The Hello Bar is a simple notification bar that engages users and communicates a call to action.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn Attention

LinkedIn is the professional network to help you get ahead. So it’s a good idea if your profile stands out from the crowd – as long as you stand out for the right reasons.

Getting noticed can be easier than you think. As long as you’re willing to devote a few minutes each day to the network, then you’ll stand out from the crowd.

Here’s what to do.

1. Make the First Move

Instead of waiting for people to notice you, show you’ve noticed them.

Whenever you meet someone, in the real world or online, add him or her as a LinkedIn contact. Be sure to write a personalized message when you send out the contact request. That starts a conversation.

Additionally, when people add you as a contact, drop them a message to say hello. Again, this starts a conversation.

When your name’s in someone’s inbox, you really stand out.

2. Ask for Recommendations

Recommendations are LinkedIn’s version of testimonials. They get other people to sing your praises – which is far more effective than singing your own.

To get recommendations, reach out and ask for them. You can even let people know which skills and experience you’d like the recommendation to focus on.

And if you’re too shy to ask? Give out testimonials to others, and you’ll get them in return.

3. Stay Active

The more you do on LinkedIn, the more people you’ll meet, and the more you’ll get noticed.

Two easy things you can do every day are:

  • Hang out in groups. Choose 3-5 groups to focus on. Every day, post something in each group, or respond to someone else’s post.
  • Share an interesting article or video. Sharing one or two items to your LinkedIn feed each day is plenty.

4. Frequently Tweak Your Headline

Your headline is how you get noticed on LinkedIn. It’s what people see whenever you join a conversation in a LinkedIn group or post an update to your LinkedIn feed.

So your headline needs to grab attention.

Tweak it often, and you’ll see which headlines perform best. As an added bonus, each time you update your headline, your contacts on LinkedIn receive an email. It’s a double-win for getting noticed.

5. Focus on Your Achievements

Yes, you should list all your past roles. But rather than providing a detailed job description (yawn!), write about the results you created for your employer or client.

You can do this even for relatively simple jobs such as retail – e.g. “I served 200 customers and handled $10,000 per day.”

Hint: If you want your achievements to make people go “wow!”, always include relevant numbers.

Over to You

What do you do to stand out on LinkedIn? Let us know in the comments.

Image credits: Gil C / Shutterstock.com

Easy Social Media

What’s the secret to coming up with a social media strategy that really works?

A few months back we shared our Tweety Pie Formula for developing an effective Twitter strategy.

The three step Tweety Pie Formula is:

  1. Test Your Strategy
  2. Tweak Your Strategy (Based on the feedback from your test)
  3. Go back to step 1.

You can read more about the Tweety Pie formula here. Although we called it a Tweety Pie strategy (as a pun on Twitter), the process can be applied to all social networks: Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus, and so on.

It’s a great process for discovering what works on social media at engaging your audience and getting your brand out there. Having an agile strategy that’s always in development is the only way to keep up with the constant changes in technology when it comes to social media.

That said, the Tweety Pie Formula has two key flaws:

  • Strategy creation. How do you come up with a social media strategy in the first place? Where do you get ideas from? How do you know if your idea is a good one?
  • Strategy tweaking. Where do you get ideas from to tweak your strategy? This is especially the case if your strategy requires more of a “back to the drawing board” rethink than a few subtle tweaks.

So how can you come up with an effective and unique strategy? There are a few different ways. Here are two that are relatively common. They’re good, but not the best.

You can sit at your desk and think. There’s a lot to be said for this, and many people in today’s world don’t spend enough time reflecting. Time to think is vital for creativity to blossom. However, sitting and thinking is time consuming, and aside from your own best guess there’s no way of knowing whether your ideas are any good. Of course you can test your ideas, but wouldn’t it be better to start with ideas that you know have a good chance of succeeding?

You can read social media blogs. Just like you’re doing now! As with sitting down to think, this is a great way of coming with social media strategies. By reading about what works, you’ll have a good idea of where to start with your social media campaigns. But if you only take your ideas from what other people have written, your social media strategy will look just like everyone else’s. You’re only doing the tried and tested. You have no way of standing out from the crowd.

Thinking and reading blogs are both good ways of coming up with social media strategies. But what you come up with might not work, and it’s unlikely to be unique. There is another way.

What is this way?

We’ll take our first clue from an astronomer, Carl Sagan, whose pithy advice extended to baking. Sagan said:

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

In other words, it’s impossible to make an apple pie “from scratch”. To bake an apple pie, you need apples, flour, butter, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and so on. To get these ingredients, you need a store. A store gets them from suppliers, who get them from farmers, who create their produce from the land. The land itself is part of the earth, which is part of the solar system, which is part of the universe.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not planning to invent the universe from scratch anytime soon.

