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Careers 101: Tweet Your Way to Success

Hopefully you received our invite to the #YPNYC Young Professional Tweetup we’re co-hosting with Julia Moon of Job vs. Career next Tuesday, October 18th. (If not, you should sign up for our mailing list). If you’ve been following my activities at all over the last year, you know I love Tweetups! I think they are a perfect example of harnessing the impact of social media to create and improve real-life relationships.

Join our Tweetup on 10.18

While there will be a number of people at the #YNPNYC Tweetup who are serious Twitter users, many will be new and slightly older than the typical “young professional” age bracket so don’t be intimidated if you’re unsure about coming. I’ll be there to not only help facilitate, but provide career coaching tips on maximizing Twitter for anyone who wants them. Here are some quick pieces of advice I have to get started on your own.

Tip 1- Follow: One of the best aspects of Twitter is that you can get access to experts and content for free. Lots of bloggers have created lists of people they recommend following on Twitter in various industries- search for them on Google and then start following. I have been featured on a few and my favorite has been YouTern’s The 50 Twitter Accounts Job Seekers Must Follow. I met the YouTern team on Twitter about a year ago through a few RTs (see Tip 2) and now- even though we live on opposite coasts- I’ve had coffee and meals with CEO Mark Babbitt three times and consider him a trusted colleague and advisor. Twitter is a great introduction to people you might never meet otherwise.

Tip 2- Engage: There are many ways to engage with people in Twitter. The easiest is to retweet (RT) something someone else wrote to your followers. Sharing is a great way to say thank you and start a conversation. You can also reply to people’s questions or just send someone a public tweet whether or not they follow you back. Every night, I look through my Twitter feed for people who found jobs or had other huge wins so I can send them a congratulations tweet, even if I don’t know them beyond 1 or 2 brief interactions. Compassion rocks. I met young professional and music industry guru Cate Louie on Twitter well over a year ago when we shared some tweets about job searching and organization. About 6 months ago, I had a really bad day (prob worst of all of 2011) and made a cryptic tweet about it. After following me for some time, Cate knew I loved Glee and tweeted me a link to a video from the show with a smile. A month later, I got to meet her at a conference by chance and we hugged. It’s one of my favorite Twitter moments.

Tip 3- Socialize: Socialize is a little different than engaging in that it means talking with others in a community setting, like at a Twitter chat. There are Twitter chats about all sorts of topics. One of my lessons in the free summer e-Course I offered this summer talked about how important it is to include Twitter chats in your career management plan. Feel free to read that stand-alone lesson for tips on participating in Twitter chats. For our Tweetup, we’ll be using the #YPNYC hashtag to create our own community. Everyone is free to use it, including those who won’t be at the Tweetup.

Finally, here are five of my favorite articles about Twitter I’ve collected over the last year that can help you get started.

– How 3 Tiny Tweets Got My First BIG Client

– Mind Your Business: Why You’re a Fool if You Don’t Use Twitter

– 4 Twitter Tips for College Students Seeking a Career (good for all ages, really)

– Twitter: 15 Ways to Stay Interesting

– Using Twitter for Work 

Look forward to speaking with you on Twitter and possibly at our event on the 18th!

Guest Post: Creating the Perfect Internship by Justin Mathews

Justin MathewsI am super, super pleased to feature a post today by Justin Mathews who I met over a year ago through my college mentor at Syracuse University, and has worked with The Opportunities Project since January 2011. Justin has helped me take my little idea of changing people’s perspectives on careers and education to a real live profitable organization with national credibility. I can’t thank him enough for sticking by me through all the peaks and valleys of the last nine months and keeping us on track.

While Justin and I make a great team, I also support his career goal to work in the consulting industry and think any organization who convinces him to accept their offer will be a very lucky place. 


Many college students waste too much time looking for that perfect internship. They apply at big shot companies, become discouraged when they don’t get it or, if they do get in, are disappointed to find that most of their work involves answering phones, clipping news article, or shredding paper.

But what if you could construct the perfect internship from scratch? What if the entire experience was sculpted from the beginning to utilize your strengths while broadening your skill set with tools to help you succeed in a career?

