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Networking on LinkedIn Using Groups

March 3, 2011

Networking on LinkedIn isn’t as straightforward as on some other social media sites. That’s why you have LinkedIn 101 to give you a primer on how to connect with like minds on this social media site.

There is a stream where people post their updates, but due to the nature of LinkedIn, there’s a twist. Since this is a business networking site, your connections tend to post and run, meaning they don’t stay and chat like on Facebook or Twitter. Because of this, many twitterers tend to update from third-party clients, whether it be HootSuite, TweetDeck or some other. That means most of them aren’t even looking at the stream. How are you supposed to network if not many are following the updates?

The most amazing groups are lurking in the underground world of LinkedIn. Some are still by approval, but many are slowly becoming open to the entire LinkedIn community. The groups are formed based on professional interest. Within these groups, you can engage people in your field and share content of great value. Questions are asked, advice is given, polls are taken, links are shared, and true networking occurs. Here’s where professionals can find sanctuary away from the general chatter of the stream. Your expertise can really shine in these groups, where you can establish yourself as an authority in your field.

Groups are also very helpful if you’re new to the field, whether you’re just out of school or changing professions. They will give you the opportunity to ask seasoned professionals for their sage advice, and perhaps find an online mentor.

If you’re fortunate, you’ll find a local group on LinkedIn. Sometimes they have tweet-ups/meet-ups giving you a chance to progress from online networking to old school face-to-face networking. If there isn’t an area group in your field, consider starting one up and inviting contacts from your inner social media circle to join, so you can take things to the next level.

I encourage you to join as many LinkedIn groups as you can handle to have the opportunity to network, and perhaps collaborate with your peers.

The DOs and DONTs of Updating Your LinkedIn Status

December 22, 2010

LinkedIn is an amazing business social networking site. It’s a place where you can share quality information, and add value to your online community. Whenever you write an update, you must keep in mind that potential employers, collaborators, and partners could be reading it. This is a great reason to be careful of what you write, and HOW you update your status.

On Twitter, you can update every minute, because people update more often, and multiple tweets blend in more with the crowd. There are fewer updates on LinkedIn; therefore, you should update less frequently. I have seen quite a few people update every five minutes or so, usually via Twitter. This is way too much for LinkedIn. Ideally, you should update no more than 1 – 3 times a day. The updates should be spaced out, and be business or career oriented. It’s perfect to share something that’s in your field, but please do not share what you’ve eaten for breakfast or your shopping experience unless you’re in the food or retail industry, and you write about it from that point of view. Otherwise, log onto your personal Facebook account, and blast it there.

I often see retweets (RT) or hashtags (#in or #fb) in status updates. This occurs when a Twitter account IS connected to LinkedIn. While it is convenient to update this way, it’s a bit irritating to those without a Twitter account, which can be more people than you think. It also sends out the message that you’re too busy to personally update directly on LinkedIn, making it a step-child. It is BEST to write original material for LinkedIn, or at least copy and paste appropriate topics from Twitter or Facebook.

Consider LinkedIn the equivalent of a corporate intranet. Share what you would in a professional setting. Would you send a retweet to your CEO, or announce you’re the mayor of a FourSquare venue on your company intranet? Practice the same etiquette on LinkedIn as you would in a business environment. Your fellow connections will greatly appreciate the courtesy shown, and value your input so much more. Below are examples of  topics perfect for a LinkedIn status update. As you can see, the DON’T list is short, but these are things I see some people including in their updates.

 

DOs

  • Career guidance
  • Motivational quotes
  • Social media tips
  • Business oriented info
  • Entrepreneurial advice
  • Branding
  • Networking
  • Polls
  • Blog posts
  • Webinars
  • Events
  • Industry related information
  • Instructional material

DON’Ts

  • Twitter updates
  • Facebook updates
  • Foursquare check-ins
  • Random thoughts
  • Inappropriate topics for business

 

How to Create a Strong LinkedIn Profile

November 15, 2010

How strong is your LinkedIn profile? A powerful profile can increase your visibility online. You may or may not know that when your profile is 100% complete, you will get a higher search ranking. Your LinkedIn profile is key to your online success, because potential partners, clients, recruiters, and employers use LinkedIn as one of their first stops to assess you. It’s important to have as much of your profile completed as possible, because it helps with your personal branding. Recruiters are known for searching through LinkedIn to fill positions, because it’s an amazing resource, and it’s free. Passive job seekers and those not looking for employment should also have a profile that is 100% complete if possible, because you want to make a good first impression if anyone “googles” your name. One which is 85% complete is also acceptable, but anything less than that, and you have some work to do. Below are some tips on how to create a strong LinkedIn profile. The sections necessary to finish in order to have a 100% complete profile, are highlighted in red.

