LinkedIn

3 Traits of a Badass LinkedIn Profile

Is your LinkedIn profile bad or badass?

If it sounds like my client John’s did, it’s bad:

I am an experienced business development leader with a track record of success in multiple positions.  I am a hands on, outgoing, team player.  I am looking for a company culture and position to utilize my skills and many years of experience to contribute to their growth and overall success.

Here are the problems with John’s LinkedIn profile:

  • It lacks humanity – he sounds vague and robotic.
  • It lacks results – he offers no examples of past accomplishments.
  • It focuses on features rather than benefits to an employer: He describes himself as an “experienced business development leader,” a “hands on, outgoing, team player,” but never shows the business pain he solves.

Know this: You are being Googled, and your LinkedIn profile is the first result in a Google search. As the host of your LinkedIn profile, are you wowing visitors who drop by?

Be distinctive. By sharing your humanity, your proudest successes and how you’ll benefit an employer, you’ll transform your own profile from bad to badass.

And get the attention you deserve.

Here’s how:

Disarm viewers with genuineness

Please ditch the 3rd person. It may make sense for a BIO or resume, but not for your LinkedIn summary, and here’s why.

Your likeability is key at this stage of the game. In contrast, 3rd person builds a wall between you and your viewer, making you seem stiff and aloof.

Using 1st person drops the wall. Here are some sparkly lines I re-wrote for 2 clients’ profiles:

John: I thrive in a challenge. Got chaos? Stuck in neutral? I’m on it. I love pulling companies and teams forward in their mission.

Becky: I’m old school in the best ways: A genuine, hand-holding insurance professional who goes the extra mile for my clients. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?

Tell us:

  • In what way are you the best at what you do? C’mon, tell us what you’re secretly smug about (but don’t sound smug)!
  • What business problem do you love to sink your teeth into?
  • Why are you passionate about your industry and what is needed that only you can provide?

No matter what position you’re aiming for, from sales to C-suite, be relatable. Hear ye, executives! You can be genuine and a powerhouse.

Succinctly describe past successes

Nobody wants to sound like a braggart. That’s why so many profiles sound like John’s. According to LinkedIn’s Catherine Fisher, 46% of executives don’t feel comfortable sharing their achievements.

Know this: If you don’t, you will be skipped over. Achievements make you stand out whereas listing features like “team player” and boring keywords make our eyes glaze over.

Here’s how I’ve described clients’ successes on their profiles. Tell me if it sounds like bragging:

Yasmine: When I see potential in others, I want to nurture it. At one engagement I mentored a colleague through a sales cycle and within 6 months, her impact helped triple the account revenue to $1M+. Today, she is a high-performing senior sales support contributor.

Jerry: In my work with Fortune 500 companies prior to focusing on healthcare, I mastered the art of revenue management.  When asked to help a struggling healthcare practice in 2004, I turned the business around from $4M to $20M in revenue in only five years.

Provide high level detail – a sentence or 2 that drives home what you accomplished. Too much detail isn’t appropriate on your LinkedIn profile. Share enough to be convincing, that will invite a conversation. No need for a career autobiography.

Here’s a formula:

  • Describe your superpower(s). Then describe a result you achieved using those superpower(s) – in 250 characters.

Emphasize benefits, not features

Your features — strengths and competencies — matter. But they take a back seat to how you benefit your future employer, who reads your profile thinking, “What’s in it for me?”

Here are some different ways to emphasize the benefits of hiring you that address an employer’s  concerns:

John: As a kid, I could fish ALL DAY, hooked by the thrill of “What’s next? What’s bigger?” That same curiosity and fascination for what is possible stays with me today. I love creating ideas and concepts, testing and improving processes, nurturing productive teams to meet aggressive sales goals.

Doug: My secret? I run your business like I’m the owner. You’ll NEVER hear me say, “Let’s throw this food away, I didn’t pay for it.” I don’t waste your product, your labor, your time, or your materials. Sure, I can do it the easy way, but I’d rather not waste money.

Tell us:

  • Something you learned as a kid or in your early profession that has stayed with you. How do you apply that knowledge to solve problems, grow revenue or streamline processes?
  • Like Doug, frame a cherished principle as a secret. Then describe how it provides value, solves problems or saves money.

As the host of your LinkedIn profile, expect surprise guests to drop by. When they do, it’s essential you make it worth their while: By being relatable, sharing your accomplishments and describing benefits over features, your guests will never want to leave.

Image above drawn by Anya Talatinian.

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a certified LinkedIn™ Profile Writer,  LinkedIn trainer and Career Transition Coach. 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 juliebondyroberts@gmail.com. You can also follow Julie on Twitter and Facebook.

