4 reasons why your LinkedIn profile needs a strong Media section

recruiters (1)This article marks the third of making your LinkedIn profile stronger. The previous two talked about your Summary and Experience sections.

Before you read any further, I’d like you to take a moment to read one of the most comprehensive articles on LinkedIn’s Media feature. It’s an article written by my colleague and valued LinkedIn connection, Sabrina Woods, in which she describes 18 different ways to use this feature. Eighteen different ways! Boy, did she do her homework.

With at least 18 ways to use LinkedIn’s Media section, this gives you plenty of options to show off your goods. So why not take advantage of it? You can use it in your Summary, each in your Employment section, and in your Education. Here are four major reasons why you should utilize Media on your LinkedIn profile.

It’s your online portfolio. This is what I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees when I describe Media. Similar to when you bring examples of your work to an interview, you have the opportunity to show the world your best work. As Sabrina writes, there are at least 18 ways to use this feature.

Everyone can find a reason to use it. And they should. For example, I lead workshops where I use PowerPoint presentations—please no heckling from the true presentation purists out there. I use Media to show off three of my PowerPoint presentations.

An engineer may use this feature to illustrate his work on wind turbines by using YouTube. One of my customers who’s a graphic artist highlights her graphics in Media. Neal Schaffer, an expert on social media for business and author of Maximize Your Social, uses YouTube to share with the world his interview by Kooger in London. Check it out.

It fits your communication style. Some people are visual communicators as opposed to written communicators. They have the knack for making people see the value in their graphic design or photos or architecture…but can’t express it as eloquently in words. One of my customers expressed it nicely when she said some people express their thoughts with words, while she expresses her thoughts through images.

The options are numerous. While you’re given the option of adding a link or downloading a file, the number of providers is mind boggling.

  • Image providers: 12, including Twitter and ow.ly
  • Video providers: Approximately 70, including ABC News, CBS News, YouTube
  • Audio providers: 13, including Mixcloud, Spotify
  • Presentation and document providers: 3, including PowerPoint and Prezi
  • Other: 4, including Behance and Kickstarter

Two of the more common documents displayed in Media are Word and PDF documents, which would be ideal for posting your résumé for employers to see, or a whitepaper you’re particularly proud of.

To see some of the media used by LinkedIn members go to Sabrina’s article where there are samples of various types of media. I think you’ll be impressed. I was.

 

3 reasons why you need a strong LinkedIn Experience section

recruitersWhile I’m amazed that some people don’t have a LinkedIn Summary, I’m just as befuddled by folks who don’t see the value of a strong LinkedIn Experience section. When employers and visitors see a profile that lacks details in this vital section, the letdown is like air escaping a balloon.

Here’s the thing, a stunning Summary is great, but when your Experience section comprises of bare essentials, such as your titles, company names, and dates of employment, you’re LinkedIn profile lacks the punch that propels you to the top of the list.

Many believe the Experience section is the most important part of your profile, as it includes your years of experience, accomplishments, a story of what you did for each position, and keywords for search engine optimization (SEO). So here are three reasons why you need a strong LinkedIn Experience section.

Your experience section needs to tell a better story. A quick fix of copying the content of your résumé to your profile is the first step in building your Experience section; however, you’re not done yet. You still have to modify your profile to make it more of a networking document. This means your point of view should be first person and, of course, include quantified results.

Take, for example, an accomplishment statement from a résumé I recently read: Trained 5 office staff on new computer software, increasing production by 75%. It has the action statement and a quantified result, but it lacks excitement, the excitement you get from a LinkedIn profile.

Instead: I extended my end-user expertise by volunteering to train 5 office staff on our new database software. All members of the team were more productive as a result of my patient training style, increasing the team’s output by 75%.

Your position doesn’t tell it all.  You’re a director, CEO, or CFO, so you think that says it all. Wrong! Executive Resume Writer, Laura Smith-Proulx believes the more relevant information, the better; particularly when you’re trying to differentiate yourself from other executives. She writes: 

“The key to a strategic message in your CFO résumé is to do MORE with the details – taking the hard facts of budgets managed, teams directed, or cost savings achieved to fold in personal brand messages.”