Photo Courtesy of bpsusf on Flickr

Resume – You MUST upload your résumé to complete your profile. Doing so also automatically fills in the information in most of the sections, and brings you to about the level of 75% complete. You might have to tweak it and check for spelling before saving changes. If you choose not to upload your résumé, and manually complete all information, your LinkedIn profile will be at 85% complete (without recommendations). There will still be enough details on it to make a good impression.

Photo – Besides your name, the first thing people will notice is your photo. Not having one is a mistake. You should use a sharp, well-lit portrait with a solid or blurred background, and have it on most networking sites, i.e. Facebook. This consistency helps brand you online. Consider uploading your photo to Gravatar which is an image that uniformly identifies you on various sites.

Professional Headline – This is located just below your name, and is usually your current position, but it’s better to have a headline that describes what you do, rather than just stating a job title. Click edit near your name, and make your change where it states Professional Headline. The use of strong keywords is wise.

Employment – You need to add your current and previous two positions. If you’re just starting out or have been out of the job market for a while, the positions can be part-time jobs, internships or volunteer work. If you are unemployed and need help completing this section, read this post for further advice.

Education – List your highest levels of education. You don’t necessarily need to have a degree (yet) to list your college or university. You just can’t claim a degree for it. The same goes for high school. If you are working on your G.E.D. you can list your high school, but you can’t claim having your diploma. You can now add school activities and societies, so add whatever you have participated in.

Websites – Instead of keeping the default settings of Company Website, Personal Website, and Blog, the actual names of the sites should be listed. This gives a more polished look, which you can achieve in a minute. Choose to edit your profile, then in the section for websites, click edit for the first site listed. Where it lists the type of site, click to get a menu and choose “other”. Fill in the name of your site in the box to the right, and the URL in the box below “other”. You can do this for up to three sites, and then click “Save Changes” at the bottom. If you don’t have a company or personal website, or even a blog to share, you can add your Facebook, Flickr or YouTube accounts if you’d like. Be careful what you share on these sites, especially if you list them. Never say or upload photos or videos that you wouldn’t want a future employer to see. Consider fine tuning your Facebook URL or WordPress blog posts with these tips.

Twitter – Not everyone has a Twitter account, so this is not necessary to add, but if you have one or two accounts, please list them. Also remember to keep your tweets as professional as possible if you list your account(s). Check here for Twitter tips.

Public Profile – You can edit your LinkedIn Public Profile URL to customize it to contain your actual name, i.e. http://www.linkedin.com/in/johndoe.  Also, to improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization), select “Full View” to increase your ranking.

Summary –  This should be a concise version of your employment history and specialties. It’s perfect for people to get an overview of your skills before having to scroll down to view your detailed experience.

Specialties – Use as many keywords as possible to describe your capabilities. Consider using Google Keyword Tool to find appropriate keywords that have the most search hits. This section can really boost your LinkedIn SEO by providing essential words recruiters are searching to locate you.

Experience – The more details you give, the better recruiters can find you via search engines. Tip: At the end of each position’s description, skip a space and write a string of all of your keywords for that position for improved LinkedIn SEO.

Applications – Add third-party applications, which can be found at the top bar. Click on “More” and the drop down menu will give you choices, i.e. SlideShare, WordPress or Box.net to share your work from other sources right on your profile page. Events and TripIt are both great apps for sharing upcoming events and travel. I sometimes find out about panel discussions or seminars by viewing the schedule of others. These applications help to customize your profile.

Groups – It’s a good idea to join as many groups in your industry as you can keep up with. It’s a great place to exchange ideas. or help one another with obstacles.

Recommendations – It is suggested to have three recommendations. You actually need them to achieve 100% completion of your profile.

Personal Information – This is optional, and many people feel uncomfortable listing this. If you have a Google Voice or a business number you don’t mind listing, it will give people another option of how to contact you.

