Archives for social networking

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.

5 Must Do’s for a Successful Job Search Week

Job Searching by NJLA of Flickr

Job Searching by NJLA of Flickr

 

I have received a lot of feedback and many of you found the sample schedule to be very helpful. As a result, I decided to outline five major components of a successful job search activity that you can integrate into your schedule every day or, at least, every week. This will help build competencies toward your expertise in job searching.

Why would you want to be an expert in job searching? I know most people find it rather dreadful. However, when job searching is done right you can feel as much like a rock star in the flow, or in a groove, as you did when you were on top of your game in your job. The major benefit of gaining this critical life skill is reclaiming power over your destiny.

 

1. Research

The research you will be conducting every day or every week will be to identify new target companies, find out what major initiatives, challenges, and potential setbacks your target companies are experiencing. Discover how you can add direct value, and identify people who can either be internal sponsors for you or be your next potential boss. If you are really adept at research, you can even find out some personal things about these people that will enable you to build rapport and hit their hot buttons.

The resources that you will use to conduct this research include the obvious search engines like Google or Bing, as well as local business journals and newspapers, niche authority sites, business directories and databases such as leadferret.com and zoominfo.com, and your network.

If you are really bold and adventurous, you will try feet-on-the-street research. This means that you attend events or “stake out” the location of various popular breakfast, lunch or dinner spots in the vicinity with the intention of procuring intelligence from strangers.

2. Bold Action/Experimentation

The above can be considered bold action. I encourage you to experiment with this approach, if not for the adrenaline rush, for the fact that it can get you further faster than waiting for friends and acquaintances to take action on your behalf.

The activities that fall in this category very well might be outside your comfort zone, and thinking about them as experiments may help you detach from an investment in the outcome. I encourage you to celebrate everything that you try, whether it turns into an opportunity or not. Do keep track of your results so that you can repeat the experiments that produce great results such as pivotal introductions and interviews.

Everyone has a different comfort zone threshold. You know yourself best. If incremental progress works best for you, then take baby steps. A good example is trying out a new social media platform that you recognize some of your potential bosses are using and sending them a direct message. Some of you may thrive on taking a big leap and testing your limits. This could look like a creative gesture such as sending an unusual gift with a hidden meaning.

An example of a successful gift attempt that led to an interview and a job offer was a candidate who was demonstrating his attention to detail by creating and sending intricate origami eagles. I heard a story once about a candidate who sent a shoe with a note that he was hoping to get a “foot in the door.” I’m not sure how that went over, but the results of any of these attempts are going to vary from person to person. This is where it is critical to know your audience.

Being bold can also look like attending a keynote where an executive leader is speaking and asking the best question. The key, really, is to garner POSITIVE attention that you can use as an opening to create intrigue, build rapport, discover needs, and promote yourself as a solution.

3. Network Nurturing

I saw Ellen Weber of Robin Hood Ventures speak at a TedX event in Philadelphia and she forever changed the way I advise my clients to offer help to their networks. The eye-opening insight she shared was that when we ask someone generally, “How can I help you?” we put a burden on them to figure out how we can help them. She talked about a very personally challenging time in her life, and how her closest friends made that time easier simply by taking the initiative to find ways to help, as opposed to waiting for her to direct them, which felt uncomfortable. One friend would drop off meals, the other would help fold and put away laundry, and another even cleaned her bathroom while some friends whisked her away to get a pedicure.

Think of consultative sales, where you are not pushing a product, but asking really great questions and listening earnestly to what the client’s actual needs are so that the solution that you propose sells itself. In a podcast interview between Larry Benet, CEO of the Speakers and Authors Networking Group (SANG), and Vishen Lakhiani of MindValley, I learned some really great questions that are simple to ask and easily uncover some of these needs, such as, “What is the project you are working on right now that excites you the most?” followed up by “What would help you complete it sooner or better?” Another question, which can be quite personal, is “What keeps you up at night?” or “What wakes you up in the morning?” Vishen actually starts all of his interviews with this question, and, of course, he already has a good rapport with guests and relates to them on a personal level prior to the interview.

Once you know what you can do to help, the next thing to do is to follow through. If you cannot identify a need, the next best thing you can do is to share some relevant news, resources, or tools that you think may be of assistance. If you have ever wondered when and how to follow up, now you know.

 

4. Self Nurturing/Wellness

I considered putting this before network nurturing, as we have all heard the analogy of putting the oxygen mask on yourself before you assist others. What good are we unconscious? Well, similarly, as we have written before, science has proven that you are at your best when you are taking care of yourself. Do not skip the workout, but get at least a couple minutes in to increase your oxygen levels. You will actually work faster and more productively. What you produce will be better with fewer errors, meaning you won’t have to re-do that work. Have a cover letter to write? Go for a brisk 10-minute walk or do some jumping jacks. Eat a diet rich in the healthy fats your brain needs to be at its best. Cut out the carbs that cause brain fog and sluggishness. Once you start to treat yourself better, you will perceive yourself as more valuable and be better able to promote yourself as such.

