Will you be my connection? How to Look Good on LinkedIn.

In Social Media on November 1, 2010 at 2:44 am

By: JODY BRIGHTMAN; Head of Career Services at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy, and occasional professor of Marketing at Pepperdine’s business school

Every day, I get emails from students and alums asking me to be their “friend” on Facebook, LinkedIn or Plaxo. And, almost every day, I am found by a friend I’ve almost forgotten I had, people from a long-distant workplace or neighbors I knew “back when”.
Then, once or twice a week, someone I don’t know contacts me to connect . Usually, this is someone looking for someone to hire or wanting a reference for someone on my list.

Welcome to the brave new world of online social networking!

If you’re not already on a site, you’re either a recluse or a misanthrope. What’s wrong – are you hiding out from your colleagues? Or, perhaps you’re a throwback to some, ancient pre-mechanized past: a Luddite. Do you handwrite your lecture notes and pass on a mobile phone?
Seriously, the web is where your future lies.

Simply canvassing the major sites proves my point. Only a very few alums – maybe 10% – are not on Facebook, and more join every day. Fewer SPP Waves have discovered the virtues of LinkedIn, but that list is also growing fast. Of our 385 alums, 200 are among LinkedIn’s 43 million registered users. And, did you know there were 130,000 people registered on the site as recruiters?

If you’re in the market for a job or a project, LINK-IN. LinkedIn is the platform of choice for working professionals. Sure, Facebook boasts more users, but that site is truly social, a space for brags about weekends and co-misery about right-brained feelings.

LinkedIn is a left-brain domain specifically crafted to make you a standout in your field.

So how can YOU look good on LinkedIn?

You need a PROFILE – your definitive professional image. One perfect for today, that you can tweak any time you feel it’s not pulling for you.

It can be as long as you like – and lard it generously with keywords that you think might be search terms used by somebody trying to find you. The system allows you to cut and paste your standard resume – and that’s okay for the experience section, but be more creative in the “blue”, that space at the top of the profile, highlighted in pale azure. That heavenly shade is the only section accessible outside the LinkedIn firewall so every keyword there can boost you high on a Google search, as well as any searches within LinkedIn itself.

There are Four Main Sections:

I. Headline Lets the world know what you’re doing right now
“The Blue” –a slogan for your personal brand: in a nutshell, who are you?

1) Job Title: for many students, this is a descriptor rather than a job title: “Policy Analyst”, “Program Manager”, “Team Leader”, “Community Organizer”
Or, it might say, “Master’s degree candidate 2010” … at [employer or university – since this might be a search term]

2) Location: “Southern California” may yield more matches than “Malibu”; but “Los Angeles area” is a strong option. If you’re open to relocation, mention that here

3) Industry/ Sector: Think keywords: Use this to highlight sector expertise or particular skills such as “public affairs” or “environmental sustainability”.

4) Photo: Although many people leave this out, a friendly professional-looking photo makes you seem more approachable – and remember, a professional web photo can be taken by a cell phone. Digital reproduction on the web negates any need for a professional shot.

II. Summary Your “elevator pitch”.
Write the best 140-character “tweet” of your life and paste it here

Specialties – list the unique qualities that make you most valuable as an employee or contractor. People search on these terms.
List and then search-test your keywords. The summary is the only searchable section outside the LinkedIn firewall; exploit it.

HOT TIP: Link to your LinkedIn profile in your regular email signature line to improve your visibility and at the end of your blogs
HOT TIP: If you’re job-searching, enable Google access by selecting “Full View”

III. Experience The work and/or internships or volunteer experience that qualifies you

1) Organization/ Employer: For students, the employer is often more impressive than your job title; leverage the “halo effect” of major entities

2) Organization line two: If the employer is not well done, explain what it does; give it scope and mission. Include the industry or sector.

3) Title: If you’ve been interning, give yourself your functional title and put (intern, (paid or not) in parens) as in “Research Assistant (Paid Intern)”.

4) Dates: Include the months with the years since it gives you more time in service when recruiters .

5) Resume summary: Briefly summarize your duties, but make sure you showcase your accomplishments.

