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Leveraging LinkedIn

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Alastair Knowles

on 28 February 2017

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Transcript of Leveraging LinkedIn

Getting Started
Before you do anything, make sure you have the following:

A professional email address
, for example: johndoe@gmail.com
A rock solid resume which is up-to-date
, grammatically sound, and can be adapted to your LinkedIn profile.
Time - time to create a solid, basic profile and not just a name and a photo
. If you're putting yourself out there, do so deliberately.
A professional photo
(if you don't have one have a friend take one with a decent camera/smartphone).
Strengthening Your Profile
Once you have a foundation to build on, it's time to begin strengthening your profile - here are some suggestions to help with that...
Updating and Maintaining your Profile
Much like your resume, your LinkedIn profile should be a living document. When you finish a big project that is successful, begin to be handed more responsibilities, etc. you should make sure you include that on your profile.

You shouldn't stop updating LinkedIn or engaging on LinkedIn just because you get a job/have a job - you should always be doing everything you can to position yourself well for the next opportunity that might present itself to you (you also never know when you might lose your current job). LinkedIn is also consistently changing and as it does so do the ways in which you can leverage it to strengthen your online professional presence, remaining active on LinkedIn will help you do this.
Leveraging LinkedIn
- Alastair Knowles -

Why LinkedIn Matters
Largest network of professionals on the planet.
~94% of hiring managers search for recruits on LinkedIn
Serves as a virtual home for your resume - and it's always available for viewing.
It has become the
tool for identifying, contacting, and reviewing talent/candidates for recruiters and hiring managers in practically all major markets.
It's often the
(or one of the first) things a recruiter looks at when considering or searching for a candidate.
Think of building a profile like it's building a house, don't start work on it until you have the requisite time and resources at your disposal to do so.
Make Your Profile Work for You
Making your LinkedIn profile work for you is immensely beneficial - it also requires effort and consistent tweaking on the part of the professional. Here are some tips to help:
Taking LinkedIn's Advice
You will frequently get recommendations/suggestions/advice from LinkedIn on how to make your profile stronger - particularly during the creation of your profile. Many new professionals don't take the time to seriously consider or follow LinkedIn's suggestions - this is a mistake. Take the time to follow LinkedIn's suggestions both during your profile's development and throughout its lifetime - they know what they're talking about!


The Basics!
Building Blocks
Your Pic
Your Title
Be honest, be specific, be concise, be thoughtful and be confident that it accurately captures who you are.

Your title shouldn't be the last position you held with your previous employer - that's dishonest and it will turn recruiters/hiring managers off if they find out.

Creative, Relationship Builder - Pursuing New Opportunities.
Outcome Driven Problem Solver
Hardworking Results-Creator

Don't be afraid of admitting that your on the job-hunt if you are, recruiters are looking for people who are looking for jobs, not people who aren't!
The Summary
The summary is one of the things that will set you apart from the hundreds (or thousands) of professionals with similar qualifications. Take your time writing this, make it personal, make it concise, and make sure it is grammatically sound, and make sure captures your core tenets as a professional and person. A good example of a summary:

"I'm passionate about - and operate best living in - the intersection of people, processes, purpose, and problem solving. I study and practice the science and art of: understanding, motivating, developing, aligning, maximizing, and building relationships with individuals and teams. Nothing is more rewarding to me than contributing to the success of an individual or a group, in the pursuit of finding optimum solutions to toxic problems"

What do you do (naturally/easily/intuitively)? What do you care about? What do you bring to every proverbial table? What makes you, you?

Your Experience
Skills, Honors and Awards
When you start to add skills, honors, and awards to your profile remember the following:

Make sure they are relevant! Keep the industry you're trying to enter in mind. They don't need to be awards/honors within the industry, but they should be somehow transferable to it (working with people, problem solving, leadership, teamwork, etc. are all transferable skills across practically all industries
Make sure that you're honest (especially regarding the skills you add).
Prioritize the skills that are most relevant to the job/career you're seeking.
When professionals search LinkedIn for talent they use keywords to guide their search (just like Applicant Tracking Systems). Be sure to include keywords that are relevant to your industry/ideal industry to help yourself be found.

If you don't know what relevant keywords are, identify terms/skills/needs that you frequently see in job-descriptions for positions you're interested in and incorporate them into your profile.

Good places to include these keywords are in your summary, job-title, and experience section.
Joining Groups and Following Companies
Joining professional groups related to your field of choice and following companies you're interested in working for/with can help you get noticed by recruiters and other professionals who may be able to help you. Joining job-seeker groups or groups for talent-seekers/recruiters can also help you succeed in your career search. You should not just join, you should also engage to ensure you get noticed more than all the other people who join just to joing.
A dormant or low activity LinkedIn profile does not get noticed (or air-time). Take the time to engage in the groups that you join, comment on posts made by your network, like/comment on articles that are circulating (and share those you think are useful), and post/write articles relevant to your field. As a professional in today's world you should be on LinkedIn daily (and multiple times a day if you're looking for work).

