Tag Archives: Sandra Long

Sandra Long Is Totally LinkedIn

Sandra Long did not like my LinkedIn profile.

At first, I didn’t care.

In my social media life, the networking website ranked far below Instagram and Facebook (not to mention “06880”). It hovered just above Google Plus — but not by much.

Yet when Sandra — a longtime Westporter who offers LinkedIn training for businesses and individuals, as well as profile makeovers for executives, consultants, attorneys and other professionals — offered to spruce mine up, I said, “why not?”

Yet I was about as enthusiastic as when I had a root canal.

Sandra Long offers LinkedIn training to individuals and organizations.

Sandra Long offers LinkedIn training to individuals and organizations.

But then I met Sandra. And once she went to work — drilling down through my profile, into my life, work, passions and dreams — I was all in.

All LinkedIn, I should say.

I had been agnostic about LinkedIn’s potential. But Sandra is a true believer. “You’re missing lots of opportunities,” she said.

I considered myself a freelance writer. I didn’t see how LinkedIn could help. Yet Sandra had already stalked me — I mean, done her homework — and thought that tying together everything I do would help my overall “brand.”

“You write. You coach soccer. You’re an expert on Westport. You’re an LGBT activist and mentor,” she noted. A stronger LinkedIn presence — including keywords, which I sorely lacked — could help people find me, leading to paths I never expected.

And, she pointed out, my entire internet presence was a mess. My LinkedIn profile was not, um, linked to my Amazon author page (which, she added with a sympathetic smile, was pretty weak itself). My YouTube channel did not even showcase my speeches.

There was some good news. My name is unique enough that I could really capitalize on it. Sandra would have a fairly easy time finding my scattered web life, then tying it together.

My LinkedIn main page before Sandra Long got to work. Sure, it says 500+ connections. But I hadn't really "connected" with many of them in years.

My LinkedIn main page before Sandra Long got to work. Sure, it says 500+ connections. But I hadn’t really “connected” with many of them in years. Plus, my photo was from before LinkedIn was even born.

Quickly, we got to work.

Talking about myself was sort of like going to a therapist — without the anxiety.

Sandra is a master at asking the right questions, analyzing the answers, and organizing it all in a coherent, presentable fashion.

I am not (for example) an “independent writing professional.” That was my old headline. My new one is much more inclusive.

Turns out I’m a “community builder.” My writing, coaching, LGBT and Westport work — all of it develops community. Who knew?

Part of my new banner. Ta da!

Part of my new banner. Ta da!

I should note here that Sandra drew from me that 2 sidelines are teaching writing, and consulting on writing projects. Somehow I had forgotten to include that on LinkedIn. Oops!

Also, my photo sucked. Thanks to Sandra: not anymore!

On we plowed. She rewrote my (very important) personal summary; added “Experience” sections with new titles, descriptions and images, as well as more publications, organizations and awards; rejiggered my “Skills” section; gave me a way-cool background banner of Westport scenes; threw in my contact info and a customized URL — and linked to “06880.”

All that was just for LinkedIn. Soon, she worked similar magic on my Amazon and YouTube pages. For the latter, she discovered videos about me in cyberspace I never knew existed. Fortunately, they’re good ones.

My Amazon author page before Sandra Long went to work. Only 2 of my books were listed -- and I had no author bio.

My Amazon author page before Sandra Long went to work. Only 2 of my books were listed — and I had no author bio.

The process took just over a month. It was empowering. It was also painless. (At least for me. I was the duck you see on the surface. Underneath the water, Sandra paddled furiously.)

My new Amazon page. It has many more of the books I've written -- and every "06880" story appears as soon as it's posted. Crazy!

My new Amazon page. It has many more of the books I’ve written — and every “06880” story appears as soon as it’s posted. Crazy!

The results were impressive — and not just to look at.

Throughout the process, Sandra kept telling me that I underestimated the power of LinkedIn. I was missing opportunities, she preached (always, thankfully, with a smile).

The day after my fresh, comprehensive, tied-together profile went live, I got a “notification.” I clicked it. (Sorry, Sandra, but yeah — the first time I’ve ever done that).

A woman developing a new website about sports had searched for “soccer,” “writing” and “community building.” My name popped up.

She liked my “interesting bio,” and wondered if I’d be interested in working for her.

Instantly, I felt linked in.

(Sandra Long’s Post Road Consulting has offices in Westport and Stamford. Click here for more information. To learn more about Sandra’s book, “LinkedIn for Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide,” click here.)

Bonus feature: My new YouTube channel.

Bonus feature: My new YouTube channel.

 

1st Lieutenant Andrew Long Comes Home

In many ways, Andrew Long was a typical Westport boy.

He went to Kings Highway, Bedford Middle School and Staples. He lifeguarded at Longshore, and became an Eagle Scout with Troop 36.

He veered a bit from the typical path in 11th grade, when he transferred to Phillips Exeter.

After graduating in 2004 Andrew entered Colgate University. As a senior he applied to Army Officers Candidate School. He was commissioned, and was stationed in Georgia, Kentucky, California, Louisiana and Kansas.

And then, last April — in a journey far from typical for a young Westporter — Andrew went to Afghanistan.

1st Lieutenant Andrew Long, in Afghanistan.

“He was always interested in the military,” his mother Sandra explains. “As a kid, he was really into the Civil War.”

She thinks 9/11 influenced him greatly. “He was in 10th grade at the time. From then on, he thought about serving in the military all through college. We were at war, and he wanted to help.”

The Longs were not thrilled.

“We’re not a military family, and that’s not what most Westport kids do,” Sandra says. “We were worried. But he was adamant. So we said ‘We support you. We love you.'”

Now, Sandra says, “We’re so proud of him. He is so brave, dedicated and patriotic.”

In Afghanistan Andrew was posted to a forward operating base 50 miles west of Kandahar.

Part of the famed 1st Infantry Division — “The Big Red One” — Andrew served mostly as a maneuver platoon leader, with a combination of armor and infantry men. They used vehicles, went on foot patrol, and did a number of air assault missions with helicopters. Sometimes, he commanded Afghan soldiers.

“He’s amazingly versatile,” Sandra says proudly.

The Longs did not know much about what he was doing. They spoke every 3 or 4 weeks by phone, for 10 or 15 minutes at a time.

1st Lieutenant Andrew Long (left), with his tank crew.

“He talked about the great poverty in Afghanistan — mud huts, no water or electricity,” she says. “Sometimes things were very quiet. Other times, during missions, it was wild.”

The hardest part, he told his mother, were when members of his unit were killed.

“I’m sure there’s a ton of stuff I don’t know,” she notes.

On Christmas Eve, Andrew called his parents. “I’m coming home,” he said.

1st Lieutenant Andrew Long returns to Ft. Riley.

When he returned to Fort Riley, Kansas earlier this month, it was with a Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service. The Longs were there to greet him.

After spending some leave time in Westport, Andrew will return to Fort Riley.

It won’t be forever. Sandra says he will not make the military his career. He has, however, “certainly appreciated” his service.

Friends and colleagues have “been great,” she adds. “Everyone at Saugatuck Congregational Church wrote cards. Neighbors sent packages. People at work (Pitney Bowes) were very supportive.”

Yet still, something felt strange.

“There are very few military families here,” Sandra says. “When I went out to Kansas, there were lots.

“I think people in Westport don’t know what to think about having a son serving in the military. They’ve been super to us. But in some ways, we’ve also been alone.”