Your Image Matters: 10 Tips for the Right Profile Picture

It takes just one-tenth of a second for us to judge someone and make our first impression.[1] Like my mother always told me, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression,” and, in the case of social networking, your profile picture is the number one biggest visual impression that you make, every day, with every contact.

Your profile picture may be THE most important piece of information about you on the internet.  Really – just think about it!  It is the visual key to your digital brand.   It is the only visual connection that internet contacts may ever have with you.  Are you sure that the picture of you at your family picnic 30 years ago, or the one where you are making that weird face, is really how you want people to know you?

Your images matters.  And because we have less opportunity to be in each others physical space, the image of you in your little tiny profile picture matters even more. That digital representation of you is all that your colleagues, employer, prospective new employer, clients, followers, and so on, may ever see.

I’ve noticed that my profile picture shows up everywhere these days:  when I comment on someone’s posts, when someone sees me on Twitter or LinkedIn, when I send an email – it is that little ‘Lorian-head’ that people relate to first, before my text.

C.G. Lynch, writer of Social Media Matters for CIO magazine said: “Truth is, this photo may be used by people whom you don’t know very well as they try to size you up – personally or professionally. So it matters.”  You may not get a second chance to show them your face.

10 Tips To the Right Profile Photo

Here are a bunch of tips that I put together to help you pick the right photo for your online accounts:

  1. Use a current photo.  When I went to buy my house, I picked a real estate agent who looked about 35 years old in her advertising photo.  When we met face to face, she was in her 60’s.  It made me a little concerned about trusting her.  Realize that someday you may actually meet the people who see your profile picture, make sure that you are as recognizable as possible.
  2. Use a human photo of YOU — not an object – not an avatar. (Though I do love my avatar because she is eternally young and she may be the right version of me on my personal Facebook page, but not professionally.)

    mywebfaxe

    Lorian’s Avatar

  3. Use a photo of ONLY you – no pets – no children – no vehicles – no drinking buddies.  Also, make sure that there are no errant body parts in the photo – like someone’s hand from an arm that you cropped out (that would be tacky).
  4. Smile! Your face should radiate warmth and approachability.  Smiling gives a positive signal, even in one-dimensional viewing.
  5. Make eye contact with the camera.  People want to see your eyes – it’s a trust thing. Look directly at the camera.  Don’t take pictures with a webcam, they just don’t look right.
  6. Create visual contrast.: There should be equal balance of dark areas and light areas. Take note of what you’re wearing, along with your hair color, when choosing what will be in the back drop.
  7. Chose your best clothes colors.  Think about other pictures that you look good in – what color were you wearing near your face then?  Wear clothes based on the professional appearance you want to present.  For most of us that is no t-shirts, busy patterns, or Hawaiian shirts.  Black and blue outfits always work well.  Photo experts say avoid white.
  8. Have a quiet background.  The less you have in the background of the photo the less visually distracting.
  9. Take a head and shoulders shot.  Look at other people’s profile pictures and see how much of their upper body they show.  A shoulder is always good.  But the profile shot is very small, so you want to be able to really see your face.
  10. You don’t need a professional photographer (though it would be nice), but take multiple shots.  Then ask people for their opinion on which one makes you seem most “approachable.”
President Barack Obama: Inauguration Day 2009

Not to get political here,  Just a good example of a profile picture,  And, if you must have a building in the background, the US Capitol would be one to have. – President Barack Obama 2009

“The goal is for your photo to reflect how you will look when you meet a customer, not how you looked at that killer party in Key West four years ago. The best profile photo isn’t necessarily your favorite photo. The best photo strikes a balance between professionalism and approachability, making you look good but also real.” – Social Ben Martin from his Social Media business blog

Do you have more profile tips to add to the list? What has worked or not worked for you when it came to your profile picture?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

References

  1. Willis, J., & Todorov, A. (2006). First impressions: Making up your mind after 100 ms exposure to a face. Psychological Science, 17, 592-598.
  2. Image @ Trevor Aston Photography Bad Profile Pictures Are Like Limp Handshakes
  3. What Does Your Social Networking Profile Picture Say About You? How you portray yourself on social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn matters. June 17, 2009 by C.G. Lynch
  4. Careerealism: Because Every Job is Temporary ,11 Tips For Choosing Your LinkedIn Photo,
  5. Analogue Chic, How To Look Better In Pictures: The Profile Pic, January 19, 2011
  6. Ben Martin, 6 Steps to a More Marketable Linked Profile
  7. BrandYourSelf, 5 Ways To Make Your Website Profile Photo Work For Your Personal Brand Image, July 15, 2009
  8. NJ Ledger, Allan Hoffman: Does that profile picture make you look like a schlub online?, May 10, 2013
  9. Photo from “President Barack Obama: Inauguration Day 2009

Your Personal Strengths Matter

Work posterWe live in interesting times.  Whoever thought that so many professionals would be worried about corporate restructuring, layoffs, and downsizing. Keeping your job in today’s unstable business climate takes new ideas and new ways to present yourself  – it takes personal branding.

Career opportunities have become as competitive as the market itself.  Knowing how to differentiate yourself from the pack will make all the difference in your career progression.

Personal Branding demands that you put your best foot forward. Taking a lesson from product marketing, you need to find and show your unique value.  You must clearly articulate what unique skills and strengths you possess.  Your online profiles and  resume represent your value statement – what you bring to the table – so it needs to be crisp.  Focusing on your strengths can provide you with a strong identity which is uniquely you.

”Most Americans do not know what their strengths are. When you ask them, they look at you with a blank stare, or they respond in terms of subject knowledge, which is the wrong answer”. – Peter Drucker

Selling your expertise has always involved putting your education and experience on paper (your resume or curriculum vide (CV)).  It usually was not until you were face to face with a client, or prospective employer, that you were able to impress them with your point of view. But today you rarely get the chance to have that face moment.  You need to wrap your point of view into your social presence.  Your online profile needs to not just talk about what you have done, but highlight your point of view, and what you can and want to do for others.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about identifying your soft and hard skill sets (2 Steps to Understanding Your Hard and Soft Skills).  To understand your soft skills, you really need to look at your CORE STRENGTHS.  These are the attributes of your personality that drive your ability to excel in certain soft skill areas, and the same one’s that drove your choices in selecting your hard skills (technical training and knowledge).

If you look around on LinkedIn or Twitter, you will see that many people define themselves by their titles (VP of Important Things), or the technical and business hard skills that they have (Network Engineer, Physicist), rather than the strengths of their personality (Leader, Innovator). But your core strengths, not your job title, will keep you moving forward in your business career.

Core Strengths

Core, or personal, strengths, unlike skills, are based on who you are, not what you know.  For example, one of my personal strengths is ‘Analytical.’  People with this strength search for reason and causes in things. They think about the factors that might affect a situation. (Gallup StrengthFinder)  It is important, as you focus on what makes you unique, to think about what your natural abilities are; the innate talents you were born with.

Attitude Adjustment Assignment – Define Your Core Strengths:

Looking at the list below, pick out 5 or 10 attributes that describe your top strengths.  Put them in an order from strongest to weakest.

strength chart(Chart adapted from Myrko Thum’s blog, Personal; Development That Transforms, March 2013)

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Differentiate Yourself

When you build your brand around your unique value, your authentic self, you start to standout from others.  Knowing and appreciating what makes you different from your peers and your competitors gives you a handle on what unique qualities you have to offer your team or your employer.  And it is in the knewing, that you are able to build a better online presence.

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It’s also important not to confuse strengths with likes. What you like to do is not necessarily what you do best. It can be, but it’s not a given. Of course, for a successful career you want to combine these two in order to overlap your strengths with your passion.

Over time, my core strengths guided me in making choices around work and also my personal life.  I chose jobs that felt comfortable and ‘right’ for me – not because I really knew why, but because I tend to ‘trust my gut’ (I am not sure that is a core strength, but it should be).

What I have learned over the years is that when my core strengths and my technical and business skills support each other, I tend to really shine in my work (and in my life), and I am the happiest.

Leverage your strengths as part of your personal branding process is a must for professionals today.  Companies are expecting employees that desire career growth to know who they are and to manage their own eminence.

What are your personal strengths and what makes you unique?

animationfinalKeep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

4 Steps To The Brand Of YOU

You are unique.

Yes, you are.  You’re one of a kind. There is no one else like you. Some people may have similar attributes, but they are still different from you.  Even if you are an identical twin, you are not a clone (well, I am pretty sure you aren’t). Good personal branding is communicating through words and actions those things that show who you are: your unique self.  Today’s Attitude Adjustment post looks at 4 things that, when put together, call out what makes you UNIQUE: Expertise, Perception, Personality, and Presence.

My cousin's triplets.  All look the same, but are very individual personalities.

My cousin’s triplets. All look the same, but have very different personalities.

To describe our brand, we need to look at the combination of characteristic features that make us, us. We must be able to describe our personal traits: the distinguishing features of our personal nature, our personality, that we alone possess. It is through analyzing our traits, strengths, weaknesses, and other differentiating qualities, that we construct our personal brand statement and show people the unique value we bring to things.