Contact Settings – Here’s where you can add an e-mail address if you’d like. Where it asks: What advice would you give to users considering contacting you? You can add any contact information including your e-mail address, which can be your company e-mail, or web-based address, i.e. gmail or hotmail. FYI, some might be skeptical of a web-based account due to the fact that spammers use them.

Profile Layout – You can rearrange your sections in the edit mode by dragging the section to where you want it to be. This gives you a chance to customize the order of your profile.

 

17 Ways to Reinvent Yourself While You’re Unemployed

November 2, 2010

Are you in between jobs? Or perhaps you’re temporarily out the job market. Regardless of the reason, if you’re not currently employed you shouldn’t stay idle. I understand seeking employment can be a full-time job, but prospective employers don’t see your search on your CV. Live your life as if you’re constantly building your résumé. Below are 17 ways you can reinvent yourself while you’re unemployed, yet simultaneously looking for a job. You’ll be basically creating a non-paying position for yourself, while being productive, filling an employment gap, generating experience for your résumé, and adding value to the community.

 

Photo by Drew Leavy on flickr

1. Brand Yourself – Even though you’re not working, you still need to constantly reinforce a positive image. Networking in person is important in branding yourself, and could lead to other opportunities, especially if you’re changing fields. Attend seminars, go to panel discussions, etc. and network to get your name out there. Add one or more of the below tips to supplement your networking to further boost your personal brand.

2. Hobbies – Share your talents by teaching your skills at local organizations.

3. Blogging – Write a blog about a personal experience, or your professional field. You add value to the online community, and sharpen your writing and editing abilities.

4. Volunteer – Do volunteer work that utilizes your know-how. It’s a great way to spread your wisdom, and give back.

5. Classes – Take classes and obtain new talents. If possible, get certified or licensed in your newly acquired knowledge.

6. Get Noticed – Try to get published in your local newspaper (articles/photos), or do something in your area worthy of an interview in a periodical or on your local news.

7. Groups – Start or join a group on MeetUp or LinkedIn. Starting one adds to your organizational and leadership skills. It also gets you engaging those with a similar interest, which could even lead to great connections whether you organize or join one.

8. Speaker – Offer to speak to a local organization or business. Put your oratory and PowerPoint skills to good use. This could also lead to more speaking offers, and this helps establish you as an expert in your field.

9. Fundraiser Chair – Chair a fundraiser for a non-profit organization. You certainly gain a lot of experience doing this. If you don’t want to chair one, at least join one of the committees.

10. Consult – Become a consultant. You can volunteer your services or ask small businesses if they need your occasional help for a modest fee.

11. Become a Board Member – Giving your time to be on a board keeps your mind fresh, and is most impressive on a résumé. The position is most easily obtained through non-profit organizations.

12. Podcast – Create an audio or video series of trade tips in the form of a non-streamed webcast. You can submit your podcasts to iTunes for distribution.

13. Social Networking – Brand yourself online, and meet people in your location or professional field. Sign up for a LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter account if you don’t already have one.

14. Panelist – Ask your local library, place of worship, YMCA, etc. if they’d like a panel to speak about your specialty, which should be of interest to the public. If so, gather a few others in your field to be on the discussion panel.

15. Start a Small Business – Think outside of the box and turn one of your passions into a small business. If you’re interested in doing it, but only on a very small-scale, start a small business while continuing with your job search, and perhaps keep it on the side once you find employment.

16. Webinar – Offer one or more web seminars for little money or gratis in your field of expertise.

17. eBook – Write your own eBook and publish it with AmazonApple, or Barnes & Noble.

Careers: An Interview with Katie DeVito

October 26, 2010

Katie DeVito has become a modern-day heroine for New Jersey’s unemployed. The current recession certainly makes finding a position for those not working more difficult. Earlier this year, Ms. Devito was laid off, which led her to post a tweet on Twitter, which eventually triggered her to form the LinkedIn group NJ Unemployed, and now there’s even a website NJ Unemployed.com. PARADE magazine selected her as one of five individuals to chronicle for three months in their job search. Katie was paired with a career advisor, which led her to getting an interview on CBS’s Early Show. The publicity opened doors for her, and eventually guided her to start her own social media and public relations company, Katie DeVito, LLC. Ms. DeVito’s tweet gave her empowerment, and led her to think outside of the box. She is truly an inspiration to all those seeking employment. I decided I wanted to share her story, and spoke with her about her decisions.

