How Many Facebook or LinkedIn Friends Do You Really Need?

Haydn Shaughnessy

Anybody who has spent more than a minute sweating over their online social networks needs an answer to this question. In fact when I began thinking about it I came across some pretty sad literature of young people shamed by their lack ofFacebook friends.
Friends are important but I was thinking more about professional friends, colleagues, contacts. And asking myself: Is the emphasis on growing our network of connections blinding us to the value that people can bring to our careers?
If you are in a profession that requires distribution (journalism, marketing, sales) then the more contacts the merrier. When I look at my 800+ LinkedIn connections though, I start to feel uneasy. What is this thing called connections? The best definition I can come up with is contingency list – in case they might be useful.
A couple of years back I gave up my smartphone so that I could become more focused. This year I want to focus my list of connections down to those that matter, the ones I can help and who can help me, people who are good at paying forward and who have some wisdom to impart.
I got talking about these issues last week with Jason Womack who provides companies and individuals with advice on productivity improvement and is theauthor of Your Best Just Got Better.
Jason contends that, yes you really do need friends and they really should be influencers, so some of the concepts of online social media are useful for how we see our broader professional circle. But they should be your personal influencers. And we need to be quite clear about their role. Your social network is there to help you to make good decisions.

How NOT to Contact Recruiters on LinkedIn

Lots of us in the recruiting world are very active on LinkedIn, doing what we can to be accessible to jobseekers. We love networking, meeting new people and finding great candidates to fill our openings. Many of us also like to give back to our networks, helping out in any way we can. While we may not be able to help with every jobsearch request that comes our way, many of us help jobseekers by passing along introduction requests, answering questions, sharing jobsearch tips, giving networking advice, volunteering our time to moderate networking groups, etc. LinkedIn is a great tool for helping others and I love to do my part.

That said, there are some requests that cross the line, in my opinion, and I think that jobseekers should be careful to leverage their network without taking advantage of it. Most have the purest intentions in mind and aren’t even aware that their request may not be received in the best light, so this list is written to help jobseekers make the best possible impression when networking with recruiters on LinkedIn. I hope it is helpful to you!
Here are ten of the mistakes I see most often:

1. Can you help me find a job?

This is the most common request in my LinkedIn inbox, but one where I’m least able to help. An agency recruiter or headhunter might be able to “shop” your resume around to a few of their clients, but at the end of the day, a recruiter is someone who finds candidates to fill jobs, not someone who finds jobs to employ candidates. This is a key mistake that many people make. Most recruiters are happy to share their advice for jobseekers, but a recruiter is not a professional “job finder”… Those really don’t exist!

2. Do you have any job openings that fit my profile?

Agency recruiters or headhunters might be a bit more open to this type of request, but before approaching an in-house / corporate recruiter with such an open-ended question, be sure to do a little legwork ahead of time. First off, remember that recruiters aren’t “job finders” (see #1 above). Secondly, companies often have dozens or even hundreds of openings at any given time. These openings are spread across a team of recruiters who only have real visibility to the openings they are personally handling. Thirdly, you are the best one to pinpoint positions that fit your interests, talents and career path. Be sure to first look online, find positions of interest, apply via the careers page and then approach a recruiter at that company with some specific positions of interest in mind. Most will do what they can to put you in touch with the appropriate decision-makers. Having done some homework on your end will not only speed up the process, it will also put less of a burden on the person you’re asking for help.

3. Can you review my resume and send me your edits / feedback / suggestions?

As much as we’d love to help, resume critiques would take up a full 40-hour workweek (or more!) if recruiters complied with every such request. Resume writing is a very time-intensive process that requires two-way discussion, in-depth knowledge of your past experience / career goals, extensive editing / rewriting, etc. Professional Resume Writers often charge big bucks for their services because it’s no easy task or quick process. Recruiters may be able to recommend a professional to you (or help you network to find a good one), but this type of request is something that recruiters simply don’t have the bandwidth to accommodate.

4. Can you please send me John Doe’s email address / phone number?

If a LinkedIn member wants their contact information to be public knowledge, they’ll be sure to post it on their profile (and many of them do, so be sure to check). If not, then it’s really not appropriate for their network contacts to give it out to others. (You wouldn’t want your network contacts giving out your email address and phone number, would you?) Instead, use the “Introduction Request” feature on LinkedIn. It’s a great feature that enables you to message your target contact without revealing either party’s email address. Most recruiters will gladly pass along introduction requests on your behalf and then your target contact can decide how he or she would like to follow up with you. (Or, if you prefer to go the direct route, you can do a little Google research, as explained in this previous blog post, and easily figure out that person’s email address.)

5. Do you know anyone at Acme Company?

Probably! A well-connected recruiter likely knows multiple contacts at your target company. Rather than asking that person to run a search of their network to find a list of all possible contacts at a company, you should instead run a LinkedIn search yourself and sort through the results. You can easily identify an appropriate target or two (recruiters, hiring managers, peers) and then send an introduction request. After all, no one knows better than you why you want to reach out, which departments fit your career goals and who the best contacts at that company might be.

Tips 6-10 and Complete Article

Avoid These 5 LinkedIn Dont’s

One of the primary benefits of joining LinkedIn as a social network is its focus on career-related connections. This can take off some of the pressure that may exist on other platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook) to be witty, clever, or even somewhat controversial. You do, however, need to be professional as you make connections and build a profile that represents you online.

