Professional development

10 LinkedIn Templates to Make Messaging Simple

Sending formal messages on LinkedIn can come with anxiety. But LinkedIn messages don’t have to be as stressful as they may seem. In fact, here are 10 LinkedIn templates to make messaging your connections a breeze.

New Connection Invite

If you’re looking to reach out to someone new to expand your network, bridge the gap for the reason you’re connecting, and make your connection a bit more formal.

Hello Erin! Your name appeared in my network as someone I should connect with, so I wanted to reach out and introduce myself. I look forward to connecting and learning about your company, and how we may be able to help one another.

Regards, Chloe

Former Coworker

Your former coworkers can be beneficial not only as references but also as connections to land your dream job. Be sure to keep these connections intact.

Hi Matt! It’s hard to believe how much time has gone by since our time at Lilly in 2013. You always had such a positive disposition that made the office environment enjoyable and I hope you’re doing well. If you have the chance, I’d appreciate the opportunity to learn more about your new role in the SaaS industry.

Thanks, Chloe

A person who works at a prospective employer

Even though this approach may seem strange, you may just find a connection to help get your foot in the door at the company you’d like to work for. Try something like this:

Hi Jamie, I wanted to reach out because I noticed you work at Quip, and I have always heard rave reviews about the company culture and opportunities. Would you be open to chatting about your experience with the company?

Thanks, Chloe

Recruiter

There are plenty of them on LinkedIn, but sometimes reaching out to a recruiter can be intimidating. Get to the point, and try to find common ground if you’re able.

Good afternoon Jim, I came across your profile on the hiring and promotions hashtag and wanted to connect with you to discuss what it could look like to work together. With my marketing management background, I’d love to explore any opportunities you may have open and see if my experience may be a great fit. I look forward to speaking further.

Thanks, Chloe Anagnos

Colleague

Like coworkers, your colleagues from different areas of your professional life or in other organizations can help you make valuable connections.

Hey Tara, I’ve always enjoyed some of the projects we’ve worked on together in the past, and I’d love to learn more about what you’ve been up to recently. Let me know if there’s a time we can get together for coffee in the next few weeks to catch up!

Talk soon, Chloe

Networking Contact

Those who make the most out of networking events go into them ready to play the long game and continue building into those relationships over time. Be sure to keep up.

Hi Chad, I truly enjoyed speaking with you in regard to your work at Cummins last week. I look forward to the next Chamber event and would like to stay in touch.

Until next time, Chloe

Introduction

If your connection would like to be introduced to someone within your network, share the wealth and briefly introduce them. After all, you may need them to return the favor.

Hi Andy, my colleague Sarah is a brilliant manager and considering your sales development experience and her drive to find explore similar opportunities, I wanted to make sure I connected you both.

Best, Chloe

Reference

And when the time comes for you to take your turn being introduced by one of your connections to a secondary connection, you can use the prompt below.

Hello Jane, I noticed you are connected to James Hendricks, who is an account executive at a company I’m very interested in learning more about. Would you mind briefly introducing us?

Regards, Chloe

Someone who had a job you want

Though it may seem unorthodox, don’t be afraid to reach out to people you find who worked for your former company or in a position you may want. They could be more open than you think.

Hi Amy, I noticed that you’re also a connection of Bryce’s. He and I worked together at Salesforce for quite some time. I noticed that you used to work at Roche, and I’m wondering if you could give me some advice on the company culture, and share any feedback you may have had about your experience there. Is there a time at your convenience we could chat briefly?

Regards, Chloe

Someone to potentially hire

If you’re beginning to freelance or develop your own company, you’ll likely find better talent on LinkedIn than Fiverr. Though LinkedIn professionals may come at a higher price, asking can’t hurt.

Hi Andrea, I wanted to connect with you on the recent project you did for Chic Boutique. Your marketing campaign strategy was excellent, and I would love to chat with you in regard to hiring you for a project of the same nature. If you are interested, let me know when you’re available for a brief phone call.

Best, Chloe

How to Develop Yourself When Your Company Won’t

According to a study by Gallup, 85 percent of people hate their jobs. For every 4 out of 5 people you come across, four of them will not like their boss.

