LinkedIn

4 Questions That Build a Killer LinkedIn Summary

LinkedIn Logo by Esther Vargas of Flickr

LinkedIn Logo by Esther Vargas of Flickr

 

I am glad that LinkedIn exists for multiple reasons, but mostly because there is a venue for professionals to communicate beyond concise and awkward résumé language. Through LinkedIn, they can “speak” in their own natural voice with their own innate verbiage.

As a former hiring professional, it was helpful to understand who the candidate was behind the résumé. As a branding professional and Certified Professional Résumé Writer, I love having a place where I can better express my clients’ personalities and add greater context to their achievements and unique value.

Storytelling has burned a place into corporate and personal marketing because of its effectiveness. It helps people better learn and recall what makes a person impressive and better inspires them to take action on that person’s behalf.

If your LinkedIn profile summary still is a carbon copy of your résumé summary, answer the four questions below. These questions will help you better optimize the 2,000 characters that LinkedIn allows you, so you can distinguish yourself in your own voice. If your computer or phone has a dictation app, I recommend that you use this tool. Do not be too concerned about wordsmithing or character limits as you initially answer these questions.  Do not yet judge how people will perceive your answers. Just record your answers as they emerge.

Not only will this exercise enable you to craft a LinkedIn summary that provides visitors with a much better idea of who you are as a person (not just a professional or a candidate), but it will reveal to you how you have been presenting yourself to your network. You may even find that once you record your answers, evaluate them, and edit them that you have been divulging messages that are extraneous, irrelevant, and incongruent (or even damaging ) to your brand. Once you become conscious of these, you can craft better network messaging and become more effective at inspiring introductions and interviews.

 

Question 1:  How did you get here?

You have an experience section on your LinkedIn profile, so there is no need to chronicle your employment history. However, look at your present status as a sum of inspirational and educational moments that you have acquired throughout the years. Some of your most inspirational moments may be more personal than professional. Again, do not initially judge your answers. What we share about our personal learning experiences can often be more powerful in helping people resonate with who you are and what you have to offer.

Think about it and record those moments to answer to this question. What you record may wind up being paragraphs or even pages long, but eventually you will want to edit it down to one paragraph, starting with a vivid depiction of one of your most powerful moments.

 

Question 2: From what contributions have you derived the biggest sense of fulfillment and satisfaction?

You do not want to spill the beans with all the specific anecdotes from your employment history that have made you most proud. Instead, you want to entice the reader to keep on reading and to scroll down to your employment history to read the rest of the story. In your summary you want to be general. I encourage you to include anecdotes as an answer to this question because it will help you write summaries for your previous positions. Sometimes it is easier to recall specific memories and then to take a step back and figure out what these memories have in common.

You want to look for patterns and themes that have been threaded through each of your previous experiences, regardless of how different those experiences may be. This is where you demonstrate your passion. Notice, please, that I have yet to encourage you to tell people how passionate you are. The answer(s) to this question will do a much better job of communicating that you are passionate without stating your passion.

 

Question 3: How have you honed the primary skills and talents that enabled you to make these past contributions?

In the Career Management course I teach at Drexel University, my students are tired of hearing me lecture about how important proving your KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Achievements, aka KSEs: Knowledge, Skills and Experience) are to potential employers. Rather than simply leaving your list of skills out there without context as to which skills are strongest and without proof as to whether you really possess them or not, use this opportunity to explain how you developed personally and professionally. Some of this could be through formal training, some could be through life experience, and some could be through interesting challenges that enabled you to identify talents you didn’t know you previously had. Can you see how this creates more intrigue?

 

Question 4:  How do you envision being able to apply and further develop these talents and skills to make greater contributions in the future?

Whether you are a happy and engaged employee hoping to elevate your status within your current company, you are confidentially looking to leave your current employer, or if you’re unemployed and seeking your next big career opportunity, the answer to this question will help you position yourself for growth. Even if you are confidentially seeking new employment but working, you can shape shift the answer to promote your current employer and as a byproduct, promote yourself. This will enable you to mitigate potential suspicions that your new LinkedIn updates are intended to help you leave. You would need however, to find a way to make your future aspirations fit within the future vision of your current employer.

If you are unemployed, you may need to resist the temptation to keep your options wide-open. I understand the logic of wanting to do so if you need an income, but in my 15 years of experience I know it will most likely prolong your search or, sometimes worse, lead you to land in the wrong position at a toxic company where you become stuck and feel hopeless. Good employers want to offer their employees growth opportunities. It is integral in their hiring process to find candidates who are clear about their short and long-term ambitions. These days especially, you don’t have to make a lifelong commitment. In fact, most likely in a few years you will reinvent yourself.  But, for now, demonstrate that you have clarity over how you want to apply your skills and talents, and that you have goals.

 

After you pared down your answers to about a paragraph each, or about 500 characters, leave yourself another 500 characters to create a call-to-action (use the formula within this article) and/or a list of skills that will help you keyword optimize your profile.

Visit this LinkedIn post to see how to include symbols, such as bullets, in your content.

If you use these questions to transform your LinkedIn summary into a compelling story that attracts new connections and opportunities, please share a link to your profile and your results in the comments below.

 

100 Things to Make You Smile When Life Doesn’t Look Like We Want It To

 

 

One Hundred by Mark Paz

One Hundred by Mark Paz

 

For my 100th LinkedIn post, I want to take a page from my daughter’s preschool and kindergarten classes. They use the hundredth day of school not only to celebrate a milestone I never even thought to celebrate, but to teach kids about the number 100. It is a pretty significant number, as numbers go.

I decided, inspired by the hundredth day of school (that we are now actually celebrating having come to an end), that I wanted to use my hundredth post to expand an exercise that my daughters and I have started to do to turn our attitude into gratitude. It is a way to quickly recover when our complaining turns into a negative tailspin. I’ll have them or they’ll have me make a list of things for which we are grateful. In regard to effectiveness, this makes us feel better 100% of the time.

I started this list with ten things that I feel could apply to anyone anywhere in the world at any given moment. However, I ask you to contribute comments with the things that you can always turn to make you feel grateful and happy, even when the world around you does not seem so happy. The exercise of doing so, I guarantee, will lift your spirits. You can also be certain that as others read your contributions, you will be raising the level of happiness in others.

