Archive for the ‘LinkedIn’ Category

May 30 2012

How to Approach Someone for a Networking Meeting

Many clients of mine are not sure how to ask for and set up a networking meeting with someone they haven’t met.   Here are five things you need to include in a letter/email/phone call asking for a meeting:

1) Our Bond: Open your email/letter or phone call with your common bond. “Jane Smith suggested that I give you a call.” “I am a recent graduate of [school you have in common] trying to get my career in _______ off the ground.” “I’m considering a move to your area and ___ suggested that you would be able to fill me in on the ______________ industry in your region.”

2) I Need Your Help: The reason you want to meet with them is because they have information or knowledge that may be able to help you. They’re an expert in your field or they know a lot about what is going on in the industry or perhaps have lots of great contacts. “I’m looking for advice on transitioning from manufacturing to the health care industry. Jane mentioned that you made a similar transition several years ago and would have valuable information to share.”

3) A Little Bit about Me: Here is where you share a few details about your training and work experience. Just enough so they have a feel for your background to entice them to meet with you. “I have 15 years experience in process improvement in medical device manufacturing and I’m interested in learning how my skills would be perceived in a hospital setting.”

4) The Ask: This is where you ask for a 20 minute meeting to get their advice and suggestions. “To that end, I’d like to set up a 20 minute meeting to get your thoughts and suggestions”.

5) Closing: Keep it in your hands. Let them know that you’ll be following up in a few days to arrange a mutually convenient time to meet. “I will contact your office in the next couple of days to determine if we can find a convenient time to meet in the next few weeks. Thanks.”

Next Steps: Be sure to follow up when you said you will. If your initial contact was an email and they haven’t replied within a couple of days, call them to schedule a meeting. If you get voice mail, tell them you sent an email and are following up as promised. If they don’t call back, try another email or call their assistant if they have one. After 3-4 attempts, move onto someone else on your list.

The Meeting: You’re asking for the meeting, so you need to have an answer to the question “what can I do for you?” Tell them a little bit about yourself, what type of position you’re looking for and bring a list of questions to ask. If you’re hoping to shift to a different industry, ask them if your skills would be valued in that sector. Close the meeting by asking if there is anything you can do for them. You’d be surprised what can come out of that offer.

A Successful Networking Meeting Will Result In The Following:

• 3-5 names of other people with whom you can follow up. These people will probably not have job leads for you, but they may be one step closer to someone who will.
• 2-3 names of companies that might be a good fit for you.

Send A Thank You Note: After the meeting or phone call, send a thank you note. Email is okay, handwritten or typewritten snail mail works well too (if you have poor handwriting go with email or typewritten). Thank them for the names they provided and let them know who you plan to follow up with.

Follow Up On Your Leads: Be sure to follow up promptly with the names they provide!

Apr 18 2012

Strategic Networking 101

We all know that we’re supposed to “network”.    It has been shown over and over to be the best way to find jobs.    In a down economy, networking is more important than ever because employers get inundated with resumes and they’re afraid of hiring the wrong person.   As a result, they’d much rather hire someone who is recommended by a friend, colleague or employee.

Many people tell me that they’ve tried networking, but that it doesn’t work for them.   When I dig a little deeper, I find out that their definition of networking is to send out an email to friends asking if they know of any openings.    Or, they attend “networking” meetings hoping to find someone who knows of a job. Hope is not a strategy.   To network effectively, you need to use it to find the people and companies out there who need you.

So, how do you do that?  Here are some suggestions to get you started:

1) Think of it as research.   Let’s make this easier, what if you need a plumber?  What do you do?   You might research plumbers on the internet, see if there are any plumbers nearby with good recommendations, you might look in the phone book.   But, more than likely, you’ll ask your neighbors.   Networking is just like that.   The problem is that we feel like we’re trying to sell ourselves through the networking process.   Instead, think of it as researching to find companies and people we want to work for AND who value our skills and knowledge!

2) Make a list of 100 people you know.   They don’t have to be in your field and you don’t have to know them that well.   Just well enough that you can call or email them and ask them for 15-20 minutes of their time.   The goal of the meeting is to brainstorm with them to get information, advice and names of companies and people who might have useful information or contacts for you.   Do not ask them if they know of any jobs!  Most people don’t know about job openings – even at their own companies.   It’s not their job to find you a job.    Make it easy for them to help you by keeping your “ask” simple – ask for advice, names, suggestions, ideas and then you take it from there.

3) Know what you are looking for.   If you think of this as research, you need to know what you’re looking for.   And, don’t tell me you’re looking for a job.  That’s too vague.   What kind of job?  In what industry?  What type of company and work environment?  What geography?   If you’re not sure about the answers to these questions, you need to do a bit more homework to figure that out before you go out there and network.

4) Be prepared.   When you ask to meet with someone, it’s your meeting.   They will likely say “so what can I do for you”?  You need to be prepared with an answer to that question.  And, once again, the answer is not “find me a job”.    The answer is to (briefly) tell them what skills you’re hoping to use in what industry and geography.    ”I’m looking for an opportunity to use my financial analysis skills in a non-profit organization in the Boston area” – is enough to get the conversation started.

5) Persevere.  Granted, there’s a fine line between being persistent and being a pest.   Never leave it in their hands to respond to you.   I can’t tell you how many people tell me , “I tried networking once –  I sent an email and they never responded.  Networking doesn’t work for me.”    That is not networking.  You need to follow up with a phone call, another email or snail mail.   Everyone is busy.   If they don’t respond the first time, don’t assume that they don’t want to talk to you.   More than likely, they just didn’t have time to reply.

6) Remember it’s about building relationships.   Finally, remember that networking is a two way street.  End every meeting with the question: “Is there anything I can do for you?”  You’d be surprised at the answers you might get.   If you don’t think you have anything to offer – remember that you have many skills and talents including some that may not be on your resume.  And, if you’re doing a good job networking, you will begin to have a large network you can draw upon to help others you meet along the way.

 

 

Dec 10 2011

Ten Things You Can Do to Improve Your Use of LinkedIn

Are you on LinkedIn but not sure what to do with it?   Do you feel overwhelmed by the thought of getting onto LinkedIn?  Do you know you could be doing more with it, but you feel like you don’t have the time?   Here are ten simple things you can do to improve your use of LinkedIn:

1) Get A Picture (or get a better one):  I’m frequently astounded at the pictures that people use for their LinkedIn profiles.   Many of them are blurry, dark, unflattering or cluttered.   Your profile picture should look like you, only better.   Take the time to get a professional head shot taken.   Don’t have the time or money?   Get a friend who has a good digital camera and likes to take pictures.   Get dressed nicely.   Ladies, put on make up.   Wear a solid color that contrasts with your skin color (nothing too bright please).  Outside lighting is more flattering, so go to a park and have your friend take a bunch of photos of you.   Choose the one that you like the most.   Upload to LinkedIn.  Not sure how to do that?  Ask a teenager for help.

2)  Add Groups:   You are allowed to belong to 50 groups on LinkedIn.   The benefit of groups is that you can directly email anyone with whom you share a group.   So, it increases your network exponentially.   Choose some groups in the field in which you’re looking for work or a new field that you’d like to enter.   If you belong to some professional associations, make sure to join their LinkedIn group.  Not sure how to find appropriate groups?   On the top of your profile where it says “People – Search”, click on the down arrow you’ll see a list of things for which you can search.   Select “Groups” off the list.   Then type some key words into the search box and click the little magnifying glass.  You will see a list of groups that you might be interested in joining.  Join some.  Don’t want to get lots of email from your groups?  You can set your email settings to weekly summaries when you join.

3) Proofread your profile:   I frequently notice typos on people’s profiles.   This is your public presence, so PLEASE read your profile carefully and correct those typos!  Make sure your grammar and spelling are correct.   Don’t use person pronouns – it should read more like a resume than a casual email to your friends.