Katie, what is your background?

Katie DeVito: Non-profit association management. I worked for a few non-profit organizations handling membership, event planning, communications and more. My career advisor asked me what I’m good at, and I replied singing, social media, and public relations. I have a degree from Rider University in Fine Arts and Sociology.

What guided you to be proactive and start the group NJ Unemployed?

Katie DeVito: This was my second round of unemployment. The first time I didn’t think outside of the box. This second time I sent out a tweet right after I received my notice. I wanted to network with others who were also unemployed, and share information with those who needed assistance. Since I’m not a career expert, I reached out to career coaches and human resource professionals to provide content for my website as well as provide valuable seminars for my group.

Starting a new business is a big leap. Obviously, it was not your first option because you had been unemployed for a few months before making this decision. What inspired you to such an undertaking?

Katie DeVito: I learned a lot working for non-profit organizations. I didn’t think about it in February [when laid off]. I started the company in June. I had been branding myself in social media, as well as branding NJ Unemployed. Individuals started reaching out to me to represent them. So I registered the business, and joined two chambers of commerce.

Did you run into any obstacles starting up?

Katie DeVito: No.

Was it a simple process or was there a lot of red tape?

It was straight forward, and I did it all online. There’s a check list [to guide you].

There are many who would like to start a business, but not sure of the costs involved, and being unemployed might mean they don’t have disposable funds. Were there many expenses in starting up?

Katie DeVito: There were no major expenses. It costs about $200 to file the paperwork. It definitely wasn’t more than $300.

If you were offered a full-time position today as a social media director for a mid-sized company, would you take it, or forfeit it to pursue your dreams?

Katie DeVito: I would not take the job. My business is growing, and I couldn’t be happier. I love being a business owner. It’s the best thing that’s happened to me.

How do you think people perceive you?

Katie DeVito: I hope people perceive me as someone helping the community, and adding value. A resource. I started NJ Unemployed on a whim. I’d like to be known as being approachable, and a success story of someone who thought outside of the box.

If people were to google you, what do you hope they’ll find?

Katie DeVito: I hope they find my blog posts, experience with Parade magazine, my articles, my company, and my unemployed group.

Is there any advice you’d like to give those who are unemployed?

Katie DeVito: Get out there and network. Tell people you’re looking for work. Be visible amongst the community, either face to face, or online. Use hash tags [#] for jobs on Twitter. Recruiters are looking for keywords on LinkedIn, so use as many as you can [in your profile]. Recruiters must pay $10,000 to post jobs on Monster [.com] yearly. LinkedIn is FREE. Get on it [LinkedIn] if you’re not. You can get introduced to hiring managers through your contacts.

Any advice for budding entrepreneurs?

Katie DeVito: Go out there and do what you love, and the money will come. It might not be [something] in your résumé, and it won’t happen overnight.

I’d like to thank Katie DeVito for taking the time to speak with me. I love the way she has re-invented herself. She is one of the positive role models we need in these economic times, and is a true inspiration! For those of you who are unemployed, underemployed or working part-time but looking for full-time employment, whether or not you live in New Jersey, please read her blog NJ Unemployed. Also, if you have a LinkedIn account, and according to Katie you should have one, consider joining the NJ Unemployment group for support, information, and notices about guest speakers. You can also follow her on Twitter where this journey began at @kdevito and @njunemployed.

 


 

Etiquette in a Business Environment

October 16, 2010

I was recently fortunate enough to be invited to an amazing social media event. The Hip Event and Hilary Morris Public Relations organized a business etiquette luncheon hosted by the Richfield Regency in Verona, NJ. Etiquette consultant Mary Harris lead us through the etiquette of  conducting business in and outside of the office.

Ms. Harris covered a condensed version of all three programs that she offers: Business Etiquette, Dining Etiquette, and an Introduction to Etiquette. I am a stickler for etiquette, and totally enjoyed this event, but mostly loved that even I walked away with valuable information. It goes to show you that no matter how much you think you know, there is always room to learn more, especially in today’s high tech and digital age. Below is some etiquette advice for a business environment.

