Remarkably Easy and Effective Networking Advice

Today is my birthday. I had another topic in mind but the occasion has forced my hand and today I want to talk a little bit about networking. A little over a month ago I wrote this post, Are you prepared for a career disaster?. It dealt with the situation of being laid off and your level of preparedness. Now, a big portion of that is networking. Who you know is often just as valuable as what you know or how well you interview. So what does career disasters and my birthday have in common? LinkedIn. In an attempt to have a robust profile I have filled out every available line. I have a picture, a link to this blog, every job I have had in my professional career, my degree and yes, my birthday. Starting last night around 7pm I started receiving emails from LinkedIn, notifying me that people were sending me messages.

Now this is entirely out of the ordinary, I am a recruiter after all. However, the frequency at which I am receiving these emails and the well wishes make it obvious, it is in fact well wishes for my birthday. Another thing is very obvious to me as well, I am going to receive a lot of these. Being a recruiter as well as a blogger, social media is very important to me. As such, I have built a decently large network. I have just under 9,000 first degree connections on LinkedIn and another 4,200 hundred followers on twitter. While I don’t expect too much in terms of birthday wishes from twitter, my expectation is a steady stream of messages filling my inbox all day through LinkedIn.

Now, I happen to love LinkedIn. It’s a great way to connect, learn about new topics and share information. One of the many great things LinkedIn does is it literally holds your hand through a variety of human interactions. What I mean by that is look at the top right portion of your screen on the LinkedIn homepage. There are 15 reminders up there every single day. They remind you when it is someone’s birthday or when they have an anniversary at an employer or when they switch jobs.

reminder

I once listened to a speaker talk about relationship building. In this talk, the speaker said that every morning he would open the paper and look in a section that chronicled local people’s promotions, new jobs and career moves. He would look for the people he knew and he would write each of them a hand written letter of congratulations regarding the significant career event. Three things came to mind when as I listened to this speech. The first was, wow, what a kind gesture that also happens to seem like a pretty smart idea. The second was, man, that seems like a ton of work. The third was, what is a newspaper? Just kidding, but seriously, in a vacuum, what a wonderful concept.

Now the downside to that plan is that it would be a ton of work. Enter LinkedIn. Because LinkedIn gives you reminders every single day about the happening s in your network and provides you several links that enable various forms of action, almost all of the work has been taken out of it. So if you look at this section in the top right hand corner it shows you a few things. It tells you the person and what has happened with them. It also gives you three options, like, message or skip. Now, technically “liking” there update is better than doing nothing, “skip”. But it isn’t much better. Almost everyone who happens to be on LinkedIn on that given day will hit like.

But what if you did more than that? What if every time you noticed someone received a promotion or a new job or the earth had a rotated around the sun another time, all the while they were employed with their current company, you messaged them? What if you wrote them a quick but personalized message, letting them know you are aware of the events in their life and wish them well? If you click “message”, LinkedIn will provide with a generic message like “congrats” or “happy birthday”, whatever they deem appropriate for the situation. And to be clear, nothing is wrong with that. In fact, it is still a pretty nice gesture. But how much effort would it take for you to write them a small note saying you are happy to see the progress in their career and perhaps recalling something you remember about them?

The fact of the matter is it will take very little work and you will make an impact. Messages like this might lead to conversations and those conversations could lead to meeting up with lunch with an old colleague. LinkedIn isn’t just a place where you can post pictures and opinions that really are more appropriate for Facebook, it’s a catalyst for maintaining and building professional relationships.

So here is my call to action. For a month, log into LinkedIn every day. Once there send a message to every person that LinkedIn brings up in that top right corner. My guess is it will take you less than 5 minutes. Do this and see what happens. The fact of the matter is its employees who are referred to an open position get the job at a much higher percentage than those of us who go through the traditional application process. Today’s workforce can be very volatile. In the time I have spent in Talent Acquisition I have had more talks than I care to remember with people who unexpectedly found themselves out of a job. I have heard those people say a lot of the same things. I didn’t see this coming. What should I do now? I haven’t had to interview is so long. I need to update my resume. However, I have never had someone say to me, I wish I was less well networked.

So try it. Send those messages. Strike up a dialogue with a former colleague. Cultivate relationships. Even if you never find yourself in the position where you find yourself needing to find a new job, there are plenty of benefits to having solid relationships. If nothing else, it’s a nice thing to do and you could make someone’s day. If you liked this post, please “like” and share it with your social media! Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a good opportunity.

If You Want a Recruiter to Delete Your Message, Do This!

How many of you start out writing an email hoping that the content is completely ignored? I imagine that since you have arrived on my site, the answer to that question is that none of you actually want that. Let’s be more specific, how many of you reach out to a recruiter, hoping that he or she will delete your message without reading it? I’m going to wager a guess that once again, none of you have that as the desired outcome of writing a message. At this point I imagine some of you are thinking, “Ben, you are now four sentences into this post, where are you going with this?”

Fair, let’s get to the point. I am writing this post because I see people write messages every day that I know will be deleted. I also receive messages from people at least once a week that are wildly ineffective and that, simply put are not accomplishing what they were created to do. In fact, I am going to say that this method is the least effective way to contact a recruiter if the end goal is a job, an interview or a relationship. I am going to tell you what this method is now so that you can avoid doing this for the rest of your professional career.

Ok so let’s get to the message. Now, this message can come in many forms. Sometimes it’s an email, sometimes it’s a message on LinkedIn and sometimes it’s even a reply to a post. However, the one thing they will all have in common is that they will soon be ignored or deleted. Let’s take a look at what this might actually look like. Usually it reads something like the following:

 

“Hi Ben. My name is Katie. I am a Mechanical Engineer who graduated from Sterling University. I am looking for a new role, if you have anything suitable please advise.”

