14 traits of a winning LinkedIn group

Your GroupsI’ve talked to my workshop attendees about the importance of participating in groups until my advice sounds like a mantra. “You’ll only benefit from a group if you participate,” I tell them. “Start discussions, contribute to discussions, network within your groups…blah, blah, blah.”

But here’s the thing: why should we participate in our groups if they don’t add value? If we’re the Top Contributor for weeks running, doesn’t it mean no one else is pulling their weight? Further, does this say no one cares enough to be part of the community?

As the owner of the group, you are responsible for its growth and productivity. And if it gets to the point where you run short of time and can’t monitor or contribute to every discussion, assign people who are dedicated and will keep your group vibrant.

Recently I inherited a group, and I reflect on the responsibilities that go with owning a group (I already own a group). Can I handle taking on another group? Will I make the members happy to be part of the group? Can I find people who will manage it when I run out of time? To run a winning group:

  1. Big doesn’t necessarily mean better. I’m talking about the number of members, of course. Many people think joining a group with hundreds of thousands of members is the way to go. It’s quality of members that matters, not quantity. A winning group has the best minds in the industry.
  2. Great discussions. This is a mark of a winning group. Discussion should be relevant but it doesn’t mean members can’t go off track and raise new issues. Thirty-nine comments are always a good thing; it indicates involvement. Let people feel comfortable introducing new thoughts, ideas, and advice.
  3. Conducive to networking. Winning groups promote virtual networking among its members, as well as direct communication. Groups are where members can communicate, even if they’re not first degree connections.
  4. Appropriate shared information. The group’s mission should be upheld, and group members should post discussions that are relevant. I left a group because even its members wondered if the information was appropriate.
  5. Attracting thought leaders and keeping them in your group. They’re the ones who keep it going with interesting discussions. Thought leaders add value to the group when they contribute to discussions—everyone listens. As a group owner or manager, add your two cents when a great curator provides newsworthy articles.
  6. Members feel welcome. A winning group makes its members feel welcome. The owner or managers should welcome new members by introducing them and encouraging introductions from them. It’s about creating a community.
  7. Hold members accountable for contribution. I write this with a huge grin on my face. Years ago I was removed from a group because I wasn’t participating at the rate at which I was expected. I had great respect for the owner for doing this and removed myself from eight groups.
  8. No SPAM. Spam is considered anything hinting of sales or self-promotion. This may be the breaking point where members start dropping like flies. The owner or managers can delete or move content to Promotions if the entry is spam.
  9. Group rules, but not stifling. Every winning group should have rules, but not rules that make members walk on eggshells. Rules, for example, on how to pose questions or start discussions are a bit Machiavellian. One group I’m in poses such rules. Maybe it’s time I exit this group.
  10. No pending submissions. I’m sorry, but if I submit a question, contribute to a conversation, mention a job, or post an article; I don’t want my submission to be reviewed. Trust those who contribute to the group…unless they break rule #2. In addition, some owners aren’t diligent about checking submissions, leaving people waiting for their discussion to show.
  11. Act quickly on people who want to join groups. Some owners and managers don’t clean house as quickly as possible. (Guilty as charged.) Winning groups act quickly on people who want to join the groups, not making them wait in limbo.
  12. Variety of contributors. In my group I love to see other contributors. I don’t want to be the only person whose face is covering the page—the top contributor. Winning groups have many people participating, contributing to its community.
  13. Jobs tab. Not common to all groups, but having a jobs section is nice for those who are looking for employment. It’s great when members contribute jobs that aren’t advertised, so group members are the first to hear about them.
  14. The articles shared must add value. Whether an article is one you read and enjoyed or one of your own, it must be well written and provide information of value. Include a question or statement with the article you’re sharing with a group.
  15. Get rid of the Promotions tab. Let’s face it, no one goes to the Promotions tab. It’ a wasteland where some legitimate contributions are banished to. If contributions are too promotional, they can always be banned. In some cases I want people to promote their upcoming job-search events.

Groups is perhaps the best feature LinkedIn offers. Some members encourage you to join the maximum number of groups allowed, 50, while others suggest joining only groups in which you can participate on a regular basis—I’m in this camp. Regardless of the number of groups you join, make sure the winning characteristics outweigh the losing traits.

If you think of any other attributes that make a winning group, let us know.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Dear College Students, please read the following 10 LinkedIn tips

college students

Increasingly more college students are joining LinkedIn, and that’s a good thing. I only ask that they keep these ten tips in mind. 

Dear College Students,

If I could offer you some advice, it would be this: take a serious look at an application called LinkedIn. I suggest this because your demographic is still unrepresented on this platform. Facebook? You are well represented on this social medium. Twitter seems to be on the rise with you, as well as with younger folks. Heck, even my teenage kids are on Twitter.

I sincerely believe that LinkedIn will help you in the future. And if you think about it, there’s no time better than now to prepare yourself for the future. Isn’t that what you’re being taught in school, prepare for the future? If it were up to me, LinkedIn would be a required course. Maybe it will become part of the curriculum, but probably not for a while. Until then here are some strong suggestions:

