7 interesting facts about LinkedIn Groups you should know

LinkedIn Groups3Which LinkedIn feature is your favorite for the job search? Is it Companies which allows you to locate and connect with people who can open doors for you? How about Jobs which, according to some, has become the second most effective job board, two notches above Monster.com. Or Who’s Viewed Your Profile, Find Alumni, Pulse?

There’s one I’ve not mentioned yet. It’s a feature that provides you with an arena to express your views, ask questions, share articles, connect or communicate with people who are outside your first degree connections, and more. Groups is high on the list of my favorite features, quite possibly my number one.

That said, I’m going to give you a rundown of Groups functions, some of which are very useful, others not very, and others a waste of time.

Your Groups’ Feed

Goups

1. Your Groups at a glance. When you first choose Groups in the Interests drop-down (silly that one of LinkedIn’s best features doesn’t have its own link), you’ll see a page that allows you to take immediate action. Rather than having to open a group, you can do the following:

Keep up with discussions. This is an easy way to see what’s going on in each of your groups (providing there are discussions happening) and contributing to said discussions. Depending on how much time you have on your hands, you can scroll and scroll down your screen to see if there is anything of interests.

start a discussion in GroupsStart a conversation (New). How easy can LinkedIn make starting a discussion in a particular group. Begin your discussion by selecting a title (LinkedIn provides some suggestions) and adding details, choosing a group (only one group. Sorry), and post it.

Manage your groups’ settings. This function allows you to rearrange your groups in the order you want them to appear. You can also adjust Member Settings, e.g., Visibility, Contact Settings, Update Settings, and Leave the Group. In terms of visibility, I tell my jobseekers to not show their Job Search groups on their profile. Rather the groups that are related to their occupation.

Open One of Your Groups and Go to Town

2. Discussions. Probably the best feature Groups has to offer, as it allows you to show your expertise through intelligent questions, thoughtful answers, relevant shares. One of my valued connections, Hank Boyer, constantly shows up on my Groups feed posting articles that are relevant to his connections.

3. Promotions. No man’s land. Promotions are ignored in most groups because any type of information posted and deemed as self-promotional end up here. One of my valued connections informed me that when he posts anything in a group I started, it is automatically placed in Promotions. I removed this page from my group.

4. Jobs. This is feature that is sometimes ignored by group members and, therefore, they don’t learn about jobs posted by their fellow members. I’ve sent messages to the members of my group informing them to look in Jobs, but this isn’t something that I can do on a constant basis.

5. Members. A valuable feature if you’re looking for someone whose occupation is closely related to yours. Type in “Project Manager” in the search field and you will be able to access the full profiles of group members who have “Project Manager” on their profile. Better yet, you can:

  1. Follow
  2. See activity
  3. Send message
  4. Connect

with any member in your group, even if he/she is a 3rd degree. I tell my workshop attendees that if they want to communicate directly with someone who’s not in their direct network, they can join a group of which the person is a member. The same goes for connecting with 2nd and 3rd degree connections.

6. Search. This is where you can search for discussions from the group’s members. When I want to search for a discussion started by one of my fellow group members, or when he’s been mentioned in a discussion; I type in his name in the field and am granted this information. There are other items you can search:

  1. Latest Activity
  2. All Discussions
  3. Manager’s Choice
  4. Discussions You’ve Started
  5. Discussions You’re Following
  6. Pending Submissions

7. Number of groups to join. I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees that LinkedIn allows them to join up to 50 groups, but I advise them to join groups only if they will be active participants. This leads me to conclude that a good rate of participation should be at least once a week—whether you ask an illuminating question or answer one.

This further leads me to confess that I was once banished from a group because of lack of activity–yes, it’s possible. Thus, I made it my mission to participate in more groups or quit them. Should I get my hand slapped again, I will gladly apologize to the owner or manager who banishes me from that group.

My advice to you is shed the groups you’re ignoring. Treat it like spring cleaning; purge your proverbial LinkedIn house of those groups you’ve stopped visiting. Trust me, it will feel great.


If you know of other functionality of Groups not mentioned here, let us know.

As always, if this post helped you, please share it with others.

Need help with your LinkedIn profile, try stealing…not literally

stealing In Three Secrets to Writing Better, Erik Deckers, shares three bits of advice on how to become a better writer. They are: write everyday, read the newspaper, and my favorite steal from other writers’ styles. (I think what he really means is to learn from the best.)