That’s pretty substantial.

From my observations, many folks don’t like their positions because of unclear expectations of roles in the workplace, lack of resources to perform well, the purpose behind their work, the community around the workplace, and treatment of employees.

If you don’t have the developmental resources you may hope for, it’s time to stop playing the victim and take your professional development into your own hands.

If you’re motivated enough to take charge, there are goals you can aspire towards to develop your career – whether your employer will help or not.

Communicate with your employer

Though it may seem risky, have the conversation with your employer in regard to professional development opportunities.

Ask if there are any resources accessible for you to take advantage of. Regardless of your occupation, there’s always something to learn. Work in a sales environment? Try different ways of tracking your leads.

Find a solution to be more productive in the day? Share it with your employer and team and encourage others to join you. Maybe after you’ve proven yourself, they’ll give you an opportunity. Maybe your direct report is drowning in work that they don’t even realize this desire of yours to improve. Or, maybe not. Still, have an open and honest conversation that you’d like to grow, and that will give you a basis to start.

Continue to educate yourself

 Though finding an employer to pay for continued education is a treasure, it’s not always plausible. But if you would like to continue your education or develop certain skills, think outside of the box.

Maybe for a season you can juggle working part-time at Starbucks in exchange for their higher education program. Or, it’s arguable that online programs are quickly becoming more relevant than college courses based on the applicable skills taught.

Try taking courses with Udemy or Skillshare, or even free certifications through Hubspot and Google. Even if only for 30 minutes a day on your lunch break, find a way to educate yourself and diversify your skill set.

Find or start a networking group

Organizations like Meetup, Eventbrite, or your local Chamber of Commerce are great resources to help you network. Most people approach these events completely wrong and only go looking for clients. But, if you pursue them with the perspective of building relationships, you’ll gain so much more over time.

Otherwise, volunteer in your city. Find organizations that connect you to both like-minded and diverse groups of people that challenge your thinking, and help connect you to others.

The larger your network, the larger your resource pool when looking for prospective employment opportunities, personal growth catalysts, or just support in whatever season of your career you may be in.

Create a contact database

As you continue to develop your professional development community, develop a contact database to keep track of your connections. Almost like a prospect list, note names, phone numbers, emails, and identifying pieces of information – like where this person goes to church, how many kids they have, something you have in common, or when you last saw them – to keep on file.

Stay in touch with the connections over time that may be valuable to your career and growth, and allow them to contact you to do the same. You never know where it may lead.

Find a mentor

Finding a mentor can sound overwhelming, but may just be the push you need to help you grow in your field. A mentor can offer insight, advice, and experience that can save you significant time and energy when you’re starting off in your career, or even changing your career path.

Once you’ve established a networking community and contact list, consider thinking of people within your sphere that can help you establish and work toward your career goals. And, don’t be afraid to reach out to your dream mentor to connect. 

Remember: it’s your career, not theirs

At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own career path. Ultimately it is not your employer’s responsibility to develop you, it’s your own.

So take charge of your career, and find ways to add value and relevant experience at your 9-5 until you’ve developed yourself for the next season.

How to Build a Professional Wardrobe On a Shoestring Budget

Building a professional wardrobe can be overwhelming. With so many brands to choose from, it can be challenging to sift through what to purchase. But building a beautiful, professional wardrobe doesn’t have to be expensive.

Even on a shoestring budget, it is possible to build a professional wardrobe. Here’s how.

Purge your closet

Tidying up like Marie Kondo and choosing to live minimally will help you see all of the clothing you already do have. Even when it seems like many of us have “nothing to wear,”  sometimes when we have a lot of clothes, that doesn’t mean they fit well or interest us. 

If you’re struggling to decide which pieces stay and go, tie a piece of string or ribbon around the rod of your closet. As you wear clothing, put pieces on one side of the string. At the end of a month, get rid of the clothes that are untouched on the opposite side. 

Then, choose to keep only items that you truly enjoy, and that fit you well. Everything else can be sold or donated.