Is Your LinkedIn Summary Loaded for Bear?

Does your LinkedIn Summary capture how you’re extraordinary?

I know, it’s really hard to do, isn’t it? Those who get stuck call me to optimize their LinkedIn profile. The irony is, after I actually write their Summary and Headline, and offer back a first draft, I sometimes catch flak. They say:

“Oh my – I can’t say all that. It’s embarrassing!”

I get it. It’s blinding to be shown your best side.

We are wired for negativity. It’s built into our culture. We’re rigged to see flaws, both others’ and our own. That’s why when we attempt to describe ourselves in our best light, it feels like we’re underrepresenting ourselves – or worse, lying.

A little test: Do you scoff when someone sings your praises?

Potential hiring managers or clients, however, don’t want to see your blemishes in your LinkedIn Summary. They just want to see your grace. They want to be dazzled, intrigued, WOWED. They want to be convinced you’re the one to call to solve their pain.

But because we swim in our insufficiencies, most of us struggle to write an effective LinkedIn Summary. Instead, we write something safe and bland, chock-full of keywords because “that’s what you’re supposed to do,” and cross our fingers we’ll get found for that next dream gig.

Unfortunately, blandness is the most effective camouflage on LinkedIn.Frog in camouflage_Is This You on LinkedIn1

Here’s are 3 strategies I use for writing a more impactful LinkedIn Summary:

Write an irresistible opening line.

While there is no one way to write a great opening, here are 2 effective approaches that will pull your reader in:

  • Begin with a question

By beginning with a question, you demonstrate confidence, engage your reader and address an employer’s business pain out of the gate.  I use this approach if my client is unemployed and actively job searching, or is an entrepreneur.

(Note: Permission obtained from all clients, identified below).

BEFORE OPTIMIZATION: (Jerry Godwin)

“An executive with 20 years of leadership and management experience.”

This was Jerry’s opening sentence before he hired me. Since there are many executives out there with 20 years of leadership and management experience, his opener doesn’t differentiate him from his competition.

AFTER OPTIMIZATION:

“What’s preventing your Eye Care practice from thriving? I help optometrists and ophthalmologists grow their practices by recapturing unrecognized revenue and opportunity costs.”

Jerry’s new opening sentences accomplishes a lot: It’s specific, orients the reader, and demonstrates how he would resolve a client’s business pain. It’s much more effective

Here’s a second approach to beginning your Summary:

  • Declare your superpower

Be clear and specific about what you do really well, and express it in a surprising way.

BEFORE OPTIMIZATION: (Stephen Pearson)

“GOAL ORIENTED and SUCCESS DRIVEN! I am a well-qualified HR professional with expertise in resource allocation, operational planning, and audit reviews.”

While he’s very enthusiastic, and orients the reader out of the gate with his skill set, it doesn’t captivate the reader as it could.

AFTER OPTIMIZATION:

“I solve complex business initiatives regardless of scale, without a map or any precedence.

I enjoy inspiring teams and improving processes so organizations can achieve their most ambitious objectives.”

His new opening is bold and provocative. Don’t you want to know what the rest of his profile says?

Here’s a second strategy to help you stand out:

Share a business lesson that has stuck with you.

I read too many Summaries without a heartbeat. That’s sad, since LinkedIn is a relationship building tool, and provides a wonderful opportunity to share your personality in a way resumes do not. Take advantage of this opportunity to shine!

Early in your career, what did you learn that has stuck with you? This can be interesting and reveal your unique value proposition.

During our interview, Tom Ward told me that at his first job, he realized his customers had a choice about where to spend their money. This insight solidified his commitment to customer service throughout his career.

After he told me that story, I began his Summary with the following:

“Do your customers view your company as the obvious “go to” choice?

Early in my career, I learned that if I fail to care for my customers, a competitor will be happy to step in. As a result, my driving mission became achieving “go to” status with my customers.”

Out of the gate, Tom makes his customer-service focus clear – an asset for any organization.

And finally:

Share 1-2 proudest career accomplishments.

Share the specific impact you’ve had. Follow the writer’s mantra: “Show, don’t tell.” Describe your best strengths, and then back it up with a story that demonstrates that strength.

BEFORE OPTIMIZATION: (Scott Lowe)

“I am an experienced business development leader with a track record for success in multiple positions.  I am a hands on, outgoing, team player.”

The line above is vague, non-engaging, with overused keywords. Unfortunately, Scott’s superpowers are camouflaged.

AFTER OPTIMIZATION:

“My specialty? Closing the most challenging deals. Give me the “toughest nuts,” and I’ll crack them.

