Your resume is a persuasive conversation – why aren’t you doing the talking?

I heard Tony Robbins say, and I’m going to paraphrase, that it is vital to know your desired outcome before you have a conversation. That way you can guide it to what you want and maximize your time. A few intents can be to inform, convey, or persuade.

Sounds like a resume to me.

Inform the reader of your qualifications, convey your value and persuade them to set up an interview.

Your resume is that initial conversation. Unfortunately, I see too many people figuratively standing in front of your target (your resume) but not doing any talking.

Let’s discover the three biggest challenges that hold most people back and get rid of that block right here and now.

Challenge 1 – Too much information

Do you know if you search for “how to write a resume” on Google, you will get 381,000,000 results in .55 seconds? I did it. Here’s my screenshot:

google search write a resume - lisa k mcdonald

That’s way too much information to read. Beyond that, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that it is mostly contradictive. One article says to do this, another says oh no, do the opposite. It’s just too much. And no, the irony of me saying that in an article about writing your resume is not lost on me.

Step away from the research.

Challenge 2 – Talk yourself out of it

I call this the lack of permission. Let me explain.

You see, you know what you need to write.

Yes, you do.

No really, I’ll prove it to you. Answer the following questions out loud:
• What will you be doing?
• How will it impact a business, team, client base?
• What are the skills necessary to do this job?
• Can you do or have you done these things for a positive outcome?
• Prove it.

That right there – the prove it, that is important. If you were to prove it to me, you would be telling me a story demonstrating your skills, experience and results.

Don’t you think that would persuade or convince a reader that you have the necessary skills? Possibly persuading them to have another conversation?

Here is where the permission comes into play. Generally, people are afraid to write down the conversation we just had above. They say things like:
• It doesn’t sound right for a resume.
• It sounds too informal.
• They don’t know ‘resume’ words
• It’s not what they are used to.

They talk themselves out of using the good stuff because it feels different.

Let me help you with this.

It is different. And by the way, normal person, you don’t write resumes every day. How do you know what it should sound like, feel like or look like? You don’t. (I say normal person because, well, have you ever met a group of people like me? We’re definately unique in that we really like writing resumes! We know that isn’t normal, but we love it anyway!)

Oh wait, all your research tells you…. Yes, I know. But get out of your head for a minute. Remember, step away from the research. Engage more than that one section of your brain.

Tell me if you have ever thought or muttered this phrase (or something similar), “if I can just get in front of someone, I have no problem talking about/selling myself”.

If so, then you are only giving yourself permission to have that conversation during an interview, not the resume. But guess what, if they don’t know it in the resume, why would they want to set up an interview?

I am officially eliminating that excuse. I hereby give you permission as a Certified Professional Resume Writer, Certified Social Brand Analyst and Certified Career Coach.

Don’t wait for the interview. Prime the pump, get them excited – tell them what you want them to know!

Just do it!

You need to set that stage – tell them how you are the answer to their problem. Set the foundation in their mind of you, your value, your brand, your voice. Don’t waste this opportunity to tell them what they need to hear because you’re afraid of telling them what you want them to know.

Challenge 3 – They may not like it

You’re right. Some people are not going to like what you put together. I’ve been doing this for over a decade and I still can’t please every reviewer, recruiter, HR person or Great Aunt Gertrude every single time.

Some people like one page, others like three, some hate Times New Roman, others scoff at Calibri, some like visuals, others think they are distracting, there is too much information, not there isn’t enough, it should be pink, it should be red, no it should be a freankin’ rainbow…sorry, I digressed into Alex’s speech on Greys’ in planning the prom.

The point is, no, not everyone is going to like it. The point of that is good. You want it to appeal to the people and company cultures that are most like you or that are best in supporting your growth and value. Not every company is a good fit for you.

Let your value and brand shine through in your resume to do some pre-screening of companies that either don’t deserve you or are a bad fit for you.