At the very least, your leadership as a director of an organization plays an essential role in its success. What is the scope of your authority? How have you helped the organization grow? Have you contributed to the community or charities? Have you turned around failing companies and made them more profitable? Remember, you’re representing the organization. Or perhaps you’re passively looking for another job.

The power of LinkedIn is greater than you think. LinkedIn’s search engine is extremely powerful. If you have the proper, and numerous, skills (keywords), your chances of being found are great. Don’t forget to emphasize the quantified accomplishments!

Businesses are looking to connect or employ people with expertise; and although you have what they need, without the skills listed your message isn’t crystal clear. An organization would like to pay you to talk about how you developed a fund-raising process that resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars, but your Experience section is nothing more than a place mat. Lost opportunity.

Suppose you find yourself out of a job and suddenly need to connect with others who can help you in a big way. Rushing to create an Experience section that warrants the assistance you need is a bit late and will lengthen your job search.

These are three reasons why you require an Experience section that is strong and worthy of your greatness. Your Summary is a great start; now you need to follow it with an Experience section to support it.

Next read 4 reasons why your LinkedIn profile needs a strong Media section

4 reasons why you need a strong LinkedIn Summary

Would you go to an interview or business meeting without shoes? Of course not. So I wonder why people feel that a Summary statement on their LinkedIn profile is unnecessary. Having viewed hundreds profiles, I’ve seen many  that simply begin with the Experience section and have no Summary.

It’s the absence of this section of your profile that can greatly hurt your potential of capturing the attention of visitors, e.g., potential employers, networkers, and business associates.

I have three theories why people don’t include a Summary: 1) they don’t have the time or energy to write one; 2) they don’t know what to write; and 3) they follow advice of those who say, “Recruiters don’t read a Summary statement. You don’t need one.”

I can understand the first two reasons, although I don’t condone them, but the third one escapes me. Many pundits, recruiters included, say a Summary is necessary, as long as it adds value to the profile. So if you don’t have a Summary because you lack the energy or don’t know what to include, consider 4 reasons why the Summary is important:

It gives you a voice. You’re given more freedom of expression on LinkedIn than you have with your résumé; so use it! Be creative and make the employer want to read on. Your voice contributes to effective branding. It should be some of your best writing and can be written in first person voice or even third person.

Most pundits lean toward first person, as it expresses a more personal side of you. A Summary written in first person invites others into your life. Not many people pull off the third-person voice well; it can sound stilted. But if done right, it can also make a powerful branding impact. People who are established as leaders in their industry warrant a third-person Summary.

It tells a story. Perhaps you want people who would consider connecting with to know you on a more personal level. You have aspirations or philosophies to share; and it’s not about impressing people with your accomplishments in marketing in the nonprofit sector, for example, as much as the positive impact your work has had on the population you serve. You want people to connect because of a share common bond.

The Summary is also a clear example of how LinkedIn separates itself from the résumé. It’s a known fact that the majority of hiring authorities don’t enjoy reading a résumé, which is due, in part, because of its Summary. The Linked profile is more creative because it tells your story, your aspirations, and philosophies.

You can make an immediate impact. Stating accomplishment statements with quantified results are a real attention grabber. If a visitor is going to scan one section of your profile to determine if he’ll read on, make it be your Summary, and leave him with a positive image of you.

Here’s part of a Summary from Doug Caldwell, who calls himself a Facilitator Extraordinaire. (I told you I read a lot of profiles.)

MANUFACTURING COMPANY

✯ Improving unit output by 2,200% over a five-year period.
✯ Reduced manufacturing cycle time by 30%.
✯ Achieved cost saving in excess of $25,000 annually.

Read the rest of his Summary to feel it’s power and excitement.

It’s another place to include keywords. Keywords are the skills employers are looking for, and the more you have the closer you’ll be to the top of the first page. So don’t think “less is better.”  In this case, the more of the 2,000 characters you’re allotted, the more you should use. Please don’t use your Summary as a dumping ground for your keywords, though.

