Tag Archives: branding

How to brand yourself by connecting with others on LinkedIn: part 2

So you have a great LinkedIn profile that supports your personal brand. You have a great photo, a keyword-packed descriptive Headline, and Summary and Experience sections that really sell your talents. You’re golden.

In this three-part series we will look at the components of a LinkedIn campaign that will brand you, which include:

  1. Creating a powerful profile
  2. Connecting with the right people
  3. Engaging with your connections

linkedin-alone

Unfortunately, you only have 70 connections. This is not good because first, a paltry number of connections limits your reach and second, your small network is telling hiring authorities that you’re not embracing the purpose of LinkedIn.

In short, your low number of connections is harmful to your personal brand. You come across to others as a nonparticipant on LinkedIn. Equally important, your reach to other LinkedIn members is extremely limited. You’re essentially a nonentity.

In my workshops and during individual counseling sessions, many people ask me with whom they should connect, how they should connect with people they don’t know, and with how many people they should connect.

With Whom to Connect

When people ask this, I explain that they should look at their potential connections as a pyramid. The goal is to connect with as many second- and third-degree connections as you see fit—although third-degree connections should be the last ones with whom you connect.

 

On the bottom level—the most important tier of the pyramid—are people with whom you worked, e.g., former colleagues and supervisors. I say most important because they know you and are entrenched in the industry in which you’ve worked.

The second level contains people who share the same occupation and same industry. These people are like-minded and have similar aspirations to yours.

The third level is people who share the same occupation but in different industries. So, if you’re a marketing specialist, you want to look for other marketing specialists in industries outside of your own.

The fourth level is people in other occupations but the same industry. Connecting with these people will provide you with possible entries into your target companies. Connecting with an accountant, for instance, may give you access to the hiring manager of marketing at a desired company.

The fifth level includes people in other occupations and other industries. This may seem counter-intuitive to some, but consider that the V.P. of a manufacturing company that is on your target employers list may need an accountant. You’re not a V.P., and you don’t work in manufacturing, but you are an accountant.

The last level consists of your alumni, people who are likely to connect with you because you attended the same schools at some point.

How to Connect With LinkedIn Members

There are three ways to connect with LinkedIn members. The first, and simplest way, is to use the search field. Second, you can search companies with the Companies feature. And third, search by your alumni by typing in your alma mater as a company and selecting “See Alumni.”

Search by title. In my LinkedIn workshop, I tell my attendees that typing an occupation title in the search field is one step toward finding people. (For example, if you’re looking for software engineers, you type: “software engineer.”) From there, you select second- or third-degree connections and read through their profiles. See if they might be people you’d like to have in your network.

connecting-new-linkedin

Major change: LinkedIn Lite no longer has the Advanced Search feature (this is only available with Sales Navigator), so the categories are limited. The image above shows the ability to choose: degree of connection, location, current companies, past companies, industries, etc.

LinkedIn supports Boolean searches, which can give you a more focused search. For example, you type in: “software engineer” AND manufacturing AND “greater boston area” to get software engineers in manufacturing who reside in the Greater Boston area.

Another way to look for valuable connections is by using the “find alumni‘ feature, which is a great way to connect with LinkedIn members who are more likely to accept your requests than mere strangers. After all, you attended the same university or high school.

find-alumni-new-linkedin

Probably the best way to connect with someone is by selecting a company that you’re targeting and finding an employee at said company. This is a great way to get your foot in the door for an open position – or, better yet, to start building your networks at target companies before jobs are even advertised. (Search for people at Kronos below.)

search-at-kronos

Note: When asking someone to connect with you, make sure your note is personal – not the default message that LinkedIn provides. That said, I’m not a fan of connecting with people by using your smartphone or trolling your email contacts and sending mass invites. I see this as lazy.

How Many People to Connect With 

The answer to the age-old question – quality or quantity? – comes down to personal preference.

I personally aim for a combination of both – that is, 300 or so quality connects with people who share your interests and or goals. If you look back at the “pyramid” above, you’ll see that focusing on connections in the first three levels is a good way to achieve the quality + quantity goal.

When you build connections in this way, you solidify your brand as someone who is focused on a specific audience. You have the chance to build a tight-knit network of individuals.

