10 Social LinkedIn Things to Do Now

Your LinkedIn profile is more than an electronic résumé. LinkedIn is a social media site, and if you want to get the most out of it, you should be spending some time each day, or at least every few days, on the site. Activity creates visibility and connections. Punch through this list and figure out how you can be more effective while being LinkedIn.

1. Seasonal Greetings. As I am writing this, Christmas is just two days away. New Year’s Day is a week later. Scan your contacts list and send a note to say hello and share good wishes. Tip: Rather than typing the same statements over and over again, open your word processing program, type out a few greetings, and copy/paste from there. Easy!

2. Share News. Chances are that you work in an industry where something new is happening. If you see news stories that would be of interest to other people in your company and industry – any community with shared interests – post a link. IMPORTANT: Add a comment (a sentence or two) to your post to tell your network why you found the article valuable. Help them understand why you shared it and why one would want to spend time reading it.

3. Congratulate. This one should be obvious. You will see updates informing you that someone got promoted or landed a new job. Beginners: congratulate the person using that link. Pros: Send a private note, offering encouragement based on what you know about the person. Example: “You did such great work when we worked together at XYZ Company. I know that you will be amazing in this new job. Congratulations!”

4. Watch for Jobs for Others. Is there someone in your network who is looking for a new job? You might run across opportunities on LinkedIn and in other ways. Pass along these leads.

5. Participate in Groups. Participating is more than sharing a link to a story or promoting yourself. Read what others are sharing, get involved in discussions, and offer positive feedback. Part of the fun of social media is recognizing and being recognized for adding value. Give some love to others and they will do the same for you. Relationships start that way.

For 21 great tips on building a better LinkedIn profile, see 21-Point LinkedIn Check-Up. It’s the most viewed and shared article on this site.

6. Be Free with Knowledge. What are you good at? What are your areas of expertise? Monitor group discussions to offer ideas and advice when others ask for it. Your reputation can only get stronger for being so generous.

7. Ask Questions. If you are working through an issue, need advice, or just want to bounce ideas off of others, post a question to your network. You can do this as an update, to groups, or both. You might be surprised by the amount of help and engagement you get. Don’t forget to thank others who help you.

8. Be Gracious. Say thanks! When people endorse you, recommend you, recognize you, or help you in any way, say thank you. You can do this publicly. Better, send a private note thanking the person. Do both! Why not? You can never make a mistake by offering appreciation and thanks.

9. Recommend Businesses. This is especially true for smaller businesses that will care about your recommendation. Think about the businesses with which you have experience. Look for their LinkedIn company pages. Write recommendations that are specific about a product or service provided. This can lead to connections with the company and a more diverse network.

10. Recommendations & Endorsements. You should be doing these already, but if not, get going! When you write recommendations, be brief and specific about an accomplishment or quality about the person. Save your endorsements for people whose work you have seen.

What else are you doing with the service? How are you being social? Please share your ideas.

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Bill Florin is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Employment Interview Professional, Coach and President of Resu-mazing Services Company in Monroe, CT.

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21-Point LinkedIn Check-Up (2013)

You know that LinkedIn is the place to be for online professional networking. It can be one of the most productive tools available, but it can also hurt you if you are not careful. Use this check-up to be sure that you are using the platform to its potential. Here is an updated check-up for 2013.

  1. Your Headline: Get creative here, using the few words that you have to build your brand. Rather than limiting yourself to a simple job title, think about how you could use this space more effectively. Before: Accountant. After: CPA and Client Magnet. Have some fun!
  2. Your Picture: This is not Facebook. Make it professional. Use a picture that shows you in your grown-up clothes. Smile.  Make sure that you have a picture. Studies have shown that people view profiles without pictures as “suspicious.”
  3. Your Profile Address: Did you know that you can customize this so that you don’t have all of the random letters, numbers and slashes tacked on to the URL? Do it. It will separate you from the LI rookies.
  4. Don’t Stalk: Everyone hates the notifications that an anonymous LinkedIn user viewed her/his profile. Be public. LinkedIn is for professionals seeking to network. Going stealth does not help you do that. If you view a profile for someone you don’t know, you just might make a new connection.
  5. Spelling/Grammar: LinkedIn is your professional face to the 225 million-member universe. Also, remember that your public profile can be viewed by non-members too as it is searchable on Google and other engines. Spelling and grammar errors are the equivalent of showing up at a business function wearing different color shoes. Spell check and proofread before posting. Use a word processor with spell check to write your copy and copy/paste into the profile.
  6. Formatting: You can’t use special characters and graphics, but you can use spacing and ASCII characters to make material >>> POP! <<< You can do something ##> SPECIAL with a few basic characters and an extra line or two.
  7. Summary: Remember that LinkedIn is a social media platform. Write a summary that lets your personality come through. Use the first person as you write. Remember that this is not a résumé. You can even give your readers information on why they should contact you. If you are looking for a job, mention that. If you aren’t, you can say something like this: “I welcome conversations with others in the industry so that we can share ideas and explore business opportunities.”
  8. TMI: Be careful about sharing too much information about your current gig. You should not be sharing confidential material unless you are seeking an involuntary departure. Loose lips…you know the rest.
  9. Results: Here’s a reality check. Does your profile read like a job description? If so, nobody is going to read it. Bor-ring! Give us one or two accomplishments from each job. Share some details. Pay attention to #8 above. Don’t forget your volunteer work.
  10. Files & Links: You can add samples of your work and links to other sites to your profile. If you did incredible work of a project for which there is a credible link, share it. Did you create a killer PowerPoint deck (good killer, not bore-to-death killer)? Do you have a writing sample? Are there pictures somewhere? Share it all here. Get creative.
  11. Recommendations: One of the best features of LinkedIn is the recommendation feature. Your connections can write in-depth recommendations for you that you can approve for posting to your profile. Be proactive and ask for recommendations. Be specific when you ask, reminding your connection about the work that you did together and what you would like to recommendation to include.
  12. Personal Invitations: As you think about and search for people with whom to connect, send invitations that are personal and will help the other person remember you. Bad: LinkedIn form-letter invitation. Good: “I enjoyed working with you at the NSA and I look forward to re-establishing our professional relationship.” Better: “You did incredible work of the XYZ project when we worked together at IBM. I am looking forward to reconnecting and sharing ideas.”
  13. Introductions: You know and are connected to Jane (1st level). You want to be introduced to John (2nd level). Ask Jane to make the introduction, explaining why it would benefit all involved.
  14. Groups: Explore your interests and connect to like-minded professionals. Search for groups that are related to your profession and interests. Check out the groups that LI recommends. Once a member, get involved in the conversation. The invitations to connect will flow when you engage professionally, intelligently and constructively.
  15. Follow Companies: Even if you are not looking for a job, there might still be companies that you admire or think about. If you didn’t work where you are anymore, where might you want to work? Follow them.
  16. Jobs: That’s one of the reasons why you are spending time here, right? Check the jobs link and set up monitoring alerts for jobs that you might consider. Check out companies that are actively recruiting through the site and see if you know anybody there. You might find that you have multiple 2nd level connections that are just an introduction away (see #13).
  17. Posting Quantity: Once or twice a day is plenty. A few times a week is OK, too. More than that and the value of your posts will be dubious and connections will start to tune you out. This is not Facebook. Nobody wants to hear about your tough commute, your lunch choice, or how hard you worked out today. Quality professional updates are the rule.
  18. Speaking of Quality: Remember that you are logged into a professional networking platform. You should conduct yourself here, with constructive, well-considered comments just as if you were at work. You can make a great impression or a bad one. It’s your choice.
  19. Give Recommendations: Make someone’s day special. Write an unsolicited recommendation for someone you’ve worked with or have done business with. Make it sincere and specific. OK: “Bob is a great guy.” Much better: “Jane completed the Flux Capacitor project two weeks early and $15,000 under budget. Her work allowed us to launch early and beat competitors to market.”
  20. Follow Thought-Leaders: Some of the biggest names in business write for LinkedIn. Richard Branson, Jack Welch and others are there. Follow them and read what they are writing. If you have an intelligent comment to add to the conversation, go for it. Your network will see it and might learn something about your interests and professional thoughts. Don’t forget about your connections; give them some love for their posts, too.
  21. Endorsements: Don’t spend a lot of time here. You might find that people who don’t know you well (or at all!) are endorsing you for things that they can’t possibly know. Take the endorsement pledge: I will never endorse anyone for anything that I don’t have first-hand knowledge about. My guess is that endorsements will be removed, though I have no reason for knowing that. That opinion is an awful lot like some of the worthless endorsements floating around.