Leveraging Job Searches
Not everyone realizes that LinkedIn allows you to create customizable job-searches which can be saved and programmed to generate daily, weekly, or monthly notifications of new job-postings for the user. This allows for a much more efficient job-search.

Research this, as the process for doing it changes slightly everytime they update LinkedIn (which recently happened).
Building & Leveraging Your Network
Co-workers, supervisors, professors, mentors, business partners, clients, friends, peers, and other people you know should be the first additions to your contacts list. Make sure that your job-title clearly conveys your current disposition before adding connections, to help ensure that they're aware of whether or not your seeking new opportunities.
This is your existing network (low hanging fruit)
- leveraging it and building on it, is critical to you effectively utilizing your professional network and building your professional cred. and social media reach.
Don't focus on a specific job title, be more concerned with the keywords - this will allow for more search results.
The more keywords you include in a given search the more narrow your results will be. Use one or two keywords and create multiple saved searches to ensure as many postings as possible.
Commit to quality over quantity:
take your time when applying for jobs and
follow these important steps before applying
: (1) research the company/organization to get an idea for its mission, vision, values, etc.; (2) see if you can find out who the hiring manager for the position is for the purposes of following up after you submit your application; (3) tailor your resume and cover-letter to the specific position and company (include 'buzz words' from the job description and company's website); (4) triple-check all of your application materials for spelling and grammatical mistakes and triple check that you're sending your application to the right place; and (5) triple check that all required materials are included/attached before submitting your application.

Submitting 5 quality job applications a day is a much better strategy than 20 generic applications containing generic materials that haven't been tailored to specific positions/companies/industries. If you submit a mediocre application to a hiring manager once you run the risk of being associated with that indefinitely - i.e. you may never be considered a strong candidate by them because of the first impression you made.
Be realistic when looking for jobs - applying for jobs that you're clearly under-qualified for is one of the biggest wastes of times that most rookie job-seekers engage in (the same goes for jobs that you're overqualified for). You should be looking for jobs that closely match your credentials and desires, allowing for some flexibility but not too much - if they're asking for 2 years of experience and you have 0-1 year but still line up well on all the other desired qualifications you're still a solid candidate, if they're asking for 4 years you're probably not.
If you line up with 60% or more of what they're asking for, you should consider applying; 75% or more, and you're probably a solid candidate. Most strong candidates never check
the boxes.
Ask for Endorsements and Recommendations:
seek out past or current supervisors, coworkers, and business partners and politely request that they take the time to provide you with some skills endorsements or a written recommendation on LinkedIn. A recommendation or endorsement from Mom isn't going to build your credibility - you should be focused on gaining endorsements/recommendations from people who have actually worked with you.

One way to entice someone into taking the time to endorse you is by making it clear that you'll return the favor if they do.
Targeted Messages:
have a connection that works for a company you want to work for or in a role you'd like to have? Send them a message conveying your interest in working for a company like theirs or in a role like theirs
Ask them what it is like, how someone could position themselves to land such a great gig, and if you could set up a time to meet to get their advice on breaking into their field/org.
This could lead to multiple
benefits: (1) you learn a little bit about what it is
like working for a company of interest/in a job of interest, (2) you gain valuable knowledge regarding how to position yourself as a candidate for a company/position you're interested in, (3) you secure a phone-call or meeting that helps you further strengthen that connection and (4) maybe (just maybe) your connection knows of a position their company is hiring for and - since they know you're interested in their company but not asking for them to hand you a job - refer you to it and/or its hiring manager.
Don't be afraid to research and reach out to professionals in roles you're interested in as well!
Following Good Examples:
that successful friend or co-worker who has the job you want with the company you're interested in - they probably have a LinkedIn profile that you could learn from.

Review the profiles of more experienced and successful connections/professionals for ideas around how you can improve your profile and tailor it to your area(s) of interest. Pay special attention to your connections who are active on LinkedIn, seem to have a lot of connections, endorsements, recommendations, etc. and consider how you can incorporate some of their methods/approaches/phrasing into your profile and activity.
Leveraging Your Existing Network
Job Hunt Tip - Connecting with Recruiters and Hiring Managers on LinkedIn:
the best way to connect with recruiters and hiring managers is attending career fairs and networking events and following them up with a LinkedIn add accompanied by a message in your invite such as: "Thanks for taking the time to discuss what you do at last night's career networking event - as I mentioned, I'd like to learn more about what you do, and whether or not we might benefit from collaborating moving forward."

This isn't always an option - when connecting with people on LinkedIn who you haven't met before, you're conducting a virtual cold call, there are some rules to doing this effectively...
Virtual Cold-Calling Rules:

(1) Be selective
- only attempt to connect with recruiters/hiring managers who could benefit from connecting with you (to some extent) - this means you'll have to do your research on people/industries/orgs before connecting
(tip: from your LinkedIn homepage run a search for recruiters in your region or field);

(2) Provide an explanation
- when you invite someone to connect explain
in a
concise, precise, and confident
manner, for example:
"I noticed that you recruit for positions that I'm interested in and that I am a good fit for. I'd appreciate the opportunity to connect and discuss how we could benefit from working together."
Don't simply hit "connect" because someone is a recruiter or hiring manager without explaining
you're connecting - they may accept the invite but you're not going to standout from the crowd in a good way;
(3) Ask to be referred
- when you request a connection don't be afraid to include
"If you know anyone other than yourself who might be interested in connecting with me, I would really appreciate it if you could introduce us."
It would also be beneficial to ask any existing connections who may be connected to recruiters or hiring managers if they'd be willing to refer you to anyone that might be interested in you as a potential candidate or hire.
(4) Be polite
- always thank people for taking the time to review your invite and wish them a great day. This might seem minor but it says a lot about you as a person and professional.
Follow Up:
if someone accepts your invitation to connect be sure to follow up promptly after they accept, for example:
"Thanks for the add! When would be a good time this week or next for us to have a phone call or meeting to discuss how we might be able to work together? Here are some times that'd work for me (list 2 to 4), if none of those work for you I'm relatively flexible. Thanks again for the add, and I look forward to continuing the conversation!"

This might seem a bit forward but it isn't - provided you explained to them in your invite
you wanted to connect in the first place. When you ask for the phone-call/meeting be sure to create a window of time for the call (don't just say 'when can we talk' - limit the time in which the next conversation will take place); you can provide specific options: "Would tomorrow at 1pm or Thursday at 3:30pm work better for a 30 minute phone call to discuss..." This CAN be viewed as a bit forward and is a riskier approach.

Don't be a pest:
if someone doesn't respond to your invite or follow-up, give them some time before you attempt to reach out again (a week at least) - you might be at the bottom of their priority list and could promptly shove yourself off of it by being annoying.

If it ain't working fix it:
if you're getting no responses to your requests to connect you should probably tweak your invite message - eventually you'll find one that you like and seems to work, but this can sometimes take a little while. You'll go through iterations.
Building Your Network
Tips for Virtual Cold Calling
How to quickly find and qualify leads and a sample connection request...
Finding and Qualifying
You can search for recruiters the same way you search for job opportunities - from your home screen type "Recruiter" into the search bar at the top - then narrow your results just as you would with your job search to include only recruiters in geographical areas of interest or industries of interest - finally, before connecting with a recruiter you should view their profile and attempt to confirm that they recruit for positions that you're interested in and a good fit for.
Sample Request to Connect
"I'm a senior at University of X
(or whatever position/field you're in)
searching for new opportunities. It looks like you work with talent similar to myself. I'd appreciate the chance to connect, and discuss how we might benefit from collaborating with each-other. Thanks for your time and have a great day."

Be concise - confident - specific - and make the ask for a meeting/conversation. If you intend on copying and pasting it later, make it something that lends itself to that (no specific names, dates, terms, etc.) - which is why you might want to avoid personalizing it with their name or things such as "have a great Friday". Remember, when asking to connect via LinkedIn you should always include this sort of personal message (and there is a limit on how long it can be).
Your profile picture should be from about the shoulders up, professional to the industry(ies) you're interested in, and only of you.

If you don't have a professional profile picture have a friend take one of you (with a decent camera). Some suggestions for backdrops: city skyline, a solid background without a loud color, an urban area, etc. Be aware of lighting and backdrop.

Google 'tips for taking a great LinkedIn photo', for additional tips and ideas.
How you convey your experience on LinkedIn should closely (very closely) resemble your resume's experience; it is VERY important that they do not contradict each-other (dates, job titles, company names, etc. should all line up perfectly)

Remember - as with all of your professional materials - accurate spelling and flawless grammar is critical (don't forget to write your past experience in the past tense and current responsibilities in the present tense). For info on resume writing, review my prezi on it:

General Rules:
Communicate/Create Content Thoughtfully;
Keep Your Goal(s) in Mind;
Keep Your Target Audience(s) and Their Goal(s) in Mind (FIT?);
Revise, revise, revise (esp. your first draft)
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