 

Do you hear that sound? That is the sound of Recruiters everywhere clapping and yelling “Preach”. I cannot begin to tell you how ineffective that message is. Whatever the goal of that message was, it will not be accomplished. Now some of you might be thinking “Ben, what is wrong with that message? I thought you were a recruiter….recruit!” Well the first thing that comes to mind is that this person did absolutely no research. In fact, besides saying nothing at all this is literally the least amount of effort someone could put in to try and achieve their end goal of employment.

The caveat here is that you happen to have a skill that is such a rare commodity and I happen to be looking for someone with that skill, then that might work. However, if you aren’t a welding engineer or a penetration tester or a paint coatings scientist or a Senior Crystal Growth Scientist (I have filled all four of those roles by the way) then you are probably out of luck. The above message will not resonate with good recruiters. It shows lack of effort when it comes to research and it comes off as lazy.

Now for those of you saying “well Ben, I get tons of messages from recruiters and they are lazy as well and they don’t do the necessary research either!” you aren’t wrong. That is true. It would be impossible for me to defend the actions of all recruiters out there. However, the goal of this post is so help you recognize what not to do and spend the extra five minutes to make your outreach attempt 100x more successful.

Now I most frequently get this message on LinkedIn. So that means someone requested to connect with me or already was connected to me. Which means before they sent that message they had the ability to view my profile. Which means they can see where I work and with just a little bit of leg work they themselves are capable of seeing some of the jobs my company is looking to fill. Now if the recruiter happens to be a headhunter, you may not have access to their jobs making this more difficult but if they are a Corporate Recruiter, this really is quite easy. Now let’s look at an example of a really effective message.

 

“Hi Ben. Thanks for accepting my request to connect. I see that you work for ABC Company. I have been hearing a lot about your company in the news recently and have always respected your company’s products. I was on the website and noticed you currently have a posting for a Mechanical Engineer. After reading the description, not only does it sound really interesting but I strongly believe I meet the requirements. The posting says it requires 4 years of experience, a strong knowledge of metal fabrications and a strong proficiency with solidworks. I have 5 years’ experience, I have over 2,000 hours working with solidworks and a strong background in metal fab. This position seems like it could potentially be a fit. I would love to talk with you more about the role, when would you have a few minutes to chat? You can reach me at 123-456-7899 between the hours of 12-1pm or 3-6pm. Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from you!”

 

Do you see the difference? For me the difference is I am responding to the second one. They showed initiative, were polite and from the looks of it, are qualified. The message will take a little bit longer to write but if you care at all about the success rate of the emails you write, I would advise you to go with option two. Hopefully this helps and I appreciate you taking the time to read it. If you have a few more minutes go check out this post, The Difference Between Great Interviewers and Good Interviewers, it’s one of my favorite posts I’ve written over the last six months! If you found some value in this post, please share with your social networks. Thanks and have an awesome day!

How LinkedIn can get you a new job: Why it’s crucial for every job seeker

Most people are familiar with LinkedIn but I talk to far too many people who don’t actually utilize it properly. If you don’t know what LinkedIn is, it is a social media platform for professionals, a lot like a resume you create online and it’s a great way to connect with others. It’s funny, but I interview people all the time who tell me they have an account but they don’t really use it… Don’t really use it?!?!? If you are looking for a new job or even if you are a professional who might want to hear about new opportunities from time you absolutely have to have a LinkedIn account. Not only do you need to have one, but you are missing a real opportunity to if you don’t have it optimized.

Let me tell you why it’s so important. According to a recent LinkedIn investor call, LinkedIn has 332 million members and every second it gains 2 new members. That comes out to 1/3 of the professionals on the planet!  To me that is amazing. So while those numbers are pretty amazing, how does that impact you? It impacts you because people like me, recruiters, are constantly on LinkedIn trying to find professionals to tell them about roles. So if you set up a great LinkedIn account it literally can do the leg work for you getting a new role. In fact 2 of my last 3 roles came through LinkedIn. Ultimately, even if you aren’t looking for a role, wouldn’t you want to know what’s out there?  I wasn’t actually looking for a role either time I was contacted via LinkedIn but it just so happened that the opportunities were awesome and I ended up taking them.

You want that to be you, a good LinkedIn profile can the leg work of a job search for you and land you interviews. But again, just having a LinkedIn account isn’t going to it. There are many little tweaks and changes that can help get you viewed more. For example, according to LinkedIn you increase your views by 11 times by simply including a photo. For other ways to optimize your LinkedIn profile take a look at this link, Service Offerings.

People like me do searches every single day based on job title and keywords located in your LinkedIn profile. In fact, a good portion of the recruiters have an advanced account on LinkedIn that gives them the ability to view and message more people on LinkedIn than the average user.  These accounts are called “LinkedIn Recruiter Seats” and at every single company I have worked at we had access to them.  Not only did we have access to them but when it comes to looking for candidates who are “passive”, it is by far the most commonly used tool.

Setting up a good LinkedIn profile is a must for any professional in my opinion. It’s a free tool that allows you to connect with other professionals and even if you just want to use it passively, it might just land you your next job. Besides potentially landing you a great job and it being a great way to network with other similar professionals, it is a great medium for consuming professional articles and is filled with great content.  If you don’t have a LinkedIn account I would encourage you open one up today and if you do have one but you under-utilize it, I challenge you to go make it more robust. LinkedIn actually helps you make your profile better with tips and tricks. If you really want to make yourself visible to potential employers you can use a service like this, Service Offerings. Not only will they help with making sure it’s a properly functioning profile, they also utilize SEO (search engine optimization) tactics to make sure that you come up in those searches more frequently and give you the advantage in landing your next role.