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How to Deal with Trolls Now That You’ve Gone Viral

Image by Johnny Silvercloud via Flickr. Some rights reserved. https://bit.ly/2Gfznjz

Image by Johnny Silvercloud via Flickr. Some rights reserved. https://bit.ly/2Gfznjz

Some people prefer to stay private, and I can’t blame them; putting yourself out there makes you a target for hateful, argumentative people. And it’s 100x worse now to be visible and on social media than it was in the 2000s. The climate online can be downright toxic. That might legitimately stop you from using social media at all, let alone promoting yourself.

I know that I and probably many, many other branding experts and coaches are advising you to promote your thought leadership and expertise and to find ways to demonstrate your value online, but I also know that if you do that, the possibility exists that you may have to deal other people’s opinions about what you write, and that can be friendly and adult-like in nature or it can be downright uncivil.

Why would someone subject themselves to that?

Well, for any of the following reasons (and you may have your own – please share!):

1)     You have a mission. There is some big change you would like to contribute to and it requires sharing information that is new, in opposition to a dominant paradigm, and/or potentially scary, but the few that you reach are worth the potentially many who will protest and the high emotional fall-out.

2)     There is something you learned that can save many from pain and/or loss.

3)     You intend to be or are a speaker, thought leader, and expert who is sought out by others, and the desire to put your career on autopilot is worth dealing with others’ comments

4)     You are able to focus on the good that can come from it, and the people with whom you will resonate and connect. 

5)     The potential for income that can generate from online activity is worth it.

Like anything, the payoff has to exceed the pain or price.

If you have a friendly worldview, then the payoff is the people. You will love hearing from people and watching them engage in your content. You’ll naturally want to engage back with those who are friendly, but avoid those who are negative.

If you don’t, you will dread comments. You may be more apt to respond to and focus on the trolls than the people who were receptive to your content.

You could be in between, which is a balance worth achieving if you’re going to put yourself out there.

I have enjoyed several articles and a couple videos going viral, and have responded to various kinds of comments from grateful, to creepy, to friendly oppositions, to personal insults, to death threats.

Below are some policies I follow because they tend to enable me to continue enjoying sharing content with the world, even if it is a world divided:

  • Be intentional about what I want my audience to experience, and have it be something positive: Hope, relief, peace of mind, prevention, wisdom, fun, etc.
  • Stay in that emotional place when I write.
  • Re-read it from that same emotional place and edit anything that feels out of alignment.
  • Watch for immediate engagement, and thank, respond to each individual.
  • When the comments start pouring in, batch my time responding to them.
  • Thank those who have positive feedback or are sharing.
  • Engage those who left vague feedback – ask them to share more.
  • Engage those who left negative feedback – not from a confrontational place, but from a curious place – seek to understand before seeking to be understood.
    • If negative feedback includes personal insults, name calling, I either attempt to disarm the troll or I block the individual.
    • If the negative feedback includes threats or sexually-charged content, I report the content. I have even notified an individual’s hometown police department when one comment threatened suicide.
    • If engagement continues, aim to explain my point of view once in as few characters as possible.
    • Do not engage further. If there’s more to get off my chest, I write it down – only for me. I let it sit overnight and only consider sharing it if doing so supports my initial intention for sharing the content in the first place.
    • I don’t block or report individuals to be spiteful. I aim actually to avoid reacting emotionally to anyone’s negative posts. Bullies want an emotional reaction, because it gives them some sense of control/influence. I will weigh very carefully if I can disarm a troll.

You could say trolls are generally naysayers, small-minded thinkers, resistant and stubborn, miserable and just wanting to spread their misery to others.

Or you could accept that trolls are in some pain and need an outlet. Social media makes for easy targets. Hurt people hurt people.  One way to disarm a troll is actually to show them compassion.  I love the story of comedienne Sarah Silverman changing the worldview of the man who tried to troll her.

I may not always feel like I have the emotional fortitude to go down the rabbit hole with someone trying to spew negativity. I also haven’t got time for the pain. I could really let it get to me, but I spent far too many years letting what other people thought of me bring me down. I sometimes have to decide I’m better off not letting it in.

At other times, I feel invincible and impervious to letting other people bring me down. I’ll do what I can to help other people feel that good.

By all means, I resist the temptation to vilify someone else. Attempting to make someone else look bad doesn’t align with who I really want to be, and it just makes me look and feel worse. 

You may or may not be able to change some people’s minds, but you won’t change everyone’s mind. Know when to pull back your energy from the effort of defending who you are or what you think or feel. Consider re-applying that energy.

If you let trolls silence you, you are giving them that power. Far too many solutions are stifled by the fear of what others might think of them.  Nothing worth inventing was ever unanimously supported. You don’t need everyone to like you, and you don’t need everyone to “get it.”  If you’re going to leverage social media, it’s better to accept that not everyone will like you.

Social media may close the gap between you and people you wouldn’t want to know, but it also opens you up to the people and resources that can actually help you put your brilliance to work toward a meaningful contribution. 

Ultimately, if you choose to receive the benefits of the visibility a viral social media post or video can give you, there are ways to manage trolls.

Social media has the potential to make us or break us. Know what you want, and determine what you’re willing to endure to get it.  

If you do decide to share, you are taking on the responsibility of the responses it generates. Use these best practices:

  • Engagement is a good measure of good content, so welcome commentary and reward your audience with your acknowledgment. 
  • When you have a high volume of people respond, batch your time and prioritize comments to respond to based on your original intention.
  • If you have an emotional reaction, write out your feelings just for YOU first. Let that simmer for 24 hours and only include in your response what aligns with your original intention of what you want your audience to feel, learn or experience.
  • Do not engage with a troll past 2 responses – the first to understand, the second to be understood.
  • Digital responsibility means creating a safe space for people to share, so consider using blocking or reporting features if someone threatens the safety of your (or their) space.
  • Take the high road. Rarely does dropping the mic workout online. Someone always tends to pick up the mic right after you and keep the discussion going.
  • Leverage viral visibility by inviting people to engage offline.  

Peter Gabriel – Big Time

The official Big Time video. Directed by Stephen R. Johnson. The fourth single to be taken from Peter’s fifth studio album. The album was his first one to have a proper title and So was a watershed release in his career.