You have permission, you know what you want to tell them – now go have some fun with it!

What challenges do you face in trying to put together your resume or LinkedIn profile? 

 

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As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance. I get people unstuck and gain momentum in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about we can work together to get you moving forward.

You Are Making Writing Your Own Resume Harder By Not Asking This One Question

pulling-your-hair-out-trying-to-write-your-own-resume

 

Writing your own resume stinks.

 

As a professional resume writer, I should probably be a bit more eloquent about it.  But let’s face it, you can put a pig in an Armani suit and it is still a pig.

 

No matter how much spin I put on it, if you are in the process of writing or updating your own resume I would bet dollars to donuts you have said more than once, either aloud or in your head, “this stinks!”  Or some version of that.

 

It does. It is hard.  You know what you want to say but not how to say it.  How do you fit everything in this one document? What do they want, what are they looking for? How can you make it look nice and not like a template? Why can’t this be easier?

 

All you want to do is to get this stupid thing together and demonstrate confidence in describing your value and expertise. Is that too much to ask?

 

Perhaps you have even gone to the web to do some research on how to write an amazing resume that gets attention.  Fantastic.  How long before you were overwhelmed with all the information and the amount of contradictory information?

 

That is just putting salt in the wound.

 

Stop the nonsense right now.  Step away from the resume, put down the coffee or wine that has been fueling the research and frustration of writing.  Stop writing, stop researching and stop thinking.

 

Stop, just stop.

 

There is one question I will bet you have not asked before you began this adventure and it just happens to be one of the most important questions to answer.  The answer will help frame your resume and align you with the jobs you want.

 

There is a catch – after you read the question, I do not want you to think it over, mull it around, take your time and devise a comprehensive answer.  Nope.  I want you to answer from the cuff.  Don’t think – just answer.

 

Are you ready?  Here it is:

 

What do you want people to know about you?

 

That’s it.  That is the big groundbreaking question.  It is as simple as that.  What do you want people to know about you.  That is your foundation. That is the whole point of your resume.  Getting your story across to the reader.  But before you can do that you have to know the central selling point of your story.

 

Start with that simple, easy answer.  Do you want them to know that you are great at sales? Or maybe you love developing teams and are really good at it. Perhaps that you are a compliance freak who loves the back office, in-depth research to solve the really hard problems. By the way, I still have a lot of compliance freak in me left over from my investment industry days so there were no stones thrown there.

 

Let’s take one of these: you are great at sales.

 

Ok, now what? Now, start filling in the blanks. We fill in the blanks by keep asking questions: why, how, who, what.

  • Why are you good at sales? What do you love about it?
  • How did you get to where you are? How do you ‘do’ sales better than anyone else?
  • Who do you work with?
  • How do you work with your clients, team members, home office, affiliates – any stakeholder that you interact with that improves your book and territory?
  • Who gains value from you doing what you do?
  • Who else? (your clients may get the value of your product, but how does you company gain value from what you do?)
  • How do you add value?
  • What is the value they receive?
  • What makes you unique?
  • What do you have that makes someone want to talk to you rather than someone else?

 

Now you are getting somewhere. Now you can start writing a resume that incorporates these elements into your opening and bullet points.  From this perspective you are demonstrating value, confidence and expertise.

 

Isn’t that what you wanted to come across in your resume all along?

 

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button

What Always Worked Doesn’t Always Work in Job Searching

changes-in-technology

I remember in my twenties in college when I lived off cheesy garlic bread from the little Italian restaurant around the corner from my dorm, few hours of sleep each night and carried a full load of classes while working a part time job and a full commitment of games, practices and workouts as a member of the dance squad.

I also remember when my son was younger and played three sports taking him to every practice, game and activity; working a full time job; caring for a family member battling cancer; managing a house and four dogs.

Where oh where is all that energy now?  There are days I look around and think, ‘I used to be able to do so much more!’

