While driving to the gym this weekend I spotted a young girl in the neighborhood selling lemonade, sitting comfortably in the shade. I thought, stuck in one place, she won’t get much traffic. Still, I saluted her efforts: She’s launching her business woman identity!
A lot of people view LinkedIn like a Lemonade Stand, thinking I’ll create a decent product – park my Profile – and hope people ‘drive by’ and find me. The problem is this strategy doesn’t work and after awhile of not getting found, they say:
- LinkedIn is a waste of time and energy!
- Clearly no one’s hiring these days
- No one’s looking for someone with my skill set
- There must be something wrong with me
Now compare the Lemonade Stand with the Food Truck. Successful food trucks thrive because they know they have to differentiate themselves. Their product has to be unique and delicious. They bend over backwards to connect with their ideal audience. They go where the crowds are. They develop relationships with fans who develop a taste for their food.
My nephew-in-law Tim Meador and his partner Brandon Spain own a food truck in Ft. Collins, CO called The Tramp About. With a 5 star rating on Yelp, their business is thriving. They have an active Facebook page and post astonishing food photos weekly. (If I lived there, I would be his Food Truck Stalker). They communicate with their audience consistently and are always creating new mouth-watering, gorgeous sandwiches. Behold:
I rest my case.
As a job seeker, are you the lemonade stand or the food truck? I’ve found the job seekers who think like food truck entrepreneurs land a job faster. Here’s what they do differently:
They relish what they do
Many job seekers obsess over “doing the right thing,” and following the rules. While there are gobs of important rules in job search, giving up your personality, passion and joy will sink your job search efforts.
What are your skills and superpowers? What have you learned about your role or industry that you wish other people knew? What gets you fired up professionally? Share it. Teach us about it! Sincerity is palpable.
- Set up several Google Alerts about topics you care about. Articles will arrive in your inbox several times a day. Sift through them and select the best, sharing them with your network.
- Create memes of your favorite quotes.
They engage regularly online
It’s so tempting to remain undercover as a job seeker. You fall under the toxic spell of “I’ve got no credibility, I’m unemployed!” or “What do I know that hasn’t already been said?” Non-engagement actually sends unwanted signals: That you don’t care, that you’re not current and that you’re not confident.
When you engage regularly you send the opposite signal: That you are confident, relevant, and care about contributing value. You also create a digital footprint many hiring managers seek. When people learn about you they will Google you. What does your digital trail say about you? Engaging regularly, especially on your target company’s website and social channels, shows energy and relevance, qualities recruiters and hiring managers look for.
- Follow companies on LinkedIn and their Facebook pages. Share your opinions, support, enthusiasm, curiosity.
- Comment on others’ status updates, blogs, in Groups. Be positive and supportive, yet don’t be afraid to share your differing perspective. We all learn from varying perspectives. It’s juicy. Teach us your hard-won wisdom. I have gained followers and clients by commenting. Teach us the way you think.
They take risks to set themselves apart
My colleague Jean recently shared her son’s job search success story. Unhappy with his starter finance job out of college, he decided, “That’s it. I’m going for the mountain top.” He targeted the 5 best finance firms in the Chicago area, and reached out directly to the recruiter at each firm, requesting a brief exploratory conversation. Within 5 weeks, Jean’s son landed a new position at a significantly higher salary.
What would be a risk for you? For some it’s attending a networking event. For others it’s asking for help. In job search, differentiating yourself is vital in order to stand out from the crowd and become known. The key is stretching yourself to meet new people who can open doors for you.
- Connect with people in your industry whom you admire. Write them a customized LinkedIn connection request telling them why you admire their work. Be sincere. I reached out – okay, gushed – over someone who writes for a respected journal. We stayed in touch, and now she refers clients to me.
- Talk to new people who do what you want to do. Interview them for an article. Ask for advice. Ask them to refer you and definitely ask them how you can help them. Remember your networking etiquette!
I encourage you to share the best of you, both online and in person. People are hungry for content, so share what you know: Regularly, with enthusiasm, and in new ways that stretch you. Dazzle us with your delicious and unique energy. The days of sitting in the corner and hoping you’ll get found is for beginners – not a pro like you. Ditch the lemonade stand. The mountain top awaits you.
Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a certified LinkedIn™ Profile Writer, LinkedIn trainer, Career Transition Coach and Forbes Contributor. She is the founder of Coming Alive Career Coaching, and loves teaching people how to get found on LinkedIn. A participant in one of her workshops recently wrote: “Julie’s LinkedIn class took me from a skeptical LinkedIn novice to a believer in the power of LinkedIn!”
To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Optimization packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow Julie on Twitter and Facebook.