How to Market Yourself on LinkedIn

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LinkedIn is a professional networking tool that has been further developed each year since its inception in 2003. It is vital that aspiring, young professionals are active on it, as it serves as a free networking platform that can help you build contacts and start conversations. Everyone has a different theory on how it should be used and that’s how it should be since everyone is unique. The American Marketing Association have published their guidelines on have to best navigate the website and how you should set yours up. One of the most important areas of the site that they highlighted is the summary section. I completely agree with their assessment of this section because it is where you can sell yourself in a few short paragraphs and talk about what you bring to the table. In my Digital Marketing course, Professor Pepe has stressed the importance of having an expert LinkedIn profile. He has promoted its purpose and outlined how having a strong profile can set us apart from other candidates for a job. It serves a similar purpose to having and maintaining a blog, as both can separate you from the clutter that exists in the business world.

One piece of advice that I would give to someone new to LinkedIn is to keep their mind open and network with all different types of people. If someone comes to speak in your class one day, CONNECT ON LINKEDIN. If you meet someone at a school function, CONNECT ON LINKEDIN. If you meet up with a recent graduate, CONNECT ON LINKEDIN. Well, you get the point, everyone you meet, both formally or in passing needs to become a LinkedIn connection of yours. There is no cap to the amount of connections you can make, so never stop networking.

One common misconception people have about LinkedIn is that it serves as an alternative to having to network in person. WRONG. LinkedIn is a tool that should spark up new business relationships and allow you to develop them over the phone or in person.

 

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Never use this tool to avoid speaking to people face-to-face or over the phone because then you are killing its purpose. The connections you make should be done with the end goal of having a conversation with them, either about career opportunities or just to receive advice on how to become a successful professional. LinkedIn has a feature that allows you to send a short message to a connection, which should be used to facilitate a longer conversation down the road. These should be treated as an area to write a short note, not your whole life story. A connection on LinkedIn can refer to your page for more detailed information about you, so this message should be short and personal. The best ones involve a friendly introduction followed by a succinct message about why you want to talk to them.

One last piece of advice I have for those looking to get started on LinkedIn or to improve their existing page is to separate yourself by utilizing the skills section. Unlike a generic resume, LinkedIn is interactive and the amount of skills you can add to your page are limitless. Forbes documented this idea in an article written a few years back. Any skill you have developed through schooling or work experience should be listed in this section, as these provide you with ability to showcase your peculiarity that you will bring to a future employer.

So, for all those looking to enhance their profile, use this to get started and move on from there. These are just basic instructions on how to master the site, but will give you a good place to start from. There are so many different online sources to learn more about the site through and that is just one way to do it. Make sure to ask your teachers and peers many questions about their approach to LinkedIn, as they’ll have some great advice as well. In the meantime, that is all I’ve got, good luck bolstering your profile and strengthening your position in the business world.

Email Marketing for InterContinental Hotels Group

Here is the rundown on IHGs newsletter that they send out,

I signed up for newsletters and emails from IHG for a variety of different reasons. I did not have to directly sign up, as they received my information when I stayed at a Holiday Inn in Aruba over Spring Break. Getting information through your customers upon them checking in is a great way to build your base of recipients for emails you send out. I will typically receive two different emails, one being a personal email they send me regarding the status of my points, through their customer loyalty program. The other is IHGs general newsletter that is sent to all members of their email list. This provides the reader information on deals that other hotels of theirs are offering and when you should look to travel. On a side note, I chose to stay in the Holiday Inn, which is part of IHG, because of the value it provided me in that location. It allowed me to stay in a high quality resort on the island of Aruba, without having to shell out the kind of money required to stay in a Marriott or Hilton brand hotel. When I receive an IHG email I open it a large percentage of the time because I am someone who is always intrigued by travel opportunities. I also look to see if their are any deals that will allow me to utilize the points I’ve earned. The subject line of one of the most recent emails I’ve received from them is “Experience the Luxury of Las Vegas.”

