I Did Not Connect with You on LinkedIn Because of Your Facebook Picture

facebook picture on linkedinLinkedIn is LinkedIn and Facebook is Facebook. They are two different venues, environments and interactions. Facebook is the silly, personal side. LinkedIn is the business side.

I am not going to belabor the point of mixing behavior between the two. This article is only about the profile picture, and why using a Facebook type picture on LinkedIn is preventing you from expanding your business network.

I have read many articles stating that it takes seven seconds to make a first impression – but that is if you are having an interaction. Seven seconds in meeting someone face to face or seeing their body language. How quickly do we form an impression based on a photo?

As little as 1/10 of a second.

That is what was found in a series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov. It only takes a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face. Click this link to read the full, fascinating article: How Many Seconds to a First Impression by Eric Wargo on Association for Psychological Science.

Here is a list of photos that I have seen that close doors on LinkedIn:

  • Wedding photos
  • Data nights – including your date and the food
  • Bar buddies – you all look like you are having a good time, plenty of cocktails and which one are you?
  • Phantom hands on shoulders – cropping the rest of the other people out, but not those hands
  • All decked out in favorite sport team gear – jersey, face paint, Mardi Gras beads
  • Holding or surrounded by children
  • Cartoons – either a meme or a characterization of yourself, perhaps ok if you are a cartoonist
  • Car shots with seat belts and back seats
  • Up the nose selfie – holding the phone at such a low angle that the inside of your nose is most prominent
  • Painful, angry or confused – not sure if the picture took, well dressed mug shot or it hurts to smile
  • Showing off favorite toys – motorcycles, cars, boats and this has nothing to do with your business
  • Are you in the shot? shots – vacation shots, dog shots, fun in the sun shots where you are merely a speck among the scenery
  • The future is so bright I gotta wear shades
  • Looking cool selfie with a full view and prominence of your arm
  • And the honest to goodness bathroom selfie complete with the shower curtain, sink and holding the phone in front of your chest

All of the above are fine on Facebook, but what value do they convey about you as a business person?  What value does your child, dog, toy, sunglasses or bathroom give your business (unless it is directly related)? My dogs are extremely photogenic and just so darn cute, but having them in my profile picture does not speak to me or my value as a career and business coach.

In other words, in the business world no one cares about those lovely attributes of your personal life unless they bring value to them as a connection, customer or prospective employer.

What comprises a good photo, one that will open doors? It is a matter of five elements:

  1. Expression – Smile. It does not have to be a full on toothy number, but at least look approachable and open. When getting your picture taken, instead of a forced smile, think of something that makes you grin – a funny line in a movie, something cute your child did, hearing praise from your boss – anything that brings a natural, genuine smile to your face without going into full out laughter.
  2. Clothing – Dress for where you want to go or what represents who you are professionally in a business casual sense. Business relaxed, not the corporate suit and tie head shot unless that is the image you and your company want to portray.
  3. Background – This is a backdrop, not the most important element of the picture; it should not be distracting or inappropriate. It does not have to be in an office environment, however, it should be the last thing someone focuses on in your photo.
  4. Proportion – Your head and shoulders should take up at least 60% of the frame, we want to see you!
  5. Likeness – The picture should be somewhat current and look like you, over the age of 40 no high school photos or glamour shots.

Unless in that 1/10 of a second you convey you are about business prospective clients, connections or employers will not take the time to accept your invitation or read your profile. LinkedIn is for business, it is all about making connections, adding value, expanding your networks and knowledge – if your picture is closing those doors you are missing the greatest of opportunities.


I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.


Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at companies, professional organizations and colleges speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

Networking: Break the Rules to Make Connections

HandshakeThis morning I had the pleasure of doing one of my favorite things: talk to a group about one of my favorite topics – the elevator pitch.

If you are in business the elevator speech should not be anything new to you. It is simply 30 seconds of verbal mayhem that supports or blows up your first impression.

Your introduction is critical because all business begins with an introduction; either you introduce yourself or you are introduced via a third party.

This morning a couple of the attendees mentioned that what I presented is different than what they have heard from other professionals. What they had been told was more about structured rules, protocols and expectations.

There are many networking groups and they have certain protocols that their members or attendees are expected to follow. You should respect these protocols. As far as all the “rules” of elevator pitches, if they do not work for you – break them.

You can talk to 10 people that do what I do (career, networking, business building coaching or resume writing) and can get 12 different answers to the same question. You can also do an internet search on the topic and really get overwhelmed with advice, dos and don’ts.

Given this overload and sometimes conflicting information overload my suggestion is this: read or listen to it all then stop using your head and listen to your gut. Use what resonates with you. This morning what I said, as explained below, resonated with the audience. For them it felt like breaking the rules and it felt good!

The Context of an Elevator Pitch

If you break down networking to the core it is all about building relationships. Relationships are based on an exchange of value. Before you can build a relationship, you must first make a connection, which is the point of your elevator pitch.

Make a memorable impression

I have a hard enough time remembering names, there is no way I can remember titles. My brain filters those out because they are unimportant.

