Tag Archives: Personal Branding

7 reasons why you need personal business cards, and 7 facts to include on them

A funny story I tell my workshop attendees is about how I ordered 250 personal business cards on www.vistaprint.com, only to find when I opened them that I’d spelled my occupation wrong: “worksop facilitator.”

businesscardThere went 250 personal business cards into the trash. I’m ashamed to put this in print, but I’m making a point; make sure you spell-check your order before submitting it. This is hardly the point of this blog post, though.

Read about electronic business cards.

The overlying message is that, as a job seeker, there are seven reasons why you need  personal business cards and seven facts you must include on them.

Why you need personal business cards.

  1. Networking events. Perhaps the most obvious reason why you need personal business cards is at events where everyone will have them. Not having personal business cards will separated you from the other attendees…in a bad way.
  2. Job fairs. A great way to introduce yourself to companies for which you’d like to work is by going to job fairs. Impress company reps with your personal business cards attached to your résumés.
  3. Social gatherings. Even at family gatherings you’ll want to carry business cards. Help your family and friends remember you’re in the job search, but don’t go from person to person shoving your cards in their hands.
  4. You come across as professional. Remember when you were employed and had company business cards? The company required you to have them to represent it. Now you’re representing a company called Me. Inc.
  5. They’re a calling card and smaller than your résumé. You don’t want to carry around your résumés because they’re bulky and hard to keep flat. Think about other networkers and how they’d feel carrying your document around.
  6. They may create opportunities. Related to #’s 1 and 2, people may not recall someone with whom you can speak or of an opening at a company; but when they get home or are at their office, one of your personal business cards may cause light bulbs to go off, leading to phone calls.
  7. They’re a call to action. When someone has one of your personal business cards, they’re more likely to call you back than if they have a piece of paper with your name and number on it. Similarly, when you have someone’s personal business card, you’re more likely to follow-up on your encounter.

What to include on your personal business cards.

  1. Contact information. This is the most obvious information: your home address (optional), e-mail address (make it professional), and telephone number (home or cell). No surprises here.
  2. Include your social media accountsAlong with your public LinkedIn profile URL, you can also list your Twitter handle, Facebook account, and website or blog. This will lead people to more information about you and your social media savviness.
  3. Major areas of strength. This is one of  the most important bits of information. I’ve seen personal business cards with only contact information on them. As a potential networker, I’d need more information. Let’s say you’re in Marketing. Four areas of strength might include, Social Media, Public Relations, Web Content, Trade Shows. Keep it short and sweet.
  4. A logo. I’m not a big fan, but if you have a professionally designed logo that truly represents what you do, brands you; go for it. No cheap logos from Google Images or ones from templates from personal business card providers.
  5. A photo. Again, not a big fan unless you’re in the proper occupation, like real estate, modeling, acting, and others where your appearance is your calling card. IT or finance or medical tech? I think not.
  6. A branding statementThis may work well if it is short and descriptive enough to show value. Something like, “I fix things that break” is not descriptive because many job seekers do this. However, “Creating marketing literature that generate sales and increases visibility,” is clearer in terms of what the person does.
  7. Extra hint: leave the back bare. That’s right. You might be tempted to provide more information on the back, but this is valuable real estate for networkers who’d like to take notes about what you discussed. Make sure to carry a pen with you so your new-found networker can write on your card.

My faux pas with my order of business cards is only superseded by a dear networker I know who misspelled his last name on this business card. It goes without saying that you must carefully edit your business card template before having it produced by a brick and mortar company or online. Most importantly, don’t be caught without a business card.

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Don’t neglect this components of your LinkedIn profile; the Summary

To make your LinkedIn profile appealing to employers, every section of it has to stand out. I wrote an article on the LinkedIn photo and branding headline and how they can contribute to your personal branding. Now I’ll address one of the most important LinkedIn sections, the summary. In my mind this section is neglected by far too many people, greatly reducing their personal branding potential.