HOT TIP: Don’t forget to include non-profit board and advisory positions; leadership positions in volunteer work

IV. Education Degrees, sure, but add whatever helps you sell yourself

· Areas of academic excellence – majors and specializations; honors and awards – GPA if over 3.4; relevant coursework
· Publications – theses and capstones, major research projects, team projects, formal presentations, editorial, blogs, professional writing
· Activities – especially those where you were held a leadership role
· Credentials and licenses; continuing education units

HOT TIP: Join all your collegiate affinity groups – your school has one; your fraternity or sorority does. Look around LinkedIn for connectors

ABOUT Recommendations
· Collect them – from employers and faculty, absolutely; from peers on project teams and colleagues who know you work
· Screen them before posting – you need never be dinged on LinkedIn

HOT TIP: Recommendations dramatically boost your search rankings

ABOUT Connections
· Collect them – but only from people you know and trust
· The more connections you have, the more you are assumed to be an authority
· Like recommendations, connections boost your rankings in the search algorithm – people with 20 connections are 34 times as likely to be reached as people with 5

Additional Information
· Public Profile: Use your linked-in URL and replace the number with your name
· Add website links – if you have a blog, look at the LinkedIn section entitled “Applications”; you can dynamically update snippets from your blog.
· Add activities and interests

HOT TIP: Use your public profile URL as a tag to your regular email address – it allows people to link directly to your credentials
HOT TIP: Include mini-reviews of professional books you’re reading or conferences you’ve attended
HOT TIP: LinkedIn Mobile – There’s an iPhone app so you can access your LinkedIn network anywhere

Contact Settings Customize why you want to be reached.
· Be specific – you can change this at any time
· A Word about Contact Information: use your good judgment on posting phone number, email address and personal information

Groups and Associations

HOW TO JOIN A GROUP: Your school has a group – look for it and ask to join.
· Find an alum to act as a mentor
· Post news and updates regularly to the group – it keeps you “top of mind”
Note: In your Profile, Groups are LinkedIn Groups. This list is automatically generated whenever you join one. Keep that in mind when you want to look professional.
Affinity Group. You can create your own for any professional purpose. For example, share job search tips or review resumes.

QUESTIONS and ANSWERS Become the expert – or find one
· Ask – under a group, in “Discussions” – enter a topic or question
· Link to a news article, and start a discussion about it
· Post jobs on the job board – notices will go out to your group
· Answer a question – the initiator may choose yours as “best” and boost your search ranking

For further tips:
· Guy Kawasaki’s “Ten Ways to Use Linked In” and then see his own “Extreme Makeover”
· The yellow book primer: “LinkedIn for Dummies” by Joel Elod
· A networking’s pro’s free download: by Jan Vermeiren. He also has a book for $17.
· A savvy site for business users:
· Profile Tutorial:
· LinkedIn for Dummies:


Thinking about links to me straight to sausages. Thinking about quick results took me to straight to this fast and easy mid-week supper – it’s a favorite at my house, even better the next day, if there’s any left. It’s a classic Tuscan dish, perfect for a rainy day, since most of the ingredients are pantry or freezer staples.

Serves 4

¾ pound fusilli (dried corkscrew pasta – or use penne)
1 onion, sliced thin
2 T. olive oil
½ pound kielbasa sausage, quartered lengthwise and sliced into 1/2” thick pieces
3 t. minced garlic
½ cup dry white wine (optional)
1 package fresh spinach or kale, sliced
1 small can chopped tomatoes or chicken broth (optional)
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Toasted pine nuts (optional garnish)

1) Cook pasta in large pot of lightly salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Drain and lightly rinse pasta in a colander.
2) In a heavy frying pan, caramelize onions in the oil by cooking over medium heat until they’re transparent and then covering the pan until golden and sweet. Don’t let them burn because it will make the whole dish bitter. Add a pinch of sugar if the onions are still too sharp.
3) Toss the kielbasa in the oil to coat and cook 3-4 minutes. Drain off excess oil.
4) Add garlic and cook another minute. Deglaze with wine, if desired – boil off the liquid.
5) Stir in spinach with ½ cup cooking water, chicken broth or canned tomatoes. Simmer partially covered until greens are tender.
6) Toss with the pasta and cheese. If it’s too dry, add more pasta water or a splash of cream. We never make enough.

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