Titles are meaningless for two reasons:

1. Titles allow your audience to determine your value. If you had a friend that had an unscrupulous broker who caused them to lose all their money in the market, what do you think their personal impression of brokers would be? If they were at a networking event and someone walked up and introduced themselves as a broker, do you think your friend would have the warm and fuzzies for this person?

Your friend is assigning a negative impression and value to someone they just met solely on the basis of their title.

2. Titles do not convey value. There are certain titles that do not need to be elaborated on, for example Pediatric Surgeon. That pretty much sums it up. However, for the vast majority of us titles are ambiguous.

The Crafting of an Elevator Pitch

You are not a title, stop introducing yourself as such. Introduce yourself as your value.

Make it clear

What do you do and for whom? Break it down to the very basics. What do you do? I have a friend in insurance and he does lots of things for his clients. Planning, sells insurance, blah, blah, blah. But what does he do at the core? For him and his clients it is all about retirement. His core is preparing and guiding his clients to be able to retire when they want with the income they want.

His what is retirement his who is his clients. He changed his introduction after we spoke from “I work in insurance to help my clients plan for and …….” I am not including the rest because I am pretty sure you started nodding off after hearing “insurance”.

He now introduces himself as “I’m a retirement coach.”

Make it less (to get a response)

I was at a networking event a month or so ago and a woman and I were talking when we were approached by a young man. We followed proper etiquette and invited him into the conversation asking what he did.

That was a mistake. After two minutes we started shifting in our places, after three minutes we started shooting each other sideways glances. By five minutes we were saved by an announcement over the loudspeaker. And we still didn’t know what he did.

You want to elicit a response from your audience, preferably a positive one. Ideally you would want a question. This gives you leeway into a conversation.

My friend who is the retirement coach is almost always asked a question. He purposefully uses a very short introduction to lead to a deeper connection.

Make it personal

I love the IT industry. I have a great deal of respect for people who work in this industry. I also know they get a bad rap. I also know that a lot of them do not help themselves clear that rap. I work in branding, I work with social media and with technology. I know what I know and it enough for me at this time. I also know when I am out of my league.

When I have to call on IT professionals the first thing I tell them is “I am an IT idiot, explain things to me as you would a three year old.” I just do not get what they are talking about when they use IT verbiage. I am also not alone.

When you describe your value, describe it in a way that other people – us non-industry people – will understand. Make it relatable to me. If I can understand it and relate to it I will remember it. I cannot talk about you or refer you if I can’t remember you.

One client started introducing himself in this way, “You know when your company does a system update and you come in the next morning with a crashed computer?” pausing for a positive response “I’m the guy that makes sure that doesn’t happen.”

Make it real

This is about you so it should sound like you. Not resume you, real you. The person I am talking to right now and at any time in the future. Be authentic, be yourself. My dad told me many years ago that a lie is much harder to remember than the truth. It is much easier to be yourself in every situation than present a façade and keep it up.
Some people are going to like you, some are not – there are no two ways about it, you cannot please all people all the time. The real you will resonate with the right people, clients, prospects and organizations.

I am a straight forward, blunt and high energy. I also practice the art of effervescent witticism (sarcasm) and sometimes my language does not meet with my mother’s approval. I am this way in my blogs, seminars, talks and coaching. I am consistent. You know what you are getting. I am passionate about what I do, I give my clients my all and I celebrate their victories as much as they do.

I also am the kind of coach who tells her C-level executive client that he has a bad case of verbal diarrhea. It clicked with him and he appreciated it. He also said no one had ever told him that before (even though he knew deep down he was doing it) and I told him because everyone else was afraid he would fire them.

This does not resonate with everyone, this is why everyone is not a client and I do not want everyone as a client.

When he refers me he can tell his peers what to expect and they get it. Part of my brand is my consistency in who I am and the value I provide to my clients.

This leads me to my last point:

Make it repeatable

The more I understand what you do and how it relates to things I can understand the greater the chance I will remember you and more importantly, mention you.

Many times in structured networking events you are expected to mention the types of contacts or companies that you are seeking for an introduction. If I know that contact, but not your value, then how can I introduce you?

If I tell one of my contacts that they need to talk to you one of their first questions will be either, “Why?” or “What do they do?” If I cannot answer that question I will feel stupid. It is as though I am telling my contact that I am using them and it is a one way introduction – for you to get value from them but not for them to get value from you.

Telling them a title will not answer their questions. If they ask me what you do and I say you are an IT Manager they will ask more follow up questions to determine if they want to have that conversation. Your value will determine if they will share one of their most valuable resources: their time.

Sell me on you so I can sell you to others.


For Crying Outloud Don’t Tell Me You are in Sales

Do you know the quickest way to alienate or mislead prospects and potential contacts?

You might be doing it every time you network.

How do you answer the questions, “What do you do?”

If you answer with a title, you are alienating or misleading.

A title in this situation is either a name for your position or a generalized scope of field.

“I’m a manager”
“I’m in sales”
“I’m in communications”

Say any of these and your inroads to beginning a relationship are pretty much over, conversation dead before it started.

You did not answer the question – what do you do?

You have randomly and generically assigned no meaning to your value whatsoever.  People are looking for a way to escape your vicinity.