4) Invite more people to join your network:  Try inviting at least one person to your LinkedIn network every day.  If you do that, you’ll have 365 people in your network in a year.   Be sure to invite people you know who are on LinkedIn.   Please don’t send the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network” invite.   Take a minute to personalize the invitation.   If you haven’t seen them in awhile, give them a quick update.   Then say, “I’d like to keep in touch by adding you to my network on LinkedIn, if you’re willing!”    Not sure who to invite?  Start with the list that says “people you may know” (to find it click on “Home” at the top of your profile page).   There will be a list of people with whom you share connections or groups.

5)  Add Skills:  There is new feature on LinkedIn that allows you to add skills.  These are words and phrases that are pre-defined by LinkedIn.   To find it, look under the “More” tab on the top of the page.   Select “skills” off the list.   Now, try typing a word or phrase into the search box.   If the skill you typed in is already on the list, it will appear along with a description of that skill.  Even better, a list of related skills will appear on the left hand side.   If it’s an accurate description of your skill, just select “Add skill” and it will be added to the Skills section of your profile.

6) Ask for some recommendations:  It helps to have recommendations for at least the most recent jobs you’ve listed on LinkedIn.   If you’re not comfortable asking your old boss to write you a recommendation, ask a colleague who knows your work or a client who can speak about the experience they had with you. Most people are willing to do this for you if they had a good experience with you and know you well enough to comment on the quality of your work.

7) Write a recommendation for someone else:  Everyone likes a pat on the back.  Writing a recommendation for someone else will make them feel good (and will lift your spirits as well!).   Try doing this once a week and see what happens.    Give the recommendation without expecting to receive one back (and don’t feel insulted if they don’t recommend you as well).   It’s almost better to have recommendations from people who don’t recommend you back because it looks too much like a “quid pro quo” when you recommend everyone that has recommended you.

8) Beef Up Your Summary Section:  The summary section of your profile should include key information about what you can do for employers.  What sets you apart from other candidates?   Don’t say, looking for challenging position in…focus on what’s in it for the employer.   What special skills or knowledge do you possess that will benefit potential employers?  A bulleted list of your special areas of expertise is helpful for people scanning your profile.

9)  Ask or answer a question or post information:  Now that you’re a member of some groups (see item #2 ), you can post an question for discussion, share some information or comment on someone else’s post.   If you do this once or twice a week, it will raise your visibility.   If you post a question, make sure there are no typos or misspelled words.   Also, keep the question upbeat and on point.

10)  Add a book list:   If you like to read and enjoy sharing what you’re reading with others, add the reading list feature to your profile.  To do that, click on “More” at the top of the page and select “Get more applications”.    You will see a list of features you can add to your profile.   Select the “reading list” feature and you can add a list of books you’re reading and write a short comment.    There are many other applications you can add, including Box.net that lets you upload files to your profile and Huddle that gives you a place to share documents that can be edited by others.

Do a few of the things on this list every week and you’ll find that LinkedIn will become a more valuable tool for you whether or not you’re in job search mode.

Oct 31 2011

Networking for Introverts

I wanted to write something about networking for introverts.   Then I found this article and decided that it was so good, I would share it with you.   It appeared in the Wall Street Journal on-line publication.

Self-Marketing Rules For Successful Introverts  By Nancy Ancowitz

We’re about half of the population. We like to think before we speak. We spend time alone because it refreshes us, not because we’re lonely. And we would rather have a few in-depth conversations than work the room at a networking event. We’re introverts.

Many of us have some introverted and some extroverted inclinations, but most lean more one way than the other. Personality assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, can offer context and insight into your tendencies, but basically, introverts are people who draw and recharge their energy from within, while extroverts get energy from people and other external sources. The list of well-known introverts might surprise you. These include Bill Gates, Steve Martin, and the late Katherine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post.

Introverts may excel at marketing other people and products, but compared to many extroverts, marketing ourselves does not always come naturally. In a world that seems to reward glad-handing and horn-tooting, how can we attract the best employers and clients? How do we compete in business environments that reward thinking quickly, knowing a little about a lot, and talking rather than listening — traits that aren’t characteristically our strong suits?

Dispelling the Myths

A common misconception is that introverts are shy or suffer from social anxieties. This is no truer than for extroverts. Many introverts like to be around people. I’m a particularly social introvert. I give frequent presentations, love to entertain, have a vast network and some particularly deep relationships. But I need plenty of time to collect my thoughts between encounters.