If I could steal from a contemporary writer, it would be Joel Stein from Time magazineJoel writes with impunity (sometimes bashes Time), employs sarcasm and self-deprecation, and often mentions his family. He also wrote a book (Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity) on how he attempted to become more manly and, as you might guess, failed at his attempt.

While I wish to steal from Joel, Erik suggests writers like Earnest Hemmingway, Hunter S. Thompson, and Mike Royko, Chicago Daily News columnist from the 1980s. If I were to get all literary, I’d go with JD Salinger and Harper Lee.

What does stealing from great writers have to do with writing a LinkedIn profile? For those of you who are having a hard time writing your LinkedIn profile, allow me to suggest following Erik’s advice. Of course I don’t mean to literally steal from others’ profiles. I mean take a little journey on LinkedIn, targeting people who do what you do, and find profiles you admire.

Then emulate the styles of various profiles without plagiarizing–one of my connections was a victim of this.  This will take a little work, but it’s well worth it.

Summary section. When I started my LinkedIn profile, I used a connection’s Summary as an example. She is a professional résumé and LinkedIn profile writer and one of my valued connections. I liked the way she began her Summary with a general statement, followed by five areas of expertise, and concluding with her prediction of online résumés.

I have since changed my Summary to show more accomplishments in bullet format but still use paragraphs here and there. But I am grateful to my connection who started me on my way to writing a profile that speaks to my personality and accomplishments.

Employment section. This part of the profile can be a challenge for some. Again, look at what others in your occupation and industry have written in this section. Do they have a job summary followed by duties and accomplishments? Do they include only accomplishments? You might be in the dark about what content to include in your Employment section.

If you have no idea which duties to include for each job, I to begin by totally plagiarizing by doing the following: type http://www.onetcenter.org/, enter your occupation, copy and paste it to your profile, and edit from there using your own words.

Education section. And when it comes to Education? Do others list numerous Activities and Societies or Descriptions of what they did at their school/s? You might find this appealing, or if you want to keep it simple by stating the name of your school/s, that’s fine as well. (For activities, don’t write your were the beer bong champion of your fraternity.)

Branding Headline. I couldn’t neglect talking about stealing a Branding Headline. Again, pay attention to Headlines as you scroll down your Home Page, including content and nifty symbols (I’m fond of the vertical bar |, while others might prefer ►, ★, ✔, or other symbols ). Emulate the nature of the content you see, without blatantly stealing.

I know I’ll never reach the type of fame Joel Stein has gained–if not in my mind only–but I’ll continue to read his columns, laugh at his wit, and attempt a little farcical writing of my own. I think Erik is onto something here. Having read his book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself , coauthored by Kyle Lacy, I know he’s a funny and talented writer.

3 more ways LinkedIn is the perfect place to tell your story–part 2 of 2

LinkedIn-is-the-PerfectThe first part of this series began with a story of “The Perfect Place,” a spot beyond my childhood neighborhood that’s vivid in my memory. It was, as I describe it to my son, an oasis for the 10–or was it five–of us kids, where we often spent endless hours of our summer vacation doing the crazy things kids do.

This story is analogous to how we tell our story on LinkedIn. A successful job search includes your stories in your written and verbal communications–stories resonate with employers.

In part one of this two-part series I talked about how to tell your story on LinkedIn with your Photo and in Summary and Experience sections; but there are three more places you can tell your story.

Strut your stuff with Media. You don’t need to bring your portfolio–at least most of it–to the interview because recruiters and employers can see it on your profile. In your Summary, Experience, and Education sections, you can show off images, video, audio, presentations, and documents.

This is a feature more people should take advantage of, as it allows you to tell–no show–your story. The Media section replaced many of LinkedIn’s applications, including Answers; and while many were not in favor of the move, this section proved to be beneficial to people who want to display PowerPoint or Presi presentations, YouTube videos, and more.

You can tell your story through visual representation, which can be extremely effective. Take a look at one of my connections, Anton Brookes, who links to YouTube to strut his stuff. Although he doesn’t use Media–he uses Projects–it’s still a great example of how one tells his story using LinkedIn.

What are your interests? “What?” you say, “I don’t include my interests on my résumé.” That’s right, you don’t; but this isn’t your résumé, is it? Your profile is a networking document–albeit online–that needs to encourage people to get to know you better. You can achieve this goal by talking about yourself in the Interests section.

One of my contacts says he’s into sailing and hiking. In my Interests section I mention the fact that I coach soccer, that I spend far too much time on LinkedIn, and other personal things about me.

