Everybody’s talking about LinkedIn as a valuable business tool, as a publishing platform and as the social network for business. But I still see an awful lot of professionals who are, to use a favorite phrase of social media consultants, doing it wrong.
I left Salesforce at the end of June. I started at Leadspace at the end of August. I interviewed at eight companies. I only actually applied for one of those jobs. The other seven opportunities came because of a blog post (Pulse post, whatever — not just a status update) that I published on LinkedIn July 28 titled, “I’m ready for my next challenge. And by ‘challenge,’ I mean ‘job.‘”
Many fine folks reached out to me with ideas, thoughts, words of encouragement and contacts. Around a dozen people said some variation of, “We should have a chat.” One of those was Leadspace CEO Doug Bewsher, with whom I’d worked at Salesforce. And now I work for him at Leadspace. So far it’s great. It’s exactly the job I said I wanted in my LinkedIn post.
Ask me again in six months if I still think so. In the meantime, for the purposes of this blog post, let’s call it a LinkedIn job search success story.
Here’s what I’ve done (mostly) on LinkedIn over the last year or so that helped to make this happen:
- Be there. First and foremost, build your networks before you need them. (I’m by no means the first person to say this.) Connect with current and former colleagues. Connect with your friends. Connect with family members in the workforce. (Maybe not your uncle who makes his living reselling the contents of storage units.) Connect with customers and vendors. Connect with co-workers. Don’t be greedy and collect LinkedIn connections like an unattended 7-year old at a chocolate fountain. But do connect to everyone you have a legitimate professional relationship with. Do it. Do it now.
- Be generous. Don’t just think of LinkedIn as a job search tool. Think of it as a place you can connect with people and help them and share interesting information. If you focus on helping others (as in social media and life in general), when you need something from them, they will think positively of you. And please, don’t pitch somebody eight seconds after they accept your connection request. They will never think of you as anything other than a “taker.”
- Be helpful. Write endorsements for others: former colleagues, former bosses, former direct reports, consultants and vendors you’ve worked with, even customers. Many of them will return the favor, and that looks good to a future employer. Seeing names and faces of people who have endorsed you, along with concrete reasons why they did it, is so much more valuable to a hiring manager than a written list of references. (But don’t bother asking your uncle to endorse you; it’ll look fake and desperate. Plus, his network connection is terrible inside those storage units.)
- Be consistent. Think of LinkedIn as your persistent, always-on, realtime résumé. The days of updating a paper CV the night before an interview are over. Update your LinkedIn profile whenever something significant happens in your career. And you might not have any warning. If you’re in a competitive job market, recruiters are using LinkedIn as a search tool for candidates.
- Be persuasive. Lots of professionals, myself included, dashed off our original LinkedIn summaries, or we cut and pasted the summary from our résumés. Don’t do that. Write a compelling summary that tells people who you are and why you do what you do, and makes them want to work with you. Besides, in an age where more and more applications are reviewed by machines, your LinkedIn summary may be the only place you get to tell your story and have it read by a human.
- Be specific. This is as much résumé advice as it is LinkedIn advice, but quantify your job responsibilities with real accomplishments, and use data wherever possible. Did you create a new demand generation process in your company? Or did you create a new demand generation process using Marketo, Salesforce and Leadspace that increased qualified leads by 28% over the previous year and drove $4M in additional revenue?
If you’ve been spending all your social time on Facebook and think of LinkedIn as its boring business cousin, start devoting some of the time you spend liking cat videos to improving your LinkedIn profile. It may well be where your next job comes from.
(Now I have to go make sure mine is up-to-date.)