being likable

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  Follow Julie @CAcareercoach.

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The Secret to Being Likable at Your Next Job Interview

spontaneous_Inviting spontaneityYour job interview is about to begin. You’re sitting in a fancy boardroom at the shiny teak table, staring at the high-tech modular business phone planted in the center. Your foot shakes back and forth like your dog’s tail, and your heart pounds wildly.  You’ve prepared your STAR stories, and you have your response to “So tell me about yourself!” down cold. So what’s the problem? Well, it’s this: You have been told repeatedly that it’s really important to be likable at these things, but inside, you’re thinking about the bills piling up, how you’ve been out of work for 5 months, and how this time, you really can’t afford to blow it.

Do you relate to that scene? How ARE you supposed to balance your anxiousness with the need to be likable?  I am asked this question a lot. Let’s get to the heart of this!

It’s actually simple, and boils down to one idea that you are thoroughly in charge of.

Invite spontaneity.

The best interviews I’ve had were conversations, rather than interrogations. Not only does an interviewer want this interview to be her last, she wants to enjoy it. One way to infuse the meeting with spontaneity is to ask unexpected questions. In addition to my pre-planned arsenal of questions, I’m listening deeply to the person interviewing me and gathering new information. I recently interviewed for a consulting position, and observed how passionate my interviewer was. I asked her what specifically about the company fed her excitement, and our conversation dropped to an even deeper level. Why does that matter? Your deeper connection with the interviewer = your better cultural fit with the company.

The point is, by shifting your focus away from YOU and what you want and need, to being fully present with the person to whom you’re speaking, something bigger develops. Your interviewer will see you as likable, present, and curious, and that will set you apart from everyone she’s met.

Here’s another way to invite spontaneity: Allow whatever arises. In her poem Allow,  Danna Faulds writes “Allow, and grace will carry you to higher ground.”  During the same consulting interview above, in tune with my interviewer’s line of questioning, I mentioned that for certain things, my memory isn’t great. As a result, when working with a client, I write a lot of information down.  I told her that writing notes both helps me remember, and helps me see patterns. I experienced no judgment from her about this revelation; in fact, she identified with me, saying her own memory is selective. It also allowed me to nip the “what is your greatest weakness?” question in the bud. By allowing who I am to be expressed—in a professional, self-aware way, the air was lighter and more relaxed.

I also invite spontaneity by remembering the big picture.  If this job doesn’t work out today, I still want to connect with the person interviewing me. Who knows? Maybe an opportunity will arise later. I always ask about people’s hobbies and sweet spots near the end of an interview, because I send them articles about their interests, to stay in touch. When I recently asked someone about her hobby, she revealed she liked Ballroom Dancing, in particular the Argentine Tango. As we talked, we learned  we were both dancers in high school, and that we each let go of the dream of being professional dancers. That’s when our conversation deepened, and a lovely bond formed.

Now go back to the teak table. Remember why you’re really there. It’s not just about putting food on the table, and money in your pocket. Yes, by all means, do your prep work. But also be filled with openness and curiosity, and allow a real conversation to unfold. As your curiosity for another increases, your anxiety decreases.