Cracking Social Media for Professionals

By Yelena Ganshof, BrandBoosting Founder

Do you know that now there are over 3 billion people using social networks across the globe?  Let’s name the most popular platforms: LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube.

I have been extremely active on social media in order to grow my own personal brand, and my clients’ as well: to get their brands noticed, help them build strategic partnerships and relationships, and connect with people to show the human side of their brands.

Let’s face it: in today’s highly competitive business world, it has become extremely difficult to stand out and get your message across to key decision makers.

The old traditional methods of branding and marketing a business project are not as effective as they used to be.

Why? Because we’ve learned that people are not doing business with projects or robots. People are doing business with people they like and trust, and whose business solutions they believe in.

Social media is providing the tools to personally connect to those people and build these professional relationships.

What are the benefits of using social media for professionals?

Let me outline the main benefits of using social media:

Brand Awareness

Any business adviser worth their weight in gold will tell you how crucial it is to have media exposure for brand positioning and awareness, and how much effort and investment some brands put into advertisement over traditional media. You might have the best product or service in the world, but if nobody knows about your brand and how to find you, then what’s the point? Hiring a PR agency might be very costly and is not always effective.

According to recent media surveys, over 90% of journalists and editors are on LinkedIn and most of them say it is their preferred professional networking tool! Then why not take advantage of this social media tool (which is free for anyone) to build a credible, attractive profile and get noticed by journalists?

I personally have built a number of new relationships over LinkedIn, with people who have reached out about my training sessions, workshops, and speaking engagements. No other platform has given me this particular opportunity.

Authenticity: Showing the human side of your brand

According to some marketing surveys, more than half of adults do not trust a brand until they see “real proof” of a human team who is keeping its promises. Connecting with your customers and clients over human values – this is extremely powerful.  Again, people do business with people they like and trust.

Social media is an opportunity to humanize your brand by introducing people to your company team through pictures and videos, and showcasing how existing customers are benefiting from your product through video testimonials.

Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories are great for showing the “behind the scenes” human team, the pre-launch campaign of your products and services, and a human introduction to your project or program.

Imagine yourself like a musician: once your audience likes you, they will come back to your concerts, to buy your new tracks and new albums. So, you want to be that musician to conduct your own concert!

Relations and Partnerships

If you study the corporate strategy of some of the biggest global brands, you will notice one thing in common: they set up joint venture partnerships with key industry players.

So, rather than getting your message across to only one client in a meeting, why not use this strategy to broadcast your message across hundreds, and possibly thousands, of targeted contacts you are connected to?

Connecting to professionals in your expert field, to potential customers, to strategic partners and influencers, is crucial. With the right partner or influencer, you can refer clients to each other, leverage the power of offering some complementary products, and help grow each others’ businesses.

What is important here is providing your audience with great value in what you post rather than being too promotional. Sharing great content from your website or a blog to your social channels (you can copy your blog across different platforms) is a great way to get readers as soon as you publish a new post. Make sure the website address for your business or project is included in all your social media profiles for people to connect with you and your brand.

Finding Clients and Generating Leads

Social media, and LinkedIn in particular, is a powerful tool for brands to find clients and for clients to discover and find brands. Regardless of industry, size, or location, we are all here in the business of marketing and branding ourselves to carry out our message in front of decision-makers.

With Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn advertising tools we can precisely target our audience by geographic location, professional field, interests, age, and gender. It has never been easier to build a sales funnel of targeted leads to market as before.

Photo © John Cassidy The Headshot Guy®

About the Author
Yelena, the Founder of BrandBoosting, helps executives and business owners create an irresistible image for their business book cover: to make their customers open their book and become part of their business story. She pays special attention to the art of speaking, storytelling over social media and media branding. Yelena’s international career covers an impressive range of experience from the worlds of finance and diplomacy to retail and fashion. Siberian by origin, she has over 20 years’ experience living and working in the USA, Russia, Singapore, and Switzerland. Yelena has a degree in International Economic Relations from Russia and a Master’s degree in Economics from the US.

Project Management and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

By Harold Kerzner, Ph.D.| Senior Executive Director for Project Management, IIL

Recently, I conducted a webinar on PM 2.0/3.0: The Future of Project Management. During the Q&A session that followed, I was asked if PM 4.0 (which I am now researching and will be publishing shortly) would include a discussion of the role of artificial intelligence (AI) applied to project management. I was also recently interviewed by a person working on a graduate degree, who asked what I believed would be the relationship between project management and AI in the future.

It appears that the world of AI is now entering the project management community of practice, and there is significant interest in this topic. While I am certainly not an expert in AI, I became curious about how developments in AI could benefit project management.

A common definition of AI is intelligence exhibited by machines.[1] From a project management perspective, could a machine eventually mimic the cognitive functions associated with the mind of a project manager such as decision-making and problem-solving?

The principles of AI are already being used in speech recognition systems and search engines such as Google Search and Siri. Self-driving cars use AI concepts as do military simulation exercises and content delivery networks. Computers can now defeat most people in strategy games such as chess. It is just a matter of time before we see AI techniques involved in project management.

The overall purpose of AI is to create computers and machinery that can function in an intelligent manner. This requires the use of statistical methods, computational intelligence and optimization techniques. The programming for such AI techniques requires not only an understanding of technology but also an understanding of psychology, linguistics, neuroscience and many other knowledge areas.

The question regarding the use of AI is whether the mind of a project manager can be described so precisely that it can be simulated using the techniques described above. will accomplish this in the near term, but there is hope because of faster computers, the use of cloud computing, and increases in machine learning technology. However, there are some applications of AI that could assist project managers in the near term:

  • The growth in competing constraints rather use of the traditional triple constraints will make it more difficult to perform tradeoff analyses. The use of AI concepts could make life easier for the project manager.


  • We tend to take it for granted that the assumptions and constraints given to us at the onset of the project will remain intact throughout the life-cycle of the project. Today, we know that this is not true and that all assumptions and constraints must be tracked throughout the life-cycle. AI could help us in this area.


  • Executives quite often do not know when to intervene in a project. Many companies today are using crises dashboards. When an Executive looks at the crises dashboard on his/her computer, the display identifies only those projects that may have issues, which metrics are out of the acceptable target range, and perhaps even the degree of criticality. AI practices could identify immediate actions that could be taken and thus shorten response time to out-of-tolerance situations.


  • Management does not know how much additional work can be added to the queue without overburdening the labor force. As such, projects are often added to the queue with little regard for (1) resource availability, (2) skill level of the resources needed, and (3) the level of technology needed. AI practices could allow us to create a portfolio of projects that has the best chance to maximize the business value the firm will receive while considering effective resource management practices.


  • Although some software algorithms already exist, project schedule optimization practices still seem to be a manual activity using trial and error techniques. Effective AI practices could make schedule optimization significantly more effective by considering all of the present and future projects in the company rather than just individual projects.


Project managers are often pressured to make rapid decisions based on intuition rather than by step-by-step deduction used by computers. Nothing is simply true or false because we must make assumptions. Generally speaking, the more information we have available, the fewer the assumptions that must be made. With a sufficient database of information, AI tools could perform reasoning and problem solving based upon possibly incomplete or partial information. AI can visualize the future and provide us with choices that can maximize the value of the decision.

If AI practices are to be beneficial to the project management community of practice, then “pockets” of project management knowledge that existed in the past must be consolidated into a corporate-wide knowledge management system that includes all of the firm’s intellectual property as shown below.


The more information available to the AI tools, the greater the value of the outcome. Therefore, the starting point must be a consolidation of project management intellectual property and the AI tools must have access to this information. PMOs will most likely have this responsibility.


While all of this sounds workable, there are still some downside risks based on which area of knowledge in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) where we apply the AI tools. As an example:


  • As an example, using the Human Resources Knowledge Area, can AI measure and even demonstrate empathy in dealing with people?
  • In the Integration Management Knowledge Area, can AI add in additional assumptions and constraints that were not included in the business case when the project was approved?
  • In the Stakeholder Management Knowledge Area, can the AI tools identify the power and authority relationships of each stakeholder?
  • And with regard to machine ethics, can an AI tool be made to follow or adhere to the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility when making a decision?


While all of this seems challenging and futuristic to some, AI is closer than you think. Amazon, Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft have established a non-profit partnership to formulate best practices on artificial intelligence technologies, advance the public’s understanding, and to serve as a platform for artificial intelligence.[2]


They stated: “This partnership on AI will conduct research, organize discussions, provide thought leadership, consult with relevant third parties, respond to questions from the public and media, and create educational material that advances the understanding of AI technologies including machine perception, learning, and automated reasoning.”[3]


Apple joined other tech companies as a founding member of the Partnership on AI in January 2017. The corporate members will make financial and research contributions to the group while engaging with the scientific community to bring academics on board.[4]


Given the fact that those tech companies are all heavy users of project management, and by some are considered to have world-class project practices, how long do you think it will be before they develop AI practices for their own project management community of practice? The implementation of AI practices to project management may very well be right around the corner.


[1] This definition and part of this blog have been adapted from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia: Artificial Intelligence.
2 (Wikipedia footnote) “Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society”. N.p., n.d. 24 October 2016.
[3] Ibid
[4] (Wikipedia footnote) Fiegerman, Seth. “Facebook, Google, Amazon Create Group to Ease AI Concerns”. CNNMoney. n.d. 4 December 2016.

Harold Kerzner, Ph.D. is IIL’s Senior Executive Director for Project Management. He is a globally recognized expert on project management and strategic planning, and the author of many best-selling textbooks, most recently Project Management 2.0.

How to Improve CRM and Tap Your Audience

By Sofia Zafeiri, Social Media Coordinator at IIL

A lot has been written and said over the past six years about the Agile methodology–from a tech methodology to the next best thing that quickly resolves challenges.

The truth, however, has different sides to it depending on how your company chooses to implement Agile. Nevertheless, surveys and stats have repeatedly shown that Agile offers specific benefits to the teams adopting it. So, Agile started expanding to more departments outside IT.

One of the key benefits of this method against the old and traditional ones is that it helps teams in a variety of ways to create and produce high-quality services that are focused on improving the customer experience.

According to a survey conducted by Econsultancy, by 2020, customer experience is expected to be more significant for companies than content marketing. Consumers’ behavior is changing rapidly, and the Internet is the leading reason for this shift.

As consumers continued researching their future purchases using reviewing apps and websites (whose growth has multiplied since 2000) they began to realize not only their purchasing power but also that:

• They were not interested in ads.
68% of Millennials trust online reviews as opposed to 34% who trust TV advertising.

• They have more trust in the opinion of their peers and influencers they follow.
53% of Millennials surveyed said that user-generated content has an influence on their purchasing decisions, compared to 44% for traditional media and 23% for banner ads. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

• They wanted companies to see them as individuals and co-creators of value rather than recipients of products.
Personalized CTAs resulted in a 42% higher conversion rate than generic CTAs.

Major changes in consumer habits happen over time and from one generation to another. Millennials struck a deafening, “Not for me,” to the market dynamic as we knew it 8 or 10 years ago. Inevitably, corporations had to play along to survive. Companies started shifting their primary focus from massively advertising their products to astutely tapping their audience.

According to Walker, even companies have 60 to 70 percent of their buying decision made before a sales representative even walks through the door. The traditional “sales pitch” will be obsolete by 2020, since buyers will do their homework.

But, how does that affect the employees of a company? Trends and markets change rapidly in a short period. Sometimes before the end of a project, the objectives and tactics need to change, as they don’t respond to any real-life challenge anymore – they are not current.

This is where Agile comes in.

The three most significant benefits of adopting Agile are:

  1. The ability to manage to changing priorities
  2. Increased team productivity
  3. Improved project visibility

Although Agile began as a method for software development, its benefits were discovered to be relevant and much needed in more departments.

To learn more stats about how and why Agile is the answer to your team challenges, watch the video below:

Find more stats about the current state of Agile and Scrum in the infographic.



To learn more about the Agile and Scrum Conference visit here.

Don’t forget to use code SOCIAL for an additional $10 discount.












  • online/millennials-said-to-be-highly-trusting-of-user-generated-content-41276/

About the Author

Sofia Zafeiri is the Social Media Coordinator at IIL. She graduated from NYU with an Ms in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. Before moving to New York City, she worked for a variety of organizations in Europe.


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The Importance of Influencers In Your Strategy – An Analysis of Millennials

by Sofia Zafeiri

With technology finding its way into every aspect of our lives, it comes without question that the landscape of campaigns has changed rapidly over the past decade. It is now clear that aggressive sales not only won’t win customer loyalty but might end up even harming a brand as the aggression often comes out as desperate or irrelevant.

Analysis of the psychology of consumer and buying habits has been the holy grail for Marketers and PR professionals. Although consumers need to feel power over their own choices, in a mutually interdependent world, all of us rarely act on our own will without further influence. From peer pressure to online reviews, we seek out a group of people we can either relate to or trust to proceed with option A or B.

Within the reference group of influencing consumer buying behavior, several groups have been identified:

  • Primary groups: Are groups within which people have strong ties and connections, such as family, friends, and coworkers.
  • Secondary groups: Are formal groups which require less continuous interaction, such as religious and professional groups.
  • Aspirational groups: Are groups of people buyers aspire to join. (Within this group falls the majority of today’s online influencers. A singer, an athlete or typically a blogger/socialite are the people whose point of view or advice will influence the final buying decision.)

Another tool buyers are turning to is YouTube. Being the second largest search engine after Google and with over 3 billion searches per month, Millennials view their way in or out of a brand based on the video content. Among 18-24-year-olds — a key buying demographic — a whopping 62% trusts endorsements from popular YouTubers.


How are Millennials engaging with brands on YouTube?


The skip ad button is inevitable, and paid ads barely get their five seconds of fame, as more than 80% of viewers will skip the ads if they can. On the other hand, with “How to” being the most used search words on YouTube it creates limitless PR opportunities for brands.


The infographic below offers some research data on Millennials’ behavior online and source of influence.

About the Author
Sofia Zafeiri is the Social Media Coordinator at IIL. She graduated from NYU with an Ms in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. Before moving to New York City, she worked for a variety of organizations in Europe.


Connect on LinkedIn

How to brand yourself on LinkedIn

With approximately 467 million users in 200 countries, LinkedIn is undoubtedly the largest Professional Network on Social Media. Yet, there seems to be a significant number of users who ignore the very rules of this platform. Here are some tips that will help you maximize your presence and brand yourself successfully on LinkedIn.

  1. Headshot and Cover Photo.

It takes a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger.  This is your moment to make a great first impression! A warm and welcoming smile will tell more about you than a thousand words.

Depending on your industry, you can add a bit of a flavor and color to your cover photo. A great example is Ashwath (found below). His headshot is professional with a clean and solid background, yet his cover photo reveals his adventurous nature and love for diving.

I cannot begin to count how many times I’ve witnessed entirely inappropriate photos for the nature of the LinkedIn platform. Although I do understand how you like to zone out and party once in a while, there’s a good chance that your future employer won’t. So keep it simple, solid, and avoid filters from other social media platforms.

What’s a good rule of thumb? My advice for your headshot is simple and pretty straightforward:

  • Wear a suit or a blazer
  • Have a solid background
  • Adjust the lighting to your benefit
  • Be confident and smile
Ashwath Muralidharan is a Senior Consultant for EY and a Duke University graduate.


  1. Headline

That’s the first virtual handshake where you present yourself to a global network of professionals. You wouldn’t approach an employer in real life with the opening line, “I’m an Account Executive for XYZ company,” but rather, you might present yourself as a “Social Media Producer working for a tech startup.” So why act differently online? Customize your headline to your career goals. In other words, focus on who you are as a professional and what industry you’re expanding to.

An additional benefit from tailoring your headline with industry keywords is that it gives you an edge on the algorithm search.  Subsequently, your profile ends up appearing on more searches from recruiters and professionals who are looking for someone just like you.

Here’s the example of Jessica Lyon, an award-winning Communications Strategist, who is a 40 Under Forty winner, and a frequent presenter at conferences.




  1. Summary

See this part as your time to shine —this summary is your 15-second elevator speech. That’s a good space for you to talk about your passions, your strong points, and what your experiences have taught you so far. Unlike cover letters, LinkedIn still remains a Social Media platform which allows your summary to be creative, fruitful, and have media attachments. Another use of this area is to optimize your industry’s keywords and list some of your most relevant skills.

In the example below, Fangzhou demonstrates her passion for technology and communications by combing pieces of her past and future goals. She also highlights some of her most relevant skills, such as programming languages.








Fangzhou Cheng is a Data Engineer at the Earnest Research Company and an NYU graduate.






  1. Skills

In the Skills section, you can add all of your skills that set you apart from the rest. From coding to media planning, and data analysis to spoken languages, LinkedIn allows you to add up to 50 skills. It’s a good idea to demonstrate a variety of your competencies in that section, such as programming languages, Microsoft Office Excel, Media Planning, Project Management, etc.

HINT: if you’re a job seeker, LinkedIn will show you how many of the required skills for the job you have listed.

  1. Recommendations

The majority of young professionals fail to ask in time for a recommendation on LinkedIn. Either shying away from it or neglecting it, having zero recommendations is definitely not, well, recommended. Ensuring your Professional Network will get a chance to see what type of team player you are, your work ethic, or your contribution to a certain project from
the perspective of the people who’ve worked with you is the best type of advertisement. So next time you’ll work with or for someone, take initiative and simply ask them to write a few things about their experience working with you.



Sofia Zafeiri is a Social Media Coordinator at IIL and and NYU graduate.



  1. Articles

Regardless of your industry, being a good writer and efficient communicator always sets you apart as a thought leader. Writing articles often and discussing current news or predicting industry trends demonstrates your thought process and in-depth analytical skills. The downside of this part is that not all of us like writing. If writing is not your best trait, keep in mind that your posts don’t have to be long nor extensive. A well-written article of 350 words is all you need to showcase your expertise on a certain matter.

Additionally, being active on the platform and sharing valuable news is another easy and fast way to show that you stay updated with current issues.




Fred Helio Garcia is president of the crisis management firm Logos Consulting Group and brings his 37 years of experience to NYU students and CEOs around the globe.






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About the Author

Sofia Zafeiri is the Social Media Coordinator at IIL. She graduated from NYU with a Ms in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. Before moving to New York City, she worked for a variety of organizations in Europe.