Six Ways to Power Up Your LinkedIn Profile

Fourth in a series.

linkedin-Forbes.comYour LinkedIn profile is one of the most powerful ways to present yourself to other professionals using social media. How “powerful” is your profile? Here are six tips to attract people to you.

  1. Complete your profile. A completed profile includes thorough information about your background and career history. In fact, profiles that are 100% completed are 40 times more likely to receive job opportunities through LinkedIn.
  2. Include a current professional photo. A professional photo is not one of you taken at a cocktail event, standing next to a phantom person (whose shoulder and arm remain in the frame). Invest the time to have a studio photo taken with professional lighting. If anything about you has changed, it’s time to have a new photo taken. A current photo gives you a better chance of your profile being viewed (11 times better).
  3. Write a compelling Summary. The Summary provides a quick snapshot of who you are and what you do. Keep your Summary language direct and expressive, not confusing or vague. As the word Summary suggests, don’t write a book. Keep it simple.
  4. Include your skills. Like any good resume, a profile enhances your skills. Once you include your skills, colleagues can endorse you in those areas. Your profile has a better chance of being viewed when skills are included and endorsed.
  5. Update your status regularly. Every time you update your status, your network is informed. This action keeps you top of mind with other professionals.
  6. Update/add information frequently. Over time, your professional life changes and your profile needs to reflect that. Have you changed jobs? Are you serving on a new nonprofit Board? Did you recently receive an achievement award? Have you become certified in a specific skill? When change happens, update your LinkedIn profile.

Here’s a quick task for you: Review your LinkedIn profile with a keen eye. Imagine that you are reading it for the first time. What could you do to “power up” your profile? If you need inspiration, look at the LinkedIn profiles of professionals you admire. You may discover more ways to position yourself as an industry leader.

Seven Ways to Elevate Your Visibility Through LinkedIn

Part Three in a series.

new-linkedinIf you think LinkedIn is a static social media platform, think again. It is your most current resume, business card, and promotional campaign all rolled into one. Its power lies in how frequently you use it. Use LinkedIn to elevate your visibility within your network. Here are seven simple ways to do it:

  1. Publish a post. Each time you open your LinkedIn home page, you are given three options: Update status, Upload a photo, or Publish a post. When you publish a post, you are sharing your knowledge with the world. Make sure the content of your post is relevant, offers helpful information, and includes links to more information on the topic from other sources, if you can.
  2. Add posts often. Rather than publish a post once or twice a year, become known as a thought leader in your area of expertise. The more often you publish valuable content, the more people will read it and follow you. In my case, I post weekly. When you visit my profile page, you will see my three latest posts.
  3. Share industry news and information. The internet is a vast wonderland of information. You just have to know where to look. Professionals turn to proven sources like Fast Company, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, or The New York Times, to name a few. When you share breaking news, trends and helpful information, you position yourself as an industry leader.
  4. Join LinkedIn groups and participate in discussions. The groups you join are comprised of your industry colleagues. Consider it your brain trust…like-minded professionals who come together to share thoughts, ideas, and opinions.
  5. Recommend others. For people you know and trust, you can provide a written recommendation. When recommending others, your recommendation appears on that person’s LinkedIn page. They may recommend you in return.
  6. Endorse others. Endorsing others is easy to do…it’s a simple click and you’re done. Simply visit your contact’s LinkedIn page, scroll down to Endorsements and click on the skill(s) that you would like to endorse. Also, LinkedIn randomly creates several “auto requests” on your LinkedIn page that allows you to quickly endorse people within your network. Just like recommendations, people whom you endorse may endorse you in return.
  7. Be an active, not passive, LinkedIn user. In conversations with other professionals about LinkedIn, I am surprised by those who don’t use LinkedIn often or don’t know how it works (which is why I am writing this series of brief articles about how to work your LinkedIn network). When you are active within LinkedIn, you can choose to publish, comment, like, update, visit, share, recommend, endorse, or simply drop a line. The more active you are, the more visible you become within your network. People will think of you more often (which is a good thing if you are a perfect candidate for a position, or a good fit for a client who needs your services, or your interests match those of an organization seeking qualified volunteers).