 

5. FUN!

There is a lot more to these start-ups with their ping pong tables and video games than just hoping to attract elusive millennials. Fun is known for increasing creativity, building more cohesive teams, making employees more receptive to bad news or constructive criticism, and, if you believe in the law of attraction, it is apparently responsible for bringing good things into our lives.

You can leverage fun activities for your job search such as organizing a happy hour or bowling night with your friends so that you can catch them up on how they can help you. Moreover, you can also just have a good old-fashioned good time and still reap the benefits in your job search. As we wrote last week, happy people tend to achieve higher levels of success than people who simply work hard. Really! Harvard says so.

 

If you are in a full-time job search mode, I recommend doing each of these daily. If you are working full-time while searching, I recommend that you designate a day of the week for each of these activities.

As an experiment, try these activities for four weeks. Then share with us how intentionally integrating these critical components into your transition helps you build momentum and opens new doors of opportunity.

 

5 of the Biggest Lessons I Learned in 10 Years as a Career Coach

Climbing Journal Mount Rinjani Package by Trekking Rinjani of Flickr

Climbing Journal Mount Rinjani Package by Trekking Rinjani of Flickr

 

 

Last week an executive recruiter shared with me a really interesting position that she is trying to fill in the bleeding edge of biotechnology. We reveled at all of the amazing things that we were able to learn by spending quality time with subject matter experts and thought leaders. Then she asked me, “What is the biggest thing you learned when you switched from recruiting to career coaching?” Compassion is the first answer that came to the top of my mind because it was the first big lesson that made the biggest difference in my coaching practice and for my clients.

As I continue to reflect on the past ten years, there are a few more huge lessons among all of the small ones that have made the biggest difference in what and how I teach that have become staples of my brand. Allow me to share the top five lessons from my last ten years:

 

1. You get better results with compassion rather than with judgment

We followed this motto in recruiting, “screen out, not in.” It was meant to keep us looking for the right fit and not to force the fit. I’m a very trainable person and now I know that I can take things too literally. So I adopted this method of qualifying talent, but I did not enjoy the method. Yet, it became my way to be judgmental of candidates. I was always assessing if they were good enough and was always digging for skeletons in their closet. It is part of what made me realize I did not want to be a recruiter any longer. Although I switched sides to become an advisor and advocate for job seekers, I had taken a very “tough love” approach. I shared with them (for their own sake) all of the different and negative perceptions that they could be generating.

This is vital information for job seekers to understand, but what I did not understand at the time was how my role was really to be encouraging, to help them realize and articulate the tremendous value that they can present, and to help them see that they have so much more value to present than risk. For example, even when I was convincing a client that he should have been making double what he had been earning, I had been telling him from a place of judgment and intolerance rather than from a place of understanding and compassion. This is something that I needed coaching on, and I spent a year and then some working to restore and expand my compassion.

 

2Not only should I always be coached, but I should engage a coach who is an expert in each thing I want to master

Coaching had a profound impact on me, and that is why I found it a worthwhile career pursuit. I don’t know what made me think that once I became a coach I no longer needed coaching. In fact, what I discovered over the last ten years is that my capacity to learn new techniques, methodologies, and skills not only expands my abilities to accomplish goals my personal life, but it exponentially evolves the value that I offer my clients. This enables me to help them go further faster than ever before. It does not really matter what material I’m learning, there are always new applications for my clients.

 

3. Success is about 20% what you do, 30% how you do it, and 50% what you do it from

In college, I took a lot of communications courses for my major and I learned a lot about nonverbal communication and how much more influential it can be on people versus verbal communication. I certainly saw that in practice as a recruiter, as I became a human lie detector, but it was not until I underwent transformational training around communications that I had an epiphany: No matter what we say, or how we tactically manipulate our pitch, facial expressions, or body language, if we are coming from negative emotions, we will most likely have a negative communication outcome.

Do you have one of those friends that presses you a lot with, “no offense but…” and you know that what is likely going to come out of their mouth is going to be offensive? Did you know that we cannot possess negative emotion and positive emotion simultaneously, though we can easily switch back and forth? Physical and physiological changes in our pitch, tone, facial expressions, and body language occur naturally as results of our emotions. It makes a lot more sense to just be more conscious of which emotions we are communicating through, rather than to pay attention and manipulate the physical and physiological symptoms. Everyone has an internal lie detector, and although they do not recognize what they are picking up as a lie, they will get a general sense of being out of rapport with someone. If you are not in rapport with someone, you cannot be influential. Conclusion: if you want to be influential, communicate from a positive emotion, such as joy, possibility, love, and compassion.