How to Handle Recruiters Wanting to Connect

Image by Jayne K. via Flickr. Some rights reserved. https://bit.ly/2I46fhg

Image by Jayne K. via Flickr. Some rights reserved. https://bit.ly/2I46fhg

(A follow up to: 4 Things You Can Do on LinkedIn to Attract Recruiters)

If you follow my advice from the last post, it won’t be long before you see people you don’t know, including recruiters, sending you invitations to connect.

So, should you accept them?

Here is LinkedIn’s recommendation: “We strongly recommend that you only accept invitations to connect from people you know. You can control who can send you invitations from the Communications section of your Settings & Privacy page.”

LinkedIn Open Networkers (LIONs) subscribe to the school of thought that more connections are better.  LinkedIn will cap you at 30,000 first-degree connections.

The choices you have for who can send you invitations include:

  • Everyone on LinkedIn (recommended).
  • Only people who know your email address or appear in your “Imported Contacts” list.
  • Only people who appear in your “Imported Contacts” list.

First, let me explain why LinkedIn recommends that you stay open to receive invitations from anyone, but only accept those from people you know.

The original intention of LinkedIn is to keep track of who you know, and who they know, and who they know.  The idea we are all separated by no more than six degrees of separation began in 1929 by a Hungarian author who wrote a short story about network theory. That later compelled social psychologist Stanley Milgram to conduct experiments in the 1960’s. And Columbia University experiments in 2003 confirmed the theory.  So, anyone you might want to meet in this whole wide world is no more than 6 introductions away.

Furthermore, researchers from Tufts and Stony Brook University concluded that while stronger connections are more likely to offer help, your weaker connections are more likely to actually help you land a job.

So, it’s not just who you know. It’s who they know, and who they know.

Notice the “know” part of that. What does it take to really “know” someone? Ask 10 different people, and you will probably get 10 different answers.

It’s up to you to determine what you would need to know or how long you would need to know a person before you really KNOW them. I recommend thinking of it this way: figure out what you need to know about a new connection in order to feel confident introducing them to VIPs in your own network.  This means asking new connections very meaningful questions.

Yes, that is my recommendation – get strangers on the phone and get to know each other before you connect.

When it comes to recruiters, some are transactional and some are relational.  A transactional recruiter wants you in their talent community either for a job requirement they are currently trying to fill or because they expect they will someday have a job requirement for which you might be a candidate. A relational recruiter may ask you to connect for the same reasons, but they get that you are a person, not just a candidate, and that building rapport and potentially a relationship will serve the highest good of everyone: themselves, you, your network, their clients, and their network. They see networking as an investment that enriches their professional experience and produces opportunities that can positively impact multiple lives.

Do either or both sound like people you might want to have in your network? A transactional recruiter may not produce as much value for you as a relational recruiter, but you still may land a job through one. 

How a recruiter is compensated and how their performance is measured may influence whether a recruiter works as transactional or relational. If job metrics dictate that they have to make 100 calls per day and interview 10 candidates in person per week, a metric I had previously as a recruiter, taking time to get to know candidates, especially those I can’t place NOW, seems like an unwise investment of time, even if that’s what I really want to do. Recruiters may flip from being transactional to being relational, and vice versa, when changing from one firm to another. Some relational recruiters will only work where the model supports investing time in building long-term relationships because they find transactional networking to be empty and unfulfilling.

So, once you decide what your standards are for people from whom you accept their invitation, the next step is to speak offline. LinkedIn removed the feature that allowed you to reply to all invitations, now you can only reply to those who have sent you a customized note (and if you read this at any point in the future, that may or may not be the case.)

Once you have decided you want to know a person inviting you to connect,  click on their name to visit their profile and message them, by clicking the “Message” icon just right of the “Accept” button. Send a message something along these lines:

“Hi. Thank you for the invitation to connect. Are you open to getting better acquainted offline? I’d like to understand what your mission is and what kind of invitations would be most impactful to you right now in fulfilling it.”

I include my number to put the ball in their court, but you may not be comfortable with that. Instead you can offer them 3 days/times you have 20-30 minutes free, ask them for their number and to confirm a time.

Not everyone who calls me is going to become a connection. If someone starts to sell me on something right away, I think twice.  I consider myself fairly intuitive, and I can feel a person out. My most important qualification for someone joining my network is if their values are aligned with mine. Meaning, will they be ethical, considerate and respectful?

Of course, when I receive an invitation that I’m going to consider, I check out their recent activity and see what they have been commenting on, liking, and sharing. I read their recommendations and see if they have given any. If they are generally adding value, I’ll be inclined to accept the invitation after speaking.

Notice, I still want to speak with them, mostly because I want to know they are willing to speak to and invest the time with me.  If they’re not, there’s a high probability this person will not prove valuable to my network.

When I speak with them I rely on my intuition and make the conversation organic, but to give you ideas of my thought process:  

  • I might ask them about something specific in their profile.
  • I’ll get their thoughts on a prevalent challenge in their industry or a current event.
  • I’ll ask them what they want most to happen in the next 12 months.
  • I’ll share something personal about myself and see if they reciprocate.

The questions you ask are best if they help you determine if the person meets the criteria you have established for making connections. I don’t necessarily need someone to think like me, agree with me, or share my worldview, though that’s great when that happens. Again, for me it’s really about feeling out how they would treat someone I care about if I were to make an introduction.

I set the intention for these calls that, if it seems like someone I’m going to add to my network, we determine right off the bat something we can do for each other – either an introduction, sharing an article or resource, or giving advice. Ask recruiters what is hot on their plate right now; what candidates do they need to present right now. Then, take at least one proactive measure to try to source that candidate in your network, if you don’t have a referral off the top of your head.

Creating this value right off the bat turns an acquaintance into a partner in success. When you have many partners in success, you don’t have to work as hard to achieve goals, so while the investment of time may seem heavy on the front end, it’s really a time and productivity hack.

Happy connecting! 

Connection

Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group North America Connection · The Rolling Stones Between The Buttons ℗ ℗ 2002 ABKCO Music & Records Inc. Released on: 2002-01-01 Producer: Andrew Loog Oldham Recording Arranger: The Rolling Stones Author, Composer: Mick Jagger Author, Composer: Keith Richards Music Publisher: Onward Music Ltd.

4 Things You Can Do on LinkedIn to Attract Recruiters

Photo by petrOlly via Flickr. Some rights reserved. https://bit.ly/1Q5hzp0

Photo by petrOlly via Flickr. Some rights reserved.

(Upcoming posts: How To Handle Recruiters Wanting To Connect, How To Deal With Trolls Now That You’ve Gone Viral)

In case you weren’t aware already, recruiters use LinkedIn to find, qualify, and engage with talent for open positions. I can’t confirm an actual statistic, but one study reported in 2016 that 84% of recruiters use LinkedIn to recruit while another study from March 2018 reported that 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates. I believe them both.

From the 2017 Jobvite Recruiter Nation Report, below are the top three positive factors that impact a recruiter’s decision to move forward with a candidate.

  1. Examples of written or design work (65%)
  2. Engagement in volunteering, mentoring, or non-profits (63%)
  3. Mutual connections (35%)

So, if you want to be visible and desirable to recruiters as part (not all) of your job search plan, below are four things you can do to increase your chances.

Please be advised that companies report their highest quality candidates come from external recruiters only 7% of the time, and 26% report that their lowest quality candidates come from external recruiters. So, allocate your time investment in recruiters to be about 10% of your efforts. Contact us to learn what to do with the other 90% of your time.

The good news is the efforts below will not only make you attractive to external recruiters, but also internal recruiters and, even better yet, hiring managers.

  1. Follow and engage with recruiters and industry leaders who are active on LinkedIn.

By active, I mean they post regular status updates, like and comment on others’ posts, and have 500+ connections.

When you follow them, their updates will show up on your homepage feed. But, when you follow a lot of people and companies, algorithms will govern your homepage feed so that you only see status updates with strong engagement predominantly. In other words, their posts will only show up in your news feed if others have been engaging with those posts (popular posts).

You will also want to make sure you follow companies on your target company list and internal recruiters, HR leaders, and thought leaders (who are active.) Some that I follow:

  • Lauren McDonald
  • Adam Karpiak
  • Shaun Hervey
  • Ken Lubin
  • Tabith Trent Cavanaugh
  • Brigette Hyacinth
  • Kevin Wheeler
  • Lou Adler

Once you follow, you must engage! You can help them gain more visibility by liking their posts, which then adds their post to your networks’ home feed and lists that activity to your profile under recent activity. However, if you want to gain visibility with them or within their network, comment thoughtfully. Asking additional insightful questions will generate the most visibility.

Spend 15-20 minutes doing this daily and you will see the amount of your profile views go up. The amount of invitations or followers you receive will be more reflective of the quality of your posts, versus the quantity. I recommend you focus on what you say rather than how frequently you say it.

We’ll discuss in a later post what to do when recruiters you don’t know invite you to connect.

  1. Add people to your network weekly.

Start by expanding who you think SHOULD be in your network. The obvious people are former or current co-workers, supervisors, vendors, and customers. Some people focus solely on people in their industry or professional realm, but this is a mistake. People don’t operate in industry vacuums. Think of anyone you are on a first name basis with who, if they asked you, you would not hesitate to make an introduction on their behalf. This could be neighbors, fellow soccer parents, doctors and dentists, event planners, attorneys, accountants, etc.  Every time you leave your house, think about “the people that you meet each day.”

If you fewer than 200 connections, aim to add 20 each week by inviting 50. If you have at least 200 quality connections (meaning you know them at least as an acquaintance, if not better), and you feel that you have added all of the above-mentioned people, start seeking out those who are commenting on posts of interest to you. It’s the easiest way to connect and customize your invitation message: “I saw your comment/post on >>>> and thought it was really insightful. I’d like to know more about what kind of introductions would be the most impactful to you right now. Do you have 20 minutes or so to get better acquainted offline? My number is…..”

Then, of course, wait for them to accept or perhaps respond, and follow up to schedule an introductory phone call, a lunch or happy hour, or invite them to an event you will be attending and ask them to meet a bit earlier.

  1. Start posting quality content.

What is a quality post? One that exhibits your expertise, but also initiates a discussion that others want to engage.

You have two options for posting content on LinkedIn, and I recommend using them both to some capacity.

The first option is your status update:

You enter this right from the top of your homepage. You have 600 characters here, unless you want to cross-post to Twitter, in which case you have 140 characters. A highly engaging status update now has the potential to go viral even more so than publishing posts, as long as people engage. Engagement will extend the “shelf life” of your post, so your goal is to get people to like and share it.

Think about some of the pains your industry experiences, trends impacting it, and challenges of implementing solutions.  Find ways to resonate and empathize with your future employer. Don’t give away all your proprietary expertise, but definitely share the great outcomes to which you have contributed. Tell stories. Express your personality, which will promote you not only as a qualified candidate, but one who would potentially fit in with a company’s culture. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone. Not everyone will give you an offer. You only need one great offer (though we can help you generate momentum that produces multiple offers.)
Read each post out loud twice and have someone else proofread it twice before you put it out there.

We’ll discuss in a later post what to do about trolls. Don’t let them stop you from getting great content out into the world.

The second option is publishing posts:

These are essentially like blogs or articles. They are usually longer (500-800 words) and include keywords. While the “shelf life” of these are longer (they will be associated with your profile either indefinitely, or until LinkedIn decides to change that), they become hard to find unless engagement continues.

They can sometimes be picked up and promoted by LinkedIn. I recommend also sharing through your status update, to individuals who may want to chime in on the comments, and in groups (read and follow all group rules; some don’t want you to self-promote or direct people outside of a discussion thread.)

Think carefully about your titles and try to think about what someone might be experiencing, wanting, or wanting to avoid.

  1. Volunteer and add your experience to your profile.

The better volunteering opportunities are the ones that enable you to interact with people and work on a team. Perhaps you can even be the one that organizes a community event. You might want to start with professional organizations in your industry. See if they have events coming up at which you can volunteer.