Another one of my connections uses the Interests section for SEO purposes by listing her services and accomplishments. This might be the smartest way to use your Interests section if you’re looking for work and trying to attract the attention of employers. Nonetheless she’s telling her story.

Note: When you click on a link in this section, you will be brought to a page where other people have the selected words on their profile. This is a neat way to connect with other LinkedIn members. Teaching the love of soccer to energetic youth is one of my interests. Go ahead and click on it.

Recommendations tell your story. Perhaps the best people to tell your story are those who supervised or worked with you. Their words carry more weight than your own when you’re looking for work. Request recommendations from those who supervised you to strengthen your story. And write recommendations for those you supervised to help them tell their story.

The Perfect Place will always be a fond memory and story I’ll continue to tell about how we sat and watched cows graze in the fields, climbed trees, and unsuccessfully tried to build a tree house–but had fun doing it. And, of course, I’ll always remember that wild dog who chased us for miles–or was it more like a quarter of a mile?

3 ways LinkedIn is the perfect place to tell your story–part 1 of 2

LinkedIn-is-the-PerfectMy son loves to hear a story I tell about the “Perfect Place,” an isolated area with climbing rocks and meadows that seemed to span for miles. He is taken by how 10 of my neighborhood friends–probably more like five–would journey to The Perfect Place and hang out to watch cows graze, climb trees, and how we once tried to build a tree house.

Then there was this time when we saw a wild dog and ran from it until we reached our homes miles away–more like a quarter of a mile. My son likes this part of the story the most.

What does my Perfect Place story have to do with the LinkedIn profile? Everything; LinkedIn gives us the opportunity to tell our story. If done right, it will capture the visitors’ attention and keep them on your profile. But done poorly, it will send them away.

Your photo is the first place to tell your story. I appreciate a person’s photo, especially one that is professionally done. Not a “selfie” like my daughter is constantly taking with my phone. Professional or business casual photos are acceptable as long as they contain only you. A nice head/shoulder shot helps me recognize my connections.

In addition, a photo tells visitors about a person’s character. It tells whether the person is sensitive and caring, serious, authoritative, friendly and outgoing, creative, reflective, etc. The eyes can say it all in many cases, or maybe it’s the wide grin. Note: I read that profiles with photos are 7 times MORE LIKELY to be viewed than those without.

Your story continues in the Summary. The LinkedIn profile Summary puts your story into words, and the limit on words–2,000 characters–isn’t all that restrictive. An interesting story is told in first person. While some prefer third person, most agree it makes the Summary seem stiff and unfriendly.

My workshop attendees ask me what constitutes a story, so I ask, “What is your passion? Tell me about your accomplishments. Where do you want your career to go? How do your combined skills contribute to your career? What is your philosophy? What are your greatest areas of strength?” These are just some of the topics you can discuss.

My Summary starts with: “When asked about my career, I tell people I 1) disseminate trending career search strategies that help people find work, and 2) I train LinkedIn members on how to take control of their online networking, thus improving their career search and business success. And for kicks I blog about the career search.”

Continue telling your story in the Experience section. Begin each job with a statement that describes your role or mission at that position. Why were you hired or promoted to the position? What makes you unique and better than the rest? Do you have a unique selling proposition (USP)? to state in the first paragraph?

I begin my story in my current position with a statement about my role: “I’m more than a workshop facilitator; I’m a career strategist who constantly thinks of ways to better market my customers in their career search. My goal is to provide the career center’s customers, as well as the staff, with the latest career-search strategies.”

These are just three places on your LinkedIn profile where you can tell your story. Although not as dramatic as the story I tell my son about the Perfect Place, your story will be authentic and keep your viewers on you profile. Read the next post that addresses the Media, Interests, and Recommendations sections.  

10 reasons why your LinkedIn profile photo is important to me

Adrienne TomOne day a customer of mine came up to me appearing quite irritated and told me he had sent me an invite on LinkedIn. But I didn’t accept his invite, according to him. I asked him if he wrote a personalized message with his invite. Yes he did. I then asked him if he had a photo. No he didn’t. “Ah,” I said. “That’s why I ignored you.” This is one of my principles, as harsh as it sounds.

While many of my colleagues won’t connect with their customers/clients, I see no reason not to connect as long as my customers embrace the necessity of having a LinkedIn photo. If they don’t embrace it, they’re in for a disappointing LinkedIn campaign. One of my favorite things to say when I’m critiquing a customer’s profile that lacks a photo is, “What’s wrong with this picture?” I know, not very funny.