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This deal breaks down the options a tourist has when they visit Las Vegas. You can get to car rental sites and credit card sites through this email. This interconnection of services is smart, because it makes the purchase experience much easier for the consumer. Whenever you get an email that mentions Vegas you almost always have to open it, because come on, who isn’t a fan of a trip to “sin city.” The content in the email absolutely matched the subject line and provided the reader a handful of options. The call to action on this email are the the “Book Now” and “Rent a Car.” These buttons will bring you to the respective pages where you can buy a rental car and a hotel room. At the time that I received this email, these calls to action were not ones that I looked to click on. For the purpose of this assignment I clicked on these buttons and found two well-organized sites that would make it easy for consumers to make a purchase. There is a sufficient amount of information in the emails they send me and the content is laid out in an organized manner. One way IHG can improve their email marketing is by highlighting more of their locations around the country. This email detailing their hotels in Las Vegas was one of the first ones I received like it. They also need to make it easier for the customer on the website to see how many points they have built up. The email about my loyalty account that allows me to see how many points I have is obviously personalized for me, which is a nice touch. The emails about their latest offers and newest locations are sent to everyone who signed up to receive their emails. These people may have even signed up unknowingly by staying in one of their hotels. This latest email about Las Vegas is definitely segment-dependent because of the luxurious nature of Las Vegas.

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This email did not get me to click, but it probably got many people with more money than myself to click and see what this offer entailed. The next email from IHG should highlight a new destination that they are looking to promote and lay out some new deals for their customers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Improving the SEO in a Travel Blog

This week’s blog is for Professor Michael Pepe’s Digital Marketing course and the focus is on how to improve my SEO. In order to do this, I must first improve my page relevance. The topic I blog about is travel and what to do when you are in a specific place. Therefore, I will use keywords like excursions, flights, hotels, and countries in order to increase the relevance of my blog on different search engines. More specifically, I will be improving my page relevance through my URL, Title Tag, Header Tag, Main Content, and Hyperlinks. One very easy way to improve your SEO, as talked about on https://blog.bufferapp.com/5-simple-seo-tactics, is to make your content easy to share. There should be a variety of share buttons at the bottom of your post and they should appeal to a broad range of readers.

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URL

The words that you choose to include in your URL carry the most importance when it comes to calculating a relevance score. This is what your readers see at the top of the screen and is what will define the website you operate on. So, the keywords you include in the URL can make or break whether your site will be visible through search engines. As a travel site, I need to ensure that my URL matches the topic I am writing about. This will improve its relevance and increase its SEO ranking.

Title Tag

The Title Tag is what shows up on the top of the page after clicking on your desired site. This is also heavily weighted when it comes to relevance and should make sense in relation to the URL.The Title Tag provides the reader a glimpse of what is to come on the site. My Title Tag is My World Adventure, which goes nicely with the world travel keyword in my URL.

Header Tag

The Header Tag holds great value when it comes to the Google search. There are three header tags, with those being  <h1>, <h2>, and <h3>. The <h1> tag is the largest header, so your best keyword should occupy this slot. Using header tags will make your sight easier to browse and find what you are looking for as the reader.

Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks add credibility to your blog through links to external sources. For example, if information I found on another site seems like it would be of use to my blog, I would include a hyperlink to that page. It is a way of citing a source without interrupting the flow of your blog.

One final way to help increase your SEO and get your blog off the ground would be to utilize the Google Keyword Planner tool. This allows you to mix and match keywords and theoretically see how they would perform in a search if you chose them. It can also help you incorporate historical statistics into your site and/or blog. Once again, it’s worth your time to check out Professor Pepe’s blog at:

https://marketingbyprofessorpepe.wordpress.com/

The Travel Site That Will Send You On Some Wild Adventures

There are many times when I was abroad that I found myself spontaneously adventuring through Europe, but there were also many hours spent behind a computer screen laying out my trips. On Viator.com I always found myself to be a click away from another crazy excursion. Today, I am going to assess this site on each of the following dimensions: (1) Traffic (2) Conversion and (3) Revenue Maximization. This is part of an assignment for Professor Michael Pepe’s class. He teaches a course called Digital Marketing that specializes in blogging.