 

4. When done right, technology makes us more productive, more efficient, and more effective, but it has to be done with discipline

I totally understand people who are resistant to using social media because there is a real risk that you will miss out on what and who is physically in front of you, and it can become an unhealthy escape from reality. However, there are ways to manage social media and technology usage that enable you to reap the benefits, such as being the person that people think of when a great opportunity comes around. That is, someone who can successfully manage and mitigate the potential risks that contribute to a loss of quality of life can use technological tools to be more productive with less effort. The learning, however, and the implementation, as well as tweaking the balance between using and abusing, will take time and effort (although a lot less time and effort if you do #2.)

 

5. Good habits are key to sustainable success, but accountability is only important to most, not all people

I am in love with learning, testing, and applying new techniques and technology that help us create better habits that support us in achieving our goals. Since first studying behavior modification through gamification in 2010, and trying to discover a panacea that would help everyone be successful, I discovered (I’m quoting Gretchen Rubin), “we are all more similar than we think, but our differences are important.” We all have the same brain composition, which operates according to some well-known and some newly discovered ways. Some of those ways help us learn and some impede our learning. However, we all come to the table with our own set of perceptions and beliefs about how the world and people operate.

That perception can greatly shape our tendencies when it comes to not just forming new habits, but the desire to do so. Some people do not need accountability because they hold themselves accountable and are very coachable. However, there are very few of these people. Others prefer to defy expectations and accountability, which makes them less likely to form a habit. Fortunately, this is also a small population of people and they deserve success as much as anyone else. Other coaches might find this population of people to be uncoachable, but I believe they are coachable. Furthermore, I’m enjoying the challenge of figuring out how to be a successful coach to the “rebel” population.

 

My six-year-old always wants to know how I know something. “How do you know the library is going to be closed tomorrow?” Sometimes I find myself explaining to her, “Well, the sign in the elevator said that the library would be closed on Sundays from May until September.” Other times I’ll just say, “Well, you think you know a lot at six years old. Imagine how much more you’ll have learned by the time you’re 12, then 24, and then 48.”

I’m sure if you thought about the last ten years of your career life, you would be equally in awe of how much you have evolved. You would be equally excited about what the next ten years holds in store, just from a learning and development perspective.

 

Please share with me some of the biggest lessons you have learned in the past ten years.

According to Science, Your Next Job Just Got 2 Degrees Closer

Thanks, Facebook!

Social Network in a course by Hans Poldoja of Flickr

Social Network in a course by Hans Poldoja of Flickr

In 1961, Stanley Milgram, a psychologist determined that we are connected to anyone on earth by just six degrees by conducting several experiments to examine the average path length for the (non-virtual) social networks of people in the United States. The project was coined the “small-world experiment.” In the experiment, Milgram sent letters to 300 randomly selected people in Nebraska and Kansas to one target person, a stockbroker in Boston. The letters could not be directly sent to the target, but had to be sent through someone they knew on a first-name basis who might know the stockbroker. Only 30% of the letters reached their target, but the research discovered that there were about six people connecting each participant to the target. Think of the concept as meeting a stranger and discovering you have a friend in common. As of today, the world has gotten smaller by nearly 2.5 degrees. A smaller world means your dream boss is that much more accessible, and your next job is that much closer, IF you use your network to find your next job.

Later social experiments revealed that you are much more likely to land a job through random acquaintances than through your close friends. You and your close friends all know the same people and share the same information. However, it is through random acquaintances that you can connect with people very far from your social circles. This is the principle in which LinkedIn was founded. It is why the introduction request feature was invented and what makes LinkedIn such an effective job search tool.

 

The degrees of separation have become smaller

Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist who has dedicated his career to improving America’s scientific literacy, stated that because of social networks like Facebook, separation is down to less than five degrees. In 2011 Facebook found that 92% of their users were just connected through five steps and the number has been decreasing.  According to the newest research released by Facebook in 2016, the degrees of separation are just 3.57. (This number only applies to active Facebook users which total about 1.59 billion people.)

We are all closely linked and four (or less) handshakes could connect us to anyone on the planet. Hence why networking is the number one activity to dedicate yourself to when you want to accomplish something, especially job searching. We have constantly repeated T. Harv Eker’s famous quote: “Your net worth is your network.” We believe Eker’s words are worth repeating, because while he is talking about opportunity in general, networking has proven time and time again not just to be the best way to land a job, but to land the job you want.

