personal branding

Before we connect, 3 things I need to know...

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of requests to connect online. I have been noticing this particularly on LinkedIn, but it’s been happening on all of the networks, and I love it. In the cases where I need to approve whether or not the person starts having access to my information, I always go and have a quick look to try to figure out who they are and what they do and whether or not it makes sense for us to be connected. In the ones where I don’t, I’ll often go and have a look to see if I should follow back.

As I’ve been doing that I’ve noticed a few things that always make me think someone probably isn’t worth connecting with. There are a few things I notice generally make me hesitate or decide not to connect.

1) Who are you?

When I connect with someone I want to see who they are. If they have a photo that isn’t of themselves or a blurry (I don’t like to connect with flowers or clouds) or really candid shot as their avatar (this is particularly true on a professional network like LinkedIn) I hesitate.

For example, which says “professional I’d like to hire” more to you?

I’ve used the first one as my Facebook profile photo and I still would now, I might use it on Twitter too.  But I would always use something more professional on LinkedIn or anywhere I am primarily trying to connect for business purposes.

I generally do connect with people who have casual photos unless there are other reasons not to connect as well, but I almost never bother with a generic image and never with someone who didn’t upload a photo at all.

2) Where are you from?

I think that people have a tendency to believe that they don’t want to pin themselves down to a geographical location (this is especially true if you’re hoping to sell online) so they don’t put a location in their profiles or they say “everywhere” or “the whole world.”

When I read that I feel like the chances you’re a spammy person are much higher.  I want to know where you’re from. That helps me make a decisions on whether or not to connect with you. In fact, there are a few cities where I will almost always connect with you based on just that!

When you’re precise about who you are, you come off as more trustworthy and authentic.

3) What have you got to say?

If you aren’t saying anything at all, I don’t really have a reason to follow you. Take a few minutes, at least once in awhile, to share some updates on your channels, to have conversations with others and to say hi to the people you’re trying to connect with.  It makes you seem more human and gives people a reason to want to get to know you more.

What about you? Leave a comment and tell me what makes you hesitate when you get a request to connect, or what you see that really makes you WANT to connect?

Personal branding:

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest… the list goes on.  When you connect with new people how do you tell them where to find you online?

We recently talked about your personal brand and a great way I’ve found for you as an individual to have an online presence is by having an about page.  You could have this on a personal website or blog, but for those who don’t have a platform like that there are a number of services that have popped up that can help you. In this post I’ll be focusing on one of the services in particular with my images ( but there are several other good services that are worth checking out as well ( and

What is it lets you easily create a one page web site about yourself.  You can add photos, you can write a profile, and you can add links to all the social channels and web pages you want to share.  It’s a one stop shop on you and what you do.

Why should you have one?

Not everyone will need one, but a few reasons to have are:

To promote yourself as an individual. 

To tie together all the projects you have.

To tell a story.

Because they’re fun.

How do I set a page up

These sites are very intuitive and easy to set up (and free!). I’ve set mine up, but realize it isn’t quite up to the caliber of the examples I’ve found here.  Seems to me I just found an excuse for a new photoshoot :)

It’s really as easy as picking a few photos, some fonts, writing something about yourself and filling in the information about your social networks.

Tools that make it easy to create a professional looking presence online are always a win in my opinion!

We want to hear from you! Leave a comment below and let us know if you have an about page or if you think it would be a useful tool for your personal brand.

Personal branding

Do you have a personal brand?  A lot of people get wrapped up in what that means when really it’s quite simple.  Your personal (online) brand is how you portray yourself to the online community.

Lara as mom

Years ago, my primary online brand was “mom”. I tweeted about “mom” things, I blogged about my kids, and my profile picture portrayed that. You could expect more conversations about lack of sleep and crying babies than anything else.  Though I still do talk about my kids online (because being a mother is such a major part of who I am) it is no longer what I focus in my online personality.

Lara as a professional

As I decided to start a business doing social media consulting instead of returning back to my old communications career I knew I needed to change that online brand to one that was more professional. I started talking more about social media, sharing articles of interest and establishing myself as an expert in my field.  I don’t talk quite as much about my kids or my personal life anymore (though I still do!) As cute as my kids are, they couldn’t be part of my online image any more.

 Instead I decided to get professional head shots done.I highly recommend professional headshots to anyone who is online for their business. A well executed professional photo will always give you more credibility than a photo you took with your webcam or of you by the pool (unless you’re a pool salesperson or you work at a resort :)

I use the same photo across all channels at the same time, which makes people remember me.  I know that if I’m meeting with someone for the first time they are going to be able to walk into a room and recognize me.

What else is part of my brand?

- I don’t swear online

- I will not trash anyone

- I try to be friendly and approachable

- I try to be fun(ny) and not overly serious


My brand is who I am, it’s just a bit focused to my audience. I didn’t have to think about it enormously, but knowing what it is means that you know what to expect from me, and hopefully it’s what I meant for you to expect :)
What’s your personal brand? Have you spent time thinking about it?