Recommendation: the worse you feel the more items you add. Keep adding items until you feel better.

1. You can improve your health right now just by moving.

2. It does not rain every day everywhere.

3. The biggest, scariest creatures lived a long, long time ago.

4. Satellites make it easy to see anywhere in the world.

5. It is rare that the sky is not interesting to gaze upon.

6. Seeds represent infinite possibility.

7. When life was invented, I was invented to be a self-sustaining cycle of endings and new beginnings.

8. Each of us had a mom and a dad, whether we know them or not, they brought us into this world and made possible whatever we wanted to be possible.

9. We are one of the few animals that can laugh.

10. There is music… Sweet music.

 

Does Your Company Play Offense or Defense with their LinkedIn Policies?

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Last night during Super Bowl 50, there was a two-point conversion which put the Broncos two touchdowns ahead of the Panthers. My father at first did not understand why they would risk not getting the extra point, but it paid off. The Broncos got the two-point conversion and kept their two touchdown lead. They did not need that lead in the end to win, but knowing what a fierce team the Panthers have been all season, going for the extra point was their best shot at insuring the win.

Is your company playing offense or defense when it comes to their LinkedIn policy?

Do you think your company is spending too much time and resources trolling the LinkedIn profiles of employees? Does your boss check his or her alerts whenever an employee is active on the service?

Do you know anyone who was fired from their job for using LinkedIn? If an employer were to be suspicious, either justifiably or not, what do you think of someone being fired as a result?

There are risks and rewards for the employees who use LinkedIn to job hunt while they are still employed. For example, someone actively looking while still employed may pose a data risk to their employer. However, we cannot assume just because someone is looking for a new job that they would be immoral or unethical. (Of course, job searching while on the job is a big no-no.) What if more employers adopted a comprehensive and offensive approach to LinkedIn to engage and ultimately retain employees?

 

Defensive LinkedIn policies inhibit employee growth

Many employees may imagine their employers are regularly checking their LinkedIn profiles to make sure they are not getting ready to leave. There are two reasons why a company might routinely check the LinkedIn profiles of employees. This is to either fire them first (if job search activity is found), or to convince them to stay. Restrictive LinkedIn policies are defensive. If LinkedIn policies are too restrictive and intrusive, the company demonstrates a lack of trust and respect for the employee, which may cause an employee to seek a new job. Restrictive policies may inhibit an employee’s ability to generate leads, partners, vendors, and to recruit.

Defensive LinkedIn policies also damage employment brands and recruitment efforts

Restrictive LinkedIn policies also have an effect on potential employees. Let us examine a scenario. A job seeker sees a job opening and wants to know more about the company because they care about where they work. They know they have options and are a highly valuable employee. They research the company’s LinkedIn page and evaluate the employee profiles. The savvy job seeker and wants to know how they are connected, but the employee profiles leave everything to be desired. Many employee profiles have minimal content. The employees strike the job seeker as dull and uninterested. They did not even take a moment to write a few words about themselves, or perhaps they are hiding something. It is as if the profiles are under lock down. The job seeker is unimpressed and says “No thanks! Next!” If companies are not strategically using LinkedIn to promote their employment brand, they are failing to attract savvy employees, and perhaps even potential customers.

 

Playing offense on LinkedIn engages employees

By playing offense and being proactive, a company keeps their employees engaged professionally through LinkedIn instead of having to fear if the next update could land them in trouble.  Kevin Wheeler, a consultant and public speaker, has listed the ways a company can play offense to engage and retain their employees. Some key aspects are to excite employees, and to give them a sense of freedom and opportunity.

One of the biggest reasons employees seek opportunities elsewhere is because they cannot easily grow or find promotion within their own companies. Career development or opportunities to move up within a company are appealing.  Advancement is not always tied to a higher salary, and employees (especially younger employees), seek to grow and develop their skills. If they feel stagnant they may seek growth elsewhere.

Companies that reward their employees with recognition create good will and loyalty. This is especially true for millennial workers who crave frequent feedback on their contributions.

Employers who care about employees by offering growth opportunity and ample recognition can extend that good will to their LinkedIn policies. These policies encourage employees to use LinkedIn to the fullest to promote themselves, share their knowledge and to promote the company.

These LinkedIn policies include encouraging employees to optimize and brand their profiles. We have been hired by companies to write powerfully-branded profiles for their customer facing front line and executive teams with great results. Powerful employee profiles mention work accomplishments in status updates, publish industry-related articles and company content, connect to a company page and group, endorse and network with co-workers, and expand their network to include customers, prospects, and partners. A proactive approach also engages employees by forming policies around using work hours to connect with others, and even having a marketing team or third-party like us create promotional content that can be disseminated on employees’ status updates. A company can better utilize the complete workforce to share news and job openings. Companies like Seer Interactive and Accolade consider every employee as a part of their recruiting effort.

 

A comprehensive and offensive LinkedIn policy can play a huge role in employee engagement. Remember the scenario I talked about earlier? Now imagine a job seeker comes across a company’s LinkedIn page. Instead of lackluster profiles with minimal content, that job seeker sees powerfully-branded profiles, frequent status updates about their job and industry, and well-connected employees. These employees are happy to talk about their employer and the company seems like a great place to work. They are interested and reach out to make a connection. Now this employee can have a conversation with a candidate that can easily serve as a first interview. This is what LinkedIn can offer the companies who are willing to play offense to engage and retain their employees, rather than play defense to troll them, fearful that they may jump ship. Which LinkedIn policy appeals to you?

 

5 Ways to Use Social Media to Start a Networking Conversation

Social media, social networking, social computing tag cloud #3 by Daniel Iversen of Flickr

Social media, social networking, social computing tag cloud #3 by Daniel Iversen of Flickr

More than 70% of all jobs are found through networking. Many people know that networking is an effective job search method. Given these facts, what makes people continue to rely on job boards and filling out online applications? The answer is that many people have tried networking and it didn’t work for them. Most people are already out of their comfort zone when networking, so any sign of failure, such as failing to connect with people, or landing a job, makes it tempting to return to the familiarity of job boards. Networking doesn’t have to be difficult or uncomfortable, as it is really about developing long-term relationships. In fact, you already have a network, and achieving success is within your reach. If you haven’t been getting the results you desire, avoid the temptation to return to the comfortable. A few tweaks to your approach can transform your search. Think about it. Instead of asking your network for leads, your network will come to you for advice.