Budget and pull out cash

To avoid overspending, do plan to invest in your attire. Come up with a number you can afford, and save extra money through smart savings apps like Albert or Clarity Money. Sell the old pieces you don’t need. Pull out cash and place it in envelopes or use automated savings apps to stay on track when you’re ready to purchase.

Go for basic, neutral pieces

Most people coordinate their closet around one of two colors: black or navy. Choose one to be the foundation for your closet, and purchase essential staple pieces of that color and some matching neutrals that can be worn with different outfits.

Having a black blouse, blazer, slacks, and pumps – for example – would be a great place to start, along with a white, cream, and blue blouse.

Focus on timeless attire

Instead of opting for professional trends like high waisted trousers, block sandals, chunky jewelry, or vibrant patterns, choose timeless pieces that will continue to remain in style. Though there’s a time and place to purchase the latest trends, focus on creating a capsule wardrobe.

Add accents

Accents offer a great chance to add bold and bright pieces to freshen up your look. Choose pieces that reflect your personality. With any basic outfit, try adding a pair of shoes that pop, or a statement necklace to add to your appearance.

Try a bright colored blouse with a black blazer. Though accents shouldn’t make up the bulk of your wardrobe, they should be sprinkled in.

Don’t be afraid of thrift stores

Thrift stores may have a bad reputation, but some of the best pieces in your closet may be found there. Use thrift stores as your chance to look for those classic pieces to invest in as they’ll likely save you a fortune from looking in department stores. 

Invest in pieces you love

Don’t beat yourself up for splurging on one or two pieces that you absolutely adore. Find clothing you feel confident in and take great care of them.

How to Make LinkedIn Connections Without Being Creepy

LinkedIn has made networking, connecting with your dream employer, and finding new clients easier than ever before. But you only get one shot at a first impression, and unfortunately, most people miss the mark.

And in the digital world where you may never meet a connection in person, that first impression may be the only chance to connect with someone.

It’s safe to say there’s a little bit of pressure here, but knowing LinkedIn etiquette makes it even easier to reach out to new contacts when you’re new to the game. With that in mind, here’s how to make connections on LinkedIn without being creepy.

Make sure your profile is up to date

Before you start reaching out, make sure your LinkedIn profile is optimized so that you’re making a great first impression. Update your professional headshot, work experience, summary, and headline before reaching out.

Research your target

Before you engage with strangers, know a little bit about precisely who you would like to connect with. What company do they work for? What position are they in? What can you find about them on Facebook? Look for any personal connections or common experiences you can note that may come in handy – just don’t take it too far.

Briefly introduce yourself to new contacts

Though some may recommend skipping this step entirely, a quick salute to your name and profession may bring light to the reason for your inquiry. You wouldn’t just get right to your pitch at a networking event without a formal introduction, would you? (If so, you should read this.)

Get to the point

Be sure to share your intent in the first message you send, because you may not have another. Beyond that, no one appreciates the suspense of the dreaded words “can we talk?” without knowing the purpose behind the conversation. Briefly and concisely state your purpose for connecting in two short sentences or less.

Ask a question for the next step

Instead of ending your message with a “thank you” or “I look forward to hearing from you,” end your message asking if you can email them or if they have time for a 15-minute call the following week.

Asking a question will more likely enable you to receive a reply.

Making connections on LinkedIn may just help lead you to a new position, new hire, or new client.

Don’t feel overwhelmed, and follow these simple steps to get started connecting with people online.

13 Professional Habits You Should Implement

Considering professionalism is an expectation that goes without saying in any career, it’s important to cultivate habits and disciplines that will set you up for success in the workplace.

Here are 13 professional habits you should be implementing now if you’re not already.

Show up 15 minutes early

Though the saying “better late than never” does have some truth to it, it’s better to never be late.

Ever heard the saying that if you are on time, you’re late, and if you’re early, you are on time? Striving to early allows for additional time for the roadblocks that many people see as excuses for a lack of punctuality. Plan to show up 15 minutes early to everything you do, and you likely won’t have to fear to be late again.