Dining Etiquette – The good thing about this event, is attendees received a delicious 3-course meal thanks to the Richfield Regency during the presentation. The wait staff was dressed in black suits and ties and white shits and gloves. They served from the right, and cleared from the left, so this set the tone for a business luncheon. This gave us the perfect opportunity to practice our newly learned skills. Harris used the initials BMW to help us remember the table setting order from the left to right: bread, meal, water/wine. The place setting was further demystified by explaining that the  silverware is always used from the outside of the setting toward the inside.  Advice was given on what to do during a business meal, i.e. not to order messy food, only butter small pieces of bread at a time, do not draw attention if someone uses your bread plate, arrive early if you are paying to make arrangements with the Maître d’, keep cell phones off the table, do not chew gum, and do not put on lipstick or brush your hair at the table. While dining with colleagues, clients or partners, it’s very important to be well-mannered at the table, regardless if the event is formal or casual.

Basic Etiquette – Good eye contact, a firm (but not too strong) handshake and conservative attire are the obvious first things that people judge you on when first meeting you. Other things people will notice at first glance are tattoos and piercings in visible locations, which really should be placed in more discreet places, and clothing that is too revealing (including thin shirts for men), which is inappropriate for business. Always arrive a few minutes early when interviewing, and it’s best for men and women to wear a suit. When using social media (especially Facebook) do not air your grievances, especially about your boss or company. During meetings or meals, cell phones should be turned off, because when they’re on vibrate they can be just as distracting as phones ringing. An exception could be if you’re a parent of a school aged child, it can be left on vibrate placed in a pocket or left on your lap in case of an emergency. Texting should never be done in front of a customer or partner since it shows a disinterest in what they’re saying. E-mail leaves an electronic trail, and should be tastefully written. One should also be cautious about using bcc: in e-mails. Recipients may not notice this and think they’re directly sent the message, and then might reply to all. When using a coffee shop as your office, you shouldn’t spread out your laptop, books, etc. all over the table, especially during peak times. You should also try not to use your cell phone, or keep conversations short, and you should buy one food item or beverage for every 30 -60 minutes that you stay there.

Business Etiquette – Did you know it only takes 7 – 17 seconds to make a lasting impression? Both verbal and non-verbal communication skills should be polished to make a great first impression with clients, as well as wearing the proper business attire for the occasion. It’s best to be a little over dressed than under dressed for any event or meeting. The home office should be devoid of noises from children, pets, etc. so when phone calls come in, you have a quiet background. When calling, you should be polite to anyone at an office answering phones, because being rude to a receptionist or administrative assistant will possibly get back to the boss. Causal Friday attire should be kept to a business casual appearance. No one should be wearing items with graphic prints, jeans, capris or flip-flops to the office.

Some tips may seem obvious, but in the moment it’s easy to forget to turn off the cell phone, or to allow for traffic when traveling for an interview or event, or men might not think to check to see if a shirt is too sheer, and women might out of habit put on lipstick at the table. So, the next time you go out to lunch or dinner with a client, go on an interview, or send a customer an e-mail, remember the do’s and don’ts of business etiquette to achieve and maintain a great image. After all, you only get one chance to make a good first impression.

5 Reasons to Create a LinkedIn Account

October 14, 2010

LinkedIn is a social networking site which is a great place to re-connect with friends, classmates, and colleagues, to network and share information and advice with others in your industry. It’s quick, easy, and free to create an account, and worth the necessary time to set up. Unlike Facebook and other social media sites, this is geared towards business oriented networkers.

1. Contacts – It can be the place where you have all your business contacts stored. At the minimum it can be your modern-day Rolodex. LinkedIn has the potential to be a digital Rolodex on steroids, filled with amazing possibilities of contacts within your extended network, which includes friends of friends and beyond. I like to call this “armchair networking”, because you can reach out to hundreds or thousands of new connections from the comfort of your living room chair.

2. Groups – You can join industry related groups, where you can ask or answer questions or post comments. You can establish yourself as an expert in your field, or if you’re just starting out, you can ask advice from industry gurus.

3. Jobs – It’s a good place for those seeking employment or looking to fill a position. Even if you’re not looking for a new job, you could be discovered by someone who likes your profile and/or resume, and would like to hire you or partner up with you.

4. Recommendations – You can give or receive recommendations, which serve as an online reference.

5. Events – It’s easy to find events that are posted by people in your network or anywhere, and you can sign up for them right on LinkedIn.