Social Media is a highly-effective way to expand your network during a job search. Using social media to start a conversation and establish a relationship can be ideal, because it is easy to find and connect with people. You can use social media networks to engage with others, form relationships with people (both online and offline), and garner introductions to powerful people.

 

  1. Start connecting:

Every relationship begins with creating a connection to someone important to your job search. It is possible to engage that person on social media and show them the value you have to offer. The value you offer could consist of bringing fresh insight to a popular topic, or offering support. It could also be as simple as striking up an interesting conversation, and being invited to learn more about that person. Moving your relationship offline with a phone call, or a meet-up as a connection is made can accelerate your results.

First, learn more about that person. Do their values align with your own? There are numerous questions you can ask them:

“What do you love about your work?”

“If I ask the people that you work with to describe you, what would they say?”

“What’s a major regret you had in your career from which you would try to save someone else?”

You’re not fishing for dirt here, and we certainly don’t expect anyone to be perfect. But, you’ll be able to gauge how well these answers resonate with you by your desire to move forward with that person. If they do resonate, find out what they’re up to, and the ways you can bring value to them.

Next, it’s time to articulate your brand. What makes you uniquely qualified? What contribution do you hope to make? Ask yourself how your life experiences and career paths have given you a perspective that enables you to see and do what others can’t. That’s easier said than done, as you may have to figure out your own value. If you’re unsure of the value you could bring to someone else, it may be an indication that you need to have a branding consultation with us so we can help unveil your brilliance.

You may not receive a great response if you connect with strangers and begin asking them for favors or advice without finding out if they are people with whom you want to associate. For example, asking a quick question might be okay, but asking someone to review your résumé, or grant you an interview may be met with a chilly reception, or be completely ignored.

However, asking to meet immediately with someone after finding them on social media can be a beneficial experience, especially if your values do align. Say the person you want to meet with is a member of an organization that meets monthly, and you tell that person you’ll be at the meeting so you can get acquainted. Or maybe this person is a stranger, but you have a trusted contact in common, so you invite them out for coffee or lunch. This happens frequently, but in your invitation there would be an indication of some potential synergy, or mutual value that you can both get from meeting in person. People who are avid networkers don’t think twice about meeting someone in person.

 

  1. Personalize your request to connect:

When you send a request to connect with someone on LinkedIn, take a moment to customize your request. Sending a default connection message might be interpreted by the recipient as not taking the time to research them, or that you’re only interesting in expanding your network, as opposed to making a genuine connection. Recently, LinkedIn has increased their users’ abilities to see with whom they should connect. However, on all of these pages where a connect button is present, and you’re not in someone’s profile, the site will automatically send the boilerplate message. Because of this feature people are a little more forgiving when receiving these default messages, but they may not be any more receptive to your request. To inspire somebody to be receptive to your request, send a personal note telling the person why you want to connect with them, that you want to learn more about how you can support their success, and that you would like to spend a little time getting better acquainted.

If you would like to customize your connection request, go directly to a person’s profile and click the connect button.

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A LinkedIn invitation

A LinkedIn invitation

 

When sending a customized invitation, think about why you’re adding them to your network. Again, the point isn’t to simply expand your social media network. An effective connection means being genuinely interested in helping someone, supporting them, cooperating with them, meeting with them offline, and establishing a long-term relationship.

 

  1. Consider publicly asking others for advice:

There are several schools of thought about asking someone for advice on social media. One school of thought is to be mindful about how you make requests, because a public request for advice or help could put someone in an awkward situation. However, we have a different school of thought. I have advised clients in the past to publicly ask their network for advice. This is the purpose behind discussion groups, like those found on LinkedIn. They are a great way to solicit advice from others, especially people who are more-than-willing to help you. Additionally, status updates are another great way to ask for advice, engage an audience, grow your network, and establish your expertise.

An unemployed Australian man had no luck with filling out applications. So he posted a picture of himself, his contact information and his plight on his Facebook page for employers to see. His unemployment situation quickly reversed as he was inundated with job offers by phone.

 

  1. Be helpful:

Engaging someone on social media with the goal of creating a long-term network connection isn’t all about your needs. In other words, connecting isn’t about “How can I be helped?” Instead, it looks like being specific and directly asking a person what they’re working on and using that opportunity to demonstrate your value.

 

  1. Keep track of your efforts:

Carefully measure what works during your campaign to determine the effectiveness of your outreach strategy. If you send out six messages requesting an introduction or a request to connect and none of them get answered, it is a sign that you need to change your approach. Keep track of your successes and note what works in order to consistently replicate the results. Our conversation tool assists with this.

 

The end goal isn’t simply to add someone to your network in the hope that they help you land a job. Social media is capable of so much more. It can be the venue by which you become aware of someone, start a conversation, learn a little bit about them, and take that relationship offline. It is a way to enrich your own personal and professional life by meeting new people and creating new relationships that will pay off in both the short and long-term. This is the true value of networking in your job search, and social media can make expanding those networks a little less intimidating.

 

7 Days of LinkedIn Challenge: Can You Land in 2 weeks?

LinkedIn Centipede Participants by A Name Like Shields Can Make You Defensive on Flickr

LinkedIn Centipede Participants by A Name Like Shields Can Make You Defensive on Flickr

Job seekers often ask me if recruiters use LinkedIn to search for candidates. The answer is a resounding “yes.” Over 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent. Amazingly, only 45% of unemployed job seekers have LinkedIn profiles.  I collected data and wrote about my results in an article a few years ago, but the results are just as relevant today. Needless to say, LinkedIn can be a valuable asset for your professional life. Furthermore, your presence on the network must be regularly maintained. If you want to easily find job opportunities or connect with others in your industry, then use LinkedIn often. The results can help accelerate your job search.

Setting up a LinkedIn profile, fully completing your profile, branding and optimizing your headline (to get the maximum number of profile views), and making connections are great first starts. However, you can use the site for so much more. LinkedIn is a great way to keep track of your network, reach out to potential employers, be contacted by recruiters with enticing job offers, join industry groups, and to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Everyday of the week you can do something different on LinkedIn in order to get real results in your job search. Think about getting multiple job offers, and dramatically reducing the length of your job search.

