Category Archives: LinkedIn

7 steps to take to find the right person using LinkedIn’s All Filters

Some estimates say there are more than 650 million LinkedIn users. To find and connect with the person or people who can help you land your next job might seem like a daunting task, but don’t fear.

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Perhaps you’re looking for the hiring manager at one of your target companies, or an alumnus who can provide sage advice, or a corporate recruiter. Finding the person with whom you need to connect requires a focused search.

A great tool to narrow your search is All Filters. To use this tool, you must have a plan of attack. Following are the steps I would take to look for recruiters, using the following criteria:

  1. Must be an employee of the companies below:
    • IBM
    • Kronos
    • Oracle, and
    • seven other companies.
  2. A second degree connection, so I can utilize our common connections. (More on this later.)
  3. Must serve the Boston, MA, area.
  4. Graduated from the University of Massachusetts.

1. I type in Search the words: (recruiter OR “talent acquisition.) The result is approximately 3,200,000 LinkedIn recruiters. Way too many.

Recruiter step 1

2. So I jump right to All Filters; no sense in wasting time. Note: in All Filters, there’s an option to choose Industry. A practical choice would be “Staffing & Recruiting,” but the string I typed in Search gives me more options with which to begin.

3. I Hone in on my first company, IBM, which is one of the companies listed under Current Companies (see diagram below). I have 5,317 2nd and third degree connections at IBM.

4. If I want to connect with a recruiter at IBM, I should narrow the list down to 2nd degrees (see diagram below), as they will have other LinkedIn members who are connected to people in my direct network. This is important because I’ll want to mention our common connections in a personal invite. This brings the number to 348.

All Filters

5. One of my criteria is Location (see diagram above). The Greater Boston Area is one of the choices LinkedIn gives me. Other choices include India, the Greater New York City Area, and the Dallas/Fort Worth Area. I choose Greater Boston Area, which brings the number to 42 recruiters. Note: you might have to type in your desired location.

All Filters2

6. I’m almost there. I have to find recruiters who attended the same college I did. I have to scroll down in All Filters and write in my alma mater, the University of Massachusetts (diagram above.) I am left with only two recruiters that have met all my criteria (below).

Recruiter step 5

7. Finally, I need to choose a common connection who will either introduce me to one of the recruiters or allow me to use their name in an invite I send. I know just the person I would like to ask. He was a former customer of mine and a real stand up guy.

Common Connections


Repeat the process

You now get the idea of how to locate people on LinkedIn by using All Filters. It isn’t difficult as long as you know who you’re looking for. By the way, my search for Oracle and Kronos yield one result and no result respectively. I guess I need to connect with more recruiters.

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10 telltale signs that your LinkedIn profile reveals

There are times when I come across a LinkedIn profile that is strong and doesn’t need much revision. In some cases people had their profile written for them. They have the major sections covered, such as: Background image; Photo; Headline Summary; Experience; and Education.

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At times like this, I focus on their overall LinkedIn campaign as revealed by their profile. Because when it comes down to it, their success hinges on more than just the content in their major sections.

Following is a discussion I would have with a client who has a strong LinkedIn profile, but needs help in other areas.

My client logs onto their LinkedIn account on my computer, so I have access to information visitors don’t. This way we’re not violating any LinkedIn rules. We’ll look at the typical profile sections, but I’m more interested in the telltale signs.

1. Photo properties

Before our session I noticed that I couldn’t see your photo. It’s an easy fix. On your profile you will click on your photo to enlarge it. Then click on Visibility at the bottom right. Earlier you had selected “Your Connections” as the people who could see your photo. You’ll switch it to “the Public,” so even someone who is not on LinkedIn can see your your photo.

This reveals that you’re guarded about your photo. And some people might think you’re hiding something. With your photo, you have nothing to hide.

2. Low connection number

Your number of connections is low. Even someone who’s not signed onto LinkedIn, or a member of LinkedIn, can see public profiles. They can see the information you want to share on your public profile. You show 289 connections. This is not good. You started your LinkedIn campaign three months ago when you got laid off.