Guest Post: 5 Reasons you should participate in a Twitter chat (or two)

Twitter chats are a great way to connect and engage with others, especially if you are new to Twitter and looking to build your network.

Even if you are one of the seasoned Twitterati, these chats offer tremendous opportunity to make new connections and sustain existing relationships (you never know who you might know in a Twitter chat!)

For those of you who don’t know what a Twitter chat is, it’s basically a virtual meetup held on Twitter centred on a common subject. You follow the conversation via the hashtag for the chat.

Some of my favourites are #socialchat (Mondays at 9 p.m. ET, #tweetdiner (Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET) and#PR20chat (Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET). To be honest, I haven’t checked in to #PR20chat in a while but it’s not for lack of interest!

Pick a chat, any chat

A really nice guy named Robert Swanwick created a Google doc that you can review to find a Twitter chat of interest – and to add your own chat to should you decide to start one.

You can use Twitter clients like TweetChat or TweetGrid to aggregate tweets related to the chat, which makes it easier to follow and respond to other participants. These clients also auto-tag your tweets with the right hashtag which is convenient since it ensures your tweet gets included in the chat stream without you having to remember to type it out.

The one thing to remember about participating in Twitter chats is that it’s not about pushing your own agenda - it’s about creating real, meaningful conversations on a shared topic of interest with other people. Whether you are representing your business or yourself, this point holds true.

So don’t start broadcasting/selling your product or service during a Twitter chat unless it’s relevant to the conversation. And even then, consider whether now is the time to be doing so. If someone expresses interest, consider continuing the conversation without the Twitter chat hashtag. 

Do it! Do it! (seriously, how can you resist the Do it! chant?)

If you’re on the fence about the value of Twitter chats, I offer five reasons you should give it a try:

1. Networking

Twitter chats are a great way to find new people to follow on Twitter, especially since you have a shared interest in common! It also enables people to discover you – which can help you build a following.

And since it is the quality of your followers – not the quantity – that is important, Twitter chats helps you to connect with others in ways that are relevant and meaningful. To sustain that connection, make a point to follow up with participants after the chat.

Relevance = the secret sauce of social media success!

2. Learning & Sharing

Twitter chats enable you to debate, question and share ideas with others who are passionate about the same topic as you! So dive in and comment. A lot.

Often Twitter chats include a series of questions (Q1, Q2, Q3 etc.) that the host shares, along with the Twitter chat hashtag. You then respond with A1, A2, etc and the associated hashtag.

Don’t be shy. If you have a question or don’t understand – speak up! Chances are someone else in the chat wants the answer too.

3. Build your personal brand

Twitter chats are a great way to demonstrate your expertise and build awareness. Reasons 1 and 2 are how you do it. Nuff said.

4. Gain inspiration

Twitter chats can be another source of inspiration for your next blog post, video, podcast, etc. Whether it’s varying points of view, a great quote or a new perspective on your subject of interest, Twitter chats can have you swimming in content generating heaven!

5. They’re fun!

It doesn’t matter if it’s online or face to face, when you get together with people who share the same interest as you, it’s fun! Twitter chats usually last 1 hour and you won’t believe how the time flies!

The Etiquette

There is some Twitter chat etiquette I should mention. Nothing too dreary – just a few points to make the experience enjoyable for you and everyone else.

  • As a courtesy to your followers not participating in the chat, you may want to send out a quick tweet indicating that for the next hour you’ll be tweeting with the hashtag #insertTwitterChatnamehere.

  • When joining the chat - say hi. You wouldn’t arrive at someone’s house party without saying hi to the hosts and other guests, right? That said, it’s okay to lurk but if your goal is to network, lurking won’t help.

  • Sometimes you may find yourself joining in late on a chat. If so, it is perfectly acceptable to ask - “what question are we on?” Be it the host or another participant, someone will fill you in.
  • Respect the guidelines set by the hosts. For example, some hosts prefer you don’t share links until near the end of the chat because sending people away from the conversation can be disruptive.
  • It should go without saying - no trolling. Disagreeing with others is of course fine, however rudeness is the quickest way to get shut out.
  • Stay on topic. If you find you and a few other participants are going off topic, by all means continue the conversation but remove the hashtag so you’re not spamming other participants.
  • Speaking of spam - don’t spam other participants with a hard sell on how great you are, your product is, your blog post on topic X is. Just don’t.
  • At the end of the chat, thank your host(s)! And your fellow participants.

So there you have it. My five reasons you should join in on a Twitter chat.

Now spill…what Twitter chats do you participate in? If you don’t currently participate in a Twitter chat…is your interest piqued?

*#TwChat image via Robert Swanwick | Secret sauce image via Crowded Ocean


Mel Gallant (@melgallant) is a communications professional who writes about parenting, the social web and pop culture on her blog Confessions of a Social Media Junkie. When she’s not blowing bubbles and chasing after rainbows with her 2-year old daughter, Melany is either bookworming it or fumbling her way through a knitting project she started three years ago (it’s a tea cozy). As co-founder of Girl Geek Dinners Ottawa, Melany helps to connect women in Ottawa with a shared passion for technology.