I tell my Advanced LinkedIn workshop attendees that excluding their profile Summary is like neglecting favorite pet. You shouldn’t do it. Find the energy to write one, figure out your story or unique selling proposition, and get to work writing an attention-grabbing Summary. By all means, don’t listen to naysayers who don’t believe in this very important part of your LinkedIn profile.

Coming up 3 reasons why you need a strong LinkedIn Experience section.

10 ways to communicate with your LinkedIn connections

business_communicationHaving a strong LinkedIn profile is essential to being found by other LinkedIn members and employers, but you’re job isn’t complete unless you’re communicating with your connections and the LinkedIn community as a whole.

I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees that I spend approximately an hour a day (it’s probably more) on LinkedIn. Their faces register surprise; and I’m sure some of them are thinking, “Does this person have a life.”

Part of the workshop is about explaining the need to communicate with their connections, because networking is about communicating. Other than sending direct messages to your connections, here are 10 ways to connect with your LinkedIn connections.

1. The number one way to communicate is posting Updates. How many you post is up to you, but I suggest at least one a day. This is when I get remarks from my attendees about not having time to make an update a week.

To illustrate how easy it is, I post two Updates within five minutes as I’m talking to them. The first Update tells my connections what I’m doing at the moment, which of course is leading the workshop. The next one is usually sharing an article from my first degree connections or Pulse.

2. Another way to communicate with your connections is to “Like” their updates. Liking their updates is great, but it takes very little effort to simply click the link. Like, Like, Like. Be more creative and add a comment which can generate discussion, or reply to your connections privately.

Communicate-with-your3. I’ll visit my connection’s profiles–with full disclosure–many times a day. My connections will visit my profile many times, as well. When they “drop in” and have disclosed themselves (not Anonymous LinkedIn User or Someone from the Entertainment Industry), I’ll show my appreciation by writing, “Thanks for visiting my profile.” This will also lead to a discussion.

4. You’ve probably read many opinions from people on the topic of Endorsements–here we go again. Add me to the list of people who prefer thoughtful recommendations, both receiving and writing them, as opposed to simply clicking a button.

But, in fairness, Endorsements have a purpose greater than showing appreciation for someone’s Skills and Expertise; they act as a way to touch base. In other words, they’re another way to communicate with your connections.

5. Let us not forget our groups which give us another, significant way to communicate with our connections. Participating in discussions regularly is a great way to share ideas with established and potential connections. Yes, I’ve gained connections because of the values we shared as revealed by discussions. Just today I connected with a great resume writer who impressed me with comments she made regarding a question I asked.

6. If your connections blog, take the effort to read their posts and comment on their writing. This is an effective way of creating synergy in the blogging community, but blog posts have made their way into the Updating scene, as well. The majority of my Updates are posts that I’ve read and commented on.

7. I turned 50 yesterday. Not surprisingly I received happy wishes from some of my connections. When your connections have an anniversary (work, that is) or have accepted a new job, you’ll be alerted and be given the opportunity to communicate with them. A small gesture but nice to recognize your connections and generate some discussion.

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Take it a step further. So far I’ve written about how you can communicate with your online connections. You can’t lose sight of the fact that an online relationship will not come to fruition until you’ve reached out and communicated with your connections in a more personal way.

8. A very simple way to extend your communications is by e-mailing them. I know, it doesn’t require a lot of effort, but it’s another step toward developing a more personal relationship. Because you are connected by first degree, you have access to their e-mail address, access which can come in handy at times.

9. Naturally the second act toward strengthening your relationships is to make that daunting call (for some it is a big step), Let your connections know, through e-mail, that you’ll be calling them. Write the reason for the call, such as explaining who you are and what goals you have in your professional life. Nothing is as awkward as dead air and running out of things to say, because the recipient of the call is caught off guard.

10. Finally comes the face-to-face meeting at a place that is convenient for both of you. If your connection lives in a distant location, you may suggest getting together when you’ll be in their city or town. Plan to meet at a coffee shop or a personal networking event if your connection lives close by.