A low number of connections reveals that you’re reluctant to connect with others. Visitors will question your ability to connect with other people, especially if your job will require it. It also shows that you don’t understand the purpose of online networking–developing and nurturing relationships.

3. Focused network

Your network should be focused, not comprised of people from multiple industries. By going to My Network and then All Filters, I can see the prevalent industries among your network, as well as the companies where you have the most connections.

This is encouraging, as it reveals a focused network. You need to keep building your focused network by connecting with people at your desired companies. I suggest you devise a personal invite template to keep on track.

4. Contact Info

On to Contact Info. Many people don’t know to look here, but for those who do, give them the information they need. Include your email address at the very least. Go to Privacy and Settings choose whether to make it visible to “Only Me,” 1st degree and 2nd degree connections, or anyone on LinkedIn.

By not making your email address public, reveals that you don’t want to be contacted. Big mistake. I suggest you also list your email address in your Summary at the end or even in the first line.

5. Dashboard area

Your Dashboard is only visible to you, and it shows you a lot of information. It shows that you only have 289 connections. Don’t be shocked to see only 300 Profile Views in the past 90 days, 10 Post Views on your most recent update, and 2 Search Appearances.

This reveals that, again, you’re not making enough effort to connect with others, and you’re not engaging with your network. Visitors will think you’re waiting for people to come to you.

6. Articles & Activity

This area of your profile is perhaps the most revealing. I don’t expect you to have any published posts; most job seekers don’t publish posts on LinkedIn, which I think is a shame. What’s more shameful is a low engagement. You have “Liked” a number of posts, as well as shared some articles without commenting on them.

This reveals a passive approach to engaging with your network. Commenting shows you’re interested in joining conversations.

7. Education section

Your Education section is strong. Many people fail to make use of the extras they can include in their Education section. Not you. You have all the basics: university, degree, field of study, and honorary designation. This is the information that impresses me:

  • Activities and Societies, Division 1A Swimming and editor of newspaper; and
  • Description: “For four semesters, I worked two jobs, totaling 15 hours, while taking an average of six classes per semester. In the summers between my Sophomore and Junior years, interned at Ernst and Young and Fidelity.”

The extras reveal your willingness to personalize your Education section, which many people don’t.

8. Volunteer experience

You volunteer developing and designing your child’s school’s website. You’re using new skills to do this. You’re using JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Photoshop, and bushing up on SEO. Additionally, you’re dedicating 20 hours a week to your child’s school.

This reveals a good thing. You can add this experience to your Experience section–because you’re working 20 hours a week–which will bring your profile to All Star status.

9. Skills and Endorsements section

You’re allowed to list up to 50 skills, but you’ve only listed 20. When recruiters look at your profile, they want to see you have most of the top 10 skills they’are looking for. (This infographic shows a snapshot of what recruiters see when you apply for a position.)

Listing only 20 skills reveals a lack of effort in promoting yourself. As well, at least your top 15 skills should be endorsed. How do you do this? By endorsing others.

10. Recommendations

You have one professional recommendation from each position you held. You have also written recommendations; almost twice as many as you’ve received. Although recommendations used to hold more value, some recruiters will read what your supervisors have written about you. They’ll also read what you’ve written about others.

This reveals that you’re not shy about asking for recommendations. More importantly, you are a giver, as evident by writing recommendations for others.

11. Accomplishments

It’s too bad that this section is anchored in the basement, because it contains some great information. You’ve made good use of this section by listing your Projects, Publications, Certifications, and Honors & Awards. In your Summary you are wise to direct visitors to this section.

What this reveals is that you’ve completed your profile to the best of your ability. You described three major projects you worked on as the CFO of your previous company. Hopefully visitors will follow your instructions in your Summary to scroll down to this section.

6 reasons to use Facebook; 6 reasons to use LinkedIn

I recently changed my Facebook photo from a casual shot of me sitting alone to one of me with my ankle-biting dog sitting on a rock (below). It’s temporary, but I like it. I have my temporary photo set to go back to my original one in a week..

bob with maisie

This is a cool feature that Facebook offers, automatically changing your photo back to the original one. It’s also cool that I can share a personal post like this, and…receive likes and comments on it.

