Default invites from LinkedIn members stink: 6 approaches to sending an invite

 

I estimate that I ignore 90% of invites from LinkedIn members, simply because they don’t include a personalized note. In fact, if I accepted all invites I’d probably have 10,000 connections in my LinkedIn network. This is not to brag; I’m just saying.

li-logoWhy am I so adamant about people taking the time to personalize their invites? Short and simple, default invites stink.

The default invite on LinkedIn is: I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn*. While it clearly states a hopeful networker’s intent, I need more. Something that tells me why we should connect.

Sending the default invite is akin to going up to someone at a networking event and saying, “Hi. What can you do for me?” It’s insincere and sends the message, “I’m inviting you to be in my network, but I could care less if you join.” Is this the type of message you want to send to a potential networker?

I believe there are three reasons why LinkedIn members don’t personalize their invites.

One, they just don’t get it. Or they haven’t been educated. I can only spread the word to the people who attend my LinkedIn workshops or read my posts. Even then they don’t get it. Some workshop attendees will invite me from their phones while I’m leading the workshop…void of a personalized note.

Two, they’re using their phone to connect with others on LinkedIn. Although there is a way to send a personalized invite from your phone, most people don’t know how to do it. The process is very simple**, so there’s no excuse.

To the people who invite me to their network from their phone, I tell them to wait until they’re at a computer so they can send a personalized note. What’s the hurry? I’m not going away.

lazy

Three, they’re plain lazy. I think this is really the heart of the matter, and I hesitate to say it, especially out loud; but in essence this is what it comes down to. To me, a default invitation is a statement of want without a sign of reciprocation. And this defies the true definition of networking.

I and others, I’m sure, are more likely to accept an invite if a thoughtful note is attached to it. So what should you write if you want someone to join your network?

1. You might have something in common with whom you’re trying to connect. “Hi Susan, I’ve been following your updates and feel that we have a great deal in common. Would you accept an invitation to be in my LinkedIn network?”

2. Maybe you’re the bold type. “Hey, Bob. You and I are in career development. Ain’t that cool? Let’s link up!” I like this confidence.

3. You might want to take the calculated approach. “After reviewing your profile, I’m impressed with its quality and your diverse interests.” A little flattery never hurts.

4. Do you need assistance? I received an invite with the following message: “Please have a look at my profile and tell me what you think. I’ve been on LinkedIn since before it was, well, LinkedIn!” I looked at his profile and was impressed. I gladly accepted his invite.

5. Inviting someone to be part of your LinkedIn network is a perfect way to follow up with that person after a face-to-face meeting. “Sam, it was great meeting with you at the Friends of Kevin networking event. I looked you up on LinkedIn and thought we could stay in touch.”

6. Boost the person’s ego. “Bob, I read one of your posts and thought it was spot on. I’d like to connect with you.” Or “Jason, I saw you speak at the Tsongas Arena and what you said really resonated with me. I’d like to follow up with you.”

These are some suggestions that would entice someone like myself to accept an invite. When I’m sent an invite, I only request a personalized note—it’s not that hard, really. So rather than just hitting the Send Invitation button, take a few seconds to compose something from the heart.


*A very simple solution is eliminating the default message altogether, thereby requiring someone to write a personalized note. LinkedIn suggests, “Include a personal note,” but this doesn’t seem to work for some.

**To send an invite from your phone, go to the profile, click the three vertical dots for androids or horizontal dots for iPhones, choose “Personalize invite,” write one and hit send.

Photo: Flickr, ruijiaoli

Photo: Flickr, Retroeric

 

LinkedIn status update etiquette. How often should you update?

man-walking-with-phone

I posted a status update asking LinkedIn members how often they update. Asking a question, after all, is one of the many updates you should post. The response wasn’t as great as I would have like, much like when I ask my 14 year-old son how his day went.

I did, however, receive answers like “once a day,” “four times a week,” etc. But I didn’t get the answer I wanted to hear: “four times a day.” Do I hear a pin drop? I can hear some of you thinking, “That’s crazy, dude.” And, “Get a life.” Perhaps, “I’d hide* that guy.” And I’m sure I have been hidden.