On the other hand, focusing too much on quality does limit your number of connections, which means you’re limiting your access to other LinkedIn users who could be of assistance.

If you focus on quantity, you’re less selective. You may come across as having little direction and less focus on an audience. In my mind, this is not the best way to brand oneself.

Quantity does have its benefits, though – particularly if you are a business owner and want to advertise your products or services.

Finally there is the extreme strategy: the LinkedIn Open Networker (L.I.O.N.) strategy. L.I.O.N.s are LinkedIn members who are interested in collecting as many connections as possible. They believe that more people create opportunities. They are also more likely to be victims spam.


Recruiters and hiring managers will take notice of your number of connections on LinkedIn, and they’ll look to see what kinds of people you connect with.

They may even go to your connections’ profiles and by chance notice some not-so-savory things. In other words, you could be found guilty by association. Let’s say, for example, one of your connections is affiliated with someone in a controversial group. This could look bad for you.

Because you are responsible for choosing connections that support your image, you must also consider how each and every connection may affect your personal brand.

Next in this three-part series is branding yourself by engaging with your connections. Stay tuned.

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 in 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.

Brand yourself in these 6 major LinkedIn sections

Mature Worker2

This article originally appeared in recruiter.com

Many articles talk about how important it is to create and maintain a strong personal brand. Doing this requires consistency across your written, verbal, and online communications.

In an Entrepreneur.com article, author Thomas Smale stresses the importance of having an online presence: “Do you have social media profiles? If so, are they fully fleshed out with all of your information? Do they present you in the best light possible, and make you look professional? Are you using high-quality professional photography? Are you interacting with others and sharing their content?”

As a professional, your LinkedIn profile is a critical component of your online personal brand. Let’s look at the major sections of your LinkedIn profile and how they can contribute to your brand.

Snapshot Area

I call this section the snapshot because that’s exactly what it is: a snapshot of who you are. The snapshot section of your LinkedIn profile includes your photo and your headline. Failure to impress viewers in these areas will hurt your branding.

A photo that is unprofessional is an immediate turnoff. Perhaps more damaging is a non-photo. It’s believed that a profile with a photo is 14 times more likely to be read than one without a photo.

Headlines that say things like “Seeking Employment” or “Project Manager at Company X” are ineffective, as they fail to show value.

Rather, your headline should be something like this: “Project Manager at Company X | Financial Planning and Analysis | Auditing | Saving Organizations Millions.” This headline shows your value and brands you. It also adds to your keyword count.

Furthermore, the Headline is ideal real estate for keywords. Next to one’s name, it is believed that keywords are weighed heavily here.

Summary

Support your brand with a powerful summary. This is where you tell your story, which can include the passion you have for your occupation, a statement about your expertise, or some talk about how you’re changing your career.

LaptopYou’ll want to use close to the 2,000 characters allowed in the summary in order to include the keywords you profile needs to boost your visibility. But your summary must also be compelling. It should mention accomplishments that will capture the reader’s attention.

You should write your summary in either first or third person point of view. Don’t simply repurpose the summary from your resume for this section. For a little guidance on what your summary should read, read “Put a Human Voice in Your Summary” by Liz Ryan of Human Workplace.

Experience

I’m often asked by job seekers how they should address the experience section of their profile. I tell them they have two options: They can either write a section that resembles the work history found on their resume, or they can use their experience section to highlight only their most important accomplishments.

I favor the latter approach, but some think their profile might be the only document an employer sees, so they believe showing all is the way to go. What’s most important in either case is listing accomplishments with quantified results.

Good: Increased productivity by implementing a customer relations management (CRM) system.

Better: Initiated and implemented – before deadline – a customer relations management (CRM) system that increased productivity by 58 percent.

It’s a good idea to use bullets to highlight your accomplishments. One of my LinkedIn connections, Donna Serdula, has created a handy list of bullets and symbols you can copy and paste for use on your own profile.

Back to keywords. Your titles are another place on your profile that are weighed heavily, so instead of Project Manager at GE, something like, Project Manager at GE | Process Improvement | Business Development | Brand Marketing. 

Education

Many people neglect this section, choosing to simply list the institution they attended, the degree they received, and their date of graduation. This might be the norm for resumes, but LinkedIn give you the opportunity to further support your brand by telling the story of your education.