There are other neat Facebook features which don’t apply to LinkedIn.

2. You can express your opinions with impunity.

I’m not one to express my political views, even though I’m gainfully employed, nor do I talk about religion. But I know I could on Facebook if I wanted.

Many of my Facebook friends are not shy about their political views, and that’s okay. If I don’t agree with their opinions, I scroll past them.

3. You can share photos of food and other stuff

Then there are wonderful photos of delicious food that one of my friends posts on a regular basis. They make me want to write to her and say, “When should I be over for dinner?”

Many people share photos of their kids–mixed feelings about the younger ones–playing lacrosse or football, attending proms, celebrating birthdays, and other sentimental situations

4. You can play games and other neat features

Occasionally I’ll participate in games or apps that tell you what famous character in history your personality resembles. Or what you will look like in fifty years. Pretty cool.

5. Groups on Facebook are livelier than LinkedIn groups

This is a sad testament to LinkedIn’s declining group participation. One Facebook group I like is Recruiters Online. Another is one that addresses issues in my home city. Be aware that Facebook members tend to speak their mind and don’t hold back on insulting others in the group.

6. You can get more personal with Message

I’ll reach more people through Messages on Facebook than I will on LinkedIn’s Messaging, which curiously copied Facebook’s form of one-on-one communication method. 

This is do in fact because I have intimate relationships with more people on Facebook than LinkedIn. Better put, I know people will respond quickly to my messages. I am not assured that my LinkedIn connections will check their accounts as much as Facebook members do.


People who know me would wonder, “Is this the Bob I know? He hates Facebook. He’s crazy about LinkedIn.” This is true; I dig LinkedIn, more so than Facebook. But it’s not true that I hate Facebook.


When LinkedIn is favorable

What I tell my workshop attendees is that Facebook allows me to let my hair down for the aforementioned reasons. I love making comments about my family and sharing their pictures. The only people I have to worry about is my oldest daughter and my wife, who literally critique my every post.

Facebook is not my professional arena. In fact, I refuse to allow myself to be professional on Facebook. For example, the photo you see below is one I have on my LinkedIn profile. I wouldn’t dream of using the photo above for LinkedIn. My connections would send me nasty comments if I did.

Bob Cropped

Below are times when LinkedIn is preferable over Facebook.

1. If you want to brand yourself, LinkedIn is the place to do it

Let’s be real, you can’t brand yourself on Facebook as a job seeker or business person as well as you can on LinkedIn. LinkedIn gives you a built-in audience for your branding. Most people on this platform understand its intended purpose. 

Your profile is the first opportunity to brand yourself, followed by developing a professional network, and engaging in an appropriate manner. To this point, your posts, shared articles, insightful advice is businesslike, not personal. 

2. Content on LinkedIn is more professional, and we like it

Some people on LinkedIn don’t get it; I don’t think they ever will. LinkedIn is for professional networking and curating relevant information. Occasionally the LinkedIn police will tell you, “More suited for Facebook” or “Send it to Facebook” or what I like to say, “I thought I was on LinkedIn, not Facebook.”

3. If you like to blog, LinkedIn has a platform for it

To a point, LinkedIn has a blogging feature that allows you to share your posts. The reach is greater than most blog platforms as long as you market your posts. The downside is if you don’t tag a hundred LinkedIn members when you post it, or write to them individually, your articles won’t see the light of day.

4. LinkedIn’s real value is its immense professional network

Even though Facebook is at least twice as large as LinkedIn, its members are more concerned about sharing photos of the food they’re eating, showing off their new grandchildren, bragging about their vacation in France. You get the idea.  

Those same people can use LinkedIn as a professional networking platform to generate leads for business and their job search. It’s all business, and LinkedIn’s members understand this…for the most part. The LinkedIn police are real.

5. Recruiters hang out on LinkedIn to cull talent

Again, due to Facebook’s immensity, there are probably more recruiters on its platform than LinkedIn. However, the recruiters on LinkedIn are more serious about finding talent. They expect to find qualified talent on LinkedIn.

Job seekers on LinkedIn understand the value this platform offers. They are focused on networking with other job seekers, recruiters, and employees in companies for which they’d like to work.

6. LinkedIn is doing its best to catch up with Facebook

Facebook has more bells and whistles than LinkedIn, and that’s okay. For example, I’m fine with not having Facebook live. I have dabbled with sharing videos on LinkedIn, but this feature is a little clunky. 

LinkedIn is focusing on features that professionals require; those that don’t succeed are eliminated. Two features on the phone app which will probably be abandoned: one that allows you to find people who can be located in your area, another that allows you to dictate your messages. Both of these features aren’t taking hold. 


If you’re not on Facebook, join it

I used to bash Facebook in my LinkedIn workshops and blog posts. That’s until I joined Facebook. What I realized is that Facebook is great for us middle-age people (sadly true, younger folks are shunning Facebook). 

I hypothesize that people who get too personal on LinkedIn, aren’t on Facebook or haven’t embraced its purpose. If you are one of these people, I ask you to visualize this overstated analogy: being on LinkedIn is akin to attending a professional networking event; whereas being on Facebook is similar to going to a party. 

 

 

 

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3 reasons why your Articles & Activity section is important

When reviewing a client’s LinkedIn profile, I look at the typical sections: Summary, Experience, Educations, Skills, Volunteer, etc. I also look at one section of their profile that is very telling. Can you guess?

linkedin-alone

To stop the suspense, I’ll tell you. I look at their Articles & Activity section. I can tell from looking at this section whether they’ve been good or bad. More to the point, whether they’ve been engaging with their network, or simply spending very little time on LinkedIn. Below is an image of a profile of that has no Article & Activities section.

No Activity

This section lies between the Summary and Experience sections. What you see above tells you that this person has been dormant on LinkedIn. Here is a look at my Articles & Activity section.

Articles and activities

Showing engagement on LinkedIn will 1) encourage potential connections to invite you to their network, 2) impress recruiters with your knowledge and expertise, and 3) show you’re better than the average LinkedIn user.

Keep visitors on your site

I am reluctant to visit and continue to read someone’s profile if I see no pulse. Am I necessarily concerned if the person doesn’t have any of their own articles to share? Not really. I realize some, or most, people don’t want to publish their original ideas.

According to one source, “only 1 million professionals have published post on LinkedIn.”

However, if I don’t at least see engagement, I know the person is not serious about LinkedIn. I’m not the only person who spends attention to my clients’ Articles & Activity section. Hiring authorities are also paying attention.

Impress recruiters with your knowledge

Close to 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent, so the more time they spend on your profile, the better. True they want to see your titles, employment history, years of employment, and education. This said, recruiters also want to see your activity because it tells them if you:

  • like or comment on articles you find of value to your network;
  • write original thoughts or ask illuminating questions;
  • share a insightful, tasteful quotes;
  • announce certifications you earned;
  • contribute to a growing discussion; or
  • post videos that are relevant to you occupation and industry.

These are merely a few examples of what a potential candidate could show as activities. I go into greater detail in a post on how to optimize your engagement on LinkedIn. I discuss the difference between being active and engaging.

For example, when you comment on someone’s post, it’s not enough to write, “Great post, Sarah. Thanks for sharing.” Instead explain why you enjoyed the post and, perhaps, politely write about what you disagreed with. In other words, put real thought into comments you share.

I strongly suggest that you write articles to share on LinkedIn, as this will show recruiters your expertise in your industry. I tell my clients that they’re still “experts” in their field. Being out of work doesn’t change that.

However, I understand the time, effort, and courage it takes to put yourself out there.

Show you’re better than most LinkedIn users

The source I cited above also claims that “an average user spends 17 minutes monthly on LinkedIn.” That’s pitiful. LinkedIn has the potential to increase your chances of getting a job significantly, but only if you put effort into your LinkedIn campaign.

