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Nurture your network!

06 Sep

Your Linkedin profile is more than a web page; it is your face, your mouth and your brain on the Internet, especially when you are looking for a job!

If you read the past articles, you now understand:
- why you should not be afraid of social media,
- how to create a complete Linkedin profile,
- why displaying full contact information is essential,
- and finaly, how to build your professional community.

My last article talked about building your community. It is important to add past and new connections, but it is even more important to stay in touch with them. This is once they accept your connection request that the real job starts. And the real job is nurturing and optimizing this new growing network!

Are you ready to optimize your network?

Your job search is closely linked to your network optimization. It is important to keep in mind the similar essential attributes the two activities share:

1. Introduce yourself and deliver value to your audience

When connecting with a recruiter through a job application or connecting with another professional on Linkedin, keep in mind that these people may not know you and that You have to offer value. The question is not what they can do for you but what you can do for them!

And how do we do that? Well, first, remember that people love to talk about themselves. Make sure that the first message you send is about them, and not about you. Once new connections accept your request, send them a message:

- To thank them for accepting your connection request:
i.e. “Dear Emma, thank you for accepting my connection request.”

- To state your value proposition:
This value proposition summarizes your key skills and should hold in one paragraph.
i.e. “I am a young Sales Manager with significant experience in domestic and international sales, specializing in business-to-business negotiation”.

- To ask about them: their background, current situation, or industry:
i.e. “I can read on your profile that you are in charge of the domestic sales for mobile applications. Do you observe a relevant behavioral impact of mobile applications on the population?”

- To offer your knowledge or advices:
i.e. “I recently read an article on Such Magazine about how mobile applications radically change the way people use their mobile and interact with one another. I think this might interest you: http://www.link.com”.<e/m>;

- To offer to stay in touch and start a conversation:
i.e. “I would love to discuss the new perspectives of mobile applications with you. If you find this article interesting, I can send you other links. Would you appreciate that? I’m looking forward to hearing from you. With Best Regards”

Keep in mind that you do not want to look needy from the first message. Start with a light first email. The objective is to show these new connections your value: either your knowledge about the subject or your access to other key contacts within the industry. Show them that you are an interesting people, with whom it is nice to discuss, who share great ideas, and who is a real connector. Be generous about what you have to offer: this is your value proposition!

2. Share relevant information:

Show that you know what you are talking about! Linkedin allow you to share content in multiple and various ways. The easiest one is to share what you read. How? Most often, at the end of any article, you will find “share” buttons: Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, Pinterest … and Linkedin!

Click on the “in share” button:

A new window will open with the title of the article, a small introduction and sometimes a picture:

Make sure to edit any one of these components, and add a comment. The goal: share relevant information and show that you have an opinion. Be careful to always stay polite and non be controversial. You do not want potential recruiters to read something they totally disagree with on your profile… The idea is to show that you are interested in your industry and its opportunities, and that you care to read, comment and talk about it. Also, the people you started talking with will see that you’re not only reading about mobile applications in order to have something to write to them. You actually really research the subject!

Sharing articles you read also have another advantage: it places you in the Linkedin News Feed regularly! Surely you want to be seen as an expert, or at least an active thinking agent, but you mostly want to be seen! What is the interest of having an account if nobody ever hears about it?

3. Participate in the global discussion

Linkedin had tons of users and nearly as many groups. Join the groups within your targeted industry and your field. You will have access to key discussions, and also to key professionals with the industry.

Participate in the global discussion: comment on current discussions, create new topics or create your own group! Doing so will allow you to approach top managers without sending them a personal message (which can be really scary!). You are on the same level, all able to give your advice, share a comment, or ask for help.
The key to nurturing your network is to be curious and pay attention to what people do or say around you. Just like in real life!

I would advise job seekers to start building their community step by step.

First, build trust relationships with your network and keep your job applications out of it. Focus on job ads on specialized websites, but also on Linkedin. Check out the “Jobs” section in the tool bar and screen jobs within your industry, among companies you are interested in, according to the company size, country, etc.

Then, when you are confident about the relationship you have with your contacts, and when you identified key skills and strengths from the job offers your screened, share your needs with your community.

If you did your homework correctly and people now appreciate and value you, they will have no reason not to help you!

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