Let’s look at three points to consider when branding yourself with your LinkedIn summary.

Don’t recite your résumé summary. Some jobseekers, against the advice of Professional Résumé Writer Tracy Parish, use their summary as a dumping ground for their résumé’s summary. In other words, they copy and paste the summary from their résumé to their LinkedIn summary. Is this utter laziness or poor branding? Both.

Tracy writes, “The summary section on LinkedIn is probably one of the main places people miss out on a great opportunity to showcase what they have to offer. This is NOT the place to copy and paste your résumé, and it’s not the place to skimp on critical information. As a jobseeker, it is critically important to create a ‘Wow Factor’….”

One major difference between the two summaries is the number of characters allowed on LinkedIn and the number of characters your résumé’s summary should contain. You are allowed 2,000 characters for your LinkedIn summary. So use them! On a résumé this number of characters would take up three-quarters of a page, much too long for a two-page document. A proper number of characters for a résumé should not exceed 1,000 if written well.

You have a voice with LinkedIn. You’re given more freedom of expression on LinkedIn; use it! Be creative and make the employer want to read on. This is what effective branding does, which includes your voice. It should be some of your best writing and can be written in first person or even third person.

Most pundits lean toward first person, as it expresses a more personal side to you. A summary written in first person seems to invite others into the writer’s life. To me, the first person voice is more natural. Look at Jason Alba’s summary written in first person. It is personal and makes you feel like you know him. Jason is the author I’m on LinkedIn, Now What??? and founder of JibberJabber.com.

Not many people pull off the third person voice well. In my opinion, the third-person voice can sound stilted; but if done right, it can make a powerful branding impact. Dan Schawbel is one person who makes it work, primarily because he is a reputable branding expert. His summary brands him extremely well.

Decide how you want to deliver your personal branding. How you brand yourself through your summary depends on the type of work you’re pursuing, your skill set, the story you want to tell, what you want to reveal about your personality, and other factors.

Darrell Dizolglio, a Professional Résumé Writer who also writes LinkedIn profiles, says it depends on his clients’ talents and career goals. “I have found by helping hundreds of clients over the years that the greatest results come when you use the LinkedIn summary to open yourself up to multiple opportunities/positions, while your résumés can zero in on just one position very effectively. Naturally, you can/should have multiple targeted résumés out there at work for you. However, you are allowed only one LinkedIn summary per person.”

If you want to state your accomplishments in the summary, this can be an effective way of grabbing potential employers’ attention. This is the “Wow” factor of which Tracy speaks. Some prefer to use the work history section for presenting their accomplishments, and, in fact, the history section should be all about accomplishments. Save the mundane duties for your Job Scope on your résumé.

Wendy Enelow , author of numerous job search books and a world renowned Careers Industry Leader, gives us her take on using the LinkedIn summary for telling a story. “If I’m working with a client who has a really great career story to tell, then I’ll definitely use the LinkedIn summary to tell the story. Perhaps they were promoted 8 times in 10 years with IBM, or moved rapidly from one company to another based on their strong financial contributions to each organization.”

Martin Yate says it all with his summary. He combines an out-of-the-gate introduction of himself, with a little bit of philosophy on the direction of your job search. Martin is the author of the Knock ‘em Dead series. Here’s a snippet from his summary:

“I make it my business to teach you how to navigate [the career search]. Over the years, it’s become my mission to show you how to survive and prosper through the twists and turns of a 50-year career. Whether it is in a book, on the radio, during a webinar or a video – my goal is to provide advice, actionable takeaways, and integrated strategies, because you have no time to waste and just one chance to get it right!”

As for my summary, I decided to use more of a philosophical/functional approach, describing my strongest skill areas. I put most of my effort into the summary section of my profile but don’t skimp on my work history. While every section is important, it is a heinous crime to neglect the summary section of your profile. Next I’ll talk about the work history of your LinkedIn profile.