Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Are you using these 6 Linkedin networking etiquette tips?

We all know networking is the best way to find a job or change careers. Along with in-person contact, networking using social media can open even more doors. All you have to do is create a Linkedin profile and send a few generic connection requests then the calls will start pouring in, right? Wrong. AND, tacky!

Career services professionals, resume writers and other career coaches are encouraging everyone to create Linkedin profiles. Right now, it is the place to see and be seen when networking, acquiring talent or seeking employment. Whether you are a recent grad, about to graduate from college or are a seasoned professional, it is important use Linkedin intentionally and understand the etiquette associated with it.

1) When using Linkedin, don’t ask for recommendations from those who do not truly know you or your work. This is equivalent to asking someone to serve as a reference when they have only met you in passing. It’s awkward when you send the generic recommendation or connection request. Be sure to customize the auto-generated message when asking for a connection or recommendation. Remind the person of what you’re looking for and what you have to offer. That way, they can write a specific, targeted, more impressive recommendation. Make sure the person writes in a way that actually conveys useful, credible information. Any recommendation that says, “Ryan is a great guy” or, ”I enjoyed working with Kathy,” adds no value or perspective to a future employer. Always ask your recommender to list specific skills, knowledge and abilities that you will bring to a prospective employer along with any other character comments or fluff and stuff. Professors, former employers, church staff, pastors, professional staff at colleges and those who manage any community service work you have done, are good sources for recommendations. As for a connection make sure you customized the request and indicate how you know the person or even why you want to know them.

2) Many recruiters tell me it is quite acceptable to add your Linkedin public address to your resume. Recruiters say they will check social media sources tied to your name anyway, so go ahead and make it easy for them. It also shows you have nothing to hide. Write your Linkedin profile in a manner that provides a snapshot of your accomplishments and key skills--not just a list of duties from previous employment. Hmm…sounds a lot like an even tighter version of a good resume, doesn’t it?

3) Join Linkedin groups where you can gain insight and participate in discussions about a career, topic or field of interest. If you have good advice to share from your life and career perspective, share it frequently. If you have a question, pose it professionally and intelligently to the group or an individual. Start by joining your college or university’s alumni group. Don't just stalk groups. Share expertise, ask questions and participate openly.

4) If you blog, add a link to your blog on your Linkedin profile. Be sure the blog content demonstrates your professional knowledge or expertise in an area along with your creativity and writing skills. Your mindless ramblings or even intelligent rants on political or religious matters can close doors--unless you have the luxury of waiting for a job to open up where only those with your exact political party or religious affiliation work. Don’t ever sacrifice or hide your beliefs, values and morals, but be wise in how they may come across to those who don’t know you or may be thinking of hiring you. Convey opinions and values wisely. This applies not only to  what you say on a blog, but also what you do when you think no one is watching!

5) If you are a recent grad or unemployed, avoid posting a Linkedin status or headline statement as: "Need a job!" It sounds desperate. No one will be as interested in helping Needy Nellie.  Also, if you have a job, be respectful of your current employer and keep your search confidential, avoid posting, “Looking for a new job.” You never know who in your organization is one connection away. Use the jobs tab and follow companies that you might be interested in. Many Human Resources professionals tell me Linkedin has replaced some of their traditional sources of advertising for open positions. 

6) Proofread your Linkedin profile just as you would a resume. A sloppy profile might mean a sloppy worker. Check your grammar, spelling and punctuation. I shouldn't have to say it, but don't use text language or incorrect grammar in your profile. Make sure your phone numbers and email addresses are up to date and professional. Your credibility, image and reputation is being conveyed in this moment. Make the moment matter. Revisit your profile from time to time and add any new experiences that will enhance your personal brand to potential employers.

Finally, as social media continues to grow among every population and age group, you should take a moment to Google your name. You might be surprised to find out what or who is associated with your name or someone with a similar name. If you ever created dicey web pages or humorous Facebook groups as a joke in college, it may come back to haunt you or send the wrong impression to a current or future employer. Check your digital dirt and if you can’t remove it, make sure you can provide an explanation if you are asked about it.

Now that you have linked in and up, step away from the computer! Pick up the phone and schedule a breakfast, lunch, coffee or other in-person appointment, with a targeted list of people who can provide timely, realistic career advice or informational interviews. Let them see your dazzling smile, hear your great enthusiasm, see your fabulous personality all backed up by a solid education, meaningful results, transferable skills and an eagerness to grow.

What tips have you found effective when using Linkedin? 

Leave comments below, I'd love to hear from you!