Finally, communicate and engage with them. Your social media resource, whether full-time or a consultant should be encouraging you to engage, not just push messages.

5. Last But Certainly Not Least: Remember Your Audience

Based on all the above, you should always be focused on your audience. Who are you ultimately are you trying to influence? Your marketing resource should always be focused on your audience and doing what is right to reach the audience. A person with real expertise will always want you to focus on your audience. He or she will recommend that you have a persona exercise which will identify who your primary and secondary audiences are. Then you will know what channels to use to reach them and what tools to use  – from online, to traditional to web and everything in between when and where applicable.

For many of us who have been working with individuals and companies for years to build solid integrated marketing/communication strategies that include social and digital media strategies, I have to confess that we should be beyond discussing the need for implementing the basics, but we just aren’t there yet. However, when I work with clients who take the plunge and do a full integrated marketing strategy and start seeing the results, I get as excited as they do!

Want to learn more about integrated marketing strategies and how they can grow your business? Contact TaylorMade Solutions today!

 

Great leaders and all self-help management books tell us that in order to be good communicators, you need to first be a good listen

An Interview With Cybersecurity Expert: Dr. Natalia Stakhanova

Cybersecurity risk management and mitigation is at the forefront of discussions in boardrooms globally. With an estimated annual burden of up to $1.7 trillion resulting from data loss and downtime (often from security violations), both the c-suite and shareholders have called on security experts to get out in front of the risk.

Researchers and research initiatives are the foundation for accomplishing this. At New Brunswick’s Information Security Centre of Excellence (ISCX), researchers like Dr. Natalia Stakhanova are leading the way with the support of funding, innovative partners, and an unparalleled focus. As one of the leading researchers in the field, Dr. Stakhanova was recognized in 2014 as the first NB Innovation Research Chair in Cybersecurity.

cybersecurity

I had a chance to sit down with Dr. Stakhanova to talk about her work.

MacLean: You were named the first NB Innovation Research Chair in Cybersecurity, can you tell us about what you want to accomplish in this role?

Dr. Stakhanova: I continue to be very excited about this initiative. Over the next few years we will be facilitating the research that will foster innovation in the field of cybersecurity. An important component will be my team working very closely with local industry to promote further commercialization of products that will benefit companies around the world.

There is already a significant level of expertise right here in New Brunswick. We will be building upon our core expertise and further developing the skills and assets that we have right here. There is a great culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among the people collaborating in this space right now. And the best part is seeing the actual results.

To generate a renewing pool of local talent, I’ll be mostly focused on building student knowledge, expertise and entrepreneurial spirit. I’m hoping that in this endeavor the Dr. J. Herbert Smith Centre for Technology Management & Entrepreneurship (TME) will step in with its programs to give students necessary skills and tools to become entrepreneurs.   

MacLean: How will you be working with other New Brunswick companies, students, and people?

Dr. Stakhanova: A major part of my role is to assess the risks that the local industry has, and to provide the research with practical applications to mitigate those risks. My work facilitates research in both the private and public sectors. Several local players have already come on board and are ready to work in a collaborative environment to focus on such issues as Smart Grid to address security-related challenges. Among these players are IBM Canada, Sentrant, and NB Power. We are also working closely with several startups. I know that through the research there will be additional commercialization.

MacLean: How does New Brunswick stand in this field of research and innovation compared to other regions?

Dr. Stakhanova: There is no question that there is a lot of support in Canada for these R&D centres and we are well positioned here at UNB with other global areas. We have leading expertise, lots of researchers, and interested private sector companies. There is an excellent relationship between UNB and the private sector. This fosters collaboration, innovation and the drive to succeed.

MacLean: What do we have here in New Brunswick that positions us better than other areas?

Dr. Stakhanova: I can’t name any other province that has as many initiatives, activities and investments in play at one time to support the Information Technology (IT) industry. There is just so much innovation and research taking place right here in New Brunswick. We also have a unique solidarity of people here in the province. People want to be here. This is so rare and wonderful.