When you meet in person with a connection, he/she becomes a bona fide connection. This is the ultimate way to communicate with a LinkedIn connection. It may not happen often, particularly if he/she lives a great distance from you, but when it does possibilities may present themselves.

Having a great profile is not enough. It’s a start but only the beginning to communicating with your connections. I’ll write LinkedIn profiles for people, and they might have questions about what to do next. Sometimes it’s your activity on LinkedIn that really makes the difference between standing still and realizing success.

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2 important hints about LinkedIn endorsements

endorsemments2When you endorse your connections’ skills and expertise, do you simply click Endorse next to the skills with the highest number of endorsements? You may not be doing your connections a favor by doing this; but it’s not entirely your fault.

Your valued connections should be guiding you through the process, and you should follow their wishes.

Hint 1: guide your connections

Endorsees, you may be unaware that you can move specific skills and expertise toward the top of your list as a way to highlight their importance. Without doing this, your skills will be listed in highest to lowest number of endorsements. Which works out fine if your highest number of endorsements properly brand you.

But in some cases your skills are not being endorsed in a manner that tells others how you want to build your brand. One of my connections aptly illustrates which skills he wants endorsed to better brand him. He lists Social Selling ( a mere 13 endorsements) listed above LinkedIn (98), LinkedIn Training (74), and so forth. He’s obviously sending a message to his connections.

How do you rearrange your skills in the order you desire? In Edit Profile select Edit Skills and Endorsements. You’ll see a field like this:

skills

Now simply move the skills in the order you’d like them to appear. I’ve moved LinkedIn (33 endorsements) ahead of Workshop Facilitation (98+) and Blogging (41) ahead of Interviews (82), as I want these two skills highlighted.

Hint 2: those of you endorsing your connections, take the hint

So if you’re endorsing your connections, take the hint. The skills your savvy connections want endorsed first are the top five to 10, not the bottom 10. Endorse them for those skills first and then endorse them for the others.

People often ask me if I see value in endorsements. I tell them only if the endorsers are aware or have witnessed the endorsees perform the skills for which they’re being endorsed. However, if LinkedIn wants us to endorse our connections–even those we haven’t seen perform–we can only trust their word on their proficient skills.

That said, I feel it’s perfectly fine to ask a connection which skills she wants endorsed–in other words, respect your connections’ order of skills. (Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think eliciting endorsements from others is ethical.)

I asked one of my connections which of his skills he wanted endorsed. His simple response was the top five because those are the skills he is strongest at. I wouldn’t know without asking him because he lives in California, and I’ve never seen him in action. Nonetheless, like Lin Sanity, I was caught up in endorsing people.

Take the hint if you’d like to endorse me by clicking Endorse next to my top five skills, because I’ve arranged them in order of preference. I’m pretty sure I perform those skills very well. I’d do the same for you.

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900 ways I got to the top of LinkedIn’s expertise list

Keywords3Over time I’ve enviously watched my LinkedIn connections rise toward the top of LinkedIn in their respective areas of expertise on LinkedIn.

When I’ve entered in Search words like LinkedIn, LinkedIn Strategist, Career Strategist, hoping to find myself, I’m no higher than the second page.

And every so often I check out their profiles to see how they’re using these keywords to get to the top of the list. I wonder if they’re gaming the system.  You know, loading their profiles with the aforementioned words. I’m happy to say I haven’t found one instance of this unethical practice; all my connections have integrity.

But I couldn’t help wonder where I would end up on the list of LinkedIn Strategist (currently I’m 13th on the list*) if I were to dump keywords onto my profile. I’ve seen it done…not by my connections, mind you. I came across one web designer who was so intent on being numero uno on LinkedIn’s ranking that he repeated the words “web design” over and over…like 400 bloody times.

It’s not only a matter of lost pride being on the second page of my fellow LinkedIn Strategists; I also wonder if I’ll go missed by someone who is looking for a person who can help him/her with their LinkedIn strategy and profile, something I’ve been doing for quite awhile now.