Titles are meaningless

More often than not, titles do not convey an accurate portrayal of your position and value.  There are exceptions, of course.  If you are a Pediatric Oncologist that pretty much sums it up.  There are also those who are very elevated within their industry or career that they use a simple title to underplay themselves because their reputation precedes them.

But for the vast majority of us – titles stink.  Not only do the not reflect who you are; they also allow the other party to assign your value based on their own personal experience.

Poor insurance agents, they have such a bad rap.  People normally assimilate them with never ending phone calls, follow up emails and endless conversations about term life insurance – snore.  I worked in the financial industry in brokerage, banking and insurance and have yet to meet an insurance agent who truly wants to talk my ear off about term life insurance.  But the negative reputation precedes them.

There are a few out there that do fall into the stereotype, as well as unfortunate souls who have been party to their badgering and mind-numbing conversations.

If you are an insurance agent who happens to come across one of those unfortunate souls and you introduce yourself by your title, you have just allowed them in less than 2 seconds to immediately categorize you as the same as that other agent.

Do not think you are going to talk your way out of it to change their mind about you.  They have already assigned a value to you and will not be listening to how you are not that person, they do not care.

In telling the other party that you are “in sales” they will most likely translate that into “I’m going to try to sell you something right now!”  Why?  Because there must be some unwritten law that, as consumers, we much be subjected to the pushy sales person at least once in our lifetime.  It is never a pleasant experience and one we are not likely to forget.  That is the impression that stays with us, despite hundreds of interactions with solution-based, customer centric sales professionals.

Manager – what does that mean?  I have had managers who were awesome, mentoring leaders who cared about their team.  I have also had managers that didn’t give diddly-squat about anyone but themselves.  Which one are you?  Giving me just the title allows me to assign that perception to you.

It is not what you are called, it is what you do

Instead of using a title, try introducing yourself as the value you provide to your clients or company.

A friend of mine attended a talk I gave about networking and elevator pitches, which is in line with what I am saying in this blog.  He is an insurance rep.  I know, stop cringing.

After the talk he took time to think about the value he provides to his client.  He asked himself why do his clients work with him, what are their goals and what does he help them achieve.  He then assigned a new way to introduce himself and tested it at his next networking event.

When asked what he did, he responded, “I am a retirement coach.”  It is an anti-title because it is an unusual title that prompts a question.

The question is key.  You want that type of response, it means they were listening and have opened the door for you to paint your picture the way you want and engage them.  Just a word of caution: don’t get too cutesy, it will have the reverse effect.  If you assign a title that is so outrageous or cutesy people will assign it no value and not care to ask what that means.

It is not a matter of time

I am not a big fan of the two minute rule.  Coming up with two minutes to describe yourself equates to me two mind numbing minutes that I will never recover.  Do you realize most people stop listening after about 15 seconds, if you are lucky?

I love going to networking events where everyone has a very lovely, down pat 2 minute speech and when it is my turn I use all of five seconds.  The looks on the faces is awesome.

Short and sweet.  If you blurt out everything in two minutes what have you possibly left for them to ask you?  You have told them everything.  They will probably smile and nod politely and might even add a non-committal remark like “that’s nice”.  Conversation is one way and over.

Turn it around

Engage them, evoke a feeling, connect with a problem, use humor – be human!  You want to build relationships and that means connecting on some level.

An excellent way to engage another person is to make it about them.  Once you give your value – and they ask you a question – turn it on them.  Use them as an example, ask them a question to frame your response in a way that is meaningful to them.

When asked to expand, someone in sales (ick – I know) may ask, “do you have enough clients?” Other options could be starting a question with: do you find, have you ever, what is X like (some component of their business), what is your biggest frustration with, don’t you hate when and so on.

I have two segments of clients that I work with: those looking to move in, on or up in their careers and those in some form of sales.  I cannot assess which category a person is in by looking at them, or even hearing their title.  Someone may be in sales and be secretly looking to change jobs, industries or careers.

After receiving a question to my introduction, I might say, “let me use you for an example; if you love your job but are still struggling with building a solid book of business this is how I would help.” Then end with “…and if you hate your job, I am there to help you find and get the one you love.”

I say might because I do not have a down-pat response.  I have a good idea of what I want to say but never memorize it.  I want it to be fresh, relevant and real to the person I am talking to, therefore I vary it every time.

Now in following these tips, you might just find that you are the center of attention in the conversation.  That’s nice, but do not let it continue.  Bring it back to them.  Ask them questions about what they said, what they like about what they do, about their clients, markets, industry or company.  Give them genuine attention.

One of my favorite quotes is by John Wooden, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

Your title is your reputation, your value is your character.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


Do Not Marry or Do Business with Every One That Proposes to You

Man holding roseI had to stop myself from doing the long, dramatic “No” scream when talking to a business owner the other day.

We were discussing branding and the conversation turned to clients.  This is when they told me that they would work with anyone.

Anyone?  As in anyone and everyone?


Their reason was simple: they need the money.  They did not want to turn down prospective clients.  They did not want to lose a sale.  They need to reach a quota.

Been there, done that; lesson learned.