It’s a very real possibility. In fact, that is exactly what happened to me during my virtual internship with The Opportunities Project last spring. I began in January when I was brought on as Market Research and Digital Strategy Assistant. Before discussing the details of my position, Tracy and I searched job descriptions for “my perfect job” and identified recurring skills an ideal candidate would possess. When we met to structure the internship, we incorporated learning these into my daily responsibilities.

Even with three and a half years of college under my belt, most of my duties required the use of tools that I had barely (if ever) learned to use. I had never touched Google Analytics or WordPress, I used social media exclusively to communicate with friends I saw on a daily basis, and I had all but forgotten the little HTML and CSS I learned in Intro to Web Design.

But I learned them quickly. I analyzed the site’s website traffic, created a custom landing page on Facebook, co-authored a white paper, managed cost per click advertising campaigns, and more.

That was the true beauty of my internship. At the time, I was one of two team members working for The Opportunities Project, which meant that the company’s potential successes and failures hinged very much on my ability to learn and apply these new skills. My work didn’t just impact a grade – it had a very real effect on the overall health of a small business.

I have since been hired by The Opportunities Project as a paid operations and marketing consultant, as well as a subcontractor on their latest recruitment consulting contract. While other recent grads may be scrambling for their first, income-generating, post-grad opportunity, I am getting paid to use all of the skills I learned through my internship, make a difference, and learn even more skills. I expect these skills to aid me as I continue to search for long-term career opportunities in consulting.

That said, here is my best advice for college students:

Reach out to small businesses:

There are tons of startups out there. In fact, with businesses becoming increasingly web-based, your opportunities for a virtual internship are endless (I’ve done all my work while at least five hours away). Many of these startups haven’t even considered the possibility of having an intern yet. Use this to your advantage. If you’re trustworthy and present a compelling argument as to how you can help, you might just create an internship on the spot. You can work with your supervisor to structure the experience to learn new skills and employ the ones you have.

If you are successful, you’ll be able to broaden your skill set and have the opportunity to make a positive and measurable impact on the business, both of which will make you extremely attractive to future employers.

Why I Hired My Team

So here is the last in my blog series about my perspective on recruiting and hiring my team. We’ve discussed where I found people, what I did to recruit them, and now today why I thought that these were the right people for the project. Here is what impressed me about my team members.

Achievement and Leadership- As I grow as an entrepreneur and a recruitment specialist, I try to broaden my perspective from the “left-brained” approach of quantified accomplishments and try to consider more creative qualities in prospects. But I’ve come to realize that I place a high value on achievement and my experience has shown that it does predict success. Someone who is focused on accomplishments and leadership cares about their work and making a positive impact. It also means they can “ship,” to quote Seth Godin.

Generalist and Diverse Experiences- I know that there are lots of career and HR experts that disagree on this, that it’s best to become a specialist in something to make yourself more marketable. I have to say I disagree. In professional services, I want to work with people who have done a lot things and can move into various roles when needed. Flexibility and the ability to dig in and get your hands dirty are more valuable to me than being good at one highly valued skill. I can outsource technical work to people I don’t have to work with in a team. The more you can do, the better.

Confidence- Each person I hired was confident about what they could offer me and told their own stories. I believe at least three people I hired at been laid off in the last year, but I am not even 100% sure about all of them. It didn’t matter because they didn’t portray any gaps to me in their work and led the effort to explain how specific things they had done before were going to bring my project to the next level. During the brief interviews, I never had to stretch to envision these people in the job. They acted the part from the first time we spoke on the phone.

One thing I will close with is that since I hired within my network for a short-term project, I did not do extensive behavior based interviewing, even though I am a big believer of its power to predict success. If you’re making hiring decisions from a broader pool of applicants who you aren’t that familiar with, I’d use that as a main tool to help with your selection.

So hope these three short posts on my experienced helped some jobseekers and recruiters. If you have any questions, throw them in the comments!

What I Did To Hire My Team

This week, I’m running a blog series on how I hired an 11 person team. While most of my blogging has been about my perspectives on careers and recruitment, this is about my actual experience as a hiring manager.

