One of my blog readers from the Philadelphia area sent me these two questions that other women may be wondering about as well:
“I have begun to make steady gains in the networking process through LinkedIn, and I signed up for a Networking function with Meeting Planners International. Now that I’m making lots of connections, I need to figure out the next step. I am focused on an industry and through Linkedin I’ve found several companies and their key employees and hiring managers. Now what do I do? Send them my resume? If there is an opening at that company, how is having a Linkedin connection helping, if I don’t know the Linkedin connections personally? And my second question is whether I should state my employment status on Linkedin. I’ve heard conflicting opinions.”
OK, let’s tackle the first question. Linkedin members join with the understanding that it’s a place to offer help and get help. In my experience most people are very accommodating. So, if you have an interest in a specific company, and Linkedin has led you to a hiring manager or key employee, ask for specific help.
Specific help is not: “Do you know of any openings in the marketing department?” Specific help is: “I’m very interested in XYZ company because I’ve heard that they have won awards for their event management, which is my specialty. I’d like to speak to one of your colleagues in the marketing department to find out how the event management team is staffed—and if there may be opportunities for contract work if there are no open positions at this time. Can you refer me to one of your marketing colleagues?”
After you ask for this specific help then include a quick paragraph about yourself—which should be based on (not just a copy of) your resume summary statement.
I suggest that you send this note through your email account, not Linkedin. Once you’re connected to a person, you have their email address, which is the fastest way to communicate. People tend to check their Linkedin messages far less than their email. In the subject line say, “Question from Linkedin Connection Mary Smith”. You can attach your resume to this email as well.
If you know there is a specific opening at the company, then you’re asking the Linkedin connection to get you in front of the hiring manager:
“I’m very interested in the event management position posted on the XYZ Company web site. I know your company has partnered with ABC Sports on several events, and I have particular expertise in events with sports tie-ins. My resume is attached and you will see that my skills/experience line up with all the requirements/responsibilities of the job. I am hoping that you will be willing to forward this email and my resume to the appropriate hiring manager.”
In this case you also include the paragraph based on your resume summary statement so your Linkedin connection has a quick snapshot of your skills and experience.
Now on to the second question—whether or not to include your employment status in your Linkedin profile. The answer is that if you don’t list a current position within your Linkedin profile, it is immediately obvious that you are looking for a new position or consulting assignment. So there’s no hiding that fact. My opinion is that you should not list your employment status as your Linkedin title.
Look at the sample Linkedin profile in this blog post. The blue area where Elizabeth says that she has expertise in Social Media, Strategy, Content & Design is what I call the “headline”.
Those who are looking to advertise their employment status with a megaphone use a headline like this:
Seeking Event Management Position
I think that when you’re looking for a job it’s always best to use this “headline” area to emphasize your area of expertise. So, a better headline for job seekers would be:
Experienced Event Management Professional
In either case, your headline is the first thing that other Linkedin members will see if you come up in their search. They then click this headline to get to your full profile. In the first headline example you’re highlighting what could be perceived as a weakness: you don’t have a job. In the second headline example, you’re conveying a position of strength–whether or not you currently have a job.
Linkedin gives you endless opportunities to showcase your skills and strengths—and an easy, accepted way to reach out to people who are technically strangers. The fact is, though, once someone becomes your Linkedin connection they’ve opened the door to a more personal tie.
- Take confidence in the fact that most people on Linkedin want to help and be helped.
- Be sure to ask for very specific help on Linkedin or through any other networking venue.
- Once you are connected to a Linkedin member, use email to communicate further.
- Focus on your skills and expertise–not your lack of a job–in your Linkedin headline.