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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!

Summer celebration a success

Thank you to those who subscribed to the blog during my summer celebration!  That was fun and I’ll definitely do it again in the future. Congrats to those who received a free profile review.  What a great investment of your time to focus on refining your online brand. 

In my next post, I’ll delve further into intermediate features of LinkedIn.  In the meantime, enjoy your summer!

Summer celebration – free profile review!

I love summer!  It’s a time to get outdoors, spend time with family and enjoy a little relaxation and renewal.  Speaking of renewal, it’s also a good time to refresh your LinkedIn profile.  

In celebration of summer, I am announcing a “giveaway”: a free LinkedIn profile review to the first 10 new subscribers after this post is published.  The subscription itself is free – all you have to do is click the button on the blog that says, “Yes, review my profile!” and you will begin receiving notifications via email of new posts.  I don’t post every day, so I promise not to clutter up your inbox. 

Once I confirm your subscription, I will reach out via email and ask you to provide me the URL to your public profile.  Then, after my review, I’ll follow up and share my feedback.  It’s that simple!

Thanks for reading and subscribing.  Enjoy your summer!

Power of the profile

For most people, LinkedIn is the first website referenced in a Google search of their own name. This makes their LinkedIn profile their #1 marketing tool.  How can they make it work for them?  How can you make yours work for you?

A great profile can sell you.  A weak one can sink you.  Whether you are in an active job search, being scouted by the competition, in consideration as a guest speaker or a possible network contact, what people see when they look at your profile will affect whether they reach out to you.   This is your “brand” laid out visually. So, here are some basics on building a powerful profile:

Know Who You Are

Professionally, that is.  Know your strengths, skills, areas of knowledge.  Which stand out?  What are you exceptionally good at?  Of these things, which do you enjoy the most and are the most marketable?   What are some key achievements of yours?  These are questions you should have asked as you built your resume if you have done so recently.  The answers will help you define your profile content. In fact, your profile should include similar information to your resume.

Use Keywords

Searches on LinkedIn produce results based on keyword hits.  Therefore, you want keywords that describe your experience, skills, knowledge and abilities integrated throughout your profile.  What keywords might a potential employer search by?  Read job descriptions for roles that interest you (even if you are not in a job search.)  This will give you some ideas. 

Sections

Here are brief recommendations on what to include in the main sections of your profile:

Summary –  A concise overview which includes an overarching “branding” message – communicate immediately what functional area of expertise you possess and at what level.  Highlight some experience, skills or capabilities or combination thereof which you possess and are your key “selling points”.   Are you a talented software architect with really strong interpersonal and presentation skills?  Say so.  Have you led teams on high visibility projects?  Ditto.

Specialties –  This is the place to list or bullet all the tangible knowledge areas or skills you want to highlight.  Focus first on hard skills then soft skills but only if they distinguish you in some way.  Do not list “team-player”.  In a recent study, this was the most over-used adjective on LinkedIn.  This distinguishes you from no one. 

Experience –  As in your resume, list employers, position titles, a brief description of your overall responsibility (one sentence) and then bullet out a few achievements that illustrate your best skills.  Only detail out the last 10-15 years or whatever is relevant.  Do not go back to the beginning of time.  If you had a big gap somewhere in there, either do not go beyond it, or understand that it will raise questions.   

Education –  List relevant formal education, leaving dates and other details out if you think they may hurt you.

Other –  There are a number of other areas you can complete such as Awards and Personal information.  Remember, only include that which is relevant and which you want people to know and be able to share about you.  Some things like marital status and your physical address, for example, really do not need to be completed on your LinkedIn profile. 

What Not to Include

Information that is irrelevant or even detrimental to you as a potential employee, consultant, speaker, reference…you get the picture.  Interests outside the workplace that are highly charged such as religion or politics – be aware these can hurt you.  If you wish to join Groups that are polarizing – just don’t “show” the group on your profile (can be changed in Settings or Edit Profile page).  More about this in a future post.

Uploading Your Resume

Though you may choose to, you do not need to upload your resume and make it available through an app such as Box.net.  Keyword searches don’t search these, so you won’t produce any hits this way, and you lose control over your document, as others can print, save or share your document without you ever knowing.  Anything you do choose to upload and make available on your profile, save it as a .pdf.  This won’t make it impossible to change your document, if the individual has the right software, but it does make it less likely. 

Applying the suggestions above will help you begin creating a powerful profile.  This is a start.  In the next post, I’ll talk about recommendations and the benefits of getting your profile to 100% completeness.