Renee

Seven ways to plan ahead for your Christmas social media

Getting ready for Christmas? With the holiday season looming, it’s worth thinking about how you’ll handle your social media over the festive period.

Plan ahead

You need to be an organised person to plan ahead!  Staying active on social media will ensure your business doesn’t stagnate if you’re too full of mince pies and brandy butter to post anything. Remember that you can schedule stuff with Hootsuite or a similar “dashboard” in advance: create posts, upload photos, generally be prepared; this will keep your audience engaged during the festivities.

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1. Showcase seasonal products

If you’re selling anything Christmassy, you should have already started with a festive social media marketing campaign.  If you haven’t, now’s the time to get a move on…!! Promote your products or services across all relevant social media channels. Did you know that you can create a “Facebook Offer” if you’re running a specific promotion? It will send interested people a reminder to claim the discount (or whatever the offer is) before it ends. A carousel photo post is also a lovely way to show off a few items in one go.

2. Get into the festive spirit

This is a brilliant time to connect with your audience on a personal level.  Even the most serious business people tend to relax at this time of year.  Post a cheery seasonal message that will make people smile. If you’ve put up a Christmas tree or other festive season decorations, pop a pic on Facebook or Instagram! LinkedIn is the most professional platform but there’s nothing wrong with an engaging seasonal post on there too!

3. Show your appreciation.

Say thank you to your clients and followers for staying with you during the year. This can be a simple photo post or beautifully designed graphic – or just a few words straight from the heart!

4. Keep your business info up to date

Don’t forget to tell your clients when you’ll be open and closed over the holidays. This is also a good opportunity to update any other business information on your social media profiles that may be out of date. Don’t forget to include keywords in your profiles to help people find your business in searches.

5. Manage reactive responses

How quickly do you reply to tweets and messages on Facebook? You can set an auto-reply that responds immediately to direct Facebook messages, but you shouldn’t leave customers dangling for days. Keep an eye on your social media for exactly this reason – or post a clear message that you won’t be around. Of course, if your clients rely on you for an emergency service, for example if you’re a plumber, think about outsourcing your social media maintenance while you’re busy partying.

6. Get ready for the new year!

Think it’s too soon to worry about 2019? It’s definitely not. Prepare a mailshot now so that you don’t have to think about it over the holidays. Then you can get the year off to a highly motivated, stress-free start by being in touch with your clients, customers, potential clients and customers and anyone else who you want to remind about your business!

7. Bring in some extra help

If you’re too busy festooning the office with fairy lights to keep an eye on your social media, you might benefit from taking on a temp or a virtual assistant to help with social tasks. Don’t you find that in our dynamic digital age it’s really nice to receive something in the post? Even having someone to write your Christmas card envelopes is a help.

Here’s a reminder of easy ways to schedule your social media, and do feel free to let me know if you need some help.

The Business Show at ExCel: 14/15 November

The largest business exhibition in Europe hits London in November with over 25,000 visitors. I’ll be there at the heart of it to explain about social media marketing and training – both on my stand and as a seminar speaker.

     

I’ve never exhibited at a huge business show before – at least, not for social media marketing and training. I’ve visited many exhibitions – mainly food-related ones, especially if chocolate is involved – and jewellery, but that was in a past life: pre-Internet.

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In more recent times I’ve traipsed around business shows at ExCel and Olympia chatting to networking friends who are exhibiting, and I’ve met new contacts who’ve enticed me to leave my business card by offering some kind of delicious treat or the chance to win a prize.

I have joined clients on their stands at various trade shows to help with their marketing – that’s always great fun and highly rewarding.  And I’ve exhibited at smaller networking events, such as the YBC days in Spitalfields, where I also sit on a panel to answer questions about social media marketing.

But this is my first time alone at ExCel – the country’s largest auditorium!  So pop along to say hello – you’ll find me on my stand: YBC88, not far from the main entrance. I might well run a competition for people who stop by to say hello – all in compliance with GDPR, of course.