There are of course developers elsewhere, but the developers that are here have a unique connection to the province and its people. They are loyal and can’t be lured away in the same way that you see happening in other regions. This creates a wonderful stability.

MacLean: Do you see spin off companies emerging or other companies wanting to locate here in New Brunswick to take advantage of the work that you are doing?

Dr. Stakhanova: Absolutely. We are already seeing companies from outside the region that are quite interested in what we are doing. These are still early days, but we are hearing from a lot of people.

MacLean: What made you choose to come to New Brunswick and UNB?

Dr. Stakhanova: I moved to Fredericton in 2007 as a professional Fellow. I fell in love with the region immediately. It is one of the most family-friendly places I have ever encountered. There is also a personal touch at UNB. It is essential and critical when education is involved to be able to collaborate, have mentors and to have access to as many private sector companies as we do.

It is truly a unique experience to find a place to grow professionally, while also having everything you would want for your family.

Cybersecurity is one of the most important issues of our time. If you are a small or medium business, cybersecurity should be more top of mind. We can help you develop your Marketing and Communications strategy to handle communications around a breach. We can train you and your team to be media ready. Be Prepared! Be Trained! Have a TaylorMade Solution – Contact us today.

Editor’s Note: This is a post that I originally wrote for Invest NB’s Blog and has since be reposted to Opportunities NB’s Blog.

New Year: Time to Audit Your Online Presence!

Personal Branding

I always think that people should take a good long look at their online presence twice a year. For many people, however this is a lot of work. So, I really recommend that people audit their online presence at least in the New Year. It’s the perfect time to have new perspective. And now that we are a few weeks in, you are focused!

Some people might roll their eyes when I mention personal branding here, but that’s o.k. Whether people like it or not, they have a personal brand. Managing your online presence is an important component of owning and managing ‘your’ brand. A cornerstone in branding is ensuring consistency in all channels. That applies to your personal information. And, with cybercrime only on the increase, managing your information has never been more important.

Here are 5 things to help you do just that: (Not in order of importance)

social media

1. Take an Inventory

Over the course of a year, we end up signing up for a lot of different things. Sometimes it is email updates and other times it is for newer social apps such as SnapChat. If you haven’t been keeping track, it is time to start an inventory. Make use of either a spreadsheet or keep track in an application like Evernote. I wouldn’t recommend you keep your various passwords in anything but a very secure password keeper, however! Please forgo the spreadsheet OR Evernote for that.

When you have this comprehensive list you can review and determine if you have actually been leveraging all of these tools. If you haven’t, it might be time to opt-out or deactivate some.

Pros for doing this: By keeping an inventory, you know just where your information is and for what purpose. As roles change and careers progress, you may not want to have certain assets as you go forward. Additionally, you will ensure that your professional image is consistent across platforms.

Cons: This can be time consuming if you haven’t kept track and you may not find them all. There are of course apps that help you do this, but in my experience you have to “sign-up” for them as well and most are “not secure” sites. As a result, you could be further compromising yourself. So, while it is hard work up front, it pays off very quickly. 

2. Review your Avatars

When is the last time you updated your photo? Last year? Five years ago? Or, hopefully you don’t still have the “egg”. Regardless of what image you use, ask yourself, what professional imagine do you want to convey? What is your line of work? What message do you want to send? Your picture should reflect this.

Pros for doing this: Having an up-to-date and professional photo that portrays your profession, can only be a positive.

Cons: It does require keeping your photo up-to-date on all channels and if you use a lot of different social profiles, it can be timing consuming. However, this is another reason to edit out just how many you have.

3.  Contact Information

Have you changed companies? Perhaps you have consolidated some of your contact information? More and more people are doing this, but neglecting to update their social information to match your current information is less than desirable. The result? Outdated contact information for you. Again, think about what this says about your brand. If people are trying to contact you, this is not the best impression.