Yesterday I talked about where I first met the people I considered for my team. Some relationships went back to 2004, and really 1994 if you consider the college mentor who referred me one team member. So besides meeting lots of people and remembering them, what did I do to put this team together? Let’s discuss three points.

Relationships: This is probably obvious based on yesterday’s post, but I make it a point to keep up with people, even if it’s in impersonal ways sometimes, and know what they’re up to professionally. Even before I anticipated landing a contract where I would need so much support, I also intentionally spent time cultivating new relationships with people who I could see partnering with some day. I still do.

Here is my most important point I’d like to make about relationships. Never Eat Alone is a fantastic book that I often recommend, but despite what relationship gurus say, it’s impossible to have value-added relationships with hundreds of people and be a productive human being. Instead, be okay creating ways to check in with people in quick ways even if it’s not the way you exactly want. Perfect can be the enemy of the good. And speaking of keeping up with people, let’s talk about…

Social Media: In yesterday’s post, you saw lots of mentions of social media. I used Twitter to meet and get to know new people, I used LinkedIn to actively recruit first degree connections, and I used Facebook to engage my second degree “weak ties” by asking closer friends and co-workers for recommendations. Before social media, it would have been so much harder to keep up with people and access such a large network. I actually believe it would be impossible.. So for everyone who says social media can’t help you recruit or establish relationships- you just don’t know how to use it. That’s okay, but you have to learn now.

I will also say this on the content curation, creation and promotion aspects of social media… it helped me with this project, too. For the people I hired who I didn’t have strong relationships with, they were able to know more about me and what I had to offer based on content I’d shared on the internet. They saw my legitimacy in my new endeavor and made them more willing to work with me and listen to…

Recruiting with Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsThe Pitch: Tomorrow I’ll talk more about the selection process on my end, but once I decided that these were the people I wanted to hire, I had to convince them to work with this project. My recruiting strategy borrows a lot from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, not only for my recruiting for business, but when I develop a full-scale recruiting solution for a client. Too many organizations focus on the lower parts of the pyramid- compensation, security, a team to work with. Those are important, but when I talked about the work to prospects during the meeting process, I talked about how they could make a difference, structure their work, and  learn new skills- the self-actualization aspects of work.  And I kept that promise anyway I could that didn’t interfere with the client’s needs.

Image courtesy of BetterWorks.com.

More on why I hired the team tomorrow.

Where I Hired My Team

This week, I am writing a quick blog series on how I hired my team for a client project this summer. I thought it would provide an interesting perspective to job seekers on what actually happens when a small business seeks to construct a team. Less than 3% of U.S. companies have over 500 employees so the small business mindset is important to many job searches. Again, this is my experience, not just my opinionated advice.

My intent is to keep this blog series as dead simple as possible. Today, I want to point out what the sources were for my hires, meaning where I first met my team or came to know of them. As you’ll see, I relied on my network to fill my positions because trust was important to me, and as an experienced recruiter, I subconsciously spend a lot of time cultivating a network of talented people for moments like this. It never occurred to me to post any of the jobs on sites because I knew if I looked in the right places, I had perfect people within two degrees of myself.

Over the course of the project, I worked with 11 other people, almost all part-time and all hired in June or July 2011. Nine were excellent and two of the eleven were replaced by other hires- one didn’t like freelancing and the other one was asked to leave, but I’ll count them in here.  So where and when did I first meet these people?

Two hires originated from Twitter chats (fall 2010 and spring 2011).

Two hires were former co-workers (2005 and 2010). One I found when I posted on Facebook that I was hiring and a mutual former co-worker informed me the hire was considering freelancing. A second I found when I poured through my LinkedIn network and found out that she had made the move to independent consulting.

– One hire was recommended by a former direct report who saw my post about hiring on Facebook (summer 2011).

– One hire I first met at a live Brazen Careerist networking event (fall 2010).

– One hire was recommended through someone I worked on projects with and originally met on Brazen Careerist (spring 2011).

– One hire I had found on Google as a direct competitor (spring 2010) but developed a close relationship once we started talking on Brazen Careerist (spring 2011).