I encourage you to choose an organization that has meaning for you. It may or may not lead to you meeting someone who can open a door of opportunity for you, but it is really one of the best ways to remember how valuable you can be for others. And at the same time, helping others less fortunate than you will remind you of your own blessings.

As expressed above, a tertiary benefit is how favorable recruiters look upon this type of activity.

You may also opt to add a post related to that non-profit or volunteer activity and tag others involved to bring them added visibility, as well. Besides professional organizations and non-profits in your community, another place you can go to find volunteering opportunities is volunteermatch.org.

Watch for upcoming posts related to this topic:  How To Handle Recruiters Wanting To Connect, and How To Deal With Trolls Now That You’ve Gone Viral.

See Me, Feel Me / Listening To You

Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group North America See Me, Feel Me / Listening To You · Roger Daltrey Tommy ℗ 2000 Polydor Inc. Released on: 2000-01-01 Producer: Pete Townshend Producer: Ken Russell Author, Composer: Pete Townshend Music Publisher: ABKCO Music Inc. Music Publisher: Fabulous Music Music Publisher: Fabulous Music Ltd.

Dear Soon-To-Be Graduates: The Last 2 of 7 Things You May Not Want to Know, But Need To

Graduation Day by MD Saad Andalib of Flickr

The big day is arriving soon, dear graduates.  You will be a full-fledged member of the “real world.”

Some of you are ready, while others are scared to death. The difference between the two groups is outlook. The ones who are ready perceive the real world will be able to offer them more than childhood or college life, such as independence and self-reliance.

I considered myself in the other group – the scared group. I perceived that the real world was harsh, and success was not necessarily dependent on my effort and talent, but on my aggressiveness, competitiveness, and self-preservation.

This was so unappealing to me, and I did not feel very powerful or self-reliant. As the youngest child and only girl, I was taught to be afraid of the world, that there are situations and places I should avoid, like the city. At nearly 40-years-old, my father still worries about me going to the city. He thinks I’m naïve. I’m not – I receive alerts of assaults where I go to work in the city every week. I grew in my awareness of a self-limiting belief that was formed by this conditioning and decided it was not truthful. I did not have to let other people take opportunities that the city offered so that I could stay safe in my suburb – which is equally untruthful.

There were a number of things I perceived about the real world that limited my early career growth, and one that I did not realize, but got lucky and unlucky in how things worked out.  Here are two things that I want to share with you that might have made a big difference to me, had I known them.

  1. The demands of life will become greater; enjoy yourself, but put in the effort to be a reliable performer.

It is very hard to help you form a realistic expectation of how limited your freedom will be once you settle in to family life, if that is the life you choose. Some may express resentment, in fact, for how free you are. As long as your personal activities do not interfere with your professional obligations, take advantage of this time in your life – travel, socialize, be civically engaged, volunteer, delve into your passions – whatever they are.

Attend conferences and make great new contacts. Maintaining relationships will become more challenging, even if you do not choose a family life, because OTHER people will, and that will limit their availability and freedom to connect. The more you connect and engage with people now, the stronger your bonds will be, and the easier it will be to reconnect with people after some time passes. You may not see some of your best friends more than once a year. This is okay, but do not give up on people because they become busy. In fact, it will take more effort as you age, but it is just as necessary, maybe even more so, to maintain these relationships.

Keep your word – it is your key to long-term success. If you say you are going to do something, deliver. Last week I shared how as you grow older it will seem harder to procure the help of others, because people generally grow more skeptical, if not cynical. However, if you have impressed people as a person of your word, and you come through for people (if they are given proper direction and inspiration), they will be more apt to come through for you, too. Making an extra effort on someone else’s behalf requires time. Many perceive time as a resource they already lack. To make it an effort they are willing to make, you have to be WORTH the effort. Use your youth to establish yourself as a person worthy of the effort of others. Remember to express gratitude to those who invest their time helping you grow and develop. Look for ways to give that value back and pay it forward.

  1. It will become less acceptable for you to not know what you want as years pass.

As you gain professional experience, it is expected that you will discover what you like and do not like in terms of role, culture, boss, structure, and environment. As you gain valuable skills and experience, the investment of hiring you increases, and the stakes for your employer become higher. Retention and engagement determine if a company receives a return on their investment in talent, so they will want to ensure that your intended career path coincide with the current AND future opportunities that they can offer you.

Though it was relatively early in my career when I discovered a field that lit my proverbial fire (coaching), I was also too early to have enough experience to be credible and effective. I had to spend several years learning more about how to make success more likely and failure less likely. Because I knew my ultimate goal and my reasons for staying in recruiting, I was able to ask for greater opportunities to interface with the clients (employers), and ask questions that helped me do my job better, but also learn more about how hiring managers in diverse organizations qualified top contenders and chose which one received the offer.

Then, when I started coaching at age 28, it was challenging to convey that I was senior, mature, experienced, knowledgeable, and credible enough to attract the volume of clients I expected. If I had not been so sure, however, that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, that I had found the career where I could make an optimal contribution, I would have struggled (even more) to survive, and would likely NOT have survived to be celebrating 11 years in business in a couple of weeks.  By the way – I had a coach that helped me maintain my “true north” when challenges threatened to sway me wayward.

I had a nephew that died at 28. I have lost over a dozen classmates. You may feel like you have your whole career to figure out what you want to do, but I urge you to invest time EARLY and OFTEN assessing where you can be the most successful, happy, and effective.

 

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is NOW.  If you are NOT a soon-to-be graduate and you are just now learning these lessons, there is still time to have them make a difference for you.

What lessons would you share with future business rock stars?

 

Plans A Through D for Getting Noticed by Employers

writing business plans by informedmag.com

Flat out– I cannot guarantee even a cover letter I write is going to be read by human eyes. Even though I identify and research my client’s most logical next boss, find out what is most important to them, target their hot buttons, and write a subject line that cannot be ignored for an email sent directly to them AND instruct my clients to send a printed copy snail mail in a letter-sized envelope labeled “CONFIDENTIAL” (a technique that goes back before e-mail, but what is old has become new again as fewer people use the technique), there is still no telling if the intended recipient will receive the communication. There certainly is no insuring that, as compellingly as it is written, that it will be read.

