Going on a Business Trip? Use the LinkedIn Events Application and Windmill Network!

If you’ve followed my Windmill Networking blog for awhile or read my LinkedIn book, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of the LinkedIn Events Application.  Seriously.  I wrote an April Fools’s post back in 2009 complaining why Events wasn’t considered an application with a blog post rhetorically entitled, “What are LinkedIn Applications?”  I was the first one to ask “What Happened to LinkedIn Events?” when they mysteriously disappeared for a day in October of 2009.  So you can say that I have a personal relationship with Events, and when all of the “social media gurus” talk about Facebook Events, Eventbrite, and Plancast, which are all also great platforms for events, I still think they misunderstand or under appreciate the potential for using the LinkedIn Events application.
I’ve been traveling a lot the last few weeks, speaking on social media as well as attending award ceremonies for my social media book.  As I am an avid Windmill Networker, meaning that I see the value of social networking to be of networking outside of my present network, I am always open to connecting with others on LinkedIn.  There is value in plugging our windmills into the grid that is social media and virtually connecting.  But the deep value and trust that comes out of relationships are when they are developed offline in the real world.  That is why, whenever I travel outside of my native Orange County, California, I try to create a LinkedIn Event and use it as an avenue to not only bring together people that I am connected to on LinkedIn but have never met, but also an opportunity to meet new people that may have similar interests.
Through the advice that I present below, I have been able to meet with between 10 and 30 people apiece at networking events that I created in Portland, Oregon, Jacksonville, Florida, and New York City in the past few weeks…and I had never previously met any of these people!  Once you meet new people at a networking events, there are countless opportunities to learn from others, share information, help others, and maybe find a new business partner or even get a new lead either directly or indirectly from your new contact.  Rather than spending time in your hotel room by yourself, it is a way to enrich your professional life and make new friends.  You never know when your connecting with that person will help you or them out in the future.
So the next time you are on a business trip, follow this procedure to create a way for people to meet you through the LinkedIn Events Application and Windmill Network!

  1. You first need to create a LinkedIn Event. This is not difficult to do, and step-by-step instructions of how to do so are in my LinkedIn book.  The important things that you need to prepare are a title (“networking event” makes sense), a description which should want to bring people out to meet and network, and you need to find a location.  I do this by going to Google Maps, figuring out both where I plan to be on business as well as where my hotel is, and then find an ideal area which makes logistical sense for the time that I plan to hold the event (late afternoons/early evenings seem to be the best time).  I then go to Yelp and find a location that has a bar/large party atmosphere located in the ideal area.  You can find these by using “large party restaurant” or “large group restaurant” in the search terms so that you can be assured that there won’t be an issue if a lot of people come!  Check out the reviews and take your pick of location.
  2. After creating the LinkedIn Event, inform your network. As a LinkedIn Open Networker or LION, I have acquired a lot of LinkedIn connections over time.  When I did a search through my contacts of connections living in Portland, Oregon, I found that I already had more than 130 connections living there that I had never met!  Obviously the larger your network, the more connections you are bound to have in any given city.  Using the InBox feature, send out a blast with a link to the LinkedIn Event to your connections.  You can add 50 connections to the same message for efficiency’s sake.  If your network is smaller…
  3. Invite those who are members of similar LinkedIn Groups. You joined a Group for a reason: you want to obtain or share information with others that have a similar interest.  Why not do an Advanced People Search using a keyword (I used “social media”) and look for people in Groups that you belong to that you may want to meet up with?  If you are a member of the same Group, chances are you will be able to send them a LinkedIn Message regardless of your connectivity status.  Go for it, contact them, but be clear as to why you want to meet with them in the first place.  And, remember, it is a pain, but every Message to a common Group member that you are not connected to must be done separately, one-by-one…
  4. Send out a reminder to those that RSVP to your LinkedIn Event. This is something that I originally did not do, and I regret not doing it because I think that attendance to my networking events could have been greater had I sent out a friendly reminder to all of those that RSVPed “Attending” and “Interested” on the Event page a few days before the event.
  5. Prepare for the LinkedIn Event by checking out the Profiles of those that RSVPed. Better yet, print out their profiles for airplane reading!
  6. Enjoy your time with new friends!  You’re Windmill Networking!