Over time, LinkedIn members have developed preferred ways to communicate with each other via the system’s features and functions. It’s a powerful resource – with potential for networking, career development, and job search success for online students and instructors alike – but as the platform has evolved, some techniques have become more effective than others.

How can you make the best of your LinkedIn account? Here are a few tips as you proceed with your next profile update:

  1. Don’t just send the default invitation to connect. “I’d like to add you to my professional network” is the standard text you’ll find when you decide to send an invitation to another LinkedIn user. Leaving this as-is doesn’t say much about who you are and why you want to connect. And it’s easy to add a sentence or two to personalize a message for each recipient. Public relations expert Sakita Holley provides six scenarios (e.g., former boss, prospective employer) and invitation examples.
  2. Don’t connect as a “friend” if you’re not a friend. Unless … this is the only way you have to make the connection and you can explain why you want to connect per item #1 above. Can you find an email address for the person online? Are you members of the same LinkedIn Groups? Social media consultant Jeff Bullas notes that connecting as a friend “is a major pet peeve for many professionals on LinkedIn.” Exhaust the other available options before selecting “friend” when you send out an invitation.
  3. Don’t describe yourself with overused or effusive terms. “Creative” and “motivated” are just two professional buzzwords recently identified by LinkedIn. Used on their own, they don’t really convey much about your qualifications and potential. Are they in your profile headline? Jeff Haden recommends an alternative approach: consider how you introduce yourself to someone you meet in person. Would you say: “I’m a passionate, innovative, dynamic provider of services”? Probably not. In a way, your LinkedIn profile is speaking for you – how are you being introduced?

Break Your Job Search Slump with LinkedIn

I was recently interviewed about LinkedIn and Social Recruiting in the Australian version of Men’s Health and as most of our readers live outside Oz (including myself) I thought I’d republish a little bit of the article here. Please note that I only endorse my blog and LinkedIn, the other tips are from Men’s Health.

Nick Broughall writes:

Cyber Adviser

Career guidance counsellors are rife – and most of them charge like medieval knights. If you’d rather keep your cash for pleasure, hit the groundbreaking blog The Undercover Recruiter to reboot your working life.

Typical of its more conventional content are tips on getting headhunted and nailing job interviews. But founder Jorgen Sundberg, a social media trainer and consultant specialising in recruiting and branding, also leads the site with guidance on using Facebook and Twitter.

“You can even use Pinterest as a snapshot of your personal brand, so a recruiter can get a good, quick insight into who you are and what you can do”, says Sundberg. (Free; theundercoverrecruiter.com)

Smooth Operator

If you want to shift your career from idle to overdrive, you have to get organised. A cloud-based project management tool like Wunderkit makes the process simple, syncing between your PC and iPhone app seamlessly.

But to make the software work for you, you’re going to need a system to track your progress. “List twenty companies you want to work for then systematically trawl through LinkedIn and Twitter to map out the people who can hire you”, says Sundberg. “Start relationships with them somewhere online with a view to meeting up.” From there, simply tick off your goals in Wunderkit’s task management app and wait for the job offers to pour in.

Sharp-Dressed Man

First impressions count. So rocking up to a job interview in some ill-fitting suit that makes you look like Sir Les Patterson is a no-no. Enter InStitchu, an online store where you can order suits and shirts tailored to your exact measurements.

At a fraction of the cost of traditional tailors, InStitchu puts a touch of Clooney in your clobber. “A well-fitting suit makes you feel more confident and demonstrates that you mean business”, says InStitchu co-founder Robin McGowan.

When building your office wardrobe start out with navy and charcoal suits. “Both are hugely versatile and will work with almost any shirt and tie combination”, adds McGowan.

More Tips and Complete Article

10 Tips For Effectively Using Your LinkedIn Status Update

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One of the features of LinkedIn that tends to be underutilized is the “LinkedIn Status Update” (also called your “Network Update”) in your LinkedIn Profile. Your status update “block” is a white box located just below your picture on your “View My Profile” page. If you don’t see such a block, then you’ve not posted a status update.

From your LinkedIn home page or your “Edit My Profile” page, you can change your status update as frequently as you desire. EVERY time you update your status, the home page of ALL of your network connections is “pinged” with your status update. Status updates are also distributed to your network via email when LinkedIn sends you your weekly “Network Update.” Your latest status update is always displayed on your LinkedIn profile.

Your status updated is limited to 140 characters – just like Twitter – so keep that in mind, particularly when cutting and pasting information into your status update “window.”

Updating your LinkedIn status is a great way to communicate to your network on a frequent and ongoing basis. I update my status at least once each day with different types of information. 10 tips for effectively using your status update to distribute useful information are presented below:

1. Insert the title and a “shortened” URL link to one of your recent blog articles. Bit.ly is a great resource for shortening URL’s.

2. Insert the title and a “shortened” URL to a blog article you read and really liked. Particularly one that is timely, informative and relates to your “brand” or area of specialty in some way.

3. A link to a newsworthy web posting or news item. Include the title and a shortened URL. Alignment with you brand “voice” or area of specialty makes it more powerful. I like to focus on POSITIVE news as opposed to negative news.

4. A great “quote of the day.” A great source of quotes of to search the #quote “hashtag” on Twitter. Since Twitter updates are limited to 140 characters, you’ll find quotes that fit the LinkedIn status update window.

5. A brief piece of advice relevant to your brand or area of specialty.

Tips 6-10 and Complete Careerealism Article