That is pretty frustrating, right? I mean the investment to have me write one deeply researched, highly targeted cover letter is $125. Even though our clients recognize that the letter could not be written any better, and if the recipient is not going to read it, there is nothing we could send that would be any more compelling to open. It is still a crapshoot.

So many people perceive the importance and relevance of cover letters so differently that there is no one right answer to whether they are read or not. This depends on multiple factors, including how many cover letters the individual receives, whether they feel anyone could say anything distinctly enough to make reading a cover letter a good investment of time, and whether they really care who is above and beyond the résumé. There are a lot of things that I and you can do, however, to increase the chances that you will be able to use a cover letter to stand out among other prospective employees and land an interview.

All of these things are already covered in my very popular YouTube video.

Far too many people still think of a job search as a numbers game. Think about this, though– why do marketing experts tailor messaging to niche audiences?

The answer is because they increase their chances of converting prospects into customers or clients by appealing to what motivates different individuals to make an investment or purchase. This is a big part of branding.

Let’s assume that makes sense to you and you now see how campaigning to a select group of companies that represent your best chance to thrive and succeed will get you closer to your next great career move faster than what is called the “stray bullet” approach. This approach is also known as throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. I don’t know about you, but when I see stuff stuck to a wall, I don’t want to keep it.

Instead, you create a target list of companies and decide each week which ones you are going to focus your efforts on.

Plan A is actually to identify and engage an internal sponsor who will make sure that your interest in working for the company gets to the right person with a strong recommendation. These efforts can be ongoing, but in the meantime if Plan A does not work out immediately, Plan B is to engage me to write a deeply researched, highly targeted cover letter, or you write a letter of your own. Let’s say there is no response. Then what?

A critical part of each letter should be the expectation that you will be following up via phone the very next week to confirm receipt. Since you always want to be perceived as someone who does what they say they are going to do, follow up promptly. If I am able to identify the recipient’s direct phone number, obviously that is preferred, however nowadays dial-by-name directories are available on nearly every switchboard. Call the main number. Then what do you say should you reach the person or get their voicemail?

Obviously, you tell them your name and you tell them that you wanted to confirm receipt of a letter you sent last week (do not say it was a cover letter), then identify one thing – a pain, initiative, or challenge that you strongly suspect they are experiencing. This should be something that you also know based on what you have been able to achieve in the past, in which you can alleviate or accelerate. You really just want to tease them, so you do not tell the whole story – just the outcome. This will compel them to want to know more. You may also share with them a resource, such as an article, that you thought could be helpful.

If this is a live phone call, stop there and invite them to schedule a 20 minute phone call, in which you can share more. This assumes that you have consideration for whatever they were right in the middle of, and that you will not take up too much of their time. Should they be so interested, this phone call instantly turns into a phone screening. However, you will aim to ask questions, like a consultant. Do you understand better what is most important to them, what problems are causing the most pain, what initiatives are the most exciting, and what challenges are the most daunting?

If you happen to reach their voicemail, let them know you were also going to follow up via email in case that is the most convenient way for them to get back to you, and share the resource in the email. As with the live call, invite them to speak further for about 20 minutes.

Plan C is to try to find out what other media, social media, professional events, or social events enable you to capture their attention where few others will be vying for it.

Plan D, which is most job seekers’ Plan A, is to apply online.

If you identify yourself as one of those job seekers, I challenge you to do a little experiment– time how long it takes you to fill out an online application. Hopefully you are already keeping track of online submission activity. Add up how much time you spend each week applying online, and next week use that same amount of time to pick two-to-five companies you think would be ideal employers for you, and use the recipe in my YouTube video to write and send a deeply researched, highly targeted cover letter right to the person to whom you would report directly.

If you get a response, you know that you have used a much more effective method of making sure that you are visible and noticed. If you do not get a response, use my follow-up protocol and go to Plan C.

 

This might be way out of your comfort zone. I get it. But I want you to consider how uncomfortable looking for new job is when you are at the mercy of so many unknown and unseen forces. You will become more comfortable using this approach when you realize that you can make things happen.

 

Five Major challenges that Face Today’s Job Seeker

Scaling Walls and Overcoming Boundaries by Israel Defense Forces of Flickr

Scaling Walls and Overcoming Boundaries by Israel Defense Forces of Flickr

 

We certainly live in different times than when I first graduated college, and I’ve listened earnestly to generations before me to learn about what managing careers were like for them. They certainly make it sound simpler, but not necessarily more satisfying.

From my perspective, people enjoy a lot more freedom and options in opportunity, but navigating this cultural landscape has proven too challenging for most.

Below are five major challenges that I see continually standing to prevent many professionals from realizing their career potential.

 

1. The accelerating evolution of technology

While some fundamentals have never changed, such as treating others with dignity and respect, the tools and technology that help you position yourself as a competitive candidate in today’s talent marketplace continue to evolve. Additionally, the tools and technology that facilitate how work is completed continues to evolve. At what pace this happens can be highly determined by your particular circumstances. Some of my clients from Fortune 1000 companies will tell you that procurement, implementation, and adoption are too slow. The internal due diligence systems that ensure investments are made based on business cases can make it so that by the time technology gets approved and used, a new technology is close behind. Others can tell you that a company’s effort to be using the latest and greatest to gain the optimal competitive edge has gaps. These gaps are between the talent that understands fully how to best utilize the technologies and developing standard operating procedures that let them know for certain new technologies are working in their favor. When you want to consider changing roles, you face the challenge of deciding if you need to acquire new technical skills to be marketable to the most amount of opportunities possible, or if you can find a company that has the perfect blend of technologies that enable you to fit its environment.

How do you possibly manage your career or even develop a plan, without knowing what technologies businesses are going to find critical in the next five years?

Then, when it is your turn to prepare yourself for being in transition, how are you supposed to tell which tools and technologies are going to take you the furthest the fastest in a flooded marketplace of career apps and differing opinions?