“The Biggest Business Event in Europe” is hailed as “Packed full of the very best speakers, features, innovations, education and opportunities in the business world; the event is dedicated to guiding startups, SMEs and large corporations on their business journey.”

You can register for free entry to the Business Show here.

Hope to see you there!

Tips for blending your business and personal Facebook profiles

Using social media in a personal context can still lead to business opportunities, if it’s handled sensibly. And nothing happens by chance, so we should always be prepared for someone to check us out online at any time.

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As an example, I recently met Ade, a celebrity events planner who has masqueraded around the homes of some top A-listers. We connected on LinkedIn, naturally, then – as we have a number of shared social contacts – he added me as a Facebook friend.

Now, I don’t keep my personal Facebook account particularly professional; this is my forum for staying in touch with friends and family.  It’s littered with art gallery pics, trips to the theatre, a few cat photos (yes, I am that crazy lady) and the occasional chocolate delight. My business Facebook page is the place for you to get social media and communication skills tips. Still, although Facebook is my social space, I try to avoid posting nonsense. After all, you never know when an international radio show producer will find you.

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Anyway, Ade invited me to join him at a recording of a London radio show for an Australian station, which is why I found myself in a quaint Bloomsbury theatre-cum-art gallery with an eclectic mix of British stage stars and recording artists – including Robbie Williams’ backing singer, the original female lead in the West End’s Phantom of the Opera and the legendary Freddie Mercury’s partner, Peter Straker.

But the masterpiece that blew me metaphorically to Melbourne and back was Aussie pianist Warren Wills, the radio show’s host, who belted out such an incredible Bowie compilation on the grand piano that goosebumps completed a Mexican wave all over my body. I didn’t tweet any of this at the time because I was glued there, mesmerised, but you can hear the performance on a podcast. Such nice people. Such enviable talent.

At the same event, the sister of one of my 80’s musical heroes approached me to help market her novel – a historical rhyming book that I haven’t yet read but will be downloading from Amazon before we meet next week to talk about a marketing campaign.

A second instance of a personal social media connection concerns another gallery and a different group of artists. My friend and colleague Martyn Royce took me to the launch of his summer exhibition at a contemporary gallery in Pall Mall. Momentarily standing alone to sip my champagne, a man started chatting to me, and – to cut an hour’s conversation into a snippet of a sentence – we ended up as Facebook friends.

Although he lives 150 miles away, social media showed that he was born in my town and – this was really quite unbelievable – he’d actually lived in my road and played with my neighbour as a child!  He’s now a leatherworker who does Viking re-enactments, demonstrating his craft at country shows up and down the UK; pretty cool.

A couple of days later I was at the V&A’s Frida Kahlo exhibition with my friend Caroline, coincidentally my neighbour’s sister – and she remembered him well. I’m putting them all in touch with each other as I write – multitasking at its best.

So, one week, two new Facebook friends, three galleries, a lot of fun and doors opening to new business opportunities.  Can’t be bad, eh?

Do remember though, your personal Facebook page shouldn’t be your business façade. Here are a few tips for managing it sensibly for business.

Top Tips

  • Only accept people as friends if you know them or can see a tangible connection.
  • If you want to keep business and social strictly separate, it’s absolutely fine – and not rude – to refer people to your business page and explain that you keep your personal profile for family and close friends.
  • Blend your personal and business pages when appropriate, share business updates and vice versa, but delineate the line between professional and fun.
  • Review your personal profile settings regularly to ensure only people you want to see your personal information can access it.
  • Avoid sharing negative personal updates. While some people use this tactic for engaging with friends, it’s not good practice if you’re hoping to be seen by current or future clients.
  • Don’t include ridiculous or drunken photos, swearing or anything else that falls into the realms of unprofessionalism.

Yell if you need any help with your Facebook presence!

Blogging: keywords that come back to bite your bum

I’ve waited a long time for TV stardom.  Not since my BBC appearance with Prince William have I received so much media attention…

I’ve run training courses on the art of blogging and, obviously, driven home the importance of incorporating keywords into website content so that businesses can be found easily for that particular thing. Websites benefit from blogging due to increased traffic, businesses benefit by establishing their expertise, and potential customers benefit by being offered the product or service they require in a smooth, seamless fashion.