Pros for doing this: Keeping updated information, contact information in particular, means that you are reachable. If you are in business for yourself or in sales, having the “right” contact information is critical.

Cons: I really can’t think of any.

4. Automation

Despite being 2017, people still revert back to tactics of the 90’s or even the 2000’s. What do I mean by this? Well, for some we believe that we should only broadcast information. There is no social interaction with those whom we are connecting with. This is not the purpose or intention of social media. So, for those who focus on having automated social messages, such as on Twitter thanking people or telling them to connect on Facebook or LinkedIn, please rethink that. This is not a numbers game. In business you NEED interaction and specifically ACTION! Numbers alone don’t create action. Relationships create action. So, communicating and interacting with the people who follow you  and you follow, matters. In fact, it matters a lot!

Pros for doing this: Far too many people focus on numbers versus relationships. Creating relationships will set you apart from others. Dump the automation and focus on relationships.

Cons: I am not going to beat around the bush here. Doing this properly takes planning and orchid.

5. Security

This is probably the most important rethink for your social media. What information are you sharing? It’s important to remember that there is a fine line between sharing professional information and sharing information that can compromise your personal/online security.

Sharing birthdays and martial status on sites such as LinkedIn is not necessary and I would recommend that you just don’t do it. Think about each channel you are on. What is really relevant and right for your brand. Just because there is a ‘placeholder’ for something doesn’t mean you need to use it.

Passwords are also extremely important. Of course there is the debate about how often you should change your password. My rule of thumb for passwords is to change them on sites when I learn of a compromise. I also recommend having a longer and more complicated password with special characters and numbers.

Of course these are some of my top hits. I will explore others in a later post.

Want to learn more about social media audits, an integrated marketing strategy? Be Trained! Be Prepared! Have a TaylorMade Solution!

12 Great Cybersecurity Resources To Help Protect Your Business

Did you know that cyber-attack fallout could cost the global economy $3 trillion by 2020? With cybersecurity a huge focus for Opportunities NB (ONB) and the province of New Brunswick, we decided to curate a list of cybersecurity resources we think you can leverage to help protect yourself and your business. You don’t want to be the next C-Suite executive to lose their job over security blunders.

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Image: Owned by Heather-Anne MacLean

Before we get into our own curated resources, Dr. Natalia Stakhanova, the NB Innovation Research Chair in Cybersecurity and Sandy Bird, IBM Fellow and CTO of IBM Security Systems Division, offered their top picks to bookmark:

cybersecurity

DR. STAKHANOVA’S CYBERSECURITY BLOG PICKS:

1. KrebsonSecurity – Brian Krebs worked as a reporter for The Washington Post, and has authored more than 1,300 blog posts for the Security Fix blog as well as hundreds of stories for WashingtonPost.com.

2. Schneier on Security – Bruce Schneier is an internationally renowned security technologist, and has been called a “security guru” by The Economist.

SANDY BIRD’S CYBERSECURITY BLOG PICKS:

3. Security Intelligence – Brought to you by IBM, this site brings together a number of information security professionals sharing a variety of up-to-date posts.

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Sandy Bird, IBM

4. Dark Reading – This Information Week resource is a news site full of commentary and security news.

ASSORTED CYBERSECURITY RESOURCES:

5. Naked Security – Naked Security is Sophos’ award-winning threat news room, giving you news, opinion, advice and research on computer security issues and the latest internet threats.

6. Dr. Eric Cole’s Blog – Dr. Cole is a leading computer security expert with over 20 years of experience.

7. ThreatPost – Threatpost “aggregates content from existing online sources and combines this with unique viewpoints to generate a broader public discourse on timely IT security issues.”

8. Security Watch – Brian Honan is recognized internationally as an expert in the field of information security and has worked with numerous partners in both the private sector and public sectors in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere in Europe.

