Networking

Hidden Secrets of LinkedIn – Tagging

Now that LinkedIn has been around a good while – over 10 years – most people I come across are on it. Some are very active, some aren’t.  There are few features of LinkedIn, though, that even the most active users don’t seem to be aware of.  Here’s one very useful one:

Tagging

Did you know you can tag your contacts?  Tagging your contacts makes it easy to filter them by different categories and easy to send a quick group message.

Many of your contacts are automatically tagged when you connect, based on the invitation you sent.  If you said they were a colleague in the invitation, they’ll be marked as such.

But you can add tags too.  You can create up to 200 unique tags.  Do you want to quickly be able to see just your contacts who are recruiters?  Or, people you know through a particular professional association? Create the tag, and then tag your contacts.

To see what tags you currently have, go to your list of connections. The left hand column will look something like this:

LinkedIn tags

Next to the word ‘Tags’ is the word ‘manage’.  Click ‘manage’ and you’ll be able to add any tags you like.

For example, I created an ‘HR’ tag, a ‘recruiters’ tag and a ‘consultants’ tag.  If I want to make a referral, I can quickly scroll through them to find the right one to refer to.

You have to mark each person with the tags you create.  This can be a time consuming process, but worth it. To do this, click on a contact.  Their details will show in the right hand column.  Now, click on ‘edit tags’, mark the tags you like, and save.  See below.

LinkedIn tagging

As you accept new invitations, you’ll want to tag people right away.  Trust me, it’s easier this way.

Once you’ve tagged your contacts, when you click on that tag in the left hand column, you’ll see only the people with those tags.  In the right hand column, you’ll see the words ‘Send message’.  To send a group message, just click this.  A new message window will pop up, pre-populated with their names.  Now compose and send.

That’s it!  It may look a little complicated here, but after you’ve done it a time or two, you’ll find it easy.

How to mine the Companies feature on LinkedIn

I promised this post a long time ago, and have not tackled it until now because there is simply too much good stuff there and it’s hard to whittle down!  However, to be readable, I really must make it short and sweet.  So, here are my top five tips on using the Companies information on LinkedIn:

1. Find your target companies and “follow” them

Why: Updates about the company will show up on your home page.  You can keep up-to-date with what is happening in their business, including posted jobs, and be attuned to changes that may be to your benefit, for example, if someone was promoted, perhaps their position will need to be backfilled. 

How: On the company page, click on the yellow Follow button.

2. Review the company statistics.

Why: You can get a general sense of tenure, what functions may have a significant presence on LinkedIn, where the company has employees and more.  

How: Click on the link that says “Check out insightful statistics about…”

3. Review the list of employees.

Why: You won’t be able to see all employees generally, but can review enough to see what titles they use, where people in various functions are located, get a sense for company specific lingo and more.

How: Click on the blue (hyperlinked) number next to the phrase Employees on LinkedIn.

4. Find a contact.

Why: Well, why are you looking?  Is it because you are seeking information or an introduction? In either of these cases, your best bet is going to be someone who is already in your extended network.

How: Click on the lists of folks at the company who are in your network or are fellow alumni. Consider how close of a connection they are, what function or geography they work in, what level they are and so on to determine who best to reach out to.

5. Prepare for interviews (or networking meetings.) 

Why: This one’s obvious. There is a bounty of information at your fingertips.  Shame on you if you go in unprepared.  Doing your research shows you have genuine interest (as well as good research skills).  

How: Review everything possible on the company page including the things mentioned above.  Review the profile, if available, of the people you will meet with as well as others in the department by searching for their name in the main Search box or in the employee list.

I have just scratched the surface with these five tips, but if you use these, it will provide leverage to expand and enhance your networking and job search activities.This is the kind of insight that people in the past would give their right arm for.  Don’t waste the knowledge you can gain through a few clicks.  Knowledge is power.   

 

Find your tribe: LinkedIn groups

After a nice little summer break, I’m back.  In my last post, I said I would next begin covering intermediate LinkedIn functions, so here goes!

Would you like to connect with other like-minded professionals?  No matter where they are located? 

Looking for contacts in a particular company?

Hate networking a room? 

Looking to expand your knowledge? 

Would you like to become better known in your “niche”?

There are many reasons to join LinkedIn groups.  To a great extent, they mirror the reasons to join any group: to share or gather information, to meet people with common interests, to be part of something larger than yourself, to help others.  The reasons go on and on.   But there are over 900,000 groups on LinkedIn!  How do you find the right ones?