As with apple pies, you can’t create a social media strategy “from scratch”. However you come up with your strategy, you’ve got to use certain ingredients. You can’t tweet without a computer, an internet connection, and a Twitter account.

For more advanced and successful tweeting, you might add strategies such as content curation, hashtags and monitoring stats.

Already, you’re starting to mix up ingredients to make a tasty social media pie. Chances are, if you’re using a good set of ingredients, you’re already doing enough to be successful. But you’re pretty much like all other brands out there. You’re doing the same things everyone else does. Your pie tastes just like theirs.

What ingredients can you add to make your pie extra special?

Occasionally, if you’re very lucky, you’ll come up with an original idea for your social media strategy that will smash your engagement out of the park.

But even if your idea looks original to you, you didn’t create it from scratch. You need a ton of already-existing ingredients to make it happen. And coming up with unique ideas using your mind-power alone is always going to be time consuming.

So, what can you do to really get ahead, the lazy way?

Let’s take another quote, this time from filmmaker Jim Jarmusch.

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: ‘It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.'”

That’s right. Our advice for creating an unique social media strategy is to be a copycat.

Let’s say you sell sports shoes. We’re not saying you should head over to Nike’s Twitter feed and share the exact same tweets they do.

What we are saying is you should be keeping a close eye on the Twitter feeds of all your competitors, and of successful brands outside your niche. When you see them do something that’s getting them attention, or that’s not quite working but that you think has potential with just a few tweaks, incorporate that approach into your social media strategy.

The uniqueness of your strategy won’t come from having an original idea. Instead, it will come from the way you combine the ingredients you’ve picked from all over the place into your own tasty pie.

Remember – it’s not where you take things from. It’s where you take them to. And it’s how you mix them together to create something unique.

Here’s an overview of the copycat’s social media strategy:

  • Pay attention to what others in your niche are doing on social media.
  • Also keep in the loop about what brands outside your niche are doing on social media.
  • When you see a big success, or an idea that grabs your attention, note it down.
  • Think about how you can incorporate that idea into your social media strategy.
  • Ask yourself: how can I do this better? Take the ideas you’ve found, and add your own unique twist.

No more backing apple pies from scratch, which is an impossible task in any case.

A final word of warning. While it’s totally okay to model your social media strategy on what others are doing, it’s not okay to do anything that breaks copyright laws. Don’t steal content or images from others. It’s not clever or cool.

Now, go find some taste ingredients, and get baking!

career

LinkedIn is the grandpa of the social networking world. It’s seen the rise and fall of empires including Bebo, MySpace and Digg, and it’s survived to tell the tale.

It’s always going to be a niche network, with its focus on helping professionals create connections. At the same time, because we all need to work to earn a living, it’s always going to be popular.

You can use LinkedIn to:

  • Find work. Whether you’re looking for your dream job, or just something to pay the bills, LinkedIn has what you need.
  • Connect with people. Including your current colleagues, and people you’ve worked with in the past.
  • Sell yourself. With your LinkedIn profile, you put your best foot forward.
  • Get noticed. Having an active LinkedIn profile drastically increases your changes of being headhunted and approached with job opportunities.
  • Grow your network. LinkedIn groups are perfect for meeting like-minded professionals.
  • Promote your business. LinkedIn is increasingly popular with brands, and has recently added features targeted at business users.

In this article, I’ll show you, step-by-step, what it takes to built a successful LinkedIn profile.

1. Show Your Face

Before you do anything else on LinkedIn, add your photo to your profile. According to LinkedIn expert Nicole Williams:

“You’re seven times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have one. Like a house that’s on sale, the assumption is that if there’s no photo, something’s wrong.”

Your picture is the most important part of your LinkedIn profile. It’s what people see when you’re interacting with them in groups or sharing status updates. It’s also the first thing they’ll see when they check out your profile. Their eyes will be drawn to your picture before they read anything about you. Make sure they’re drawing the right conclusions from your picture.

That’s why its vital to get your picture right. Choose a headshot and make sure you smile. Show those teeth! Business is all about people, and faces are the essence of people. By show your smiling face, you’re revealing that you’re somebody people can trust. You’ll be fun to work with. Before you’ve said a word, you’ve created a genuine connection.