I suggest taking our 7 Days of LinkedIn Challenge only after your profile is complete and branded. Here’s a good question to ask to assess if your profile is branded– “If someone was doing a search for professionals like me, am I explaining why they would want ME over any other equally qualified professionals?”

Once your profile is complete and branded (if it already isn’t), then move on to our LinkedIn challenge.

 

Monday: Identify target companies, associated contacts, and hiring managers

Create a target list of all the companies where you would like to work, using your personal criteria as a guide. Use LinkedIn to find companies by using the search menu at the top of the page and select “Companies.”

 

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Select the “Companies” option here.

 

 

 

After you select Companies, leave the search bar empty. Just click on the search option and this will bring up the entire list of companies on LinkedIn. There’s are well over 7.6 million companies on the site, so we’re going to need to trim this list.

 

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Leave the search bar empty and click on the search button to look for companies.

 

 

Locate the “Search” options in the far left sidebar to narrow the list. The options in the list include “Location,” “Job Opportunities,” “Industry,” “Relationships,” “Company Size,” “Number of Followers,” and “Fortune.”

 

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The “Advanced Search” options are located in the sidebar to the left.

 

 

If you have more than 50 results, narrow the list by using the options bar on the left. As you select each category, the list of results will become smaller.

Tip: Avoid restricting your job search efforts by checking the “Job Opportunities” box, as you don’t want to limit your efforts to companies only hiring on LinkedIn. One of your goals is to establish relationships with individuals within companies who can present you with unadvertised job opportunities. The contacts, once rapport is built, will be providing insights that will enable you to qualify the employer further, and once you effectively portray your value, an introduction to hiring managers will be an easier request to make and fulfill.

 

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Listing companies on LinkedIn will return millions of results. Time to customize these search results!

 

 

The “Relationship” option is a great tool for finding connections inside of a potential employer. These connections can make it easier to get an introduction to a hiring manager, especially if you have first degree connections.

If you have a preference for company size, go ahead and choose the size of the companies you’d like to work for using the “Company Size” option. Company size can range from 1-10 employees up to 10,000+. Your search results will depend on the size of your network. Twenty five to fifty targets is a good number for your starting point.

 

 

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Everything in the left sidebar can be adjusted to your search needs.

 

To further narrow the list, use the “Keyword” search to look for jobs within your industry. To find “Keywords,” click on the “Advanced” under the “Search” options, select “Jobs” and the Keywords options will appear.

 

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Click on a company’s profile and select “Follow” to receive updates and messages. You can also select “How You’re Connected” to search the company profiles for any associated contacts who may work within the company.

 

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Every company page has a “How You’re Connected” feature. Use this option to find useful connections.

 

 

Your connections may consist of first degree contacts within a target. If you find yourself without first degree contacts, don’t worry.  The “How You’re Connected” can help you to locate potential connections. In the list of employees, your connection degree will appear next to their name.

 

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Keep an eye out for 1st degree connections.

 

 

Tip: When adding target companies, similar companies, and checking out the career paths of employees within those companies, ask yourself- “Where did they get recruited from?” These need to be included, but perhaps not together. It makes more sense to check out career histories while you are checking out people who work there or worked there as prospective target contacts.

You can also learn more about your potential connections by checking out their profiles on other social networks and following them. A person may even include links to their other social networks within their LinkedIn profile page. This information can be found in “Contact Info” right under their profile picture. The point isn’t to ask these connections for a job, or even if the company is hiring. You ultimately want your connections to introduce you to a hiring manager.

Using LinkedIn to find hiring managers at your target employers is an ideal scenario. After all, they are the ones who will be responsible for giving you an interview and may even be your next boss.  That said, don’t rule out other contacts within a company. All contacts related to a company are a potential source of valuable information and a potential point of entry into the company, as well as a potential sponsor who can help you garner the attention of and interest of a hiring manager.

To find a company’s hiring manager, go to the “Advanced People Search” page. You can locate this page by going to the search bar at the top of LinkedIn and clicking “Advanced” which is located next to the search bar. Once you’re in the Advanced Search section your, search options will include “keywords,” “First Name,” “Last name,” “Company,” and more. Search by Company and Title. Try various management titles within your industry to discover the hiring manager. (Note: There is a limit to how many times you can search for contacts each month if you have a free account.)

 

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The Advanced People Search can help you find hiring managers. If you don’t know their exact title, use the Keywords option.

 

 

Keywords related to function can help you generate results when you’re guessing between several potential titles. Include keywords that would be associated with their oversight of your role, like “KPIs,” “performance,” “development,” or “strategy.” Even if you come across a profile that isn’t a hiring manager, you can check “People Similar to X” or “People also viewed,” which can uncover new target companies, as well. Try using a Google search to cross-reference a hiring manager with titles at the company to be certain you have the right person. You can also use Data.com and Zoominfo.com to validate contacts or titles.

 

Tuesday: Research those target companies

Now that you have a list of target companies, contacts within the companies, and the names of hiring managers, you’re going to research them every Tuesday. You want to learn more about an organization to make sure that they meet your criteria. Your research will help you target people and companies more effectively. In my article, “10 Surprising Websites and 2 Secret Places Where You Can Research Employers” I detail various the websites you can visit to learn more about an employer.

Use the information you gathered from the websites listed above and cross-reference them with your criteria lists. Your criteria lists consist of the conditions you want to take into consideration before proactively pursuing the target companies that fit your criteria. Your considerations can include your workplace environment, management, passions and interests, workplace flexibility, workplace culture, values, and even the types of relationships you’ll have with your co-workers. I wrote about using criteria to develop your ideal target company list and using criteria to identify your potential employers. Taking these steps will allow you to hone in on the companies you really want to work for and will leave you with very few surprises about your next employer. Employers also want you be knowledgeable about their company before you pursue employment opportunities with them. In our latest Epic Career Tales podcast, Emily Allen, Director of Employee Development at Seer Interactive, talks about how critical it is for their applicants to know something about Seer.

 

Wednesday: Message (or call) your connections

Contact your connections on Wednesdays. Message or (better yet, call) your LinkedIn connections first, using any criteria you were not able to identify as an agenda. For instance, if you wanted to know more about company’s workplace culture, values, or the management style. You can find a connection’s number by checking the “Contact Info” section of their profile. If they don’t have a phone number listed, you may have to ask them for it. Alternatively, if you have their number, you can edit the Contact Info section and add a number. You may also be able to find their number by using Zoominfo.com or Data.com.