I have a knack for repairing business relationships previously thought lost. At a past sales role, I was told by the owner of a local company, “You’ll never get our business.” After he agreed to spend an hour with me, he changed his mind, resulting in an average monthly increase of $18,000 of profitable sales for our company.”

In contrast, this accomplishment story is energetic, demonstrates his superpower, uses unique language, and is specific. Scott walks the talk.

Keep in mind a viewer/hiring manager is sifting through dozens of profiles, looking for The One who raises her eyebrows. Specific examples light up a reader’s brain.

Who are you at your best? By sharing how you’re extraordinary, you lift yourself out of LinkedIn obscurity, demonstrating to hiring managers YOU are their “go to” choice for the role they need to fill.

Image: Depositphotos@ginton

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a certified LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer. 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 Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com. You can also follow Julie onTwitter and Facebook.

3 Ways to Overcome Your LinkedIn Stage Fright (and Get Found Faster)

Are you afraid to share your professional opinions on LinkedIn?

You’re not alone.

At a recent LinkedIn training I led for job seekers, I emphasized the importance of circulating in LinkedIn’s ecosystem: Sharing articles, commenting on Long Form Posts, offering industry insights.

“Anyone have any hesitation about sharing your Thought Leadership on LinkedIn?” I asked.

Hands shot up.

“I’m out of a job! Who will take me seriously?”

“What do I know, compared to others out there? I feel like an imposter!”

“What if I say something wrong? There’s no recovering from that!”

The people I trained weren’t recent college graduates with limited experience. Many were seasoned CFOs and CEOs who’ve made millions of dollars for companies. They’ve got skills. And yet on LinkedIn, they’re afraid to express their hard-earned, proven wisdom.

I call it LinkedIn Stage Fright: The fear that you’ll say something wrong and end up with egg on your face. While there are “Negative Nellies” out there who pounce with lip-smacking glee on people whose opinions they dislike, I would argue:

  • Their bad form reflects much worse on them than you
  • LinkedIn is more forgiving than you might think

Last year, I wrote a blog in which I exposed my ignorance about how to detect Spammers on LinkedIn. One of my readers graciously educated me by providing information, both on my blog thread and privately. Did my followers think me a fool? Maybe. Did anything terrible happen as a result of my “oops?” Nope.

Actively circulating on LinkedIn matters, a lot. By sharing what you know, you can quickly establish your reputation as an authority in your industry, which is catnip to hiring managers and recruiters.  LinkedIn is a relationship-building tool above all else, tailor-made for developing the “know, like, trust” factor people need in order to do business with you. Being active increases your profile views, and helps you get found faster.

How to hurdle the fear of blowing it? Take these 3 steps:

Start small

Set up a Google Alert, entering topics you care most about in your industry. (i.e. Business Development, Leadership, Change Management, whatever’s in your wheelhouse). Several times a day Google will send you curated articles on those topics. Select the juiciest one, and share it in the “Status Update” feature on LinkedIn, writing a lead that entices your network to read the article, and lets them know how they’ll benefit from reading it:

Example of a lead: “Excellent article on Informational Interviewing – concise & very helpful. Doing them will ramp up your job search.”

I share about 1-2 articles a day with my network. Next . . .

Practice commenting in Groups, testing the waters further.

Jeff Haden offers this advice for selecting Groups on LinkedIn. Participate there with people sharing a particular interest. It’s a smaller pond, where people tend to engage more and let their hair down. As Haden says, observe the rules of engagement, then dive in. Groups can be an excellent place to find your feet beneath you and gain confidence. Once you’re comfortable there . . .

Comment on LinkedIn Blogs, aka Long Form Posts.

Next, move into the larger pond, and comment on Long Form Posts. Find something to affirm about the article, and then offer your own unique twist. Not only will your name and headline be visible to the blogger’s network, but so will your unique insights.

I’ve obtained new followers, connections, prospects and clients by commenting on someone’s blog on LinkedIn.  By daring to engage, I initiate the “know, like, trust” factor for viewers who, after reading my comment, head over to my profile,which is exactly what I want.

Reframing the Critic

Months ago I spoke with my artist/writer friend Stefanie Newman about my own fear of blogging. I confessed I spend hours writing blogs, and many of them end up sitting in my Draft file, because they’re not “quite right.”

“That’s too bad, Julie,” she said.  “The world is littered with unfinished manuscripts and blank canvases because someone gave a critic too much power.”

The fact is, it is risky to offer your opinion, since someone might disagree, or judge you unkindly for having an opinion. It’s risky to share articles that some people may find uninteresting or unwelcome. You may disappoint someone out there.