I had lean times where I took on clients that I knew, absolutely knew, were going to be a nightmare and lo and behold – they were.  That fee that helped keep the utilities on ended up costing me a lot more than a reconnection charge.

I learned I need my integrity and to be true to myself more than a I need a fee with strings and daggers attached.

Defining your target market is critical to success.  It allows you to stop chasing the puppies and cleaning up puddles of pee when you want to run with the big dogs.

The first step in defining your target market is to define yourself, your value and your limits.

This starts with a pretty blunt question: what are you willing to do, sacrifice and put up with?

I often compare job searching and business building to dating, and here is another great opportunity for me to do so.

You are selective about your personal relationships, why not your business relationships?  Let’s take a dating prospective to defining your target clients:

Really – anyone and everyone?

If you were single, would you go out with everyone and anyone who asked you?  I don’t think so.  Would you have a long term relationship or marry anyone who asked you?  I don’t think so.  I do mean anyone, even some random stranger at a bar.  It happens.

I was proposed to by a guy in a bar at my cousin’s reception in California.  He said he had been married five times and asked if I wanted to be number six.  I said no, hoping the conversation would be over.  But then he asked why not.  I told him he didn’t seem to be very good at it having been married so many times.  That ended the conversation.

What is your Type?

What type of clients do you really click with?  Are they in certain industries, positions, stages of their career/business or certain personality traits?  What are the characteristics of a person that are an absolute, a willing to deal with and a oh hell no?

In dating an absolute may be someone who is of the same faith, a willing to deal with is someone who is a die-hard fan of a sport you cannot stand and a hell no could be someone who is a self-centered narcissist.

What is important to you and do these things align with your clients?  It makes for a more harmonious relationship.

Know your value.

Everyone has value to give.  What is yours?  Take a moment to think about your strengths, abilities, assets and positives.  Live in that moment for a minute and take it in.  Be appreciative of yourself and proud of yourself.  Know this is your value and feel good about it.

Being in this feel good place, do you really want to bring someone in your life that is going to take you out of it?  No.  If they cannot see or appreciate your value it will lesson your appreciation of it.  You want clients that understand and appreciate this value.  I am not saying you should expect every client to throw you praises every day about what you do; you just do not want the clients who take it for granted.

I am a nature freak.  I enjoy cutting the grass, trimming the yard, having beautiful landscaping and just generally being outside even taking the dogs on walks. Just because I love to do these things does not mean I want someone to take it for granted and expect me to do it for them.  “You like taking your dogs on a walk, couldn’t you just take mine (while I sit inside and do nothing) since you like being outside so much?”  No.

The take for granted prospective clients are the ones that say things like, “Well, you do this for a living, couldn’t you just do it for free?”  or “Since you are doing this part anyway, couldn’t you just do the rest for free.”  Do you see a theme there?

Set parameters. 

Know what you will and will not accept or tolerate and be willing to walk away.  It is ok to break up with someone who is not respectful of you, just as it is ok to fire a client for the same.

Without parameters, “The client is always right” can go from a cheer for exceptional customer service to a sneer of contempt when you have to redo the proposal or work – again – because they changed their mind, which they expect you to read, and wanted the work done yesterday.

Be clear, professional and firm in defining and stating your parameters.  I would not suggest starting any relationship, personal or business, with a list of demands or “if you do not meet these it is over” type language.  However, when a client has crossed the line or is getting a bit too close, speak up.

Vet the field

Your time is important and valuable, both on a person and professional level.  Take time to vet a prospective date or client before you decide to spend time or get into a relationship with them.  Talk to your prospects and more importantly – listen.

Sometimes the key to knowing this is not the right client for you is in what is said, how it is said or what is not said.

Twenty years of failed relationships without any accountability and each one was someone else’s fault would be a major red flag.

Why do they need your services, what brought them to this place, what are their short term and long term goals?  Are they coming to you for a partnership, a solution or as another person to blame for them not taking ownership of their own business/path?

Give and give with passion.

I heard a quote along the lines that relationships are not 50/50, they are 100/100; you go in giving all you have, as does the other person.

In a business relationship, this equation is not the same; however to give your clients the best of you, your service and your value you must go in 100%, and have the passion and enthusiasm to do so.

When you find your ideal clients, work is no longer work, it is fulfilling a passion, providing a value, a challenge, fun and rewarding.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


You Can Plan and Prepare but You Can Not Control

Preparation and planning are wonderful things.  They make us feel in control, in charge, confident and sometimes invincible. 

Then your dogs pee in the middle of your ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  More on this later.

Keys to successful interviews, client presentations, performance reviews or speaking engagement hinges on preparation, this I do not argue.

What happens when it does not go exactly as planned or anticipated? 

That, my friends, will set you apart. 

Those are the golden opportunities, not horrific destruction of careers!

It is in those moments that you can truly shine. 

I believe that when glitches happen, it is life giving you an opportunity to show what you are really made of, why you are the person for the job.

Technical glitch during a client presentation or a speaking engagement?  No problem, you know the material, you are passionate about what you do!  See this is the opportunity to genuinely show your expertise and commitment by landing the plane without the aid of technology!