Here’s a quick task for you: Of the seven ideas above, dip your toe in the LinkedIn water. Pick three ideas that you want to complete in the next week. Then do other tasks in the weeks and months ahead. Before you know it, you will become much more visible within your network.

Strategically Connect on LinkedIn

Part Two in a series on LinkedIn.

linkedin_1940x900_34055You are one click away from expanding your network.

There’s an old adage, “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” That morphed into “It’s not just who you know. It’s who knows you.” With social media, it’s morphed into “It’s not just who knows you. It’s who you know and who they know and who they know.” And so it goes.

When you meet someone for the first time, you are not just meeting that person; you are potentially gaining access to their entire network. Through social media, like LinkedIn, the possibilities for connection are infinite. Here are four considerations in expanding your base of contacts:

Who are your contacts connected to? Through LinkedIn, you can quickly assess the composition and reach of your contacts’ networks. Invest some time to see how people are connected to each other. It will surprise you to see how many connections you share, and how many you don’t.

Who would you like to meet? Be strategic in identifying who you would like to meet. See if there are people in other people’s networks that you would like to meet.

Ask for introductions. LinkedIn makes it easy to ask your contacts for introductions to specific people in their networks. Let’s say that as an independent contractor, you have decided to look for business prospects in your geographic area. You notice that one of your contacts has several excellent industry contacts within a five-mile radius of your home. Request an introduction from one of your contacts by directly using LinkedIn. You can also introduce connections to each other.

View LinkedIn profiles before meeting people. I know this seems elementary yet so many people still don’t do this. It’s so simple. It takes just a few minutes to search for a person through LinkedIn. Be sure to include the person’s city or company if you know it, especially if the name is a common one. Guaranteed, there are hundreds of people named Bill Smith. Before I meet people for the first time, especially potential clients, I will view their LinkedIn profiles.

Here’s a quick task for you: Ask one contact to introduce you to one person in their network. When you feel more comfortable doing this, ask for more introductions from more of your contacts, and watch your base of contacts grow.

How to Work Your LinkedIn Network

linkedin-logoPart One in a series.

LinkedIn remains the preferred social network of business professionals around the globe, with more than 400 million users worldwide, and more than 110 million users in the U.S. To get the most out of LinkedIn as a professional, you have to work it.

I remember when I received my first LinkedIn invitation from a longtime friend and colleague more than a decade ago. I was skeptical. I asked, “What is this?” “How does it work?” What I didn’t know or understand at the time when I joined LinkedIn was that it would become the power source for networking with other professionals. Once I got started, I set my goal to connect with 500+ professionals. It was easier than I thought. With focus, the goal became a reality.

The first way to work your LinkedIn network is to: Invest time in reviewing “Who’s Who” in your network by asking four important questions:

  1. What skills do your contacts possess? One of the greatest advantages of LinkedIn is that it allows you to examine the people you are connected to and the types of skills they possess. It helps you to understand if your network is well rounded (diverse skills represented) or lopsided (too many connections in one skill area only).
  2. How well do you know your contacts? It helps to know the people you are connected to. This may sound trite. It’s important to know your LinkedIn connections because they occupy a valuable spot within your network. Occasionally invitations will come from people who you don’t know. Qualify the connection if you need to by sending an email. It’s perfectly fine to vet a request from someone you don’t know. Look to see if you have any connections in common. That will help you to decide whether or not to connect with them.
  3. What’s new with your contacts? Because LinkedIn messaging arrives in your email inbox, it’s easy to track when contacts have changed jobs, added new skills or made an announcement. Visit people’s profiles occasionally to see what’s new.
  4. How are you keeping in touch? Every time you open your LinkedIn account, you will see a series of “congratulations” boxes appear, announcing contacts who are celebrating work anniversaries. You have the option to send a message. It’s a great way to keep in touch. When you review your LinkedIn contacts list, ask yourself how you can keep in touch outside of LinkedIn communication. How often do you see that person face-to-face? Are you sending them your articles or blog posts? Is it time to chat by phone or grab a cup of coffee?