 

Your next job is closer than you think

A connection at the employers you want to work for may be only a few degrees of separation away through a social network such as Facebook. In fact, it is possible to use Facebook and Twitter to quickly land your next job. Think about it: If you can potentially meet anyone on the planet through fewer than 3.6 degrees of separation, it is possible to make the connections that will help you land faster. These facts are kind of mind-blowing– the world’s population has increased by hundreds of millions, but the world has gotten almost 50% smaller thanks to technology!

 

Nurture your networks

Your connections consist of family, friends, acquaintances, friends of friends, and even strangers where you may have a common interest. They are your network and by tapping into those existing relationships and nurturing them, your network will grow– much like a garden. If you are building your network online, create a relationship with the people you wish to network with by engaging them. The ultimate goal is to move your conversation offline in order to establish a meaningful relationship. Through these relationships, the introductions that will lead you to a desirable job are made.

Take opportunities to build your network by networking in person at job events, industry groups, and even industry events. Go further faster by focusing on the QUALITY of your networks, as opposed to the quantity. Quality networks are built with the people with whom you share an interest. Interests consist of a hobby, a political view, a mission, or a value. We do not want to imply that if you simply shake enough hands (without a common interest), you will land a job. You could shake that many hands and eliminate that many opportunities with the wrong impression. Networking is really about adding value to others and enriching your own life. The benefits or detriments you derive from networking are a byproduct of your approach. Like a garden you nurture, you reap or harvest what you sow.

 

In the early 20th century various scientists proved that the world is small and that we are all connected by just a few degrees. In the 21st century, the world has gotten even smaller thanks to the massive explosion of communication technology. Instead of being connected by six degrees, we are connected by 3.6. Many people tend shy away from networking, but the employers you want to work for are just a few handshakes away. A mere 3.6 degrees are all that separate you from the job you have always wanted. By taking advantage of a rapidly shrinking world, you can expand your network, connect with anyone, and land your dream job.

 

How to Use Twitter and Facebook to Land Your Next Job Faster

Facebook Website Screenshot by Spencer E Holtaway of Flickr

Facebook Website Screenshot by Spencer E Holtaway of Flickr

According to the 2015 Jobvite Recruiter Nation survey, 92% of recruiters use social media for recruiting. While it is clear recruiters rely on LinkedIn, you might be surprised to know that 55% use Facebook and 47% use Twitter for recruiting. A strategic presence on multiple social media networks is a way to distinguish yourself from the competition and to land sooner. Social media can be used to catch a hiring manager in the flow of their day, and to grab their attention while your competition waits for their friend to forward an introduction request.

 

Generated by MemeGenerator

Generated by MemeGenerator

Adding Twitter and Facebook to your arsenal of job search tools can be thought of as visiting a secret fishing hole. Except, that hole is not so secret. In fact everyone knows about its location, much like a highway in plain sight. While everyone is using Facebook or Twitter for personal purposes, you can cast your line, attract, and reel in hiring managers and recruiters through these networks.

In Tales from the Flipside, Jack shared his skepticism, bordering on disdain for Twitter. Part of him becoming a Job Search Jedi was expanding his comfort zone, and trying Twitter was a big stretch for him. Much to his delight, and chagrin (because I was right), Jack made contact with an executive at his target company within minutes. This led to a job opportunity within days. This is after Jack tried Linkedin, e-mail, and the phone without success.

 

Complete your profiles and make them interesting

On Twitter show your profile by including professional information as well as nuggets of personal information that add intrigue to your persona. Ask yourself: What is it about me that would make someone stop and say, ‘Interesting! Let me find out more about this person?’ Consider the little things that make you unique. Do you have a secret obsession with bacon-flavored baked goods? Do you crochet tiny animals? Consider your overall uniqueness. What is your mission? What is extraordinary about you? Let people in and give them a sneak peek of who you are.

Facebook provides more characters to create your profile. Create a complete profile that includes your education, work, interests and hobbies. Add details of your work duties and your accomplishments to round out your profile.

On both sites, use an appropriate picture for your profile. Unlike your LinkedIn profile photo, these sites do not have to be professional, but make at least one of the pictures on each site of you (there are usually two- a profile photo and a banner photo). People trust you more if you are confident enough to put your face out there, and they will make a stronger connection with you and your voice. Of course, avoid using a profile picture that is blatantly offensive, something that would earn you a pink slip at work.

 

Engage with relevant industry people and reel them in

Search for relevant people in your industry and follow them on Twitter, especially if they are at a company where you want to work. Use search engines to find them and follow who Twitter suggests. Keep your ratio of following-to-followers close. If you follow many more people than are following you, you may be perceived as a spammer by others.

