relationship building

5 Winning Qualities That Make You Irresistibly Referable

What makes someone “referable?” With 80% of jobs filled by referral – aren’t you curious to know the answer?

By referable, I mean you are that person a colleague will rave about to an employer, saying “I’ve got someone you’ve gotta meet.

The colleague sees your gifts clearly.

She wants to champion you.

She wants credit for introducing you!

If your job search has stalled maybe you’re not passing the refer-ability test. No worries! Embrace the following 6 qualities to help you pass the test with flying colors and get referred.

1.    Be specific about what business problems you solve

Conduct a self-assessment before you begin your job search. What do you do best? For example,

·        Does your team always send you the most difficult clients? (Customer Success Expert)

·        Do you ease employees through a rapid growth phase? (Change Management Leader)

·        Do you notice problems others fail to anticipate? (Risk Disruptor)

Knowing what problems you solve helps differentiate you from everyone else. Think of it as your highlight reel which helps your network understand your value.

For example, my client Rachel knew she was good at streamlining administrative processes which boosted efficiency and morale.  She shared her “highlight reel” while networking and within 5 weeks of launching her search, she landed a job.

People who know what specific business problems they solve are much likelier to be referred.

Consider this:

  • Why were you hired at your last job? What gave you the edge? How did your edge impact the company positively?
  • Think of an accomplishment you’re proudest of. What personal qualities or skills did you use to complete it and what was the impact of the accomplishment?
  • If you were hired today, what would set you apart from everyone else a year from now, and how will it affect the bottom line?

2.    Be clear about the role you want and companies you’re targeting

Too many job seekers say, “I’m keeping my options open.” This approach may be convenient for you, but boy it’s tough on everyone else.

Here’s an analogy: You would never say to a friend, “I want any old spouse.”

It’s silly, right? Because

  1. You DON’T want any old spouse. You’d be miserable with any old spouse.
  2. As your friend, I want to help you. But you don’t “help me help you” if you don’t know what you want.

Instead, if you tell me “I’m looking for someone mid 30’s, open-minded, who’s mad about Harry Potter” you give me easy markers to make a mental inventory AND someone to look out for if this person ever crosses my path.

Consider this:

  • Using keywords and skills you generated from #1 above, do a search on LinkedIn to discover what roles match your skillset. Course correct as you go, refining the role you’re seeking.
  • What industries are you interested in working/breaking into? You can get a list here, from LinkedIn. Narrow the list down to 3-4 and announce these to your network.
  • What companies would you love to work at? Not sure? Check:

·        Local “best of” lists in your city

·        Glassdoor to see who is favored

·        Your city’s local business journal to research and learn about local companies

Being knowledgeable about specific companies makes you look like a million bucks, like a top-notch candidate your connections will chomp at the bit to refer.

3.    Be concise

Can you answer a question crisply with focus and specificity?

If you can, you will leave an excellent impression on your audience. If you struggle with this, take heart.

Consider this:

  • Join Toastmasters. The weekly structure and built-in feedback system is ideal training ground for strengthening your verbal skills in a safe, upbeat environment. It helped me tremendously.
  • Be considerate of your listener by avoiding the typical “verbal dump” of ideas:

·        Slow down when speaking.

·        Remember to punctuate your phrasing (use periods, commas, question marks).

·        Avoid digressions – particularly in professional situations where people are forming impressions of you.

4.    Listen

Employers want someone with ears. I meet many job seekers so filled with anxiousness they forget I’m there. The conversation is disappointingly one-sided and doesn’t reflect well on them. I don’t feel comfortable referring them to colleagues.

In contrast, according to Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman “good listeners are like trampolines. They are someone you can bounce ideas off of — and rather than absorbing your ideas and energy, they amplify, energize, and clarify your thinking.” When I meet a great listener, I instantly run through my mental Rolodex thinking, who can I connect her with?

Consider this:

  • During a conversation, beyond 1 minute, do you know most people tune you out? Flip the conversation back to your listener after 1 minute.
  • Be curious about others. A good rule of thumb for job-referability: If there are 2 of you, talk less than 50%. How can you deepen the conversation and offer value?

5.    Remove Chip on shoulder (if it’s there)

You may not have a chip on your shoulder. If you do, you may not know you do.