Jeff SheehanPerhaps I’m getting old and stodgy, but here are 10 reasons why your LinkedIn profile is important to me.

I recognize you. If you only have the default light grey ugly box in the photo area, I have no idea who you are. I’m terrible with names, so a face helps me. I feel closer to you, even if we live 3,000 miles away from each other.

Your photo tells me something about your personality. My photo tells people that I’m caring, sincere, and friendly. All of this is true. I’m assuming your photo would say what kind of person you are, creative, authoritative, welcoming, etc.

AntonYou’ve gone though the effort to have a professional photo taken of you. One of my jobseekers told me he had his photo taken for $50. This told me that, despite not having the resources, he felt that having a photo is important.

You know that having a photo will increase your chances of your profile being opened. I’m conservative when I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees that their chances of getting their profile opened and read increases by 7 times. Some estimates are as high as 14.

You understand the importance of branding. It was commonly believed that a LinkedIn photo was either highly professional or business casual. Now people are breaking boundaries by posting photos that reflect what they do. Take a look at one of my connections (above left) who understands this concept.

Stevie PuckettOn the other hand…your photo is not inappropriate. Some that come to mind are those you’d post on Facebook where you’re captured partying, or you’re with family on the beach, or you’re using LinkedIn as a dating site.

You realize LinkedIn is a networking application, not your resume which doesn’t include a photo. LinkedIn members feel more comfortable networking with people we can see.

You’ve gotten over yourself. I’ll be the last to say that age discrimination doesn’t exist but it’s less prevalent than you think and employers are more suspicious when they don’t see your photo. Besides, who would want to work for someone who judges you on your age.

Hank BoyerYou’ve taken that step toward online networking. Scary, huh? For some of you it was enough to simply get online, but now you’re being told–by not only me–you need to disclose your identity. I salute those of you who are making that step, albeit a reluctant one.

Your photo is about you, not your company. Talk about not trusting someone. That’s how I feel when someone presents themselves as their company logo. The profile is about you and not your company–that’s why there are LinkedIn company pages.

When it comes to the LinkedIn photo, I want to know what people look like. I guess it’s as simple as that. That ugly light grey box is disconcerting to say the least; it says to me, “I’ve got something to hide.” If I’ve got nothing to hide, why should you?


Top left, Adrienne Tom

Second to right, Jeff Sheehan

Third to left, Anton Brookes

Fourth to right, Stevie Puckett

Fifth to Left, Hank Boyer

 

 

 

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t: clichés on your résumé

The summary statement began with: “Results-oriented Marketing Professional…” As if my hand had a mind of its own, I circled Results-oriented and wrote “Ugh” next to it. I thought twice of erasing my first comment but in the end left it there. My customer did a double-take and pouted, hurt by my crudeness.

With all the negative press about using clichés, or outdated words and phrases, on your résumé and LinkedIn profile, there’s now a push to show how you possess important adaptive skills rather than to simply tell employers you have them.

Résumé experts say words like creative, team-player (ouch), innovative, hardworking, diligent, conscientious, and more are being thrown out the window. They’re seen as fluffy words with no substance.

Words like designed, initiated, directed, authored are more of what employers want to see on a résumé and LinkedIn profile. The big difference is obviously the “bad” words are adjectives and the “good” words are action verbs. To complicate matters more; even some of the verbs have fallen in the cliché category, like led, managed, facilitated, etc.

From a reader’s point of view, this makes sense. Someone who claims he’s outgoinghighly experiencedseasonedresult-driven, etc., seems to…lack creativity. Someone who can show that he is results-oriented by showing he began and finished multiple projects in a timely manner while also consistently saving the company costs by an average of 40% will win over the minds of employers. Showing is always better than telling.

Keywords and phrases: Here’s the rub—many job ads contains clichés; and if you’re going to load your résumé with as many keywords/phrases as possible, you’re almost inclined to use these outdated and useless words. Especially if you know your résumé is going to be scanned by an applicant tracking system (ATS). After all, you want your résumé and LinkedIn profile to end up at the top of the pile.

I performed a quick experiment where I looked at three job ads and attempted to find some of the overused words. Sure enough words and phrases like team player, hard worker, ability to work independently and as part of a teamdetail-oriented, to name a few,  showed up in many of the ads.

Why do companies write job ads that contain words that are almost comical? Part of the reason is because the fine folks who write these ads don’t know any other way to phrase effective ads; and partly because these are qualities they’re looking for. Almost every company is looking for a team player who can work independently as well. Every company desires people with excellent written and verbal communication skills (unfortunately, this phrase is now also considered a cliché).

This leads us back to our conundrum. What to do if you’re trying to write a résumé or Linked profile that includes the keywords and phrases? Not only to game the ATS but also to appease the eyes who’ll be reading your written communications?

The answer is: you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t. You can write your résumé and LinkedIn profile employing clichés, or you can avoid the them on your marketing documents, documents that are, after all, examples of your written communications. I say take the high road and don’t sell yourself out.

10 Lame excuses for neglecting LinkedIn

No excusesAre you on LinkedIn? That’s my favorite question of the day. Some of my customers say no, and we leave it at that. But others turn their nose up at the greatest online networking application out there and give me excuses as to why they’re not on LinkedIn.

Of the many excuses I’ve heard for not being on LinkedIn, here are three of my favorites.

  • A self-assured jobseeker told me that he doesn’t need to be on LinkedIn, that he’s found jobs before without social networking. That was before LinkedIn existed.
  • One person told me she was going to get her job back in a few weeks, so why waste her time with LinkedIn. Nothing for certain, especially a verbal promise that you’ll have a job.
  • Another jobseeker once told me he wouldn’t lose his current job. He looked so smug as he said this that I wanted to tell him I wouldn’t bet on it.

Here’s the thing: life happens. The guy who told me he’d always have a job is now serving coffee. Well technically that is a job, but I’m sure not the job he imagined. I remember vividly the day I asked him if he was on LinkedIn, to which he answered, “I’ll never be without a job.”


These are people who’ve made a conscious decision to avoid LinkedIn, and I suppose I have respect their choice. So I wonder what’s worse, not being on LinkedIn or being on LinkedIn and putting in very little effort? These are but a few excuses I’ve heard from people for not conducting a strong LinkedIn strategy.

My LinkedIn profile is great. One day I received a phone call from a gentleman who wanted to skip my LinkedIn Profile and Using LinkedIn workshops so he could attend the third and last one. While he was explaining over the phone his expertise in LinkedIn, I was looking at his profile which was sparse and only showed 94 connections.

I don’t want to connect with people I don’t know. Here’s the thing, networking–whether it’s in person or online–is about meeting people and developing relationships. Not everyone will turn out to be a valued connection, but if you don’t extend yourself, you’ll never know the potential networking offers.

I don’t have the time to use LinkedIn. I hear this often in my LinkedIn workshops. This is a huge excuse. I only ask them to spend 20 minutes, four days a week on LinkedIn. Just because I am on LinkedIn approximately 30 minutes a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year doesn’t mean my workshop attendees have to do the same. That would be crazy.

I posted my résumé on LinkedIn, so I’m done. Whoever told you this has his or her head in the sand. Start your profile by copying and pasting the contents of your résumé to your profile. But that’s just a start–from there you’ll turn it into a networking document. Your résumé is a document you send out when applying for a job, while your profile is a place people come to learn about you as a person and professional. Keep in mind that your résumé and profile can’t display contradictory information.

I don’t want to brag. Related to the previous excuse, what you’re really saying is you don’t want to promote your value to employers and potential business partners. You’re not bragging if you state facts and provide proof of your accomplishments and you stay away from superlatives, like “excellent,” “expert,” “outstanding”…you get the idea. Too many people have given me this excuse for not promoting themselves both on their résumé and LinkedIn profile.

I don’t know how to post a status update. I get this. You’re not sure how you can provide your connections with relevant information. You’ve just been laid off and lack the confidence to write words of wisdom. Don’t sweat it. Let others educate your connections. Read blog posts from your connections or from Pulse and share those. But please make sure you read them before hitting “Share.” Read how to share valuable content.

I don’t want to endorse anyone; it’s a disingenuous. The argument against endorsing others and being endorsed is that people endorse others without witnessing them demonstrating their skills, whereas recommendations are from the heart. This is valid. However, endorsements are here to stay whether we like it or not. But there is a solution: if you want to endorse someone, contact them and ask them which skills they feel are their strongest. Read my hints on endorsing others.

The fact of the matter is that people will find jobs without LinkedIn or not using it to its fullest potential, but by employing this platform you will only enhance your chances of landing a job. There are some instances where a person is just not ready, nor ever will, to use LinkedIn. With these folks I tell them not to get stressed out. You have to be committed to using it.