LinkedIn is the most powerful weapon you have in building your reputation.
I believe this. Wholeheartedly. The problem, of course, is that we live in this strange new on-demand world. What do you want? What do you need? We can access almost anything with our smartphones and the flick of our thumb. A car. A place to stay. Someone to mate with. You name it. It’s all right there. Instantly. It’s not a smartphone. It’s a remote control for your life (as my buddy, Andy Nulman, called it more than fifteen years ago). With that, our expectations to “get stuff done” has become somewhat slanted. We expect now, in real-time. Why doesn’t everything work this fast?
Does LinkedIn work for finding work?
This was the question that a friend (who also happens to be a HR professional) asked on Facebook (not LinkedIn?) the other day. I jumped in and stated that – for my time and attention – there is nothing more important to an individual’s professional development than a robust LinkedIn profile coupled with an effort to build genuine connections. Now, Microsoft has gone and acquired LinkedIn for $26+ billion. Imagine everything from their Office tools to their CRM being plugged into this online social network for professionals. If done well, the potential is boundless. We shall see. But, I digress. Someone else hopped on to this Facebook post and wrote the following…
“Linked in is completely useless for someone actually looking for work. I even joined the ‘premium’ thing for a month. Useless. All it is are ‘thought leaders’ quoting bs articles at each other and marketing people doing marketing things with each other. For anyone looking for a real job in the real world – waste of time.”
Are you looking for work?
There are a few things to know about LinkedIn:
- Your LinkedIn experience is not my LinkedIn experience. All feeds and updates that any individual sees are predicated on the people that they are following. I see information based on the people that I am connected to. You will have a completely different experience, based on who you are following. Don’t like the information that you’re seeing? Unfollow those people. Your mileage may vary (as Seth Godin likes to say). Saying that LinkedIn is useless implies that you’re not digging deep to make the valuable connections, or following the people that are sharing interesting perspectives. They are there. Look for them.
- Your profile must be complete. LinkedIn is a two-way street. It’s not just who you follow – and how often you message people. You don’t know what you don’t know. It’s hard to (really) know who is checking out your profile (the more advanced users now how to adjust their settings, so that you can’t tell when they’ve seen your profile), and the LinkedIn search engine is fairly robust. Without a complete and up-to-date profile, you will never be able to truly experience the power of LinkedIn’s serendipity. That’s when someone was doing a specific search for a skill set, and your name shows up in the search. Every few weeks, you should hop on to LinkedIn, review your profile and add to it. The more complete, the more opportunities may float your way.
- LinkedIn is not there to find you work. LinkedIn is there for you to make connections. Making connections with the sole desire of finding a job is going to be thankless experience. Making connections with the sole desire of trying to extend your network and help others, is going to create a powerful future for yourself. My LinkedIn strategy? Every Monday morning I do a search for either “VP Marketing” or “Chief Marketing Officer” (these are the types of professionals that I am most interested in meeting). From there, I look to see which are two or more nodes out of reach (and who has an interesting profile). I shoot them a quick and personal note (not a form email!) letting them know that while we’ve never connected before, I am interested in what they do, the brand they work with, that I would love to connect. If there is reciprocity, I don’t just take the connection and move on, I truly connect (ask to meet for coffee, whatever). My intent is sincere: How can I help them? What questions might I ask them? I have about an 75% success rate with this, and it has parlayed into lifetime friendships, a slew of new connections and an ability for me to continuously help others. On top of that, I’m doing my best to reach almost 20 new people every month. That has a compounding effect over time.
- LinkedIn is most powerful if you don’t play the numbers game. Most people are looking at how many connections they have, or how many resumes they have blasted off. This is spam. Like great content, it’s not about how many people, but who they are. Things don’t happen overnight. They take time. Lots of time. Build your network slowly, with precision and respect the circle of trust that you are building.
If all you are doing is looking for a job, LinkedIn will be a tough environment. If all you are doing is trying to build a valuable and powerful professional network, LinkedIn will be your paradise.