We have all heard people say things like “it is his nature to help others,” or “she is a natural-born communicator.” Well it is our nature that determines our actions and reactions to things and it is through understanding ourselves to this degree, that we are best able to craft a compelling and authentic personal brand statement.

The Brand of YOU

To get you started on thinking about personality traits, here is a list of some of the more common ones.  Do any of them fit you?

activeness, activity – the trait of being active; moving or acting rapidly and energetically
attentiveness – the trait of being observant and paying attention
communicativeness – the trait of being communicative
discipline – the trait of being well-behaved
drive – the trait of being highly motivated
emotionalism, emotionality – emotional nature or quality
emotionlessness, unemotionality – absence of emotion
femininity – the trait of behaving in ways considered typical for women
firmness of purpose, resoluteness, resolve, firmness, resolution – the trait of being resolute
humility, humbleness – a disposition to be humble; a lack of false pride
individualism, individuality, individuation – the quality of being individual
masculinity – the trait of behaving in ways considered typical for men
pride – the trait of being spurred on by a dislike of falling below your standards
serious-mindedness, earnestness, seriousness, sincerity – the trait of being serious
sound judgement, sound judgment, perspicacity, judgement, judgment – the capacity to assess situations or circumstances shrewdly and to draw sound conclusions
thoughtfulness – the trait of thinking carefully before acting
trustfulness, trustingness, trust – the trait of believing in the honesty and reliability of others
trustiness, trustworthiness – the trait of deserving trust and confidence
wisdom, wiseness – the trait of utilizing knowledge and experience with common sense and insight
Trait definitions from TheFreeDictionary © 2012 by Farlex, Inc.
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When I ask people what their personal brand is, many can not tell me.  They can talk about their technical or business expertise and they can recite their work and life resumes, but they lack the details of what they uniquely bring to the world – their personal twist – their brand.  When pushed they can tell me their moral and ethical values, and their passions, but they have never tried to create a personal brand image.  And, you first need to develop your personal brand image before you will be able to create a digital one.

Attitude Adjustment Homework:  Crafting Your Personal Brand Image.

In your notebook make a list of the following information.

1,  Expertise:  Include here your competencies: general knowledge, point of view on things, technical knowledge, and your critical thinking ability.

64309“An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them.”
Werner Heisenberg

2.  Perception: What do other people think you’re an expert in? What are you known for doing well?  What strengths do others perceive you possess?

Understanding how people see us is enlightening, and is the best way to investigate and improve our image, especially when it comes to branding. I regularly survey my mentors, managers, colleagues, and clients to ensure that I have a good feedback loop between what I think I project and what I really project.

This makes me think of a line from a Robert Burns poem:

“O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.”
(O would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us.)
Robert Burns, Poem “To a Louse” – verse 8
Scottish national poet (1759 – 1796)

3.  Personality: What are your personality strengths and weaknesses?  Describe your core personality traits.

Personal strengths, unlike skills and expertise, are based on who you are, not what you know.  These are the personality traits that I mentioned above. Once you understand your personality traits, your natural talents, you can apply them to your personal definition.

Take me for example: my top personal strength is “Individualization.”  I am intrigued with the unique qualities of each person and have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively. (Gallup StrengthFinder) This talent has served me well in my role as a global program manager, in customizing projects for clients. and in identifying different approaches to everything from data analysis to personal problems.

4.  Presence.  Your personal image depends on how you appear in the world.  Presence or appearance includes things like how you dress, the way your carry yourself, your posture, your gestures, even your facial expressions.  Influence demands on personal presence.  You can have all the other factors, but without the proper presence you may never be able to ‘sell’ the Brand of You, “Presence is not an all-or-nothing commodity. Consider it a continuum, with your physical attributes, natural talents, communication skills, and character traits plotted along the way somewhere from one end to the other between “low presence/low impact” and “high presence/high impact.” (Dianna Booher, Creating a Powerful Personal Presence to Influence and Engage, American Management Association, March 6, 2012)

Once you have a solid list in all 4 categories, you can begin to create a strawman of your brand profile.  But I think that is enough homework for a couple of days.

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

18 Ways To Increase Your Digital Presence

1.analyzing_computer_tv_head_sm_nwmTo help you stay motivated on this hyperactive journey toward digital eminence, I have credited the Attitude Adjustment Rewards System.

Have you been playing along and doing your Attitude Adjustment Homework (check out the Attitude Homework page to catch up)?