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Picture from a Viator customers Northern Lights Tour in Iceland

(1) Traffic:

Direct Traffic

Viator gets tremendous site traffic each day, due to the unique travel options it provides the reader with. It is a branch off of the booking site, TripAdvisor, which gives it instant credibility and brand recognition. I used Viator to book everything from a dog sledding expedition in the Arctic Circle to a canyoning excursion on the island of Madeira. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say I was on that site at least once a day for a month and a half straight. They do a tremendous job marketing themselves as a “trip insider” which is what people want to hear when booking trips. The site is easy to use and full of great options, which is why they receive so much internet traffic.

Paid Referral Traffic

I will often see banners in travel sites I go to that have Viator on it. Viator is able to efficiently manage where it places its advertisements.

(2) Conversion:

Conversion is the process you go through on a website that takes you from start to finish. Viator is extremely well organized and when you decide the excursion you’d like to purchase, you click on it then proceed to edit how many tickets you would like. There are three categories of tickets which are adult, child, and infant. You are shown the cost in big font in the appropriate currency and are then brought to the checkout. Viator also lets you check the availability of your desired excursion prior to purchasing the ticket.

(3) Revenue Maximization:

There is a customer review section attached to every excursion and tour they offer, which is extremely helpful for future customers on the site. If you go to a booking site and see the overall sentiment about the site is positive, then you will be more likely to book through that same site. Although reviews are not directly linked to revenue, they are a huge part in getting more people to buy from your site down the road.

5 Places I Went to In Europe That Changed My Perspective of the World

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1.) Lisbon, Portugal

I would be remiss if I did not start with the city I studied and lived in for 4 months. Lisbon is a major European city that maintains the quaint and quiet characteristics of a city lying on Europe’s countryside. It is a place that teaches you how to explore and stay off the proverbial agenda of a tourist. Cracked cobblestone serves as the city’s carpet, while rickety cable cars bring you up the mountainous terrain the city lies on. There is no one statue or building that is labeled a “must see” in fact I’d say there isn’t one at all. It is up to you, the traveler, to make up your own trip and find all the nooks and crannies that withhold the thousands of years of history that exists in the city. Go wander through the small streets of the historic Alfama neighborhood and experience authentic Portuguese tradition and cuisine. If you’re lucky a shot of Ginjinha might be waiting for you at a corner being served through a window sill. (You’ll have to find out more about that yourself) Once you’ve reached the final stair, go cool off at the waterfront and maybe even get the next metro ride to the beach.

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While there is much more to do during the day, the thought process at night seems to be the same for everyone…make your way to Barrio Alto to experience the famed night life. Make sure to stay away from the tourist’s books and the big bus tours and to go explore aimlessly on your own time schedule.

2.) Kiruna, Sweden

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Now we’ll make our way from Portugal up to the Arctic Circle and it won’t be that easy. This was a wild trip and one that was kind of thrown together bit by bit. After 3 flights, an 18 hour train ride north from Stockholm and endless shuttle buses I arrived in a town that seemingly has been lost in time. It is a barren city that is seemingly always blanketed with snow. This area of the world belongs on nature’s Mt. Rushmore, due to its impeccable scenery and quiet backdrop. Quick piece of advice- drink as much water there as you can, it is the most crisp water I’ve ever tasted. It is unlike anything I have ever seen and you will be exposed to a lifestyle that you’ve never known to exist. Why was I crazy enough to ride an 18 hour train to the Arctic circle sans WiFi? Well, it provided me the opportunity of a lifetime to go dog sledding in the Arctic Circle. There was nothing I did abroad that could top the dog sled ride I went on through the Arctic woods. It is a must do if you’re in Europe, no matter what hassle it may take to get there. You will never see so many trees and open terrain and while gliding through the freshly fallen snow you just may see wolves, reindeer, or even a wild moose.

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3.) Chamonix, France

Chamonix will maintain the snowy theme but will have you looking upwards…a lot. Get your hiking boots on, we are heading to Les Alpes in France. While Kiruna astounded me with its endless sight line and natural beauty, Chamonix left me in awe of its mist shrouded mountain peaks and snow capped hills.

