PIC Newsletter - September 2013
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 Hope you enjoy the latest edition of The Buzz!

A message from the PIC chair, Sharon Aschaiek

It's that time of year again, when Toronto gets invaded by everything social - social media, that is. From Sept. 23 to 27, the city will come alive with ideas and discussions about LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ and much more for Social Media Week. Even PIC is getting in on the action, with a panel discussion on social media for freelance writers and communicators that's being run jointly with the Professional Writers Association of Canada-Toronto Chapter - more on that event later in the newsletter.


Social Media Week will explore the impact of social technology from a variety of angles, including tracking visual data, creating a B2B content marketing strategy, raising money for causes through video and social media, social storytelling in the newsroom, and how to harness big data. Events will be catered to those on all levels of the social media spectrum, from maven to newbie.


If you happen to be the latter and you're a business owner, you might appreciate this recent blog post onTech Radar Pro, a website about business tech tools, on how to make your business sociable. It features 10 useful tips on how to use social media to support and grow your business. I particularly like number 5, about turning customers into ambassadors - also the subject of a Social Media Week seminar:  


"Create advocates. Be friendly and helpful, share useful and relevant content, and reward frequent commenters. Give people a good experience, above and beyond what they expect, and they may become your 'brand advocates', helping you to grow your business."


Speaking of social, we're looking forward to more productive exchanges with you on our LinkedIn group, IABC Independents. If you aren't a member, we invite you to join the conversation.


Have any feedback about this newsletter? Or any great ideas for PIC initiatives? Feel free to drop a line to Sue at sue@getitwrite.ca or to me at sharon@cocoamedia.ca.

Continued success,
In This Issue
A message from the PIC chair
Next meeting Oct. 2
How to create a killer LinkedIn profile
Are you active on Twitter?
Follow #pictips for #SMW highlights
Communicator needs volunteers
Meet Alan McKenzie
Explore the PIC blog
Quick Links
Writers needed
Interested in writing occasionally for  PIC or IABC/Toronto's Communicator? We'd love your help. Let us know!
Tidbits of knowledge
Visit the Professional Independent Communicators - Toronto blog for tips on such topics as pricing and running your business, as well as event podcasts.
PIC's Mission and the buzz
PIC's mission is to support independent IABC/Toronto communicators through professional development, networking and marketing.
The Buzz is PIC's e-newsletter, intended to inform independent communicators about our activities, share professional development tips from past meetings and keep us aware of what's going on.
PIC 2013-2014 Executive
Contact any of us with questions, comments and ideas for speakers or topics!

Past Chair:
Communications: Membership & Events: Programming: Social Media:
Join Our Mailing List!
Next meeting Oct. 2: Networking with PIC members and friends

Every second month, PIC members and friends meet up for an informal discussion about the nuts and bolts of running your own business. The next one takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 2.


The content is up to you. What are your most pressing issues - pricing? Getting clients? Juggling your time? Whether you are new to the solo communicator life or a seasoned veteran, or you're just contemplating making a move, you're likely to pick up a couple of helpful tips.


Date & Time: Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Place:           Room 314, Metro Hall, 55 John Street, Toronto
Cost:             $12 for members on or before Sept. 25 ($13.56 with HST)

                     $22 for members after Sept. 25 ($24.86 with HST) 

                     $32 for non-members ($36.16 with HST) 

                     (includes wraps, juice, coffee, tea and cookies) 


Please register and pay in advance. Sorry, we can't accept payment at the door.  


Register now


The secrets to creating a killer LinkedIn profile revealed

by Sue Horner
Sept. 11, 2013 meeting LinkedIn members who complete their profiles are 40 times more likely to receive business opportunities than those who don't. Expect the PIC members and guests at the Sept. 11 meeting to be set for success, then, after learning how to polish our profiles from speaker Leslie Hughes (in photo at left). Here's what we learned:

Three steps to making the most of your profile

1.  Focus on building up your profile 
The LinkedIn "wizard" walks you through the steps to create your profile. You'll only reach 100% completion when your profile includes:
  • A photo  
  • A description of what you do 
  • A description of your current position
  • Details on at least two past positions
  • Your education
  • Three or more skills
  • 50+ connections.

2.  Connect with "quality" people
It's not a numbers game! Concentrate on quality rather than quantity, making a meaningful connection with people you know or want to know.


3.  Stay top-of-mind and in touch with your contacts

Members who share content at least once a week are nearly 10 times more likely to be contacted for new opportunities than people who don't share. Ideally, you should spend five to 10 minutes every day, updating your status, sharing interesting content, adding new connections or commenting.   


The two most important areas to change immediately


1.  Your photo 

Make it a close-up, professional, focused picture of you alone (see photo 'fails' below).  


2.  Your headline

You have 120 characters to create a great first impression. Who do you help and how? Include this as "Your Name, helping (target audience) do (value proposition)."


The 10 biggest mistakes you should never make on LinkedIn


1.  Not using it at all or being too passive.

2.  Using the wrong images (please, no pets, cartoons, babies, group shots or wedding photos).

3.  Publishing really personal information, such as your year of birth, marital status and home address.

4.  Connecting with anyone and everyone. Instead, connect with current employers and people you know, school alumni and those you'd like to know.

5.  Using the default invitation to connect. ALWAYS personalize your request with how you know each other or why you'd like to connect.

6.  Not filling out your summary. Use up to 2,000 characters to tell connections who you are and how you can help them. Include a call to action, such as "sign up for my newsletter."

