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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

5 Tips for Making Successful Connections Via LinkedIn

how to use linkedin to find a job
How do you meet people and network using LinkedIn?  The easy answer is "Be Yourself."  The explicit answer is a little more complicated.  What I think will be of the most value to you is knowing that you can do it, and the tips on how to do it.  So here goes.

My Personal Success Stories:

  1. If You're Relocating - A couple years ago, I had an HR professional reach out to me who was relocating from the East Coast.  She sent a connection request and then messaged me her story.  I could tell from her note that we had a lot in common, and she seemed like someone I would want to hang out with.  Fast forward a couple months, and we set up a double date with our spouses, hit it off and became great friends.  We now both have little baby girls and would never have found each other if it was not for LinkedIn.  The things to note from this story are that she did not ask me for a job.  I could tell she was going to be able to land one on her own merits, and she shared enough about herself that allowed me to see what we had in common which made me open to meeting her in person.
  2. Lunch with New Friends - A new venture of mine has been to meet and go to lunch with new friends I meet solely through LinkedIn.  I have done it successfully three times with great results.  None of them were weird, and all of them were genuine people I am so grateful I had the chance to meet.  I will say though that each of them had another connection to me aside from just a cold LinkedIn connection which I will touch on later in my tips below.  
  3. Looking for Employment/Advice - A couple bright young professionals have found me via LinkedIn and asked for job search advice.  I am happy to report that many of them have gone on to find full-time employment.  The power of making connections and putting yourself out there is invaluable when it comes to landing your next opportunity.  The key is having the genuine desire to grow and personally develop yourself and not just ask for a job.  Several people message me a week asking for a job.  99% of those people will not get one with my company.  What you have to remember, is that how you ask me for a job, is a direct reflection of the kind of future employee I envision you would be.  If you blindly message me and ask me to find you a job, without taking the time to actually look at the company website to see what we have open, then I am going to have to assume you are a little lazy.  I will end with that.  Justified or not in my conclusion, you gave me no other evidence to go by.  Keep that in mind. 
5 Tips for Making Successful Connections via LinkedIn:
  1. Do Not Look For a Handout - Do not contact someone with the sole intention of just asking for a job.  People are not going to do all the work for you.  Instead approach someone you genuinely admire based on their profile, compliment those achievements and then ask to connect over coffee or lunch to share their story of success and advice on your job search.  Let them know what type of company you are looking for and the kind of role you are targeting but do not ask if you can interview for a job with their company.  If they have enjoyed the conversation and been impressed with you, they will make the connection on their own if they have an open role that you match.
  2. Do Your Research - Do not blindly spray connection requests and hope that one lands.  Make sure that you are being thoughtful about who you are choosing to connect with and that you have actually read their profiles.  If you are lucky enough to get a phone call or coffee, be sure to have done your research on the company that person works for and their own career path to the present.  Nothing looks worse than getting a meeting and getting asked why you picked them out of a crowd, and not having an answer.  It is the fastest way to losing credibility that there is.
  3. Be Transparent and Genuine - Be vulnerable and customize your message for each person.  I own that I am an introvert, and I use it to my advantage.  I think a lot of people can connect with feeling shy and being intimidated by the thought of networking.  I openly say that I have all those feelings but that I still want to put myself out there and meet new people.  In some of my connection requests, I simply say that I am an introvert trying to get out of my comfort zone to connect with other local professionals.  It is the truth and people connect with that.  So do not be afraid to share your fears or name the elephant in the room.  It is refreshing and will make you stand out.
  4. Please Do Not Be Creepy - Everyone has their own comfort zone, so respect that.  Some people will never connect with strangers and that is their right.  Do not bother those types more than once.  You will get bitten.  Apologize and let them know you meant no offense.  Other people will just not respond.  Do not take it personally.  Many people also do not actively check their LinkedIn account, so responses can be slow or never come.  People like to avoid confrontation if they can and usually do not like to give negative news, so if someone does not want to have lunch or coffee with you, sometimes the easiest response for them is just to ignore your request.  Respect the no response and move on.  
  5. Be Creative and Be You - Along with being genuine, but even more so, stay true to who you are.  You will want to stand out, because social media can be noisy and spam-y.  Make sure your approach is human, and not simply self-serving.  People can smell that a mile away.  Also, as I mentioned above, it will take a little more than just a cold LinkedIn connection.  In the cases of the three lunches I had, I found other things in common first.  One person, we had actually interviewed over 4 years ago but was ultimately out of our price range.  I had genuinely been impressed by her professionalism and knew she currently works with one of my former colleagues so I used both in my message to her.  Another person was on the committee of an organization whose networking event I wanted to attend, and the most recent individual I met, though I did not know it at the time, also worked with a former colleague of mine who was able to vouch for me and confirm that I was not a weirdo or a creep ;)  So I think the moral of the story is people want to know that you are being real, that you are not selling something, and that you really just want to make a genuine connection.  If that is not the foundation for why you are connecting with people, then you will never get to the secondary reason of networking for a job, presenting another opportunity etc.  You need to build trust before you can do anything else.
So how do you meet people and network via LinkedIn?  I hope my own insights have helped you a little bit or at least pointed you in the right direction.  Feel free to send me a connection request.  I look forward to meeting you!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Color Run - San Diego aka The Happiest 5K on the Planet!

happiest 5k on the planet easy 5k
My husband and I tackled the Color Run this weekend, aka The Happiest 5K on the Planet.  Lol, but seriously, I have not run in probably over 3 years.  I exercise and do home workouts, but have left jogging behind a long time ago.  Bad knees, neck injuries, and a bunch of other horrible excuses to cover up the fact that I really just do not like running that much.  Enter, the Color Run :)

My friend from high school emailed me a couple months back letting me know that the Color Run was coming to San Diego, and she wanted to get a group together to run in it.  She has been a good friend for almost 20 years (we met as babies, wink wink), and she lives in Murrieta so I do not get to see her as often as I would like.  So I thought, why not?  The website did promise that it was The Happiest 5K on the Planet, and who does not like to be happy?  Plus, the color madness did look fun.

Fast forward to Saturday, October 11th.  We live about 15-20 minutes from Qualcomm, so we thought that leaving at 6:30am for an 8:00am start time would be fine.  Well, long story short, we were wrong.  We did not actually get to the starting line until 9:00am.  We were stuck on the freeway within walking distance from the stadium for probably 2 hours.  We were checking the Color Run's Twitter feed and Facebook updates to make sure they would still let us run.  I have to give their social media team kudos.  They were on top of responding to every tweet and post they could.  They happily tweeted that they would make it up to us as soon as we were able to get in and not to worry, we could still race.  Thankfully all the negative experience ended there.  Once we parked, got to the starting line, and actually were there, the rest of the race was a blast!

Even though I am not a runner, I still like to challenge myself, so my husband, and I jogged about half of it.  Our friends decided to walk it.  I LOVE that that was an option for both of us.  It truly is a race for everyone.  I saw babies in strollers, and even a dog.  You can run the whole thing or casually walk it.  Overall, I would definitely recommend doing this race at least once.  If you do, here are some things to keep in mind:

5 Tips for the Color Run

  1. Wear Tennis Shoes You Do Not Care About
  2. Close Your Mouth When You Go Through The Color Stations
  3. If You Want Lots Of Color, Pick Up the Color Powder from the Ground at Each Station and Throw More On
  4. Put Your Phone or Camera in a Ziploc Bag to Minimize Powder Getting in Every Crevice
  5. Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Get to the Race, More Than You Think You Need
I think what I most enjoyed was just running the race with my husband.  It was great to get out and be active together.  He is such a supportive running partner, and I love how I feel when we are together.  We were a team conquering the race together.  I had forgotten what that felt like.  I know we are a team at home everyday but that feels different.  There is no start and end date to that team.  You are a team tackling life, and that is a little different.  You cannot appreciate it in the same way.  This was a defined event with a beginning and an end.  We supported each other during the race, matching each other's pace, planning which parts we would run or walk, checking in with each other, and ultimately celebrating together at the finish line.  It was a priceless experience, and one I highly recommend.

So how bout it?  Is there a more happy 5K around?  I am not so sure.  If there is, please let me know.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Easy Homemade Guilt-Free Tropical Ice Cream

healthy dessert ice cream sorbet frozen yogurt
Looking for an easy way to make homemade tropical ice cream?  I recently discovered this recipe and fell in LOVE!

Now I do apologize because I am the type of person in the kitchen who never measures so the below are guesstimates, BUT it always does turn out great.  Most important though is the fact that these ingredients are all pretty healthy and the recipe is pretty easy.  Best of all you can enjoy it guilt-free!

Here are the Basic Ingredients (2 Servings):
1 Bag Frozen Mangoes (around 2 cups)
1 cup unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (less if you like it thick)
Handful of Dried Mangoes (5 pieces)
Squirt of Lemon Juice
Sprinkling of coconut flakes (optional)

Place all the ingredients in the blender and mix till smooth.  If the consistency is too thin, add more frozen fruit.  If it is not blending well, add a little more almond milk.  Feel free to get creative.  I have used dried pineapple, frozen acai, frozen bananas, frozen strawberries etc.  Basically the formula consists of frozen fruit, almond milk, and some sort of dried fruit.  I think the dried fruit makes it.  You end up with tiny, chewy bits of sweetness that really make the whole dish!  My husband and one year old daughter love this recipe, and I make it all the time.

