30 March, 2010

Why And How To Use LinkedIn

Headhunters and recruiters use LinkedIn, not Facebook and MySpace, to “source” or identify candidates so everybody who is looking for a job or is interested in advancing his or her career needs to get serious about using LinkedIn. There are several reasons headhunters and recruiters use LinkedIn rather than Facebook or MySpace. First off, unlike MySpace and Facebook, which were created mostly to facilitate social networking, LinkedIn is actually designed for professional networking. For example, if I need to recruit a mining industry sales rep in Carbondale Illinois, LinkedIn enables me to specify people in my network who live in the Carbondale area, and have mining sales experience. I can’t do that in MySpace or Facebook.

If I favor candidates with business degrees from certain colleges, I can narrow my LinkedIn search by school and degree. I can’t do that in Facebook and MySpace.

LinkedIn is made for business, not monkey business.

Then there’s demographics. According to Ad Age and Andersen Analytics, LinkedIn members are at the height of their earnings years and have higher incomes than Facebook members who are more likely to be retired or MySpace members who are more likely to be young or in lower paying fields.

LinkedIn’s superiority in business search is not limited to employment. Let’s say you want to buy real estate in Douglas, Arizona. LinkedIn allows you to construct a search that will tell you all Douglas, Arizona area realtors in your network. You can’t do that in MySpace or Facebook.

So whether you’re trying to advance your career, your business or your cause, you need to be using LinkedIn. Here’s a short tutorial:

1. Put your contact information in some fields that show up in your public profile so even people who don’t belong to LinkedIn can actually reach you. People with LinkedIn profiles show up in Google searches. It’s a partial profile – what LinkedIn calls your “public profile” - where only certain fields are visible so make sure your phone number and your email address are in a field that shows up in a Google search. I want to be easy to find and easy to contact so I put my cell phone number and my email address in the “summary” field of my LinkedIn profile along with my Twitter and blog URLs.

2. Join some groups. Joining groups enables you to build your network by thousands of new people with the click of the mouse. Go to the search field at the top right of your LinkedIn home page and click on the drop down then click “groups”. Type a key word. I just typed “Kanawha” and hit “enter” and got two groups I might want to join. Then I searched on “accountants” and got over a thousand groups that might be of interest to accountants. Join some groups. You can join 50.

3. When you join a group, make sure you have enabled messaging with members of the group. I have no idea why, but a small percentage of LinkedIn members join groups but turn off the feature that allows other group members to directly message them through

4. Build your LinkedIn network. Invite every professional you respect to join your LinkedIn network. Don’t just invite the people who already have LinkedIn accounts. Invite professionals you respect to open their own LinkedIn accounts. All you need is their email address.

5. Get in the habit of logging in to your LinkedIn account home page every day and take a moment to actually read those updates. LinkedIn will tell you when people in your email directory join LinkedIn, when members of your network join a group, get a new job or start a group discussion. As I write this post, LinkedIn is telling me that Kent Howell is recommending the new Blackberry app, that Trey Hoffman is recommending Amy DeBuc, that Steve Davis has added a Twitter account and updated his LinkedIn profile and that Russell Williams wants to Link to Vietnam vets. My LinkedIn home page is telling me about what my connections are reading, who they’ve recently Linked to and much, much more. One of my favorite features is the one where LinkedIn tells me how many times I turned up in search results in the last 3 days and then gives me descriptions of some of the people who have viewed my profile.

6. Ask a friend to give you a personal, one on one, tutorial on LinkedIn. I offer to tutor people on how to use LinkedIn all the time. If you have a LinkedIn account and you have no idea what to do with it, find someone who knows how to use LinkedIn and invite them to teach you how to unlock the power of LinkedIn.

And while we’re on the subject, clean up your Facebook and MySpace accounts. Delete the profanities and the drunken spring break pictures. After headhunters and recruiters identify you on LinkedIn they will go to your Facebook page to look for clues about your character, your professionalism, your affiliations, your maturity, etc.

Do you have a blog? Does this blog enhance your brand? If not, delete it.

What about your Tweetstream? Does your Tweetstream enhance your personal brand? If not, delete it. Employers are watching.

Now, go work on that LinkedIn profile. Ask a LinkedIn “power user” to give you a tutorial.