Another common misconception is that introverts must act more like extroverts to be successful. But going against your nature to promote yourself isn’t necessary. You simply need to approach self-promotion differently than extroverted peers — from the inside out. That means looking inward, identifying your strengths, and articulating them with clarity and confidence. As an introvert, you can use the power of self-reflection, contemplation, and the ability to listen carefully to your audience to great benefit. You actually have certain advantages, including strengths at building relationships, creating a vision and strategizing.

I know from being an introvert throughout my varied 25-year career, which has included stints as a nationally known jewelry designer, vice president of marketing for a major financial institution and now as a coach. To promote myself effectively, I first create an environment that supports my introverted ways. My ideal work environment includes a space of my own for thinking with minimal interruptions; a few close colleagues with whom I can test ideas; independence to run with those ideas; and quiet time for reading, writing and problem solving.

Self-Promotion Tips

Next, I try to make the best use of my natural inclinations instead of trying to turn myself into an extrovert (impossible!). I’ve assembled the following tips to help other introverts become comfortable with self-promotion. Extroverts may benefit from adapting these tips to their own style or studying them to learn more about their introverted friends and colleagues.

You don’t need to brag to promote yourself. However, by preparing well for encounters in advance, you’ll have ready indisputable facts about your accomplishments and what you excel at and enjoy, plus you’ll feel comfortable stating them. By listening carefully to your conversation partners, you can adapt your fact-based message and make it relevant to their interests.

Enlist event organizers to introduce you, especially to the speaker, who may be an important contact for you. You can then gain instant clout when networking by referring to your conversation with the speaker.

Use visualization techniques to avoid being overwhelmed by large group events. Envision the event in advance, anticipate the challenges you might encounter, and plan how you can be effective nonetheless. It helps to stand near the food table, which is typically surrounded by chipper, nibbling faces. Plan several simple opening lines focused on getting to know the people you meet. If the event is a presentation, think of several questions in advance to ask the speaker during the question-and-answer period or afterward.

You don’t have to respond quickly. If you’re asked questions that feel invasive or demand an immediate response, simply say that you need time to think about them and will follow up with answers.

Don’t apologize for what you don’t know. Introverts sometimes hesitate to speak if they feel they lack sufficient expertise. Instead, mention what you do know and ask questions to invite others to share their knowledge.

Keep track of details. At the end of a social event, find a private place to make notes on the backs of business cards of people you’ve met. You’ll be better able to take advantage of and follow up with potential connections.

Stay in touch with existing contacts. For introverts, this is easier than making new contacts, so it’s worth the effort. Maintain ties with valued colleagues, managers, and clients throughout your career. Learn the appropriate way to contact each one. Use your listening skills to uncover their interests and concerns. Follow up periodically with news, facts and notices of pertinent events. Keep your relationships alive by sending holiday cards each year.

Take advantage of your writing skills. Being introspective will help you to craft e-mails, notes and other materials targeted to your audience. Promote yourself by understanding others’ needs and matching them to your capabilities.

Use the telephone. In general, introverts like to be well-prepared, rather than speaking extemporaneously. When calling others, have ready an outline of your key points and responses to difficult questions.

– Ms. Ancowitz, is a coach, consultant and speaker based inNew York. She teaches atNew YorkUniversityand Makor/92nd Street Y and is vice president of the International Coach Federation-NYC. She is a former vice president at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

 

 

Oct 21 2011

What to Wear to an Interview

Deciding what to wear to an interview isn’t as simple as it used to be.   With the advent of “business casual”, what to wear to an interview has gotten a bit more complicated.

1) Dress a notch above.   In general, you want to dress a little bit nicer than the way you would be required to dress if you get the job.   So, if you’re applying for a position that requires you to get dirty and wear a uniform, you don’t need to dress in a suit.   Slacks and a sweater or perhaps a blazer would be fine.   Similarly, if you’ll be wearing a suit everyday, wear a good suit and shirt.   First impressions count.