Tell-tale sign: You catch yourself complaining to others about how hard job search is:

·        “Job search shouldn’t be this hard.”

·        “Hard working people deserve good jobs.”

·        “HR sabotages the job search process, making it impossible for job seekers to meet the hiring manager.”

I’ve heard these complaints recently from job seekers and while I feel sympathetic, they don’t endear me to the person who said them. The attitude smacks of “I’m a victim” which makes you –I’m sorry to say – resistible.

Consider this:

  • Be impactful somewhere (see Toastmasters, above). If you feel your influence in other arenas, you’ll easily shrug that chip off your shoulder.
  • Assume an officer role at some organization. During my last job search I recruited Guest Speakers for our job search club. I interviewed each one and always wrote an exuberant introduction for them. One of them hired me.

The shortest distance to a job is measured by the number of people thrilled to refer you. The key to refer-ability?

Be clear about your value. Be concise. Listen well. Stay positive.

Stay connected to your highlight reel and not only will you own your job search, you will leave an indelible impression.

Have I left anything out? What qualities make you refer someone?

Photo by Asher Lapham

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 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.

3 Ways Successful Job Seekers Think like Entrepreneurs

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.

Tips:

  • 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.
  • Blog

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.

Tips:

  • 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.

Tips:

  • 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 juliebondyroberts@gmail.com. You can also follow Julie on Twitter and Facebook.

What Joan Lunden Can Teach Us about Busting Through Career Barriers

How is your mindset affecting your job search?

While it’s important to master the mechanics of job search – networking, relationship building, personal branding – what you tell yourself can make or break your search.

I recently saw Joan Lunden – morning show host pioneer and intrepid journalist — deliver the keynote speech at a TrueU conference. She shared how she busted through thick-as-brick walls to reach her goals, demonstrating it’s how you champion yourself that matters.

Here are the mantras she used that cleared the path. Adopt them. They are free for the taking:

“If you want to play the game, find a way to get on the playing field.”

After Lunden graduated college, a family friend in TV suggested Joan apply for a job at a local TV station. In spite of the fact there was no actual job opening and she lacked relevant experience, she showed up at the TV station the following day and requested an interview and an audition.

Afterwards, they told her, “Nice job. Except we don’t actually have an opening.”

The weatherman there noticed her audition, and was impressed. He recommended her to another station, where she became the first female “weather girl” ever hired in Southern California.

Lunden was not thrilled being a “weather girl” because:

a) She knew nothing about weather

b) She had to wear a tight, white mini-dress and white lace-up boots (this was the early 70’s). Nevertheless she was determined to break into TV. Intuitively she knew this role was her ticket to landing a job she could eventually sink her teeth into.

As a job seeker, aim toward your future, as you chart your career. When less-than-ideal opportunities land in your lap, ask yourself: Will this opportunity provide either skills or connections to others which will move me forward? Lunden reasoned the “weather  girl” role was her ticket. It gave her exposure in front of a camera, strengthened her poise, and taught her to think on her feet.

Lunden landed on the right playing field, then bolted to 2nd base, but she had to embrace the idea that . . .

“Sometimes you have to take the risk of not being great in order to learn how to be great.”

Lunden’s popularity grew quickly after taking the weather girl job. Within 6 months, 6 stations across the country offered her a job. Not sure what to do next, she asked the same family friend for advice. He recommended she speak to his network executive friend in New York. When the executive found out she had 6 offers, he offered her a job, as a journalist. Something she’d never done before.

Fortunately, Joan had a nurturing “inner champion” who said, Say yes, then figure it out. Many of us lack an audible “inner champion,” and instead listen to our (really loud) “inner thwarter,” who says, I can’t do this job because I’m not qualified! or,  I have no experience doing that, or I’ll fail! Sound familiar?

What would be possible if you let yourself be a beginner at something you’re excited about? Imagine this: Decca records rejected the Beatles, telling them “We don’t like your sound. You have no future in show business.” It’s helpful to remember The Beatles weren’t always The Beatles.

Lunden accepted the journalism job. On the first day, a cameraman asked Lunden, “How many magazines will you need?,” referring to the film reel holder. She said, “Oh, I probably won’t have time to read magazines today.” They burst out laughing,  and took her under their wing. And thanks to them, she learned about journalism.