Make sure you also ask the other person what they are working on when you contact them. This is an opportunity to help the person and to learn more about them, which demonstrates your value more than anything you can say. Offer ways that you can be of assistance. Ellen Weber, Executive Director of Robin Hood Ventures and Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, gave a specific example at her TEDxWalnutStWomen talk. In this example you don’t say, “Can I help?” or “How can I help?” You say, “Do you need a ride?”, “Do you need a referral?” or, “Is there something taking up too much of your time?” Find out exactly what your connection needs and help them.

If you want to ask one of your connections to make an introduction to someone you’d like to connect with, a warm personal introduction is ideal. That said, you can use LinkedIn’s tools to take the pressure off of your contacts, and if they seem at all uncomfortable, offer ANYTHING that makes it easier for them to help you.

To initiate an introduction with a potential connection on LinkedIn, go to the profile page of the person you want an introduction to, then go to “Get introduced” link. Next, choose one of your first degree contacts to make an introduction for you.  You can find the “Get Introduced” option in a person’s profile. It’s a small arrow button to the right of “Connect” and “Send InMail”.

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The drop down menu to find “Get Introduced” is a small black arrow.

 

Once you click on the arrow button, a drop down menu will appear. “Get Introduced” will be the second option. Click this option and you’ll be taken to your inbox.

 

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There you’ll be able to select one of your first degree connection to make an introduction for you. Once you have your connection selected, write your introduction request. Jason Alba’s article, “Killer LinkedIn Introduction Request” further details how to write a great introduction.

 

 

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Before writing an introduction request targeted at a hiring manager (supervisor, or your next boss,) write a cover letter-quality letter to send along. Incorporate what you learned in research to craft your cover letter.

 

Thursday: Nurture your network and engage

Set Thursdays aside to help and engage with others on LinkedIn. Share great external content , start or engage in discussions, share jobs, comment on, or share posts. Sharing external content is a great value for your connections and followers, this content can be both educational and entertaining. It can consist of relevant news articles, personal stories from others, or great industry tips and tricks. Just remember to keep what you share appropriate and professional. If you’re passionate about an aspect of your industry, start up a conversation with your connections or within a group. These conversations can revolve around a topic in the news or an industry trend. (If you’re not passionate, get out of that industry!) If you see a conversation that interests you, join in. You ARE able to provide valuable insight to others while you’re engaging them about a particular topic- everyone has something of value to contribute. Sharing posts from the “Pulse” section is also a great way to bring value to your network, in addition to helping the author expand his or her audience.

Sharing jobs is another great way to help someone in your network by providing them with information. You can also share profiles with other connections to broker introductions for others. To share a profile, go to the profile of the connection you want to share, and select “Share Profile” from the menu under their name. Remember, LinkedIn is a great platform for personal branding, but you don’t want to use the platform to only talk about yourself. Reaching out to engage with others and to share valuable content can help establish you as a go-to person.

 

Friday: Expand your network

Search for and invite anyone you know, but think outside your usual circles. Your usual circles include colleagues, bosses, classmates, vendors and others. To expand your network, consider anyone you are on a first-name basis with (you’ll need either the last name or their first name and some other search criteria such as company name, college, etc.)- personal service providers like your barber or dentist, neighbors, the cashier at your favorite luncheonette, the front desk attendant at your gym, etcetera. These types of connections are often overlooked, but they can be just as valuable as co-workers and alumni. They can provide unique opportunities that may not have been available through your regular circle of contacts. I previously wrote about how to tap into these resources to generate job leads.

Fridays can also be the day that you send out invitations to people with whom you made a connection at networking events. If you had a meaningful conversation with someone at a networking event, reach out to them on LinkedIn. When you reach out to them, personalize your invitation so the recipient remembers where you met them, and that you’re serious about making a connection. Remember, the larger and more varied your network is, the easier it will be to find connections at potential employers and to generate momentum in your job search.

 

Saturday: Get acquainted with your network

Spend part of your Saturday getting better acquainted with people in your network. Send people who invite you to connect with your number and invite them to spend 15 to 30 minutes getting better acquainted and discovering how your mutual networks can support each other. Messaging people on social networks is one thing, but talking to them via a phone call can help build better rapport. Phone calls can add new dimensions to a relationship as it helps give communications a human touch. If someone seems to be a center of influence, meaning you can see they have multiple connections who can be beneficial to you, invest even more time and offer to treat them to coffee or a meal.

Just think about what is lost in text-based communication, such as intonation, intention (sometimes meaning is lost in text-based communication) and how much information you can convey to another person in a period of time. Consider how much more of a connection you can make with someone when you are able to look each other in the eyes. You’ll get a better sense of the other person, and the more you know about your network acquaintances, and the more they know about you, the easier it is to support one another.

 

Sunday: Review time

Use your Sundays to review your achievements for the week, set goals and plan your week ahead. Looking back on your achievements allows you appreciate what you’ve accomplished, see how much further you need to go, and adjust your strategy as needed. Setting goals for the week allows to reach your achievements. As you plan your goals for each week ask yourself a few questions:

  1. How many new connections do you want? – Pick the number of connections you want to make each week. Feel free to experiment with the number until you find the amount that works for you. You may find that you’ll start with a big number to help you get better search results, and as you exhaust certain realms of your life, the number of connections will get smaller until you will rely on networking to add contacts. You want to make meaningful connections with people, opposed to adding people you don’t know.
  2. How many target companies to identify? – Targeting and researching companies is a time consuming task. You don’t want to tackle too many companies at once otherwise you’ll spend all of your time researching. However, you do want to target enough companies per week to create and maintain job momentum. You want a total list of 25 to 50 potential companies, but focus on 5 (if you’re working full-time) or 10 (if you’re unemployed).
  1. How many meetings do you want to schedule? – Meeting-and-greeting people is an important part of the networking process. Decide on how many LinkedIn connections you can feasibly meet with or talk to within a week. If you’re working full-time you can easily achieve 2 meetings per week, and have a stretch goal of 4 per week. If you’re unemployed, you can attain 6 meetings each week with a stretch goal of 10 per week.