Make your picture as professional as you can by going for an industry appropriate look. We live in informal times, and smart-casual is the best for most, unless you’re in an industry with conservative dress codes (e.g. law), or it’s important that you convey a rebellious, free-thinking image, in which case you choose what you wear.

If you want to kill two birds with one stone, you can show what you do in your picture, and convey the essence of your personal brand.

  • Work in construction? Why not show an image of you wearing a hard-hat?
  • Outdoor adventure instructor? how about a picture of you rock climbing?
  • If you’re a farmer, let’s see you out in the fields!

2. Add an Attention Grabbing Headline

After your profile picture, the next most important part of your LinkedIn profile is your headline.

Most people make the mistake of writing only their job title in their headline.

Why is that a mistake? Because aside from your picture, your headline is all most people will see of you on LinkedIn.

Your headline shows up whenever you write a comment in a group, or share a status update, or when you appear in search results. Unless it’s attention grabbing, people won’t click through to see your profile.

Our favorite formula for writing a compelling headline is:

Job title – How you help people.

For example:

  • Software programmer. I code software to help fresh produce wholesalers manage stock levels.
  • Women’s personal trainer. I teach busy professional women how to keep fit.
  • Construction worker. Reliable, motivated and always on time.

Want to know more about writing a compelling headline? Check out our article here.

3. Write a Keyword-Rich Summary

These days, LinkedIn profiles are pretty flexible, and you can shuffle them about as you want to. However, the default setting is to display your summary at the top of your headline.

Your summary is where you get to really sell yourself, so we recommend keeping it first.

In your summary, expand upon your headline and explain how you help people. In addition:

  • Think about how people might search for you on LinkedIn. What search terms would they use if they’re looking for your skills, experience, or services? Make a list of these search terms – also called keywords, and be sure to include them in your summary.
  • Don’t be shy of name-dropping. If you’ve worked with big name companies, say so, even if they’re only big names in your niche.
  • Proofread it! Spelling mistakes look unprofessional and will make you stand out from the crowd for the wrong reasons.

4. Ask for Recommendations

Your reputation is only as solid as what others think of you. That’s why your profile is only as solid as your recommendations.

Recommendations do your selling for you. There’s nothing you can say about yourself that can’t be said more powerfully by someone else. Why? Because when prospective employers are looking at your profile, they know you’re putting a positive spin on things. Whereas recommendations are from a neutral party.

When you’re starting out on LinkedIn, don’t be afraid of asking for recommendations. Reaching out and requesting a recommendation is a great way of making contact with old workmates. There’s no harm in asking, and most people will be happy to help.

What’s more, if you need particular skills highlighted, then say so in your request.

Still struggling to get recommendations even though you’ve asked for them? Then reach out by making recommendations for people in your network. Then they’ll want to return the favor.

5. List Your Skills (& Collect Endorsements)

For the past year or so, LinkedIn has allowed you to list your skills and be endorsed for them.

You can list almost anything from speaking Mandarin to Salsa to using an iPod.

Once you’ve listed a skills, your LinkedIn connections can endorse you for that skill. All your endorsements are displayed on your profile.

Currently, there’s a debate over whether it’s best to list as many skills as you can think of, or to hone down your skills to a minimalist list.

On the minimalist side, the argument is that the fewer skills you list, the more endorsements you’ll collect on them. That’s why minimalists advocate grouping skills together. For example, instead of listing Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. as separate skills, why not combine them into a single skill: Social Media Marketing.

On the other hand, the more skills you list, the more keywords you have in your profile, and the more likely you are to be found in search.

Top tip: Endorsing others will increase the number of people who endorse you.

6. Showcase Your Best Work

LinkedIn’s profiles are media rich. You can add videos, a graphic design portfolio, samples of projects you’ve managed, or a list of your publications.

These features are around a year old, and many LinkedIn users have yet to catch up, so by taking advantage of them, you’ll put yourself ahead of the crowd.

It’s always better to show what you’re capable of than to merely make claims about what you can do.

7. Complete Your Career History

LinkedIn profiles have always been a way of showing your resume online. Yet in today’s fast-paced, multi-media world, this is arguably the least important factor in your LinkedIn profile. That’s not to say you shouldn’t include it. Not showing your career history is an easy way to raise questions about your profile. But it’s probably the last thing people will look at when they check out your profile.

When you’re listing your past jobs, write about what you did in a way that shows off the skills you need for your ideal job. Write like you’re explaining what you did to a recruiter at a job interview.

You don’t need to go into too much depth. Just make sure what you write about your jobs reinforces everything else in your profile.

Over to You

What are your top tips for putting together a stunning LinkedIn profile?