Why Use LinkedIn?

This post will be about how I’ve used LinkedIn in my career and how recruiters on LinkedIn or otherwise can be used as a tool as well.

What Is LinkedIn?

If you are a working professional, you’ve probably heard of LinkedIn. At least for the English speaking, North American job markets. Like other professional job searching sites like Glassdoor, Hired, and Indeed, LinkedIn allows you to upload a resume and makes it searchable by companies and recruiters. Similarly, you can search and apply for jobs. It’s different for its social networking. I think of it as “Facebook for work “. It’s a lot less awkward to share your LinkedIn details than your Facebook profile. LinkedIn is a Microsoft acquisition. Back when that happened we bemoaned the data they’d be taking from us. Now, we’ve more or less forgotten.

Using LinkedIn To Your Advantage

Fishing For Jobs

By frequently updating your profile, you show up in more search results. This will boost you in “recently updated” results. The other way you show up in search results is keywords in your descriptions. Make sure to put a buzzword filled description for your work histories.

A “Living” Resume

Several companies often take a snapshot of your LinkedIn profile instead of a resume. This means you don’t need to spend time fiddling with font size and margins to fit that extra internship on one page. This is another reason to make your profile detailed. Since there aren’t any length restrictions on your LinkedIn profile, it’s a good opportunity to add more information about your past work.

Following Up

When a prospective recruiter, manager, or client meets with you, get their LinkedIn details. This is a great way to follow up because you can stalk them to get a better picture of the company they work for and their work history. Just a reminder: following up is a great way to improve your chances of landing a a client or job.

Other Uses Of LinkedIn

Recruiting

You can use LinkedIn to recruit old coworkers or find people to be your referral bonuses but I don’t. Occasionally if I know a position will help someone, sure, I’ll shoot them a message. I don’t want to turn into a part-time recruiter.

Job Searching

For a site that’s strongly advertised as a job hunting tool, it’s not the most diverse. You can only search for on-site, full-time positions. You can search for jobs in Remote, Oregon but not remote working positions. Sites like Remotive and We Work Remotely are better for jobs you can do anywhere. Even Remote, Oregon.

Watching Companies Or People

Watching people or companies is useful if you track company performance for investments. You may also be looking for information on lay-offs or massive hiring initiatives. You could also follow business leaders that inspire you for opportunities to hear them speak or read books they’ve published. This is a way to understand trends in your industry and adapt to them… only if they’re a large enough company to spend money on social media specialists.

Getting Industry News

Like watching companies or people, you can get news digests for your industry. Sometimes I’ll take a look and get a simple digest of information. It’s a mix of study results, platitudes from leaders, and gossip. This is a good source of water cooler topics.

Joining Groups

Half the time I forget this is a feature because of how hard it is to make use of it. There are alumni groups for schools and companies. The idea is to be able to refer jobs to group members and potentially mentor people. As with any internet social media groups, they vary widely. Group conversations are more fun on a casual forum like slack so I use that instead.

How LinkedIn Is Getting Me Closer To My Dream Job

LinkedIn can help get you a dream job. It’s not the best fit because I’m looking for remote, part-time, or freelance work. It can still be useful. Some of those irritating features helped connect me with work I wanted.

Following Up

Following up is really important. I think this is the third time I’ve said this in this post but it’s worth reiterating. Your potential clients aren’t going to contact you if they’re busy (which they often are) or maybe they a client for a few months down the line instead of today. LinkedIn in as a great way to take a name and turn it into a picture of a person or company along with a way to contact them and see what they’re putting out there. It also allows you to see their connections and find more potential clients. Typically, people in similar business or career stages cluster. So, what if this person was a “miss”? You can also check out their company to see what things you should avoid.

Call My Bluff, I Dare You

Recruiters are like a fungus: they bloom, you wipe them out, they lie in wait, and return with equal or greater power later. At first, I ignored them or declined connections. After a while, I wondered what they would do if I asked for a part-time, remote contract. When I did, a lot of them backed off and didn’t come back. However, there were a few who started a discussion.

I think of these as the “good” recruiters. They didn’t give up when I gave them these difficult requirements, they started to ask why I needed them and what types of negotiation I’d be willing to do. I started building potential work schedules in my head: 20 hours per week onsite, 30 hours per week remote, or fully remote 3 month contract. Surprisingly, they went out and came back with jobs meeting these criteria. Not only that, they frequently followed up to tell me how the search was going and which companies were interested in my work proposal.