Bonus: See 10 Social LinkedIn Things to Do Now for a quick list of activities you can be doing right away to build your reputation and grow your network.

There it is! Work through this check-up and you can earn the coveted “All-Star” rating for your LinkedIn profile.

Do you have other tips to share that aren’t included here? Please comment and share!

If you found this article helpful, please take a moment to share it. Also, be sure to follow this blog to get notifications of new stories. Thanks!

Bill Florin spends a lot of time coaching Resu-mazing Services Company clients on getting the most from LinkedIn.

Four Job Search Truths: Take Nothing for Granted

“Should I customize my resume for each job?”

“Do I really need a cover letter?”

These are two questions that I heard recently from people concerning their job searches. Let me answer your question with a question. “Do you want the job?”

If the answer is yes, then the answers are yes to both questions. And that’s just the beginning. Here are some harsh realities of the 2013 job search.

Networking is essential. If you see a job that you really want, work to identify someone in your network who can get you in invitation to interview. This might be a second or third level LinkedIn connection. It may be someone you know in the “real” world. It will be worth your time to find the connection, because your competition is working to get the advantage of a warm introduction.

It’s You Versus the Machine. I’m referring to the ATS (applicant tracking system) machine. Employers are flooded with résumés from people with little or no qualifications, so they set their force fields on “high”. You must (must, must, MUST) customize your résumé and cover letter to match the qualifications and requirements of the position. Don’t do it and your résumé will never be seen by a human. You will be filtered out and auto-rejected by ATS.

Sell Yourself with the Cover Letter. The letter explains why you are the best candidate for the job, what special skills you have that make you a cultural fit, and addresses any easily identified obstacles or objections. For example, if you are applying for a position in a different city, explain your relocation plans and that you will NOT be looking for relo assistance. Answer the obvious questions. Each letter should be different.

It’s Hard Work. There it is! Finding work is work. You must take the time and invest the energy into making yourself appear to be the ideal candidate for every position that you want. If you don’t, someone else will. Quality of your marketing documents beats quantity, but you need quantity, too. You are facing intense competition for every position.

If you aren’t making a full-time effort at finding your next full-time gig, you are not working hard enough. Make a plan to conduct meaningful job search activities every day. Then do them. Take nothing for granted and assume that the competition will be willing to do the things that you don’t feel like doing. Work hard. It will be worth it.

Here are some earlier stories to help you jump-start your search and find your next job faster:

8 Résumé Must-HavesStart Your Résumé Strong!Get Busy!Do What You Can

Bill Florin, CPRW & CEIP, is the President of Resu-mazing Services Company in Monroe, CT

Six Crucial Job Search Tactics

With so many job search options, where do you start? That was a question I received from a client yesterday, and one that’s worth a few lines of digital ink. After all, with the many job search sites showing duplicate content, often the same jobs scraped from other sites, it can be confusing and frustrating. Here is what I offered him, and I hope it helps you.

