Accept or Ignore?: How to Discern When to Reject a LinkedIn Request

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Not all networking is good networking. Do you agree?

This is from Caroline Ceniza-Levine and her most recent Forbes article on when to reject a LinkedIn connection request.

I look for:

A freshness date. This is Ed Han's term that I love. Basically, are they engaged, active users on LinkedIn? When did they last comment or like something? Do they share original content?

Common connections. Do we run in similar circles on LinkedIn? Do we follow the same people?

Interesting people. If I am intrigued to know more about you and understand how I can learn from you, I am all in. A note with the connection request usually makes this determination easier.

Ceniza-Levine shares her tips >> What is your methodology?

Invite People into your Ambition

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Declare your ambition. You don't have to know all the details.

This is Bob Goff's advice in his new podcast, The Dream Big Podcast when chatting with Jason Russell. And I concur!

Being open about your ambition is like throwing a party 🎉. Let people know what you want to do - invite people in! Share your ambition like you are sending out invitations - you don't keep party invitations to yourself! Yes, it may be scary. People may laugh at your proverbial invitation or toss it aside, but maybe, just maybe, they may open the door wider, inviting more people in, connecting you to people that will benefit your new ambition. Friends may even enter the trenches of the behind-the-scenes work and planning, cheering you on!

So let people know. Parties are more fun WITH people and so are ambitions (whatever they may be!) There is power and community in vulnerability.

Now, what kind of party are you throwing?

Client Landed!

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I am squealing with delight over my client's job search success!

I landed a VP of Marketing role! Within one week of a referral sharing my LinkedIn profile and later my resume, I interviewed and returned home with a verbal offer followed 12 hours later by a written offer!

Thank you so much for helping me define what I was looking for and showcase my skills and achievements in a way that made this interview process feel like nothing more than a conversation!

Separate Work from Who are Are: An Introduction Change

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You don't have to be defined by your work. When you introduce yourself to someone new replace what you do with who you are.

Our identity tie to work is strong. I realized this when I decided to quit my job to stay home with my third child. It never occurred to me how I relied on my achievements at work to define who I am. I found there are no performance reviews for a stay-at-home parent.

Does who you are change because of work? Most definitely, but WHO you are is separate from what you DO.

So instead of: Hi! My name is Meg Applegate. I'm a resume writer.

Let's replace the formality with: Hi! I'm Meg. A woman of faith, driven by even the littlest of goals. I'm lit up by connections with people and prone to giggling at the cheesiest of jokes.

It's your turn. Who are you outside of what you do?

Need help discerning what makes you unique? Check out Meg’s DIY branded resume statement mini-workbook to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Develop in a Group to land Higher Roles

Carrot Club. It got my youngest son to eat his vegetables. What partnership might you need for personal and professional growth?

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My three-year-old was not into veggies. My husband started face timing him at lunch to eat together. In an effort to prove carrots are in fact digestible and tasty, my husband would munch on his with great delight. My son totally bought it. Now, each weekday they bond over their carrots and eat lunch together. Hence, the start of carrot club.

Do you need a 'carrot club'? For women, in particular, your inner circle matters. According to a January 2019 research conducted by the University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University, over 75% of women executives had an inner circle of 2-3 women. The research found that women in particular who communicated and relied on a small group of women placed at a higher job level.

So, who are your people? Who can you rely on to get you over the hurdles of personal and professional life?

If you haven't found your tribe - start one! Rally grad school friends or like-minded colleagues. Attend networking events to find your people. If you are local to Indianapolis, try Linking Indy Women

How have you seen the power of community work in your professional life?

Design your Network with Three Types of People

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You are the boss of your own network. Design it thoughtfully.

Whether you realize it or not, you are already part of a variety of systems. You may just be so embedded in them that you can’t see them. Think about people in your circles at work, socially, geographically, family, community, schools, church, etc.

These are your natural networks! While some circles are chosen for you based on your workplace or where you send your kid to school, others you can take ownership. 

Intentionally ADD people that ADD value.

Typically, a valuable network has these three types of people in it:

Connectors. People who have large networks themselves and know a lot of different people. Their natural matchmaking capabilities see opportunities for people around them.

Champions. People who want to see you succeed; cheerleaders that will speak your message without external motivation.

Experts. Natural teachers who have particular expertise. Experts are imperative to your network because they can supply you with the information you need.

