Junior Achievement and Feather Communications

When I was 16 years old, my first job was working as a bank teller in a bank. At the time, I felt it was important to project professionalism, organizational skills, and attention to detail. This was my first “real job.” And, truth be told, it was one of the best jobs I ever had. The skills I learned at the bank are the same skills I discuss with Feather Communications clients when writing a resume and coaching on interviewing skills.

Not only did I learn to work with people and money, I learned to work as a member of a team. That is one of the best lessons anyone can ever receive from a job. Most importantly, I learned the value of a dollar while working at the bank. I quickly learned that sometime the people you think have a lot of money really have very little. And, just as likely, that person that you thought had little money actually had quite a sum stored in the bank.

Now, I get to continue the lessons I learned while working at the bank. Through various networking events and other marketing, I have been able to increase the exposure for Feather Communications and have met many local business leaders. Because of this networking, I was recently asked to join the Board of Directors for Junior Achievement Northwest District. The mission for Junior Achievement is “Empowering young people to own their economic success.”

Over 19 years later, I have the opportunity of helping to shape Junior Achievement in our area and teaching young people how to develop success skills for the future workplace. While giving back to the community, I am able to teach the lesson that has served me well in life. What a privilege!

Giving Back Comes Full Circle

There are many articles that discuss the importance of ‘giving back’ to the community and volunteering time for worthy causes. Sometimes it is difficult to decide which organization to become involved in; furthermore, it seems like all non-profits are constantly seeking active, productive, and involved members.

Much like others, I try to find an organization that fits my values, works with my schedule, and gives back in a meaningful way. When I was a senior in high school, I was honored as the Menomonie Optimist Club Youth of the Month. What did it mean to me at the time? It meant that I received a free breakfast for myself and my parents. It also meant that I received a beautiful plaque that is still housed in my cedar chest.

While that was over 16 years ago, it stayed with me; albeit, in the back of my mind. Last spring, I was approached by a networking contact to join the Menomonie Optimist Club. In contemplating how this was going to fit into my schedule, I began to think back to that morning when I had received my free breakfast and a wooden plaque. It meant a great deal that a local community organization believed in me as a high school senior. And, now, it means a great deal to me that the organization asked me to become part of it.

Now, as a member of the Menomonie Optimist Club, I see the area youth coming to the meetings each month and celebrating their futures. I think back to my morning at the meeting and realize that giving back has come full circle. Now, I have an opportunity to be on the contributing end of the organization and hope those students remember their mornings well into the future.

As part of the Menomonie Optimist Club, I have taken on the responsibility of the monthly newsletter. This is my area of expertise. And, that is how giving back to the community should work; you should be able to use your talents to give back in a meaningful way. There are meetings I cannot make and activities that I can’t do because of my work schedule. The newsletter – that is something I can do. And, the newsletter is e-mailed to many people beyond the organization, increasing the exposure for Feather Communications.

Giving back does come full circle. The circle may take 16 years (or longer) to complete itself. However, when it does, it will give you a gratifying feeling that cannot be taken away.

Asking for Recommendations on LinkedIn

So, you have a LinkedIn profile and it’s ‘out there’ for everyone to see. How can you make your LinkedIn profile more engaging and dynamic? Is there a way to add some sense of ‘importance’ or ‘relevance’ to your skills? If you are interested in making your LinkedIn profile stand out from the rest, I highly suggest asking for recommendations.

Before you ask for recommendations on LinkedIn, think about whom you want to ask. Do you want to ask everyone you know or have ever worked with for an endorsement? Probably not. I recommend making a list of current and former co-workers, supervisors, and customers that can attest to your work ethic, dependability, and work performance. Do not ask all co-workers, all friends, or all suppliers for positive feedback. Be sure to have a variety of endorsements from various viewpoints; this will show potential contacts and employers that you have an ability to work well with a diverse group of people.

And, consider the writing skills of the people you are asking for endorsements. Although you can review the recommendation before it goes public, consider how awkward it may be to have to re-write an endorsement given to you. Also, please realize that some people will want a recommendation in return for the one they give to you.
Finally, be specific about your recommendation requests. Instead of saying that you would like a general recommendation of your work, be precise about your needs. For example, for my business, Feather Communications, I may write something similar to the following:  “Could you recommend me based upon my communication and presentation abilities?” This will give the person a starting point for providing the recommendation.

Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations on your LinkedIn profile. However, be careful and deliberate when selecting recommendation providers. Recommendations add relevance and build your reputation on your LinkedIn profile.

Finding Connections on LinkedIn

Finding Connections on LinkedInIf you created a LinkedIn profile six months ago or a year ago and never use it, you are not alone. Or, you may only have ten connections and haven’t used LinkedIn for quite some time. If you are someone that has a stagnant LinkedIn profile, it is time to broaden your horizons and utilize this wonderful social media tool.

The first step in utilizing LinkedIn is to ensure that you are connected with people and potential business contacts. There are several methods for finding contacts within LinkedIn. In fact, LinkedIn makes it rather easy to search for those people you may already know. More importantly, the site lets you see the connections of those you are already connected to within the site. If you have an e-mail contact list, you may be able to import that list and match it up to those who are already using LinkedIn. Chances are, if these people are those you connect with via e-mail, they will be more than happy to connect with you via LinkedIn.

Secondly, you can ask a current connection to introduce you to one of their connections. This is a great way to get to know someone that could potentially lead to additional business, job opportunities, or a mentor within your field. Be sure to be specific when asking for a connection; people want to know who you are and how you found them. Mention that you have a mutual contact and hope to connect on social media through LinkedIn.

Finally, try to search by company or organizations. These can be companies where you have worked in the past or companies where you wish to work in the future. If you can connect with both current and past employees, you may find very valuable information about the organization. Also, connecting with past managers and co-workers gives you a great opportunity to ask for recommendations.

The most important thing to remember is that quantity may not necessarily outweigh quality. While it may be impressive to have 500+ connections, it is also imperative that these are quality connections that can be beneficial to you. When you agree to be connected with someone, you are also saying that you agree to help them as well. Connecting on LinkedIn is vital to your success on this social media site. Get started connecting today – search “Heather Rothbauer-Wanish” on LinkedIn and mention you saw this blog post. I look forward to connecting with you!

First Steps in Completing Your LinkedIn Profile

First Steps in Starting a LinkedIn Profile

If you have decided to start a LinkedIn profile, you are on the right track to making important connections within your existing networks and beyond. The important thing to remember is that LinkedIn only works if you actually use it. Part of ensuring you are using LinkedIn means that you need to complete a profile.

When you start filling in your profile, you will notice a percentage that represents how complete your profile is at that particular time. Profiles that achieve a 100% completion rate tend to rank higher on searches within LinkedIn. You can certainly start your profile and then finish it at a later time; however, I encourage users to think about what they want to write and finish it during a specified time period.

Next, you will be encouraged to upload a profile picture to your LinkedIn profile. My LinkedIn profile page has a very professional photograph; please remember this when completing your profile. The photograph on LinkedIn is very small—you want it to represent you at your very best. Personal photographs are appropriate for personal networking; however, LinkedIn is used for more professional purposes such as job seeking, connecting with groups, and representing your business.

Finally, remember that words are key components of your LinkedIn profile. Make a list of words that appeal to people in your particular areas of expertise. Utilize these words when writing your profile. For example, describe your areas of expertise, mention job positions that may be of interest to you, and describe your reasons for joining LinkedIn.

My LinkedIn profile summary is listed below. Because I want to use my LinkedIn profile to promote my business, Feather Communications, you will notice that I have used key words that pertain to the writing and communication industry. Search LinkedIn and view profiles to discover what will best represent your industry, your organization, and, ultimately, you as a professional.

With over 12 years of management and communication experience, I decided to begin Feather Communciations in January 2008. Since that time, I have enjoyed working with and writing for a variety of clients, including local, regional and national publications. I have already worked with several clients in Australia and hope to continue my business’ international expansion. Through my experiences, I have given numerous presentations on business communication, e-mail etiquette and freelance writing.

Networking Pays Off in a Big Way

I am consistently asked how I “get” new clients. For example, how have I had the opportunity to speak at local chambers of commerce events? How do I get new resume clients? And, how do I find businesses that need marketing, public relations, and writing assistance? The answer is simple: networking.

First, starting a writing and speaking business can be an interesting endeavor. How do you get your name out there? How do you let people know that you are available for marketing and writing opportunities? And, probably most interesting of all, how do potential clients know that you are actually a good writer/marketer/public relations person?

I started my business my writing articles and other small marketing pieces for local non-profit organizations. Obviously, these were volunteer assignments and I did not get paid. What did I get? I was able to secure numerous individuals that understood my diligent work ethic, timeliness when completing job assignments, and writing skills. These people were worth more to me than the monetary value I would have received if these jobs were paid. However, this networking started my business and continues it today.

My business is a member of two local chambers of commerce. Most networking events through these organizations are free or only cost a minimal fee. If your business is a member of these organizations, take advantage of the opportunities they offer. Attend luncheons, networking events, and business expos. Don’t be afraid to invite other chamber of commerce members to lunch or to your business. Reaching out to these individuals starts to build your “web” of business contacts. Once you meet enough people, your “web” starts to expand itself.

Feather Communications will start its fifth year of business on January 1, 2012. While I have only advertised in a few publications, most of my business has developed from networking. In fact, this upcoming week includes meetings with three potential new clients that I have met through networking, meetings, and organizations.

The best tip I can offer for networking is this: do it. You can’t talk about it, read about it, and expect it to happen. You have to actually go to the meeting, attend the after-hours event, and start meeting people. But, once you start to network with business professionals, you will be amazed by the results. Trust me – it has built my business for the past four years and I know it will continue to do so well into the future.