The takeaway: if you can come up with a job worth talking to a recruiter for, they might find it for you.

An Independent Venture: Sales?

I was at a software conference and met up with someone in marketing. I asked Marketing Friend for advice about how to negotiate sales and land clients for my business. Here is a digest of the advice she gave me.

It Turns Out There Is Something In A Name

First things first: how do people know you? Not only that, once they know you, how do they remember you? Despite what certain inventors of English literature may write, there can be quite a bit in a name.

  1. You need a name
  2. Your name should be associated with you
  3. Your name should be memorable

You might think (1) is a little silly but at this point in my business I had no name so I was confronted with an existential crisis every time someone asked where I worked.

If you have a larger company, you may not want to  associate it directly with yourself but rather with what your company identity is. I work on my own so I can make the company name more personal. If you can find a personal trait to coerce into a memorable and catchy name, you can create something that helps people remember both you and the company.

Example: If you have a common name with an alternate spelling, use the corrective phrase as a title. This is contrived but if your name is “Joan” but spelled “Jone” then you can have a company named “J number one” or “J – 1, 2, 3”. This is both personalized to you and helps your clients associate you and your company together.

Bad Example: I have a silent ‘d’ in my name, which Marketing Friend noticed right away. She said, “Call your company ‘With a “D.”‘ For what I hope are obvious reasons, I’m not going to go with that one. It would definitely be memorable though. Not safe for work reference.

Espionage

A.K.A. Gathering Competitive Information

You will win bids and you will lose bids. Every win is an opportunity to strengthen the positive aspects of your sales and every loss is a way to identify gaps and shrink them. When you lose a bid, take the loss gracefully and use this opportunity to get information about the winning bid from your formerly potential client. This will almost be the only time you’ll get this information because you’re playing on guilt in the client. Remember this needs to be done as an immediate reaction to the rejection of your bid.

Example:

Client: “Hi Alacritical, I just wanted to follow up to say we’ve decided to go with another consultant for this project.”

Me: “I understand and I’m glad you found someone you want to work with. If you don’t mind my asking, what about that team made them stand out to you?”

This can be a fishing expedition but I hope to find out about what the competitors bid is and whether they had some marketable edge over me.

Sell Like A Vampire Hunter: Straight Through The Heart

It turns out humans aren’t robots. It can be disappointing news, but there you go. We have feelings in addition to logic and often we aren’t aware of how this affects our decisions when we think we’re being logical. That’s a whole other discussion though. When you are telling a story, making a joke, or selling anything, you need to hook that emotional part of a person and show them how what you are saying relates to them. Once you’ve got that attachment, you can let that robot logic make the decisions and spit out all the data and numbers you want.

Anatomy

  • A sales pitch is a story
  • A story has a beginning, middle, and end
  • The beginning draws people in through emotion and a clearly identified challenge
  • The middle describes an action in response to that challenge
  • The end is how that action resolved the challenge and addressed the emotion at the beginning

Example

You want to pitch a service where you audit a cloud software system and identify cost savings areas. What are the different parts of this story?

  1. Emotion: You’re looking to play on the fear of losing money, the pressure of increasing profit margin without increasing resources, and the avarice of taking more money home
  2. Hook: Build your hook with a clear definition of the challenge and emotion. This means using language that evokes emotional responses. “Are you sure you could see the invisible leaks draining your infrastructure funds?” “Do you find yourself squeezing your budget for more research funds? Look no further than your own infrastructure as a bounty of potential savings.” “What would you say to boosting that profit margin with some simple streamlining techniques to your infrastructure?”
  3. Action: Describe what action you can take to solve this problem and address that emotional response you just played on. “We will use our team of skilled infrastructure engineers to dive into your infrastructure to deeply understand what your needs are. We can always find ways of lowering costs without lowering quality, engineering happiness, and ease of maintenance.” Note the continued used of evocative language. Also note use of the second person voice. You want your client to feel like this is something you’re doing just for them even if we all know that’s not true.
  4. Happily ever after: This is where you can start throwing in some data. Talk about success stories and what they got out of your services. “As a result of this work, we’ve empowered small and large businesses to re-invest almost 25% of their previously wasted infrastructure funds into innovation and growth.” Perhaps with a strong implication that we can do this for you too.