There are also times that I attempt to do something and think, ‘this used to be a lot easier’ with things like house repairs or climbing flights of stairs.  Age is a wonderful thing, I used to be able to leg press three times my body weight, now I sound like a percussion section every time I stand up!

I recently embarked on some house repairs and updates.  Nothing I really had not done before, yet this time it seemed more time consuming and a bit more of a hassle.  Nothing I could really put my finger on, but I did find myself saying, ‘it always worked before when I did this or that.’

That was the light bulb.  Just because something always worked in the past does not mean it will work again today or in the future.  We need to adapt.  Some of the projects were more difficult because the strength in my hands is not what it used to be.  Some were easier because there are better and neater tools and gadgets now.

If you are job searching, are you applying the ‘always worked in the past’ techniques?  Many of my clients had never had a resume, nor needed one.  It was a matter of a handshake or conversation.  The idea of having a branding statement if only to help define what it is they are selling (their value) to better communicate it to their audience is a complete unknown.

Resumes of the past were compiled of a desire statement “I am looking for a job that enables me to use my skills and abilities to help a company and its clients grow.”

The problem is, no one cares what you want.  What the reader wants to know is what can you do for them?  And no one really believed that line anyway.  Today you need to immediately identify what value you bring to the organization demonstrating you understand their challenges or pain points and know how to deliver the solutions.

Resumes of the past also detailed job duties – what you were hired to do.  It was very easy to transcribe your job description into your resume as bullet points.  Today, people do not care what you were hired to do, they want to know what you did.

Just because you list that your job duty is to manage a certain aspect does not mean you are any good at it.  How do you manage it, who do you work with, how do you work with them, who benefits and how demonstrates your value and expertise on the subject.

Networking in the past may have been telling your family that you are looking for a job.

Today you need to be more stealth in your approach.  Understand the value you add, what you want to do and learn to communicate it in a way that each of your different audiences can not only understand it, but can identify it when they hear others talk about it.  This way they can immediately say, “I know just the person you need to talk to!”

The biggest “always worked” action that I am on a persona mission to obliterate is assigning yourself a title.  Stop introducing yourself as your title.  That is not you!  That is the label that a company gave to you, it does not define you.

Instead, when someone asks you what you do – tell them what you really do: the value you add to people’s lives.  How do you solve problems for people, do you provide a service that makes their life easier or help them achieve a goal or desire? What is it that you really do?  That is what people care about, not your title.  It is also how people will remember you, refer and recommend you.

Change is scary yet there is a lot of help out there to help you take one small step at a time.  My recommendation – carve out a little private time to go through that last paragraph – what do you really do?  Dig deep, have a conversation and in the end you will be well on your way to finding a whole new way of communicating, job searching and networking that actually works for you.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

★ In order to be kept up to date on all articles Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right.

 

 

2 Questions That Should Define Your LinkedIn Profile

two

I get asked a lot about how to write a LinkedIn profile.

  • What should I say?
  • How long should it be?
  • What if I don’t want anyone to know I am looking for a job?
  • I’m not looking so how should it sound?
  • What should I include?
  • Should it sound like my resume?
  • How much stuff should I put in the profile?

These are all good questions; however, there are two questions that should be asked before any others:

 Who do you want to read your profile?

What do you want them to know about you?

Although these are the foundation of your summary; most people cannot answer it.

They caught a case of analysis paralysis.  There is an overwhelming amount of information available on how to write your LinkedIn profile we have forgotten the why.

The why is the who and what – who are you targeting and what do you want them to know. The answers to those two questions help you answer all others.

Let’s say, for example, that you want someone to know that you are a sales rock star.

Who do you want to know this – is it potential clients?  Or perhaps, although not actively looking for a job, you would not mind high level decision makers to take notice.

You have a good place to start – rock star. What else?  Dig here.  Ask yourself ‘what else” about five more times.  This will help you create a stronger, more personal representation of who you are – not just what you do.

So, what else?