Today I past 500 hits on the blog (Yeah!!!! 500 people looking and reading) and  to celebrate that milestone, I have put together a list of activities so that together we can look at all the good work we are doing toward DIGITAL EMINENCE and reward ourselves.  I have imbedded helpful links throughout the activities list to help you get your rewards.

Activity Points
1. Understanding What You Look Like: Exploring Google, Yahoo, to see how the world sees you (Taking Out The Digital Garbage) 1
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2. Updating your LinkedIn picture (tips on background colour) with something more professional looking.  (That is how all the people and companies in cyberspace see you – don’t you want to look your best?) 1
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3. Take that new picture and replace all your other profiles with it, so you have a singular face to the world. (It is easier to maintain one picture on all profiles, and easy is good.) 1
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4. Rework your resume and create a one-page version.  Only send your long resume if people want it.  
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5. Reword your LinkedIn profile (LinkedIn Profile Blueprint from Social Ben Martin)  to ensure that it represented the business information that you want the world to see.  Your personal brand.  Though you may still be working on ‘who you are,’ try to be as authentic as possible.  Branding is, of course, a dynamic process, so updating will happen often. 1
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6.  Do you Tweet?  Update your Twitter profile and start to use it more (at least once a day, if it makes business sense for you).  Follow more industry people you admire (like me) and also spending some time checking out the links they post.  You don’t have to say anything, just listen to what’s tweeting. 1
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7. TAGGING – tagging, tagging, tagging.  Tag yourself every chance you get.  At work, tag your profile,  tag your blog, tag people you know, tag your external profiles.  If you don’t have labels on what you do, and who you are, how are people going to find you. 1
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8. Created a word cloud of your expertise and have other people help you see where your expertise lies. 1
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9. Reading.  There is so much good info out there both on the web and in print.  I gave you a weekend reading list.  Personally, I am trying to spend at least a half hour reading a book every day.  I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but at least it is something.  Are you reading to expand your mind and increase your knowledge? 1
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10. Follow some Communities or Groups, like TED: Ideas Worth Spreading Community.  Keep up with the pulse of one or two companies, industries, or movements. 1
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11. Register and play with an app called BrandYourSelf 1
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12. Offer you assistance in education or public speaking in your area of specialty, both physically and virtually. 1
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13. Create your Attitude Adjustment Plan, and work on clarifying your vision, purpose, values and passion statements.  You can’t know what your brand is if you don’t know who you are and what you stand for. 1
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14. Expanded your internal company and external network contacts (Are You Ready For Cyber Relations?) 1
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15. Add valuable content and comments to articles and blogs online 1
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16. Focus more on your listening skills.  Participate in activities like the 21-day Mediation Challenge with Deepak & Ophra to help quiet your mind. 1
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17. Registered with Klout.com to see how your score is changing on the internet 1
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18. Read THEDIGITALATTITUDE blog every week and comment on how you are doing. 1
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Total Reward Points

I know for a fact that these activities will help increase your digital presence.  But if my little Attitude Adjustment Reward System isn’t enough to motivate you, how about a piece of Dark Chocolate? Let me know your score. Need help with your one pager or your LinkedIn profile? email me: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

Don’t Add To My WorkLoad!

I have been thinking a great deal about how I live (aka: how I spend my time), and to be honest, I think I could use my time more wisely.  My goal is to use social media as a tool to replace work that I am already doing, not to add to my work load. I keep hearing that I need to work smarter, not harder.  Coming up with that equation is … a lot of work.

arg-fish-storyI read an interesting article by Clay Shirky, called “Gin, Television, and Social Surplus,” on WorldChanging, about the use of leisure time. He calls it ‘Social Surplus.’ Social surplus is “time we have when we are not doing paid work, our so called ‘leisure time.”  He says that years ago (20th Century), we spent time engaged in ‘consuming prepackaged media,’ like film and TV, and that now (21st Century) we devote our time to ‘producing and sharing.’ in addition to consuming.   Therefore, he defines the use of social media as a leisure activity.

accountantHe is part right, because most of the blogging and browsing and tweeting that I am doing is during my leisure time (my personal time).  I am doing a lot of business work in my ‘social surplus‘ time.  I am working harder and longer hours then ever before.  This had made me realize that I need to switch some of how I look at things, and some of how I work, because he is also wrong, not all of my social media use is personal, and therefore, not all ‘social surplus.’  For example, reading news is part work, part leisure;  IBM email, is all work; Twitter, is 90% work; Facebook, is 100% leisure; this blog, is work, but DogDaz.com blog is leisure.  It is clear that the lines between work and leisure (professional /personal), at least on the internet, have blurred with the advent of social media.  It is not about finding clear lines between the two, but about how I learn to work differently in another medium.  Luis Suarez is a perfect example,  He is the IBMer that gave up email and communicates only through social media for all his projects and communications.  I don’t sense that he is trying to figure out where his professional tweets end and his personal tweets begin (if you know what I mean).  Trying to keep the two worlds separate is a waste of time and energy.