Some of my workshop attendees tell me that posting even once a week is too difficult. They also say that they don’t know what to post. (I refer them to Hannah Morgan’s great infographic of what you can update. Yes, one of them was posting a question.)

I’ve read from some LinkedIn pundits that once a day is the limit. How did they come up with that arbitrary number? Why not two updates a day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon for a total of 14 updates a week? Wouldn’t that make more sense?

I posted an article awhile back called 11 reasons why I share LinkedIn updates so often in response to an article called 6 Bad LinkedIn Habits That Must Be Broken, in which the author writes with conviction that one must update only once a day. He states:

“People don’t check LinkedIn nearly as often as Facebook or most other Social Networks for that matter. So I recommend that statuses are updated no more than once or twice a day. This is more for your benefit than for your network. Oversimplify here and focus on sharing much less frequently, while trying to find highly interesting content that will benefit your connections.”

In my counter article I explain that I update for nine reasons, two of which are to make LinkedIn a better place. I know that sounds conceited but I figure I manage to accomplish this 20% of the time. And the other times because I really enjoy it.

In my opinion, you should update as much as you like as long as you’re adding value for you connections. What defines value? Quite literally it means, according to Webster’s II dictionary, “A standard or principle regarded as desirable or worthwhile.”

Educational articles you share add value and can earn you the illustrious title of “curator.” In a long post on LinkedIn, I list 14 of my connections who do a great job of educating their networks, as well as write great articles themselves. Great industry advice adds value. And asking illuminating questions or even making intelligent statements also add value.

Another reason why you should update as much as you like is if you’re not annoying your connections. One barometer I use to determine if I’m annoying my connections is when they see me in public. If they say, “I see you a lot on LinkedIn. Good stuff,” that’s a good sign. But if they say nothing after telling me they see me a lot on LinkedIn, I figure that’s a bad sign.

Recently I hid one of my connections because her face appeared at least ten times in a row on my timeline; she was really annoying me. Worse of all was that the information she was sharing was inconsistent with her industry; it was all over the map. I imagined her clicking on every post or inspirational quote/photo that popped up. In this case, more is definitely not better.

Finally, if you are treating LinkedIn like Twitter, where there are little or no reasons why you’re updating, it’s time to take stock of why. If there’s no strategy, it would probably be best to develop some strategy behind your updating activity, or chill for awhile.

Do you remember when you LinkedIn’s status updates and Twitter’s tweets were synced to each platform? LinkedIn did away with Tweets migrating to its platform; people were tired of reading about what Twitterers were doing on the beach or eating for breakfast. We still get tweet-like updates on LinkedIn.

I can’t say for sure how often I update a day, but I haven’t been told to my face that I over due it. In fact, I receive compliments for what I share. When I’m told more than once that people are sick of seeing my face on LinkedIn, I will curve my action. By how much I can’t say. I’m just having too much fun.

*To hide someone, just hover to the far right of his/her name and a dropdown will appear with the Hide option.

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Photo: Flickr, Tom Waterhouse

A little advice for my angry LinkedIn connection

angry man

When I was a youth, I had a friend who was angry all the time. Johnny was his name. He had a younger brother, Billy, who was a better athlete than him and more affable. Johnny was jealous of his younger brother.

When we played pick up football, Johnny was the slower and less nimble of the group. Billy and I were the better football players. This, I suppose, made Johnny even more angry.

At times Johnny would lash out at me for no apparent reason. I would disagree with him and BAM he would hit me. One time I ducked his punch and smacked him in the face. And then I ran like hell. I was a lover, not a fighter.

The other kids in the neighborhood couldn’t understand why Johnny was so angry; why he lashed out at me.

At the time I didn’t understand his anger. And then one day my father told me that some people are just plain angry, and there’s only one thing you can do about it; distance yourself from them.

So that’s what I did.

My angry LinkedIn connection, I see some of your posts on LinkedIn, and I think that you are angry. Angry all the time, like Johnny. And I think there’s no reason for you to show your anger, especially when others are watching you.