  • You are competitive and like to win (still compete running marathons)
  • You like challenges (seeking out new markets and making a name for your company)
  • You like helping other people (help coach the new guys when they come on board and sit down with your clients to come up with solutions instead of selling them a product)
  • You can’t get enough information (always reading new content, attending training or coaching to improve your skills, going back to school, taking classes on woodworking because it has always interested you)
  • You coach little league and volunteer at the humane society

The things you want people to know about you go beyond your professional skills  – they incorporate your personal strengths.  Who you are as a person and how that translates to making you a rock star.  LinkedIn is a step beyond the resume, a peek behind the curtain so to speak, for people to see you, not just your career.

Now that you have some what’s to tell, let’s turn back to your audience.  I want you to think like them.  Why is it important for them to know these things about you?  Why would they care?  In our example, being competitive, striving to continually improve yourself, giving to others as a solution provider or mentor are all strong qualities of top performers and leaders. Giving back to your community shows you have a good balance in life and further rings true the giving back to others and helping.

You also want to put the proof in the pudding – give some accomplishments to complete the value statements.  If you provide solutions to your clients, that equates to money.  Making money for a company and helping your clients make money is good.  This is something they would want to know.

Once you know who you are speaking to (who you want to read your profile) and what you want them to know about you, it will become much easier to have that conversation.  Your summary is a conversation – a one-on-one conversation with the person reading your profile.

Click here for a quick synopsis and basic formula for writing a LinkedIn profile that supports where you are while showcasing yourself.  Although the article speaks to writing a profile looking for a job while employed, this formula is a good foundation to begin any profile.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button 

LinkedIn Profile Pictures – This is NOT Facebook!

Takeing picture

I am just going to say what other people are thinking when looking at profile pictures that should not be LinkedIn profile pictures: (warning, sarcasm ahead)

My kid is cuter than yours
My dogs are more adorable than your fur-baby
Oh look, you can still fit in your formal
Your significant other is in your picture, did they tell you what to wear, too?
Image cropping, it is a beautiful thing
Am I supposed to know who you are in that crowd of people?
Still haven’t figured out how to load a picture, huh?
I didn’t think anyone kept their 80’s glamourshots
Dude, seriously, smile – it’s not that bad
Does your mother know you posted that picture?

We are a visual society, we make first impressions quickly and they are normally based on a visual assessment.  Right or wrong, it is what it is.

An appropriate picture on LinkedIn establishes you as a real person and conveys your brand image and messaging.  It is the reader’s first impression of you – make it a good one.

You may hate getting your picture taken, sorry, this is a necessary evil for you.

LinkedIn research has shown that a page with a profile picture is seven times as likely to be viewed as a page without one and it helps push your profile to 100% completeness.

Here are the considerations you want to make when selecting a LinkedIn profile picture:

  • Have a photo of you and you alone – without attempting to crop someone out of the picture
  • It actually looks like you, the recent you not 10 years ago you
  • It appropriately reflects your industry, position or company environment (dress for the job you want)
  • It appropriately conveys your energy and presence
  • Good posture, a smile and open eyes – be inviting
  • You, your presence and your smile should be the first things noticed, not your wardrobe
  • The background is just that – background, nothing to overpowering or distracting

I find it best to have someone else take your picture, someone who can put you at easy and make you laugh during several takes.  You will come across as more genuine, real and open.  Take several shots to allow you to determine which truly represents you in an instant.

–Lisa

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Photo by Viktor Hanacek

Branding is Not Just a Catch Phrase

lots of wordsMy internet went out.  For about four days it played hide and seek in working.  Yesterday my allocated appointment finally arrived and I was able to get rebooted, connected and upgraded.  All was right in the technology world again.

It was not without incidents and the poor technician sat patiently on the floor of my office while we waited to see if the new equipment was going to play nice.  Making small talk, he asked what I did for a living. 

I explained what I do and told him it was all about branding and that I was a Brand Strategist.