9 Essential Ways LinkedIn Improves My Business

Posted by Sarah Mitchell

Are you getting the most of LinkedIn? I’m always surprised when I hear people say they need to think about opening an account on LinkedIn. I understand the reservations professional people have about creating a social media persona. When it comes to LinkedIn, the benefits far outweigh the perceived risk associated with many online tools.

Defining Feature
For those of you that don’t know, the curriculum vitae (resume) of the account holder anchors each account. LinkedIn is a professional networking tool in the purest sense. The architecture of the site ensures your experience will be relevant to you because it’s based on professional accomplishments, not pop culture or social chatter.
Fun Facts
LinkedIn is one of the granddaddies of social media, launching in May 2003. It has grown from strength to strength in the seven years since its inception.

  • LinkedIn has over 70 million members.
  • Membership is across more than 200 countries.
  • LinkedIn supports multiple languages: English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.
  • More than half the accounts are from outside the USA.
  • Executives from every Fortune 500 company are LinkedIn members.
  • A new member joins LinkedIn every second.

Practical Application
Still not convinced? Here are some of the ways I’ve found benefit from LinkedIn:
1. Preserve Your Network
LinkedIn gives you the ability to establish an online repository for your business network. You never have to worry about keeping your address book up-to-date. You can throw your business card folio and rolodex out the window.
2. Find Former Colleagues
We all plan to stay in touch when a co-worker leaves or you change jobs. It’s not always easy and a busy schedule often gets in the way of good intentions. I’ve found or been found by dozens of people I’ve lost touch with as we’ve moved companies, countries and jobs.
3. Find Good People
One of the best things I’ve ever done is use LinkedIn to find prospective business partners. Since accounts are based on a resume, it’s easy to find the people you want to meet or work with. The search function is comprehensive allowing you to zero in on a specific location, company, school or industry. It’s no wonder recruiters view LinkedIn and social media channels as essential tools for vetting candidates.
4. Free Company Listing
LinkedIn lets you enter your company details giving you a free listing connected to their powerful search feature.
5. Research
The Company Buzz feature keeps track of what’s being said about your specified keywords on Twitter. It’s a great way to keep your eye on the competition or track what’s being said about your own company.
6. Find Events
The Events feature will show you all the events being attended by people in your wider network. It’s a great way to keep track of what’s happening around town.
7. Get Recommendations
Word of Mouth referrals are the lifeblood of small business. I’ve yet to meet a person that didn’t appreciate having a colleague or client giving a recommendation on his or her work. LinkedIn makes it easy to request recommendations and makes it super easy to give one, too.
8. Integration with other Social Media Tools
LinkedIn is continually updating their product to provide a clearer picture of the professional qualifications of their members. Slideshare, Amazon.com, WordPress and Twitter all have useful integration features with LinkedIn.
9. Special Interest Groups
Perhaps the most powerful feature of LinkedIn is the multitude of special interest groups. These groups allow you to meet other professionals with similar interests and participate in worldwide discussions. The discussion groups also have a feature allowing for sharing of news articles. It’s a great place to stay informed, get the opinion of your peers and network with a global community of like-minded people.
My Recommendation
LinkedIn is a wonderful tool for people from any profession. Participating in LinkedIn is a low risk proposition due to the career focus attached to the membership profiles. I consider it one of my key strategic tools for running a successful business. If you’re not already a member, I encourage you to join.
What benefits have you received from your LinkedIn activity? What features do you use the most often?

Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn in Your Job Search

Perhaps you ventured onto LinkedIn and forgot about it. Or maybe you’re scared of LinkedIn, period. Let us guide you through what you’re missing

If you’re a business or professional person and not using LinkedIn, you’re behind the curve. Fifty million business networkers must be on to something. LinkedIn is the 800-pound gorilla of business networking sites and an essential tool for job seekers in particular. According to the LinkedIn website, a new user joins the site every second, and it’s easy to see why. LinkedIn is a free billboard for businesspeople. It showcases not only your name, photo, and professional credentials but also your colleagues’ recommendations, your brilliant thinking (by way of a Powerpoint (MSFT) presentation or white paper attached to your profile), and your excellent roster of connections.