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It is a small town in the French Alps that actually hosted the first Winter Olympics in 1924. It is also home to the highest mountain in the Alps, with that being Mt. Blanc. Its summit straddles the borders of France, Switzerland, and Italy so when you’re in Chamonix you are technically in France but are just a stones throw away from Switzerland. Why is that important? Well if you’re a fan of chocolate it is imperative you sweep up as much Swiss chocolate as you can while taking in the natural beauty the town has to offer. Make sure to pop into all of the boutique shops in town before heading up the mountain to change scenery. They are full of souvenirs for both your family and yourself. Cable cars, trains, and a variety lifts can bring you from Chamonix’s town center to some of the most spectacular views you will see in the world.

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Depending on the season and if the cable cars are in service, you can climb your way to the Aguille Du Midi, which is the highest section of Mt. Blanc you can get to without hiking yourself. If you aren’t visiting when those services are running, like myself, you can still reach incredible heights by way of the Mt. Blanc express. This miniature train will wind its way up to a peak that looks down on an incredible glacier, Mer de Glace. Make the most of your time here, as it’s not often that you can find as serene a place as Chamonix. Try and avoid the temptation to take constant pictures and take in the best our world has to offer.

4.) Southern Portugal

Lisbon is by far the most recognizable city and metropolitan area in Portugal, but it is by no means the only place to see while visiting. Take a trip down to the South, whether it be to go wine tasting in the Alentejo region or to go relax on the endless beaches that exist in the Algarve. The first visit on your way down to the southern border should be in Evora. Evora is a medieval style town halfway between the Algarve and Lisbon. Just outside Evora lies a city within a castle’s walls called Monsaraz. These are places that few people know about in Portugal but ones everyone needs to visit. This is one of the most ancient towns in all of Europe and was at one point in history under the rule of the mighty Roman Empire! If you’re up for a creepy excursion, head into the Chapel of the Bones in the town center to witness a structure unlike any other. The walls are covered in skulls that have maintained their form over time and create a bone chilling environment to walk through.

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It is one of the more memorable things I saw during my time in Europe and I definitely recommend checking it out. In order to make the most of your time in Evora you have to treat it a lot like Lisbon, in terms of not setting an agenda. You need to take a step back and realize the historical significance of everything around you while there. Monsaraz is a different animal, being that it sits inside a castle’s walls. This town’s physical structure is rare and one you may not see again, I definitely won’t. The “roads”, if you want to call them that, are as narrow as they can possibly be, while the stores and homes are of the smallest variety. The best thing to see here by far is the ancient arena that sits on the edge of the castle. This area provides an unbelievable view into the countryside of Spain, so while I never made it to Spain at least I can say I saw it. The sights you will see here will stick in your memory forever, so don’t waste too much of your time taking pictures.

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5.) London, England

The last place we’ll be going to will bring you back to modernity, well almost. London is a place that many people avoid due to it being a so called “tourist trap.” There are parts to those claims that are absolutely true, but there are ways to make this trip incredible, depending on your interests. If you are a sports fan that appreciates the history that exists within sports, taking a tour of the iconic Wimbledon Lawn and Tennis Club is a must do. Just seeing the iconic venue was like being in a dream, as I could not believe I was at the foot of one of sports’ meccas.

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It’ll leave you with a life long memory that you’ll cherish forever. Being that this is unfortunately a “checklist” city, another must do will pertain to avid fans of the Harry Potter series. This will involve a train ride to Watford, England, a suburb of London. Here you will find the Warner Brothers studio that served as the home of each Harry Potter film. Today it houses every set, prop, movie poster, and film ever used in the making of Harry Potter. Just as Wimbledon is one of the meccas of sports venues, this studio is the mecca for Harry Potter fanatics. Take in all of the sights and sounds and try not to let the reality of it ruin any future viewings of the movie. Those two experiences transformed London from a tourist infested city to a unique one that houses some incredible sites.

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Thank you for taking the time to read about my experiences abroad, now it is up to you to pave your own path through Europe, Asia, Africa, or wherever it may be to uncover the endless experiences that have yet to be lived.