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How to leverage Linked In for career goals?

Updated: May 21, 2020

I got my Singapore offer in 2011 through a connection I made on Linked In. This is the power of Linked In.

If you apply for a job opening, which of the social media do you think the hiring manager or HR manager is going to visit:

  • Facebook : maybe,

  • Instagram : maybe,

  • Tik Tok : I sincerely hope not,

  • Linked In : BINGO

So, are you making the best possible use of Linked In? OR are you wasting your time on other social platforms like Facebook, Instagram or worse, Tik Tok.

On average, I get 50-60 messages everyday on Linked In. This is probably because I am most active on Linked In. To put this into perspective, if I spend 5 minutes on Facebook, Instagram combined (for CDG purpose, not personal), then I spend at least 45 minutes on Linked In. If you are curious, you can check out my Linked In profile. I always welcome new connections on Linked In.

Due to this high volume of messages, I come across very similar trends in people who send those messages. While I appreciate the time and effort they take to draft the message, it is usually a hit or miss. You will not dream of riding a bike, if you have never ever driven before, will you?

The one primary reason for most of the messages missing the mark is : they want a reference or a job within the first message. While in the mind of the sender this might be fine, for me to receive a first message asking for job is absurd to say the least. The messages I receive on Linked In can be clubbed in 3 broad buckets :

  • Bucket A : About 60% of the first messages after connection ask for a job or reference, (notice the wrong company name for Zalando)

  • Bucket B : About 30%-35% of the first message start with basic social gestures (how are you, hope your family is fine etc etc) and then immediately get into the Bucket A format,

  • Bucket C : The remaining ~5% of the messages actually take time to provide their professional details, current situation and career goals. Following which, they mention what they are seeking from me.

Question 1 : Which bucket are you in when sending Linked In messages?

Answer : Try to be in the last bucket.

Question 2 : Which of the above buckets do you think get a reply from me?

Answer: Bucket C

Of all the 50-60 messages that I get, I prefer to spend time where serious effort and thought has been put into the message. This also reflects the clarity of thought and mindset from the person sending the message. At an initial glance, this is the kind of professional who has the highest probability to succeed in any venture they undertake.

Unfortunately, those in Bucket A and B showcase the following traits:

  1. Lack of finesse on how to approach a senior professional Linked In connection,

  2. Lack of understanding of how to create professional connections,

  3. Taking shots in the dark, with no focus,

  4. Lack of effort and thought on how to draft a professional message,

  5. Lack of understanding on how human relations work,

  6. Ignoring the time value of such messages - time is the most precious commodity someone gives you today (whether for in person discussions or replying to your messages),

  7. Short term benefit approach.

Will you buy a $5,000 designer watch from me if I approach you on the road? The same way, why will any senior Linked In professional reply to you if you do not come across as credible?

The above does not even take into account the cultural differences. I am afraid to even imagine such poor quality of messages going to those from a very different culture.

Build a personal brand.

So, what can you do to make sure that you achieve the career goals by leveraging Linked In?

First and foremost, make sure to have a complete and well thought out Linked In profile. This provides a high level of credibility to any visitor to your profile (be it a hiring manage, HR professionals, other professionals or just someone you recently connected with).

Then put each of your professional engagement on Linked In. I write quiet a lot on Quora. The topics I write about are career or Germany related primarily. I am proud of the content that I put out on Quora. It helps a lot of readers make smart and better career decisions. Hence, I do not see a reason of why not to put this on my Linked In profile.

The same way, every internship and even a 2-3 month engagement should be put on visible on your Linked In profile. I was part of one of the biggest startup incubators, Founder Institute in Berlin, Germany. The same is mentioned on my Linked In profile.

Now, you might think that as a finance professional what value add comes from mentioning Quora or Founder Institute on the Linked In profile?

Well, for those companies looking for employees, it makes no difference. For companies, looking for leaders, this means a lot. Take your pick.

Linked In is the ONLY platform for your professional marketing. While Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and many more focus on your personal aspect, I will love to know any viable competitor of Linked In that you are aware of.

So, if Linked In is the only tool to present yourself, then why not mention all your achievements on the profile. Think of those peers, who only have their job history on their profile. You will be surprised how many amazing connections are made due to hobbies and similar interests on Linked In.

Make sure that you have a professional picture, with clear headline of what you do or what you think your best professional showcase is. It can be your:

  • designation (Data scientist),

  • company brands (if unique enough),

  • any new venture you might be working on (personal or professional),

  • for students - "looking for internships/working opportunities" reflects highly,

  • for job seekers - ONO (Open for New Opportunities), as mentioned by a highly respected career coach Kirsty Bonner,

In case you have career gaps, do not hide them. You do not want to waste time with someone/company where career gaps is a deal breaker. Being upfront will make sure that those who engage with you, do not care for a career gap.

This is how I explain my career gap on Linked In. I could not find a job in Germany for 6 months when I relocated. This was out of my control. So can not convince a hiring manager otherwise if they are not willing to understand the reason for this gap.

Engage with the topics that interest you on Linked In. Follow the thought leaders in your domain, profile, hobbies, interests whatever it might be. Learn from them and engage with them. CAUTION : do not write just for the heck of it. Make sure that you contribute meaningfully and engage the thought leader. If you are not sure, ask questions, do not hesitate. You might be inexperienced, but do not be afraid to ask.

Some of the thought leaders that I follow on Linked In are:

Piyush Sharma : I connected with him on Linked In and had a phone call about CDG for about 45 minutes.

Kirsty Bonner: one of the most influential career mentors on Linked In. Each of her post is worth it's weight in gold.

Piyush Dadhich : a finance professional, who is as inspiring in his professional life as personal life. Met him couple of times during my India vacations in Bangalore.

All of the above are senior professionals, with extraordinary careers and experience. Learn from their posts, adopt the best practices and implement them. Remember, Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Start writing posts on your area of interest or profile. An easy start, these days, can be - How is Covid19 impacting your industry and job profile? How will your domain evolve in the post Covid19 era. Of course, you need to read on these topics to be able to create meaningful, engaging and interesting content.

Do not evaluate your posts thru vanity metrics : Likes, Comments or reach. All of thesea re beyond your control (except for your content quality).

Value the real and long term connections you are able to make. On Linked In also, there are people who are interested in number of connections rather than quality of connections. Which way you want to play, is your personal decision. 50 quality connections are much more valuable and useful than 10,000 unknown connections.

So, to leverage Linked In for your career growth:

  • Create a personal brands,

  • Have a complete profile, with all your professional details,

  • Include any other engagements, apart from your regular jobs (everyone does that),

  • Follow thought leaders in your domain,

  • Engage with content and ask questions from these thought leaders,

  • Read up on your own domain, profile,

  • Write posts, which can be useful or provide knowledge to others,

  • Do not fixate on vanity metrics : # of connections, likes, comments, reach etc,

  • Offer to help others and guide others,

  • Be professional,

  • Be respectful, especially to females (Linked In is not a dating platform),

  • Focus on quality vs quantity,

Do not expect or aim for overnight results. Quality takes time to build up and once it does, nothing comes close to it.

Wish you the best for your career and do share your feedback.

It always helps to have a mentor, who has worked and lived in Germany for some of the best brands. For personal consultation with Arun Mahajan, book a time with him.

Not for reproduction without authorisation.

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