Just what is a ‘Critical Friend’?

September 16, 2010

Someone asked me about this, as they thought that criticism and friendship didn’t really go together. And in the cosy world of chatting with your mates, they are right!

However, in the tough commercial world these two aspects go together hand in glove. It’s a powerful mix too, a cross between Coach, Mentor and Critic.

What I’m talking about here is adding a kind of ruthless positiveness to your agenda, one that really helps fine tune plans by providing a sounding board and reality check.

There’s an element of tough love, as an outsider I can question and challenge in a way that people working within your organisation never could.

It’s quite possible to be critical and constructive at the same time.

It’s about adding lots of fresh thinking to the mix, in a manner that really assists the decision making process. And this is one of the areas of consultancy that I love, as ideas from different industries can be highly transferable.

Something that never ceases to amaze me is how organisations often organise customer support around their own needs rather than those of their customers. They wouldn’t do this if they had a Critical Friend.

A Critical Friend can also introduce new ideas into difficult discussion areas, and help you take a 360 degree walk around the issues you face. This will help you really think deeply about all the possible solutions, hence becoming more confident with the decisions you are making.

So being a Critical Friend is a mixture of tough love, acting as a sounding board and about injecting new ways of thinking to help organisations?

Yes it is. But above all it’s about being honest and open providing realistic and reflective support so that those you are working with, achieve their goals faster and more efficiently.

If you would like me to be your Critical Friend, please call me for an informal chat on 07971 006 446.

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How can you improve your LinkedIn search rankings?

September 6, 2010

As one of the most powerful professional Social networks, when you gain a higher listing in their rankings, you will increase the opportunities open to you.

I’m not going to go into the science of this, just give you a few practical pointers that work.

The first is that your LinkedIn profile must be at 100%; nothing less. If it isn’t at 100% (and LinkedIn will tell you the percentage), then it doesn’t much matter what else you do, you won’t get anywhere near the top.

The second thing to do is create a list of phrases that people might use to search for individuals with your skills. Let’s take ‘Staff Development’ for example, an area that I work in, creating and running motivation programmes.

Go to LinkedIn’s ‘Advanced Search’, type in ‘Staff Development’ and see who appears on the listing. Take a look at their profiles and you will see how the words you used in your search have been highlighted, a clue to how the process works.

Having decided upon your own search phrases, you now need to ‘pepper’ your profile with these words. Do it carefully and in a manner that makes sense. Don’t just type in lines of the same words otherwise they will be picked up by LinkedIn and your account may get suspended.

Basically, the more times your phrases appear in your profile, the higher up the rankings you will go.

But it isn’t quite as easy as that. There’s one more thing that filters into this equation and that’s recommendations. The more you have, the higher your ranking will be.

So, three things for you to do:

• Make sure your profile is 100%
• Seed your profile with the key search words that you have chosen
• Ask the people you work with for a LinkedIn recommendation.

Hope it goes well for you, let me know how you get on.

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