The way to begin your career on LinkedIn is to build a sharp profile. Jump over to LinkedIn.com to create a login and password and begin to fill out your profile.LinkedIn helps you in your profile-building project by providing a handy thermometer-type tool that tells you how complete your profile is.(Until your profile looks fairly complete, resist the temptation to start inviting your friends to join you on LinkedIn.) Push on until you’ve reached at least the 70-percent mark.If you have a little more energy, use the Applications at the bottom of the profile-editing page to add a Powerpoint deck, your full-text résumé in Word format, an article you wrote, your own blog, or other content to your profile. Last, create a personalized LinkedIn URL for yourself, like this: http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/yourname, and use that URL on your résumé, job-search business cards, and job-search-related correspondence. Now rest and give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve arrived on the business-networking scene.
Of course, launching a LinkedIn profile is only the first step. LinkedIn offers tons more in the way of friendly functionality for your job search. Not sure how to leverage LinkedIn in your job search? Read on.
1. Write a Compelling Profile
Your LinkedIn profile can read just like your résumé, but it doesn’t have to. You can stretch the envelope a bit and use a more human voice to showcase your professional passions and drivers. In particular, make sure that your “headline” field (the one just under your name on your LinkedIn profile) lets the world know your purpose. If you’re unemployed, by all means use your “headline” to showcase your availability for work, for example:
Anne Smith
Startup Veteran/Online Marketing Manager ISO Next Challenge
Jack Rogers
Sportswriter/Editor with Print and Broadcast Chops Seeking New Opportunity
You get 120 characters in the LinkedIn “headline” field, so use them wisely.
2. Tell Us Your Story
The large LinkedIn Summary field is much like a résumé summary, but longer. There’s plenty of room to share your career history with readers in a compelling way. You can tell us your professional story in this space. As you can imagine, stories are easier on the reader than deadly dull résumè-type paragraphs. You might begin your Summary this way, for instance:
“Ever since I began covering business events for my college newspaper, I’ve been fascinated by business story-telling and its power to shape audience behavior. As a PR manager for B2B and B2C companies for the past 10 years, I’ve gotten my employers covered by Businessweek and USA Today (GCI) by crafting stories that connect readers with our brands.”

There will be other places in your LinkedIn profile (the Specialties field, in particular) to regale us with your certifications and technical qualifications.
Use your Summary to let the person viewing your Profile know exactly what you’re about and what you drives you in your career.
3. Mind Your Settings
You can set up your LinkedIn account (using the Settings link at the top right of each LinkedIn page) to keep all but your close friends (known on LinkedIn as “first-degree connections”) from viewing your profile, but what’s the point of that? If you’re job-hunting, it’s better to let hiring managers and recruiters find you easily by opening up your profile to public view. That means you need to click on the link that enables your Public Profile on LinkedIn. Other settings will allow you to dictate how LinkedIn communicates with you and about which issues (new invitations, e.g.), whether your contact list should be visible to your connections (I recommend that you let your friends see who your other friends are—that’s the point of LinkedIn), and more.
4. Show Us Your Mug
LinkedIn began allowing users to upload a photo to their profiles a couple of years ago, and these days we can’t imagine LinkedIn without user photos. A good photo adds life to your profile, and the absence of a photo raises questions (why doesn’t this person want us to see what she or he looks like?) and just looks strange. Get a decent digital photo that shows you looking halfway professional (on-the-slopes and other leisure-time shots are fine as long as you look like a person who might function in the business world, vs. someone we couldn’t remotely picture in a professional setting). Upload the photo to your profile, and you’re all set.
5. Get Connected
Once your LinkedIn profile hits the 70-percent mark, it’s time to start adding connections. LinkedIn won’t be nearly as useful to you if you’re sitting on your own private networking island. The point of LinkedIn is to allow your connections to make introductions for you, and vice versa, so you’ll want to start adding first-degree connections ASAP. First, download the address book you use the most (Outlook or Gmail, e.g.) and let LinkedIn’s downloading tool tell you which of these folks already use LinkedIn. Don’t worry—LinkedIn won’t start e-mailing everyone you know. You get to pick which people to invite to your network. When you do, be sure to personalize your LinkedIn connection invitation. “Hi Stan, I hope you and Jane are doing well. Shall we connect on LinkedIn?” is worlds better than “Since you are a person I trust, I’d like to add you to my network.” Customization is key,
Once a person accepts your invitation to join his network, or vice versa, the two of you become first-degree connections. It’s a two-way link. If you’ve accepted Jack’s connection, you don’t need to invite him to join your crew.