2) Look the part.   If you’re interviewing for a position at a bank, visible tattoos and lots of piercings are probably not a good idea.   On the other hand, if you’re interviewing for a job in a tattoo parlor, tattoos are probably required!   If you are interviewing for a position in a creative workplace, you probably have a bit more room to show some flair and dressing too conservatively could hurt your chances.   Dress to fit in to the workplace, but avoid extremes.   Ladies, no low cut dresses.   Men, avoid loud ties.

3) If in doubt, go conservative.   If you’re not sure what the dress code is like at the workplace, there are a number of things you can do.  Ask someone who works there or who used to work there (look on LinkedIn to see if you have someone in your network).   Look at their website to see what type of public image the company displays.   If they show pictures of guys in suits and white shirts, it’s probably a conservative workplace.    If you live near the company, you can go to their parking lot around closing time and see what people are wearing.

4) Use common sense about accessories.   I once didn’t hire someone because of her earrings.   Before you get angry at me, I was hiring someone to watch my young school-age children.   She showed up with earrings in the shape of the word “SEXY” in large letters.  If she had been the absolute best candidate, could I have overlooked the earrings?  Perhaps.  But, to me, it told me that she didn’t have a lot of common sense.  Think about your audience when dressing for your interview.

5)  Be well groomed.   Above all, you need to be well groomed.   Make sure your clothes fit well and that they’re clean and pressed.   Polish your shoes, make sure your nails and hair are clean and nicely styled.    Avoid heavy perfume or aftershave.   If you smoke, make sure your clothes don’t smell like it.   Employers don’t like hiring smokers and they’ll be able to tell if you had a cigarette right before your interview.

When you’re interviewing for a job, employers are looking for people who will represent their company well and who will fit into the company culture.   Keep that in mind and make sure that what you wear doesn’t make you stand out for the wrong reasons.

Happy hunting!

Sep 5 2011

Free Expert Advice for Job Seekers

Ultimate Job Summit

I was recently selected to participate in a new on-line resource that will be available for job seekers starting today, September 5, 2011 – the Ultimate Job Summit.   This site is the brainchild of Nate Lind, who was unemployed but went from being unemployed to earning 6 figures in 6 months.   He wanted to share the lessons he learned and some of the best advice he used during his job search.   So, he interviewed eight consultants in a variety of areas and is making those interviews available for free for one month.   Each of the consultants interviewed is providing freebies, discounts and special offers to summit participants.   By signing up, you will have access to the discounts provided as well as 8 hours of expert advice that you can access for free at your convenience.

Now, I am one of the people interviewed, but even if I wasn’t, I think it’s a good deal.   You get over 8 hours of free advice from experts who charge good money for their time – so that part alone is worth at least $800.    And, each expert has made special offers available only to those who sign up for the summit.

So, check it out by going to www.ultimatejobsummit.com.    I hope you find it to be a helpful resource – and I’d love to hear your feedback about it!

 

Aug 24 2011

Finding Target Companies

Most career coaches recommend that you identify target companies to help you focus your job search.   In general, I agree with this advice.   Having a list of target companies can help you in a number of ways:

1) Networking:  You can focus your networking efforts on organizations that you think are a good fit.  Networking with current and past employees of your target companies helps you learn more about their challenges and company culture.

2) Research:  Your research time can be aimed at a shorter list of potential employers.  You can set up a schedule to check the company website for job postings, follow the company on LinkedIn, and review the company website.   You can set up news alerts in Google so that when your target companies are mentioned, you will be informed.

3) Advance Interview Preparation:  When you interview with a target company, you will already know what is happening at the company, how you can help them and why you want to work for them.  And, hopefully, you’ll have some inside contacts in place.

4) Hidden Job Market: If you do a proper job of networking, your inside contacts will let you know before positions are posted and recommend you to the hiring manager.   Companies want you to want them, so showing interest BEFORE jobs are posted can never hurt.

Now, there are some drawbacks to having a list of target companies.   Many people I meet have an impossibly long list of “target companies” which makes it difficult to focus.  At that point, the list becomes a “wish list” not a target list.  I suggest having no more than 25 companies on your target list, with ten that you concentrate on at any one time.   Those top ten companies can change as you learn more about each of them, but if you keep the list manageable you’ll be able to spend the time to truly understand their needs and challenges.