 

2. Shape shifting models of progress

We can all look around and notice that there are a lot of broken systems. Hiring, healthcare, and Social Security are chief among these broken systems. Any significant changes intended to improve these systems (or even to replace the systems), stand to cause tremors in the careers of all professionals in those industries. Just imagine if we were to adopt a healthcare system that was more focused on financing preventative care. What if fewer people needed pharmaceuticals? What if it was a significant amount of people? Will there be enough customers to justify the cost of research and development? How will all the professionals in this industry transform themselves to fit the new model? Both presidential candidates have been focused on bringing manufacturing back as a major US industry. Whether they succeed or not, are the professionals who are impacted by the shift overseas going to find relief, or are they going to be impacted by the move to 3D printing?

 

3. Pessimism, cynicism, and self-limiting beliefs

I see this as the most dangerous challenge, simply because so many people have a blind spot to just how pervasive and detrimental these mindsets are once they become firmly embedded. Furthermore, if you don’t have a clue that there is something that can help you, why would you even think to seek it out, and even once you are aware that something can help you, if you are pessimistic (even if you decide to make the investment), your lack of faith will diminish its efficacy. I previously wrote an article about a belief that has been considered an epidemic– The “I am not enough” belief.  The experience generation tends to perceive the younger generation as having a sense of entitlement and even having it too easy- it is the “everyone gets a trophy” generation, where rewards are given instead of earned. How did that even happen?

It happened as a response to parents who had grown up feeling beaten down emotionally or physically, and swearing that their kids would have a better life. It is not as though there are two camps on this topic – there are actually infinite camps on this topic, and they do not necessarily have clearly defined borders. If you look at it from one perspective, you can see value in being able to confront and overcome tough challenges, developing grit and a thick skin, and being able to navigate the real world successfully. On the other hand, if you are groomed to know your worth, feel confident, and sense that things are easy to achieve, you are more likely to be a big dreamer and make big things happen in this world. Most people weave in and out of varying degrees of these two dichotomous worldviews.

Which one is right? I am not here to say and who is not right. I won’t find out if I’m right until my kids are fully grown adults with lives of their own.

I can certainly empathize with the constant challenge of trying to decide in every single circumstance how to help my children find a balance between a real world that is rife with adversity or where success is everyone’s for the taking.

At a minimum, they need to believe that they are good enough, or they will fall short of every single goal they set for themselves.

 

4. Being heard or seen in a world of communication bombardment

There is certainly a lot of noise to compete with if you want to get noticed. Big data has enabled marketing to know more about its customers, their daily activities, and when and how to best capture their attention. The science and art behind this craft is constantly being studied by Epic Careering, and the career services industry is starting to ride the big data wave to learn more about the behavior and preferences of hiring managers and recruiting professionals. That being said, people will continue to have their own opinions, preferences, and worldviews while at the same time their companies will be at varying degrees of hiring effectiveness, with most being at the low-end. Which begs the question, are we just capturing data on what is being done ineffectively? As far as I have seen, none of these new hiring systems and technologies has cracked the code on hiring effectiveness.

From a career management and transitioning standpoint, we do know which activities and behaviors tend to lead to job search success, and a targeted proactive networking-based campaign is statistically more successful than a reactive, internet-based job search.

However, when you are proactive, you have to gain a depth of understanding of your audience in order to ensure that you capture their attention, that your résumé is read, that it resonates, and that you choose the next company that will offer the best opportunity. A successful strategy will vary from person-to-person, which is why one-on-one career coaching (with Epic Careering) is really the best investment for an optimal and accelerated job search, if you can see it. (The next best thing is to learn how to build your own successful campaign with the Dream Job Breakthrough System.)

 

5. Distraction

It would not be fair to just point out that our target audiences face distraction without admitting how distracted we can easily become. There are day-to-day distractions that are much harder to escape, those things we have to do, such as pay bills, do laundry, mow the lawn, etc. We can certainly fill our day with these activities, but would we be really be accomplishing anything? I can relate to feeling so exhausted just by taking care of these things that I justify downtime, which I can admit is me wasting time with other distractions, like television and social media. Sometimes I even convince myself that this is an important activity for me, because I need to keep up with everything going on in the world. I, by all means, do not suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), but some legitimately do without realizing that what they are really missing out on are adventures of their own. I know in my case I am prone to more of a curiosity that leads me down a path of unproductive input collecting. I have taught myself how to overcome these challenges by setting a timer, keeping a list of the things I am on social media to accomplish, and designating time after I have crossed off truly important AND strategic tasks to more personal exploration.

What do you notice distracts you from investing time in activities that move you closer to the life you want? What do you tell yourself that justifies engaging in these distractions?

I had a performance evaluation sometime during the planning of my wedding and a concern was that I had been spending too much work time taking care of personal details for my wedding. Of course my inclination was to assume I had been working diligently for an acceptable amount of time while taking a reasonably small amount of time to take care of the things that always need attention when you are planning a wedding. The only way to know for sure was to track my time. I was given a spreadsheet and instructed to track all of my activities for a week. I would have assumed that I was spending maybe three hours a week on personal business, and that it was mostly during my lunch hour. I was surprised to discover that while I was being paid to perform my job, I had actually spent double that on personal business during hours I was supposed to be working. I was very surprised and embarrassed, but I now knew that more self-discipline was necessary and more boundaries had to be enforced with my time.

 

  • We actually have solutions for all five of these major challenges.
  • We can help you master the tools and technology of modern career management and transition.
  • We can help you determine which technical skills you should plan on acquiring to position yourself for the best growth and fulfillment.
  • We can help you reinvent yourself if your industry is facing the potential for disruptive changes.
  • We can help you recognize and overcome models of reality and beliefs that limit your potential and interfere with your ability to achieve your goals.
  • We help you strategize breaking through the chatter to catch your next employer in the flow of their day with a message that creates an urgency to consider your value and hire you.

 

Does one challenge stand out as something you are experiencing? Does it threaten to stand between you and your next great opportunity?

We have a toolkit designed to help you stay focused on the activities and resources that open the most doors to quality opportunities. We can even text you a to-do list every morning so that you never wake up wondering what you have to do to get closer to a great job.

 

Comment with the corresponding number of the challenge that stands out to you as the biggest culprit of job momentum interference.