Tips 6 – 10

The un-Googling of Mick Gzowski

A writer burned by a moment in the political spotlight seeks an online image makeover: Can search results be sanitized?

Mick Gzowski
From Saturday’s Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Jun. 25, 2010 4:50PM EDT Last updated on Friday, Jun. 25, 2010 5:27PM EDT

When I Google myself, it hurts.
It used to be that when I ego-surfed my own name, that well of digital knowledge delivered me harmless hyperlinks, mainly connecting me with my famous Canadian father. Ho-hum. About a year ago, that changed dramatically. The Net now paints me as the Peter Gzowski progeny who sank Stéphane Dion’s coalition.
The worst thing is, it’s partly true. I am my father’s son, and I was Mr. Dion’s videographer on the day when his taped statement making the case for overturning the government showed up late and less than sharply focused.
The links that pain me aren’t even that bad. Most of them say I was unfairly scapegoated. Still, it smarts to be forever associated with that ignominy, and I also suspect it does my career no favours. So I decided to see if I could change it: Could I un-Google myself?
When I investigated, I found out that “online reputation management” is currently one of the biggest growth areas of the Internet, according to the digital marketing group Econsultancy. Googling the subject delivers pages of competing companies, with ads bannered across the top and down the sides of every page.
I instinctively distrust those sponsored results; clicking them usually leads into a maze of slow-loading graphics and unhelpful information. I called one, via a toll-free number, and spoke with “Carl” in New Jersey (“Joisey”) – he refused to give me his last name, saying that if it were published, his competitors would launch an online attack. “Dirty business,” he said.
After only a few moments’ explanation, he said he was sure he could help me, for between $1,500 and $2,000 (U.S.) a month. For life. I passed on his offer, but realized I needed to know more about Google and the term Carl mentioned, Search Engine Optimization.
Swallowing the spiders
This term (SEO) has two meanings: First, to make your website easy for Google and similar search sites to find; second, to seed the Internet with so many nice things about you that the bad things are buried. The catch is that nobody really knows how the mysterious algorithms that Google employs to find things function, and they’re continually being updated.
Google doesn’t actually search the Web every time you ask a query. It searches its archived index of the Web. That’s created by software programs called spiders that visit pages, fetch their content and then continue following all of the links on those pages.
When you ask Google a question, it searches its voluminous index, then modifies the results by asking more than 200 questions like: How many times does this page contain your key words? Do the words appear in the title? In the address? Are there synonyms? Is it a high-quality or low-quality page? And what is this page’s PageRank?
PageRank is the key. It’s the formula invented by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin that, according to Google, “rates a Web page’s importance by looking at how many outside pages point to it and how important those links are.” So the art of un-Googling yourself is really the art of fooling PageRank, a wizard’s curtain behind which we mere mortals are forbidden to glimpse. People are making careers guessing.
However, Google officially frowns upon manipulations of its ranking systems. And in the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer-protection branch has required paid endorsers to identify themselves since 1980; last year it ruled that those guidelines also apply to social media. So hiring some American college students to troll the Net saying sweet nothings about you is technically illegal. No such rules are in place in Canada as yet, but the industry here expects them soon.