In an interview and you say the wrong thing or go down a rabbit hole?  Grab this opportunity to show grace under pressure and humor in guiding the conversation back to the original point and establishing yourself as a cool-as-a-cucumber prospect with quick wits able to turn a potentially bad situation right back around to point.

Those moments happen in the everyday world of business, not just the major milestones.  Can you be prepared for these unexpected flubs?  Not really, but you can recognize that they happen and allow yourself some slack in just going with it the best you can.

Odds are, when you are relaxed and let your natural expertise guide you, you will end up looking better than had everything gone exactly as planned.

I took a two-month hiatus from speaking and workshops to focus on a new coaching program.  Not being in front of crowds for a while, I let my guard down about life’s flubs. 

Lucky for me, I have dogs to remind me that these little opportunities are always present. 

This past weekend I accepted my son’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and we planned it out.  He came by to video it for me, I prepared two checks (one for ALS and one for American Cancer Society), we picked a spot in the backyard and planned the shooting before the rain came. 

The video, it seemed, went off without a hitch.  Mission accomplished.

My son wanted to see my reaction, so we watched the video.  What we saw instead were two of my dogs peeing all over the place and the third one trying to get the ice out of the bucket. 

There was no way I was going to allow my son so much pleasure in dumping another bucket over my head, so we just posted it as is. 

What followed was several private messages and some on Facebook all praising the pups for absolutely stealing the show.

Apparently, they knew what they were doing. Watch the video by clicking here:

ALS Challenge upstaged by dogs

I did not shine or be brilliant, I got upstaged by peeing dogs.  But because of this, the video was seen and shared more than it probably would have been without them.  I am hoping this translates to not only additional support for ALS, but also the American Cancer Society (near and dear to my heart).

Thank you puppies for the reminder of life’s unexpected flubs and giving me a good laugh.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer



The 1 Thing To Do RIGHT NOW To Recharge, Launch or Boost Your Career, Business or Job Search

finger pointingI am going to let you in on a very powerful secret.  It is something that you can do immediately upon reading it that will literally change the game.


Imagine people helping you, willingly and with joy, find that right job or connect you to the right clients.


And it will start to happen when you do this one thing.  The best part is – you can do it right here, right now without any physical strain or money invested!


Seriously, it is that easy.


And it is literally two words.


Can you imagine a life-changing opportunity by just following two words?


It can happen – you just have to follow these two little words.


Are you ready for it?  Really, really ready for it?


It may sound harsh and may be bold but ok, here goes; brace yourself:


Stop whining.


That’s it.


That is the wisdom, that is the simplicity and that is the key.


I have spoke repeatedly on the importance of having gratitude, knowing your value and giving to others unselfishly; however before you can begin embracing these things (which are all important components of reaching your goal) you must first start at ground zero.


Ground zero is you.  People will support you and opportunities will develop if you allow them.


Whining repels people.


People get frustrated and feel unappreciated in helping someone that continually complains.  The more you whine the more people quite honestly do not want to hear it, especially if they have tried to help you.


Imagine the good feeling you have in telling someone about a potential job opportunity and their response is, “well it really isn’t what I am looking for, it is beneath what I have done in the past and I am just so tired of the only jobs available are ones that I am way overqualified for.”


I would be done.


We have a little thing we do between my son, his father and myself to help remind each other to not whine.  When, even in a missed attempt, we try to help one another if the receiver starts whining the giver simply looks at them and says, “You are welcome.”


People give because they want to and they will continue to give when they know it is appreciated and they feel it has done some bit of good.  It makes people feel good.  We like to feel good; therefore, the more good we feel we do the more we give.


Whining tells people immediately to not even bother trying because you probably are not going to appreciate it so it will suck the happy right out of your giving.


Two words, so simple in their statement and even thought I have presented it in a flippant manner, it isn’t as easy as it sounds.


When you get into whiner zone sometimes you do not realize how far deep they have plunged into that pool.  Whining becomes a natural reaction.  An annoying reaction, but an instant reaction.


It has to be a conscious decision one that you work on until it no longer is a reaction nor a chosen response.


When you feel a whine coming on take a breath.  It will make you stop a beat.  Either bite it back and don’t release it out loud or try something radical – state out loud something you are thankful for.


This doesn’t have to be major, just something.  For example I came home the other day with my mind on fully focused on a project unsure if it will come to fruition.  While I was gone pup number 4 had decided to open the mail, go through the sales papers by tearing them up and leaving them all over the kitchen and then making sure no other pup played with his mess, he peed on them.


Needless to say I wasn’t a happy camper.  Instead of whining about it, I took a breath, smiled at him and said, “I’m thankful you didn’t poop in the living room.”


Hey, you take a win where you can get it.


The point is, I could have easily come home and whined about the project and lack of movement, but instead I realized no one wanted to hear that and hey, my life isn’t that bad, I didn’t have to clean up poop.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.




Thanksgiving is Over – Does This Mean No More Daily Gratitude?

daily gratitudeFacebook can be such a fun thing – a place to share pictures of your family (two and four legged), funny stories, interesting news tidbits and the occasional lists.  A tradition, it seems, is for the month of November for you to post every day something you are grateful for.