 

LinkedIn is a great tool for networking with others, finding employers and building your audience. Take our 7 Day Challenge and create a daily to-do-list. This list will consist of:

  • Keeping your profile up-to-date
  • Setting clear activities each week to find employers
  • Sharing interesting content with your audience
  • Engaging your audience
  • Offering to help others
  • Seeking to expand your network
  • Getting acquainted with your network outside of LinkedIn
  • Reviewing your daily actions every week and setting goals

Our LinkedIn challenge can greatly help your job search momentum, help employers find you, and expand your network. Imagine being able to tap into your network through LinkedIn and finding opportunities at any job of your choice. Imagine the freedom to choose your next employer and negotiate your own salary. This is the power that LinkedIn can bring to you.

Try our 7 Days of LinkedIn Challenge for 2 weeks,  and comment below to share your results!

 

The Correct Response to a Job Lead

 

"Using Three Laptops at the Same Time" by Michael Kwan from Flickr

“Using Three Laptops at the Same Time” by Michael Kwan from Flickr

“Your network is your net worth.” This succinct phrase is the title of Porter Gale’s book. Gale, a marketing expert and public speaker, argues in her book that a network of personal and professional relationships is the most important asset in a portfolio. Think about it. Over 80% of jobs are unadvertised and obtained through networking. Your network connections can help you obtain job leads and even land a job. When someone in your network produces a job lead for you, your response matters. How you respond to a job lead can mean the difference between discouraging your lead sources, and successfully capitalizing on a lead. In order to capitalize on a lead, it is important to make a smart inquiry about the quality of the lead. Not every lead is a good match for your qualifications, so it is critical to learn more about the source of the lead and the potential job.

There is an important distinction between a job lead and an introduction offer. If someone in your network offers to introduce you to someone, do not decline the opportunity. There could be synergy between you and the other party, and a conversation might lead to a job opportunity. People are the ultimate connectors. You won’t know if there’s an opportunity until you have a meeting. Graciously accept the introduction offer, attend the meeting and follow up with your source. Feel free to ask your source questions about the party you’re meeting with to attend the meeting fully prepared. An introduction is a direct invitation to establishing a relationship with someone at a potential employer. A job lead is the knowledge of an open position, and when you can establish a relationship with hiring managers you increase your odds of being chosen as the candidate who gets the offer.

Gauge how much the person knows about the source and quality of the information they’ve given you. If it is a job lead, and not an introduction, you’ll have to dig deep and research the lead. Not every job lead is created equally. Your source may or may not be intimately familiar with the lead or the position. He or she may have been approached by a recruiter, declined the offer and decided to forward the position information to you. This doesn’t mean the employer is incompatible with your personal criteria. Your lead source may not have been not been actively looking for a job, or the position may not have fit their personal criteria. Knowing that you’re looking to make a transition, your source decided to be helpful and pass the information on to you.

If your source forwarded a lead and doesn’t know much about the company, avoid bombarding them with questions about the position. In other words, don’t make them answer the same questions you would ask of someone more familiar with the position. Go directly to the source. If the source leads you to a company website or job board, go to LinkedIn to learn more about the company and to discover if you have any possible inside connections. Next week I will go further into depth about the top ten websites you can use to research your employer.

Before you consider making a connection with someone at the company, thoroughly research the organization. Your research will help you get further in your ability to market yourself and demonstrate your value. The job position could be a perfect match for your qualifications and skills, but the company culture or its location may be a poor fit. Here are few questions to consider:

 

  • Where is the company located? You may or may not be open to the idea of relocating to another town or city.

 

  • What is the size of the company? If you’ve previously worked at a small employer, switching to a large employer could be a major culture shock, and vice versa.
  • What do employees think of their employer? If a good number of employees are miserable at the job, it may be a place you want to stay far away from.
  • Why do think you’ll be a good fit for the position? This question can also generate great content for a cover letter. Take notes as you discover your answers.

 

Look up a company’s profile on LinkedIn to discover answers to your questions.  Job review sites such as Vault and Glassdoor are more ways to obtain insight about a potential employer. Visit Salary.com and PayScale to learn more about an average salary for the open position at your employer. These are good resources for gathering salary range information based on your job title, skills and education level. Once you’ve researched a potential employer it’s time make a decision.

If you find that the company meets about 80% of your criteria, create a connection within the company. Go to LinkedIn to see who you may know. If possible, try to identify the most logical hiring managers. Once you find the hiring managers, send out customized invitations. Avoid sending out boilerplate invitations, and use the information you gathered about the hiring managers to introduce yourself. Before you send out those invitations, make your LinkedIn profile as appealing as possible. I’ve written extensively on the subject.  Avoid using default headlines and make sure your profile is more than just an online résumé. When you send an invitation to hiring managers, the point is not to directly ask for a job, but to be the answer to the open position. Think of it like this, the company needs to fill an open position to solve a problem within the company. You want to be the first solution that comes to mind.

If the position does not meet 80% of your criteria and you were referred, follow through with the interview and be upfront with a hiring manager. Let him or her know that the job opportunity presented after an introduction isn’t a fit for you. This honesty can lead to better opportunities down the road. When that potential employer has an open position that matches your qualifications and needs to be filled, either internally or referred, your name may be on the top of the candidate list. Focus on your preferred contribution and the types of positions that are in alignment with your skills and qualifications.  If the real issue with a job is a lifestyle conflict, let the hiring manager know. Express to them how you appreciate the time and effort they took to consider you for a position, but it isn’t a good fit with your lifestyle. For example, longer hours at a potential job may leave you unable to pick up your children from school or daycare in a timely manner. Or, the commute may be too long.

 

Always follow through with your source. They took the time to send information for a possible lead, thank them, and update them on what happened. They have a vested interest in the outcome and will want to know if it worked out. This is the best way to reinforce with your network that the efforts that they make on your behalf are not in vain. If, however, too many job leads they send seem to be wrong, they will get discouraged. Give them a little guidance, if necessary, but always with sincere gratitude.

Making a smart inquiry about the lead, and being responsive to your source can be the difference between discouraging them from ever sending you a lead again and receiving more job leads. Again, thank them for their time and research the lead. Your research will enable you to decide if pursuing an open position is worth your time. You can also use your research to put yourself ahead of the competition by crafting a customized cover letter. Learn how to use your research to get immediate responses from employers with our cover letter secret sauce. Above all, gratitude and research is the best response to a job lead.