I recently read a post on LinkedIn that made a helluva lot of sense to me. It is called, “An open letter to Obama haters on LinkedIn.” The author of this post is Sherry Nouraini, PhD.

I took away from the article that employers/possible business partners are looking at what you write and think to themselves that angry verbiage is a sign of a problem maker, not a problem solver. Johnny was a problem maker.

What broke the proverbial camel’s back was the relentlessness smear campaign against LinkedIn. You made it your goal to bring LI to its knees by using long posts to do this. But what you wrote before was also full of anger.

I must profess that I have written out of anger, but not with as much vehemence as you do. I have, at times, criticized LinkedIn (I still can’t let go of losing unlimited searches). But how I criticize LinkedIn is nothing like the smear campaign you’ve started.

It’s not only your attack on LinkedIn that rubs me wrong, it’s also expressing your opinions on politics and religion that are inappropriate. First of all, I don’t care who you support in the upcoming primaries. Second, there’s no room for politics on LinkedIn.

Simply liking an article or photo that is politically minded is further evidence of your anger and negative attitude. To like something politically or religiously minded implies that you agree with its message, that you might also write it.

Have you not read that people don’t think LinkedIn is the forum for politics and religion? (Hint: Facebook is a better forum for expressing one’s political and religious views. I’m quite enjoying my new foray on Facebook.)

If you read the aforementioned article, the author talks about how bashing politicians or any other public figures is noticed by potential employers who are looking for people to solve their problems, not to create problems.

Your confrontational attitude will cause employers to think the latter of you; that you will cause problems.

You are currently unemployed, yet you continue to criticize how employers fail in the hiring process. I get it; employers don’t always make the best decisions–68% of them admit to making a bad hire at least once–but what good does it do you to criticize their practices.

Again, I admit to throwing mud at some recruiters, but not every single time I get the opportunity. If I did this, many of my connections would disown me.

Have you thought that it may be you who is at fault for not getting hired? Keep in mind that employers troll LinkedIn to find talent and if they see the way you bash them, you’re seen as an excuse maker and a complainer; both of which employers try to avoid.

It’s not only what you write that makes you come across as angry; it’s your photo. Your photo looks like a mug shot. You look angry enough to kill someone.

Johnny always looked angry, too. Your photo is your first impression. Do you want to turn away employers before they even read your profile?

What I find ironic is that you have the word “Professional” in your headline. You don’t come across as professional, not by my standards.

And in your Summary you talk about demonstrating a willingness to help others achieve their goals. I don’t buy any of it when I read your updates or spiteful long posts.

I’m sorry, connection, your anger is obvious, and I fear it is hurting your chances of getting a job. When you land your next job, I’m afraid that what you wrote on LinkedIn prior will come back to bite you in the ass.

I can only assume that 1) you don’t care if people are turned off by your angry verbiage, or 2) you don’t know you come across as angry. If it’s the former, I hope you read this and right the ship. If it’s the latter, I fear, like Johnny, there’s no hope for you.

Photo: Flickr, Oliver Nispel

8 LinkedIn types that are hurting their brand

angry-woman

Some people just don’t get how to use LinkedIn. As a result, they’re hurting their brand and it comes back to bite them in the ass in their community and their job search.

Your behavior is being observed by potentional hiring managers, recruiters, HR, and other people who can help you with your job search, namely network partners.

Therefore, it’s vital that you don’t come across as a certain LinkedIn type. Here are eight LinkedIn types you don’t want to become.

1. The Party Crashers. These LinkedIn members are everywhere and, in some cases, showing up 10 times in a row on your home page. They’re like people who are at every party. They’re also out to grab the glory, which is evident in their obnoxious activity.

Their goal is to appear as much as possible on their connections’ homepage, which annoys their connections to no end. They break the general rule of not sharing more than four updates a day.

2. The Hiders. I’m referring to people who don’t want to reveal their identity, so they post an image in place of their photo. These members do this for two reasons. First, it allows them to reach All Star status and increases their chances of being found.