– One hire I met in a women’s entrepreneurship group that we both hated (summer 2010). I thought of her when I was looking at my LinkedIn network for good partners and talent. (Interestingly, the team member in the bullet above was also in that same group but we didn’t know her.)

One hire was referred to me by my college mentor for an internship at my old company and came to work with me at The Opportunities Project as an intern and then operations and marketing consultant (summer 2010).

-One hire I met through a book club I once managed and have worked with over and over again on professional projects since we met (2004).

 

It shouldn’t have to be said, but I’ve spent my life working in recruitment and was not just going to hire anyone for the biggest project of my career (more on why I selected people on Thursday). Are you still surprised with how I staffed my team? My guess is that instinctually many of you would say no, but it’s likely not aligned with how you might be trying to find your own next opportunity. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Blog Series: How I Hired My Team

Happy Monday! While you’re catching up on all the good stuff we have to offer you in the coming weeks, I’m also introducing a new blog series for this week called How I Hired My Team. A few weeks ago, I was participating in #HFChat, the Hire Friday Twitter chat dedicated to helping job seekers get back to work, and the topic was where job seekers should look to find jobs. As I was tweeting out some tips- network intentionally, ask friends- I realized that I had a unique role this summer beyond my standard ones as a career coach and a recruiter. I also served as a hiring manager when I hired 11 subcontractors to work on a big contract our company landed. Some subcontractors were selected to do quick 10 hour projects, some were hired to replace the ones that didn’t work out, and some were hired to work 40+ hour weeks, but the hiring and recruiting strategy stayed the same for all and it did not include job boards.

Come back to the blog this week to read three posts and gain some insight that can help you position yourself for an unexpected opportunity.

Tuesday: Where I found everyone who I hired, specifically how I came to first know about them (I think this will be the most informative post)

Wednesday: What I l did to find and convince people to jump onto this contract

Thursday: Why I hired the team I chose

 

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Three Tips to Not Trip Up Your Teacher Job Search

What a busy week- webinars with SchoolSpring and YouTern and launching our group coaching program (you’ve enrolled so I can get you your dream job, right?). And let’s not forget about the Life After College Party with the awesome NYC coaching community, NY Creative Interns, and Jenny Blake. Thanks to everyone who participated in these events and reminded me that I am living my dream as a career coach!

Yesterday, I took some time to listen to the recording for the SchoolSpring webinar which focused on using your competitive advantage to find a teaching job and re-read the chat. I pulled out three things I spoke about where people on the webinar weren’t quite convinced. I thought I’d address them today on the blog.

Apple-0031. Have a great digital portfolio. A digital portfolio is used to market your unique strengths before you even get the interview. A physical portfolio is limiting because it can only realistically be used in the interview.  Someone asked if a principal or recruiter will actually spend time online looking at your online materials. Absolutely. No one gets hired today without being Googled so why not point them to the an online space where you want them to look? Also, as online learning becomes more important in today’s schools, having a digital portfolio can demonstrate that you are onboard.

2. Use a GMail address for your job search. For some reason, this was one of the most talked about pieces of advice on the webinar! Trust me. There is data that shows that resumes with GMail addresses get looked at more often. Think about your brand and check out this piece from The Oatmeal on What Your Email Address Says About You if you still need to be convinced. As for university-based email addresses, recruiters don’t want to see them for two reasons. One, student email addresses quickly expire so I am going to assume that after May, it’s only a 50/50 chance I’ll actually get you so I’ll just contact someone else than potentially be aggravated with a bounced back email. Second, I want to hire someone who has already transitioned to adulthood and not a student.

This is just an example of what we talk about around mindset and branding in coaching.

3. Include your non-teaching experience on your resume. Every person interviewing for a teaching position in 2011 knows lesson planning and loves kids. When principals are interviewing you, they are thinking about the value you are going to add to the classroom beyond your basic training and what makes you unique. Any way that you can show you are well-rounded, do it. Think about some stories from your experiences outside student teaching and conclude them with how those lessons and skills are going to make you an amazing teacher.