I watched closely this month out of curiosity and trying not to have a hypothesis proven.  Unfortunately, it was.


The month started with the robust proclamations of gratitude for God and Family.  They posts were really lovely and heart felt.


During week two we started to see some cracks in the wall, people having to make up because they forgot to post the day before.


Week three it seemed to be getting to a stretch people trying to put down something “meaningful” to be thankful for.  My favorites were my friends who were completely themselves and thankful for what others might have thought as silly or meaningless.  Thanks is thanks.


Week four it was a sad dwindle; only a fraction of those who started had completed this “task”.   Yes, task, because unfortunately it seemed that maybe it felt like a task there at the end.


Now, don’t get me wrong – I am all about gratitude.  But more importantly for myself I am more about putting the “hey that’s a great idea” into practice.  I took a different approach several months ago because I wanted to take it to another level.


You have all heard the inspirational quotes and mantras what you praise grows, happy people aren’t grateful/grateful people are happy etc.  I wanted to take that initial feel good and see how far I could take it.


I’m a list maker anyway, so on my daily To-Do list I made a small change: I added a Gratitude section.  Right there on the top of the page.  The night before I add to the next days to-dos but leave this part blank so first thing in the morning before I start my day I write down three things I am grateful for.  Yes, three.  I wanted to really stretch myself.


At first it was easy: my son, my family, my friends but I stretched it out: I listed them out individually.


Then it started getting a little harder.  Why?  Because I was putting some expectation on myself that no where in any of those happy positive inspirational quotes or mantras does it give rules.  But I had imposed rules.


I thought that my gratitude should have meaning, big meaning:  Thankful for my freedom, my family, my faith – things like that.  I couldn’t possibly put down that I was thankful for finding a new scent for my wax burner.  That seems silly, insignificant and well, unworthy.


How could God or the Universe bless me with more to be grateful for if I wasn’t appropriately thankful?


About a month into the daily gratitude it hit me – I was being an idiot.


Gratitude isn’t a competition sport.  It was a feeling.  And your feelings are not wrong – they are yours. Period.


So I started putting down the “silly” things: the scents, the sale on fresh asparagus, the new recipe for avocado/black olive salad, my friendly mail carrier, finding a five in the pocket of my jeans the night before.


I also started putting down characteristics in those I love that I was grateful for: the playfulness of my big puppy, the sometimes irritating way the little dog noses her way up on my office chair to take a nap while I am working, my son’s humor, my best friend’s grace – things I admired and were lucky enough to experience.


I start my day out this way for another purpose: sometimes I need a reminder.  Sometimes my day seems to turn into a black hole of crap that I can then look over at my overwhelming to do list and see three things that I recognized in the morning and it helps.  It helps me give myself a little kick in the butt to stop being so negative and suck it up.


You know most of my blogs come back around to job searching or business building – so here is the tie-in: start making your own list for yourself.


When trying to get hired by the right company or the right client we tend to focus on the bigger things and only the big things.  When we come to a lull in progress we tend to get a little down on ourselves or the situation.  This is when you need the list the most.


You have more to offer than just your big ticket items.  Beyond the expertise, length of experience or job title: you have your personal qualities.  The little things that make you – you.


If you think making a gratitude list every day is hard try making a self-appreciation list.  At first you are not going to like me too much for this.  But hang in there.


Every day start off by writing three things you appreciate about yourself.  Yes – make it all about you.  Step out of that comfy little box and give yourself some love.


That is going to be the hardest part because we are not used to doing it.  Especially women.  We really suck at it.  I tell all my female clients I get it, as a woman we are used to putting everyone on top of the list: first our family, friends, community, job, home…and somewhere at the bottom of the list, behind the dogs is our name.


I have four dogs, I was way down there.


Do it anyway.


Be uncomfortable.


You don’t have to share it with anyone, you don’t even have to tell anyone you are doing it.  If you have an amazingly supportive spouse or best friend you might want to tell them so they can help you identify some things to get you going, but that is up to you.


Write the darn list.


Give yourself permission to recognize and appreciate you, your qualities and your attributes.


Then here is something that will start to happen.  You will start to see a connection there with those big ticket items and it will give you an additional layer to add when talking to those prospective companies or clients.


When you discuss your expertise you can add a layer of how you do what you do and now that you have full appreciation for the details of how you do it you will be speaking for a place of excitement, admiration or love.


Let’s give an example to help with this.


I am an analytical person, no, let me rephrase that – I am a very over-analytical, research the hell out of it, break it down, dissect it gotta know all the details or death kind of girl.


At first blush it doesn’t sound like a positive, right?


But it is.  I have come to love this quality about myself.  Here are some things I could say on my Self Appreciation List:


  1. I love the fact that I have been called “a dog with a bone” when there is a problem to solve.
  2. I love the part of me that is so inquisitive that I keep digging to find out all that I can.
  3. I love the fact that I won’t settle for surface information.
  4. I love that this is a quirk about me – it makes me unique.
  5. I love it when I get so involved in it that my best friend has to say things like, “sweetie – you really don’t have to know every single detail about this, it was just a thought.”
  6. I love the fact that I still get excited to learn new things.
  7. I love the fact that I feel brave in reaching out to ask people to help me understand and I have grown up enough to realize that ignorance is curable, stupidity is not.
  8. I love the fact that I have a best friend that supports me in my ridiculous efforts and lets me share with her what I found out.
  9. I love the fact that I can take a mountain of information from digging and then put it into a simple way to understand when explaining it to her.