What’s the point of being connected with fellow professionals if you are not truly connected?

Announced this week, LinkedIn now offers a LinkedIn Students app that is compatible with iOS and Android. The app helps new graduates find job matches based on their major, locate companies that usually hire from their college, and learn about career choices of recent graduates with similar degrees. If you have college students in your family, suggest the LinkedIn Students app to them. It could help their job search.

Here’s a quick task for you to complete in the next week: Take just 20 minutes this week to visit two LinkedIn profiles within your network. Continue doing this for the next four weeks. At the end of this brief exercise, ask yourself what you have learned about those contacts in your network. It may provide you with some fresh insights on how you are working your LinkedIn network.

Next week: Part Two.

Turn an Awkward Moment Into a Gracious Introduction

2peopletalkingHave you ever been in an awkward situation? Of course you have. You’re only human.

A few months ago, my husband and I were invited to attend a party of a professional colleague. We don’t know this person well, yet we continue to see each other at professional functions throughout the year. We decided to go.

And then it happened: The awkward moment.

Mark and I had gone through the buffet line and had just sat down at a table outside. The energetic hostess came over to us, dropped off two guests with the announcement, “Here’s someone you know!” The woman and I looked at each other. She looked somewhat familiar to me yet I couldn’t place where we had met. She could tell from my facial expression that I was struggling to place her face (I don’t mask confusion very well). She first said her name. Nothing registered. Then she mentioned the statewide professional organization where we first met a number of years ago. (She hadn’t attended any meetings in recent years).

I had seen her a handful of times over the past decade, and we had very little interaction with each other. That was then…this was now. No wonder my mind went blank. You see, the host assumed that I would remember her. Had the host thought a little more carefully about the introduction, she would have jogged my memory. The introduction could have sounded something like this:

“Christine, you may remember (key words) Jane Doe (include the first and last name) from the ABC organization (mention the name of the professional organization).” In this way, the host has given me a frame of reference, a context in which I can recall that person. Simply saying “Here’s someone you know!” doesn’t provide enough reference to jog the memory.

The next time you introduce people, take a moment to think before speaking. Include some frame of reference. You could save a colleague or friend the embarrassment – and frustration – of experiencing an awkward moment.

Netwalking Builds Healthy Relationships

Christine and Tammy…netwalking!

If you are looking for a creative way to build meaningful relationships through networking, consider netwalking. One of my colleagues, sales and marketing expert Tammy Wise, owner of WISECHAPTER3, has created an effective way to – as she states: “grow your business without growing your waistline.”

Traditional networking usually happens when you meet up with other professional colleagues at public events like a professional association’s monthly meeting, community event or major fundraising event for a worthwhile cause. Networking often happens during leisure time as well, like attending a wedding or a mutual friend’s party or even riding on an airplane. You usually exchange business cards to stay in touch or follow up at a later date to discuss business.

What is netwalking? Combine the basic principle of networking (learning about each other’s business) with walking (yes, the kind of walking you do in a beautiful setting like a park or beach) and you have netwalking.

Results of a 2014 study by Dr. Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz of Stanford University appeared in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition. Entitled “Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effects of Walking on Creative Thinking,” the article revealed that walking – whether on a treadmill or outdoors – unleashes deeper creative thinking and the greater flow of ideas. I must admit, some of my best thinking happens when I take a walk in the park.

I have known Tammy for 30+ years (in fact, I first met her when she was a fresh college graduate). We have spoken at conferences together, served on panels together and belonged to professional organizations together throughout the years. Yet recently we did something together that we had never done before: We met for our first netwalking session. The topic? Our businesses…our dreams, goals and action steps. It was a refreshing – and healthy – way to share important information with each other and do a little brainstorming along the way. We met on a cool Spring day at the scenic Ohio Erie & Canal National Heritage Corridor.