While my “inner pleaser” cares what critics think, my inner educator, inspirer, and helper-of-job seekers do not care. I say let the majority rule.

Seth Godin says, “Playing it safe may be the riskiest strategy of all.” I invite you to step on the LinkedIn stage. Tell us what’s important to you, and teach us something new. We are listening.

Image: Depositphotos@alphaspirit

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer. 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 Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com. You can also follow Julie onTwitter and Facebook.

Sabotaging Your LinkedIn Profile? 3 Ways to Stop

“I don’t like the LinkedIn profile you wrote for me.”

These words arrived in my inbox at 3 am, written by my client, Jerry. I was baffled, because I loved how his profile “makeover” turned out: Energetic, confident, with two neck-snapping success stories.

Jerry, a former VP of Operations turned entrepreneur from Texas, has the Midas touch. He’s helped several small and large businesses grow by millions annually. Today, he helps doctors manage the business side of their practices for greater profitability and efficiency. He’s developed a turnkey solution that works, with the results to prove it.

I knew I could fix whatever he didn’t like about his Summary. I tell my clients, “We’re not done with your profile until you’re thrilled with the result.”

While talking to Jerry the next morning, I quickly learned it wasn’t the profile that needed fixing. It was Jerry’s beliefs about LinkedIn.

He offered his first concern.

“The Summary you wrote? It’s very conversational.”

“And if it’s conversational, what does that mean to you?” I asked.

Concept of problem in business

“I sound too relaxed. No one will take me seriously.”

I have heard this very argument before from clients, especially Finance or C-suite professionals.

“Actually Jerry, that’s a good thing, at this stage of the “buying” game. When people view your LinkedIn profile, they want to feel you’re relatable. At its heart, LinkedIn is a relationship building tool. Your Summary shouldn’t sound like your resume.”

I shared my favorite Zig Ziglar quote: “If people like you they will listen to you. If they trust you, they will do business with you.” I explained that if a Summary is relational and “connect-y,” it builds a bridge between you and the reader, creating that all important “trust factor” necessary to do business.

He said, “Well, that brings me to my next concern.”

“The Summary sounds so . . . different from other profiles.”

He said, “I looked at Nathan’s [who referred Jerry to me] and mine sounds nothing like his.”

“Oh,” I said. “So you’re concerned it should sound more formal, and use more ‘corporate-speak’?”

“Yes! Like a lot of my friends’ profiles sound,” he said.

“Question, Jerry. If you sound like everyone else, what’s to distinguish you from your competitor? When we spoke the very first time, this was your primary concern.”

I explained that LinkedIn is a fantastic database that allows readers to quickly weed out irrelevant prospects.

It’s the ones who stand out who get the call.

I offered up Seth Godin’s purple cow metaphor. “The key to success is to be remarkable. To be a purple cow in a field of monochromatic Holsteins.” If you don’t stand out, you’ve just made room for your competition.

Jerry’s friend Nathan holds a high level position at a conservative company. His goals when using LinkedIn are different from Jerry’s.  Nathan had made it clear, “I want to convey x, y and z, but withhold certain information.” And so, I reigned in the “purple cow.” He was not aggressively seeking new clients or a new job, but wanted a more substantive, professional profile.

Jerry said, “Well, here’s my other gripe! I’m a humble guy. I teach my kids the importance of humility.”

“I’m worried the Summary you wrote makes me sound like a bragger.”

I hear this from 100% of my LinkedIn clients: “I just want my accomplishments to speak for themselves!”

“Oh, I so get that,” I told Jerry.  “I want you to hold onto your humility too. It’s essential.

But on LinkedIn, you must convey your value in an instant, or else your viewer moves on to the next candidate or company.

“Jerry, no bank will give a loan to someone who can’t demonstrate a track record of success, right? The same applies to your Summary. You turned a struggling, chaotic company from $4M to $20M in 5 years. That’s remarkable evidence. Purple cow stuff,” I said.

It’s a weird world we live in, isn’t it? We are taught not to brag. EVER. But in 2015, our attention spans are short, and we want vital information quickly.

It’s all about context. On LinkedIn, we must “brag.”

By the end of the conversation, Jerry’s point of view had shifted. “Okay. I trust you. Make me a purple cow.”

Here are the cardinal rules for your irresistible LinkedIn Profile:

Be relatable. Be remarkable. Offer evidence.

How else will the world know you can make a difference? Please tell us out loud, because your accomplishments will never speak for themselves.

That’s your job.

Image: Depositphotos@alphaspirit

Jerry Godwin cheerfully agreed to let me tell this story here, for which I’m grateful. For more information about his remarkable company, check out his website, Optmedsol.  To connect with Jerry, visit his LinkedIn profile

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer. 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 Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com. You can also follow Julie on Twitterand Facebook.