I personally don’t like the part of sales where I need to use emotionally charged words or topics to trigger attention or attachment but the good news is, this works for telling jokes and making effective presentations too. Check out TED talks and other advertisements to see if you can identify each of the components of the story they’ve created.

Client Communication Guidelines

Good news, you did the sales part and now you can just relax and treat clients like a regular person? No. It’s not going to be as much of an effort but you need to respect that they are running their own business and they are the center of their own universe. What does this mean?

  • Do not sound like you’re reciting a one-size-fits-all response. Personalize to show that you are making this proposal for them specifically. “For you, I recommend…”, “Something that will work well for your system…”
  • Do not use jargon. Use simple and direct communication. Take a look at the way they do news bulletins on television and how they can be understood by most high school students without difficulty.
  • Spend time focusing on making sure they see you understand the problem and are there to help them cope with it instead of throwing a solution at them and walking away.
  • When proposing alternatives to a solution or suggesting a solution to a separate problem you have not been asked to solve, always empower the client to make the decision. Present your suggestion in a way that highlights the differences (i.e. even if the change isn’t visual, a visual difference is easier to understand). Propose objectively and respect their choice.
  • See if you can connect with individuals closest to the problem to gain the best level of understanding. This can also smooth some turbulence caused if you indirectly create work for others before you’ve talked to them about the work.

Phrasebook

There were a few phrases that, as a “radically candid” person, seem okay but Marketing Friend told me to adjust:

  • “Renegotiate” should be “Modify” – renegotiate is scary and will lead people to close down and back away despite its accuracy.
  • “You can’t afford me” should be “This isn’t a good fit” – Being a woman in tech, I’m repeatedly told to assert my value. Just not with clients it turns out.
  • “You say you can’t afford me but I guarantee I’ll do a great job and it will be worth it” should be “I really want to work with you on this project; don’t let money stand in the way” – This communicates that you are committed to doing a good job on the project but also that you’re not just selling the service, you’re selling your emotional investment as well. Thus, selling your heart.

Notes on Being a Woman in Business

We hear a lot about how gender stereotyping harms women in business, politics, the home, and basically everywhere. However, there are some ways women can leverage this in sales.

It is more acceptable for women to show emotional and caring according to gender stereotypes. As a result, women can show much more emotional attachment to potential clients and highlight their caring and supportive strengths as an asset. If you can find someone who can do the job and actually cares about how it affect you, why wouldn’t you choose them?

This is not to say you should sell your heart to these companies. When you genuinely are interested in delivering a service and want to show you care, do so. This is about letting that extra bit come out in your sales.

Example: Say, “I love the ideas and innovation you’re bringing to this market and I want to be here to support you through building this vision” instead of “I find your ideas and innovation interesting and I’d like to contribute”

Now, this is a touchy subject. I’m not saying men can’t do this. They can. However, due to the unfortunate restrictive bias of gender stereotypes (remember, they’re not good), men may be seen as weaker for showing this kind of emotion. Weaker means less trustworthy to some people. It’s unfair. I’m sure men all over North America are just crying themselves to sleep at night with that extra $0.20 on the dollar they make over myself and other women.

Note: I did intentionally choose an article that both explained and contradicted that number for maximum fairness to everyone.

The End

Remember, these are just notes and ideas from me and my marketing friend. Everyone works differently and all I can hope is that trying this out will make a few more interesting blog posts to write.

Event Review: Google I/O Extended Vancouver

Event Info

Event Title: Google I/O Extended

Event Location: Eventbase, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Event Cost: $0 CAD

Approximate number of attendees: 50

Duration: 8 hours

Highlights

  • Watching the Google I/O videos: having not seen any of Google I/O before attending this event, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the presenters and content in the videos. I also really liked having a group to watch it with for discussion afterwards.
  • A lot of recommendations on how to stay connected, do things on your own in bits and pieces, and encouragement to participate in the community. This was invigorating and inspired me to try get involved with the Google Development community.

Lowlights

  • The venue was not the most comfortable for a developer event: cramped seating, no working surfaces, limited access to power.
  • All the videos were played at more than 1x speed. This made some of the more content heavy videos hard to follow.

Would I go again?

No. I would no go to this again because there was not a lot of value to being at the conference compared to watching Google I/O videos at my leisure. There wasn’t a lot of value added by the speakers who were there on site. There was some good networking but since this particular group is small the benefit of networking would come through regular attendance of their events.

Details

The event started off on time with an introduction from an organizer of the Vancouver Google Developer Group. The introduction did a great job of setting the tone and topics for the day: the focus is on mobile and machine learning; this is a diverse group welcoming all backgrounds and discrimination is not tolerated. The only thing that was a little off was the statement that “there are no women in tech”. That was a poorly received misstep given that there were at least 3 women in the front row and prompted a “what am I, chopped liver?” response.

The keynote from Amit Chopra was a good survey of Google I/O. He was fairly knowledgeable of the new opportunities for developers and focused on covering the breadth of topics to ensure we all got a taste of the huge amount of information covered at Google I/O. The keynote was fairly short (30 minutes). I think I would have liked to see a longer keynote with some original content from the speaker such as demos of the new developer ecosystem programs or engagement case studies. As it was, this was primarily a review of the Google I/O highlights.

Following the in person keynote, we watched the Google I/O keynote. This would explain why the in person keynote was abbreviated.

Next up was a 1 hour demo about development and deployment with App Engine, Kubernetes, Containers, and Stackdriver. I am a great supporter of CI/CD  and good devops hygeine so I was interested in what would be in this talk. Unfortunately, the presenter well prepared and the presentation was hard to follow. Firstly, if you weren’t already fairly familiar with the covered technologies, you were lost. He did not go over background at all. Secondly, he was not prepared for this presentation and there were several long pauses while he worked through his demo and waited for containers to build. The presenter’s parting line was “I hope that wasn’t too chaotic” which tells me he may have been asked to do this last minute or he wasn’t very invested in preparing well for it.

A few interesting things covered by this presentation:

  • The presenter’s team moved from AWS to App Engine to improve integration with Kubernetes and take advantage of the container and logging management.
  • You can use App Engine to configure container affinity which would be very useful for fault tolerate scaling and reducing round trip time between components
  • A single dashboard manages your code repo, your logging, your alarming, your containers, and your hosts. It seemed really easy to use.
  • App Engine will manage your master hosts for you for Kubernetes so you can avoid the former headache of managing your own master hosts in AWS (though the presenter noted that AWS is solving this problem with another service).

After the lunch break, we moved into the hands-on Flutter workshop component. Flutter is a mobile application development kit. The workshop was a self-directed walk-through of some codelabs. We watched the Flutter videos from Google I/O. I honestly didn’t get very far with this because the setup took so long (shame on me for bringing my Windows machine instead of my Mac or Linux machine).

After fluttering about, we moved into the talk on how to stay involved with Google I/O and other technical communities. Recommendations included:

  • Join meetups near you in the Google Development Community.
  • Watch Google I/O and the videos from the GoogleDevelopers channel on Youtube.
  • Stay connected with virtual communities like WomenTechmakers in your area.
  • Download the I/O app (is anyone else wondering if the Android version was written in Java, Kotlin, or Flutter?). The app provides searchability and programming.
  • Do the thing. What he actually said “Build the App” – get your hands dirty and write up the apps in the talks.
  • Follow up and do the codelabs.
  • Check out other developer events.

The final presentation was teasingly called Batman and Superman. This was a hook to get people interested and the talk mapped a Justice League super hero to a product in Google Cloud (example: Wonder Woman and her (Tensorflow) Lasso). I unfortunately had to miss the first few minutes of the presentation. This was made further unfortunate that the speaker must have had one too many cups of coffee and was going at light speed. He did eventually realize he did a 1 hour presentation in 30 minutes but I couldn’t keep up after missing the first part. The presenter was the most enthusiastic organizer and I would be more likely to go to events where he is organizing.

There was a raffle at the end for some pretty good stuff: Google Home, Chromecast, T-shirts, mugs!

Networking

  • I met a member of one of my networks that I previously only knew via online interaction. It was great to chat with him and it turns out we have similar career goals and will likely work together in the future.
  • An older Eastern European gentleman encouraged me to become a manager since it is better to be feared that pitied. There are always some weird ones.
  • I spoke with another developer asking me about how immigration for Canadians to the US working in the tech area works. I did caution that the recent disruptions to NAFTA and tighter restrictions on visas in the tech industry may result in a stronger tech scene in Vancouver (or at least I’m hoping so – Go Canada!).
  • I followed up with the Developer Team presenter and got some recommendations on certifications and which teams to apply to next time I plan to interview with Google.

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