I reached out to one of my recruiter connections to see how many LinkedIn pages she goes through before giving up on her search for talent. She said she will read through three or four pages to find the right people to contact. And according to my recruiter friend, the second page–near the top of the second page–is nothing to sneeze at. Nonetheless, I so desperately want to be on at least the first page.

To see what it feels like to be on the first page, I created a company called LinkedIn Strategist, a title called LinkedIn Strategist, and I copied and pasted “LinkedIn Strategist” into the description 900 times. Wouldn’t you know, I shot immediately to the top of the LinkedIn Strategist list, above many of the deserving LinkedIn Strategists. And for a moment I felt pretty damn good. But only for a moment.

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* After writing this post–acting on the advice of a friend–I added a job I’ve been doing for awhile. I call it LinkedIn Strategy and give myself the title LinkedIn Strategist. I’ve also written a description of what services I offer–all legit. Well darn tooting if I’m now ranked on the first page, near the top as a LinkedIn Strategists.

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6 mistakes new college students should avoid on their LinkedIn profile

My daughter has a friend who is like any typical 18-year-old except for one thing, he has already started a LinkedIn profile and is accumulating some connections. What makes his foray into LinkedIn unique is that he joined LI before his first year of college. Not many people his age have the foresight to do this.

When I first suggested that he create a LinkedIn profile, I thought I’d have to badger him relentlessly; but days after our earnest conversation I saw in my e-mail queue an invite from him…with a personalized note, nonetheless. 

It’s not unusual to see college students to have a LinkedIn profile–colleges and universities often encourage, if not require, their students to create a profile. But my daughter’s friend had graduated high school and was about to enter college as a freshman.

Not for nothing, but the profiles I see from many college students aren’t stellar by any means. If my daughter’s friend is reading this post, I suggest he avoids some mistakes I’ve seen committed by college students, even college grads:

  • Some sport the branding title of “Seeking Employment” or “College Student at X college.” At least “Finance Major at X College | Aspiring CFO | Captain of Lacrosse Team | Dorm Advisor” would foreshadow greatness.
  • Their photos were taken at Arizona State during a fraternity initiation with beer bong in plain sight. Hardly eliciting  confidence from prospective employers.
  • Others fail to tell a compelling story in the Summary section; rather they talk about enjoying their socialization process before going “Big Time;” they don’t talk about their their aspirations of learning lean procedures or their philosophy of management.
  • 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.
  • There’s no rule stating that college students need to stick to the default setting of the profile sections. They should move the Education section to the top, below the Summary. There they can highlight Activities and Societies and Additional notes.
  • 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.

My daughter’s friend is an excellent student who’s headed off to a great business school. He’s got a good idea of what he wants to do for a career; and based on his accomplishments in high school he should be successful. His pre-college LinkedIn profile is taking on good form with a Summary that expresses his future goals. And when he’s completed his third summer of interning at Fidelity, he’ll have the makings of a great Experience section that will draw the attention of his future employer.

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7 things to think about before including your LinkedIn profile URL on your job-search documents

LIpuzzleI often get this question during a LinkedIn workshop or other workshops, “Should I include my LinkedIn address on my résumé?” My answer to this is, “Sure, as long as your profile will serve you well.” This is to say, your LinkedIn profile must impress prospective employers, not turn them away.

Here are 7 rules to adhere to if you’re going to list your LinkedIn public URL on your résumé, personal business cards, cover letter, or even your Twitter handle.