This means more than optimizing your profile by filling out all selections and employing keywords. You also have to develop a focused network and engage with your connections, which will be apparent by looking at your Articles & Activity section.

You should be using LinkedIn at least four days a week, half an hour a day. Does this sound like a lot of time? Divide your day in two; spend 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. But don’t just go to LinkedIn’s Jobs feature and look for jobs; practice some of the ways you can engage mentioned above.


Four days is the minimum amount of time I recommend to my clients. Ideally you should be using LinkedIn daily, maybe taking a day off during the week. What’s important is that your Articles & Activity section shows quality engagement, and hopefully articles that demonstrate your area of expertise.

5 ways on LinkedIn to let employers know you’re unemployed

This post is written in response to a growing discussion on LinkedIn. 

I get the question all the time in my LinkedIn workshops: “What’s the best way to let employers know I’m looking for work?” My answer has been somewhat noncommittal, but some of my clients want potential employer to know their status.

question-mark-jpg3

Here are five options, none of which are entirely optimal.

  • Leave your most recent employer as current for a short period of time.
  • Create your own “company.”
  • End the tenure at your previous employer and address this in your Headline.
  • End the tenure at your previous employer and explain your story in your Summary.
  • List volunteer experience in the experience section.

There are problems with each tactic. After all, being out of work is … being out of work. And some ignorant employers still prefer to hire passive job seekers over job seekers who are actively looking for employment.

No matter how you spin it, employers will know the story. Let’s look at the potential solutions from worse to best:


Leave the employment date or…

5. Leave your previous position open

Of course, indicating you’re still employed when you’ve been laid off, let go, or have quit is dishonest. When job seekers ask me if they should do this, I tell them that, ideally, they should end their employment at a company a day after they lose their job.

That being said, pretending you’re still working for no more than three months is somewhat acceptable. Herein lies the problem: when a recruiter asks if you’re still at the company, you have to make up some story about how you haven’t gotten around to closing out the job. You’ll have to do some fancy dancing, and this may end the conversation immediately.

One could argue that at least you’ll have the opportunity to have a conversation with a recruiter or hiring manager. And that recruiter or manager might buy your tale.

4. Create your own ‘company’

While it is important to maintain All Star status and, thus, get more visits to your profile, you need to do so with style and a value add. I’ve seen profiles with “Unemployed” as the company name. How much value does this add to a person’s profile? None.

My colleague, Laura-Smith Proulx describes a solution in a post she wrote for www.job-hunt.org that let’s employers know you’re unemployed, while also demonstrating your value to employers. As she explains, “no current experience is a competitive disadvantage.”

A company name for Plant Engineer Supervisor would simply be: Plant Engineer Supervisor. This would show as current experience. The job title would be: Plant Engineer Supervisor Pursuing Opportunities in Manufacturing.

The description of said job needs to show your value. Laura provides a great description for the Plant Engineer Supervisor: “I offer a broad operations background, including Lean Six Sigma, team management, production supervision, and plant engineering skills.” You might also include a quote from a supervisor to demonstrate your expertise.


End the employment date

3. Tell employers in your Headline

Obviously, the worst thing you can write in your Headline is only “Unemployed,” “Seeking Next Opportunity,” or “Actively Looking for a Project Manager Position.” Any of these statements alone fail to express your value. Sure, they tell employers about your situation, but that’s about it.

Instead, show your value to the employer right out of the box: I will increase your production flow 85% by utilizing Lean Six Sigma, Manufacturing experience, and proven leadership” 

Keep in mind that space in your Headline is limited.  You’re allowed 120 characters, so make the best use of it. The example above is 119 characters. Whew.

2. Tell your story in your Summary

Whether you want to inform people of your situation immediately, in the middle, or at the end, you need to be positive about your situation. Potential employers won’t be concerned about how you lost your job as much as they will about what you can do for them.