Now, if I were job searching or networking in my old playing field of compliance in the financial industry I would definitely use these things to support and sell my expertise.


In talking about rules, regulations or compliance requirements I would add in that in working with my brokers I don’t just tell them this is what needs to be done because the Fed said so because I am a very analytical and communicative person.  I personally want to know the whys so I can them work with them in incorporating the new regulation in a way that makes sense to them, doesn’t detract from their business and allows me to protect and serve them better because I have all the behind the scenes “whys” to make the “have to-s” possible.


Sounds a lot better than: “I’m good at compliance – I have a decade of experience in it and hold five series license and two insurance licenses.”


Not only will you gain a greater appreciation for yourself, but you will have solid, positive examples of how you do it better than anyone else.


In the end, isn’t that what you are trying to sell to the prospective employer or client?



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.



If You Are Apologizing For the Why Then It’s the Wrong Why or the Wrong Audience

why - black and white

One of the first questions I ask prospects interested in working together for either career advancement, business building or job searching is “What is going on?”


For me to get an accurate understanding of where they have been and where they want to go I need to understand where they are now – and the reasons they want to change.


Some of the responses I have heard are:


I hate my boss.

I want more money.

I want to move.

I want more challenges.

I want benefits.

I want stability.

I want to be happy.

I am tired of the life being sucked out of me there.

I want to be appreciated.

I want to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.

I want to help more people.

I want to build my client list.

I want to expand into a new market.

I want to be able to take more time for myself.”


No right answers, no wrong answers and no judgments about one reason being more worthy or noble than any other.


Your reason for wanting a change is like your opinion: it is yours and therefore cannot be wrong to you.  My job is to help you get there, not to judge you on why you want to go.


So if you are in line with your why then who has the right to judge you?  I heard Bob Proctor say once that it was none of his business what other people thought about him.  It took me awhile to get that, but once it sunk in, I truly enveloped it.


But here is the thing – if you feel you owe me an apology or explanation as to why you want to leave then maybe it truly isn’t your why.


I have certain goals.  They may seem selfish or selfless to others, but that is not my concern.  They are well thought out, personally driven aspirations to which I have committed.  I know I am committed to one when I can tell my best friend point blank what it is without adding the noise.


The noise is the “I want this because…” statements.  I don’t have to justify to her or explain, she accepts my goal for what it is – something I want, not an idea that she needs to approve or modify.


If you find yourself having to explain your why then you need to re-evaluate one of two things:  the why itself to see if it truly rings true to you or the people that you are sharing it with.  If the people are asking you for justification then realize that is their problem – not yours.  Perhaps they cannot admit to themselves that they, too, want more money.


We are told wanting more money or responsibilities could be seen as selfish.


It isn’t.  With more responsibility you can give greater value to your team and your company.  With more money you can provide more to your family, self, friends and community.


The more you have the more you can give.  That seems pretty selfless to me.


Yes, you benefit, but so does everyone around you.


Stop beating yourself up for the why and accept it, embrace it, commit to it and then take action toward it.


Once you do these four things you can accomplish it!



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW



Are You Expecting Too Much From Your LinkedIn Profile?

confidenceAs a resume writer, career and business coach I am one of the first people that will tell you how important a LinkedIn profile is – a good LinkedIn profile – for you and your career/business.


I will also tell you that it will be a very good tool to use in combination with other factors of your job search/business building.


However, it is not the miracle worker and should not stand alone.

Give it a break, it is a piece of your overall communication, not the be-all, end-all everything in one problem solver!


Too often individuals will craft a LinkedIn profile and expect that once they upload it the phone sill start ringing off the hook, offers will pour in the door and the sky will open to let a light and chorus of angels sing “hallelujah” as all the rights will be wronged and business will pick up or the right job will be offered.


That’s a lot to expect out of one piece of the puzzle, don’t you think?


Let’s review what your LinkedIn profile is or should be:


  • An inviting personal narrative where you are speaking directly to your targeted audience.
  • An opportunity for you to add your personality into communicating your value.
  • A brief narrative written in first person to build a connection.
  • An invitation for further communication.


In other words, this is either step one or step two in a multi-step process.  Often recruiters or hiring managers are reviewing LinkedIn profiles after they read a candidates resume.  Prospective clients will also check out your LinkedIn profile after hearing about you, your company or reviewing any prior company information (like a website).


In that case it is step two.  It could be the first encounter that someone has had with you so that would be step one.


If it is step two it needs to add further dimension and depth.  Let them see you.  Express in your own personal way how you add more value than the other guy, are an expert in your field or the contractor of choice.  Give them another take away as a second touch.


If it is step one you are setting the stage for the above.


In either case the point is to engage and invite further communication – without demands or outrageous expectations.


Do not think that just by reading your LinkedIn profile that is enough to sign the deal.  They are still going to want to talk to you, find out more and make a decision on their own that you are the right person.


Use LinkedIn to set the stage for that next level of communication.  If you are job searching are their certain skills, value or ability that are important for your next position?  Then these should be highlighted and given enough leeway for further communication.


In other words: you don’t need to tell them every single aspect – just enough to demonstrate your value and create the desire to find out more.


If you are utilizing LinkedIn to build your business speak directly to your client’s needs and follow the same principle: demonstrate your value and create the desire to find out more.


Invite them to connect with you and why they should.  As a general rule we make decisions when they are easy to make.  Give me the information I am looking for, an easy way to contact you and a reason to do so and I am more likely to reach out.


But make sure you are ready for that next communication.  Are you following up, are you available to respond, are you presenting the same context and tone that you established in your LinkedIn profile?


If I am impressed with your profile and the tone of your message but then speak to a person who is disinterested or worse – do not get a response at all, I will quickly dismiss you as a candidate or prospect.


I want to make sure the person I read about and felt connected to is the same person I speak with either by phone, email or in person.  If there is any difference it will create confusion and that will end any prospective deal.  I don’t like being confused or dealt with the responsibility of figuring out which person you really are – it is exhausting.


Do you have a resume or business communication that mirrors your LinkedIn?  They should not be the same, but similar.  If a recruiter has already read your resume and sees that your LinkedIn is simply a copy and paste of that they are going to think you are a one trick pony.


Remember – a resume and business communication are more of an arm’s length communication.  You are not sure who all will be reading it so you have to make sure it is professional, yet comprehensive for the potential audience.  LinkedIn profiles are to be written more as speaking directly to that one person reading it.  A personal connection written in first person where it is expected to use words like “I”, “me”, “my” and “mine”.


Bottom line: make sure your LinkedIn profile is written in congruence with your other business tools, utilized as a communication stepping stone and that you are prepared to continue the message during subsequent contacts.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW



Want vs. Expect

apples and orangesWhy do you do the things you do in building your business or in job searching?  What is the reasoning behind your actions: because you want a result or expect a result?


The end game is the same: the result.  However, the attitude is completely different and therefore will affect your actions and ultimately the result.


If you perform certain tasks expecting to reach the result you will often times be disappointed.  The sad truth in life is just because you take the right steps does not mean that you get the right results.  I have come to discover that just as important as the steps, possibly more important, is the attitude in taking those steps.


If searching for a job you can redo your resume, network, apply for positions and do activities every day to obtain a job.  However, if you expect any or all of these items to land that job then you are demanding of other parties to fulfill your desire.


It is like sending out a message, “Hey, I talked to you, I sent you my resume, I’ve done everything that I was supposed to now do what you are supposed to and give me that job!”


Not quite the hirable message.


If, on the other hand, you perform all these tasks, still with the end result of getting a job in mind, but you do so in a manner that is beneficial to you; you are collaborating with the other parties to come to agreement in getting the right job.


The difference in attitude: you redo your resume to gain greater insight into your abilities, skills and value.  You do so in a manner that improves your ability to communicate these things to another party and you take it as a learning experience.   You gain value in what you are doing, instead of having the attitude that changing a piece of paper will demand of them to hire you.


When networking you take interest in others, share value, assist and learn about them.  You do not see it as a way to collect cards and expect others to make that introduction just because you met them.  You see it also as a way to not just get potential leads for positions, help others but also build a network that can grow and expand beyond getting a new position.


In building your business do you perform tasks because it is a necessary evil to get a client or because you enjoy doing them?  For example seminars or workshops, I love these. I love giving them and facilitating them.  One comment that I receive more than any other after a presentation is that people enjoyed it because they could tell I enjoy it and love what I do.


I do not gain a lot of business out of these, but I do them because I love them.  I do not give a workshop with the intent that I will garner x new clients out of each presentation.  I put that out of my mind and focus on giving an informative and interactive presentation that lends value to others.


What I have found is it is often not those in attendance that I get a call from – it is someone that the attendees recommended to call me, based upon their perception of me during the presentation.


In other words, whether you are building your business or job searching – perform your tasks because you want to not because you expect them to immediately result in your goal.


You can do all the right things and still not get the results you want.  When that frustration hits that is when I am reminded of a funny quote I saw once, “Expecting good things to happen because you are a good person is like standing in front of a hungry lion and expecting him not to eat you because you are nice to him.”


It does stink when you do all the right things and do not get what you want, I understand this and can completely empathize with it.  That is when I realized why the attitude is so important.  It lessons the disappointment and allows you to see opportunity.


If I do something just to get a result and I don’t get it, even if I went about it the right way, I am going to be some level of ticked off.  But, if I do all the right things with an attitude of giving, learning and growing then when I do not get the result I want I realize it is because there is a better opportunity out there.  Had I accepted the original result then I would have been in a position where I missed out on something even better.


Take stock in what you are doing this week and ask yourself: “Am I doing this because it brings value to me or others and I really enjoy doing it – or – am I doing it because I expect a result?”


A slight change in attitude behind the actions can make all the difference.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW