Thursday, April 17, 2014

LinkedIn Network Snapshot: You Are Who Your Friends Are

With life slowing down dramatically with the transfer of the presidency of Delta Sigma Pi's Alpha Theta Chapter to Alexandra Land, I hope to be posting with a bit more frequency.

Today I wanted to stop what I was doing and share what I was doing to improve my profile on LinkedIn.

We have all heard it said that each of us is a product of the people with whom we associate.  On LinkedIn, we are associated with others likely because of our non-virtual interactions, and perhaps a few others because we post in similar groups or have friends in common.  But the old adage of "You are who you spend your time with" is relatively cut and dry on LinkedIn.   There is something to be said about who your profile viewers are checking out right before or after you.

For many professionals, you may look at your profile and see a listing of your department or your company.  It is common to have your contacts relative to your company or occupation.  This can be indicative of someone looking for a foot in the door at your company, but it is more likely that your colleagues are simply linking with the folks they see on a daily basis at work.

For me, this part of my profile breaks down like this:
Alexandra Land - The aforementioned colleague to whom I am passing the reins to UC Delta Sigma Pi;
Stephanie Neiheisel - My biggest competitor in the Lindner College of Business and also my girlfriend...;
Ric Sweeney - My favorite professor;
Adrienne Spuzzillo - My mentor;
And so on, through my various contacts and friends within the University of Cincinnati community.  It is no surprise that my closest associates are academic related.

So here is my first suggestion to you: Look at who "People" are also viewing in addition to your profile.  If you are surprised by who you see, consider how active you are on LinkedIn.  Can you improve upon the group with which you are currently associated, or does it seem to make sense?

My second suggestion is to click on each one of those profiles and take a thorough look at their profiles.  Look for things they have included in their profiles that you could use to strengthen your own.  Here are some profile aspects you should check out and questions to ask yourself:

  • Companies they follow (Should you be following them too?)
  • Volunteer Experiences & Causes (Which causes do you support?)
  • Groups they have joined (Similar passions? Similar industries or interests?)
  • Skills & Endorsements (Do I have these skills too?) Don't forget to endorse them if you have first-hand knowledge of their strengths!
  • Influencers (What business minds are they following from whom you could also find value?)
The best way to improve your LinkedIn profile is by looking at people who know what they are doing and emulating their profile strengths.  We're all in this together, so improve your profile and assume that your contacts will use your profile to improve their own.

Keep improving, Verso l'Alto,

Friday, April 4, 2014

Year in Review: Mentors Molded Me

As I finish my time as the President of Delta Sigma Pi, I simply want to say thank you to the people who I met in college who have served as monumental forces in my life and leadership through their mentorship.  Some people may never have a great mentor, and I am so blessed to have three.

First, thank you to Sammy Geroulis.  Sammy was the president of Delta Sigma Pi at UC two years ago and since recruiting me to the organization has been so helpful in training me to be an effective leader. On so many occasions he has helped me to not sweat the small stuff and to see the big picture.  When I have had difficult moments in leadership, he is a phone call away and helps me to objectively review my situation and do the best thing for the team.  Thank you Sammy.

Second, thank you to Adrienne Spuzzillo.  Adrienne taught me the importance of details.  I still remember the first time I ran an event for DSP and I showed up about 5 minutes beforehand and wasn't fully prepared.  She asked if I thought anyone would ever take me seriously if I didn't show up very early and always prepared for my event and with contingencies if anything went wrong.  I have learned so many concrete lessons from Adrienne about how to carry myself as a leader.  Any reputation that I have build around how I carry myself is loosely based on Adrienne's example or from her words of advice and encouragement. Thanks Spuzz.

Finally, thank you Emily Van Treeck.  Emily has the highest moral code and character of anyone I have ever met.  I have always seen myself as a highly ethical person, but I always strive to be better because Emily's kind heart and high character push me to be unbiased, just, and moral in every decision I make, personally and professionally.  She is proof that being ethical is not just some ethereal concept that is nice to have.  I would argue forever that Emily experiences so much success because in addition to her intelligence, she has an untouchable character that draws people to her.  I respect her for her unwavering dedication to do what is right, regardless of the situation or how it affects her.  There is right and wrong, and she's simply wired to do what is right. She is also an esteemed air-guitarist and great carpool buddy.  Thanks Em.

Thank you to all three of you.  You have been an amazing force in my life and taught me so much about being a leader and being a professional.  I would trade every award and accolade in the world to keep you three as my mentors.  Thank you for everything and I am proud to call you my friends.

Your project,

Sunday, February 9, 2014

LinkedIn Time-Sensitivity: Preparation + Opportunity

Now that I am an old man by college standards, many of my classmates are starting to look for full-time work out of school.  It is no surprise that many of them are producing new resumes (including myself) and fine-tuning their professional skills of interviewing, cover letter-writing and the like.

This post is about timing, as the title so subtly suggests...

How long does it take to:
  • Update/create your resume?
  • Write a cover letter?
  • Complete a job application?
  • Call an old manager/professor for permission to list as a reference?
Well I don't know about you, but I know I can do these things in at least a sitting or two, maybe a week for all of them.  And everyone has to do most of these things for every job for which they apply.

But how long does it take to build a network on LinkedIn that you can leverage to find a job? It is different for everyone, but the more connections you have, the better chance you have at finding the right position or helping a connection find their perfect job.  Building an expansive network takes time and authentic communication.

If you ever played sports you've probably heard "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." Well it's just about the same with LinkedIn.  The time to start preparing is now, regardless of when you graduate.  If anything, you may already be behind the curve.

Let's talk about the way you can begin preparing today.  The following two points are time-sensitive aspects of LinkedIn.  They take time to build and you will want them to lend you credibility when the time comes.

1. Actively Make Connections with LinkedIn Features
  • Add connections to solidify the network you already have (don't request people you don't know unless you have a very specific purpose, it is obnoxious).
  • Utilize the "People You May Know" section.  It sounds basic, but if you just keep scrolling, you might find several people you do know.  The bigger your network the better.
  • Under the "Network" section, click the "Contacts" button and it will show recent emails and if you are connected with these people through LinkedIn.
2. Skills and Endorsements
  • It is important to add your specific skills to your profile.  Those who view your profile can endorse you with a single click if your profile already has your skills entered.
  • Remember that LinkedIn wants you to look successful by using the features they offer, so use them!
  • Consider endorsing others, but only if you are in a position to do so.  If you endorse a connection for a skill you haven't seen or something technical you don't know, you both lose credibility. Endorse when you can to continue to feed your network!
Prepare, seek opportunities, never settle.