What Successful Job Seekers Do to Land a Job Faster

As a LinkedIn profile writer, I speak to many job seekers regularly, and have begun to notice a trend: Those who find jobs more quickly all practice the same behavior. Those who don’t find jobs, all practice the same behavior.

So let’s compare.

Those who find jobs faster do this:

They knock on a lot of doors.

My friend Elsa was let go last October. Her whole life turned upside down fast. She lost her home, and moved in with a friend. In February, just 4 months later, she landed a job.

“Elsa, what’s your secret?” I asked.

Grinning, she said, “I talked to people!”

Image: Depositphotos/@ seewhatmitchsee

Image: Depositphotos/@ seewhatmitchsee

In today’s job market, more than 80% of jobs are filled by referral. This means successful job seekers must reach out and network, connecting with complete strangers with maddening regularity. For many, especially introverts, initiating conversations with strangers feels unnatural. But as a former job seeker and now an entrepreneur myself, I can confirm the shortest road to landing a satisfying gig: By knocking on a lot of doors.

The friendliest neighborhood to knock? I prefer LinkedIn because it’s predominantly a relationship building tool, designed to help you build trust and become known.

Here are the steps I recommend for initiating and developing relationships on LinkedIn:

  • Target companies you might want to work at.
  • Research people who work there, in the department you’d like to work.
  • Find like-mindedness, either on their profile or via their online reputation. Now you have a way to connect.
  • Request a connection, customizing your message by being affirming, curious and genuine.
  • Once connected, request a conversation, by phone or in person, to learn more about them, and exchange information. You’re not asking for a job.
  • Congratulations. You are now known.

And that’s a solid road to landing a job – by becoming known to lots of people. Because when a job does become available at their company, they will think of you. And why wouldn’t they? You listened, were curious, offered insights about their business pain points, and ended by asking, “How can I help you?” You’re also tied to them on LinkedIn, using this very connect-y ecosystem to provide value and stay in touch.

In contrast, those stuck in job search make these 2 mistakes:

1) They don’t knock on doors.

Instead, they apply in earnest to job boards, and become cynical pretty fast. I spoke to a client this week who said, “I have an MBA. No one I send my resume to responds to me!” His resume keeps landing in the dreaded black hole.

When I told him the 80%/20% rule, he wasn’t surprised, which begs the question: Why do many job seekers participate in a process they know doesn’t work? Because job boards give the illusion that you’re doing something productive by pursuing a real job. In contrast, knocking on doors seems like a gamble, because you’re only pursuing the possibility of a real job. Consider this: By knocking on doors, you’re real to the people who will inevitably face a job vacancy at their organization; by applying to a job board, you’re a faceless, paper abstraction. Now what seems like the safer bet?

2) They are afraid to risk.

One of my clients, “Mary,” is so afraid of saying the wrong thing, of reaching out to the wrong person, and of asking people to help her, that she is immobilized. As a result, she hasn’t interviewed in months. It is outside her comfort zone to initiate contact with unfamiliar people, because of the “shoulds,” or self-limiting beliefs in her head that hold her back.

Job search forces many of us to bump up against old self-limiting beliefs. For my client Mary, her beliefs are “You shouldn’t burden people by asking for help,” and “Why would anyone want to talk to me?” Those are the most common “self-limiting beliefs” I hear from job seekers.

In truth, some company insiders don’t want to talk to you. Last year, when I reached out to someone for an informational conversation she replied, “No. You are a low priority.” In my experience though, those responses are rare, and a reflection of her bad manners, not mine. I connect with many more people who are open to a conversation because they’ve recently gone through a job search themselves, or know they will someday and want good karma. In addition, 69% of organizations have employee referral programs. Therefore, it’s often to an employee’s financial advantage to have a conversation with you.

Here’s some really good news:

Every time you risk, you will gain new, vital information.

During my job seeking or business growth stages, every time I spoke to someone new, I inched forward, learning my strengths and weaknesses. For example, I learned I spoke too fast, and needed to be more concise. I also learned I was a good listener and empathizer; I often heard, “You pulled me forward. Thank you.”

boldnessEach risk I took gave me new information, helping to build up my own unique arsenal of strengths, confidence and charisma–and helped me craft my branding message in an inviting way. Those qualities make employers sit up and take notice.

If you are stuck in your job search, know this: There are many employers out there that need your particular brand of creativity, of thoughtfulness and integrity, of perseverance, process improvement skills . . . you fill in the blank with your superpowers.