Be the first one in the office and the last one out

Though you don’t have to maintain this precedent for your entire career, being the first one in the office and last one out – at least while you are new to any position or company – will help you gauge the pace of your team. Additionally, it will help you remain disciplined to put in more hard work and show your peers your dedication.

Communicate directly

Sarcasm can be funny in high school, but communication is critical to your growth and success. In a fast-paced or growing company, it’s likely that your boss isn’t going to be assessing your every need or handing out raises left and right.

You are your own advocate, so speak up, and be forthcoming about what you want and need to be successful in the workplace.

Learn when to be “off”

Though the mindset of work-life balance is being shifted to a work-life harmony, being “off” is still important to your rest and recovery.

In a fast-paced culture where we can access our email at any hour of the day, boundaries are important. However, sometimes not checking your messages can give you more stress than if you quickly glimpsed at them.

Know your limits, be present, set boundaries, and make sure you carve out time to be both on and off the clock in a manner consistent with your lifestyle.

Respond within 12 hours

Respond within 12 hours to any communication. Some people will say 24 hours is common courtesy, but in my experience, 12 is best.

If you only check your inbox once a day, make sure you’re communicating with the people who are contacting you even if it’s to say that you’ve received their inquiry and that you’ll have a response within a certain timeframe.

Allow for extra time

Be careful not to over or underestimate your time, or how long it may take you to accomplish certain projects. Always budget more time than less, but if you struggle with this, try using a project management solution, or even a stopwatch and note on your phone to see how long it takes you to complete tasks.

Own your mistakes

Rather than casting blame, take personal responsibility for anything you may not have done fully and correctly. Apologize sincerely, learn how to improve, and adjust for the future.

Dress the part

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Your clothing communicates the message you want to send, the respect you have for yourself, and sets the tone for your first impression. If you need more help on this topic, check out this article.

Stay off your cell phone

Though cell phones are an effective way to communicate, being on your phone at the wrong moment can send a negative impression. Even if only to take notes, staying on your phone during a meeting appears unprofessional. Try another communication channel like Slack instead.

Plan your day

Planning out your day or even your week will help you prioritize the objectives and projects you need to accomplish. This mindset takes a proactive approach to your work instead of reacting to issues as they arise. Planning out your day will take away the constant need to put out fires and allow you to better focus.

Learn to do things yourself

We’ve all witnessed that one person who just can’t seem to figure things out without any assistance. From storing files to staying on track, we’ve all been around someone who just appears clueless.

Instead of being reliant and asking for help on every project, take initiative to develop new skills or watch tutorials on your own time instead of constantly and consistently relying on others.

Find a mentor

Mentorship can be instrumental to the growth in your career. Find a mentor who’s willing to watch you thrive, and make this part of your continuing professional development.

Know your value

Know the areas that you specialize in bringing and adding value to a team, and exercise them well. Knowing your strengths will allow you to contribute better to any and every team you’ll be a part of, and will also make you indispensable to your employer.

Don’t work for less than what you are worth, and know your value so you can ensure you’re being compensated accordingly.

What NOT to Wear to an Interview

Preparing for a job interview is stressful, so when you factor in attire as a critical component to the process, for many it can be overwhelming.

The most important factor of this process is deciding on a winning interview outfit, but there are a lot more clothing components that you should choose not to consider when making selections in your professional attire.

Without further adieu, here are some considerations to review when you decide what to wear to an interview, and more importantly what not to.

Whatever you wear, don’t dress too casually

You are always better suited being overdressed than under, so don’t risk trying to be trendy by showing up in your black skinny jeans surrounded by a colony of white-collar workers all dressed in pantsuits.

Do as much research as you can about the company online and see if you can make assumptions based on people who work there may be wearing (time for some stalking on LinkedIn), but when in doubt, do not underdress.

Don’t wear anything flashy

Bright neon-colored blouses, colorful dress socks, and crazy patterns may seem fun, but they ultimately lead to more distraction. You want the hiring manager to be paying more attention to you, as opposed to doing a rundown of your entire outfit while you’re speaking of your experience. Play it safe and stick to neutral colors like blue, which is said to elicit trust in an interview setting.