Here in Cuyahoga County (Ohio), Tammy features Wednesday netwalking sessions, rotating east, west and south sides as well as downtown and urban neighborhoods. Want to learn more? Visit the WISECHAPTER3 website and sign up for a Wednesday netwalking time in Cuyahoga County. What could you tackle with a colleague when you are both in creative thinking mode? How could you potentially help each other? The possibilities are endless.

You Are What You Meet

Aurelien Rigart

Aurelien Rigart, Saint Flo

As a professional, you attend many public events, community functions and business trade shows. How do you show up to those events? Are you investing the time to make a favorable first impression with other professionals or are you there just for the freebies? Whatever you choose, it shows.

Last week I attended a popular annual business expo in my area. Being fully present in every encounter, I was more mindful of my actions. I enjoyed meeting  business owners and company representatives. I exchanged several business cards, registered for a few giveaways, received a few free items and enjoyed a few snacks along the way. The key word here is few. I also reconnected with some colleagues I hadn’t seen in a while. Throughout it all, I shared meaningful conversations. When I reflected on my time at the business expo, I realized that I had truly enjoyed myself because I brought purpose and mindfulness to each encounter. I wasn’t just exchanging small talk and business cards with vendors just to load my free bag with free stuff. I was selective about who I spent time with. As a result, I can remember every face, every name and every conversation.

If you attend public functions just to load up on free goodies, you’re missing one crucial point: People are observing your behavior and watching you as you approach them. They are examining your body language and listening to your words. They are gauging your level of interest in them, their product or service. They know that there are many prospects and new contacts that they can begin building relationships with in that first minute of the conversation. All they want is an opportunity to make a connection with you.

How do you “show up” at public events? Are you engaging, dignified and professional while talking with people or specific vendors who you want to meet? OR Do you walk around the event with a bulging bag of free stuff and spaghetti sauce on your chin? What first impression are you making? Choose wisely.

Maximize the One-on-One Meeting

thinkingIf you want to get the most out of a one-on-one meeting, be prepared with a “mental” agenda that keeps you focused. Here are some ground rules for getting the most out of your time with others:

Confirm how much time the other person has.

Understand their flexibility; learn if they have a meeting before or after yours.

Tell the person up front what information you need or would like to share.

Come prepared to either ask specific questions or share specific information.

Chat for only a few minutes at the beginning to get acquainted on a more personal level.

Discuss important items first, and leave any spare time at the end of your meeting to talk about any less important items.

I learned the hard way about maximizing the one-on-one meeting. I had invited a colleague to meet me for morning coffee to get “caught up” and also to talk about a specific area of her expertise. We spent the first 45 minutes of our conversation talking about our personal lives, issues, dilemmas, etc. She looked at her watch with a surprised look and said that she had just 10 minutes left before she had to leave and be back at her office for a conference call with a client. Now I found myself in the awkward position of cramming all of my questions into the last 10 minutes. I walked away from the get-together promising myself that I would never again let that happen. I learned an important lesson that day: Better preparation delivers better results.

When meeting with someone one-on-one, remind yourself that you have a limited amount of time to spend with that person, whether your intent is to collect or to share important information. Set up your meeting with clear objectives. If you don’t, the other person may be suspicious, because you are waiting until the last minute to discuss something important, or s/he may think that you have no reason for getting together, other than chatting and catching up on things. The last thing you want people thinking as they leave a meeting with you is “That was a waste of my time.” Professionals today are extremely busy people who work even harder at efficiency. Casual get-togethers with no agenda are fine too if it’s clear up front that’s how you intend to use the time.

As you prepare for important meetings, ask yourself a few questions:

What is the purpose of the meeting?

What is the main topic of conversation?

What information do I need to share or obtain from the other person?

How much time will I need?

What specific questions do I need to ask?

What are the next steps? Any follow-up needed?

