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4 Questions That Build a Killer LinkedIn Summary

LinkedIn Logo by Esther Vargas of Flickr

LinkedIn Logo by Esther Vargas of Flickr

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Question 1:  How did you get here?

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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Select the “Companies” option here.

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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Keep an eye out for 1st degree connections.

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

Tuesday: Research those target companies

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

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

 

Wednesday: Message (or call) your connections

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

Thursday: Nurture your network and engage

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

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

 

Friday: Expand your network

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

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

 

Saturday: Get acquainted with your network

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

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

 

Sunday: Review time

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

10 Surprising Websites and 2 Secret Places Where You Can Research Employers

"Websites You May Like" by Enokson from Flickr

“Websites You May Like” by Enokson from Flickr

 

If you want to take your job search beyond LinkedIn and Google, there are ten websites and two secret places can that help you up your game and stand out among the competition. These sites are some of the best ways to learn about a person or business. You can use these websites in tandem to verify a person’s identity and discover their industry interests. In turn, these interests could help you establish a connection with someone in your industry or they could help you further evaluate an employer. Imagine going into an interview or a meeting and being able to talk about industry-related topics. Or, using the information to bring up a problem that an employer or person may commonly face and how you resolved a similar problem in the past. Showing up to a meeting, crafting a cover letter, or just making a connection while armed with extra research can demonstrate your commitment, diligence and value to others.

In short, you’re taking a proactive approach to your job search versus a reactive approach. In a proactive job search you pick the companies that interest you, research them and reach out to decision makers to establish a relationship. In a reactive job search you look for job openings, send your cover letter and résumé to hiring managers and hope it stands out enough to elicit a response. Instead of spending your time validating what’s on your résumé, what if you could acquire enough research to get an inside look at a company’s 2015 goals?

I’m talking going beyond press releases to take a deeper look inside of a company. Imagine if you were in a meeting with a company’s CEO and he or she were outlining goals for the year, the challenges the company faces, and the steps that need to be taken to solve those problems. If a company is losing customers, you would know and could create a plan to attract new customers. You would know more about a company’s customers, products and their systems. You could contribute ideas, help develop special products, and land new clients. You could move right into talking about a 90-day plan, and suddenly you’re being sold on the opportunity to work for a company. Can you feel your future paycheck rising? You should! These incredible meetings aren’t limited to interviews. You could take a deeper level of preparation to any meeting. Both parties will get more out of the meeting as you know their needs thanks to your research, and they have a better understanding of the value you can bring them.

You can use these ten websites to dig deeper and learn more about a person or a company. In addition to the websites, there are a few secret areas you can visit to find elusive information. I’m not including LinkedIn on the list. LinkedIn is a powerful resource and a great way to search for and connect with professionals in your industry. If you need help with searching for contacts using the network, JibberJobber has excellent instructional videos.  You can use the information from the websites I’m going to outline BEFORE you search for contacts and extend invitations to connect with others on LinkedIn. (I assure you the connections you make will be more meaningful as a result.)

 

1. Google:

Google isn’t a surprising choice on this list, but it is important. There are surprising ways in which you can use Google when it comes to advanced searches and more. I’ll discuss those search methods in a moment. Google is the first place you’ll start when researching someone or a potential employer. There is a wealth of publicly available information to be found at your fingertips. Search by entering the person’s name and a few keywords related to their job or location, for example “Karen Huller Career Coach”. You may run into the problem of searching for a person with an incredibly common name. If you’re researching a company, it may also be difficult to find thanks to a common name. In this case, Google’s advanced search can help. It allows you to define searches with exact words or phrases, exclude words and narrow your results by language, country, website domain, and more. This is useful if you have a professional’s name and the name of their company. You can also further narrow down results by including geography, such as a town or a state. To keep current tabs on a person, set up Google Alerts to notify you when new search results for a person are added.  You can customize Alerts by update frequency and sources (blogs, news, discussion, and books) and have the results delivered to your email address.

You can take your search a step further by accessing a secret location on Google. Do an image search, if you find a matching image of a person, follow the source page. It can reveal such things as what a person does with their friends, awards they have received, events they have attended, activities they engage in, and much more!