 

“Take every small assignment and make it shine. And then you will grow.”

After Lunden landed the coveted morning host spot on Good Morning America, Barbara Walters took her aside and gave her the advice above. Walters  chose not to fight the male-dominant TV culture (Lunden’s 2 predecessors fought it and were let go). Sure enough, Lunden’s initial assignments were about home-improvement, parenting, and consumer products, all topics she actually loved. She researched like a fiend, adding her own unique spin, and her work gained attention. Eventually she landed interviews on par with her male counterparts, reporting from 16 countries, interviewing 5 U.S. presidents, and covering 5 Olympic Games.

While Lunden clearly had good mentors who helped her along, she hit roadblocks that might intimidate the best of us. She hurdled the roadblocks because she followed the wisdom of her positive, inner champion.  Lunden models for us, be mindful of what you tell yourself. It may just come true.

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 Optimization 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.

 

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.

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.

 

How to Take Charge of Your Dead-End Job Search

Last weekend the power went out while sitting at the movie theatre watching Wild.  After awhile, I struck up a conversation with the young woman sitting next to me, a bubbly, recent college grad named Rachel. I asked her about her life, and within minutes her sparkle dulled as she expressed her frustration with her dead-end  job selling shoes. With further probing, I learned 3 things she’s not doing in her job search that are keeping her stuck.

Her frustrations are universal. By adopting  the following remedies, she can pull her job search forward and kiss her retail job goodbye.Breakthrough dead end job search1

Here’s what she told me:

1) Her job search is isolated.

“I do it by myself,” she said.

In today’s market, that approach will prolong her search and keep her knee-deep in shoe boxes. According to career expert Orville Pierson, those who join fellow job-seekers in community shorten their search by 20%. In other words, a 5 month search becomes 4. Job searching with others will boost your morale, hold you accountable, provide networking opportunities, and give you up-to-the-minute information about job search strategies.

In the U.S., I suggest  connecting to free, state-funded job search centers  here, by entering your zip code in the Get Help Near You section. These centers offer workshops on  all aspects of job search.

In 2006 when I was between jobs, I credit my job search community for landing my job in the hidden job market. At a job search club I belonged to, I recruited guest speakers each week. One of the speakers I interviewed liked me so much he hired me. Joining community is vital in your job search.

2) Her LinkedIn Profile is “meh.” 

“I’m not a good writer, plus I’m not good at bragging about myself!” she said.

I hear these two complaints a lot from job seekers; however, clinging to them may hold you back, and here’s why.

A well-written LinkedIn profile is the linchpin of your career search, which I wrote about here. Let’s pretend you start chatting with a hiring manager at a movie theater when the power goes out–could happen right? You exchange business cards. The first thing she will do when she gets to the office is Google  you. The top result of her search in most cases will be your LinkedIn profile. While chatting with Rachel during the power outtage, I peeked at her Profile on my Smart phone. Her Summary section is a desultory list of keywords, reflecting none of her dazzle.

Now back to her bragging concern. Instead, I suggest you reframe “bragging” as educating others quickly about how you offer value. You know how the app Shazam detects an unknown song in an instant? Your well-branded, results-driven,  and engaging profile works just like Shazam. Showcase your value in an irresistible way on LinkedIn, and you will get found.

3) She avoids networking events.

“Who knows who will show up at those things?!” she said.

Since 80% of jobs are filled through referral, networking is key to job search.  If you’re anxious about networking, start with less overtly “networky” events. Rachel loves ping pong and is passionate about homelessness. She can join a local table-tennis club and volunteer at local homeless shelters. She can also bring a friend to feel safer.

During job search, it’s important  to “bump up” against new people to befriend. As Susan Cain says, you don’t have to be opportunistic when networking. Instead,  “Find someone in the room who’s a kindred spirit.” Creating a genuine connection will create goodwill, a friend in the world who will say great things about you.

In an interesting parallel, when the movie re-starts, the main character Cheryl Strayed quotes Emily Dickenson and says, “If your Nerve deny you – Go above your Nerve.” To break out of her dead-end job, Rachel will need to go above her nerve. When she does, she will find a job she loves.

image: © Depositphotos.com/lightsource

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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