 

Stop Treating LinkedIn Like An Online Résumé

Photo courtesy of www.flazingo.com/creativecommons.

Photo courtesy of www.flazingo.com/creativecommons.

Are you using your LinkedIn profile as an online résumé?  In other words, does your profile reflect a personal brand you’ve carefully crafted, or does it just mirror your résumé? You know as a professional you need to have a presence on LinkedIn. You created an account, made a few connections, and copied a few items from your résumé to create your profile. In fact, you used so much material from your résumé that it is impossible to distinguish it from your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile deserves to be so much more. A résumé is a document that reflects your past experiences and is meant to be seen by future employers. In contrast, a LinkedIn profile is a vital part of your online presence and is meant to be seen by a much wider audience. It should compliment your résumé in an exciting and engaging way.

Your LinkedIn profile is different from your résumé

Let’s imagine a scenario for just a moment. You have been using your LinkedIn profile as little more than an online résumé tool, and a hiring manager comes across your profile. You have already sent them your résumé as part of a job application, and they decided to Google you. Imagine their disappointment as your LinkedIn profile is exactly the same as your résumé. Or, on the flipside, they’ve seen your LinkedIn profile and ask for your résumé. Again, both your résumé and your profile are indistinguishable. This redundancy isn’t helpful because that potential employer won’t learn anything new about you, and you’ve done very little to set yourself apart from other job candidates. A redundant LinkedIn profile is also a major missed opportunity to show employers, connections, and others members of your online audience how unique and interesting you are as a professional. It’s a chance to allow people into the back story of who you are. Help them visualize what it’s like to speak and work with you.

Your résumé is concise, is customized for your potential employer, and is designed to show an employer how you are uniquely qualified for their opportunity. You can’t include all of your past work experiences, recommendations from others, or general interests. In short, your résumé needs to be laser-focused on a specific role, and on a specific employer. However, your LinkedIn profile can include all of your work experience, recommendations and interests. A good profile allows you to weave an engaging professional narrative that showcases your personal brand far beyond your résumé.

Use your LinkedIn Profile to dazzle your audience

LinkedIn should compliment your résumé by being a creative vehicle that illustrates your professional life. Every aspect of your profile should enhance your personal brand. If you’re using the default headline, ditch it. I previously wrote about the importance of strong headlines in my article titled “Increase views: Ditch the default LinkedIn headline.” The experiences section is an opportunity to list vital keywords that will attract the attention of job recruiters. I covered the importance of carefully using keywords in another article, “Use Keywords With Care or Beware.” The summary is where you can exercise the most creative freedom. In contrast to your résumé, you are allowed to talk about yourself in the first-person. Use this section of your LinkedIn profile to breathe life into your experiences, skills and professional achievements.

You don’t want your profile summary to come off as trite and uninteresting. These types of summaries are often subjective and vague. Just think of a profile summary filled with boring buzzwords shaken up in a bag, poured out into a pile, and arranged in the semblance of a paragraph. Here’s an example of a profile summary filed with cliché words pulled right out of a résumé:

“A dynamic individual with great leadership skills who is highly organized. A proven track record of accomplishments and great teamwork. An effective communicator with a strong business sense and a can-do attitude…”

Most career consultants and recruiters viewing this LinkedIn profile would be tempted to close the page quickly as they stifled a yawn. I believe a person with such a profile is capable of so much more than a lifeless summary. Don’t fall into the trap of creating a boring paragraph of buzzwords. Tell your audience a captivating story. Here’s an example of a more engaging profile summary:

“From a young age the phrase, ‘Shoot for the stars,’ has always caught my attention. It spoke to the core belief that I should never do anything half-heartedly. If I’m going to do something, whether it is professionally or personally, I’m going to go above and beyond anyone else.

‘I have over a decade of experience managing large IT projects, and leading large teams to success. Under my leadership, members of my team knew exactly what was expected of them. The results of our projects were some of the best in the industry…”

This type of profile summary captures a reader’s attention and gently invites them to learn more about you. In short, it compliments your actual résumé and adds a new level of distinction to your online presence. Earlier, I mentioned a hiring manager coming across your LinkedIn profile. Now imagine their delight as they read a captivating profile that brings a new dimension to your résumé.

The point is to captivate your audience and polish your personal brand to until it shines. Again, your résumé is a brief account of your job qualifications, while your LinkedIn profile is a living part of your online presence. It is a compliment to an already great résumé. Your audience should be entranced by your profile, and should want to connect with you. A redundant LinkedIn profile that mirrors your résumé is a wasted opportunity. Unveil your brilliance by showing your online audience just how creative and interesting your professional life is!

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Missed Opportunity

1988 Music Video for Missed Opportunity

I am NOT a rock; I am NOT an island

Outer_Aleutian_Islands_NASA_Goddard_Photo_and_Video

Outer_Aleutian_Islands_NASA_Goddard_Photo_and_Video

You’ll never hear an authentically successful person say, “I did it all by myself,” because it’s not true.

 

Probably about 5% of the referrals that I know of from my clients, partners, and friends and family actually follow up – not even for a free résumé and campaign evaluation. There are far too many people from going around without direction, without insight on how to use the tools available to get the best results, insistent that they do it all by themselves. An equally small percentage of these people may get lucky and find a good opportunity in spite of this. It is disheartening to know, however, that the vast majority of these people will be losing income and may potentially have to settle for a job that under-utilizes their talent,  leaves them unfulfilled, and under pays them for their true value. Another fraction of these people will fall into an abyss that they may never escape, not because they’re not able to, but because over time it will be harder; they’ll be less likely to believe that there’s any hope of getting out.

 

The most common fatal mistake that these people make is not asking for help. (If you are asking for help and you’re not getting it, please see my YouTube vlog, Get Interviews Through Your Network – The #1 Key Ingredient Most People Are Missing.)

 

The percentage of jobs filled through job boards and newspaper ads is probably even lower then the data suggests. The year before LinkedIn emerged,  job boards were responsible for less than 1% of jobs filled! Do you think the numbers going up or down?

 

According to Jobvite, employees are hired through referrals start 16 days sooner than those found on career sites, and 40% of all hires came from employee referrals.

 

I know better than anybody that there is a lot psychologically and emotionally that can inhibit people from trying to attain the utmost success. Especially in recent years, I have learned a lot about how we form beliefs about herself and the world. These beliefs are not easily reconciled. It is why there is a 1%. It’s the reason for the 80/20 rule.