2. Google+:

Once you have found a person or business on Google, you can use Google+ to further confirm their identity. Use the service to search for people, companies, their profiles, and any posts they have created. The About section allows you to glean information such as a person’s occupation, their place of employment, the places they have previously lived, Google+ communities they are a part of, and links to any other social networks or services. If the Posts section is active on their account, it can be a great insight into what a person may be writing about or sharing. If your subject is an industry leader, he or she will definitely talk about their industry and even how they make contributions to it. An active business will have their latest posts, contact information and links to other social media accounts.


3. YouTube:

A person’s YouTube profile can be accessed directly through Google+ or on YouTube. If they are an active professional in their industry they might have uploaded a few videos with useful content for their followers. These videos can explain who they are, how their followers can better themselves within their industry, or a video may advertise a service. If a person doesn’t have any content uploaded on YouTube, you may find videos from other people in their playlist section. These videos can allow you learn more about the interests of the person you’re researching. Businesses are a bit trickier. If they haven’t linked their YouTube accounts to Google+, their latest videos (if they have any) won’t appear. You’ll have to search separately for them on YouTube.


4. Data.com:

Data.com is an online directory of business professionals and their companies fed by data from Salesforce.com. It is mainly used for b2b (business-to-business) transactions, and is maintained by a large subscriber community. It allows you to look up and exchange business information with millions of professionals. It is the same information you would find on their business card. You can search for and verify their newest information such as job titles, current employer and an email address. You can also search for businesses and gather a list of their current employees. Because this is user-updated information, you will want to verify the information by calling a company switchboard and trying to reach someone who can verify it, or even just to try to see if you can reach that person. Also, everyone has a concern about privacy. It is better to address privacy concerns before adding someone’s contact information. We recommend that you DO NOT add anyone’s contact information without their consent. It’s best to make the nominal investment or only add people for whom you can consent to get credits you can use in exchange for others’ information.
5. Zoominfo.com:

Like Data.com, Zoominfo.com is a directory containing millions of professionals. Zoominfo is different from Data.com because it uses publicly available information aggregated from web articles mentioning the person or business and other sources. It is easy to verify a person based on their work history. The database also allows you to search and discover profiles for businesses. These profiles include contact information, a company overview, number of employees, their competitors and revenue. Unlike searching on Google, this information is updated once every 90 days or sooner. You also don’t have to wade through pages to identify your contact or a business. It is all readily available in one easy-to-navigate spot.

 

6. Slideshare:

Slideshare is a service that allows users to read and share professional presentations online. It boasts over 60 million global users and is the largest community for sharing professional content. Slideshare allows you to search for and follow individuals, regardless of if they’ve uploaded content. Their profiles can include their current location, employer, education, a professional description, their social media accounts, their websites, and other people they follow. Slideshare is a good resource for verifying a person’s identity, but it only works if he or she has taken the time to fill out a profile. Even if a person’s profile doesn’t include a detailed profile, there is another potential way to gather this information. The presentations they share might contain information missing from their profile.  You can also find businesses and the slides they’ve shared. These slides can contain high-ranking members of a company, such as the vice president of a division. Furthermore, these slides contain presentations that cover industry trends and their approaches to solving problems.


7. The Business Journals:

When it comes to researching people and employers online, The Business Journals are a veritable gold mine. I sang the praises of the Philadelphia Business Journal in my article “There’s GOLD in These Pages”, and for good reason. It is a fantastic source for leads that correlate to your income potential, it allows you to target organizations through the Book of Lists, read about the growth of local companies and even find people on the move. The local business directory is great for obtaining quick information on local employers. The search feature even allows users to find people and business throughout the journal. Some of The Business Journals’ best features are behind a pay wall, but if you’re serious about locating research and information, a subscription provides access to valuable tools.


8. Vimeo:

Vimeo is a video-sharing service that predates YouTube. The platform has over 14 million members and the bulk of users are creative professionals. In other words, Vimeo is a great way to find career coaches, mentors and subject matter experts in addition to music, animation and film artists. The community is small compared to YouTube, but it is passionate. Vimeo can be used to find a professional and discover their creative works, in order to learn more about them. You can also search for businesses on Vimeo. The results aren’t as comprehensive as YouTube, but some businesses provide fascinating glimpses into their operations. For instance, Amazon Recruiting has a video highlighting their relocation packages for new employees. A similar search of Amazon’s brand on YouTube yields mostly uploads of commercials and ads for consumer products. If you can find a business on Vimeo, the uploaded videos could provide a new perspective on the company.


9. Pinterest:

Pinterest is a media-sharing website with a heavy focus on sharing pictures. But, many users also use it to share content from websites. Like other social outlets, it allows users to follow one another. You can search for a person on the service and view what they have been sharing. This provides a glimpse at the industries they follow and their hobbies. More importantly, Pinterest allows you to get a glimpse of what information is relevant to a person and the subjects they like to see and share. If a person has fully customized their account, check out their boards. Depending how they use their pins and boards, you may learn what their wildest dreams and deepest desires are. A person’s dreams and desires can help you engage a person and gain some insight into their thought processes. You can also search Pinterest to find news and facts about a business, but not very many of them have actual Pinterest accounts. However, if a business does have an account, they are surely using it to promote their employment brand.

 

10. Facebook:

I can’t talk about searching for people on social media without mentioning Facebook. It is the largest social media platform in the world and has more than one billion active users each month. It is mainly thought of as a personal social media network, but it also functions as a directory. You can search for people or businesses by name, but like Google, if a person has a common name a search can yield dozens of results. To find the person you’re looking for you’ll generally need to know what city they live in, and/or their place of employment. Try searching for a name on Google. Sometimes their Facebook page will appear in the results. This can greatly aide your search if you’re having a difficult time finding someone. Facebook is a great way to get a general feel for a person and their interests, depending on what they share publicly. You’ll find some accounts are heavily restricted to friends and family, while other accounts are public. Lots of businesses big and small have Facebook pages that provide general information about a company or brand. The information you find on Facebook is fairly generic, but it can be used to be more engaging when you do approach someone.

 

I’ve gone into depth about the ten websites and a few secret websites you can use to take your job search further. However, you can be proactive about your job search instead of reactive. Our Webinar, Insider Edge to Social Media: 3 Success Secrets to Getting Hired, demonstrates NOT just how you can be found by employers of choice, but HOW you can use social media in many of the same ways to be PROACTIVE about your job search. A proactive job search allows you to land at a company you already know will be a great employer and can offer you the environment and culture you need to thrive, and the opportunity to expand your professional horizons. The searching methods contained in Insider Edge are integral to executing a proactive job search.

That said, even if you are being reactive, because your networking and social media activities have generated great leads, you can use the sites I mentioned to optimize every meeting and interview.

 

Stop Treating LinkedIn Like An Online Résumé

Photo courtesy of www.flazingo.com/creativecommons.

Photo courtesy of www.flazingo.com/creativecommons.

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

Your LinkedIn profile is different from your résumé

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

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

Use your LinkedIn Profile to dazzle your audience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Missed Opportunity

1988 Music Video for Missed Opportunity

You Can’t Afford Not to Investigate Your Next Employer!

"Office" by Julia Manzerova.

“Office” by Julia Manzerova.

What if you approached your next employer in the same way you would check out the health report of your favorite restaurant? When we job hunt, we mostly fixate on the position we’re trying to land.  We consider salary, advancement opportunities, healthcare benefits, and other employee perks when looking at our next employer. However, we can often go much deeper in the research of our potential employer.  The company you want to work for may not be a good fit for you. Imagine the joy of landing that job, starting work, and the horror of discovering you hate your new company. You could have a problem with way the business is run, or the company culture in general. In other words, after getting your foot in the door, you’re already looking for an exit. Taking the time to dig into the publicly available records of your next employer is a great way to avoid this scenario. Sometimes, you make discoveries you didn’t want to know about. Other times, there are things you have to know about.

Extremely savvy consumers who want to know more about their favorite restaurants will often start with a health report. These reports are made available by state and local governments. Many counties have a convenient list of restaurants available with dated reports. The reports will often list if the restaurants are in compliance, out of compliance, and if the issue was resolved during the visit. (For an example of a local report, read Ardmore, PA’s Taste of Olives’ inspection.) Additionally, consumers who want to learn more about a particular restaurant can turn to review sites such as Zagat or Yelp for customer experiences.

When researching a future employer you can tackle your research in a similar manner. The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) is a good place to check out the health and safety compliance records of a company. You certainly don’t want to find yourself working for an employer in constant violation of the OSH Act. OHSA has an enforcement inspections database that is searchable by the name of establishments. You can search for employer violations, cases, and inspection dates across federal and state governments. Information is readily available, but it isn’t as easy to interpret as a restaurant health report. OSHA’s Integrated Management Information System is meant for in-house use, despite being publicly available. You can discover if an employer had any violations, if they were fined, and if there was an informal settlement. The number of violations may be concerning, or the complete lack of violations could put you at ease. Just like a restaurant report, an OSHA report is only a snapshot of a company during a specific time.

Job review sites such as Vault or the more popular Glassdoor are a great place to get an idea of a company’s culture, directly from employees. Glassdoor was founded in 2007 and currently has a database of over 6 million detailed company reviews. The reviews cover everything from interview reviews and questions, salary reports, benefits reviews, CEO approval ratings, and even employee recommendations on how the company can improve. Searching for a particular company is as easy as entering a name. Reviewers range from entry-level employees, all the way to up to senior management. The interview reviews provide some insight on the hiring process. Glassdoor is a great way to gather information about an employer. A company with lots of subpar reviews or a confusing interview process may be noteworthy.

[click to Tweet this article: http://ctt.ec/10yw4]

 

The major downside to Glassdoor is the inability to sort out review by location and career position. For example, you may want reviews from IT Project Managers for Comcast based in Philadelphia. A search of Comcast with those terms yields general reviews of the company from employees in a variety of positions, in numerous locations across the country. There’s no way to hone in on those specific search terms, forcing you to read reviews from similar positions. There are also a lot of anonymous reviews on Glassdoor that tell you very little about a job position. All and all, Glassdoor is still a good resource for researching companies.

Another great way to check out an employer is by word of mouth. Think about it. You would definitely ask your friends about a restaurant you were curious about. In the same way, your friends, social networks, and even networking events can help you determine if a company would be a good match. Don’t be afraid to ask contacts on LinkedIn about a company’s culture. Be sure to ask about company culture from employees at networking events. Facebook posts and tweets make it very easy to get the “word on the street.” Try it for one of your target companies. Often these social inquiries generate leads and introductions without you having to outright ask.

Doing extra research on the front end provides another bonus in your job hunt. If you discover the company is a good match, you will be able to fine tune your marketing efforts. You’ll know enough about the company to hit their hot buttons and land an interview directly with a hiring manager. That’s a huge advantage over your competition!

Researching an employer in the same way you might scope out your favorite restaurant isn’t easy. Searching for work place reports and employee reviews can be a daunting task.  A little work goes a long way in finding out if a company would be a good a fit for you. When taking your career to the next level you want to know as much as possible about your next employer. A combination of compliance information and employee-driven reviews will help to ensure you don’t regret getting the job. The mental stress, depression, and overall frustration resulting from a bad match with an employer can be detrimental to your wellbeing. On the flipside, fully researching a company and discovering they are a good match can help your chances of being hired. Much of what you find out can help you more effectively market yourself to meet their needs. In short, you can’t afford to not thoroughly research a company.

Gin Blossoms – Found Out About You

Music video by Gin Blossoms performing Found Out About You. (C) 2004 A&M Records

I am NOT a rock; I am NOT an island

Outer_Aleutian_Islands_NASA_Goddard_Photo_and_Video

Outer_Aleutian_Islands_NASA_Goddard_Photo_and_Video

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think – LinkedIn’s group policy

I created a group on LinkedIn called “Give Us More Groups.” What’s ironic? Well, I had to leave a group to create the group. Also, so have all or most of the members.

What else? LinkedIn sent me group alert.

LI group alert

Really? There are a TON of groups I would LOVE to join.

Why? Am I a spammer?

Apparently, as long as I blog there are certain people who think so. (Or rather there is one individual who is speaking for some unidentified population of people he assumes shares his opinion.) Apparently there are some (or at least one) who feels that blogging and “serial” sharing has “absolutely zero engagement,” and, therefore, is as good as spam. I wonder, though how they (he) keep up with emerging trends in their (his) industry? I wonder how they (he) decide which services and products to trust.

A different individual had shared concerns about using LinkedIn groups for spamming – a legitimate concern. He felt that anything you would want to do professionally with in the acceptable terms of LinkedIn could be done with 50 groups, to which I replied:

I think you’ll agree that our professions require us to be very dynamic in order to be effective. We should be immersed in marketing groups, business development groups, social media groups, various industry groups, unemployment groups, recruiting groups, human resources groups, and on and on. You must be aware of just how many job groups there are alone! (35,638) I don’t think we should join all of them. Actually, I share your point-of-view about having quality interactions versus harvesting contact information. I even have a vlog about it: http://bit.ly/chavlog2 – Why not to accept LinkedIn invitations from people you don’t know.

I cannot speak for the people who have spoken to you about their intent to “harvest” more connections, but doing so seems to be explicitly written into the purposes of LinkedIn: to “meet, exchange ideas, learn, make deals, find opportunities or employees, work, and make decisions in a network of trusted relationships and groups.” A lot of people misunderstand my intent with my vlog; they think I only want to connect with people I already know. That is NOT the intention of LinkedIn. I want to know my connections AND invest time in getting to know new people BEFORE they join my network. I think what you are concerned about is that people will skip the critical step of building relationships with people they add to their network or that they will simply add these contacts to some large SPAM database, which would go against social networking, networking, and business development best practices.

Furthermore, if part of the mission of LinkedIn is to learn, it can also be understood that part of the mission is to teach. Rarely do I promote a product or service on LinkedIn, and when I do I use the appropriate channels. I very often, however, use it to disseminate news, advice and FREE resources to my target audience. Even this is not welcome in some groups, and I respect that.

The whole reason LinkedIn has an interest section is so that people can find common ground, an impetus for building rapport. That is why there are groups related to personal interests and professional interests alike. Once you have something personal to share, creating professional synergy is that much easier.

My life is as diverse as my profession. I want to engage with professionals who are also musicians, like me. I want to share my passion for my sports teams with other people on LinkedIn. I want to learn tips from other work-at-home parents. I need to connect with other real estate stakeholders to get deals done. I want to know what mistakes people are making in their investments that can save me from losing my shirt. I want to be able to be a part of local political issues. I’d like to know what other people who are trying gluten-free diets are craving, and how they overcome it.

There was more, about how LinkedIn groups could really help me facilitate enrichment exchanges with diverse groups. This is something I see Google+ doing better than LinkedIn, and could be a reason people turn to it rather than LinkedIn. For us as users, there is no problem in using various social media for different purposes, as long as our desired communities adopt the same social media. However, for any social media platform, you have to know your audience and capture as much of their time as possible for growth stability. This is where I think LinkedIn is failing. In many ways, they have hit a peak and are leaving plenty of room for a new, better, more powerful platform to emerge and take over as the professional social media of choice.

What do you think? Do you think that my intended purpose oversteps LinkedIn’s stated mission? “To connect the world’s professionals to enable them to be more productive and successful….we make services available…to help you, your connections, and millions of other professionals meet, exchange ideas, learn, make deals, find opportunities or employees, work, and make decisions in a network of trusted relationships and groups.”

What is the etiquette with LinkedIn endorsements?

Hi Karen,LI endorsement

You are a linkedin guru so maybe you can offer some advice.   Without solicitation by me, people have endorsed me for Oracle Applications.  Why are they doing it and what is the proper etiquette.   Should I send a thank you?   Should I return in kind an endorsement?

M.

**************************************************************************************************

Dear M.,

Endorsements have a fraction of the meaning to visitors as recommendations, but they have proven to have some influence on your credibility. A lack of endorsements has more of a negative influence on your credibility than having endorsements has a positive influence on your credibility; they are so easy to give.

You may notice on your home page at the top you are prompted to endorse your connections. Your connections see the same. LinkedIn offers suggestions as to what to endorse you for based on the skills that you chose to include on your profile. All your connections have to do is CLICK and you are endorsed.

You don’t have to reciprocate directly. It is best to be genuine. It is considered thoughtful to endorse someone, and it might brighten someone’s day to have you endorse them. As mentioned in my last vlog, how you make people feel is paramount to what they are willing to do on your behalf. Doing so also keeps you visible and top-of-mind to your network.  A thank you, whether private to each individual or public as a status update, is always a nice idea.

So, while reciprocation and thank yous are not obligatory, they are reflection of your gratitude and can be a positive reflection on you as well. Just stay genuine and don’t go overboard.

 

Unveil your brilliance!