There were also questions about how to teach in different states than the one where you earned your certification. I’m all for this, but ut’s not easy. In fact, this mobility issue is  very likely going to be related to my dissertation topic that I am taking on for the fall. I am planning to crowdsource my topic on my blog, so check back here throughout May for that post and give me your thoughts if this is something that makes you emotional or riled up.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

 

Three Reasons Not to Ask For Feedback When You Don’t Get The Job

Every few weeks, I see a Job Hunt Chat question that asks whether it’s appropriate for job seekers to ask for interview feedback from a company when they find out they didn’t get the job. Every time this question appears, I effusively answer “Absolutely not!” It’s hard to explain my reasoning in 140 characters, so here are three specific reasons why I advise job seekers against asking for feedback beyond the general thought that your eyes should be on the journey ahead, not the trip behind you.

Growth

One: It does not help you develop the type of relationship you want to have with the company.

While reflection and constant learning are qualities companies want in new team members, it’s a fine line between wanting to grow and coming off insecure and most job seekers don’t walk that line very well. If you don’t get the job you applied for, you still want to be considered for future positions and the best strategy is to come off as eager and confident in your abilities in a well-written thank you. Even if you didn’t do so hot in the interview, the person may be impressed and call you in a few months for a new opening based on your strong re-positioning of your candidacy.

Some might say that you should ask for feedback because “it can’t hurt,” but it can. When someone puts you in an uncomfortable position, such as asking you to give negative feedback to someone you barely know, you often subconsciously sour on him/her. Don’t give the company this opportunity to feel awkward about you.

Two: The feedback you’ll get is likely worthless and won’t help you become a more successful professional.

First, most companies have strict legal requirements on what they can say to candidates so no one will ever be 100% honest with you. Feedback on your communication skills may be seen as welcome advice to one candidate, but received as slander by another one, even if s/he requested it. Second, the hiring process is complex, highly contextual and only a small part is based on your interview. The decision involves everyone else in the applicant pool- including internal candidates and referrals from important people- and what the company needs now AND in a few years. The context will always be out of the job seeker’s control and successful applicants understand this. All you can do is your personal best.

If you made it through an interview and you were not selected, it’s for one of two reasons- the company picked someone else for the position for a contextual reason, or you didn’t communicate well enough in the interview about your candidacy. You likely already suspect if it’s the second reason. You can work with a professional or well-qualified peer or mentor on interview skills through mock interviews and story-telling exercises without asking for feedback from the company. You’ll get higher-quality information and it’s a better use of time.

Three: It’s not the right mindset for job seekers.

Anyone who makes hiring decisions for a company has two roles they must fulfill- (1) serve as a gatekeeper so only the best are hired, and (2) make sure that people feel good about the company brand no matter what the outcome is. Unsuccessful job seekers often don’t understand that it’s not the job of human resources professionals and recruiters to be altruistic to the unemployed. In fact, their job is to weigh the interests of their hiring managers OVER yours. A great recruiter will never let you see this because they also realize you’ll judge them and their company if you sense it, but it’s 100% true.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve become tired of job seekers who have been unemployed for close to a year or longer, but have done nothing but go after drips of free advice and clutter their Twitter feed with articles about how unfair the job search process is. They know who they are and they’ll be stuck there until they change their mindset to one of growth. It sounds harsh, but sometimes the role of the coach is to give tough love. If you want to be successful, read up and study successful people and how they pursue their goals. They invest in themselves by working with teachers and coaches to learn new skills, and/or by finding mentors who can give emotional support and professional insight, not the HR person who likes throw out soundbites in a Twitter chat or gives you advice that is not in your self-interest.

Let me close by sharing a feedback story from my recruiting days. A few years ago, we had a candidate apply with a truly weird resume that listed his qualifications in alphabet format. A is for why I am Awesome… B is for all the reasons I am Breathtaking… all the way to Z for Zany. I am not sure about awesome, but he was definitely zany.

Needless to say, we eliminated him from the applicant pool quickly. This candidate had the contact information for one our recruiters and emailed her to ask why he hadn’t been selected for an interview. She told him that she couldn’t give him individual feedback because our legal department prohibited it, but he persisted in harassing her. After the fifth email, I told her to tell him that “most candidates” do not advance to the interview stage because of resume issues so he may want get a professional opinion before applying to his next job.

His completely misspelled 3,000 word reply came in the middle of the night and he informed my recruiter she was the reason he was 32 years-old and still living at home and he had no point in living. We decided to call him the next morning because of the threat and he was shocked to hear it was us when he answered the phone. We had no idea his mother had also picked up the phone and was listening, and she started screaming obscenities at him when she heard what he had emailed to us. He made another veiled threat about taking his life to her and at that point, we hung up, Googled emergency services for that town and they sent a response team to the address on his resume. We never heard again from that candidate and hope it was from embarrassment and not another reason.

Granted, this is an extreme story. But please, as a career coach, I implore you not to ask for feedback from the company if you don’t get selected. There is too much potential for people to think of you in a negative light if you don’t do it 100% right and for meaningless advice to screw with your head. Let HR do their job well, view you from a place of power, and go seek better advice from people who unequivocally have your back.


Liked this advice?

A revised and updated version of this post is included as one of 12 chapters in Tracy Brisson’s book Create Your Own Opportunities, available in PDF and for your Kindle and nook eReaders for just $3.99!

 

Guest Post: Nutrition Tips for Job Seekers by Natalie Schneider

Today I’m featuring a guest post from fellow woman entrepreneur Natalie Schneider, a health and wellness coach who manages Natalie Wellness. I met Natalie because we shared a weekend in our Fire Island beach house (what do I always say about your next professional connection being where you don’t expect it…). We were both starting our businesses at the same time so we spent some long walks to the Lighthouse talking about them and the transition to entrepreneurship. We’ve stayed in touch and bounced ideas off each other as practitioners and business owners and I am grateful for our relationship. Like me, she also participated in the Kaufman Foundation’s Fast Trac program for entrepreneurship.

Here’s Natalie’s advice for maintaining health while conducting a job search.


Natalie WellnessWhen we are going through transition in our life, be it a career change or searching for our first job, it is extremely important to take care of ourselves.  We want to present our best image when we are interviewing, one that shows energy and vitality. Here are some basic steps to keep your energy level high.

1. Hydration: Many people go through their day not drinking any water. Water is extremely important to the body. Caffeinated beverages do not count as water!

Helpful Hint- Buy a water bottle to keep at home and fill it up first thing in the morning.

2. Vegetables: Green vegetables are the number one thing missing from the American diet. Greens provide vitamins, minerals and fiber, which give us energy. There are hundreds of different vegetables available which change seasonally. Try a vegetable that you have not eaten before. If you hate spinach don’t eat it, eat the ones you like.  Most vegetables can be cooked in just 5-10 minutes by steaming or boiling.

Helpful Hint- If you really don’t want to cook, prepared vegetables can be purchased from delis, and grocery stores.

3. Sugar: Sugar gives us temporary energy and then we come crashing down. Too much sugar adds on the pounds and can lead to diabetes. It’s in a lot of our food and we don’t even realize it. There is tons of sugar in breakfast cereals and muffins, frozen dinners and beverages (sodas, ice teas, alcohol).

Helpful Hint- Eat natural forms of sugar such as fresh fruit, carrots and sweet potatoes. For a healthy alternative to soda try unsweetened coconut water which is super high in potassium.

4. Whole Grains: Refined white flour sends our blood sugar soaring and then we crash. This is because all the vitamins and fiber have been stripped from the grain.

Helpful Hint- Eat whole wheat breads, barley and quinoa.

 

Natalie Schneider is a health & nutrition coach who works with individuals and groups who want to have more energy, lose weight and learn how to eat healthy. She has given presentations on Sugar Blues and Eating for Energy at health clubs and corporations throughout the New York area.

 

More information about Natalie can be found at www.nataliewellness.com and on her blog http://blog.nataliewellness.com.

All readers of The Opportunities Project blog/website will receive 10% off on health coaching.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Using LinkedIn InMap Metrics to Assess Your Network

Thanks to everyone who came to last night’s LinkedIn workshop. Everyone learned a lot in the very comfy couches at McAnns- I am sure the Pinot Grigio helped! One of the topics we discussed last night was connections. Here are some thoughts and helpful hints.

Why Your Connections Matter

Here are some important things to think about when reviewing the status of your LinkedIn connections.