Here are some quick tips that can help you find and use LinkedIn groups to achieve your goals:

Find relevant groups

  • Look at what groups your connections belong to
  • Go to the Groups Directory and use the search function to find groups within your industry or profession
  • Find the LinkedIn group for any professional associations you already belong to
  • Find the Alumni group for your alma mater

 

Assess and join

  • Determine whether a group is a fit for you by reading the group description, looking at highlighted members and, if it’s an open group, reading some of the discussion 
  • Look for both quality (in terms of the content) and quantity (in terms of the members and activity).  The bigger the group, the more access you will have to information and contacts; however, small niche groups with whom you will have a lot of interaction can be very valuable as well
  • You can join up to 50 groups, though you don’ t need nearly that many to get the value you seek.  Find 2-4 that you will be very active with and approximately 10 more which give you some variety, but are still relevant  

Engage in meaningful activity

  • Now that you’ve found the right groups, jump right in! One of the beauties of online groups is that people get down to business without much small talk, or long introductions 
  • Add value.  Share your expertise or raise relevant issues through the discussions and comments. This will drive more meaningful conversation
  • Post, share (or apply for) related jobs
  • If you are seeking a new position, find contacts within your target companies and even target location using the search function
  • Encourage others!  Everybody likes to be encouraged and it builds relationships
  • Once meaningful contact is established, consider taking a network contact “offline”.  If it makes sense, you may want to deepen the professional relationship by meeting for coffee, talking by phone, or connecting at a conference

Groups are a great shortcut for networking and building your professional brand.  Use the tips above to get started today!

Recommended Reading – Networking

There are a number of books that I find myself regularly recommending to clients, friends, acquaintances and so on…I just find them so universally of value that I end up mentioning them quite frequently.  As such, I realized that I really should share them with you. In this post, I’ll start with my top two on networking:

 
The Fine Art of Small Talk by Debra Fine

This book is a must for people who are terrified of networking.  In addition to the play on words in its title, the content is quite engaging.  I love this book for two reasons: first, because it is practical – full of specific, tangible examples of what one might say in various situations; and second, because it is written from the point of view of someone who is not a natural at all of this networking stuff but learned.  Because she had to learn it step-by-step, she can, and does, explain it clearly.  Not all the examples will fit for all people, but there are so many, you are sure to find some that work for you.  This book, I have actually mentioned in a previous blog but it bears repeating.

Click to see this book on Amazon:
The Fine Art of Small Talk: How To Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills — and Leave a Positive Impression!

Make Your Contacts Count by Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon

Looking at networking from a different angle, this book illustrates the strategy around networking. With no strategy behind it, your networking may be enjoyable but could result in many wasted opportunities. That was my situation several years back, before this book was recommended to me by a colleague whose networking skills I admire. Now, I love being in a position to help others and I love it when they ask me. In return, I don’t hesitate to ask for what I need because I know we are in it together. Don’t look back with regret at what you “could have” done – apply these concepts and enjoy the effects of building long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.

Click to see this book on Amazon:
Make Your Contacts Count: Networking Know-how for Business And Career Success

Both of these books are relatively short, easy reads. If you add at least one business book to your summer reading list, consider these.  What are some of your most recommended business books?  Comment on this post to share your recommendations with other readers!

LinkedIn to career success

Even though LinkedIn is growing by leaps and bounds, I am still finding many professionals out there who are not on it, or are on it, but don’t really know how to use it.   This has inspired me to write a series on LinkedIn – some tips and techniques you can use to make use of it professionally.   LinkedIn won’t be my exclusive writing focus but I’ll sprinkle posts in throughout the remainder of the year that you may find helpful. 

In future posts, I’ll get to more of the how-to.  Today, I’ll address the why-to.  Let me ask you a few questions:

  • have you ever left a job and later realized you can’t find the contact information of co-worker, vendor or client you’d like to get in contact with?
  • have you ever wanted to get in contact with a co-worker, vendor or client who has left their company?
  • would you like to stay up-to-date with your professional contacts, but aren’t the best at taking time for lunch or coffee with them?
  • would you like to be able to reach out, on a moment’s notice, to a large number of professionals in your field to get information on new developments in your field, or get recommendations on resources?
  • would you like to be able to find in-depth information on job titles, job descriptions and job locations within companies, not just what is posted on the job boards?
  • would you like to be able to identify contacts within companies for networking, job search or marketing purposes?
  • would you like to do more to control or enhance your professional brand?

Okay, that’s more than a few questions.  I think you get the idea.  Not only is LinkedIn a great way to maintain control of your ‘Rolodex’ and maintain connections to your professional contacts, it is a gold mine of market intelligence.  In the coming weeks, I’ll walk you through methods for achieving all of the above.  

Subscribe today to be notified by email of future posts, so you don’t miss these timely and practical tips.  I look forward to helping you get LinkedIn!

Introverts’ natural strengths in networking – part II

Okay, you’ve successfully entered a networking conversation. It’s going well. Hooray! Now it’s time to leave.
“What??” you say, “But I’m just starting to get comfortable.”

Exactly. Networking conversations are meant to be short. If you are starting to get really comfortable, the conversation may be starting to run long. You really shouldn’t need more than about 5 minutes, tops. Remember, you are making a business contact, not reconnecting with a long lost friend. As a gracious networker, you must allow the other person to connect with other people and achieve their aims for the evening. So, you need to leave the conversation. Here’s how:

1. After the other person makes a statement or observation, resist the urge to say “Really?”, or just mumble “Mmhhh”. This is an inadvertent prod, and will cause them to continue talking. If you say anything like that, immediately jump into step 2.