So, how do you find these target companies?

I recommend that my clients use Zoominfo as a first step when looking for target companies (www.zoominfo.com).   The site is quite easy to use and enables you to quickly find companies in your area and industry whether or not they have any jobs posted.   Click here for a handout on how to find target companies using Zoominfo.

 

Jul 21 2011

Should I Call Myself “Experienced”?

Looking around on LinkedIn the other day, I noticed how many people use the term “experienced” in their headline or summary. Generally speaking, “experienced” is code for “old” and maybe “expensive”. So, I would caution against using that word when describing yourself. Having a lot of experience doesn’t necessarily help you if employers think your experience is out-of-date or that you might be set in your ways.

In your headline, it’s usually better to state facts and use search terms that recruiters might use to find you. They’re going to search for “operations manager” with “lean manufacturing” expertise. They’re not going to search for “experienced”, “enthusiastic” or “accomplished”.

Let your experience speak for itself by including strong accomplishments in the body of your profile. If you want to include a “valued-added” statement about yourself, talk about results and what you can do for employers. “Retail turnaround specialist known for transforming low performing stores in record time” is better than “experienced store manager”.

So, avoid the general glowing adjectives and focus on specific skills, expertise and accomplishments that separate you from the other “experienced” candidates out there!

Jul 18 2011

LinkedIn Visibility

A recent survey showed that 2/3 of employers have made successful hires through social networks and 89% report using LinkedIn to recruit new candidates. In that same survey, employee referrals were ranked as the most highly rated source for candidate quality. 1 in 10 referral candidates are hired compared to 1 in 100 general applicants (Source: JobVite Social Recruiting Survey July 2011). So, your chances of getting hired are 10 times higher if you go in as an employee referral as opposed to applying on-line.

Given these statistics, if you’re looking for a job, you should definitely invest more time networking with contacts at target companies and less time applying blindly to posted jobs. It also makes sense to optimize your LinkedIn profile to make sure you are found by recruiters.

One of the most common ways recruiters search for candidates is by using the Advanced Search feature, typing in a title and then specifying “current”. If you have not entered anything in the “Current” section of your profile, you will not be found. One way to solve that problem is by entering the most common title(s) for the type of position you are seeking in the “Current Title” field in your profile and then entering “In Transition” in the “Current Employer” field. Now, if recruiters search on that title, they will find you.

Don’t forget to include keywords in your LinkedIn profile that are commonly found in job descriptions for the type of position you are seeking and make sure to add detailed descriptions of your accomplishments and skills. LinkedIn profiles actually provide more space than a resume, so maximize it by adding information that recruiters might use to search for candidates like you!

Happy Hunting – Sue Kaiden

Jul 13 2011

LinkedIn Etiquette

Inviting People to Join Your Network on LinkedIn by Sue Kaiden, CareerEdge

When asking people to join your network on LinkedIn, it is essential that you send a customized invite message. Even though you might be tempted to click on the button that sends the standard “I’d like you to join my professional network” message – don’t do it! Here’s why:

1) Unless you know the person well, they may not remember your name. I get a lot of invites from people and half the time I don’t have a clue where I may have met them. Take the time to remind them where you met or what you may have in common. Nine times out of ten, they will accept your invite.

2) If you haven’t seen them in awhile, take the time to give them a quick update on your situation. It’s an opportunity to reach out to someone so don’t waste it. Just remember to keep it upbeat!

3) LinkedIn veterans consider it rude to receive a standard invite. Some won’t accept your invite on principle. Don’t risk annoying a potential networking contact – take the time to send a tailored message.

4) Don’t invite people to your network if you’ve never met them. Unless people identify themselves as “open networkers” or LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers), they usually want to know you, at least a little bit. If you see someone with whom you’d like to connect, ask someone who is already connected with them to introduce you. That is usually a more successful approach.

So, next time you invite someone to your network, take the time to “add a personal note” to your invite message. I expect that you’ll get a better response!