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When I blogged about my Club 18-30s holiday I didn’t mark the tour operator’s name as a keyword, as I aim to be found for social media marketing, training, LinkedIn coaching and plain English business writing.  They’re my keywords. The 18-30s story was just a bit of fun.  But what GOES ONLINE STAYS ONLINE! When 18-30s decided to close its doors on 24-hour partying, cocktails and banging on the beach, the media did a quick online search for its own keywords – and bingo! Up I popped!!

So it was this blog, written a few years ago, that led to Radio 5 interviewing me – and, subsequently – to BBC’s The One Show requesting my presence at a filming session to be shown on a Friday night’s prime time TV.

Filming was a lot of fun! The crew met me at the allotted location with their cameras, lights and boom boom equipment, and presented me with a delicious cocktail. (Mocktail actually – well, it was only 9am and we’re not in Ibiza in 1984 now.) I was astounded by the amount of time it takes to put together a one-minute snippet of film. Three hours later I was recounting my story for the umpteenth time and we were all firm friends.

So, three questions….

  1. Are you using your keywords to their best advantage?
  2. Can you create interesting stories that may not be directly about your business but link back to it in some way, giving a new audience the opportunity to find you?
  3. Do you stay mindful that what you post on social media stays there for a very long time?

If you’ve answered no to any of these, I’ll be happy to give you some tips to set you on the right path – the path to social media marketing success, I mean, not to wild teenage holidays!

Ten tips for using Social Media responsibly for your business

Of course, it goes without saying that social media is an excellent way to market your business. Many owners of small businesses (including me!) mix their professional and personal social media. It’s worth keeping in mind that one person’s lively banter could be seen as offensive to someone else. So, here are ten tips to keep you and your business out of trouble…

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  1. Social media can blur the boundary between your public and professional lives; stay aware of your personal image and how it may impact on your professional standing.
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  2. Anything you post can become a permanent record, there forever to be referred to, shared and re-shared beyond your control. Remember that there’s no such thing as a safe throwaway comment on social media.
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  3. Compromising photos may reflect badly on your business, even if you didn’t take or post the photo. Keep an eye on who’s posting what if you’re involved in any shenanigans!
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  4. Don’t forget that comments made in a personal capacity can bounce back to bite you, your business and, possibly, your whole industry.
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  5. Know how to adjust your privacy settings to keep personal stuff personal.
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  6. Think about your ethical and legal duty to protect other people’s confidentiality.
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  7. Beware of posting informal, personal or derogatory comments about anyone on your professional social media. Aside from it being rude, you don’t want to risk opening yourself to defamation and libel laws if your words are construed as unlawful. (Defamation law can apply to any comments posted on the web made in either a personal or professional capacity.)
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  8. If you come across comments made by others on social media that you find irritating, offensive or just plain wrong, think carefully before responding. Commenting will increase the visibility of the original comment and if other people jump onboard, the whole conversation can grow exponentially.
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  9. Without facial expressions or body language, it can be easy for people to misconstrue the meaning of your words in written social media. You and I might think something’s funny, but someone else could view it as sarcasm or rudeness.
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  10. Aim to be consistent across social media. If you present yourself very differently on LinkedIn and Facebook, it’s possible that people might question your business integrity.
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Social media has always been an overwhelming minefield, but with the GDPR data protection laws all around it’s better to be just a touch more vigilant than before. Feel free to drop me an email if you need help with anything social media-related.

Would you like to join me for a glass of wine? (And a free LinkedIn review!)

If you’re free on Thursday, 1st March, please join me at the Art Pavilion in east London for the private viewing of “In a country far, far away.”

There will be some awesome works of art, live music, wine and dance displays – so it will be wonderful if you can come along!