He told me that it was interesting that I said “Brand” because he is going through management training and they keep emphasizing knowing and managing your brand.

Coincidence?  I think not.

For your career, your next promotion, in securing that ideal client or breaking into your target market – it is vital to know and be able to communicate your brand. 

Branding is an important concept, one which I do not want to get dismissed by having it relegated to a catch phrase.

Branding is not just the way you look or behave, it is a matter of value.

Branding is like your reputation, it is not what you say about yourself, rather what other think of you.  In branding it what others see, feel and receive as your value. 

Branding is not a title or slogan. 

Branding is what sets you apart from others, whether they be competitors or team mates. 

You can do the same job as someone else, but you do it in a different way.  Defining that difference and why there is value to it is the essence of branding.

The best piece I can give to anyone in conveying their brand is to convey their value rather than their title.

Immersing yourself only in a title can do you more harm than good.  Only using a title to describe yourself allows your audience to define what that title means to them, this could be a good thing or a bad thing depending upon their personal experiences. 

Identifying and communicating your value – your brand – allows you to set the appropriate stage for you and the expectations for your audience.

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

www.CareerPolish.com

 

Why It Is Critical To Write To Your Audience

bullseye

I was fortunate to present a seminar on LinkedIn last week to an amazing group of people.  One of the greatest aspects of this experience was the understanding by the leadership of the opportunities and value with LinkedIn as a marketing tool for each individual while supporting the organization as a whole.

 

When discussing the composition of a profile I was speaking to the point of writing directly to your target market.  That is when a bit of fear came across a few faces.  The sentiment that was expressed was, in a nutshell, I don’t want to exclude anyone – I want to make sure I am open to anyone wanting to do business.

 

No you don’t.

 

One of the attendees joked in his introduction that he was a jack of all trades, master of none.  Writing in any form of business communication portrays you in this manner.  “I can help anyone at any time with any thing.”

 

In business that does not always come across in the appropriate way, unfortunately it can come across more often than not as one word: desperate.  I will take any business, just please give me business.

 

It is important to not only identify your target market but to speak directly to them for three critical reasons:

 

 

  1. 1.   It demonstrates your expertise
  2. 2.   It establishes your voice
  3. 3.   It engages your target audience

 

 

Demonstrating Your Expertise

 

Speaking in specifics demonstrates how you have set yourself apart from others in your field – and you are leading the pack.  In the insurance and human resource fields there is a title that is commonly used: Generalist. Within the industries these terms are understood in their role.

 

For insurance it is an agent that can represent several types of insurance rather than focusing only on one or more.  In HR it is an individual that performs several roles including recruitment, hiring, screening, assisting with policies/procedures and maintaining corporate/compliance filing.

 

They are defined roles.

 

The dictionary defines a generalist as: “A person competent in several different fields or activities.”

 

Now let’s take that definition from the perception of those outside the industries.  Competent.  If I am spending money I certainly want someone who is much more than competent.  I want an expert.

 

A generalist can be translated by a prospect as just that: general.  Not a specialist, not an expert, not fully competent, not experienced enough to handle the complexities of high net worth individuals or situations.

 

Even though using the term generalist in your profile will resonate with those in your industry, it may be eliminating your prospects because they do not understand what it is you do.  Internally you can be a great resource because of your broad based knowledge and that is communicated with the term Generalist; externally your message is not the same.

 

Establishing Your Voice

 

When you read a novel you form pictures in your mind of the characters based on the words presented.  It is the same when someone reads your LinkedIn profile, business biography or resume.  It is important to write your profile in manner that utilizes words that represent you while speaking from the client perspective.  When the profile sounds like you there is alignment when that prospect speaks to you either in person or over the phone.

 

Without this alignment the prospect is left wondering, “which one are they?”  Are you the profile or the person in front of them or on the other end of the phone?  If there is confusion it opens the door to doubt, which makes it much more difficult to establish a connection.