First, start with people you know. If you have a new résumé, you have a terrific reason to contact everyone in your network. Try this: “Hi Mary! I just reworked my résumé and I was hoping that you could take a moment to look at it. I respect your opinion and will appreciate any feedback you have. Thanks!” You can do that by email or phone. If your contact in your network is real, she probably won’t mind doing this for you. Follow up with a thank you and ask her to keep you in mind or pass your résumé along to anyone she thinks would be appropriate.

Identify target companies. Pick some companies that you want to work for. Make a list. Follow them through LinkedIn, Twitter and their corporate sites. Work your LinkedIn network to find someone inside the company you know, or a 2nd level connection to whom you could be introduced. Use Glassdoor and news searches to learn as much about the company as possible. Expand your list as you consider similar companies that you come to learn about in your research.

Pick a single search site, and work it. This is probably going to be your least productive tool, but an effective job search is like our national energy policy: All of the above. Decide which site you like best (See Resu-mazing’s useful sites: http://www.resu-mazing.com/Useful_Sites.html) and get to know it well. Set up search agents. If you are not currently employed, consider posting your résumé to make it searchable and findable by recruiters.

Don’t forget your LinkedIn profile. When your résumé is fresh and new, use it to update your LinkedIn profile. Set your privacy settings to allow you to be found by recruiters.

[See my LinkedIn e-booklet for tons of useful information to create a better profile.]

Remember keywords. As you search and read job postings, you will see the same words and phrases in the descriptions and qualifications. Do your LI profile and résumé reflect what employers need? If not, tune it up. Find different ways to describe your work and results, incorporating the key words that you identify.

Identify recruiters in your field. Remember that recruiters are paid by the employers, not by the candidates, so they are not going to work hard to find you a job. It is up to you to monitor their web sites and establish relationships so that you can present your résumé when they are working on a placement for which you are a credible candidate.

Here’s the straight story. Jobs can come from any of the channels described above. While it is true that personal connections and networking (social recruiting) will produce the best results, companies still find and hire people coming to them from advertising. If they didn’t, why would they spend the time and money doing it? I see good things happen all the time.

Work hard at your search, keep your activities going in each of the areas and stay positive. The interviews and opportunities will come.

Bill Florin, CPRW, is President of Resu-mazing Services Company in Monroe, Connecticut USA.

10 Year End Tweaks & Tips

Reindeer GuyWhat would the end of the year be without lists? Best books, worst movies, most dramatic failures, the most influential people; the list of lists goes on. In that spirit, but hopefully much more useful, are some quick tips and tweaks that you can complete in a few minutes each.

  1. How is your profile photo? If you aren’t happy with your headshot that you use for LinkedIn, Twitter and other sites, take a moment during the holidays to take a new one. You will probably be dressed nicely and with other people, and everyone has a camera, so do it. Don’t wear the reindeer sweater!
  2. Scroll through your LI contacts with this question in mind: “What good work do I remember about this person doing on which I can base a LinkedIn recommendation?” Start at Z in your contacts for a change, and work your way from the bottom. Write the recommendation. It will be a wonderful holiday gift that will be appreciated much more than the Scooby Doo Chia Pet from Walgreen’s.
  3. Review just your current job’s block in your LinkedIn profile. What have you done this year that isn’t included. Update this and your résumé with your 2012 accomplishments.
  4. Again, review your contacts. Whom have you not spoken with in a long time? Send a note or make a call. Check in. Keep your network alive. A “Happy Holidays!” wish is always a great reason call.
  5. Invest some of your downtime (New Year’s Day, perhaps) taking inventory of your volunteer work. You haven’t done any? Check Catchafire or VolunteerMatch for ideas, or look close to home. The Rotary, Lions, faith communities, and the Boys & Girls Clubs are great places to start.
  6. Start that blog you have been thinking about. WordPress and other sites couldn’t be easier to use. You have great ideas to share. What are you waiting for?
  7. Check your privacy settings in your social media accounts. Are they still appropriately set for your needs? While you’re at it, change your passwords to something more secure than 123456.
  8. Update your signature block in your email account. Be sure that it reflects your professional brand as it should and that all information is current.
  9. Actively participate in a different LinkedIn or Quora conversation once a day for a week. See what it does for your thinking, creativity and networking.
  10. Drop the cash for a box of personal business cards. 123Print and Vista Print are good, cheap sources to get your personal networking cards printed.

