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.

 

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.

The absence of this section of your profile 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.

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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Dear College Students, here are 3 steps to take when connecting with your alumni on LinkedIn

college student2Dear College Students,

Now that your profile is in tip top shape, it’s time to think about how, as a new college student, to connect with other LinkedIn members. It’s time to develop your online network.

To help you do this, LinkedIn has a neat feature called Find Alumni, which is located in the Connections drop-down menu

Why is it important that you’ve created a profile and must now develop your network? Because the sooner you start your network, the more useful it will be when you graduate and have to look for a job. An old adage is: in the working world, the best time to network is when you’re working. So it stands to reason the best time to network is while you’re in school.

Finding alumni with whom to connect

Assuming you haven’t made any connections with your alumni, which also include those who attended your alma mater before you arrived, you’ll want to connect with them because they’re probably currently working and may know of opportunities or, at least, people with whom you can connect.

First go to How You’re Connected to the far right of the second screen. Most likely you have very few, if any, 1st degree connections. That’s alright. Focus on your second degrees. Select your 2nd degrees by clicking on that bar. You’ll see the other categories shift, the numbers decrease. This narrows your search for potential alumni contacts.

If you’re a communications major, you’ll focus on people who are connected with you under What They Do, e.g., Media and Communication. Look at where they work, what they studied, what they’re skilled at. This will give you a sense of your commonalities, as well as some talking points when you connect with them.

Connecting with your alumni

The largest advantage you have is your common bond with people who are going to school with you or who have attended years before. When you attempt to connect with them through their profile, the option Classmate has already been chosen for you.

This is where, as an aspiring LinkedIn professional, you need to carefully craft your invite messages. Under no circumstances will you send the default LinkedIn invite; that’s plain laziness. Instead, you’ll write a personalized note, which will show the professionalism LinkedIn members expect from each other.

Note: Even though you can hit Connect under the person’s photo, it’s still best to open their profile and choose to connect after reading it thoroughly.

Here’s what you might write after reading your potential connection’s profile:

Dear Mr. Schmidt,

As you’re an alumnus at the University of Virginia and are in the field of Marketing Communications, I’d like to take this time to reach out and invite you to my network. I will contact you to see if we can be of assistance to each other.

Completing the process

Your new invite accepts your personalized invitation because both of you share an interest in Communications and, most importantly are alumni. In your invitation you mentioned being of assistance to Mr. Schmidt. Where many people fall down in the process is not following through.

Be true to your word by contacting him via e-mail when he accepts your invite. Also write down some questions you’d like to ask Mr. Schmidt regarding the line of work he does. Make them intelligent questions; don’t waste his time. Ask him if he might know of anyone who you could also speak with. Finally, tell him you’re at his disposal should he need assistance.

The process of building relationships can be  a long one, but because you’ve just begun your education, you have plenty of time developing long-lasting relationships. These are connections that can be of great help to you once you’ve graduated college.

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 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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5 ways to connect with LinkedIn members; the good, bad, and the ugly

connect on linkedin

I was speaking with someone who asked me how he should connect with people on LinkedIn. Together we looked at what I consider the best way to connect with someone (through someone’s profile), but there are four other ways I showed him how to connect with others on LinkedIn.

So how might one connect, you wonder.

Through someone’s profile–the best way

This is the best way to connect with someone. Why? Because you actually take the time to read the person’s profile to see if you want this person in your network. I happened upon someone who does very similar work and is a career-advice blogger. I had to connect with him.

You find someone’s profile by searching for him/her using LinkedIn’s awesome search engine or selecting that person from “People You May Know,” found at the top right-hand corner of your homepage. You’ll see the box below, where you’ll indicate how you know your potential connection.

LinkedIn asks you how you know this person. Of the seven criteria, David and I are in the same LinkedIn group. Great luck. As I don’t qualify for any of the other criteria. What I dislike is when someone I don’t know tries to connect with me as a “Friend” when they don’t know me. Claiming to be a “Colleague,” “Classmate,” or “We’ve done business together,” Also ruffles my feathers when none of it’s true. But being in the same group/s means we’re like-minded.

Important note: always write a personal note similar to the one you see in the box below. To send the default message is poor laziness.Direct connect

Through an introduction–proper but slow

This is considered proper etiquette when you want to connect with one of your first degree’s connections. You ask your first degree to introduce you to the person with whom you’d like to connect. A LinkedIn purist may believe this is the only way to connect, but I think this policy is a bit extreme, as well as taking a long time to accomplish.

Go to the desired person’s profile and choose Get introduced next to the Send Inmail button. This will bring you to a command that asks you who should make the introduction.

Craft a professional message, understanding that the person making the introduction might send your message straight through, along with a message of his own. If your intention is to ask to connect, your wish may be granted, but this method usually takes longer than it would to simply try to connect.

The person I chose as an example is not in any of my groups; thus I would not feel good about trying to connect directly…unless, of course, I indicate he’s a “Friend” and in the not beg his forgiveness.

get introduced

Who’s visited your profile–getting around the default message

Everyone I know is curious about who’s visited their profile. Aren’t you? You can, with impunity, connect with anyone who visits your profile and discloses their identity.  What I mean by this is you don’t have to state how you are related to said person…and you can still write a personal note.

I’m a bit conflicted with this method of connecting. While I don’t believe one should have to request an introduction every time he/she wants to connect with someone, I do believe there should be some relationship, such as belonging to the same group.

Who's visited your profile

Mass mailing-invite–for beginners

Like a tooth ache, you’re reminded on every page that you can send an invite through your e-mail contact list. Simply click on the icon to the immediate left of your photo to see a command like the one to the right. Select your e-mail provider, follow the prompts, and connect to your heart’s desire.

This is one of the least effective way to connect, as it doesn’t allow you to send a personal note. I’ve complained bitterly about people who just connect willy-nilly.

However, if you’re just starting out, you may want to use this way to connect.

connect 1

From your phone–the ugly

If you’re on the fly, you can connect from your mobile device. The LinkedIn app makes connecting on your phone as easy as clicking a button…literally. This is the epitome of laziness–here I go again–as there is no option to write a personal note.

I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees to avoid using this method and, rather, wait until they’re sitting at their computer so they can connect using the first or even second method. I also tell them if they want to connect with me, they’ll need to include a personal note, which most of them neglect to do. Oh well.

The good, bad, and the ugly

There you have five ways to connect with people on LinkedIn. You may call me old fashion for choosing the first method, visiting a person’s profile, to connect. Or asking for an introduction. At the very least connecting with people who’ve visited your profile. But to connect with someone through a mass e-mail or by phone is pure blasphemy.

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