Let me know what you think :)

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

5 Aha Moments of a Working Mom - Lessons That Have Changed My Life

motherhood aha moments life lessons
Aren't Aha Moments the best?  Those moments when you're like "Wow, I wish I had realized this sooner.  It would have made my life so much better if I had known this."  Now sometimes, those lessons are things you could not have learned unless you lived through some growing pains, but now being on the other side, I can smile and be grateful I stumbled upon some aha moments that really have changed my life.

So without further ado, let me share what I have learned:

5 Aha Moments of a Working Mom

  1. 5:00am Workouts Are Non-Negotiable - There's no way around it.  I fought this one for a while, but if you want to workout, the crack of dawn is the only time of day where you will not be interrupted and you will be able to fit your workout in.  If you wait, then life will just get in the way or you will feel guilty because it takes away time you could spend with your family and friends.  Bite the bullet.  The payoff will be your health and happiness, which means you will be around longer for your kids, you'll have more energy to play with them, and you'll feel stronger and have more confidence in yourself.  It's quite rewarding to workout so early and to have so much accomplished before others even wake-up.  For more about my health and fitness journey, click here.
  2. Spousal Gratitude Journals Will Bring Happiness Ten-Fold - I secretly kept a journal for my husband for two whole months.  Everyday I wrote an entry describing something specific he did that day that I was thankful for, that I appreciated, or a reason why I loved him.  It was a life-changing experience, and one I would highly recommend.  Our marriage has never had more love and happiness.  If you would like to read more about this, please click here.
  3. One on One Quality Time - You might think I am talking about date night here, and that would be true if you do not already have date nights with your spouse.  Please start there if you have not already.  If you have, then I would consider one on one quality time with other important people in your life.  For me, this was my mom, my dad, and my sister.  I had forgotten how much time I used to spend individually with each of them before I had my daughter.  Whether that was for lunch, taking a walk etc.  After I had my daughter, I only saw them as a group.  I recently did something about this for my birthday.  For my 30th birthday celebration, I simply asked that I be able to have one on one quality time with each of them.  My husband was very supportive and volunteered to watch our daughter while I did this.  It was the BEST PRESENT EVER!  I had so much fun, and it was great for each of my relationships with them.  I plan to do them once a month now.
  4. Food Prep Will Give You More Quality Time - I still do not profess to have nailed this one, but I have noticed that weeks where I have my meals planned out or prepared in advance, there is less stress and more quality time spent with my husband and daughter.  Sometimes, this is just as simple as steaming vegetables and cooking ground turkey on Sundays so that all we have to do is heat it up and add it to dishes during the week.  It's the little things like that.  Figure out what works for you.  Start small if you have to, even if that is just finding a staple, quick and easy recipe to make regularly.  I am a big fan of quinoa because I have found a great variety that is ready in just 3.5 minutes flat.  For one of my go-to dinner recipes, click here.
  5. Work on Yourself Everyday - Personal development.  I kind of hate that term because it used to make me think of self-help books and dependency.  I used to think that only crazy people or people who did not have it together needed "personal development."  BOY, WAS I WRONG!  Why wouldn't you want to continue to improve yourself?  Why wouldn't I want to continue to grow and increase my skills?  I have been on a rampage lately listening to audio books everyday on my commute to and from work.  No longer do I listen to talk radio, and to my surprise, I do not even miss it.  I actually cannot wait to get in my car and listen to my latest selection.  It is like having a personal coach.  Zig Ziglar said it best.  Motivational talks are not a one and done.  You cannot listen to a speaker or read a book and be good for a whole year.  The effects will wear off.  Some people might well think that means it is not a good value or a worthwhile investment then.  Well, what do you think about bathing?  If you bathe today, you will not be clean for a whole month.  You have to bathe everyday.  You have to invest in yourself everyday.  Be purposeful about the inputs you are delivering to your mind and body.  For me, I have noticed that I am daily inspired.  I am happier, and I think the people in my life are probably happier for me having done this.  I am more effective in my communication, have more self-awareness, and feel better about my life goals and my ability to accomplish them.  If there is any one thing you do from this list, please choose personal development.
So what do you think?  What have some of your AHA moments been this year?  I would love to hear about them.

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