Don’t overdo it on the accessories

This one is more geared towards the ladies, but trust me, the last thing you want is for your new earring back to fall off and drop your earring in the middle of a sentence. Bracelets can become a token item to fidget with as well. If you’re going to accessorize, keep all jewelry items clean and simple.

Don’t wear open-toed shoes

Though some companies are becoming a bit more relaxed in their expectations, this is a safe rule to play by. Sandals can be loud, flip-flops were made for the beach, and closed-toed shoes generally elicit more professionalism. Loafers, pumps, ballet flats, or dress boots are great options to consider.

Don’t wear anything too fitted

For both sexes, form-fitting clothing can just be distracting. Get a few opinions on your wardrobe, but stick to clothing that’s comfortable but doesn’t quite fit like a glove. You don’t have to limit yourself to presidential pantsuits, but consider walking around in your clothing, and wearing it before you interview. New outfits are nice, but be sure to test them beforehand.

Don’t wear anything that isn’t ironed or pressed

Cleanliness is next to godliness, so cross your T’s, dot your I’s, and iron your shirt and pants. It’s just professional. No one wants to look at wrinkles, and having them present while you’re making a first impression is just downright unprofessional.

Don’t wear anything that isn’t you

At the end of the day, be you. Don’t feel pressured to find a new outfit, or appear to be something that doesn’t reflect who you are. Though there’s a temptation to replace your entire wardrobe, consider finding pieces you already own that reflect your personality, and add accessories like a new blazer or comfortable new pair of flats along the way to accentuate them.

The most important thing you can wear to an interview is your personality, so although your wardrobe matters, nothing else is as crucial as you being 110 percent confident in yourself.

Dressing Well in the Workplace: How to Skip False Pretenses and Dress Like You Mean It

With the rise in popularity in athleisure and ever-changing cultural norms, “Sunday Dress” is quickly disappearing only to be replaced with the more comfortable and practical yoga pants.

And though most of us faithfully believe that leggings ARE pants, our apparel still says a lot about our professionalism in the workplace.

So until one of us is making well over six figures without ever having to meet face to face with a client, our appearance still matters.

Here’s why.

What you wear determines your first impression

And though first impressions aren’t everything in your relationships, they do matter at work. Chances are, you’re not going to have the opportunity to pour your heart out over a cup of coffee with everyone you work with. So what you wear sets the tone.

The Harvard Study of Communications states that 37 percent of your first impression is made up of how you sound, 7 percent is the words that you actually say, and the remaining 55 percent is visual. That includes the way you stand, your body language, and of course, what you wear.

Especially when meeting with potential clients and prospects, your clothing matters.

Your clothing incites inner confidence

What you wear builds internal confidence. Skip past the superficial element. Your clothes don’t have to be from Ann Taylor or JoS A Bank, or any other store most of us are lucky to maybe have one token article of clothing from.

Your clothes just need to be clean, fit you well, and make you feel confident in whatever capacity that looks like. Your inner confidence and poise will shine through all that you do, so choose clothes that make you feel 110 percent confident while you’re in them.

So maybe it’s time for a purge. Dedicate one day on your calendar next month, and take care of yourself. Make sure you look ready for a night out and start trying on and sorting all of the clothes you do have. If you’re dressed up and don’t “love them,” sort them in a pile. Take them straight to Plato’s closet, sell what you can, and donate the rest. Then, give yourself a budget to go and buy some versatile pieces that you completely love.

A more minimalistic wardrobe will overwhelm you less, and give you more confidence in the pieces you know you can’t live without. You’ll have less stress getting ready for work in the morning, and a wardrobe you know you’ll love.

Dressing well demonstrates that you care about what you do, and shows you respect yourself

Ever see anyone walk in the office that doesn’t communicate this message? Or even at the grocery store? Though we all love being comfortable, the way that you dress, especially at work, communicates your passion and respect. If you don’t take yourself seriously, why should your direct supervisor qualify you for a promotion? When you dress with professionalism, your value of yourself and company will shine through.

Your apparel communicates your message

No matter who you are, you have a message. You have something to say. Whether it’s a passion, a purpose, or a plan for growth, your apparel helps communicate that message.