2. Instead, let them know you have enjoyed the conversation and, if you have been listening well, you have probably identified an opportunity to follow up with them. Let them know you’d like to follow up, and get their assent.

3. Offer your business card and ask for theirs

4. Thank them and reference the next touchpoint you expect to have with them. Perhaps you have an article you are going to send them, or you will likely see them at the next meeting, or they have offered to connect with someone on your behalf.

It doesn’t have to go in exactly this order, but should include these elements. The conversation might look something like this:

Them: “We’ve had fairly good success so far this year increasing our brand awareness in the local market.”

You: “That’s fantastic. It’s been such a pleasure to meet you. (Extend your hand to shake theirs). I’d like to catch up with a former colleague of mine who’s here, but I’d love to continue our discussion another time. May I send you the link to that article we discussed, and perhaps we can arrange to meet for coffee early next week?”

Them: “Sure, that would be great.”

You: “Do you have a business card? Here’s mine. (Exchange cards) Thanks. Enjoy the speaker tognight.” (Walk away).

As someone who used to be paralyzed at the thought of walking into a group of strangers, but now loves it, believe me when I say “you can do this”. Heck, you might even enjoy it someday.

Finally, I will leave you with a book recommendation:

    The Fine Art of Small Talk

by Debra Fine. It is a short, extremely practical, how-to guide and the best bang for your buck out there.

Now, get out there and put these tips and your natural strengths to work. Happy networking!

Introverts’ natural strengths in networking – part I

I talk with a LOT of people about their career. Getting promoted, finding new jobs, developing their executive presence and so on. A success factor in all of these areas is the ability to network. Already some of you are recoiling. Specifically, those of you who label yourself introverts. I know, truly I do – the idea of walking into a room of people you don’t know and finding someone to talk with makes you very, very uncomfortable. You may even wear this as a badge of honor, as in: “Eww, I hate networking!” *emphasis on networking as if it’s a dirty word*

But what if I asked you – do you like people? Most of you would say “yes”. However, if you are an introvert you can most likely be described as selectively social, in that you like to develop deeper relationships with fewer number of people than an extrovert would.

Consider this: there are attributes common to introverts that can actually help them network effectively.

1. Introverts are often very observant

2. Introverts often like to listen

3. Introverts value connecting with people on a deeper level and need to feel there is a shared purpose to value the relationship

4. Introverts often are sensitive to/don’t like to make others uncomfortable

If these things are true for you, you may actually enjoy networking a bit, once you’ve learned the basic mechanics and how to leverage your strengths. The most important mechanics (and which may trip you up and/or terrify you) are entering a leaving a conversation. But first, getting your attitude right is important. It is imperative that you approach networking from the perspective that:

1. It may be mutually beneficial. You are not just asking or taking, you are giving too. You have more to offer than you think.

2. It is your responsibility to carry your share of the load. This means initiating conversation. If you make the other person do all the initiating, you are making them do the lion’s share of the work. And that’s not very gracious, is it?

3. Being nervous is about you, not them. I don’t remember where I heard this gem, but I absolutely love it and it has helped me tremendously over the years. Focusing on being nervous puts the emphasis on how you are feeling, not on how they are feeling. Magically, if you focus on them and putting them at ease, you will find yourself more at ease.

Okay, back to the mechanics. To enter a conversation:

1. Identify someone who is standing or sitting alone (here is where you’re using your power of observation)

2. Approach them (remember – by taking the initiative, you are taking the burden off them, and making them more comfortable which they will likely appreciate)

3. Introduce yourself – “Hi, I’m Susan” or “Is this seat taken? (Pause and sit) Hi, I’m Susan.” (smile)

4. Always shake hands if it is a business setting

5. Select one of a few questions you have identified in advance as conversation starters – “Are you new to this group?” or “Have you been a member of this group long?” or “I believe Daniel Pope invited a number of new people to this event. Did he invite you?”, etc.

6. Be prepared to make a follow up statement and ask a question that is more open ended and likely to result in a longer/deeper answer – “You’ve been a member for ten years? Wow! You must value the group. What have you found the most valuable?” or “What advice would you have for a new member like me, in order to get the most out of my membership?” or “You’re a new member too? What interested you in joining?” (Now you are leveraging your strength in listening and your interest in other people.)

Everyone at an event has chosen to be there for some reason. Focus on finding out why those you meet are there. This alone can lead to some very fruitful discussions. It will help you uncover common interests and perhaps even ways you can help them (here’s the mutually beneficial part).

Now, a word about distance. If you are selectively social, you don’t want to become best friends with everyone you meet. And the good news is – you don’t have to. But you don’t have to ignore them either. There is an in-between ground. If you follow the steps above you will get there, more easily than you might have imagined.

As a good networking conversation is brief, it will soon be time to exit the conversation (perhaps to your relief). We have already bitten off quite a bit today, so I’ll give you a chance to digest the above and I will address exiting in my next post.