An alternative approach is to ask anyone who may have posted unsavoury things about you to please take them down. If the statements are libellous and you have a lawyer handy, some Internet service providers may be persuaded to remove them on your behalf. Asking politely is preferable, though in some cases, a blogger, for example, could simply take your request and make another, even more insulting post of it. So I decided against sending a note to, for example, Ezra Levant, the uber-conservative blogger. He might make too much hay of it for my liking.
Besides, while blogs might be flexible, unflattering mentions in mainstream media are virtually impossible to have removed. (“Hi, New York Times? Eliot Spitzer here …”)
So I would take the opposite tack: I’d just tell the world all the good news about me. I sought out professionals to help me with a standard do-it-yourself SEO campaign, for which they would be compensated only by being quoted in The Globe and Mail (and therefore having their online reputations improved).
Denise Brunsdon, director of social media for the public-affairs firm GCI Group, says online reputation management is one of the fastest-growing areas of their business. It seems like whenever she tells people her title these days, she gets asked if she can do another contract.
There are black-hat and white-hat methods, but setting up quickie, flattering sites or blogs and dumping links to them in every imaginable Web cranny won’t fool Google for long, especially if you have active haters. This kitchen-sink approach “is tiring and does not win,” Ms. Brunsdon said.
She prefers the “teach a man to fish” approach – showing clients how to do the ongoing work of reputation management themselves: First, decide what elements they like and want to promote; then create profiles on “polished self-advertising sites” such as linkedin.com and Twitter that rank highly in Google results (she has a longer list, but considers it proprietary information).
Tell a consistent story
Jaime Watt, the chair of communications company Navigator Ltd., is certainly considered a good guy in a crisis. He recently steered former Ontario attorney-general Michael Bryant through the subsequently dropped charges in the death of cyclist Darcy Allan Sheppard.
Mr. Watt advised that you can’t be phony or contrived, because “people are very good at figuring out who’s being honest and authentic and who’s selling a load of crap.” He added that it’s important to be fighting for something that you know you can defend – the narrative you construct must be consistent.
While Mr. Watt also disavowed underhanded methods, he did advocate creating counter-blogs or websites to “answer every attack, and don’t let things go.” In situations much more dire than mine, and for people with the money to afford it, he said, instead of keeping your finger in the proverbial dike, you must send back a flood of your own.
In that spirit, I asked him what effect this article could have on my online reputation – surely skeptics would just see it as another whitewashing effort, setting up a battle I’d be sure to lose. “Not necessarily,” Mr. Watt said. “If you don’t want to be infamous for something, you’ve got to become famous for something else. … Talking about it is not bad, as long as it gets you into something else.”
True, I thought. The words in this article are not coming from the mouth of a politician reading to camera in two official languages, scant moments before the nation decides his and many others’ fates. I was a journalist and a filmmaker before I entered the world of politics. I am a journalist and filmmaker now. Writing for the newspaper could help to remind people that I am more than the impossible situation I became associated with.
So I hope, honestly and authentically, that you enjoyed it. And the next time you Google me or anyone else, remember that the fastest-growing business on the Internet is the one trying to skew your search results.
Mick Gzowski is a Toronto-based writer and filmmaker.