Take, for example, the hypothetical job seeker Mary, who completed her

Take Mary who completed her bachelor’s degree while working full-time – a major accomplishment in itself. If she wants to show off her work ethic and time management skills, she might write a description like this:

University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Mechanical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude

EmailWhile working full time at Company A, I attended accelerated classes at night for six years (two years less than typically expected). I also participated as an instructor in an online tutoring program, helping first-year students with their engineering classes. I found this to be extremely rewarding.

Skills

A healthy skills section consisting of 30-50 skills is another way to strengthen your branding. The skills you decide to list should demonstrate your expertise. Do not list skills you are simply familiar with.

To further enhance your branding, the skills may be endorsed by your first-degree LinkedIn connections. If you’re unsure as to which skills to endorse, I have a previous article of mine that can help you.

Recommendations

This is a section I talk about in my LinkedIn workshops, and I always stress how valuable it is to receive recommendations from and write them for others.

By receiving recommendations, you show the value you bring to employers. Meanwhile, writing recommendations shows your authority and what you value in workers.


These are just some sections on your LinkedIn profile that contribute to supporting your strong personal brand. Next read, How to brand yourself when connecting on LinkedIn.

 

 

10 reasons why your LinkedIn profile photo is important to me

Adrienne TomI published this post less than a year ago, but the need for a photo on your LinkedIn profile can’t be emphasized enough. 

One day a customer of mine came up to me appearing quite irritated and told me he had sent me an invite on LinkedIn. But I didn’t accept his invite, according to him. I asked him if he wrote a personalized message with his invite. Yes he did. I then asked him if he had a photo. No he didn’t. “Ah,” I said. “That’s why I ignored you.” This is one of my principles, as harsh as it sounds.

While many of my colleagues won’t connect with their customers/clients, I see no reason not to connect as long as my customers embrace the necessity of having a LinkedIn photo. If they don’t embrace it, they’re in for a disappointing LinkedIn campaign. One of my favorite things to say when I’m critiquing a customer’s profile that lacks a photo is, “What’s wrong with this picture?” I know, not very funny.

Jeff SheehanPerhaps I’m getting old and stodgy, but here are 10 reasons why your LinkedIn profile is important to me.

I recognize you. If you only have the default light grey ugly box in the photo area, I have no idea who you are. I’m terrible with names, so a face helps me. I feel closer to you, even if we live 3,000 miles away from each other.

Your photo tells me something about your personality. My photo tells people that I’m caring, sincere, and friendly. All of this is true. I’m assuming your photo would say what kind of person you are, creative, authoritative, welcoming, etc.

AntonYou’ve gone though the effort to have a professional photo taken of you. One of my jobseekers told me he had his photo taken for $50. This told me that, despite not having the resources, he felt that having a photo is important.

You know that having a photo will increase your chances of your profile being opened. I’m conservative when I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees that their chances of getting their profile opened and read increases by 7 times. Some estimates are as high as 14.

You understand the importance of branding. It was commonly believed that a LinkedIn photo was either highly professional or business casual. Now people are breaking boundaries by posting photos that reflect what they do. Take a look at one of my connections (above left) who understands this concept.

Stevie PuckettOn the other hand…your photo is not inappropriate. Some that come to mind are those you’d post on Facebook where you’re captured partying, or you’re with family on the beach, or you’re using LinkedIn as a dating site.

You realize LinkedIn is a networking application, not your resume which doesn’t include a photo. LinkedIn members feel more comfortable networking with people we can see.

You’ve gotten over yourself. I’ll be the last to say that age discrimination doesn’t exist but it’s less prevalent than you think and employers are more suspicious when they don’t see your photo. Besides, who would want to work for someone who judges you on your age.

Hank BoyerYou’ve taken that step toward online networking. Scary, huh? For some of you it was enough to simply get online, but now you’re being told–by not only me–you need to disclose your identity. I salute those of you who are making that step, albeit a reluctant one.

Your photo is about you, not your company. Talk about not trusting someone. That’s how I feel when someone presents themselves as their company logo. The profile is about you and not your company–that’s why there are LinkedIn company pages.

