by: Lisa K. McDonald
Networking is in imperative for any successful career. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking.
One of the most relevant and impactful resources for networking is LinkedIn. In fact, the very core of LinkedIn’s existence is networking. The company’s mission is simple: “to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”
Any job seeker or upwardly mobile professional needs LinkedIn — and with more than 364 million members on the site, it’s likely that you’re on there, too. You may have even read up on how to create an effective and professional profile and followed all that advice to a “T” — and yet, no one is reaching out to you.
Why? To put it as simply as possible – and to quote my four-year-old buddy next door – “You’re not talking right.”
LinkedIn has its own conversation style. It lends itself to business casual, one-on-one conversations with the people reading your profile. You need to talk to and with your audience, not at or around them. And before you start a conversation, you need to know what you are going to say.
There are four steps for having a successful conversation on LinkedIn. Te first three set the stage for what you are going to say, and the fourth step sets the tone.
1. Identify Your Audience
You cannot be all things to all people on LinkedIn. You only have 2,000 characters to work with in your summary, so you need to decide who it is you want to talk to, who it is you want to notice and engage with you. You are not targeting all hiring managers — only the ones in your target market.
2. Identify Your Value
Why do people want to talk to you? The most important question for a potential employer is “What can you do for me?” What do you bring to the table that others do not? Review your entire career capacity and include all relevant skill sets, accomplishments, work styles, and experiences on your LinkedIn.
If transitioning to a new role or industry, assess your skills and relate them to the targeted position. The specific duties of the role you want may not perfectly match with what you have done — however, you can still find a way to translate your skills across responsibilities.
3. Identify What Is Important to Your Audience
You need to know what you have to offer, but you also need to know how what you have to offer relates to or aligns with what your target market values. It is not just what you did, but how you did it that counts. Not all people hired to do a specific job do it the same way — so what makes you stand out?
If you have worked in the field, speak to your past experiences and successes. When transitioning, demonstrate your transferable skills from the desired position’s perspective. Evaluate essential duties from a skill-set perspective. Speak to your experience from the perspective of skills, rather than duties performed.
4. Identify the Tone
“Business causal professional” is the basis of all LinkedIn conversations
The best way to identify your voice is to imagine you are sitting in a foo-foo coffee house on a fluffy chair across from your ideal audience, and that audience asks you to “tell me about yourself.”
Your response is your summary statement. It is a combination of your elevator pitch and an interview in a relaxed environment.
Be yourself: use words that resonate with you and that create and support a consistent brand between your resume, your LinkedIn profile, your networking efforts, and interviewing skills.
LinkedIn is not your resume; it is a one-on-one conversation. A resume is an arm’s-length conversation, a sales presentation directed to a large, general audience. Resumes use an assumed “I’, whereas LinkedIn uses a genuine “I” and “me.”
Describe yourself and your value by speaking directly to your audience’s needs and expectations. Demonstrates that you understand the company, industry, and/or clients, and that you can be a valued contributor.
Use these four steps to begin a conversation that engages your ideal audience. That audience will be invited into the conversation and see you as a confident professional whom they want to get to know.
About the Author
Lisa K. McDonald, principal and owner of Career Polish, Inc., is a brand strategist, certified professional resume writer, and career coach. She works with clients to move in, up ,or on in their careers; expand their sales; and strengthen their leadership and teams. Lisa is an energetic speaker and facilitator on the topics of leadership, sales, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence, and achieving career success.
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