9. IT Security Guru – A great blog publishing daily breaking news and interviews with thought leaders in IT security.

10. Cyberark Blog – Cyberark is a security company that “proactively stops the most advanced cyber threats – those that exploit insider privileges to attack the heart of the enterprise.”

11. Wired’s Threat Level – Wired is a well-established digital destination and its Threat Level category is full of great cybersecurity content.

12. Dan Kaminsky’s Blog – Dan is Founder and Chief Scientist at White Ops.

Want to learn more about MarCom for cybersecurity? Be Prepared! Be Trained! Have a TaylorMade Solution.

 

Note: This post previously appeared on ONB’s Blog.

Warning: 63% of Small/Medium Enterprises are Targeted by Cyber Criminals – Are YOU Ready?

For many small/medium enterprises there is a belief that cybercrime is not really an issue. Cyberattacks and cyber criminals are only interested in the big guys. Not so. In 2015 alone, Symantec reported that 63% of spear-phishing attacks were focused on small/medium enterprises. Are you prepared to handle the communications onslaught that can come with an attack?

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Source: Symantec

  Being Prepared

According to Ernst and Young’s annual global information security survey for 2016, only 42% of respondents stated that they have a communications strategy or plan in place to address a “significant” attack. While “significant” isn’t defined, an attack could impact your business in several ways. Some of the most obvious are:

  1. Systems and hardware are rendered useless after ransomware being initiated;
  2. Viruses being unknowingly delivered to your supply chain and/or customers;
  3. The potential embarrassment of clients, media, etc. being the ones to inform you that you have an issue; and
  4. Customers losing faith and taking their business elsewhere.

These are just some examples of what “could” happen. On top of these, add the fact that you could incur legal costs, IT costs and lost productivity, etc.

But How & When Will You Communicate?

How and when you will communicate is as important as what you say and to whom. Each scenario can involve a different set of communication plans. Additionally, ensuring that you have a proper distribution list is critical as well as having the right channel to deliver your message. If your systems have been compromised and you can’t use email, do you have a plan?

Here are some things to consider:

  1. How will you communicate with your employees?
  2. If you have advisors or shareholders, how will you communicate with them?
  3. Do you know when and when not to communicate?
  4. If your supply chain has been compromised, how will you communicate with them?
  5. What do you need to tell your customers with respect to their data? Do you have a plan in place to share with them  what steps you have taken to mitigate the issue and to further protect them? If not, what do you recommend they do and when?
  6. Do you have backup contact lists and relationship priorities established to ensure the right people are contacted at the right times?
  7. Do you have messaging ready should the media call or show up at your office?
  8. Do you have people trained and ready to speak to the media?
  9. Do you have a backup plan for your website if it is taken over?

A solid communications strategy will include information and plans to address all of these factors.

If you would like to explore options to have a plan of action, contact us.

We specialize in communication plans and deployment tactics.

Why Your Customer Service is Failing

Customer Service

Are sales not what you expect? Are repeat customers non-existent? These are two indications that your customer service is failing!  Customer service is not intended to be just words that business owners or managers talk about. Customer service is meant to be the beliefs, words and most importantly the ACTIONS of every person who works for the business.

Let me give you examples of the the really good and the really bad in terms of customer service that I have had in the last year – starting with the really bad first:

Not long ago I heard about a clothing store that was not only supposed to have great work clothes (a.k.a suits, etc.) but also very reasonably priced suits. Hey, who doesn’t like a bargain? So, on a particular weekend I trekked across town to a store called Olga. As I approached it looked promising. I saw some nice things.