 

5 SMART Job Search Goals That Will Get You Landed

SMART by Pshegubj of Flickr

SMART by Pshegubj of Flickr

The act of setting goals is not what moves you toward the ultimate reward of landing the job, but people who set goals are 42% more likely to achieve them when they write them down. My students write SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, Time-bound) goals for their career as part of an assignment. When the goals are specifically focused on job search activities, they tend to drastically underestimate the activity needed to create actual momentum. I have created five SMART job search goals that I have found adequately enables clients and students alike to build momentum week after week. This allows them to generate multiple viable opportunities, create demand that increases their market value and self-worth, and makes them feel empowered to make a choice that is best for their career and life.

 

  1. Spend 80% of your job search activity proactively pursuing leads in target companies. Identify 10 new target companies each week through networking, LinkedIn, business journals, and professional organizations.
  1. Add 25 new LinkedIn contacts each week by searching LinkedIn’s suggested “People You May Know” and exploring various realms and communities with which you engage. Send 10 customized (straight from the contact’s profile) invitations every day, knowing that not all invitations will be accepted.
  1. Have one meal or coffee a day with a contact or friend, even if virtually. In each conversation and correspondence (including LinkedIn invitations) invite the person to reconnect or get better acquainted. Use this time to share personal or professional initiatives or challenges with which you can both use assistance and to introduce each other to people who can move you forward. Procure five new job leads each week this way.
  1. By asking “superconnectors” in your network, leaders in your industry and checking event sites like Meetup.com and Eventbrite.com, identify 10 worthwhile events, and commit to attending six each month that work with your schedule. Share these events with other people to add value to them, and to see if you can partner with someone who can make the other four events. Acquaint each other with the network contacts that would add the most value and network on each other’s behalf. Add new connections from 20 of your target companies and make 20 introductions for your networking partners each month.
  1. Stay at the top of your network connections’ minds and establish thought leadership by posting one thoughtful social media post daily. Follow active LinkedIn group discussions, share and comment on the relevant posts of Influencers, and try something a little more advanced each week, working your way up to Facebook Live videos or Periscope broadcasts, with the intention of increasing followers/fans by 10% each week.

 

Professor Gail Matthews at Dominican University also found that 70% of people who shared their goals achieved them while only 30% of those who kept their goals private had that much success.

So, if you really want to achieve your goals of landing a great job, write down these SMART goals, or create some other ones for yourself, and share them with someone who can help you stay accountable. Check out our toolkit, designed to help you track, measure, and improve your activities and your results every week.

 

If you do not want to achieve the goal of landing a job swiftly, consider that the job for which you are looking may not be the right one and get in touch with us so we can help you identify something that excites you more.

 

Is It Okay to Cheat On Your Career with Other Careers?

Careers Board Game by Huppypie of Flickr

Careers Board Game by Huppypie of Flickr

 

The promise of a single steady job for life is largely a relic of the past. Not many large companies provide steady employment and constant salary increases until retirement. The only way to gain job security is to generate it for yourself. Careers are not necessarily like soul mates. Having multiple careers is not cheating, but a chance to thrive in a world where job security is no longer a given.

Besides learning (from us) how to successfully and swiftly navigate today’s career transition, microcareers and multi-career paths have emerged as a great way to generate your own job security. Microcareers also called “slash careers,” are hybrid careers where a person takes on a mixed professional identity instead of being beholden to a single profession. This type of professional could be a lawyer by day and a rock star at night, a part-time factory worker and freelance writer, or a web developer and accountant. A microcareer means having simultaneous careers all at once. For instance, I am a business owner, résumé writer, blogger, digital marketer, adjunct professor, beach body coach, and rock star. While many of these professions tie into my larger goal of career management and helping people find jobs they love, not all of my microcareers fit this mold.

Working microcareers is a way to generate multiple streams of income, especially if you are not employed full-time. Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad Poor Dad) and T. Harv Eker (Secrets of the Millionaire Mind) are two businessmen and motivational speakers who believe that having multiple streams of income is the best way to secure your financial freedom.

In addition to generating multiple streams of income, microcareers also allow you to explore multiple passions. Starting your own business on the side or creating the startup you always dreamed about are very real possibilities. David Williams, the founder of CinemaCake, began his professional life in pharmaceutical sales, but had a passion for filmmaking. One day a co-worker asked him to film her wedding, he agreed and landed his first paying gig. Williams then searched for more clients as he continued part-time event filmmaking on the side. Later he won a local filmmaking contest and his win convinced him that filmmaking was his true calling. As he built his client base, Williams stayed in pharmaceutical sales until he went full-time with his business two years later.

Some professionals prefer a multi-career path over having microcareers. Multi-careers are multiple career transitions made within one’s working life. For example, a professional starts their career as a programmer, but later switches to career coaching. Some people find job security by changing careers every few years. This practice is known as career hopping.

 

Career hopping as a new normal:

Career hopping consists of a series of seemingly unrelated careers. It is not the same as job hopping, where an employee changes employers every few years. A career hop is a complete industry change. Career hopping means making multiple career transitions during one’s working life. For some, their career may no longer be a viable employment option. Others may discover that they no longer enjoy their career and are ready for a change. In my interview with NBC10’s Tracy Davidson, I discussed the possibility of changing careers by applying innate skills and talents to a different role and responsibilities. Many skills are transferable to a variety of situations. Changing careers is a matter of discovering what you like and dislike about your job, applying those skills, and asking your network for help in order to change careers. However, career hopping does come with a major caveat. It is more difficult to brand and market yourself for a single role when you have a multi-career history.

Career hopping is more of a normal lifestyle for most millennials, but not as natural for other generations. Until the Great Recession, it was normal to expect to have career in a single profession and with a single employer. In fact, it has been a complete paradigm shift for older generations who were taught by their parents that hard work and loyalty are often rewarded with stable employment, health benefits, and a pension that will take care of you in retirement. Unfortunately (or fortunately), most of us live in a different reality. For example, baby boomers were hit hard after being at a single job for years and then being forced to find new lines of work. The new reality might not be easy to embrace, but if you can adapt and learn how to successfully navigate and execute a career transition, you will be able to benefit greatly in terms of job satisfaction and increased income from this new work environment.