Keep knocking on doors because eventually, someone will let you in, and invite you to stay.

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer. She is the founder of Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com. You can also follow Julie on Twitter and Facebook.

I hope you found some helpful information here today. If you did, be sure to share this article with your connections. They will definitely appreciate your thoughtfulness.

1 Secret Tip to Maintaining Warm Ties on LinkedIn

This morning, LinkedIn sent me a notice asking me to congratulate my acquaintance Jane for her 5 years at Seeking Employment. While  glad to be reminded of  Jane, would you agree that congratulations are not in order?

Many LinkedIn users  feel annoyed by these “anniversary alert emails” precisely because of the clumsy scenario above, or else feel mystified by how to respond. Out of frustration, many choose to unsubscribe to these persistent notifications.

I say, resist the urge! Instead:labelless can1

Turn these auto-reminders into an opportunity to reconnect with your network.

Before you say, why bother?, let’s first remember why staying connected with your network is so vital for your career management.

A network full of cold connections on LinkedIn has no value to you. For example, you know the can in your food pantry without a label? It sits there taking up space. A cold connection — which is essentially someone you’ve not had contact with in over a year — is similar to that label-less can. Consider this scenario: Let’s say a connection in your network loses her job and reaches out to you for help, or asks you to introduce her to a prospect in your network—though she hasn’t touched base with you in years.  How will that cause you to feel?

Reluctant? Irritated perhaps?

That’s why LinkedIn has developed this “anniversary alert email,” to help you turn your cold relationships warm again. By investing 15 minutes of your day to reconnect with your network, you will reap the dividends when you need it most. Since no job exists forever,  a strong net(work) will support you when you choose (or are forced) to leave, and can help you land more quickly on your feet.

Here’s how I suggest you respond to those anniversary notices.

1. Review the profile

Take a couple of minutes to review the profile. How often do you meet people when networking who say, I’m looking for someone in the finance industry, or, I really need an IT guy, stat!, and you stand there scratching your head. When I review the people in my network, they are front of mind so I can be of  more value to people I meet. Isn’t that the point of networking? So we can help each other?

2. Find like-mindedness, shared experiences

With some you may find it easier to re-ignite that spark: Reminding them of how you met, or what you remember about them.

With others it may not be that simple. If it’s truly a cold connection–someone I don’t know– I always find something to relate to: a city we both lived in, interesting jobs they’ve had. I  always find something to affirm–the assumption being, if you’re in my network, I’m on your side.

2. Next, write back

Here’s what I recently wrote:

“Congratulations on starting your new handyman business. That takes guts. Anything in particular you’re interested in learning about LinkedIn? That’s my specialty, glad to help. . . I wish I had your skills. You get to put your stamp on things that bewilder me! All my best, Julie.”

He wrote back the next day, and our conversation continues. As a result, both our nets became tighter.

Today I encourage you to take a couple of extra minutes to follow up with your connections. By doing so,  you’ll do a favor for both of you, eliminating one more label-less can off of your shelf.

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a  LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer  She is the founder of  Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com.  You can also follow Julie on Twitter and Facebook.  

I hope you found some helpful information on this list. If you did, be sure to share this article with your connections. They will definitely appreciate your thoughtfulness.

 

Do You Make This LinkedIn Mistake?

Is there a LinkedIn connection  request from a stranger staring back at you on your computer?  Many people I know aren’t sure how to respond when those pesky invites come in. Some click Ignore, while others simply accept, thinking to themselves, “Well, it will boost my numbers, and that’s a good thing.”

Neither response above is the ideal approach. By clicking Ignore, you may pass up an opportunity. By blindly accepting the connection request, you’re taking a “Collecter” rather than a “Connector” approach to growing your network.  The drawback as a “Collector” is you have a whole lot of unhelpful, cold connections in your network. In a pinch, those simply won’t do, right?cold to warm1

As I said in my last blog, warm relationships aren’t created with one click. It takes time, energy and thoughtfulness  to create the “know, like, trust” factor  essential for client engagement. As Tom Bukacek tweeted recently: “If people like you they’ll listen to you. If they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

What can you do to transform a cold connection request into a warm one?

(Note: You can only do this on your Smart phone, where the “Reply” option is available. It’s not available on your PC). It looks like this on my iPhone:

Reply_Connection request

 

Here is how I’ve had success,  in two easy steps:

1. View their profile and find something in common.

Perhaps it’s a LinkedIn Group you both belong to, an interest you both share, a city you both lived in, a college you both attended. Find like-mindedness, to pave the way for connection.