The positive experience really ends there however. I was there to buy. Let’s make that clear. Despite this however, I could not get either of the people working there to even acknowledge me. Now, being nearly 6′, it’s not like I blend in to the clothing racks. I covered the entire store, selected some items off the racks and looked to the people working as I had questions. I even said “excuse me” at one point and the response…well, might as well have been chirping birds. Nothing. Nada.  Then to add insult to injury two other potential shoppers came in. And while you can’t judge a book by the cover, I felt confident that these shoppers would not be the typical customer. Their style was just completely different. Both employees…did I mention both employees greeted them and asked if they needed help. One of the ladies responded saying “Nah, we were just walking by and didn’t realize what kinda store this is. There’s nothing here that I would be interested in.” And, they left. Meanwhile I am still standing there and still nothing. So, I put the items I had in my hands back on the rack and walked out. I won’t be going back. This store offered zero customer service. It was clear, in my opinion, that the workers in this store had no idea what customer service is.

Why do I classify this as “ugly?” Simply put, the workers in this small store were not young kids. In other words, they should “get it”. One or both might have been an owner, but that is just an assumption. I don’t believe that this is a chain store either. All of these things combined result in the owner(s) of this store being in a position to build their brand and their customer base based on the quality of service and product offered. They really can’t afford to dismiss people.

Customer Service

On the other hand, there is cleo. Now cleo is a chain. There is some brand recognition associated with the chain. It is also clear that the staff have been trained. The key here? Did I mention that the staff have been trained. They have been trained to represent the brand. A brand is more than a logo and this is probably where a lot of people fail. Rather than thinking that your brand is what you promise to deliver, many people focus on the logo and the colours. cleo on the other hand has gotten it right. They know that their brand is focused on the professional women looking for on-trend clothing options at reasonable prices. This is what cleo means to me. To me this is their brand.

What is the Olga Moda brand? Again, this is my take based on my experience of what they deliver. Olga is a clothing store that doesn’t know who they are or who their customers are. As a result, they don’t understand the value of a person walking into the store and therefore ignore people willing/wanting to buy. They represent a bad experience. To me, their brand is not caring, not knowing and just not the place to shop.

It really is unfortunate when a business has not taken the time to identify their values, develop what they want to be in the eyes of their customers and potential customers. Finally it is a hug mistake to train your employees on the importance of who you are and what the brand is. These are all big misses that are completely avoidable!

Want to learn more about how you can develop your brand, train your employees and develop your business? Contact us. We can help.

 

 

 

 

It’s 2017, Why Are People Are Still Talking About Buying Twitter Followers?

Editor’s Note: This post was originally posted in 2016, but due to recent conversations, the date in the title was updated as it’s still very relevant.

Like words, numbers can matter. Everyone wants to be an influencer, but really it should send people running for the hills when it is suggested that you buy Twitter followers, and here’s why.

Twitter FollowersI am a huge proponent of using the right words at the right time. Words can lift someone up, or destroy someone — that’s certainly what Donald Trump bets on, but I digress. Numbers, like words are important in the right context. As a Digital Strategist, I love that instant measurement available. It can validate quite quickly that I am on the right track or, that I am on the wrong path so I can pivot quickly. Everything from reach, to clicks to how long someone is on a page — and everything in between — is very valuable.

Numbers, like words tell a story. People get very excited about a good story. Stories have the power to persuade — to influence. In business, government, academia and even non-profits, it really is all about influencing behaviour. Some will talk around this and try to “persuade” us that there is a bigger purpose, but in reality, let’s call a spade a spade. We want to influence you to buy a product or a service, vote for someone, choose a particular school or support “my” cause.

This of course is where things get tricky. I grew up hearing “figures don’t lie, but liars figure.”  That might have been true at one point in time but we all know of, and heard about, what some affectionately deem “creative accounting.” Numbers like words can be used as a weapon. Why do you think that polling results are so important?  The questions you have to ask yourself however is: who commissioned the poll? When was the poll taken? Who participated? What point in time did it cover ? Remember polls or surveys capture information at a given time — they are a snapshot of “that specific” point in time. That could be good or bad for the particular polling subject. 

So this takes me to Twitter followers (and other social media channels). The more followers one has, the more influence one is supposed to have. That is ONLY true however if your followers are real. I mean, come on, how can you influence behaviour or a change in behaviour if your followers are not actually real!

