In 2006, I trained my MBA class on how to use LinkedIn.
Back then virtually no one was on. And those that were on formed some kind of a tight-knit community. I remember landing in Vietnam on vacation, knowing only my college friend. I used LinkedIn to schedule 10 meetings with local business leaders.
Using the network, I arranged a breakfast meeting with the COO of the Mercedes plant, two vice presidents of the newly built Ikea, a top broker in one of Vietnam’s many stock markets, and so forth. These experiences demonstrated to me the power of LinkedIn when used correctly.
The following are three mistakes job seekers tend to make when using LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Mistake 1: Not Representing Yourself As A Confident User
The most common manifestation of this mistake is when people neglect their profile health. Most audiences I speak to have one thing in common… Their profiles aren’t 100% complete.
This is like showing up to a job interview naked. Why would you do that?
I understand it takes time to fill it out correctly, and writing a profile doesn’t happen all at once. But there is no reason it should take longer than a week to get yourself a nice looking profile.
When I was requesting meetings with top business leaders in a foreign country, I knew they would be carefully considering their decision on my request and my profile.
Please, please, please get your profile to 100% if it is not already.
Imagine requesting a meeting from a hiring manager at your target company. And when they look at your profile, it is clear to them that you are not taking your network seriously.
There is no one to blame but you. And no, it’s not the economy either.
My philosophy is: not everything is my fault, but when it is, then there is no one else to blame but me. When I point my finger, I need to make sure I can do so with 100% confidence that I’ve done everything I could.
LinkedIn Mistake 2: Not Stating Your Intentions Up Front
A few weeks ago, I received the following LinkedIn “In-Mail”
I obtained your name through the Boston University MBA LinkedIn Group. I graduated from the School of Management last year and I am in the process of making a career transition. It would be helpful for me to ask you questions about your experiences as an Sales Account Manager for Cisco.
I am not expecting to discuss a particular employment position but I would appreciate being able to talk with you on an informational basis.
I thank you in advance.
This is the perfect email format. Let’s look at the key elements:
- She told me how she found me, the BU Group.
- She gave me just enough background info about herself so I know why she chose to reach out to me, her graduation date, and her career transition.
- She told me the topic that she wanted to discuss with me.
- She made sure I knew she wasn’t trying to solicit me for a job, and she didn’t sound desperate.
- The email was short and to the point, clearly respecting my time.
I got back to her right away and made sure to answer all of her questions. I suggest your requests for info interviews keep to a similar format.
LinkedIn Mistake 3: Letting A Robot Speak With Your Voice
LinkedIn does a fabulous job telling you who you might know. When I log into my account, I can see old colleagues’ whom I haven’t spoken with since 2006 or earlier. I can see some jerks I used to work with who took pleasure in kicking puppies. But I don’t see people whom I’d like to connect with in order to grow my business.
The direction of your network is in your hands. You need to make sure that you steer it in a direction that is strategic to your job search. Make sure to connect with people who are in industries that interest you, in companies you might like to learn more about, or even in geographies that you would like to move to.
On a similar note, when connecting with folks, NEVER use the built-in message:
I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
You are not a robot. Don’t talk like one! Use your voice and personalize your request to connect. Not doing this is the fastest way to banality. To stand apart from other job seekers, you need to be different in ALL of your communications. Use every chance you get to demonstrate your personality and motivation.
Where those tips useful for you? Do you have more tips to share? LinkedIn pet-peeves? Other common LinkedIn mistakes? Please comment below to share with me and the other readers.