When it comes to the LinkedIn photo, I want to know what people look like. I guess it’s as simple as that. That ugly light grey box is disconcerting to say the least; it says to me, “I’ve got something to hide.” If I’ve got nothing to hide, why should you?


Top left, Adrienne Tom

Second to right, Jeff Sheehan

Third to left, Anton Brookes

Fourth to right, Stevie Puckett

Fifth to Left, Hank Boyer

Is the résumé summary statement on its way out?

I’ve read many résumés that contain summary statements (or Personal/Professional Profile) which, in effect, say nothing at all. I’ve spoken to recruiters and hiring managers who told me they don’t even read the summary statement.

Is the summary statement on its way out or even dead? Is it wasted real estate? Have we become a society so hurried that we don’t have time to read a section of the résumé that tells our story, expresses our value, leads to the meat of  our experience, encourages reviewers to continue reading?

I fear we are reaching the point where the summary statement is gradually losing the foothold it once held. And as a result, I fear what used to be a poetically written four or five lines of prose is becoming obsolete and will soon be excluded from the résumé, simply because people who read résumé don’t have the time. I hope I’m wrong.

We can agree that summary statements should:

  • Brand us
  • Contain no fluff or clichés
  • Include keywords for a particular job or industry
  • Make assertions that are proven in the employment section
  • Grab employers’ attention with implied or actual accomplishments (WOW statements)

Now it seems to appear that none of that matters. Or if it does, a candidate’s value must be stated in a one-line concise, yet comprehensive manner. It’s like skipping the salad and jumping to the entree. Consider this summary statement and its revised version:

Information systems department manager specializing in project planning programming, techniques, and achieving business objectives. Successfully budget hundreds of thousands of dollars in software. PMP with experience in, requirements definition, prioritization, and resource allocation. Lead efforts that generate sales exceeding $3M in competitive pharmaceutical  markets.

Information Systems Manager–project planning, achieving business objectives

PMP–requirements definition, prioritiziement, resource allocation

Budget approximately $200K plus in software

Generate Sales in Millions

Does this revision say enough? It resembles a branding headline on a résumé or LinkedIn profile, no? When I asked professional résumé writers and recruiters, “Is the résumé summary dead?” here’s what a few of them  wrote:

“…the summary statement is dead (or not) depending on how it’s written and the audience. It’s dead if it’s irrelevant on a particular candidate’s résumé because the recruiters / HR professionals don’t want to see it; it’s alive and well if the reader–ATS or human–is searching for a quick synopsis of the candidates qualifications.” Marti Benjamin, Business and Career Coach.

 “I have my candidate compose what I like to call a Career Highlights section. Just a bullet pointed section of some actual career accomplishments. It catches the potential employer’s attention immediately. I feel objectives/summaries are just antiquated in a job market that is currently flooded with candidates.” Adrienne Roberts, Robert Half International.

“Are they on their way out? No….they have already left. Most hiring professionals will tell you that the summary, at least in the US, is an ignored piece of fluff, better left off to leave room for the information they need/want to know.” Sarah Douglas, G.C.D.F

“I feel that summary statements are still an essential component of a résumé, however I am looking for qualifications and hard data, not fluff about perceived skills. If you can quickly read the relevant experience, results achieved, number of direct reports and so on, then the soft skills can be explored further in the interview.” Judy Hojel, Leadership and Development Specialist.

“No, a well written Summary Statement is a must on any  résumé. It brings together the many detail lines of achievements and education to focus the employer on exactly how your candidacy fits the job position. It gives one a big picture view, with the detail to follow on the multiple pages.” Jay Barrett, Human Resources Executive.

As you can see, opinions vary on whether the summary statement is on its way out. I, for one, hope it remains as part of the résumé in a shorter version than the ones I’m seeing on jobseekers’ résumés. Similar to the revised one of the Information Systems Manager? No, but something concise, yet attention grabbing.

One example of how a photo effectively brands a person

AntonOne of my LinkedIn connections, Anton Brookes, sports a photo on his profile that prompts me to say to my LinkedIn workshop attendees, “Now this is a kick ass photo.” They give pause and nod in approval. Previously I told my folks that there are acceptable photos for a LinkedIn profile and there are others that are not.

Acceptable photos, I’d tell them, are ones that are highly professional or business casual; after all, LinkedIn is “the world’s largest professional network.” Unacceptable photos are everything else.

Anton’s photo is neither highly professional or business casual, but it proves as an excellent example of how the photo can catapult your personal branding.

I’m not the photo Czar–never claimed to be–but I feel strongly about how one should display his/her image on their LinkedIn profile. And I certainly believe that a profile without a photo is like a car without wheels.

Your photo serves to make you memorable and can reveal a lot about your personality. Further, it has been quoted that people trust photos and are seven times more likely to open a profile that has a photo. I agree with this statement, as I rarely open profiles that lack a photo.

The photo in question says a lot about this photographer whose branding headline reads: Owner | Fashion/Lifestyle and Street Photographer at Mock Turtle Moon. It describes what he does, while his photo supports more of the street photographer side of his business.

Homless woman

Anton’s photo speaks volumes about his expertise as a street photographer. It tells us that he’s for real and living his job, comfortable in his setting. It’s gritty and by no means pretty. It transports us to the streets of New York City. But most important, we get the sense that this photographer is knowledgeable of his trade.

A suit and tie or a button-down shirt wouldn’t have the same effect; it wouldn’t brand him nearly as well as the one he sports on his profile. Not by a mile.

I’ve told Anton that his photo helps me point out to my LinkedIn workshop attendees the importance of having a photo that brands a person, and for selfish reasons I hope he doesn’t change it. But if he decides he needs to portray himself as some one else, I’m sure he’d know how to do that.


If you’d like to see a short documentary on Anton Brookes filmed by Aljazeera America, click this link.

What are you reading? Use LinkedIn’s Reading List application

Note: LinkedIn’s Reading List no longer exists, much to the chagrin of me and other.

In Meg Guiseppi’s comprehensive blog entry, 29 Biggest LinkedIn Mistakes (expanded from 20), she alludes to the importance of utilizing Applications. She specifically mentions Box.net Files (#3) and later on talks about using the others (#28) but doesn’t elaborate on which of the others to use. Granted Box.net Files is a great way to post your document files and further brand yourself, I must confess I’m particularly fond of one application that others seem to overlook…Reading List by Amazon.

Currently there are 20 applications that you can use from your LinkedIn Profile or Home Page. Some you might be familiar with are WordPress, Google Presentations, Events, Box.net Files, Polls, to name a few. So why am I enamored with Reading List? There are three major reasons that come to mind.

It aids you in your networking. You can tell a lot about a person based on his/her choice of books. Someone who reads any book by Malcolm Gladwell—The Tipping Point, Outliers, What the Dog Saw, Blink—will immediately get my attention and prompt me to invite him/her to be part of my network. As well, anyone who has a penchant for Martin Yate, gets my nod. On the other hand, if the Twilight series is someone’s choice of good literature, I will pass on this person. (I must confess my hypocrisy; I’ve read all of the Twilight saga. But I wouldn’t include them on my list.)

Your reading list can reveal your expertise. I once asked the LinkedIn community what types of books they include on their Reading List. The majority said job-related books are what populate their list, with perhaps some pleasure reading thrown into the mix. This seems to make good sense. Books on management, finance, the job search, or marketing and sales, should dominate a person’s reading list based on their occupation. Some of the books that dominate my reading list are from some of the best known authors in the career development industry. I’ve learned a lot from them and have forged some relationships through networking.

Your Reading List can help in your personal branding. Meg is an expert on branding, so I wonder if she agrees with this assertion. If you consistently read books on a particular topic, one could assume that you are honing your knowledge to become a reckoning force in your industry. Someone who reads countless number of books on gardening or photography, for example, shows an obvious love for these subjects and, most likely, has read enough to become an expert. This leads back to keeping your Reading List professional, as well as writing comprehensive recommendations that demonstrate your understanding of your occupation and industry.

Reading List by Amazon is LinkedIn’s effort to bring people with similar interests together. Call it a virtual reading club. You may not see the value I obviously see in the Reading List application, but at least take note of what others are reading and see if their choice in literature jives with yours, gives you an understanding of their knowledge, and makes you see some potential for branding. If you engage in this application, tell people about it…open a window to your personality.