Let’s look at what I might do differently to make this swap:

  • Instead of buying and reading newspapers, I am going to get my news headlines on my Twitter feed and Facebook (ie: BBC, CNN, NPR, local news).  I still like the Sunday paper though, so I am keeping that (or I won’t have anything to use when repotting plants).  If I want more than the headline, I can click on the link in the news feed.
  • I stopped randomly playing around on the internet to see what was out there a long time ago, because I think it was a big time waster for me.  Occasionally I still do like to nose around for entertainment and good books but I will be setting my timer to ensure I don’t get lost for hours (sometime I forget to go to bed).
  • I have not given up reading books or watching TV, but I have always limited TV to shows that I have recorded.  I need to be more choosy on the books, I guess, because my pile gets bigger and bigger.
  • When I have a business question and I need lots of input, maybe I can Tweet it, verses calling or Instant Messaging a million people?  That would really save time.  I really need to start leveraging the community of experts out there better.
  • $545E5FB844589F58I need to stop feeling guilty about using social media during work time.  This is a hold over for me probably because I have worked virtually for so many years and had to make sure I limited my use of the www outside of work to after hours. (I may be showing my age but who remembers the BOSS screen on the early computers?)  Those days are gone.  As long as I am using social media to do a better job, I think that it is something that is part of my job, and therefore, it is not ‘social surplus,’ but ‘SOCIAL NECESSITY’ (my term).

What are some ways you can think of incorporating social media into your routine by replacing something you already do in a different medium?   

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

Attitude Adjmt Plan #1 – Defining Personal Brand

I am a Project Manager (PM) by profession, and as a PM, I like to make plans and work those plans to completion.  For me it is critical to have a plan, especially when you are working with something as big as crafting your digital eminence (it sounds like a big job to me).  I also find that having a plan with distinct milestones helps me keep to the task at hand, otherwise I could get overwhelmed by the whole process.  One of the ways that I have been successful with really complex programs is to break them down into little plans. Today I am working on the first steps and tasks to reach digital eminence: I will call it my ‘Attitude Adjustment Plan.’

Step 1 Defining My Personal Brand 

j0283864I must confess that I have actually been working this digital eminence thing for several months and it is not easy.  At the center of this whole eminence thing is a the PERSONAL BRAND.  Without knowing your personal brand you have nothing to focus on and nothing to be eminent in.  Your personal brand is “what you are known for.”  It is how you define yourself in the work world while highlighting the personal elements that uniquely tell the world what makes you special.

“Personal Branding links your passions, key personal attributes, and strengths with your value proposition, in a crystal clear message that differentiates your unique promise of value from your peers and resonates with your target audience.”Meg Guiseppi, Personal Branding Expert 

Focusing on myself makes me a little uncomfortable, it is not something I am used to doing, but I know that I will not get to where I need to go if I don’t, so here goes . . .

Homework

Task 1.  What is my vision and my purpose?  Before I can brand myself, I need to dig deep (introspection is tough but necessary), and understand what it is I want to be known for.  What practice or expertise is it that I am trying to build?  What kind of client relationships do I want?  And ask myself those hard questions about my purpose for doing all this.

Task 2.  What are my values and my passions?  This is the touchy-feely stuff.  I really have to understand what I stand for, my world view and my personal values, to be able to be real (aka: authentic) so that I can move forward.  To decide if an opportunity is a good fit for me, I really need to understand my operating principles, my personal belief system, my passions (those things that drive me) or I will not be happy ultimately.  (And, if Mommy is not happy, no one is happy!)

This homework may take a while.  Actually branding is probably something I will be working on for the rest of my life, so now is as good a time to start as any.

ARE YOU WITH ME?  This is the road to Digital Eminence, and remember we are doing it with a Digital Attitude!  If you have questions about your assignment just comment below.  Class is now in session.       

Today’s Links:

30 Terrible Pieces of Social Media Advice You Should Ignore

Leverage Social Media To Convey Your Expertise

Thanks for taking the journey with me.

digitalattitudesmall

See you in the Cloud – Lorian

(All views are my own)