 

My old boss will say I’m a dreamer, I’m not the only one. In fact, and in the past month I might’ve met my professional soulmate, who I hope to join in a collaborative mission to revolutionize careering and hiring, eliminate the unemployment crisis and establish proof of professional utopia. Okay, utopia is a strong word, but if you shoot for the stars, you just might hit the moon, right?

 

Into 2006 when I started this business, I was one of the only LinkedIn trainers for jobseekers and recruiters. Into 2010 after attempting dive back in after having a baby, LinkedIn trainers were a dime a dozen. In that short amount of time, LinkedIn had changed and evolved; I need to remaster it. Before I got back into speaking and training on LinkedIn, I wanted to see if perhaps, considering with my new work-at-home lifestyle, somebody else might have been doing a better and I could just partner with them to provide my clients with the best training available. I watched a lot of different presentations on LinkedIn from professionals of all walks of life. Jason Alba was one of my favorites, and I thought his introductions to LinkedIn and social media were user-friendly, and easy-to-follow. The tools were practical and I use them with a few of my clients to complement the coaching that I was giving them on how to manage their time, activities and resources. There was a few critical ingredients that I saw were necessary to arm the job seeker with all of the tools necessary to achieve epic success. One starts with the most important ingredient of a successful career – passion! You can do any number of tactics to land a job, but if you really want to be strategic about your career, you have to identify the source of your passion and use it as a fuel. Jason had encouraged me to distinguish my flavor of LinkedIn training by promoting the recruiting perspective.  Well, I did see some presentations by recruiters on LinkedIn, which represented the traditional recruiting standpoint –  make candidates as marketable to as many positions as possible. That is a tactic for making candidates placeable, but it is not an effective career management strategy. It does not take into consideration what the actual next best step is for an individual. It is absolutely helpful for jobseekers understand how recruiters and companies are using LinkedIn and other social media to find the right candidate. That’s Marketing 101. However, I wholeheartedly disagree that a job seeker should be planning their career around the most attainable job. From my perspective, after coaching people through the best practices of career transitioning for over 10 years, I’m prone to believing that most any job is attainable, so people should be pursuing the job they want most.

 

Rather than compete with all of those folks who had greater availability than I to make public appearances and promote their expertise, I developed a free 90-minute webinar prerecorded that I made available on my own website. With my time for my business cut in half (by choice to stay at home with my kids), I didn’t put in the time that was necessary to get this webinar to a wide audience and help as many people as I’d like to. Fast forward a couple years, my daughter is now four and I have a two-year-old. My mission of helping people harness the power of social media  to optimize their careers and their income is no less vivid that was before. In fact, now that I have the future of these two little girls to think about, I am even more driven to make an impact that contributes to a revolution in careering and hiring.

 

I’m playing a big game, and what I need to make this vision come to fruition is  – help. I’ve had to ask for help quite a bit along the way, and through the practice of intention, network nurturing, and the application of the laws of success, help has manifested. A man on the west coast who has made far more progress on the same mission found me through LinkedIn, and I’m very excited to watch this collaboration take shape. I’m not sure exactly what it will look like, but he has designed what I consider to be a best-in-class LinkedIn course that has all the components that I see is being critical to your utmost success.

 

I always said that if I found somebody was doing it better, I’d let them take the reins. I don’t know if I’d say he’s better (; ^), but he is definitely doing it right, and he’s really quite an amazing inspiration with a lot of power and resources behind him, including me.

 

I hope you don’t see this blog as an advertisement, but rather an endorsement of a product and a person that I believe can help you achieve what you really want for your life and your future. So far, I have done a good bit of research on him, and the deeper I go, the more impressed I am. He’s the real deal. I think he will be the first household name associated with employment empowerment. He is Ron Nash. As of this moment, I get no kickbacks or commissions for promoting him or his products. Though, don’t be surprised if that changes, since it would be a dumb entrepreneurial move to spend my time or resources promoting a product I believe in without benefiting from a surge in profits.

 

I don’t know what the future holds between my company and his, but, as I mentioned in my last post, life can sometimes be way too short, and I don’t want to wait to share this with you. Your future is waiting.

 

Will a LinkedIn upgrade help you drive more business?

Linkedin pen by Sheila Scarborough of Flickr

Linkedin pen by Sheila Scarborough of Flickr

Jamie asks:

I need to find a way to drive more business. Is a LinkedIn subscription worth it? It seems like a lot of money. If they charged half the regular rate, I might pull the trigger.

Suggestions?

 

Our response:

Jamie,

If you use LinkedIn based its purpose and best practices, you don’t need a subscription. It is a networking tool, and enables you to expand your network while offering you expanded visibility of your network’s network. The term “network” implies that you have some kind of relationship your connections. The best way to get to know someone new is to have someone you already know well make a warm introduction. LinkedIn is the best tool available to facilitate this.

It is a slow and steady process intended to produce quality leads as opposed to a high quantity of leads, though momentum can take as little as two weeks to increase from below a 5 (on a 10-scale from low to high) to above a 5.

If you want to use LinkedIn as a lead generation tool, you want to make sure that you can be found and that your content is rich in keywords used IN CONTEXT, in addition to a completed skills list. Increase your visibility by engaging with the community and using features, such as status updates and group discussions, to give assistance and valuable information to your network. Once visitors find your profile, you then have to ensure that your LinkedIn profile gives them insight into what it is like to work with you, what contribution your are driven to make, and what kind of impact that has on a companies and individuals. Tell people what you can do to help them and make sure they know how to help you.

Since your LinkedIn profile shows up very high in google results when someone searches for your name, even if someone finds your information on other sites or is referred to you by a friend or colleague, you can be certain most will check out your LinkedIn profile to qualify you and look for clues as to what kind of common ground you might have with them or values you share.

Our free webinar, Learning LinkedIn in 7 Days, breaks out in more detail how to develop your LinkedIn profile to present your brand powerfully to your target audience and how to use the features for lead generation and network nurturing. Also, an added value of investing in our webinar, Insider Edge to Social Media – 3 Success Secrets to Getting Hired, is a comprehensive review of the Business and Job Seeker upgrade packages.

Thank you for your question, Jamie. I hope this information helps you unveil your brilliance!