UPDATE: I received my copy of Fortune Magazine too late to cite their cover story on LinkedIn but here's the link: Fortune Magazine: "How LinkedIn Will Fire Up Your Career" - http://money.cnn.com/2010/03/24/technology/linkedin_social_networking.fortune/index.htm

Coming soon to Higginbotham At Large:

“The Co-Signer Effect”

26 March, 2010

Why The Professional Risks Of Not Having A Robust And Professional Internet Presence Outweigh Any Privacy Risks

Before I spoke at the ISA symposium, while I was still getting my name badge made at the registration table, people were asking me questions about the comparative risks and advantages of having a robust internet presence.

I countered this way: have you considered what NOT having an internet presence says about you?

First of all, if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile you aren’t going to show up in LinkedIn searches. Recruiters and headhunters use LinkedIn, not Myspace and Facebook, to identify possible candidates because, in LinkedIn, they can search by job title, by industry, by geography, by key word, by employer or by almost any other parameter. You can’t do that in Facebook or Myspace.

I told the ISA folks that, honestly, if you aren’t using social media while it’s still free to users (a subscriber-paid business model may be coming but nobody wants to be the first to defect from the “culture of free”) employers and recruiters are right to question your wisdom and your business sense. If you already pay an ISP for Internet access then you’re already paying for access to free professional networking platforms like LinkedIn so what does it say about your business sense when you pay for a service and then don’t use it?

Or maybe the recruiter wonders if you’re not using these free platforms to promote your career, your business or your cause, because you’re a Luddite or a technophobe.

If you don’t have a blog, that is, if you are one of the few people on the planet who no longer has any unpublished thoughts, is it because you don’t have any thoughts? Is it because you can’t write?

If you aren’t using social media is it because you don’t have any friends? Don’t want any friends? Why would an employer want to hire somebody who might be a misanthrope or a hermit? Don’t people understand that part of their value to an employer is the ability to network and create connections to prospective vendors, customers, employees and partners?

OK, I’ll say it: I can’t help noticing that some of the people who don’t have an Internet presence have something to hide.

I told the ISA folks that unless they plan to put their social security numbers, PIN numbers and their kids’ school addresses on the internet, the professional risks associated with not having a robust and professional internet presence far outweigh the privacy risks.

And, of course, I had a lot to say about why a job candidate with a great resume is no match for a job candidate with great connections. And I had a lot to say about what I call "The Co-Signer Effect". I may need to write about the co-signer effect in a future post.

Coming Soon In Higginbotham At Large:

"A LinkedIn Tutorial"

"The Co-Signer Effect"

25 March, 2010

How Dad Chose Apria

Having spent over a decade in DME sales, management, writing, speaking and consulting, I have always wanted to “be a little fly on the wall” when a patient was being discharged to see how social services/discharge planning really handles that moment of truth when the patient gets to choose his DME supplier. I recently got my chance to be in the room with my dad, my mom, the social worker, the charge nurse, an occupational therapist and a physical therapist when the social worker popped that question: “Who do you want to provide your home medical equipment?”

My dad co-wrote the jingle that Boll Medical used in their radio and TV ads back in the early 80s but he didn’t mention Boll Medical. Dad didn't mention that my first job in DME was at Boll Medical or that I worked in that industry for years. Instead, he looked at me as if to ask me to decide for him. I didn’t want to decide. I wanted to be a fly on the wall and see if social services would choose for him or steer him toward their favorite supplier. There was no way I was going to be cheated out of this rare chance to see how the “decision” is made. I just hoped neither of my parents exposed me by telling the discharge team that I used to be in that business. I was relieved when my mother narrowed the “choice” a little.

“Anybody but Loop”, she said. She didn’t say why she didn’t want Loop and nobody asked.

Oh, this is getting good, I thought.

Then the social worker started naming options:

“There’s Elana, Lincare, Boyd’s, All Med…” Her voice trailed off.

I also have a theory that DME people can tell which hospital my dad was in from the DME suppliers they mentioned to him at discharge.

I can’t prove it but I have this theory that if you walk up to a “referral source” and ask them to simply name some companies they refer business to, the first few names out of their mouth are probably their favorites.

My dad still didn’t voice a preference. It was safe for me to speak now.

“Can you give dad a list of local DME companies and let him choose from the list?

I never actually saw the list but someone gave it to him and he chose Apria. I asked him how he came to choose Apria, a company he’d never heard of.