This exhibition has been inspired by tales from countries in war and crisis. My exhibit is a poem dedicated to the first recorded poet – a remarkable woman who lived over 4,500 years ago in the area now known as southern Iraq. Her work has survived almost five millennia, yet I’d never even heard of her until recently! Just think… her message spread across the globe and made a lasting impact without even a whisper of wifi…

While I won’t be giving out social media tips on the night (apart from reminding people to tweet, share and Instagram their favourite pieces of artwork, of course), I will be happy to follow up with a complimentary LinkedIn review for anyone who comes along as a result of reading this blog!

Here are the details, and I really hope you can make it!

If there’s anything specific you’d like to know about making the most of LinkedIn – or any social media – but you can’t make it on March 1st, please feel free to ask.

Looking forward to – hopefully – seeing you there!

How to avoid being annoying on LinkedIn

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training | social media marketingA few weeks ago I received an invitation to connect with another social media consultant. I’m usually happy to link up online with other people in my field as it’s great to be able to share ideas and – occasionally – concerns, and have meaningful discussions about the digital media marketing world. Also, there’s always the chance of cross-referrals if one person is too busy to take on new clients, so it’s good to have other people to recommend.

Some of the clients I coach don’t like to connect within their own industry sphere – and that’s fine.  Although I always point out that if it’s a reluctance to connect for fear of the competition poaching their clients, it might be worth reassessing their current client relationship strategy.  Within most industries there’s enough work to go around, and a bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone.

So I accepted the LinkedIn invitation and started a discussion. This person specialises in handling the social media for clients in only one industry sector – we’ll pretend it’s liquorice manufacturers. (It’s not really, but I don’t like liquorice.)

Only, later that day, a problem sprang up.  I received an email via LinkedIn from this person – trying to sell me social media services! And not only that – it rambled on and on about liquorice. My new LinkedIn connection started spamming me within 12 hours of discussing the beneficial crossovers and differences of our respective businesses!

The following day… guess what?! Another communication – this time a group message. When I received the third message in two days I emailed to remind him that I am not his target client and asked that he please stop emailing me. No reply.

On receiving the fourth email, I – very nicely – asked if his strategy when working with clients was to bombard their contacts in the hope that they may turn into future customers… Again, no reply. For the first time ever, I disconnected from someone on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a highly professional social network and, aside from its incredible power in the business world, there is an etiquette attached.  So here are a few tips to keep out of people’s annoyance zone:

  1. Personalise your connection requests: Remind people how they know you or explain why you’d like to connect if you’ve never actually met.
  2. Respond promptly: If you receive a message, reply quickly. Set your notifications so that messages filter through to your email box; that way you won’t miss anything important.
  3. Send a welcome message: If someone adds you (and you accept them), drop them a note to thank them for connecting. It’s also a good opportunity to find out why they connected and what you may be able to do to help each other.
  4. Don’t send spam or irrelevant messages: Be mindful that not all your connections are potential clients – your target group probably accounts for only a small percentage of people. Just like networking off-line, the people you know on LinkedIn will be a complete mix – and not all need your services or products.
  5. Don’t add LinkedIn connections to your email list: With GDPR approaching, that’s not an acceptable way to build an email list – it was never ethical and, from May, it will be illegal.
  6. Never ask people to recommend or endorse you if they haven’t experienced your work. And even if they have, only ask for a recommendation if you know they were happy with you. Ideally, do this at the time of the job so it’s fresh in their minds.

If there’s anything specific you’d like to know about making the most of LinkedIn, feel free to ask. I’ll happily answer questions in the comments – or write a future blog to cover wider topics.

Alternatively, if you’d like to freshen up your profile or spend some time together on a 1-2-1 basis, click here and we can make a date!

Facebook’s new newsfeed strategy will affect you and your business!

If you use Facebook to raise the brand awareness of your business, the past few days have seen a major announcement that will shake up your marketing efforts going forward.

There is a huge change in the way business information will be presented in people’s newsfeeds, which means that your business will no longer enjoy the visibility it has in the past.  Basically – anything you post will be seen by fewer people!

As a personal Facebook user, you may be pleased to know that you’ll see more of your friends’ activity and less business page news.

This is the main point…

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training | social media marketingMark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, has decreed that Facebook’s goal is to focus on helping people to have meaningful social interactions with their friends and families. He said, “We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.”

Feedback shows that ‘public content’ – posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other. Mark Zuckerberg basically wants to make sure people’s time on Facebook is well spent and enjoyable.

What this means

This means that the posts you’ll see will be more community-focused from people you know rather than sales oriented from business pages.

Facebook will still encourage posts from large communities around things like TV shows and sports teams. Mr Z says, “Too often, watching video, reading news or getting a page update is just a passive experience.” He wants to establish large, vibrant, engaged, realtime communities watching the same events simultaneously. (This will be a good opportunity for advertisers to shift more of their budget away from TV to Facebook.)

How it will affect businesses

In reality, this means that for business owners, the best way to be seen is to invest in paid ads. The good news, though, is that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune for properly targeted advertising on Facebook (and Instagram) to help to grow your business.

My prediction is that, from a Facebook user’s perspective, nothing much will change.  We’ll all still see the same business posts in our newsfeed – it’s just that the business owners will be paying for them rather than them appearing organically!

What you can do

  • Accept that you’ll have to invest a little in Facebook advertising. Make sure your demographics are accurate and that you monitor the results and tweak ads accordingly.
  • Ask your friends and family to like, comment and share info from your business page, so that Facebook can see the interaction and recognise you as a community-interactive business.
  • Get into the habit of creating live video content, as this reportedly gets six times more interaction than standard videos.
  • Encourage any form of back-and-forth discussion, such as asking for advice or requests for recommendations.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out over the next few weeks.  If you’d like some advice or help to manage your Facebook or any other social media platform, please feel free get in touch.

Prince, Diamond, working, not working… a month of being an exhibitionist

Exhibitionist? Well… not exactly – more of an exhibitor and exhibition visitor. I seem to be spending a lot of time in vast London exhibition halls lately – for both work and fun. Not to be confused with work or fun; the work is fun!

IMG_5260 (1)One of my clients provides facilities management services to hotels, so we recently set up a two-day stand at the Independent Hotel Show at Olympia to meet prospective clients. Trade shows are hard work. The environment is hot and airless, with miles of walking along aisles or hours standing – yet the opportunities to meet future customers is wonderful. I was working on their behalf, so I wasn’t targeting social media clients, but hoteliers. However, I did benefit from the eclectic range of free giveaways – bringing home everything from chocolates and coffee samples, to a few shiny bags of lovely mini toiletries – and a rubber duck!

Spending enjoyable time with the team easily balanced the exhaustion of two full days at Olympia, and I’m pleased that I introduced a good amount of prospective business to them. It’s all good networking. However, I must admit to having more fun at Olympia when I visited the Chocolate Show.

IMG_5194If you saw the photos I posted on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll know that I found the afternoon a great success!  I have a very generous boyfriend who, like me, is a chocoholic, so I returned home weighed down with fancy bags full of delicious, mouth-watering treats.  They’ve all gone now, but fortunately a well-timed birthday has restocked my treats cupboard!

IMG_5233In a month of chocolate-filled decadence, I took some time out, working at the very beautiful Hambleton Hall Hotel in Rutland. The autumn sun was warm and washed the lovely gardens in a glow that was more befitting to a summer’s day. I’ve long worked on the basis of have laptop will travel – and the beauty of social media is that so much can be handled from a phone. It’s a luxury I make the most of in my business.  So I sat on the terrace with my hot chocolate and a smoked salmon sandwich watching the swallows swoop over the lake as I crafted a few client blogs and set the week’s tweets.

FullSizeRender (5)Back to the reality of the city and, by coincidence, another business exhibition, this time organised by YBC. I had a stand close to the buffet table (of course!) and chatted all day to people interested in how good social media marketing can boost their business profile.  I was invited to speak on an ‘Expert Panel’ too, answering social media-related queries, and I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of incredibly interesting business-owners as a result.

Aside from the chocolate show, more fun-without-work visits to huge venues has included two trips to the O2: once with Gill to spend an evening in the company of Neil Diamond. This legend of five decades of success danced around the stage and sang in his still-sexy, unaged voice with a packed house on their feet, clapping, cheering, singing choruses.

The second time was with Sharon to view Prince’s collection of clothes, trophies and hand-written lyrics. So who do I quote today? Neil, or Prince? Prince, or Neil?

“Hello, my friend, hello.  Just called to let you know – I think about you every night when I’m here alone, and you’re there at home. Hello.”

Of course, since Mr D wrote that in 1980, no one has to feel alone. Even from across the other side of the world, it’s so easy to send a message on social media any time, day or night, night or day; letting people know you’re here – whether it’s a friend you miss, or a business prospect you’re targeting. So if you’d like social media help from a business perspective, feel free to get in touch – any time!! (I might not reply until after breakfast!) Email hello@imaginativetraining or tweet: @WeekendWitch.

Global business, LinkedIn profiles and Viking Pirate Women

Sometimes when we’re introduced to people through random conversations, we make business contacts that help us immensely in our work, but to add sugar on the top, we can build relationships that turn into valuable friendships. This has been the case with Kathryn.

A client introduced me to Kathryn a couple of years ago. (He wasn’t a client at the time; he is now). I was looking for a recommendation for a professional service, and he’d engaged her for something similar. Hence an introductory email and we were good to go.

One of the most fantastic things about our digital age is the ability to work with clients and suppliers anywhere in the world. I’ve worked with businesses across the globe from the Netherlands to Australia, via the Ukraine and USA, and my lovely team are all over the place. Kathryn hails from Sedona, a beautiful area of Arizona with russet-red mountains; an oasis of lush landscape settled like a jewel in the heart of the desert.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingKathryn’s in Europe for a couple of months, so we met up to spend a day at the Design Museum in Kensington.  I once went to the Commonwealth Institute on a school trip and this new museum stands in its place. It’s interesting – the Commonwealth Institute slowly vanished as the commonwealth itself shrunk, yet today’s displays include a history of global communication that reflects the globality of our history.

SImaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritinghe’s immensely good company, and stunned me with the title of the lecture she’ll be giving later this month at a Danish conference: Viking Pirate Women! How cool is that?! She’s an expert in medieval literature and this is an opportunity to discuss something that I, for one, don’t encounter on a daily basis. Do you?

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Doubt they looked like this in Viking times…

Princesses and queens fighting for their thrones, avenging their husbands’ executions and avoiding marriage: these are just a few of the reasons these women took to the seas – often disguised as men in order to secure their places on-board. Sounds very Game of Thrones-ish. Compared to that, we almost live in boring times. They’d have had a few tasty posts if social media had been around in those days, that’s for sure.

While Kathryn’s having fun entertaining and educating the conference delegates in Denmark, I’ll be right here in England, educating people all over the world on the effective use of LinkedIn.  In case you didn’t get my newsletter this month, I’m offering LinkedIn coaching sessions for the introductory price of only £75 – all via Skype, so you don’t have to leave your office. Or home, if you work from home. I’d prefer no pyjamas, but I’ll leave it up to you.

The session covers an awful lot for an hour, so be prepared for fast, hard work – but you’ll achieve so much! An awesome profile, improved search engine status and the ability to find the right people to help you in business. You can click here if you’d like to book a session or find out more – or to sign up to the mailing list for hints and tips on social media.

As tempting as it was to search out an 80s vintage classic Adam Ant lyric, these far less trendy words – actually quite shocking for children – flew into my mind: “We kindle and char, inflame and ignite, … we burn up the city, we’re really a fright.”  With visions of people on Tinder throwing down their reading material so they can hit the town and terrorise the community, this is a good example of the opposite image you want to portray on LinkedIn!! Agree? Let’s chat further! You can message me on LinkedIn, of course – or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

Lyrics credits: Songwriters: F Xavier Atencio, George Edward Bruns · Published by: Lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company