2. Hit the Reply arrow

Here’s how I replied recently to “Sabrina” (and pay no attention to that silly typo question mark in first line):

to J reply 2

Here is what Sabrina wrote back:

J reply to me 3

I was thrilled to receive this! Not only did she wipe out the anonymity factor and become more “real,” but she taught me how I can be of value to her.

Guess what my next blog is going to be about? Sabrina asked about profile optimization, and I’m happy to deliver.

In most cases, people reply to me with helpful, thoughtful information because I reached out to them. Other times they won’t. If they don’t, it makes the decision easier to hit “Ignore.” My philosophy–unless they are obvious Spammers–is to assume the best and “tease out” I can provide value to them, or them to me.

LinkedIn is a teeming ecosystem, with  endless opportunity for relationship building.  If people are “stopping by” to say hello by clicking the little blue guy, make the most of this opportunity. Slow down and be curious about them, just like you would at a live networking event. They just might turn into your most solid ally.

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a  LinkedIn™ Profile Writer, LinkedIn trainer & public speaker, career coach,  and blogger. She is the founder and principal at Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com.  Follow Julie @CAcareercoach.

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The Risk of Clicking the Little Blue Guy on LinkedIn

I came home recently to discover my husband Steve glued to his smart phone, cheeks flushed with excitement.

“Whatcha doin?” I asked.

“LinkedIn is starting to make sense!  It recommended these People You May Know so I started clicking the little blue guys next to people’s names. I clicked over 50 names, and my phone is blowing up now with people accepting my request!”

He peered up at me over his readers. “What? You look sick all of a sudden. I’m confused. Don’t you always say I should grow my network?”

I was thrilled he was exploring LinkedIn, so I acknowledged that. “You are so excited at the responses you’re getting!” I  waited before launching into Miss LinkedIn Know-It-All. clicking the little blue guy

“Yes! I didn’t realize how easy this is,” he said.

“Can I share a quickie LinkedIn lesson that’s easy to forget?”

He nodded.

“LinkedIn makes connecting easy, for sure.  People prefer to do business with people they know, like,  and trust, and LinkedIn is a perfect ecosystem for establishing your credibility. Here’s the thing:  Clicking the little blue guy can mess with the “know, like, trust” factor.”

“Why?”

“Because when you click that blue guy, it sends a default message to the recipient which is, I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn. That’s it. It’s blah and impersonal. Think of it this way:  If someone walked up to you at a networking event, handed you his business card without saying a word and then walked away, what would you do?”

“I’d probably put it in my pocket and forget about it,” he said.

“Exactly. His awkward networking move is the equivalent of clicking the little blue guy in the People You May Know area.  You’ve  “collected” a name in your network with someone you don’t know; the trail between you is cold.”

Steve says, “So it’s like having a can in your pantry with no label. The one that sits there unused for years, taking up space.”

“Bingo,” I said. “Here’s another risk: Let’s say now you’re connected to Jerry Smith through the little blue guy. In a couple weeks your friend Rick calls you and says, “Hey Steve—I see you’re connected to Jerry Smith on LinkedIn. I’d love it if you’d introduce us.” You have to tell Rick “Crap! I don’t really know Jerry. Sorry buddy.”

“Now your “know, like, trust factor” has diminished in Rick’s eyes. He can’t rely on you to provide referrals, like you can rely on him. See, Rick knows not to click the little blue guy. He personalizes each connection request, starting the relationship on warm, solid footing. In addition, he stays in touch with his network, providing value in all the ways he can through LinkedIn. As a result, Rick’s “know, like, trust” vibe is through the roof.”

I also tell Steve about the other down side to clicking the blue guy: If 5 people you invite that way respond with “I don’t know Steve,” your account will be restricted. You can get it unrestricted, but I suggest avoiding the hassle in the first place.

The good news is, this whole conversation gave me the chance to reveal how forgiving an ecosystem LinkedIn is. Steve can work on growing his relationships with these new “cold” connections in spite of a rocky start. He can:

  • Message them privately, reviewing their profiles, finding like-mindedness and commonalities, laying the groundwork for information sharing
  • He can provide status updates that his connections value
  • He can write blogs that offer insights and information that benefit his network, boosting his “know, like, trust” factor

That said,  it’s harder to turn a cold relationship warm than a warm relationship warmer.

Steve’s initial hunch was right: LinkedIn does make so much sense. It’s a rich online environment for finding prospects, earning their trust, and creating mutually beneficial professional relationships. But in relationship building there are no shortcuts, which is why we need to avoid being seduced by the little blue guy, who makes us think a real relationship is just a click away.


 

Are you wondering now how you turn a cold connection request you receive into a warm relationship? I have a way, and will write about that in my next blog!

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a  LinkedIn™ Profile Writer, LinkedIn trainer & public speaker, career coach,  and blogger. She is the founder and principal at Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn,  contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com.  Follow Julie @CAcareercoach.

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7 Right Things Every College Student Needs to Do During College

In response to a Time article by Martha C. White titled “The Real Reason New College Grads Can’t Get Hired,“ a reader named “younotus” laments: “I had to move back in with my parents [and] . . .  if it weren’t for them, I would have nowhere to go. And I’ve done everything right. I’ve done everything I’ve been told to do, to have a good life. And still, I can’t help but feel like I’m losing again and again and getting nowhere.”Colorful fruits for dessert

It’s a heart-rending statement, part of a much longer one where he reveals his frustrating and underpaid path since graduating from a prestigious college with a liberal arts degree. I bolded his line above “And I’ve done everything right,”

a) because I see that phrase a lot in reader response threads expressing discontent about job prospects and

b) I wonder how he defines “everything right.”

I worry there is a disconnect between what some students believe is “doing everything right,” and actual activities that help make a college graduate ready to make the leap into the corporate world. All of us who are educators in the career development arena want to close this gap.

I discussed this recently with a college career counselor, who expressed the same concern. She said, “I’m anxious about our students who have so much on their plate.” She and “younotus”  beg the question, what are the right things for students to have on their plate during college to pave the way for a respectable starting job? Here are my thoughts on this. Please feel free to weigh in:

1. LinkedIn: 

  • Through their college progression, students need to grow their network on LinkedIn. In fact by graduation, they should have at least 250 connections and aim for 500+ connections early in their career.
  • They need to complete and optimize their LinkedIn profile.
  • They need to learn how to leverage LinkedIn to their advantage, using its features to raise their profile, visibility and appeal. Matt Hames writes that by their senior year, students should rebalance the Facebook/LinkedIn ratio: By senior year they should be on LinkedIn 90% of the time, Facebook 10%. In addition, students need to be taught proper “Netiquette,” which means being strategic, personable and generous when making connections through LinkedIn.  If so, they will be well-served (and poised to serve others).

2. Complete an internship or 3. While completing an internship is obvious to many, I meet many students who admit they “never got around to it.” It belongs on the plate! What other things might they need to say no to, in order to get around to it? With whom can they make a connection at a company, so that they are referred rather than part of a huge gang of applicants?

3.  By graduation, have “at the ready” at least 3-5 accomplishments showing ways students have made an impact, showing quantifiable results. By graduation, resumes need to contain this information. LinkedIn profiles also need to showcase what students do well, and how they enjoy making an impact. Is their branding front and center on their LinkedIn profile?

4. Complete 25 informational interviews before graduation. Informational interviews are the perfect activity for gaining insight on multiple levels: About oneself as a job seeker, about a company, about career preferences, insights into industry trends,  a source for blog ideas, and most important, for discerning pain points that a job seeker may be able to leverage into a job or internship.

5. Volunteer in places that allowing job seekers to gain marketable skills they want to learn. At least by junior year, students can take on more leadership positions in volunteer organizations by taking on officer positions, and offering their talents. For example, if someone has writing or marketing skills, they can offer to create and manage a Facebook page for a non-profit, or a small business owner. Students can seek out opportunities to be of value and make a difference.

6. Learn how to target specific companies they’re interested in. Once they’ve targeted companies, they can then do research, and begin to connect to insiders within those companies, and set up informational interviews.

Many of the readers responding in the TIME thread above discussed how their “spray and pray” job hunt approach yielded nothing. From the lack of response to their resumes, they inferred the job market was dried up, or their major was a waste, rather than infer the approach itself was misguided. By helping arm students with the knowledge of how to target and research companies, they learn an invaluable skill they’ll use throughout their careers.

7. Begin and develop a side-gig that has the potential for monetization, something they enjoy doing in their spare time.  Kimberly Palmer’s The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life, makes the case for learning to monetize  hobbies as a way to offset lower paying jobs, perhaps even replacing them. It is responsible stewardship to prepare students to be entrepreneurs. I envision a day, in fact, where an entrepreneurial class is mandatory for every student, every major, with the expectation that they leave college with a proven, independent means to earn money well underway.

Is the disappointment felt by “younotus”  inevitable, even with the “right” things on his plate? Maybe he has a blind spot that prevents him from taking actions that can propel him forward. I can only conjecture. My intention, with the solutions above, is to provide students with a solid foundation for their own career management. No job is permanent. When it’s time to leave a job, the best thing we can do is equip students with the skills and expertise they need to land a better one.

image: © Depositphotos.com /gnohz