  1. Get on LinkedIn immediately. Don’t think immediate gratification and forget about accumulating tons of “friends” and “followers.” It’s about making connections. LinkedIn ain’t sexy.
  2. Make an immediate impact with your branding title. “Seeking Employment” or “College Student at X college” is not going to do it. At least “Finance Major at X College | Aspiring CFO | Captain of Lacrosse Team | Dorm Advisor” would foreshadow greatness.
  3. Perception is half the battle, which means you will be judged on your photo. You’ll want a photo that will elicit confidence from potential networkers and employers; not one of you taken at Arizona State during a fraternity initiation with beer bong in plain sight.
  4. Some college-age profiles I’ve seen fail to tell a compelling story in the Summary section; rather they talk about enjoying their socialization process before going “Big Time,” not their aspirations of learning lean procedures or their philosophy of management.
  5. It’s hard to support a work history when students haven’t interned at Ernst and Young or Raytheon, but even working summers for the DPW demonstrates the hard work of toiling under the oppressive sun, removing roadkill from the road, and installing sewage pipes. Bottom line, show some type of work history in your Employment section.
  6. There’s no rule stating that you need to stick to the default setting of the profile sections. You might want to move the Education section to the top, below the Summary. There you can highlight Activities and Societies and Additional notes.
  7. This goes without saying; the world will be unforgiving of sloppiness. I recently saw a profile from a grad student who had approximately 10 spelling errors or typos in his Summary. I brought this to his attention and haven’t heard from him since. Oh well.
  8. Your LinkedIn profile now complete, it’s time to connect with quality people. Friends are nice, as are family members, but think future. Alumni, college professors (if they will), people who are currently working in your desired industry/ies, career professionals like me, etc. Check out the Find Alumni feature.
  9. Create a presence. I know many college students who are blogging on their topic of study and, hence, their future occupations. If you have great PowerPoint, Prezi, or YouTube presentations, post them on your Profile. Remember that it’s all about professionalism.
  10. This is my last bit of advice: be professional in everything you do with LinkedIn. No one on this application wants to know about your partying habits or fashion statements or see your photos of Spring Break. Sorry, it’s not about that.

My oldest daughter is off to college next year, so I hope she heeds my advice. Pinterest is fine, I tell her, communicating on Twitter is even better, but it’s LinkedIn that will help her network online. I haven’t seen LinkedIn offered as a core course at her school, but maybe I’ll make a strong suggestion.

Now read the follow-up to this article.

5 sections of a résumé and LinkedIn profile that show your value


valueIt’s often said that the employer is the buyer and you’re selling a product, you. As impersonal as it seems, it’s true. Your product is excellent. You’ve achieved great success in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

However, the buyer won’t know of your potential for greatness if you don’t present both a powerful résumé and LinkedIn profile. Because it is no longer enough to simply submit a résumé. No, you need both.

So which sections of your résumé and LinkedIn profile will effectively show your value to employers?

Résumé

In response to a job ad your, résumé will be the first document the employers will see, so your value must show immediate impact. If not, your chances of getting an interview are very slim. The following sections of your résumé will contribute to demonstrating your value:

  1. A value headline tells potential employers your occupation, as well as your areas of expertise. It quickly tells employers why you are the person who should be brought in for an interview. But it’s not enough.
  2. A Performance Profile section that contains more illustration of your skills and experience and less fluff will show you as someone who does rather than says. No more than three to four lines are necessary if your content is sound and relevant for the jobs you’re pursuing. Wow statements, accomplishments, always help to show your value.
  3. Key skills in your Core Competency section for the positions you’re pursuing. Highlight skills that are required for a particular position–perhaps 6-8–but also include tie-breaker skills. You must fully understand the requirements of the position in order to know which skills to list in your Core Competency section.
  4. Job-specific accomplishments in your Work Experience will effectively show your value to the employer. The more relevant accomplishments you have in this section indicate your ability to perform well in the future. While a grocery list of your former/current responsibilities might seem impressive, accomplishments speak volumes.
  5. Keywords and phrases common to each position will give your résumé a better chance to be selected by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Don’t be so concerned about the ATS that you produce a résumé that is poorly written; strive for a document that is optimized for the search engine, as well as one that shows your written communication skills.

LinkedIn profile

A consistent message of your value demonstrated through your résumé also applies to your LinkedIn profile. While your profile and résumé are different, they are similar in how you deliver your value.

Erik Deckers and Kyle Lacy, Branding Yourself Blog, wrote about the power of LinkedIn, 20 LinkedIn Case Studies for Branding Yourself. So take it from them; LinkedIn can be a a great way to show your value.

  1. Like on your résumé, a Value Headline will tell potential employers exactly who you are, as well as what your areas of expertise. Your headline and photo are what visitors to your profile will see first. Together they must make a great first impression.
  2. Your profile Summary will be different than your résumé’s Professional Profile; it is written in first- or third-person, but it must brand you as someone who demonstrates direction and value to employers. To some this is considered the most important section of your profile. You’re allowed 2,000 characters, whereas your résumé typically contains 150 characters. Tell your story.
  3. List your outstanding technical and transferable skill in the Skills section. This section on your profile is similar to the Core Competency section on your résumé. The skills you list must show your proficiency, as opposed to your familiarity.You will be endorsed for your skills, but also request recommendations from your former supervisors.
  4. Your Employment section may be briefer than your résumé’s, highlighting just the outstanding accomplishments from each job. Accomplishments speak louder than simple duty statements and are the most effective way to show your value. Or you can duplicate your résumé’s Work Experience section. The choice is yours.
  5. Keywords are just as important to have on your profile as they are on your résumé. Employers will only find you if your profile contains the keywords they enter into Advanced People Search. Your goal is to be on the first four pages–10 profiles per page–to be found by recruiters and hiring managers.

Some additional components of your LinkedIn profile which will show your value are ones not found on your résumé. The most obvious is a highly professional or business casual photo. Another useful area of your profile is Media which allows you to share PowerPoint or Prezi presentations, copies of your résumés, videos, and various other files.

Push and Pull Technology. Combining both documents, will show your value more than if you use a résumé alone. The résumé to respond to job ads and your LinkedIn profile to pull employers to you will be the powerful punch you need in your job search. (Read about the differences between the resume and LinkedIn profile.)

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.