Trust has never been more important. The same goes for authenticity. We want to trust and we want to believe in people who are authentic. So, imagine that you have gained some level of influence because you have a great Twitter following. Perhaps you talk about how important it is to be authentic.

So, what happens when someone decides to check just how influential you really are, and how authentic you are by using a simple and free tool such as Twitter Audit. You might think, who cares? Well, if your followers turn our to be mostly fake, one can ask what else you are making up?

If trust and authenticity really matter, then walk the talk. Don’t say one thing to “look” or “sound” good, and then do another. Actually live and demonstrate what it is like to be trustworthy and authentic. By choosing to NOT buy Twitter followers demonstrates that you are truly authentic!

This of course is my opinion! If you want to learn more about marketing best practices, check out my other posts.

4 Things Professionals Don’t Do on LinkedIn

It’s official! I have been on LinkedIn for more than 10 years now. Over that time I have worked with a lot of individuals and companies —more than I can remember really —to help them with their social media and their overall marketing strategies.LinkedIn

Unfortunately there are still some basic things that should be avoided that many people still insist on doing when using LinkedIn. These things can really affect their credibility quite frankly. The good news is, there are some very simple fixes and I have listed several below:

Unprofessional photos – Of all the places that you want to look professional, LinkedIn is it. This is “the” professional network. Your photo should reflect what your profession is, or what you want it to be. Take the time to get a professional photo.

To help, remember to keep things simple. If in doubt, wear clothing that is simple. No patterns or bold colours. It’s not that colour isn’t good. It is. In my current profile pic, I am actually wearing orange. However, not everyone feels comfortable with that choice. Keep make-up and hair clean and simple too.

2.  Avoid Writing in Third Person – For the life of me I can’t imagine why someone would think that it is a good idea to write about yourself in the third person. It sounds odd and out of touch.

3. Make use of showcasing “YOUR” publications – This is a great feature…”IF” you actually have written and published material.

Make no mistake about it, this section is to showcase your writing. Never, ever use this section to repost blogs or works written by other people.

Also, this is not the section to showcase media interviews that you have done with reporters. I have recently seen a few profiles where people put links to interviews and list themselves as well as the reporters as the authors. They aren’t authors. They are interview subjects. This is both confusing and misleading. It also suggests that people don’t understand what being an author is.

4. Avoid listing your martial status – This one people might not agree with me, but I don’t feel that this is appropriate for a professional networking site. It is not a dating site. So, skip it.

There are many other tips for your LinkedIn profile to make you shine, but these are four very easy quick hits.

Want to learn more about LinkedIn? Check out my other blog posts on the topic, or reach out to me for a consultation.

The New Brunswick Challenge – Can You Rise to this Challenge?

If you live in New Brunswick, keep reading. If you don’t it’s your choice whether you want to take the New Brunswick challenge or not, but it is a real challenge that I am issuing to my fellow New Brunswickers – can you rise to this challenge?New Brunswick Challenge

So, maybe you were born in New Brunswick and chose to stay here. Maybe you went away to school, but returned afterwards. Or, perhaps you went away to see the world and work “somewhere else” for a while, but returned to raise a family. Maybe you weren’t born here, but moved here for a career, you married a New Brunswicker, or for some other reason. Regardless of the reason, you have chosen to live here. And yes, let me be clear. If you live here, you choose to live here. At any given time you can “choose” to leave. You can always move somewhere else. That is the beauty of living in a free country – a democratic society.

So, what is the challenge? I challenge you to think differently about a number of topics listed below and to share your thoughts on social media. I challenge you to stretch your thinking and to propel your thoughts to that of solutions and positives rather than complaining and negatives. So, let’s give it a try with the following:

  1. How many of you have watched the #NBProud videos available here? How many are familiar with all the companies in the videos? How many of you can think of other great companies right here in New Brunswick? How many of you have shared these videos?