Writing the following sets a positive tone, “After three years of an exciting stint in IT in my previous company, I’m ready to take on new challenges. Read my profile on how I can help your company’s IT needs….” Of course your LinkedIn profile must be strong and support your desired occupation.


Doing actual work: volunteering, that is

1. The best way to cover the employment gap – volunteering in your field

A Forbes article suggests including volunteer work in the Experience section. I tend to agree. I can hear the critics bemoaning this practice—after all, it’s not paid employment! While this is true, volunteer work is exactly that—work. In some cases, you may even work harder than you would in paid employment.

If you are going to include volunteer work in your LinkedIn Experience section, be sure to make a note of it by writing “Volunteer Work” next to the position. Do not mislead potential employers into thinking it is paid employment. (Some pundits don’t believe indicating that it’s volunteer experience is necessary.)

The volunteer work you list should be substantial and relevant. For example, if you’re a web developer, spending 20 hours a week developing a nonprofit’s website is a great way to showcase your existing skills and the new ones you may be learning.

Another thing to note: You can include recommendations with your volunteer experience, but only if you list it in the Experience section of the profile. If you leave your volunteer work in the volunteer section, people will be precluded from sharing recommendations.


Then there’s LinkedIn’s Career Interests feature

For job seekers who are being pursued by recruiters who have access to LinkedIn’s recruiter premium account, this features allows them to see who is currently looking for work, whether employed or unemployed.


So, is it necessary to point out your unemployment status or falsify information on LinkedIn? Probably not. Covering an employment gap with volunteer experience is the best method, in my mind.

Which brings us to the topic of volunteering. I’ll save that for another post.

A version of this post originally appeared in recruiter.com.

Photo: Flickr, Tom Waterhouse

It’s okay to connect with strangers on LinkedIn

“That’s weird. I can’t connect with strangers,” my daughter said. “Look, I’m at a coffee shop. I gotta go.” And then there was phone silence.

Networking2

This is three days after she made me proud by joining LinkedIn; I imagine because her career advisor suggested she should. So, more than a post addressed at my daughter; I’m reaching out to the college career advisor who suggested my daughter join LinkedIn.

First, I need to say, “Thank you very much.” And, second, you also should tell my daughter that it’s okay to connect with strangers on LinkedIn. It’s not “weird.”

Let me amend this statement. It’s okay to connect with the right strangers.

I get the same skepticism—which my daughter conveyed—from my older clients, but in different words. They tell me they feel “uncomfortable” asking people to join their paltry network of 80 LinkedIn members.

The short answer I give them is the idea of being on LinkedIn is to develop a network and to use it to gain assistance, as well as help others.

Then they’ll ask me, in effect, why anyone would want to connect with them. To answer their question, I explain that the power of LinkedIn is joining like-minded people. Regardless of the employment situation, my clients are still part of the workforce.

Still reluctant to connect with LinkedIn members?

I tell my clients that they should imagine themselves at an in-person networking event. They’re there because they want to meet people who can provide advice and, perhaps, information that could lead to their next gig.

Then I say there are two scenarios. The first is that they speak to as many people they feel comfortable with. They have a great time getting to know these people; it’s liberating. They’ll develop relationships with some of them; with others they won’t.

The second scenario is somewhat different. Instead of deciding to meet new people, they stand in a corner of the room and wait for people to approach them. As well, they put their heads down avoiding making eye contact. They will not develop relationships with any of them.

There are rules, though

1. Chose the right people to connect with

This is one of the rules I preach often. Know who your students will benefit from, and how they can help their new connections. Stress it’s a two-way street.

The first people your students should invite to their network are their classmates, people who are studying the same major. Engineering majors connect with engineering majors, English Lit. majors connect with English Lit. majors and so on.

Next they should connect with other majors. Bio Chemistry majors can connect with Physic majors. Psychology majors may want to be really crazy and connect with Math majors.

Next connect with students at other schools. Tell them to send invites to students at local schools, at first. There are many schools in the Boston area, so an Early Childhood Education major could connect with the like at other universities in the area.

The huge victories are connecting with the alumni of their school. These are the people who are able to help your students when they graduate from university. A business major needs to reach out to higher level employed alumni, announcing themselves as college students who would like to join their network. The best LinkedIn tool for finding alumni is “See Alumni.

This tool allows students to search for their classmates and alumni by these classifications:

  • What they are skilled at
  • What they studied
  • What they do
  • Where they work
  • Where they live

2. Know how invite LinkedIn users to their network

Students can’t just click the connect button on the profile of the intended connection, and then hit “Send Now.” Instead they must send a personalized invite. Many students probably wonder what they should write in their invite.

Have them write a generic message or two or three that fit the situation. Here are a few they can store on their desktop and modify to fit the situation.


To classmates

Hi (name). I’ve just joined LinkedIn and because we’re in the same major, would like to add you to my network. Perhaps we can learn from each other how to navigate this valuable platform.

(Student’s name)


To professors

Dear (Professor’s name)

I enjoy/ed your class and learned a great deal about (topic). I hope you don’t find this too bold, but I would like to connect with you on LinkedIn so we can stay in touch with each other. By the way, I encourage my classmates to take your class. That’s how much I enjoy/ed it.

(Student’s name)


To alumni

Dear (Name)

I’m a student at (school) and am starting to build my network. I see that you studied the same topic that I did. One of my objectives is to create focused online relationships. I understand how busy you must be. It would be great to connect and help each other when the time arises.

By the way, you and my mother worked at Dell at the same time. She’s working at IBM now.

(Student name)

3. Follow up with their new connections

What separates people who know how to use LinkedIn and those who don’t is following up with their connections. Students can’t simply invite someone to their network and leave it at that. After sending the proper invite, and being accepted, students should send a short note thanking their new connection for accepting their invite. This can facilitate more conversation.

I warn against accepting any invitation. If a student gets the “weird” feeling, it is not an invite to accept. I haven’t discussed this step with my daughter yet, but I’ll make sure that the stranger and she have a commonality, such as they are studying the same major, or have the same career goal, or simply attend the same school.


Really our jobs are not much different, dear college career advisor. We both have to help our clients get over the “weird” feeling of connecting with strangers. Tell them that other LinkedIn members are on the platform to meet people like our clients. Also tell them they should reach out to like-minded people, and that there are rules. College students understand rules.

The Ultimate LinkedIn Guide, Engaging on LinkedIn: Part 3

In part two of this series, we looked at how to optimize your LinkedIn network. This post will address how to engage with the connections within your network in various ways. When I explain this concept to my clients, I tell them that they can have a stellar profile and large network, but if they don’t engage their connections, it’s like they don’t exist.

linkedin-alone

Being Active Vs. Being Engaged

First let’s talk about the distinction between “active” and ”engage.” It’s possible to be active on LinkedIn, while not being engaged. When you’re active, you’re simply there and not making an impact. Whereas when you’re engaged, you’re truly communicating with your connections.

Let’s first look at examples of being active, followed by being engaged. Think about what you’re doing and if you need to change how you interact with your connections.

Being Active

Liking What Your Connections Post

There’s not much you can say about simply liking what your connections post, other than your connections might appreciate the number of Likes they receive. Then they’ll wonder, “What did Bob think of what I wrote?” This is the ultimate example of simply being active.

Sharing What Your Connections Post

Similar to liking what someone posts, simply sharing a post is clicking the Share button. Again, people will be grateful that you shared their post or article, but couldn’t you do more? “I’m glad Bob shared my article,” they will think. “But why did he share it? What did he think of it?”

Posting a Picture and Sharing a Quote

Posting a picture is nice. It adds color to peoples’ homepage feed. They may pause to look at it. A picture says a thousand words, right? Wrong. You want to explain why you’re sharing the picture, not have people guess. The same goes for sharing a quote without an explanation as to why you shared it.

Writing Brief Comments

Writing comments to what your connections post is a step toward the right direction, but your comments should be meaningful. For example, “Great article, Susan,” is not very meaningful. It is similar to Liking what someone posts.

One excuse I’ve heard from my clients is that it’s difficult to write a lengthy comment with their smartphone. My reply is wait until you’re in front of a computer, if that’s the case.

Asking a Question and Not Responding to Answers

Asking questions is fine; I do it all the time. However, just letting the responses you receive sit is disrespectful to the people who provided the answers. Make sure you ask meaningful questions, though.

Endorsing Connections for Their Skills

This doesn’t constitute engagement. You are simply clicking on your connections’ skills. Further, you might not have seen them perform the skills for which you’ve endorsed. My opinion of endorsements is well known by my clients. The opposite of endorsements are recommendations (discussed below).

Engagement

Writing Comments that are Meaningful

The opposite of writing a brief, meaningless comment is putting thought into what you write. The best way I can illustrate this is by sharing one I wrote for this article:

“Great post, @Susan Brandt. Your statement about a company lacking a social media campaign being akin to living in the dark ages really resonated with me. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other platforms can create that ‘like, know, and trust’ relationship between the company and its’ customers. You’re also correct in stating that all platforms should be connected, as well as linked to and from the company’s website.”

Note: always remember to tag a person with @name so they will be notified in LinkedIn’s Notifications. I was scolded once for not doing this.

Sharing Original Updates

To stay top of mind, your shared updates must show engagement. LinkedIn encourages you to share an article, video, photo, or idea. Take the opportunity to engage with your connections by providing valuable content that elicits responses. A sign that you’ve succeeded would be the number of Likes and, more importantly, Comments you receive.

Note: Many LinkedIn pundits suggest keeping your status updates to one or two a day. I blatantly break this rule.

Responding to What Others Write about Your Updates

One type of update I find successful is asking an illuminating question. If you’re going to do this, be diligent in replying to your connections’ and followers’ responses. Failing to reply to your connections who answer your question does not demonstrate engagement. I am impressed with people who take the time to answer every reply they receive. I try to reply to all the feedback but, alas, I am only human.

Sharing Your Connections’ Articles AND Commenting

Unlike the aforementioned example of simply sharing someone’s article, you will go a step further and share a short synopsis of the message it delivers. This says, “I’ve taken the time to read the article, understand its meaning, and will elaborate on it for the benefit of the readers.” To be a curator is the true definition of networking.

Writing and Sharing your Articles

Writing an article with unique and fresh content takes engagement; it shows you’ve considered what your audience would benefit from. My primary audiences are job seekers and career coaches, so I write articles focusing on the job search and using LinkedIn in the job search. You can write an article on the LinkedIn platform or share one from a blog, such as this one.

Note: refrain from only sharing your own articles. This gives off the sense of superiority.

I include creating and sharing videos under engagement. This is a fairly new concept—probably a year old by now—but it’s catching hold among LinkedIn members. If you are going to share videos, make sure you’re consistent and produce videos your connections will appreciate.

Sending direct messages

Sending individual messages to your connections is the most obvious form of engagement. This is where relationships are cemented, or not, depending on the interaction you have with said person. I received from a client a question about sending mass messages. This is not considered proper policy; but if you need to reach many people at once, you are allowed to message 50 people at a time.

Writing Recommendations for Your Connections

Unlike endorsing your connections for their skills, writing recommendations take thought and time. To write a recommendation requires having supervised a connection or witnessed them as a colleague, partner, or vendor. This is a true form of engagement, but isn’t getting the respect it deserves. Listen to my interview on The Voice of the Job Seeker podcast.

Following Up with Your Connections

To truly show engagement, you must follow up with your connections. I have developed many relationships by reaching out to my connections via telephone, if they live a distance away. If they live closer, I’ll meet them for coffee. One of my connections and I had been exchanging discussions via LinkedIn. Yesterday we had our first phone conversation. Although we will not do business together, it was great finally “meeting” her on the phone.


Perhaps the most difficult part of a successful LinkedIn campaign is engaging with your LinkedIn connections. To do so requires you to extend yourself; perhaps reach outside your comfort zone. One of my clients told me, “I don’t know what to write.” I told her to write what she feels.

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