 

Writing to your market in your voice establishes the tone for all future communications.  They know what to expect.  When that is confirmed in person or by phone establishing trust and a relationship can begin.

 

Engaging Your Target Market

 

Speaking to your audience, expressing their concerns and how you provide solutions and insight is critical.  They need to see themselves in your message, they need to understand that you get them.  Address their needs, their expectations, their challenges.  Take it a step further demonstrating that you provide the appropriate, cost-effective, benefit driven solution.

 

This will engage them for two reasons: they can see themselves in your message, they feel understood.  Secondly, they can then be more open to understanding the benefits, value and costs meaning they are more willing to move forward confidently.

 

My personal LinkedIn profile is written for my resume/LinkedIn clients.  I included the two most popular phrases I hear the most from my clients.  This immediately resonates with prospects.  I speak in a clear, straightforward manner, which is consistent with my in-person communication.

 

I then go on to explain, in a simple formula, my philosophy and approach followed by a clear definition of the elements and why they are important.  I provide my voice, address their challenge and explain how I provide the solution in an easy to understand, engaging manner.

 

To view my profile click here: www.linkedin.com/in/lisakmcdonald

 

When writing your LinkedIn profile, resume or business communication get out of your own head and get into the head of your market.  Talk to them in a manner they understand, identify with them, present yourself as the expert that you are and come from a voice that is true to you. That is how you create engagement.

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Brand Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

www.CareerPolish.com

LinkedIn – Are Your Invitations Being Ignored?

linkedinI saw a friend this weekend who was in town to visit his daughter and best friend.  As we were talking about work he asked, “What is it with this LinkedIn thing?”

He has a very prominent position with a respected firm in Texas.  He is on LinkedIn because “everyone told him he should be” but pretty much hates it.

Why?

Mainly because he gets connection invitations from people that he perceives as only wanting to connect with him to get a job.

So what does he do – he ignores or deletes them.

Are you one of those people?  Are you sending out invitations to high ranking individuals hoping to buddy up so you can get a job?  Are you just sending out the standard, “Since you are a person I trust, I wanted to invite you to join my network on LinkedIn.” message?

Are you being ignored?

Most likely.

Why?

Because you are not offering any insight as to why they should connect with you nor are you offering any value.

People in those positions don’t have the time to scan through and connect the dots.  If you do not give them a reason they have no reason to connect with you.  Not all connections need this type of reason – often the standard connection message will suffice.  But due to the position, responsibility and limited resource of time most individuals in executive leadership positions within an organization normally do need a reason.

If you have a mutual connection that suggested you connect – tell them.

If you have something of value to offer them – tell them.

I work in the world of communication – I’m all about branding yourself to get noticed and get hired.

The worst thing you can do is leave room for assumption for the other party.  Assumption leads to speculation and speculation is normally approached from a negative standpoint.

Why do they want to connect – they want something from me.

First, think about why it is you want to connect with them.  Being their buddy on LinkedIn is no guarantee for a job.  By the way, just because you connected does not mean you are automatically buddies.

Next, craft the invite that delivers this message.

If they do connect with you do not try to suck up using the recommendations.  Pointing and clicking that you recommend them for a trait that you honestly have no idea of their ability does not add to the buddy factor.  Also, do not overwhelm them with requests and time wasters.  Respect their time and position and make sure your communication is value-added and professional.

The first step is communicating why you want to connect; the second is proving you are a valuable business connection.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

www.CareerPolish.com

Please do not get me wrong, this is not in any way, shape or form a subtle hint from those that send me invitations to explain yourself.  I love connecting with everyone that send me an invitation.  Many I have worked with in the past, met in networking or have attended seminars/workshops.  Others may want a resource for job searching or business building and still others may be looking to hire a professional coach.  My hope is to add value to anyone who connects with me either through the positive quotes I post, blog articles or personal assistance so I am appreciative of your connection.