Second, they don’t want their identity known, perhaps because of age, or they’re paranoid. This last reason only serves to make them appear untrustworthy.

It also defies the purpose of networking, which is to be recognizable and memorable. One’s brand is about them, not their company or hobby.

Read: 10 reasons why your LinkedIn photo is important to me.

3. The Ambiguous. Their comments or status updates don’t make sense. They think they write like Shakespeare or Ice Tea, but really what they write makes me wonder if they are on hallucinogens.

I have a connection like this, and so many times have I been tempted to ask him what the hell he’s talking about. I know he’s smart; that’s not the question. The question is if he is from our planet.

4. The Fly On the Wall. This LinkedIn member is one I wrote about in The importance of contributing to LinkedIn, which talks about how some people join LinkedIn and then disappears. In this post I talk about how a neighborhood friend started on LinkedIn with a great profile, and suddenly disappeared.

When I asked him where he’s been, he said he’s still on LinkedIn everyday but doesn’t care to contribute his thoughts or ideas. He reads a lot of articles and updates. That’s about it. To build a powerful brand, one has to be heard.

5. The Aloof. They don’t connect with anyone. They may have the best LinkedIn profile on earth, yet they only have 80 connections. They feel they must personally know every person with whom they’re connected.

Meeting unknown, yet valuable, connections is beyond their comprehension. When visitors, such as recruiters, see their dismal number of connections; they see these LinkedIn members as untrusting—a definitely blow to one’s brand.

6. The Negative Nelly. Little do these people know their words, which come across as angry and insulting, hurt their brand. Visitors’ antennae are alerted when they see the Negative Nellies complain about how unfair employers or disinterested potential business partners are.

Their words harm their image, but they don’t care. LinkedIn is their sounding board. They believe, based on their status, they have the right to offend other LinkedIn members. Of all the offenders, they fail n the emotional intelligence department.

7. The LinkedIn Hater. Look, I’ve been guilty of this myself. I’ve complained about certain inane changes LinkedIn has made—like take away our unlimited searches. I wonder if this hurts my brand. But these people bash LinkedIn like no one’s business.

They threaten to leave LinkedIn, stay away for awhile, only to return to continue to bash LinkedIn. I am far from a champion of LinkedIn, but I realize it for its remarkable power to provide job seekers the ability to network their way to a job.

8. The Bait and Switch. Perhaps the worst of them all is the LinkedIn member who connects with you and immediately hits you up for a sale. No foreplay, small talk, niceties, no nothing.

I recall a woman who set up a Skype session with the pretense of collaborating on career coaching, only to try to have me join her Tupperware business. To me her brand took a huge hit, as she appeared to me a liar. As well, she wasted my valuable time.


If you are guilty of some of the above behaviors, it’s time to stop. We are a community, and as such we need to be cognizant of those in our network. To violate any of these faux pas will certainly hurt your online brand.

Do you want to come across as a Party Crasher, or maybe worse  yet a Hider. To Bait and Switch can drive someone away for good, maybe make them disconnect from you. The Negative Nelly can ruin the mood. The Onlooker is insecure in their ability to contribute to discussions.

30,000 LinkedIn connections. Really?!

30,000

I’ve read a number of posts from people who are complaining that some of their 30,000 connections are being reduced to followers. They apologize to their “valued” connections for the injustice LinkedIn has committed.

(LinkedIn has made some bonehead moves in the past, such as stripping us of unlimited searches, but this is not one of them.)

I know I’m going to anger a lot of my connections, but the way I see it, people with 30,000 connections are collectors who don’t understand the purpose of networking. They’re collecting connections like Imelda Marco collected shoes, but by tenfold.

But these connections represent opportunity, you argue. Bullsh#t, I say. Besides the thousands of fake profiles you have accumulated, 90% of your connections will never follow up in a meaningful way.

Some of you say you communicate with them on a daily basis. This is true but only because you share updates, which potentially all 30,000 connections can see. Not likely.