Build and nurture your network now by offering value to those around you. Not just when you need something.

Consider: Which type are you? Who is most valuable to you?

Join a collaborative community of professionals who are intentional about nurturing their personal and professional growth. Oh, and access to free/discount services sweetens the deal too! 😉 Join here.

Informational Interview: Make the Ask

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Necco's candy conversation hearts are unavailable this February. Don’t worry! I'll help you bridge the conversation from awkward to intentional with a free conversation card for informational interviews. 

The informational interview is the secret to a successful job search. Job search experts and resume writers alike (myself included) encourage job seekers to connect over coffee or over the phone with people who are in the job they want or working at a company of interest. How do you make it happen?

▶︎ LinkedIn request + a note

▶︎ Personal email

▶︎ In-person ask

▶︎ Phone call 

 Do you have to actually know the person? No, but do provide context to why you want to meet up and be specific in your ask. Provide a couple days/times for the conversation. Be specific on when you will follow-up to your initial request, too.

 Once you've booked a meeting, then what? What do ask? How do you make the most of both of your time? I'll hook you up this Valentine's day with a conversation card.  Sign up to receive it in your inbox free next week.

Hide-and-Seek: Pursue Networking Daily

We hide until it is time to seek.

Isn’t that true? Most of us want to network professionally when we seek something to gain - new job, new client, new business. If we aren’t after something, we usually choose to hole up in our comfort zone just like I want to do during Midwest winters.

I was reminded of the hiding and seeking paradox when my husband came home for lunch this week. Lunch led to chatting with our two-year-old son, which then, of course, led to a good-old-fashioned game of hide-and-seek.

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And it got me thinking of how our natural state is to hide - hide behind the scroll of <insert your favorite social media> and stay in our comfortable social and professional circles UNTIL it is time to pursue something new.

What small, regular habits can we form to ‘seek’ regularly? And by that I mean build meaningful relationships within our professional network not just in seasons of a job search or a push for new clients.

Here a few of my ideas:

💡 Regularly interact with your network. Know the professionals that make up your network online and in-person. It’s as easy as commenting on another’s LinkedIn post to writing a long-form post or article of your own to create discussion. Day-to-day, go to lunch with colleagues instead of eating at your desk.

💡 Ask questions and listen. This could be as brief as actually listening to the answer after the ‘How are you?’ in the hallway at work or saying yes to coffee with those you know and even those you don’t know.

💡 Be a connector. Know people’s needs so well that you can play matchmaker within your own network. Connect those that need each other!

Who to Reference?

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Including references on your resume will date you as an older job seeker (even if you aren’t one). This common practice from thirty years ago has dissipated today.

However, according to Jobvite’s 2018 Recruiter Nation Survey, 59% of recruiters speak to professional references during the hiring process.

So how do you cultivate professional references and submit them in today’s job market?

Ask for them! Request references from previous colleagues or bosses. New graduates with little work experience, ask college professors who know you well and can vouch for your skills and work ethic.

Submit references when asked. Follow a job posting’s directions on this. Typically, you will submit 3-5 names with contact information on a separate document from your resume. I recommend using the same contact information header as your resume so it is obvious the document belongs with your application materials.

Notify references. Ensure your references are prepared to speak knowledgeably about you. Arm them with information about the opportunity, your resume and specific stories that will speak to your accomplishments. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been contacted by a company to give a reference when I had NO IDEA I was listed as a reference. Avoid this faux pas. Make yourself and your reference look good!

Now is a good time to start building your reference list for your job search in 2019. Ask colleagues you trust!

How To Write A LinkedIn Recommendation

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Help a colleague grow. Add to their credibility and visibility by giving them a recommendation on LinkedIn.

Profiles with recommendations rank higher in search results and are three times more likely to be contacted.

Unsure what to write? Tell a compelling story about a particular project, accomplishment or skill of your colleague.

Are you looking to add recommendations to your profile? Don’t be shy. Request them!

Ask a potential recommender in person or over phone/email before sending the request on LinkedIn. Within the request, I encourage my clients to write their own recommendation.

Yep, you heard me.

This way you get to highlight the specific skill or achievement of your choosing [and it cuts the work out for the recommender!] From there, encourage the recommender to tweak, add or delete content from your original draft. It’s a win, win for everyone!

What tips and tricks have served you well regarding recommendations?