7.  Not customizing your profile's URL. Get rid of the extra numbers and make it your name. 

8.  Changing your profile settings to private. How will people find you?

9.  Auto forwarding posts to all your social media channels.

10. Your profile has spelling errors


LinkedIn acts as your online résumé and business card, and using these tips will help open new doors and position you as an expert. Get connecting!  


Leslie Hughes is a LinkedIn trainer and social media professor. Sign up for her free weekly tips at Punch!Media. Photo above by Alan McKenzie, ampfoto.com

Are you active on Twitter?

Like LinkedIn, Twitter can be a way to increase your visibility, earn a reputation as someone who shares great content, and connect with colleagues and potential clients. Social Media Today cites a Market Probe International report that finds,


"People who follow small to medium-sized businesses [on Twitter] feel more engaged with them and are more likely to purchase from them, recommend them, retweet their content, and share positive experiences about them with their networks."


Are you on Twitter? If so, be sure to follow @pictoronto! We post links to content of interest to independents, including PIC event details, which we'd love you to retweet. Let us know you are a PIC member or friend and we'll be happy to follow you and share your relevant tweets, too.  

What's the point of social media? Follow #pictips Sept. 26; full report next issue

Watch for a report next issue on the Sept. 26 Social Media Week event, Social Media for Freelance Writers and Communicators, with practical advice for professionals on how social media fits with day-to-day responsibilities.  


PIC members Sharon Aschaiek and Donna Papacosta will be among the panelists sharing their experiences using social networks and digital content creation to get clients, maintain business relationships, and make their work easier. Amy Sept will moderate.    


If you can't be there yourself, be sure to log into Twitter and follow #pictips as Sue Horner 'live tweets' the action. You can also use the same hashtag to pose your questions.      

Volunteers needed for IABC/Toronto Communicator

Writers, editors, proofreaders and idea generators - IABC/Toronto's member magazine needs you!

Communicator is published six times a year, and IABC/Toronto wants help providing readers with interesting, well-written, topical articles on public relations and communications.

If you have a story idea, would like to write an article, or are great at proofing other people's work, please contact Stephanie Engel, VP, Member Communications, at toronto-memcomm@iabc.com.
PIC personalities

Meet Alan McKenzie  
by Heather West

We now count more than 160 members in PIC, offering a range of talent from coaching and media relations to video production and writing. Do you know everyone? This feature will introduce new members and randomly profile existing members.


null Alan McKenzie of Alan McKenzie Photography is a long-time indie who has been a member of PIC for the past three years. Alan provides a wide range of services to his clients, both in his Mississauga studio and on location. You can contact Alan at 905-890-3333 or email him at ampfoto@rogers.com.


What's your background?

Previous to my start-up, I was employed at De Havilland Aircraft as a full-time photographer, which was my dream job. I was the go-to-guy for portraits while I was there. It was a great training ground after my graduation from the Sheridan College Applied Photography course.


When did you launch your independent business?

Alan McKenzie Photography started knocking on doors in 1977. My first assignment was with the Ministry of Government Services, and nearly 40 years later, my contact from that assignment called for a family portrait.


How did the launch of Alan McKenzie Photography come about?

Residing at the bottom of totem pole at De Havilland gave me a view of the door when a dip in the aircraft industry happened.


What do you enjoy most about being an indie?

I just enjoy being an indie. The lack of back-stabbing politics typical of corporations is really too much fun.  


What types of projects have you worked on as an independent business owner?

I have been a people and products kind of guy, with on-location industrial photography of everything from a Franklin stove in a black test room to train-sized equipment, one step away from being shipped, with no chance for retakes. I've also done a variety of people shots, ranging from factory-style portrait photography of about 120 individuals during a day session for Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, to special moments with ladies-in-waiting - who come out of their shells during the session.


What are you most proud of?

People often complain that they look terrible in photos. That's why I take the time to put the person at ease and find out who or what the image is being produced for. I just do not start blasting away with flash a-poppin'. You might say I communicate through my camera lens. My posing and banter work together to help the client to feel special for the length of session. I talk up the positive. I talk about their past modeling days, for example, as I show them a flattering pose or one that will show off their dynamic side. And, with the advent of instant feedback on my laptop, I have a happy client.


What advice would you give someone new to independent life?

Join a group like IABC so you can tap into the experience of members.


Has PIC helped you? How?

The PIC meetings, with their quality speakers and timely content, have been a great source of knowledge.


Alan has generously offered to provide a 15% discount to all PIC members. If you would like to know more about the services he offers, please visit his website at http://www.ampfoto.com/.

Explore the PIC blog

Check PIC's IABC eXchange site, listed upper right as "PIC Toronto blog," for resources and information to help you start, run and grow your business.

In "Setting up your office," the site shares advice on equipment and set-up to consider, from how many electrical outlets you have to whether you want to share your street address or use a post office box.

While much of the information still applies, some things have changed since PIC members put this resource together. If you find a dead link or inaccurate information, please let us know . If you'd like to volunteer to update specific sections of the blog, let us know that, too!  
PIC is a special interest group of IABC Toronto. As the largest chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, IABC Toronto provides access to products, services, activities and networking opportunities in Toronto and around the world. IABC helps people and organizations achieve excellence in corporate communications, public relations, employee communication, marketing communication, public affairs and other forms of communication. For more information, visit the IABC website.

Don't forget to connect with us on the web: pictoronto.com


Sue Horner                                                           Heather West   
Director, Communications                                      Copy editor