 

Work/life integration with microcareers:

People used to strive for work/life balance, but work/life integration is the new goal. With work/life balance, people attempt to leave their work at work, and their home activities at home as they seek to give both facets of their life equal weight. Work/life integration seeks to manage work alongside personal needs and both facets of life bleed together. Work and life are not at conflict with each other. You may have the freedom during the normal 9-5 hours to go to your child’s ballet practice, but you will be logging in from home after the kids go to bed. This means working late, not because you have to, but because you are passionate and energized about your work. Microcareers allow for this type of work/life integration because work does not often feel like work.

 

Making the leap to microcareers or multiple careers:

In both cases landing a job still depends highly on networking. You can expand your network and venture into multiple circles. Peter Diamandis, an engineer, physician and entrepreneur best known for founding the X Prize Foundation, firmly believes that having multiple projects equals multiple successes. In fact, it is the third law he created in the Creed of the Persistent and Passionate Mind.  Think of microcareers as the ultimate in multiple projects.

 

Microcareers and career hopping are the new normal in today’s working environment. Having multiple careers is a way to achieve satisfaction, especially if you have a dynamic personality and multiple passions. You are not bound by a single position for your job security and you are free to explore your passions. If you are one of the 70% disengaged from your job, this could be the ticket to reinvigorating your career. Just imagine the creativity, freedom and variety that multiple careers can bring to your life.

 

How Hobbies Can Advance Your Career

Meghan Played Guitar by Emily Mills of Flickr

Meghan Played Guitar by Emily Mills of Flickr

Can hobbies hold the key to landing a job faster? Most of us have hobbies we enjoy. In addition to being a great way to unwind, hobbies can also be a valuable asset to your career in numerous ways. Think about it this way- hobbies can impress employers, allow you to make new connections in your network, and hobbies allow you to focus on passions outside of work. For example, mountain climbing can demonstrate your ability to take risks to employers, while playing Sudoku may show your ability to think strategically. Hobbies may be deeply ingrained in the corporate culture of some employers, while other companies may not care. Fortunately, hobbies have benefits that go far beyond impressing potential employers.

 

Impress employers

When it comes to landing a job, hobbies can be one of the deciding factors. Some hobbies strike a chord with a hiring manager and others can be seen as a cultural fit for the company. In the past, I worked for a firm who stated the fact that I played on the intramural softball team and sing in a band marked me as a good cultural fit. They considered themselves as a “work hard, play hard” company. Employers may find the fact a person loves to golf or hike as a valuable asset. Or an employer may be impressed with a person who competes in triathlons, restores cars for fun, or even plays Dungeons and Dragons. These kinds of activities can show initiative, dedication, and creativity.

In terms of office culture, there are employers who take recreation seriously. A company may consider it worth their time to have pool tables, foosball, ping pong, and air hockey in the office. Google’s offices are legendary for their recreational areas. Some employers have added these extras to be trendy and as a way to enhance creativity via play. According to the National Institute for Play, playing engages the creative side of your brain, allowing creative ideas to flow more freely, which in turn can boost productivity.

 

Networking interests

I often explain to my clients why they would want to include hobbies and interests on their LinkedIn profile. Since LinkedIn’s inception, it has included a section for interests. I recommend that you fill in the interests section because it makes you more open and approachable. A completed interests section also makes it easier for people to start a conversation with you and to build rapport. I have yet to have a client refuse to fill out this section after I explain the benefits.

When it comes to networking, I’ve often talked about how shared interests can make it easier to connect with others- especially at events. It is possible to use your hobbies to strike up conversations while networking. There’s nothing like the burst of joy you feel when you converse with someone who partakes in the same hobbies and passions as you. Shared interests can increase likability, and form or deepen relationships. Imagine being sought out for employment because of your shared interests, or meeting the next person who may be able to help you land a job while at a blogging workshop, or playing basketball.

 

Learning skills and transitioning to new careers

Hobbies can become the catalyst for learning new skills or improving skills that can aide you in the workplace. For example, playing video games can sharpen your ability to solve problems and work with others. In corporate America, gamification has earned credibility as an effective training tool. Cisco uses gamification to provide global social media training certification to their employees. Before implementing a gaming program, employees had a difficult time figuring out where to start in the 46-course program. Gamification allowed Cisco to split the program into levels, as well as fostering competition, which ultimately resulted in higher social media certification for employees.

On a personal level, activities such as baseball can teach you teamwork, and volunteering can teach you leadership. If you’re really passionate about your hobbies, you may consider a career transition to pursue your passion. MilkCrate CEO Morgan Berman wanted to make a large contribution to society. She turned her passion for tech and sustainability into a career by creating her own startup. You can listen to Morgan’s entire story in our May 2015 Epic Career Tales podcast. Another example is Helen Wan, a lawyer who decided to leave law and became a novelist.

 

Relaxation and mental well-being

Pursuing hobbies can give your mind a much needed break and serves as an outlet for your passions during your off hours. In turn, this helps you focus when you return to work. According to a study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, hobbies can reduce stress and increase overall mental well-being. Hobbies allow people to feel relaxed and confident because they provide a healthy distraction from stress. Gaming in particular can provide amazing stress relief. Video Game Developer Jane McGonigal explains in her TED Talk how games can increase resilience and even add 10 years to your life. She goes on to assert many of the things people often regret later in life such as not giving themselves time to be happy, not staying connected with friends, and worrying too much about what others expected of them, can be partially solved by playing video games. Games have the power to change how people interact and solve problems. Accelerfate is my own way of using mobile gaming to help change the job search. Even if you don’t use hobbies directly in your job search the stress relief and mental well-being they can provide are reason enough to pursue them.

 

If you haven’t been spending as much time as you like on the activities that bring you joy, hopefully this article will give you some great justification to fit joy into your life. Hobbies can be a means of connecting to and impressing employers. In some ways, your hobbies may make it easier for you to land because potential employers may see you as a great cultural fit. In some cases, sharing your hobbies on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, and Periscope can make it easier for you to expand your network and may take your career to interesting places. If your hobbies are never mentioned directly at work or in your job search, they still can be a great way to reduce stress, increase creativity and boost productivity, giving you an edge in your career.

 

 

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.

Linkedin-how-to-connect01-08102015

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.