One of the reasons that I suggested, and subsequently started, the BCASLPA LinkedIn Group was because I felt that SLPs should be using professional resources, such as LinkedIn, as a tool, not just for professional networking, but also to increase awareness of our profession - that we exist and that we are highly trained professionals.
I feel that advocating for our profession is just as important as advocating for our patients, clients, or students. I feel this way because I believe that our profession needs to be more widely recognized and understood in order for the policy makers, and the general public, to fully realize the extent of how our services could benefit society. Once this happens, then I would expect (hope) that a greater priority would be placed on making sure that these services are available to those who need them, in a timely manner. This would, in turn, benefit our patients, clients, and students - the people who SLPs want to help.
It is because of these beliefs that I agreed to join the BCASLPA advocacy committee. I was invited to join the committee, in part, because of my use of LinkedIn and Twitter, so that BCASLPA could start using social media for advocacy.
In order to gain a better grasp of how to use social media most effectively, I attended Social Media Camp earlier this year in Victoria. I learned a lot about social media (far more than I could ever hope to express here) and the camp was so energizing, and creative-thought-provoking, that I would be inclined to attend it again in 2014.
It was at Social Media Camp that I saw Mari Smith speak. It is not surprising that she is a relationship marketing master - her speech left me feeling almost like I knew her. I enjoyed her talk so much that I purchased her book, The New Relationship Marketing, even though I was not completely sure what it was about. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and realized that many of the suggestions were things that I could put into place, not just for my personal social media usage, or for BCASLPA's, but also for having better relationships in general.
One of the many topics she discusses in her book is the importance of profile pictures. Two points that she raised, that stood out to me, were that these should be current and, if possible, they should be taken by a professional photographer.
I began thinking about my own profile pictures - many of which are noticeably out of date. I have cut my hair significantly since they were taken, and several people have commented, upon meeting me, how different I look from what they expected. When I tried to search through my albums for different photos of myself, I found that there were no current photos that were well lit, flattering, and/or where I wasn't wearing some sort of outdoor apparel.
Shortly after finishing the book I saw a post shared by a friend on Facebook for a Chas Holzworth, photographer, and owner of Ocean Wave Photography. The post was for a fall special and I decided that I would take that opportunity to update my profiles with some fresh, new, and professional pictures.
I must admit, whenever I told people I was having pictures taken, I felt a bit foolish. In my head I thought, 'I'm just an SLP. Who am I to be having professional pictures taken for my social media profiles?' Each time I heard myself say this, I tried to remind myself that this is why I want to do this - I don't want to be the SLP in the proverbial storage closet anymore (and this is sadly not all that proverbial: as an SLP student I had to see students in a storage closet once when my supervisor and I were bumped from our usual spot).
After more preparation than I had initially anticipated (new makeup, outfit, and a session with Terrianne, my fabulous hair dresser, to style my hair and help with makeup application), I was ready to be photographed. Probably part of the reason that I don't have many pictures of myself is because I do not particularly like having my picture taken. I will admit, I had a difficult time getting to sleep the night before because I worried about the possibility of being totally awkward with the photographer. My fears were completely unnecessary. Chas was easy to talk to which made it easy to be myself and to keep smiling.
The pictures are done and they turned out exactly as I had hoped they would. Obviously I wanted pictures of my best self but, at the same time, I didn't want them to be glam-shots or super-serious business photos. I did, however, want them to look professional, both how I am dressed and how they were taken, while still reflecting my personality. I feel this was achieved by the fact that I am wearing my signature colour pink (another Mari Smith lesson in personal branding), and because the pictures were taken outside, which is where I like to spend my time when I am not working.
The picture above is the 'sneak peak' photo Chas sent me as she was processing them. The rest of the photos have been processed and you can expect that over the next few weeks I will be updating my various profile pages with new profile pictures.
I also plan to put up a small picture of myself on the bulletin board at work, as I mentioned in this post, so that families, and other people who work in my office, can recognize me. My hope with this is that people who are unsure about referring a child for SLP services may feel more comfortable if they feel they have a sense of who I am from my picture or, if they see me walk past, they might feel more comfortable approaching me to ask a question.
What do you use for your profile picture on social media sites? Do you think that having a good profile picture matters? Would it impact your decision to hire someone - either as an employee or for their services? Let me know in the comments.