“Your mom ruled out the closest company and Apria was almost as close”, he explained.

I was surprised both by his choice and the way the choice was made but I didn’t care. I finally got to be a fly on the wall when a patient was choosing his DME provider.

I don’t want to draw many conclusions from a single moment of truth, but I suspect if, at any point, someone – me, the RN, the OT, the PT – had actually recommended a provider, my dad would have seconded the motion and he would have never seen the list. Or chosen Apria.

In point of fact, Apria's office isn't any closer than several others dad didn't select so we may never know what really caused him to circle Apria on the list. Maybe he liked the way the name sounds. I didn't press him. He said he selected it because it was close but, by that measure, he could have chosen Lincare or Elana or Boyd's or All Med.

For the record, I do not now nor have I ever worked for Apria in any capacity. Although I still follow the industry and some of the people in it from afar, I haven't worked for any DME company in any capacity in at least 15 years.

DMEs might also want to read my three December posts on "referrals" and "relationships". SMPS.org called these posts "outstanding business development advice."

Coming Soon To Higginbotham At Large: Recap Of What I Said At The ISA Symposium, How To Unleash The Awesome Power of LinkedIn,

20 March, 2010

Calling All "Older Worker" Advocates: Join Our Committee

In response to my 19 February blog entry, “How AARP Lost Me” I got a call from Shereen Remez, Executive Vice President for Member Value at AARP headquarters in Washington DC who arranged for me to meet with Gaylene Miller, West Virginia’s new AARP state director. I told Gaylene that AARP is doing a dreadful job of making itself relevant and useful to me and my 50-something friends and that AARP can do much more to help so-called “older workers” in their 50s and 60s who are the first to be fired and the last to be hired by corporate America. Gaylene agreed.

Gaylene and I are forming a committee which will plan a statewide initiative to find employers who want to hire these older workers and help these older workers learn how to get a job. If you have a passion for keeping 50- and 60-something workers employed and productive and you have some expertise in the employment arena, please contact Gaylene Miller at the state AARP office or contact me, Joseph Higginbotham, at (304) 550-6710.

You don’t need to belong to AARP to be part of this planning committee.

If you are a member of ISA – The International Society of Automation – you can hear me speak on job seeking at the March 23 symposium on the campus of WVSU.

Attendees will learn how headhunters find and evaluate talent, what your online presence – or lack of one – says about you, how to get “co-signers” for your job candidacy, why the candidate with the best resume is no match for the candidate with the best connections and how to get those connections and much more.

Go to http://www.isa.org/~charl/c_isaproductshow.html for details and registration.

02 March, 2010

Joseph Higginbotham Speaks At The 2010 Charleston ISA Training Symposium, West Virginia State U. March 23

Joseph Higginbotham will speak at 9AM on the topic “Using Social Media To Promote Your Cause, Your Career Or Your Business” at the 2010 Charleston International Society of Automation Training Symposium & Show, West Virginia State University 103 Wilson University Union Institute, WV, Tuesday, March 23, 2010.

Learn how headhunters use LinkedIn and search engines to find and evaluate talent. Learn how to use Twitter and blogs and LinkedIn to build your online brand.

Higginbotham will present material that SMPS.org (Society for Marketing Professional Services) called "outstanding business development advice" as well as material endorsed and recommended by College Career Counselor.

Learn how employers and headhunters interpret the signals sent by your online presence (or lack of one) and how you must use Linkedin and other social media to send signals that are consistent with your career goals.

Job seekers and career changers will learn how to tap the "hidden" or unadvertised job market that represents 90% or more of all job openings. In addition, job seekers will learn how headhunters and recruiters use LinkedIn, blogs, Twitter and Google to find and evaluate candidates and how to use that knowledge to build an online presence that attracts and impresses them.

Leaders of non-profits, professional associations and civic groups will learn how to use social media to turn all members into membership evangelists.

Self-employed and small business owners in trust-sensitive and relationship-based industries will learn how to use social media to establish relationships that lead organically and naturally to leads and referrals.

If your Charleston area club, civic group, social services organization, college, company, professional association or other group needs a speaker, call Higginbotham At Large at (304) 550-6710 and ask if your group or event qualifies for FREE workshop or speaking services.

To register for the ISA symposium visit http://www.isa.org/~charl/c_isaproductshow.html