Networking is one of those activities that gets shelved because you are busy. Unfortunately, it’s also one of those activities that needs to be consistent in order to do any good to your career. This is because the nature of networking is relationships, and if you only connect with people when you need them, you are viewed in a negative light. You also miss out on a lot of positive things when you don’t connect, so it’s a good idea to put it on your schedule.
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Informational interviews are information-gathering sessions,usually focused on a job or career field you're interested in. They give you an opportunity to get answers about what a typical day is like, what the person likes or dislikes about the field (which is what you may like or dislike about it), what it takes to enter that field, and what it takes to be successful in it. In good informational interviews, you may even get advice on your situation and your best career/job search moves. Informational interviews are strictly for you to get the "inside scoop" from someone who knows. (FYI: If you're lucky, you might get a job lead, but it's very bad form to go into the interview expecting this person to help you get a job. If you're actively job hunting, check out my Hidden Jobs Finder. It will show you how to use LinkedIn and other tools to contact hiring managers who will have job openings for you.)
If you need an informational interview, it's probably because you are new to an area--which means you probably don't have anyone to ask to speak with you. So if you can't get an informational interview by going through your current contacts, how do you get it?
Here is a great post from Bruce Bixler!
LinkedIn Business Intelligence, Ninja Tactics, and Guerilla strategies on how to follow people on LinkedIn to gather information. There are many reasons you may want to follow another person on LinkedIn. One way is to gain business intelligence for a sales meeting. A second way would be to find out what groups a business owner is in. Another is to gather information about a hiring manager for an interview.
The first way to follow people is to follow their companies on LinkedIn. You have always been able to follow companies. If the business is a target company, sign up to follow that company. Check the home page to see if there is a career page. If the company is hiring maybe they are expanding and in growth mode. The most important thing in following a company is that LinkedIn will show you all of your connections (1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree connections) that you may have within that company.
Tip: on the company page click on the number of followers for that company. The number is a hyperlink that will show you all of the followers of that company. Unfortunately you have to scroll through each and every one of them. Makes it difficult if there are 200,000 followers of a company.
LinkedIn Skill Words/Phrases are important for your success using LinkedIn. However, don’t just leave them in the skills area. You have to get creative and deliberate about the use of these skill words.
I asked LinkedIn to share with us exactly what fields are searched by the LinkedIn search tool. They declined to share this information. That’s OK - my testing answered the question for us.
There are at least eight, (yes 8) areas of your LinkedIn Profile where you should put the words and phrases that present your Skills and Expertise. Spreading these words out across your LinkedIn Profile is one way to improve the chance your profile is viewed by the right people and for you to be perceived as a professional in regards to the skill words you use.
This may sound awful, but I hope it makes you think about your LinkedIn Profile a little bit.
Obituaries list the companies and positions the recently departed worked, the charities they were involved in, their interests and hobbies. Often the obituary lists the family members, surviving and otherwise. Obituaries don't connect the professional development, skills, expertise and experiences from the past positions to the current (or most recent) positions.
Many professional LinkedIn Profiles do the same thing. They list the companies the LinkedIn member worked at, the positions they held, the work they did, their interest, hobbies, groups and associations the member has been involved in. Most LinkedIn profiles have such little information on them I have to wonder if the member actually died before completing the profile.
I am going to tell you the most important best practice of using LinkedIn. Sit back, take a sip of your drink and listen to what I have to say. I promise, if you adopt this best practice, you’ll get more value out of your use of LinkedIn.
A large LinkedIn network (by itself) is not going to help your business.
Helping your LinkedIn network will help your business.
As a career coach, I see many job seekers making a big job search mistake on LinkedIn. What's the mistake? Choosing the wrong groups.
Lots of job seekers think, "I'm looking for a job, so where should I be on LinkedIn? Job Seeker groups." That has a certain logic, but it's the wrong conclusion.
If you can accept "Networking is about meeting new people and developing some level of relationship where you can help each other," then I would like you to consider that networking involves the deliberate acts of Presenting, Connecting and Engaging.
Let me explain what I mean by these three networking acts and why they are important to your network and you:
The way you Present yourself while networking is much more than the way you look. Yes, appearance is important. We need to make sure we are presentable, with a clean shirt and combed hair (what we have), fully and appropriately dressed for where we are and what we are doing at the time.
We can be engaging in person, at networking events, on the phone, via email, in a letter and on LinkedIn.
Being engaging is an important networking skill. I encourage you to always strive to be engaging in any setting, including LinkedIn.
As LinkedIn continues to increase it's popularity as the #1 business social networking tool, we need to be more engaging when using it. Otherwise, we’ll just be a part of the never ending buzz of social networking noise.
My policy is based on one word, Relevance.
For me, relevance refers to much more than people who can buy my products/services. Relevance includes the people in my Life, Career, Business and Community.
I am a true believer that our networks of people, including our LinkedIn network is one of the most important assets we have in life. My career and business have been significantly influenced by my diverse networks of people.
For these reasons I encourage you to work hard and deliberately to expand your LinkedIn network. However, I want you to do this work the right way.
It’s rather easy to connect with people who you know, who you have worked with or for. It’s real easy to connect with people you meet in real life, especially once you get their email address.
However, sometimes we’ll find another LinkedIn member that we don’t know who we want to connect with. We don’t know them, have not worked with them or for them and don’t know their email address, yet we still want to connect with them because of what they do or where they work.
Most people will use the LinkedIn Introduction function. LinkedIn permits up to 10 open Introductions at a time.
However, I prefer not to use this feature because it does not allow me to:
- Determine the relationship between the two LinkedIn members
- Control the introduction process
For this reason I prefer to use my own unique process to get introduced:
I hope this statement is not news to anyone; “There are 100’s, if not 1000’s of people applying for the same jobs.” For the most part, these people have the same skills, experience and training you have. You have to be a unique candidate to get the job. So find a way to be unique.
Unique means you have to put a little more effort into your preparation, presentation and interview. Here are a few tips that can help you to stand out from every other job seeker:
If you have never read my stuff, heard my webinars or met me in real life, I have to warn you: Strap in, Buckle up and Hang on - I’m different and love to have fun while I do what I do best, guide people to get value from social media tools.
I look forward to sharing and engaging in conversations with you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn YouTube and a few other places you may discover Teddy. If you want to keep aware of my articles beyond Career Confidential follow my blog - Success Using Social Media
To kick this all off, here is a gift for you. It's rather long - so save it and read over it as you have time. I promise you there are a ton of great nuggets in this list.
54 LinkedIn Tips that can improve your LinkedIn experience
When you customize your LinkedIn URL, you are enhancing the address, and making it easier for people to find and recognize you. Your new URL will be useful to add as a link to your resume or to put on a networking card.
When you originally set up your profile, you were given a default URL. For example, mine may have looked like this:
As you can see, this would be a difficult address to remember. In order to customize your URL, go to the Profile tab and click on “edit profile.” Right underneath your picture, you will see the current URL and an option to edit it. Click edit and continue as follows: