Daily Archives: October 14, 2010

Part 1: Secret Tips to Leverage your LinkedIn Network

With social media being all the rage, it’s hard to know where to start.  With so many people unemployed, these skills are more important than ever.  The biggest professional networking site is certainly LinkedIn.com.  I have been using LinkedIn for several years now and would like to share some tips and success stories I have collected in the process.

1.    Build your profile.
Do not just turn it into a copy of your resume.  Your profile should compliment your resume and provide information about you that doesn’t fit in a resume.  Resumes are tailored to be consumed by HR systems and recruiters that focus on filtering resumes by keywords rather than the human factors that make you stand out.  Your LinkedIn profile gives you a chance to complete the picture of who you are.  It should tell a story, show your personality, and be interesting to read and draw in your audience.  This style is catching on and I can tell you it works.  Be very attentive to spelling, grammar and integrity.  Would your previous employers agree with your descriptions?  Have friends review it.  For an example, check out my LinkedIn profile.  You’re welcome to post a comment with your feedback.

2.    Build your network.
Start with people you know well and have known professionally for a long time.  Search possible connections by their name.  Also browse the list of employees of companies where you have worked.  Don’t forget to connect to your friends from outside of work too.  High school and college friends, and friends from your social clubs.  Just be careful of who you add to your network.  Adding people you don’t really know devalues your network.  When someone accepts your invitation, reply with a thank you and more details about your current status.  If appropriate, ask them if they would like you to write a recommendation and ask them to make a recommendation for you.  Remind them you are willing to help them if they need it. (It’s about what you give, not what you take.)

3.    Advertise your profile.
Include the complete url in your resume, in your email signature, and in the body of your cover letter or cover email.  If you don’t market yourself, who will?

4.  Get acquainted with your network.
Every time you add someone to your network, read their profile.  You probably only knew that person at one or two of their jobs.  Take a moment to learn more about them.  Then review their list of contacts for people you already know and would like to add to your network.  Also look for people you want to meet.  They may work in your field or they may work at a company you are interested in.  Follow up on these leads promptly.

5.    Monitor your network.
Your network is constantly growing even if you don’t add any first degree connections, second degree connections are being added all the time.  Monitor your network updates.

6.    Leverage your network.
This is why you have a network.  Use it to keep in touch with friends.  Help them when you can and is appropriate.  Activate it when you need help.  See my success stories in Part 2 for examples of how to do this.

7.    Nurture your network.
Like a spider cares for its web so it doesn’t miss a meal, so too should you nurture your network so you do not miss an opportunity.  Networking does not mean just having a large network of contacts.  That’s like a power grid with no electricity.  Networking is the act of communicating with contacts on some regular basis.  So browse your contacts and email them or call them on occasion just to see how they are doing.  Do not only make contact when you need a favor.

8.    Look beyond LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a great tool to expose details about your connections that you would otherwise miss.  But the vast majority of your network is not contained in your LinkedIn network.  Apply these rules to all of your connections, not just those within LinkedIn and watch your world grow.

Coming up next:  Part 2: Real life success stories using LinkedIn.


Why giving Designer Client away doesn’t matter to college students

(Reposted from my BleedYellow blog of Sept 22)

In some Caribbean islands, they had introduced weasels to try to control the rat population.  The only problem was that the weasels hunt during the day while the rats are active at night.  Instead the weasels went after birds and other species and mostly left the rats alone.   Well, targeting the new age of developers  with free Lotus Notes Designer software is much the same.

While it is good that Lotus Notes Designer is free, what is the point if the people most likely to use it can’t? That’s right, they can’t use it.  Why?  Because they have Macs.  Yes, at Bellevue College, right here in Microsoft land, at least 1/3 of the students working on a degree in web development own Macs.  These people like public domain software.  They use OpenOffice, iTunes, any browser except IE.  These are the same people who jump for any software that DOESN’T come from Microsoft.  Yes, so close, yet so far.

But would it really matter anyway?  I mean how many of these students have ever heard of Lotus Notes?  Seen it?  Know what it can do?  To them Lotus Notes is as unknown as the creator of the web (see my previous post.)  And if they know Ray Ozzie at all, he is just known as “the new guy at Microsoft.”

Do you think you know which technologies college students are using? Even in Redmond, WA, you might be surprised.

(Reposted from my BleedYellow blog on Sept 22)

I have seen numerous discussions about the need to draw “new blood” into the Lotus world and how college students are being groomed for Microsoft software.  Well, as of this week I can declare myself an expert on this topic and give you real world, firsthand, personal experience.  I just started taking classes this week at Bellevue College.  It is in Bellevue, Washington, the “city” adjacent to Redmond, headquarters of Microsoft.  I use quotes around the word “city” because it’s really just one continuous metropolitan area.  City boundaries are rather irrelevant.  Also, most of Microsoft’s recent expansion has actually been in Bellevue since they outgrew the Redmond campus.

These students live with Microsoft literally in their backyard and the live among friends and family who work there. So what would you expect these college students to favor for software?  Consider this:  in my web development class, half of the class of about 30 students balked when the teacher asked if it was OK to post assignments using Microsoft Word 2010.  It isn’t that they have an old version of Office.  It is that many of them have Macs.  At least 10 said they use OpenOffice exclusively.
Walking  into my web media class, I found a classroom filled with…Macs!  The teacher comments “for those of you who don’t know how to use a Mac, you can reboot it to run Windows.  Very few people took up the offer.

And what are they teaching?  In one class, the teacher opened with a discussion of the history of the Internet.  “Who created the Internet?”  No one has the answer.*   “Who created Windows?”  Everyone knows the answer. “Which has had a bigger impact on your life?”  the students chant a resounding “the Internet”.  She points out what a travesty it is that the man who created the web, HTML, and the first web browser and then declared it public domain, free to all, would get such little fanfare.
Just today, at the beginning of class, my professor said shockingly, “Oh, is IE the only browser on this machine?” as he logged into the professor kiosk to begin his lecture.

But not all of college life is so anti-establishment.  The website used by every class for everything from class blogs to homework assignments is hosted on SharePoint.  Why?  Probably because that’s all they know about.
*Do you know the answer WITHOUT googling it?  Post your answer.
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