Networking, in person or online, is a challenge

By Cindy Macdonald

A well-developed personal brand is necessary in business today. It is vital to keep professionalism in mind at all times when posting digital content, because anyone can Google your name, at any time. When the person you’ve just met at an industry gathering looks you up, what will they find?

I have decided to pursue work in digital media as well as print, so I have expanded my self-description to be “editor and content creator.” This phrase now appears on my resume, my bio for Twitter and my LinkedIn profile.

Labelling my skills is the first step in developing my personal network online.

Having been in and out of the publishing field for a few years now, LinkedIn is one of the obvious tools for me to keep in touch with peers. I have 204 connections on LinkedIn and belong to six groups related to industries I’ve covered for various publications, one “magazine” group, and Editors Canada. The groups are resources that I have not yet mined, as I’ve been focused on working toward my social media certificate.

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

One deterrent to participating in online groups, such as LinkedIn’s magazine group, is fear. I fear that any comments or posts I make would not contribute anything useful to the conversation. My specialty of trade magazines, particularly trade magazines in Canada, is a niche, and I worry that my experiences would be different than those of editors on other types of magazines. I’m uncertain my input would be valued since it applies to a rather narrow segment. When I’m looking for a job, I emphasize my many years of experience in magazines, but to actually put my own opinion out there is a little frightening.

The solution is to begin reading the posts of this group and read the responses. I’m sure there are threads and discussions to which I could contribute. I would plan to start small and pick my subjects carefully.

Social media also presents an opportunity to boost the work of friends and colleagues by engaging in conversation, perhaps contributing interesting questions to their posts or timelines. It’s a way of supporting their businesses or ventures and building a two-way relationship. Now that I’ve moved to a rural area, I intend to network with local businesses, to offer my expertise in communications and social media. To meet these businesspeople, I’m joining local Facebook groups, and hope to attend local business association or chamber of commerce meetings. Face-to-face meetings are difficult to implement right now, due to COVID-19 restrictions, so it is doubly important that my online personal brand shows that I am a knowledgeable, experienced editor of print and digital magazines, with up-to-date social media skills.

About me: After more than 25 years as an editor of trade publications, I’m now learning social media techniques. I’ll be writing about news, communication, social media and travel as I go through this career transition. Please join me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or my blog, and we’ll chat.

Personal Reflection – Digital Communication

Personal Reflection – Digital Communication

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio (Pexels.com)

What I learnt in this course is, that we need great storytelling for compelling content marketing that will grasp the attention of the consumer. Especially in the fast-paced world of social media in that, we live today.

I also learnt that we should not be afraid to make mistakes and not to over-edit our work. We learn and grow from our mistakes – as writers and marketers. In the past, I was always too scared to make mistakes or thought I should not write about a certain subject, but after this course, I will change that.

We also need to remember to be transparent in the relationship with our customers. So, I will try and find a piece of myself in every story that I will write from now on.

I was also too afraid to be too personal in the content that I post online, but now I will start to embrace that and be more transparent and share more personal stories.
Thank you!

My Personal Brand

As a freelance model, I had to think quite often what kind of qualities or characteristics set me apart from models in my area.
One might be obvious. My red hair and my fair skin.

But the reason why some photographers keep booking me again or recommend me to their colleagues is that I am very professional, reliable, friendly, kind, confident and disciplined.

If need be, I can also plan and organize a hole photoshoot with a few days or offer an idea to a photographer. All of this I learned in the past 6 years of working as a model.

I have a Facebook business page and Instagram page for my modeling where I post about every two weeks. I also joined modeling and photography groups on Facebook to network and find new contacts for photoshoots (since I am still fairly new in town). Even when I do not post new content in those groups often, I do comment and/or engage on posts of other photographers and models.

After Covid-19 I plan to start meeting with photographers again. This time with photographers I have not made any photos yet to expand my network.

Any tips and tricks you can share with me? Then please, leave me a comment! Thank you.

COM0014 – Blog 6: How I Help Make the World a Better Place

Stolen laptop

One evening in 2018, Olga closed her laptop and walked out of a hotel room in Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan, for a quick dinner. She had arrived in the city the previous night to participate in a workshop for local civil society groups. As the head of a small human rights watchdog, she was a regular at these events.

When Olga returned to the hotel, her laptop was not there. The hotel had no security cameras, and police officers who soon arrived said it was unlikely that she would get the device back. That only reinforced the woman’s suspicion that the laptop had been taken by the authorities. As a vocal member of a coalition demanding justice for victims of police abuse, she knew the authorities would do anything to get access to her data.

Having your laptop stolen can ruin many lives if you have sensitive or confidential files on the hard drive. GIF source: Giphy

Having the laptop stolen could have had dire consequences for Olga, her organization and other people that she worked with. She had a lot of sensitive files on her hard drive, including testimonies from victims of police torture. If this data fell into the hands of the authorities, it would have been a disaster for many people.

Encryption and backups

Nonprofits and activists are particularly vulnerable to attacks targeting their online assets and digital devices. The Ottawa-based organization I work for helps civil society organizations in countries like Kazakhstan to tackle digital risks.

Shortly before Olga’s laptop was stolen, we had helped her organization to put in place basic digital safety measures. Those measures included encrypting her laptop and setting up automatic backups. So, Olga not only kept all her files but also knew that the thief would not be able to decrypt them. As a precaution against possible device loss, we had also enabled remote erase on the laptop. With the laptop gone, the woman activated this function and knew that as soon as her device connected to the Internet, its hard drive would be wiped.

This is what we do on a daily basis. This work is important for activists and civil society groups fighting injustices and making their communities and nations better places to live.

Your turn

And what is your your favourite customer story? Have you ever helped someone in a way that made you particularly proud of your job? Share your stories in the comments below.

COM0014 – Blog 5: Brand Me

I am a communications professional who currently manages social media for an Ottawa-based nonprofit. Several things set me apart from other professionals in my field.

There are a lot of people out there with skillsets and experience similar to mine.
A key part of my personal brand is what makes me stand out. GIF source: Giphy

First, I have a lot of experience in delivering high-stakes communications campaigns in difficult operational environments. Such environments include post-conflict nations, characterized by repressive political system, endemic corruption, and deep-seated suspicion of foreign-funded projects. I know how to move forward and secure crucial allies in seemingly hopeless situations. This means that I can be a valuable asset to internationally funded development projects and initiatives working in such places.

I have delivered successful communications campaigns in difficult
operational environments. GIF source: Giphy

Second, I am good at crafting messages that resonate with various audiences. In my current role, I develop a lot of social media content focusing on digital safety. The people I work with often commend my ability to explain complex and technical terms or processes in plain language. I have recently begun using comics to convey digital safety advice.

I am good at writing for various audiences. GIF source: Giphy

Finally, I have a sharp analytical mind that allows me to see patterns amidst thousands of data points, extract key information from these patterns, and pinpoint connections between seemingly unrelated events and developments. In addition to my social media work, I help the organization I work for to understand and position itself to capitalize on major political, economic and social developments in the regions where we operate. I am particularly proud of this aspect of my work.

Blog #5: No mistakes, just support

By Cindy Macdonald

If you are a small business owner, social media marketing can be time-consuming, confusing and risky. But it’s not an easy function to outsource because effective marketing requires an intimate knowledge of the client’s business and the target audience. It is easy to make a mis-step and damage your business’ reputation.

As an experienced business writer and social media strategist, I can achieve that balance of learning your business and growing its presence on social media. I know that you don’t retweet Greenpeace when you work in the logging and forestry sector, not matter how cute the video is. You don’t complain about being stuck in the office when your audience is construction workers labouring outside on a hot and humid July day.

Having reported on manufacturing, automotive, forestry, retail, security, agriculture and cleantech for 25+ years, I can relate to almost any Canadian industry.

Also, when you’re paying someone for their specialized expertise, you need them to walk a fine line between suggesting improvements and completely taking over your process.

Gif by Tenor

This is where I fit in. As a freelance writer and editor, I am accustomed to joining a company for a defined term to complete a specific project. I make things happen once the company’s leaders have decided what should happen. I’m a tactician, not a strategist. Part of the crew, not the captain.

Gif by Tenor

One of my strengths is #collaboration. One of the key functions of an editor is to work with writers, to make their articles better without obscuring their voice. This is what I feel a social media manager should do: collaborate, boost the marketing message and be a team player.

About me: After more than 25 years as an editor of trade publications, I’m now learning social media techniques. I’ll be writing about news, communication, social media and travel as I go through this career transition. Please join me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or my blog, and we’ll chat.

COM0014- Blog Post #5 – The Many Faces of Me

I am what some would call…a functional introvert. It sounds kind of funny when you think about it. Most people would describe me as Strong, Dominant, Confident, Personable, Easy Listener, Empathetic and comfortable in my own skin. These are all true. But I am also an introvert. I find being around people exhausting. Most people don’t know this. They see what I want them to see. This is what makes it easy to do my job. I am able to blend into any role. I am a Mother, Writer, Manager, Cat Lover, Gun enthusiast, Tough Mudder Runner, Scrapbooker, Sewer, and a whole bunch of other things. I like people, and parties and other things that require social interaction. I am most comfortable with small groups and enjoy intimate things like dinner and movies. Being an introvert doesn’t mean I hate people. It means I find social situations exhausting and when I need to recharge, I prefer to be alone. Writing is perfect for me. I love immersing myself in a story and letting it take me wherever the magic takes me. I am more comfortable with books than people.

What makes me different?

Writing is my passion. I write because I have a story to tell. I don’t write to make me rich. I also work very hard at whatever task I undertake. That is what makes me stand out in my field. I work in Corrections. It is a tough job. I am good at it. I have a very empathetic nature, but I am also very fair and tough. I am also a Classic Type A Overachiever Personality. I get bored easily. Which means I take on new roles all the time. This makes me versatile in my field. It has enabled me to learn and grow.

What have you done to make yourself stand out?

I am in the middle of completing my Social Media Certificate at Algonquin College. I am looking to make the next step in my career. I want to work in Ottawa. I am also taking French classes at St. Lawrence College. I am also working with an Editor on my latest book.

What would your colleagues say is your best trait?

My colleagues say I am Hardworking and Reliable. I can live with that. I have a strong work ethic and expect others to be the same.

What about you? What makes you different from others in your field? Any Personality Traits that stand out or Contrast?

COM0014 Digital Communication – Personal Branding

What sets me apart from my competitors?

Personal branding has become muddled with others trying to copy others style, personality traits and views. In this climate, differentiating yourself is more difficult than ever and that is why I believe I possess certain characteristics and qualities that set me apart from most. In general, I do not buy into designer clothing and often wear clothes with no logo. Too often we are seeing people wear the same logo as what is currently popular and this in turn makes them blend in instead of stand out. Another characteristics that sets me apart from my competitors is my authenticity. Whether it be expressing political views, stating my point of view on a project at work or having an argument with friends, my authenticity sets me apart and earns me respect ultimately. Further, I believe that one of my best qualities that enhances my personal branding and sets me apart from competitors is my ability to use humour online. On Twitter I often receive praise for my wittiness and ability to think on the spot using humour. This helps create your unique identity online and creates a sense of uniqueness when branding yourself on social media.

Stand Out at whatever cost

What have you done lately to stand out?

When reflecting on things I’ve done lately to stand out, what seems to resonate most is my confidence at work wearing a suit. Given I work in an executive office filled with senior managers, I tend to feel left out being a younger looking student. I decided to invest in a nice, reasonably priced navy suit and brown dress shoes to match. This earned me lots of compliments and made my confidence skyrocket. As many say, “Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want”. This was a bold move and quite a drastic shift in attire when compared with my usual sweaters and dress shirts, however it has warranted a better sense of personal branding and was well worth the money.

The Legend Himself

What would your colleagues say is your best trait?

After contemplating this question for several minutes, I believe that what sets me apart from others and is valued by my colleagues is my ability to analyze effectively. My manager often runs presentations by me first as well as briefing notes, and I am able to quickly see errors whether it be typos, structure or anything that might be perceived negatively. Analytical skills and attention to detail are such valuable traits to possess in the workforce and for this reason I believe they would value this trait most about me.

Analytics

COM0014 Blog #5: Wait, how do you say that name again?

Growing up with an unusual name is tough. When I was a kid, I could see nothing good about my unique name (I’m Bronwyn, by the way. Nice to meet you!) No one could pronounce it properly upon first introduction (okay, most people still can’t), and it’s not the kind of name that immediately tells you if the person is male or female (I get emails to “Mr. Bronwyn” all the time). “Why couldn’t you have called me Sarah or Megan, or something normal?” I’d lament to my mother. Being just like everyone else was the thing to strive for, not standing out.

As I got older, though, I learned to appreciate the things about myself that made me unlike other people, including my name. And professionally, I have found that I have certain qualities that are of distinctive value.

Where I Stand Out

I am one of thousands of communications strategists in the federal government. So, what makes me a stand-out? Three things:

  1. Advice that meets and anticipates future client needs. I have a history of giving my clients sound communications advice, and developing strategies based on thorough assessments of the public environment, policy issues and risk management. My advice is also supported by my willingness to reach out to other government departments to learn from them and share best practices.
  2. Quality. I have to say, I’m pretty good at this writing thing. Over the course of my ten-year public service career, I have written in many formats – media lines, news releases, Tweets, web content, and speaking points – to meet the needs of diverse audiences. I pay a great deal of attention to detail in my writing, and I understand the importance of a unified approach to messaging.
  3. Responsive. I have a solid reputation for providing fast and high-quality client service. Not every request can be fulfilled right away, but I strongly believe that acknowledging requests quickly and providing dependable service is important for maintaining a strong client relationship.

I’m proud of the work I’ve done throughout my career. Very proud. But what might be the most personally satisfying is the work I do outside the office.  Things like:

How about you? What do you do that makes you feel the most fulfilled?