Add value to your Twitter followers by sharing content on interesting topics outside of your industry and profession; encourage and request input and start discussions. Many industry leaders post about their interests as well as their professional missions and the challenges they confront. Keep track of this by creating a file for each company and thought leader. Provide them with information they like or need in order to solve a pain point. If you are unsure of their pain point, ask them directly! Private message them or publicly @mention them. Go further by asking them what their clients’ pain points are, so you can refer clients to them. Nothing makes a great impression like solving a problem. Tweet Chats are another excellent way to engage with industry professionals or with others on various topics and to grow your network.

 

Organize your social networks

Organize those you follow on Twitter into categories by creating lists. Lists will allow you keep your industry contacts separate from friends, and will ensure that you can easily follow their tweets. In addition to people from your industry, add friends, family, people who amuse or excite you, companies, magazines, and people from other industries.

Tap into your existing network of friends in your industry on Facebook. Create a Friend List and add professional contacts from among your friends. You can add contacts to your list, but they must already be your friend. This will allow you to target your status updates, instead of sending them to everyone. Make sure your friends understand the value you are driven to contribute in your next job, who you want to meet, and where you would like to work.

Expand your network on Facebook by using the Follow option. Unlike Twitter, a person has to have the Follow option turned on in their profile. If this is option is not turned on, you will have to send that person a friend request. Like others’ posts and engage them with thoughtful comments, perhaps even directing them to other thought leaders and resources to keep the conversation going.

 

Create, share, and post interesting content

Update Twitter frequently with useful industry information and content from industry leaders. Three to five tweets are the ideal number to post, but anything over 50 tweets per day and you risk losing followers. If you write, tweet links to your articles or blog posts. Ask questions of others and start conversations. Try to avoid emotionally-charged debates, and stay away from political arguments, as they are a turn-off to potential employers and followers. 55% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate (with 61% of those reconsiderations being negative) because of off-color posts. There are exceptions- if you are seeking a mission-based profession that requires raising awareness to be successful, you’ll need to prove that you are not afraid to be vocal and informative. This is while still being tactful, influential, and appealing enough to inspire people to action. Do not bash your employer or complain about your co-workers. Your future employer will envision being on the receiving end of those comments.

Update your Facebook status with career-related activities, industry information, and what you are looking to give to your next employer. Facebook status updates are less formal and longer than LinkedIn status updates, but briefer than LinkedIn published posts. Use humor whenever possible and include pictures, as they statistically increase views and engagement. The more you post, the more you appear in your friends’ newsfeeds. However, two posts per day will suffice. Strike a balance in your posting frequency. You can always save content for another day. Be responsive to those who do comment and share your posts, and make sure you are spending time doing the same for others.

 

Be consistent and reliable

Consistence on your social networks allows you to be reliable. Earn the loyalty of your followers by being loyal to them. Do not take ignored comments personally. People are busy and news feed algorithms change all the time. If you want a request urgently from someone, call or text them. Social media is regarded by most as a non-urgent venue of communication, and they may have a preference toward another social media platform.

Try finding them on another social network such as Google+, Tumblr, or Instagram. Engage them directly by commenting on an article they have written or in the comments section of a personal blog. Your persistence will pay off when they take notice of you and a virtual contact becomes a real-life contact, opening job opportunity doors. This does not happen all the time, but if one venue of connecting is not working, experimenting with other venues can pay off with personal attention. I have successfully used social media to engage with my favorite speakers, best-selling authors, and even celebrities.

Social media is where you can make a virtual connection with people, but you need to convert this conversation into a real-world exchange. Once you have the engagement (picture the fish on the hook) you have to real them in (this is the adding of value- asking them their pain points, what their most important initiatives are, and what their clients’ pain points are).

Adding Twitter and Facebook to your job search arsenal enables you to tap into a vast job search network hidden in plain sight. Build your tribe through two of the most popular social networks rather than just focusing on the professional networks, to add additional value and to make your network more dynamic. Instead of trolling the job boards where most find frustration and overcrowded avenues to job openings, you could be enjoying the exchanges you have. Even after you land, these networks will enrich your personal and professional life, enabling you to stay on top of new opportunities. You will be more aware of where new opportunities are as long as you stay visible and engaged. Use Twitter and Facebook as tools of the trade to bait potential employers, reel them in, and land your next job.

 

60 Minutes to a LinkedIn Profile That Gets You Interviews

Passe partout by Wies Van Erp of Flickr

Passe partout by Wies Van Erp of Flickr

You are ready to land your next job, you know what you want from your next employer, and your résumé is polished to a shine. Before you venture out, or continue your great job seeking adventure, take a moment to review your LinkedIn profile. Are you getting the results you want? Do you receive messages from recruiters, and introductions to VIPs? Or has you inbox been quiet?  By now, I am assuming you know the importance of having a LinkedIn profile if you are job-seeking.