What are you working on? Do you have other ideas for quick-hit tweaks for the final days of the year? Please share them.

Do you want to know more about Catchafire? Read about my experience here.

Bill Florin, CPRW is the President of Resu-mazing Services Company in Monroe, CT.

Busyness and a Better Tomorrow

“Busyness that moves you towards a goal and a better place is a good busy.”

All right, this is not the most profound thing ever spoken, but it worked for a client yesterday. I started working with a new person and she is in a tough place. She left her employer of eight years in the spring for what she thought was a step up. It turned out the she signed on with a maniac for a boss, someone not opposed to micro-management and public humiliation. The boss seems to enjoy it.

What is an employee to do?

In this case, my client has endured so much abuse after so much previous success that she seemed paralyzed and felt trapped. Unable to think and afraid to say the wrong thing, she has become physically ill from the environment. Finally, she did something about it and called me.

As we walked through the steps of how I could help her, I learned more and made some suggestions for her to move her search forward. After the conversation she commented, “I’m going to be busy this afternoon.” That’s when I came out with the line at the top, and she liked it. Here’s why.

When we are faced with a difficult situation, one that seems limiting and hopeless, even a small step can make a big difference. One or two activities that lead away from today’s pain and towards a better tomorrow get the mind realizing that all is not lost. The abusive boss is not a permanent fixture. The employee is one day closer to firing that monster.

If you feel like my client, like your situation is terrible and you don’t know what to do, think and act. What do you have to do to improve your situation? What small step can you take today and tomorrow and the next day? If your goal is to find a new job, break it down into smaller pieces, including things that you can do now. Here are a few examples:

“Tonight I am going to take one hour to write down my accomplishments from the last year and the things that make me marketable.”

“This weekend I am going to update my résumé with my accomplishments.”

“Today I am going to reconnect with two colleagues from my last job to strengthen my network.”

Every action will make you feel better and more able to tolerate today’s situation while you lay the foundation for tomorrow’s change. Activity leads to options, options to hope, and hope to change. Plan your escape and get busy on those goals!

LI: Recommend or Endorse?

The LinkedIn universe has been buzzing lately about the endorsement feature. Is this a good thing? How is it different than recommendations? Should I do it? Here are some quick answers to clear up the confusion.

Endorsements allow a first-level connection to acknowledge that a person has the skills that s/he says she does. For example, Amee adds “customer service” and “project management” to the skills section of her profile. Jim, who worked with Amee, knows that she has these skills and clicks the endorse button next to the corresponding skills on Amee’s profile. Jim can’t endorse skills that Amee hasn’t indicated that she has.

Endorsements are a quick and easy way to add more credibility to a colleague’s profile. The endorser just taps the button and moves along.

Recommendations require more work and can be more valuable. Amee could either ask Jim for a recommendation, or Jim could write one without being asked. Either way, Amee can review the recommendation and choose to show it on her profile or not. Recommendations have the added value of being free form; their effectiveness is limited only be the recommender’s writing ability.

If you ask for a recommendation, be specific as to what it should say. If Amee thinks that Jim can say great things about her project management skills, she should ask for a recommendation focusing on that quality, maybe even offering an example to help jog Jim’s memory. Example: “Jim – Remember when we worked on the Alpha Project. Would you please write a recommendation for me about how I brought the project in 10 days early and $50,000 under budget?”

Both options, of course, allow LinkedIn users to validate what a person is already saying about him or herself. Plus, they help you build your network’s strength by helping others, a foundational concept of LinkedIn. Have some fun, brighten some else’s day and get going with your recommendations and endorsement.

Bill Florin, CPRW is the President of Resu-mazing Services Company.