Be honest with yourself, how many of the 30,000 connections have you even communicated with after receiving their default invites? Eight percent if you’re lucky. Or 2,400 if you’re counting. You L.I.O.N.S out there, I’m speaking to you.

Lion

My number of connections is more than 2,500, and I have to honestly say I don’t recognize many of them. Which makes me wonder if I have done the right thing by connecting with them. Probably not.

According to Robin Dunbar, a anthropologist and physiologist, we can truly know know 150 people; I’m a living testament of this assertion. (Read The New Yorker article, The Limit of Friendship.)

So when people tell me they know all of their first degree connections, even if it’s 2,400, again I say bullsh#t. This is not to say you need to confine your network to people you can name; at least they should be meaningful.

Collecting LinkedIn connections is like going to a networking event and collecting 100 personal business cards; just grabbing them out of people’s hands. Will you follow up with 100 people? You might as well find the nearest waste basket immediately after the event and dump those cards into it.

If you are saying, “LinkedIn’s purge is arbitrary. Like, they’re taking away valuable connections and turning them into followers instead.” My response to that is if you miss them (as in you know them) then simply reconnect…after you’ve eliminated some of the chaff among your 30,000 connections.

Throw out your connection trash. None of my connections are trash, you argue. Have you, as a true networker, hand-selected these connections? I didn’t think so.

That teenager from Huston, TX, who you blindly accepted, won’t be of any assistance. But all’s good, right.? She got you closer to 30,000 connections.

Once, my son told me he had 500 Facebook friends. I asked him if he knew them. Sure, he told me. Bullsh#t, I told him.

It is time that you open networkers focus on the purpose of networking (this is actually what we’re supposed to be doing) which is to connect with people of like interests who can be of mutual assistance.

Photo: Flickr, d00133519x

 

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

SONY DSC

 

The summary statement began with: “Results-oriented Marketing Professional…” As if my hand had a mind of its own, I circled Results-oriented and wrote “Ugh” next to it.

I thought twice of erasing my first comment but in the end left it there. My customer did a double-take and pouted, hurt by my crudeness.

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

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

Words like designed, initiated, directed, authored are more of what employers want to see on a résumé and LinkedIn profile. The big difference is obviously the “bad” words are adjectives and the “good” words are action verbs.

To complicate matters more; even some of the verbs have fallen in the cliché category, like led, managed, facilitated, etc.

From a reader’s point of view, this makes sense. Someone who claims he’s outgoinghighly experiencedseasonedresult-driven, etc., seems to…lack creativity.

Someone who can assert that he is results-oriented by showing he began and finished multiple projects in a timely manner, while also consistently saving the company costs by an average of 40% will win over the minds of employers. Showing is always better than telling.

Keywords and phrases: Here’s the rub—many job ads contains clichés; and if you’re going to load your résumé with as many keywords/phrases as possible, you’re almost inclined to use these outdated and useless words.

If you know your résumé is going to be scanned by an applicant tracking system (ATS), it may be imperative that you use clichés, especially if you want to pass the ATS and be one of the 25% of résumés read.

I performed a quick experiment where I looked at three job ads and attempted to find some of the overused words.

Sure enough words and phrases like team player, hard worker, ability to work independently and as part of a teamdetail-oriented, to name a few,  showed up in many of the ads.

Why do companies write job ads that contain words that are almost comical? Part of the reason is because the fine folks who write these ads don’t know any other way to phrase effective ads; and partly because these are qualities they’re looking for.

Almost every company is looking for a team player who can work independently as well. Every company desires people who are results-oriented, innovative, hardworking, etc.

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

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

Photo: Flickr, Tom Newby

5 steps to uncovering career opportunities

Job Interview

I tell job seekers in all my workshops that research is key to their job search. I’m being redundant, but it’s true and worth repeating. The time you put into research will be a tremendous return on investment.

Many believe that the first thing they must do after losing their job is updating their resume. Having done this, they’re now prepared to respond to positions posted online. Good plan? Not really.

It would be far better to be proactive in your job search by approaching companies for which you’d like to work. To do this, will require research. Here are five steps to take when researching your companies.

1. Discovering which companies are growing the fastest is the start of the job search. This should be your first step, yet so many people don’t realize how valuable this information is.

I tell job seekers that they should have a list of 10-15 companies for which they’d like to work. Many don’t; they have a hard time naming five. Yet if some of them were asked to name their top five restaurants, they could.

2. Once you’ve located the companies you’d like to researched and decided which companies are the ones for which you would like to work, you should dedicate a great deal of your computer time visiting their websites.

Study what’s happening at your chosen companies. Read pages on their products or services, their press releases (if they’re a public company), biographies of the companies’ principals, and any other information that will increase your knowledge of said companies.

Your goal is to eventually make contact and meet with people at your target companies, so it makes sense to know about the companies before you engage in conversation. This research will also help when composing your résumé and cover letter and, of course, it will come into play at the interview.

3. If you don’t have familiar contacts at your favorite companies, you’ll have to identify new potential contacts. You might be successful ferreting them out by calling reception, but chances are you’ll have more success by utilizing LinkedIn’s Companies feature.

LinkedIn’s Comapnies feature is something job seekers have used to successfully make contact with people at their desired companies. Again, research is key in identifying the proper people with whom to speak.

Most likely you’ll have first degree connections that know the people you’d like to contact—connections who could send an introduction to someone in the company. These connections could include hiring managers, Human Resources, and directors of departments.

Let us not forget the power of personal, or face-to-face, networking. Reaching out to job seekers or people currently working can yield great advice and leads to contacts. Your superficial connections (neighbors, friends, etc.) may know people you’d like to contact.

4. Begin initial contact with those who you’ve identified as viable contacts. Your job is to become known to your desired companies. Will you be as well known as internal candidates?

Probably not, but you’ll be better known than the schmucks who apply cold for the advertised positions—the 20%-30% of the jobs that thousands of other people are applying for.

Let’s face it; going through the process of applying for jobs on the major job boards is like being one of many casting your fishing line into a pool where one job exists. Instead spend your time on researching the companies so you’ll have illuminating questions to ask.

So, how do you draw the attention of potential employers?

  • Send your résumé directly to someone you’ve contacted at the company and ask that it be considered or passed on to other companies. The risk in doing this is to be considered presumptuous. As well, your résumé will most likely be generic and unable to address the employer’s immediate needs.
  • Contact someone via the phone and ask for an informational meeting. This is more acceptable than sending your résumé, for the reason mentioned above, but takes a great deal of courage. People these days are often busy and, despite wanting to speak with you, don’t have a great deal of time to sit with you and provide you with the information you seek. So don’t be disappointed if you don’t get an enthusiastic reply.
  • Send a trusted and one-of-the-best-kept-secrets networking email. The approach letter is similar to making a cold call to someone at a company, but it is in writing and, therefore, less bold. Employers are more likely to read a networking email than return your call. Unfortunately, it’s a slower process and doesn’t yield immediate results.
  • A meeting with the hiring manager or even someone who does what you do continues your research efforts. You will ask illuminating questions that provoke informative conversation and ideally leads to meetings with other people in the company. At this point you’re not asking for job, you’re asking for advice and information.

5. Sealing the deal. Follow up with everyone you contacted at your selected companies. Send a brief e-mail or hard copy letter asking if they received your résumé or initial introductory letter. If you’ve met with them, thank them for their time and valuable information they’ve imparted.

Send your inquiry no later than a week after first contact. For encouragement, I suggest you read Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. It’s probably the most recommended books on networking in history and for good reason.

Ferrazzi goes into great detail about his methods of building relationships through networking, while emphasizing the importance of constantly following up with valued contacts.


People in the career development industry never said finding a rewarding job is easy. In fact, the harder you work and more proactive you are, the greater the rewards will be. Take your job search into your own hands and don’t rely on coming across your ideal job on Monster.com, Dice.com, or any of the other overused job boards.

Your job is to secure an interview leading to the final prize, a job offer. But your researching skills are essential to finding the companies for which you’d like to work, identifying contacts within those companies, and getting yourself well-known by important decision makers.