Original Article 

Notes from a Job Search: Creative Ways to Market Yourself

Once you get beyond the basics, how can you get noticed without being annoying?

Gary Starr – CFO.com | US

With so many people caught between jobs these days, CFO asked Gary Starr, a CPA and MBA who was most recently CFO at a $70 million professional-service firm, to write about his current experience looking for a new position. In the third installment of a series, Starr looks at ways for job hunters to increase their visibility in some creative and unusual ways.
One of the trickiest aspects of a job search is finding different ways to market yourself. You need to make people aware of your skills and experiences without coming across as self-aggrandizing. This is not necessarily an easy task for financial executives, who typically don’t have a marketing mind-set about business issues or about themselves. However, it is important to change your mind-set and start thinking about creative ways to get noticed, besides just networking and sending e-mail updates. There are many ways to do this; here are a few suggestions.

Get Published
The most obvious marketing strategy for me is writing articles. I have begun to write about the search process for several online forums, giving helpful hints. In response to my articles, many people have reached out to me, including recruiters, old friends, and people who didn’t know me. I also posted a note about the articles on my LinkedIn profile, which helped with the exposure. We all have expertise and good knowledge about various topics; it’s just a matter of transferring the information into a compelling article or blog. Having exhausted the search tips, I am now thinking about my next subject, and I am energized by the challenge and possibilities.
If writing isn’t your passion, think about other ways you might leverage online media to raise your profile. For example, I noticed recently that someone on LinkedIn started a group called “150 Most Influential Recruiters” and invited all the recruiters who had been tagged with this honor by a major business publication. In two days, more than 20 recruiters signed up. That was a great idea and a smart way to get noticed. I wish I had thought of that!
Go Back to School
Finding opportunities at your alma mater could be a good way to get exposure. Consider taking or teaching a class, or volunteering at a high-profile alumni event. You might even ask the alumni office for people to contact or review the alumni list for networking possibilities. There are many opportunities here; you just need to find the right one for you.
Do Good Work
Volunteering your time at a nonprofit organization is a good way to help others and feel good about yourself. It may also allow you to display your expertise, especially if there is an opportunity to meet some of the board members. You might also register with BoardNetUSA, an online organization that matches individuals with nonprofit boards. I obtained my last job as a CFO through one of my nonprofit board connections.
Find the Fountain of Youth
Look for a start-up that needs help or find some part-time work. There are lots of groups and organizations for start-ups that could be good beginning points. New York City even provides space and desks for start-ups before they are able to go out on their own. I recently began working with a preseed start-up, and it has been an interesting and challenging experience. I am using my financial skills and connections, and I am learning a lot about the digital media space. I’m happy to take on any new projects that help me expand my nonfinancial skills. You may be able to negotiate some compensation for your efforts in either cash or equity, but don’t dismiss an opportunity if no money is involved; the experience and exposure can be invaluable. (By the way, the founder sought me out through my LinkedIn profile and connections. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is robust!)
The bottom line is that there are endless possibilities to market yourself; you just need to move outside your comfort zone. Getting involved in activities that allow you to meet other people, extend your network, show off your skills, keep busy, help others, and generally feel good about yourself is critical while you work through the lonely process of finding that next full-time opportunity. — Edited by Alix Stuart

Original Article

What’s different in LinkedIn Groups today?

What’s different in LinkedIn Groups today?
1. An improved look and feel
We’ve made the conversations within groups similar to face-to-face professional interactions by removing the wall between original remarks and off-site content such as shared news articles. The rich link-sharing experience you already enjoy on your LinkedIn homepage is now also available within the context of groups.

Even better is the ability to easily recognize the participants of a conversation by linking to individual profile pictures that makes the experience more personal. It also brings to your finger tips profile information of the professional participating in that discussion.
2. Ease of use
The new design makes it easy to browse through the latest updates of a discussion and make comments quickly and easily. You can roll over the images of the last three participants on any thread to see comment previews and click their profile pictures to jump to their segment  of the conversation.
Alternatively, you can chime in right away by commenting in line without drilling down into the whole discussion. If you’re new to the thread, clicking the discussion headline or the “See all comments” link will take you to the beginning of the discussion.
3. Surfacing the most popular and recent discussions in a group – faster
A key part of the new groups experience is the democratization of discussions, as group members actively curate the conversations that will be seen by the group. This is most obvious in the carousel of new content – original posts, RSS items, and off-site links shared by group members – that can be voted up or down by any group member.
This feature allows users to quickly peruse new content and vote either by “liking” or commenting on discussions they deem worthy of the group’s attention.  Users who prefer to see all discussions sorted chronologically can just click on the “See all new discussions” link on the homepage.

In a live discussion, nodding fuels a conversation and the new “Like” button is a simple way to do this virtually.  You can also see who has liked a conversation to get a sense for topics that group members are gravitating toward. The “More” drop-down in the carousel also makes it easy to flag new items as a job or as inappropriate for the group.
4. Making it easier for you to receive email updates from select group members
While you may check in to groups ever so often to get the latest news and discussions from your fellow group members, you may also like to set up a persistent email alert when select members of the group make a contribution (like or comment) within the group. This is easily accomplished from the global Groups’ People I’m Following page.
5. Shining a spotlight on users who add most value to the group each week

Finally, the new groups interface introduces an easy way to discover participants who truly drive the activity of the group’s discussions each week by highlighting them as “top influencers”.  This designation is given not only to those who contribute the most, but also to those whose contributions stimulate the most participation from other group members.
Members who are highly regarded and heavily followed in the group often play a key role in stoking the conversation with their comments and Likes even if they don’t start a thread.  Of course, the authors of popular threads are often the most influential.
We’re all about nurturing the professional conversation, and we hope the changes to LinkedIn Groups will make it even easier for you to contribute and participate in a professional groups setting. We’d love to hear your feedback, so please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post or @linkedin us on Twitter.