When you invest the time in preparing for the one-on-one meeting, you will remain focused on your purpose and efficiency. People will appreciate your consideration.

Don’t Be a Networking Nemesis

selfish-578x295You have done your fair share of networking over the years. You have no doubt encountered someone who is loud, obnoxious, self-centered and dominates the conversation. I call her my networking nemesis, Natalie Networker. Have you met someone like this?

People like Natalie give networking a bad name because they only talk about themselves, don’t listen and don’t care who you are or what you have to say. Natalie only cares about one thing: the card, specifically, giving you her business card and collecting yours so she can enter it into her precious database when she returns to the office. She possesses no emotional intelligence or any form of self-awareness. She only wants to tell you how great and wonderful she is and remind you that you need to buy her product or service starting today. She doesn’t care about developing a relationship with you. She only cares about your data. She breaks all the networking rules.

Time for a reality check. You may find, if you’re not careful, that you have a little bit of Natalie Networker in you. It’s easy to fall into the trap of quantity (Have a goal of collecting 10 business cards at an event) rather than taking the preferred route of quality (Begin building one new relationship today). Here are a few tips to help you avoid being like Natalie Networker:

  • Invite the person into your space with engaging eye contact and a smile.
  • Treat people like they are more important than you are. Remember, it’s not just about you.
  • Look at the person’s business card. Read it. Too often this simple courtesy is ignored.
  • When you shake hands, shake like you are genuinely interested in meeting this person. No limp wrist or passive shakes, please. No bone crushing either. Find a comfortable medium.
  • Discover common ground (common interest, profession, background). You have a better chance of establishing rapport when you can find something in common to discuss.
  • Don’t overstay your welcome. Move easily throughout the room, from conversation to conversation. Having a half-full beverage in your hand that needs refreshing provides the perfect breakaway if and when you need it.

When you make connections with grace, people will run toward you rather than away from you when they see you at the next event.

Think about how you interact with people when you are networking. Is the conversation only about you, or are you genuinely interested in learning about the other person? Do you invade the other person’s space, or are you respectful and keep a comfortable distance?

Once you become more aware of your personal networking style, you will connect with greater confidence, make lasting impressions and build a solid network.

To Have or To Not Have: A Coffee Chat

coffee-cup-funny-faceSmallIf there is one thing I have learned about the business world today it’s this: People are busy! Their calendars are jammed with meetings, either virtual or in-person. They are being asked to produce more with fewer resources. The bar for performance has been raised into the stratosphere, often accompanied by unrealistic expectations. It begs the question, “How do you use your time each day?”

Time is a precious commodity because there is a finite amount of it available to you. Every person is given 24 hours in one day, 60 minutes in each hour and 60 seconds in each minute. No more. No less. You choose what to do within that given time period every day. Some people handle their time more efficiently than others.

A great time vampire, if you let it be, is the coffee chat. It sounds like a simple request: “Let’s have coffee and chat.” If you are not careful and you don’t qualify the request, that time can quickly turn into this: “Let’s have coffee and chat and spend the entire time talking about me and what I need from you so that I can be more successful in my life.”

Don’t get me wrong. Having coffee with colleagues and chatting about something that is mutually meaningful is time well spent. When someone who you haven’t heard from in 5-10 years wants you to drop everything and have coffee and chat about what he wants to do with his life, then take the time and ask yourself “Is it worthy of me investing my time?”

This is not cold hearted. You are just trying to free up your schedule to do more of the things that you need to do rather than saying “Yes” to every request that comes your way. Here is a foolproof solution to these phantom requests: Have a conversation by phone rather than in person. Not having to drive to a location saves you about an hour round trip. Telephone conversations typically are much shorter than in-person conversations. What could consume two to three hours of your time is neatly reduced to 20-30 minutes. You get what you need, and so does the other person.

The next time someone requests coffee and a chat in person, think about the value of your time. Is it worth two to three hours or 20-30 minutes? The choice is yours.