  1. Customize your URL. LinkedIn provides a default address that includes additional numbers and letters behind your name. In Edit Profile, click on Edit next to your default URL and remove all the additional numbers and letters by simply typing your whole name in the field provided. A public profile URL that is clean tells employers you’re LinkedIn savvy, not a babe in the woods.
  2. Your profile must be complete. You’ve probably read many articles about the importance of a complete profile. The bottom line is that a barren profile shows a lack of effort, at the very least, in 1) posting a professional photo; 2) presenting a creative, story-telling Summary; 3) including a full Employment section; and 4) utilizing LinkedIn’s added marketing tools.
  3. Think about your profile as a compliment to your résumé. In other words, your profile is not your résumé; it is more dynamic. To make your profile more exciting, you can add additional sections to it, such as Skills and Expertise, Certificates, Projects, Languages, Media, and more. LinkedIn aficionados can spot when someone simply copy and pastes their résumé to the profile–not impressive.
  4. Be strategic with the layout. Some people don’t know that you’re able to move sections of your profile around. The common layout begins with your Summary, followed by your Experience, then Education. Add additional sections and move them around to indicate what you want employers to see first. Perhaps, like me, you want them to see your Skills and Expertise before Experience.
  5. Make it easy for people to find you. If you’re in the job search and prefer not to list your phone number on your profile, I might accept that as an employer. However, if you also don’t list your e-mail address, I’d be on to the next profile. Don’t play hard to get and make it hard for potential employers to find you.
  6. Participate. Participate in what? you may wonder. Show employers that you update on a regular basis and that your updates are related to the work you’re pursuing, not about how Big Kitty is doing well after his surgery.
  7. Show off. I’m not saying go overboard, but make use of the media section as your online portfolio. You can post PowerPoint presentations, videos, audio clips, your résumé, photos of your architectural work (one of my customers did this), and more. Make your profile truly dynamic by doing this.

If you haven’t followed the above suggestions, sending employers to your profile (via your résumé, business cards, and other written communication) will cause more harm than good.  One more thing, certain elements of your public profile will be absent from your full URL, such as Media, Recommendations, view of Endorsements, and list of connections. This is why you must provide access to your full profile.

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10 steps toward a successful LinkedIn plan (Part 2)

plan2

In part one of this article I listed five steps to make your LinkedIn plan a success. The conclusion of the article will address the remaining five steps.

6. Join and participate in Groups. I was talking to a person who showed on his profile that he  was a member of two groups. I told him this wasn’t nearly enough to conduct an effective networking campaign.

A successful plan doesn’t mean you have to join the 50 groups you’re allotted; it means joining groups of like-mined people in which you’ll participate in discussions by either starting them or contributing in a meaningful manner. Consider your groups a small community where people have the same interests and aspirations.

Join varying groups that also touch other interests of yours, e.g., career development, social media, soccer, small business development. Hint: In groups you can communicate with anyone, including those who aren’t first degree connections. Being a member of the same group as a desired connection gives you justification for connecting with said person.

7. Use the Companies feature. The Companies feature is one of LinkedIn’s best features, as it allows you to identify valuable people in various companies on LinkedIn. If I want to know who the marketing manager is at a particular company, I use Advanced People Search and type “marketing” in the Key Words field, enter “manager” in the Position field and enter the Company name. I find the person I’d like to contact, so I send her an introduction that is facilitated by one of my first degree connections.

Some companies, in addition to listing their Homepage and Products and Services, might list a Careers section with available positions at the company. These are the jobs that are listed under LinkedIn’s Jobs feature, which is explained next.

8. Use the Jobs feature. LinkedIn is making strides to make the Jobs feature a player in the job board arena. It’s not succeeding as well as LinkedIn has hoped–Monster.com and others still draw many jobseekers–so much, in fact that only about 20% of résumés stored on Monster are read. But increasingly more companies are using LinkedIn to advertise their jobs.

What’s nice about jobs is that you can apply directly to a company’s website, as well as see who’s posted the position. In many cases there is a link that directs you to the company’s page, where you can use it to locate the employees of value to you. Many of my customers have benefited from LinkedIn’s Jobs feature; if not getting a job directly, at least by networking to secure an interview from it.

9. Ask for and write recommendations. Your plan should include requesting recommendations from your former supervisors and, to some extent, your colleagues. If you find that your supervisors are slow in writing your recommendation, you may want to offer some guidance in terms of what you’d like included in your recommendation, or you may even want to write it yourself.

Write recommendations for your former employees; it’s a great way to brand yourself. This shows your authority, as well as what you value in a good employee. You don’t have to be asked to write the recommendation; simply write one and send it to your former employees. They’ll appreciate your generosity very much. You might wonder why I haven’t mentioned Endorsements. One of my valued connections, Brian Ahearn, sums it up nicely with his article.

10. Follow up. Always follow up. Every networking pundit will tell you that following up with new connections can be the most important piece of networking, both after personal meetings and connecting with someone on LinkedIn. Obviously it’s difficult, if not impossible, to follow up with everyone in your LinkedIn network, particularly if you’re a LION.

Keep in constant contact with your connections by responding immediately to direct messages or even responding to their updates. There’s nothing worse than starting a relationship and then dropping it like a lead balloon. One of my closest connections says he’ll deliver talks to groups of people, and only a few will reach out to him afterward. This drives him nuts.

If you want a street that’s plowed so an ocean liner can sail down it, or a LinkedIn profile campaign that will garner results, you have to have a plan. Sometimes we loose sight of our plan and our campaign becomes disorganized. At this time it’s important to reign it in and reestablish a plan.

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10 steps toward a successful LinkedIn plan (Part 1)

plan2In our neighborhood no one knows what side of the street to park on when there’s a snowstorm, which prevents the plows from clearing the street properly. The result is a cleared path the width of fish line.

My wife and I have deduced that this is because there’s no plan among the neighbors. What does the dire condition of my neighborhood during a snowstorm have to do with LinkedIn?

Simply this, like a neighborhood without a plan for a nor’easter, your LinkedIn campaign will not succeed.

Do you have a plan for your LinkedIn campaign, or is it like the street I live on which requires a snowmobile to negotiate? If you lack a plan you’ll spin your wheels, get frustrated, and possibly give up on a valuable tool that has the potential to create job opportunities. A plan includes the following:

1. Dedication. I’m a bit of a lunatic when it comes to LinkedIn. One of my colleagues once said I need an intervention and he wasn’t joking. I’m on LinkedIn for an average of one hour a day 365 days a year–yes, this includes holidays. I’m not advising you to spend this much time on LinkedIn. However, a dedicated plan is necessary to stay on your connections’ minds.

2. Know what you want to do. Are you zeroing in on a specific occupation in a specific industry, or are you willing to take anything? The former is the correct answer. With this in mind, you’ll be able to determine who to best network with. If your goal is to working in public relations at a university, you should focus on people at universities, not retail.

3. Write a great profile. This is a big order and a blog post itself, but having a profile that attracts employers and other visitors to your site will take careful planning. You’ll need a photo that brands you–the days of a suit and tie might be history. Write a branding title that immediately describes what you do, as well as your areas of strength.

Your Summary should tell a story, your Employment section describe quantified accomplishments, and don’t forget using the Media section to highlight your talents. A major part of your plan should be Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that includes the correct keywords to raise your profile to the top of the first page.

4. Update often. This is how you communicate with your LinkedIn community. I get looks of disbelief when I suggest to my LinkedIn workshop attendees that they update once a week. They ask me what topics they should updates about. First, I tell them, share articles they’ve found on the Internet. Pulse, once called LinkedIn Today, is a great source of articles.

Other topics can include seminars or conferences you’re attending; interviews you’ve had; advice pertinent to your industry; a great book you’re reading; a happy landing; even a good quote or two; and, of course, a reminder you’re looking for a job. Just keep it professional and refrain from negativity.

5. Connect with other LinkedIn members. No two LinkedIn members are alike; some prefer to keep their network intimate by connecting with people they know and trust, while others will connect with anyone who’s willing. My suggestion is to have a plan and be faithful to it. Connect with those who you can help and who can help you–a lot like personal networking.

Expand your horizon. Include people in your occupation, industry, and various levels of employment. There are like-minded people in different industries, so don’t be afraid to invite them to your network. Who knows, maybe opportunities will arise from the most unlikely people.

Read part two of this article coming up in a few days. In it I’ll discuss five other components necessary for your LinkedIn plan. You need a plan to be successful on LinkedIn.

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