Dressember is a great example of this. During the month of December, women around the world wear dresses to condemn the stigma that dresses indicate frailty in women and chooses to change that perception, while creating awareness for trafficking, standing in the place of other women who can’t stand for themselves.

Though your message doesn’t have to be a full-fledged campaign, we all have something to say. In the workplace, that matters. So, dress accordingly.

What you wear is a form of expression

As our culture shifts, so does our attire – and today we have more options than ever when it comes to what we wear. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to express oneself, and our clothing gives us this ability to do so in any capacity we are in. You don’t have to be the loudest person in the room to communicate how you feel, and expression gives the opportunity to do just that. Find creative ways to express yourself in your clothing – and you’ll stand out at work.

Your clothing gives an impression of success

No one likes a false pretense, but your clothing doesn’t have to be. Think of the way you dress as a form of self-fulfilling prophecy. Even if you don’t feel successful yet, what you wear can help you begin to see yourself as such, and those around you will catch on. 

8 Steps to a Successful Resume

With the rise of platforms like LinkedIn, who you are on paper still matters in the modern workforce.

Though there’s a temptation to be ahead of the curve and innovate your resume into something new, it brings a risk. According to The Balance Careers, most employers still prefer a traditional resume. So unless you’re chasing after a niche market, it pays (literally) to play it safe.

That being said, here are 8 steps to build a successful resume.

Get it all out on paper

Templates, wording, and formatting will come – but lose all the extra jargon you think you should include, and start with the basics.  Begin listing all of your experience from beginning to end on paper and keep it in a running document. Whether your experience is from your first job to or even a  volunteer gig, take some time to get it all out there. Give yourself a few hours to be thorough and consider breaking up this step from the process to make sure you’ve got it all down.

Start refining

Based on the above exercise, begin to refine and narrow your job experience. What’s most relevant? What is most applicable to your career? Start tweaking the words that you use, and refining the type of content you’ll include on your resume. Pay closer attention to the specific words you use, and ensure that your current positions are listed in the present tense. Double check that your past experiences are listed in past tense with active words as well.

Start creating your resume with your end goal in mind

At this point, you’ve graduated to the point where you can start creating your resume. Again, instead of using a template, create another word document. This time, start adding your relevant experience but be prepared to keep it all at a page. Add your name and contact information as a header, but begin to focus on the body of what you’ll include. Allow your career objectives to be the guiding force while developing your resume.

Skip the fluff

Your resume is your highlight reel, so leave the filler for LinkedIn. Include the experiences that are most relevant to your career objectives, because, at this point, every word counts. Filler, additional verbs, and social media handles only detract from the point you are trying to make; that you’re qualified for the position you are applying for. 

Hold on to your personal information closely

Speaking of your social media handles, ensure that they, along with your photos and address, are NOT listed on your resume. Though this information may be required for your online application, you shouldn’t include it here.

Not only does this information occupy unnecessary space, but it may also allow for discrimination. Be tactful in what you do and don’t share.

Your references are your friend as well, so wait to give them out to your prospective employer. To suffice, have some colleagues recommend you on LinkedIn to help demonstrate your ability.

Stick to the basics

Keep your resume clear, transparent, and simple. Any “filler” can be added on LinkedIn, where your profile can tell a more visual story. Again, your page and word count matter.

Though the world is progressing, a simple, clean, one-page resume is still preferred. Keep it simple, and maximize your space. Don’t get too caught up in your template type or font of choice, just keep everything clean and simple.

Think outside the box

Just because a resume template says you should include a given section on your resume does not mean you are required to do so. Do you have more relevant work experience than you do skills for a given position? Leave your skills on LinkedIn, and invite your connections to endorse you there. Break the mold, and include the most accurate information you see as fit for your field.

Be authentic

Don’t change every single keyword on your resume to get a job. There is a time and place to tailor your resume and include certain experiences (and omit others) if you’re switching fields, but be mindful of how you present yourself. Be consistent everywhere you go.

Be yourself, and your resume will speak volumes.

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