2. How many of you know that the snowblower was actually invented right here in New Brunswick….Dalhousie to be exact? Cool, isn’t it? Innovation right here at home…and in my home town.

3.  How many of you know that New Brunswick has one of the most vibrant start-up communities in Atlantic Canada. How about Canada? Well, we do.

4.  How many of you know that UNB’s BioMedical Institute is one of the top five IN THE WORLD? Again, this is true!

5. Did you know that there are countless jobs in New Brunswick that go unfilled each year because we don’t want to do them? Just ask the Harvey’s of Maugerville. After years of farming, the family has decided to sell their farm because they couldn’t get workers for the countless acres of vegetables. Did you know that immigrants often have to fill this void. It’s true. So, no they aren’t taking our jobs. They are filling a very necessary void to ensure our food security and helping support “buy local.”

6. Did you know that there are countless immigrants who come to this country and create new businesses. Just ask Sam Masry who came to New Brunswick from Egypt and established CARIS 37 years ago. Oh, did I mention that CARIS employs more than 200 people, including engineers and IT professionals? What about Dr. Ali Ghorbani who established Ara Labs, which has grown into Sentrant and employs IT professionals in the cybersecurity field?  So, no they aren’t taking our jobs. They, among countless others, are creating companies and jobs for New Brunswickers!

7. Did you know cities, provinces/states and countries around the world actively go out and seek companies to expand in their regions and offer financial incentives? Did you know that this is a normal attraction practice and it is not unique to New Brusnwick? In fact, because this is a competitive process, where New Brunswick is competing with well-known cities like New York and San Francisco for jobs, we often rely on the selling point of the quality of our people – New Brunswickers, quality of life and sheer determination to win the expansion plans of major brands? Again, this is true. And the end result? More jobs for New Brunswickers. As a former Salesforce employee, I can attest to this. Working for Salesforce, I got exposure to people and expertise that I would not have otherwise achieved, unless I moved away. The experience, including having worked for a publicly traded company, was priceless.

8. Did you know that the McDonald’s McFlurry was created in New Brunswick? It was…in Bathurst to be specific.

9. Did you know that the software used to locate J.F.K. Junior’s crashed plane was created in New Brunswick? Did you know that the Franklin Expedition’s lost ship was found by that same software? Well, it is true. That little company I mentioned above…CARIS…ya, it was their software.

10.  And, here is a good one I heard about in the last year and after some google searching, I found out it was true…did you know that the movie E.T. was written in Zionville? William Kotzwinkle and his wife Elizabeth Gundy, moved up here during the Vietnam War. They even built a house.

11. Did you know that there is no such thing as the status quo? So many people talk about “if things would only stay the same” or “why do we need to attract more people or companies?” The answer is simple. Nothing stays the same. If we aren’t proactive our population will age. People will die. Companies will cease to exist. Our tax base will decrease. This is not sustainable. This is why all active and intelligent communities are always looking to attract and retain people and business. It’s in our greater interest.

12. Did you know that UNB was named the most entrepreneurial university in Canada? Well, it was!

13. And finally, did you know that Google Earth uses technology developed by UNB? Yup, that is also true!

I have been fortunate to live in New Brunswick all my life. I have been fortunate to work for companies that have enabled me to travel and work around the world. Because of this I realize and I appreciate what a wonderful place New Brunswick is. I am #NBProud. I choose to live here. I see the potential and I want to change the narrative. I want to tell people about all the wonderful things that are happening here. If we constantly go looking for what is wrong versus what is right, we will always find the bad. I was at a session today where the founder of a local company that exports to more than 20 countries said it best: “if you think you live in a shit hole, then you will live in a shit hole.” 

If you believe you can, then you will. If we believe that we have talented and innovative people and companies in this province, which we do, then we need to shout it from the roof tops. We MUST believe in ourselves before others can believe in us.

So my challenge to you is to be #NBProud and to share your #NBProud moments. Share one exciting and powerful story each day for a week on social media. Can you rise to the challenge?