According to the 2014 Jobvite survey, over 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn when searching for job candidates. In part of an interview for my Philadelphia Magazine article, Jennifer Ghazzouli, QVC Director of Global Talent revealed that her hiring staff heavily relies on LinkedIn to discover talent. Given the heavy emphasis on LinkedIn by hiring managers, a powerfully-branded profile puts a wide gap between you and your competitors for jobs. Evaluate your LinkedIn profile again. If you have not been seeing the great results you want in your job search, it may be time to overhaul your profile.

In her Muse article, “How to Get Your LinkedIn Profile Ready for Your Job Search in 30 Minutes” Jenny Foss created a fantastic LinkedIn profile creation guide. Having your profile up and running is a great first step. However, if you want recruiters to call you first and excitedly invite you to an interview, then take another 30 minutes to further customize your content for your target audience.

Here is how to get your LinkedIn profile up and running and ready to attract employers. (A quick note: If you need further help with creating your LinkedIn profile, we have the tools to help. Our LinkedIn Profile Builder will guide you through creating a powerfully-branded profile that enables you to land twice as fast.)

 

Change your headline

The LinkedIn headline is automatically created when you enter your job title.  A customized headline grabs the attention of employers, recruiters, and anyone else who views your profile. An effective headline depicts the function, or role of your job, instead of the title. A job title is the name of position, while a function explains your daily tasks and activities for a position. A great headline helps employers see how you will fit into their company. In my article, “Increase Views: Ditch the Default LinkedIn Headline” I go into depth on how to create an attention-grabbing headline.

 

Use the summary section to shine

Far too many people use LinkedIn’s summary section to create a carbon copy of their résumé, when it is so much more. An effective summary tells the audience your story and is an opportunity to brand yourself. You have 2000 characters to illustrate your professional life and to sell your value to potential employers. A good headline hooks an employer, but your summary is what reels them in. The summary is also an area where keywords are listed to attract employers. Employers and recruiters often use keywords to search for talent. By including keywords relevant to your industry, it makes you easier to be found. That said, it is possible to use keywords incorrectly.

Also avoid using clichés in your summary, as these words are uninteresting and overused. Are any of these 10 words found within your summary? These words are so common that they mean very little to recruiters who read them day in and day out. Anyone can list them, but those who can prove they have these qualities are the ones who obtain the interview, or land the job. Any time you find yourself wanting to write one of these words, or any subjective adjective, ask yourself, “How would I prove this, and how do these words translate into value for an employer?” Instead, use more specifics and demonstrate them, rather than stating qualities.

 

Update your skills

Skills are a list of your talents and your hard skills. LinkedIn allows you to list 50 skills. Employers can view them at a glance to see how your qualifications match up with an open position. Additionally, skills are also another way to list keywords and to increase your chances of being found by an employer. Place the skills most vital to your position at the top of the list. Once you have your vital skills listed first, politely ask your connections to endorse your skills. Remember to also do the same for them.

 

Fill in the small details

The visual aspects of your LinkedIn profile have a big impact on how you are perceived by employers. Did you upload a photo? The lack of a photo is a turn off because employers or recruiters may ask “what are they hiding?” This is especially true for recruiters who want to submit candidates who present themselves professionally to hiring managers. Display your professional image. If you are self-conscious about your appearance for your age, invest in a photo shoot with a professional photographer and a make-up artist who will bring out your best features. If you are on a budget, you can still find a friend willing to donate their time and talent. Man or woman, you can visit make-up counters at department stores. The perception is that if you do not put your best foot forward online, you cannot put your best foot forward at an interview, or on the job.

LinkedIn is a professional social network, so use a professional photo. About Careers has great tips on how to take and choose a professional photo. A few things to keep in mind are that backgrounds should not be distracting. Your wardrobe needs to be business formal, not wedding formal. Lighting is complimentary, not halogen office lighting, or lamp lighting from a party scene. Do not include alcohol, unless you work in the beverage industry.

Also consider adding multimedia to your summary to further stand out from your competition, and to give your accomplishments some visual flair. In addition to talking about your accomplishments, you can provide your audience with specific examples. Such examples could include a picture of yourself in action on the job, slide decks of presentations you have given, video, audio, and your portfolio.

Take a minute to customize your URL. A custom URL is easy to remember and makes it easier to publicize your profile. Update your status once or twice a day with articles relevant to your industry. This shows employers you take a keen interest in your industry and that you are willing to share news and information. Go a step further and list your personal website or blog (unless they are irrelevant to your industry). Also make sure to add all social media profiles (that are of a professional caliber) to your contact information.

 

Action to take after customizing your profile

Once your LinkedIn profile is complete, consider participating in a few activities while using the service. The Social Media Hat contributor Mike Allton has created an extensive free resource that covers the features, benefits, and activities that make a huge difference in your visibility and lead generation on LinkedIn. Also try our 7 Day LinkedIn challenge. Our challenge is a way to identify and research potential employers, to make new connections, and to expand and strengthen your network.

 

Creating and maintaining a powerfully-branded LinkedIn profile increases the chances of landing your next job faster. LinkedIn is the go-to source for the majority of recruiters and employers. Having a profile that illustrates your brand and demonstrates your value allows you to stand out from the job-seeking crowd. If you have started your job search or are in the middle of a job search, updating and polishing your LinkedIn profile is the best way to give your search a boost.

 

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.

 

7 Steps to Powerful Introductions

"One-to-one meetings" by Richard Hadley from Flickr

“One-to-one meetings” by Richard Hadley from Flickr

 

In the late 2000’s Jack found himself out of work. He had been at his dream job for years and expected to stay with the company for many more years. Instead, his company was bought by a competitor and his job was cut. Jack hadn’t needed to look for a job since the 1990’s, and discovered the job market had changed drastically. He now had to compete with hundreds, if not thousands of other applicants for one position and he felt lost during the entire job search process. His career suddenly had no direction. It took Jack almost two years to land another job.

After two years of unemployment, Jack had enough of the constant job rejections and knew it was time for a change. He enlisted my help and together we rebranded his résumé to stand out and highlight his unique qualifications. He also used the 7 steps that I outline in this article (see below), in order to set an agenda for the conversations he would have, to garner powerful introductions within his industry, and to get his job search back on track. It wasn’t long before Jack was given one job offer, and then by sustaining the agenda and the momentum, was offered additional jobs. You can listen to Jack’s entire story and his happy ending on episode 3 of our Tales from the Flipside Podcast.

You may be like Jack and discover your long-time career is coming to an end. Or, perhaps you’re ready to change employers. Instead of fretting over your next job, you can set the stage for a bidding war between employers. Imagine being scouted for your talent by multiple companies, and having the confidence to command the salary you want. By setting the agenda for conversations with others in your industry, you inspire powerful introductions, and give momentum to your job search. Whatever your employment situation is, you want to ensure any conversation could potentially become a job lead. Your next job lead could come from an unexpected place. It could come from a networking event, an old colleague you ran into at the grocery store or a follow-up phone call from a new LinkedIn connection. Use these 7 steps to set an agenda for your conversations and forge meaningful connections that turn into job leads.

1. Do Your Research Beforehand:

Before you start a conversation you’ll first have to do your research. What does a company need, and how can you contribute to them with your skill set?

As you prepare for your conversation learn more about the person. Where does he or she work? Is their company your next ideal employer? Can they help introduce you to other influential people within your industry? When you have the chance to introduce yourself, demonstrate you’ve done the research by already knowing who they are and what they do. However, there is one caveat. If you claim to know too much about someone, it can come off a little creepy and make people run. Stick to what they publicly share. Mention the common connections you may have and direct the conversation toward mutual interests, hobbies and/or your industry. For instance, “Did you happen to read the latest blog by Google’s CTO? It raised some very interesting points about virtualization and security”. A compliment is always a fall-back approach, as long as it’s genuine.

The point is not to start a conversation off by broadcasting the fact that you’re looking for a job, or to only talk about yourself. Focus on sharing your industry-related opinions, insights and advice, while asking for theirs in return. You may have done your research before a conversation, but you can use the opportunity to learn more about them.

 

2. Hone Your Networking Pitch:

Your networking pitch can be thought of as a commercial about your professional brand. Create various pitches that are molded to the needs of various audiences. If you’re meeting an industry contact for coffee, have a specific pitch ready. If you’re meeting with recruiters and hiring managers at a networking event, use a completely different pitch. The length of your networking pitch can vary, depending on the situation or audience. If your time is limited, it might be 30 seconds. If you have a lot conversation time, it may be 90 seconds or longer. The “commercial” communicates who you are, what you’re looking for, and more importantly, how you can be beneficial to a person or their company. It should entice a person to learn more about you, and how you can help them. In other words, having a deep understanding of your skills, qualifications and other strengths, and knowing how you will be an asset to someone can help sell your brand.

Your networking pitch consists of two major parts:

1) A very short way to tell people about what you do by talking FIRST about the impact that you make. E.g., “I optimize career and income trajectories for corporate professionals and independent contractors by teaching them how to harness the power of personal branding and social media.”

2) Anecdotes that support four to six primary pillars of your brand. Look for cues in the conversation to recall these anecdotes.

These anecdotes sell your networking pitch and are a great opportunity to illustrate how your skills could help a person and/or their employer. Recall past achievements and bad situations you helped rectify. It could be the time company e-mails stopped working and you diligently stayed on top of the problem until it was solved. Or, you could mention the time you helped your employer save time and money by completing your last project early and on budget. When someone knows their employer has a problem that needs to be solved, you want to be the solution they think of first.

This is also a good time to illustrate your passion for the job. If you love waking up every morning to crunch numbers, and type out lines of code, convey this during your discussion. Show your passion for the industry by keeping abreast of news, and by mentioning some of the industry groups you’ve joined. If you have projects of passion you do outside of work, mention them. I have a friend who loves coding. During the day he works as a software engineer at a large cable company. In his free time, he loves to create apps that are useful to others. His latest app is a secure password generator that anyone can use for free. His love of software development is apparent to everyone who knows him. Likewise, your passion and excitement can be positively inspiring and contagious to others.

 

3. Ask Questions:

Learn even more about someone by asking them questions during your conversation. Job-related questions can consist of what they love about their job, or some of their favorite moments at work. You can even steer the conversation away from work-related questions. Ask them about the city they’re currently living in, a favorite sports team, or even a favorite musician. Those common connections will help break the ice and build a rapport. A good rule-of-thumb to remember is people love to talk about themselves.

 

4. Listen:

When you have a conversation it is important to not only ask questions, but to listen to what a person has to say. That person should have your undivided attention for the duration of a conversation. If you’re meeting in person, and your phone is buzzing, ignore it—except for an emergency. By listening, you may find out more about a person’s employer, their own employment situation and you can think of ways to be of assistance. You never know who has the power to give your career transition the extra push it may need.

In addition to listening, you can offer to help. They may need a referral from you, or another important favor. By helping others you can establish yourself as someone dependable and trustworthy. But people don’t always ask for help when they need it. It takes a little more work to find out how you can be of service, which brings us to our next step.

 

 5. Identify Needs:

Every person with whom you are in contact is working on SOMETHING, be it personal or professional, for which they could use some assistance. Use the conversation as a way to identify what this is, even if you are not sure yet how you can help. If a person doesn’t ask, you need to be an investigator and coach your contact to tell you where they need assistance. Think of it as giving people a way to help YOU help THEM. Your contact could need a referral, an introduction to someone in your network, or advice to help finish a project. Again, you may never know what they need unless you take the time to ask. Examples of what you can ask include, “What are you working on lately?” What are your company’s goals for 2015?” What do you think you’ll do after this position?” and even “Is there something you wish would be done already?”

 

6. Express Needs:

Identifying a person’s needs can evolve into expressing your own needs. Just as YOU need to know about someone’s needs before they can help you, THEY have to be encouraged to know your needs before they can help YOU. Make it a point to ASK the other person:

  1. A) If they know anyone in X company, especially (but not exclusively) in X department, and/or:
  2. B) If they have ever heard anyone complain about [insert problem you have resolved for your previous company or companies].

This is technically TRAINING your contacts to produce leads for you. This works much better than asking people if they know anyone hiring an [insert title]. People need guidance on how to coach people on what they need to succeed.  This step is one of the most valuable actions on this list. If you can only try ONE thing from this list, it is this. (Though, we expect that you are fully capable of doing all the suggestions at some point).

 

7. Follow-Up:

Shaking hands, listening, and telling people all about yourself won’t matter if you don’t follow up with them after a conversation. A follow-up is the perfect way to cement your name in the minds of the people with whom you connected. Keep track of who you talked to and e-mail them directly after your conversation with a “Thank you” note. A simple and quick e-mail that recaps the conversation and reminds them of the next meeting will suffice. If you want to leave a lasting impression, send them a handwritten “Thank you” note. A handwritten note can be strategic because it can sit on a person’s desk and is a visible reminder of a conversation. After that, give each of the attendees a call and invite them out for coffee. If you haven’t already connected with them on LinkedIn, do so. Do something proactively within a week to try to be of service or meet their needs. If there wasn’t a specific action item, follow up within two weeks. Schedule another follow up every month if you are in active job search mode, or every 3-6 months when you are not.

 

Here’s my challenge to you: Use this guide for three conversations next week and share with us in the comments section, on Twitter or Facebook what is generated as a result.

 

A focused agenda for any conversation with a contact in your industry, and a powerful introduction can take your job search to new heights. An inspiring introduction can lead to further conversations, friendships, referrals and job offers. You will have the opportunity to help others, forge strong connections, and unveil your brilliance. Recall my anecdote with Jack earlier. One conversation lead to multiple job offers. Imagine how one conversation can have a huge impact on your job search, confidence and momentum. One conversation can lead to a meeting, then two meetings, and then lead to five more meetings.  Suddenly, you’re in a bidding war and you’re eliciting job offers from multiple employers. Some of these offers, if not most, are unexpected. This confidence enables you to pick the opportunity that is best for you and ask for a salary more in alignment with your desired lifestyle.