First, are you connected to everyone you should be? As job seekers or professionals who want to position yourselves for new opportunities, your network is one of your greatest assets. While you talk with many people outside social media, connecting with them on LinkedIn can add a richness to your professional relationship. You can see what they are working on and what their priorities are, which you would only know if you spoke to that person every day. By having this information, you can easily add more value to your relationship by sharing relevant information or connecting them to others who could help with their current projects.

Second, do you use “offline” rules when deciding who you connect with on LinkedIn? That means that if you would feel comfortable communicating with a specific person at a cocktail party (for example, an executive at your company), you should feel comfortable requesting to add them to your network. If you would never speak to someone in that type of situation, it’s probably not a good idea to ask the CEO to join your LinkedIn network. When emailing someone to connect, always ask yourself, “What would I do offline?”

Third, for many industries and companies, influence matters. If you have less than 100 LinkedIn connections, how are you going to be a brand ambassador in your new job? While this does not mean you should add people to LinkedIn for the sake of increasing a number, it’s important to ask yourself if your current number of connections is an accurate representation of what you want other people to perceive about your professional network.

Assessing Your Network with LinkedIn InMaps

One of the great ways to assess your network is to use a new feature in LinkedIn Labs called InMaps. The InMaps application will create a colorful map of all of your LinkedIn connections and how they connect to each other. Connections with large dots are “super-connectors”- they are connected to many people, and in many cases, a number of people also connected to you. Below is my InMap, which I ran on January 30th and again on February 28th. I was fascinated to see how my network has changed and evolved in just a month. It has also given me a sense of some specific actions to take in my networking activity. Here is how I assessed my February 28 map of 390 connections and hopefully it can give you some ideas of how you could do the same.

 

LinkedIn InMap

1. I like how the map visualizes my trajectory as an entrepreneur. The red (Office of Teacher Recruitment and close supporters), green (other NYC Department of Education staff), and dark orange (Teach for America) clusters on the left are my base and are launching me toward the other parts of my life that I am growing, represented by my Fast Trac Entrepreneurship fellowship program network (cluster in pink) all the way to the right. By March 30th, I’d like to start to see the volume of dots on my map sway more to the right.

2. I had no idea how big my Teach for America alumni network was on LinkedIn. I should really communicate with those people more since we’re all committed to improving education. We should be mutually helping each other and I don’t feel like we do that enough.

3. The green cluster is my network from when I was Director of Project Management at The Princeton Review’s K-12 division. I left the company six years ago, but am still close with most of those people. That being said, I am not sure if they all know about what I am doing these days and I should look at that cluster. I am also not sure if I know about their current projects.

4. The light orange cluster is very small, but all people I have met through Twitter chats since September. I think it’s interesting that even though it’s just a few people, LinkedIn has found them to be influential. When I reflect on how those relationships have evolved over the last five months, that makes sense. I want to see that group expanded in the next month as those people have become my new tribe.

6. The light blue cluster are people from my sorority Alpha Gamma Delta. I write often that college was a transformative time for me, but I have very few people from college or grad school in my LinkedIn network. This floored me. I speak to people from my college days all the time, but socially. If one of them was searching for a job, I would hope they think of me as a professional who could help them and not just a friend. I would like to see where I can make this base more substantial in my LinkedIn network.

7. All of the gray dots are people who LinkedIn can’t associate with a group. They include people in education reform who are not DOE or TFA, recruiters, coaches, clients and others. Over time, I’d like to see some of these dots become visual clusters, especially the recruiter group. I was actually surprised that the recruiters weren’t their own group, but the map helped me see how disparate those connections are. Growing these clusters may take a few months as I network and do more coaching. For the recruiter relationships, I will also pay attention to the big dots on the map as those people can help me network and meet more people.  I’d also like to see clients visually represented, but since they don’t know each other, I am not sure if that is a realistic goal.

Too often, we focus on what’s on our profile on LinkedIn, but not the other aspects of it, like our network. Can you commit to downloading your LinkedIn map every month and making a plan to improve your professional relationships? Let me know in the comments. Also, check back on my progress on my new network goals at the end of March!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog