Should You Rely on the Power of Your Network for Job Searching?

Can you rely solely on your professional network to find your next job? In this clip from the recent TruLondon event, I speak with Rachael Moss from KellyOCG about the hidden job market and why most jobs are never advertised. We discuss the different networks people use to find work, how candidate behavior has changed over time, and where—if it all—recruiters now fit within the job-seeking process.

The Best Content I Managed to Churn Out in May 2012

diamon jubilee union jacks

May was a busy month, we had our first anniversary and the wife and me were featured in Cosmopolitan UK which was cool. It’s been very hot here in London and everything is building up to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

If you’re in the UK, do check out our LinkedIn Masterclass workshops in London – if not, we’ll be doing online trainings in the near future so stay tuned. Here are the most popular blog posts from and a few picks around the web:

From the homefront:

Great posts in other places:

Most RTs this month:

The best thing about alcohol hand gel in hospitals isn’t the hygiene, but that everyone walks around like they’re hatching a dastardly plan.

Any questions or ideas for me? Do leave a comment on the blog or just tweet me. Until next month!

photo by: ReeSaunders

The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha [Book Review]

The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn

Reid Hoffman is the co-founder and chairman of my favourite social network LinkedIn. He was kind enough to send me the new book “The Start-Up of You” he has written together with Ben Casnocha, which I have just finished reading.

What’s the Start-Up of You all about?

It’s about the power of networking and how relationships matter (yes, that was LinkedIn’s first tagline). It’s a quick read that draws on Reid Hoffman’s own business experience and that of his, uhm… network. The author was part of the team that sold PayPal to eBay and made a fair bit of dough. Instead of retiring, he realised there was a gap in the market for a networking tool and he used his strong connections from the PayPal circle to set up LinkedIn in a jiffy. That was back in 2003, things have progressed well since then and last year they had a successful IPO and the company is firing on all cylinders.

The book covers how Silicon Valley operates and how you get investment for your tech company (you have to know someone that knows someone). Reid Hoffman would never invest in a company that wasn’t introduced to him by a trusted contact. In fact, Sean Parker introduced him to Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 but Reid decided not to invest as much as he could have back then. Instead he invested along with a friend he trusted well, this friend is of course rather happy to have got that introduction today.

We also get to read about how taking intelligent risks is part of succesful business practice. The author mentions that he took a risk when starting up LinkedIn but always had a fall-back option, in this case it was sleeping on his dad’s couch. Michael Dell took a risk when starting Dell Computers but he managed the risk with making sure he could return to his university if things went sour.

I can relate to this, when I moved over to London (with no job secured) from Stockholm where I was leading a cushty life (pretty good job) it was a calculated risk. I had negotiated a year of absence with my employer so that was my back up plan, I like the others never needed the option but it does put your mind at ease. Here’s a nice soundbyte for you from the book: “You have to take on risk or risk will take on you”.

Is this a long sales-pitch for LinkedIn?

What are you saying? That the cover reminds you of a certain professional network? Whilst Linkedin is definitely mentioned throughout the book, it’s more about how networking works and how you can apply it. The reader is left to draw their own conclusion about what technology to use to manage their professional network. And Reid does mention Facebook, Twitter and other networks which you could argue are the main competitors. So no, it’s not a long sales pitch, rather it’s a book that gives you the perspective on your own network and how it can be utilised.

Any reservations?

My one reservation about this book is that it very much revolves around Silicon Valley and its ubercool tech start-up companies. Had it been written ten years ago, it could have been set on Wall Street and about how the boys from Goldman Sachs were best mates with the Morgan Stanley lot. I’m not saying tech companies are heading for the same fate as banking but I have a feeling this will make the book date in a few years. It’s certainly captured the zeitgeist of tech start-ups in the Valley, for better or worse.

Also, the real-life people that are mentioned in the book are the likes of George Clooney and Sheryl Sandberg. I get that they are recognisable but can the average reader really relate to them? I think it’s fine to mention ‘normal’ people that have made extraordinary things, not necessarily celebrities ways to the top – I get that in magazines and blogs anyway.

Is this a book worth reading?

Yes definitely a book worth reading. This is probably the best book I’ve read about networking and one of the best ones about entrepreneurship in general. The author wanted to serve mankind through philosophy (but decided tech companies was a better route), and this shines through. The book makes you think about the bigger picture. Networking isn’t about gathering business cards or adding connections on LinkedIn, you’ll learn why when you read the book.

For more about Reid Hoffman, you can check him out speaking at LinkedIn’s speaking series:

More on networking at 3 Ways to Work the Room Like a Networking Expert.

My Social Media Interview for a University of Hertfordshire Dissertation

I was recently asked a few dissertation questions by a student from the University of Hertfordshire (that’s just north of London in case you are wondering). The questions were about how Link Humans was set up and how we move things forward. Here are my answers:

What’s the background information about Link Humans?

Link Humans was set up in 2010, the objectives are to consult, train and advise companies on the use of social media for recruitment, marketing, brand building. There were two of us starting out in London and we are currently four, based in London and Paris.

What issues did you face in marketing and promoting your business during the early days?

No brand awareness for Link Humans to begin with but we did have our personal brands to leverage (still do!). No budget for marketing so we have done it all ourselves on social media and networking events in London.

What social media tools you use to promote your business and how effective are they to reach your target market?

We blog about once per week on the Link Humans site, these blogs posts are then broadcast to Twitter via the @LinkHumans account and our personal accounts. We also share our blog posts on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Blogging has been very effective as long as we write relevant articles about the target market and make sure that industry people see the posts. We try to ensure the content is inspirational, the idea is that potential clients will see what other clients have done successfully and will want to work with us.

How can your business make the best use of social media?

I hope we’re already doing it. We’re all very active on Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging and some of us use Facebook and Google Plus with success. We could use YouTube more and add informational videos, on-screen tutorials, interviews and testimonials.

What are the difficulties or challenges faced when using social media related to your business?

Time – Twitter for instance can be very time consuming, we try not to get sucked in too much as it’s easy to lose an hour just following a hashtag.

Delegation – who does what on a daily basis, we have keep a schedule of activities and responsibilities.

Keeping it relevant – we know that prospective clients are probably not going to be on Pinterest, instead they will want to read a meaty blog post that relates to their challenges. So whilst we are early adopters of new social networks we have to remember who our target audience are.

Social media is a mode of communication that develops everyday, how do you update yourself?

Everyone at Link Humans deals with social media but it’s still difficult to keep up with new developments as changes happen constantly. There is so much information out there, the trick is to filter it down to what is really important. One way of doing this is to use Google News, LinkedIn Signal and reading respectable blogs.

How do you measure the success of using social media?

Quantitative – followers, conversations, website analytics, email subscribers, enquiries, business meetings, sales

Qualitative – brand awareness, reputation, word-of-mouth

See more at The Story of Link Humans [Video Interview].

How To Talk To Complete Strangers

how you can speak to new people

I was interviewed in the Mail on Sunday newspaper today, on the off-piste topic of talking to total strangers. Because I’m the organizer of three meetups here in London and run a few workshops on personal branding I guess I’m somewhat qualified on the subject of speaking to complete strangers. These are some of the ideas I shared in the interview, for the full story you’ll have to get the newspaper in January (or I’ll just link to the article once it’s up).

Why speak to strangers in the first place?

You might wonder why on earth you should speak to strangers. I mean afterall, we’re taught by our parents never to speak to strangers and the only folks that do seem to be the village idiot and local yokels. I guess the reason I speak to strangers is to network, by running events you get to know very useful and interesting people – and the only way to do this is by talking to them.

In business, the ability to small talk with (and get on with) anyone is very useful. If you want to be seen as an all-rounder that can get on with multi-national and cross-sector teams, you’d have to have the ability to speak to strangers. Here are the stranger talking tips that I came up with for the interview today:

Get introduced if possible

This is the simplest way of speaking to strangers and it will work when you’re at a well-organized event. Ask the host of the event you are at who you should speak to and get an introduction – this is of course much more powerful and cuts through the chit chat. It saves you having to think about an icebreaker as well. The host should know what people are happy to chat with someone like you and vice versa.

The big city question that always works

In London you can get away with the easiest question of them all: Where are you from? Very few people are actually from London and most folks have a great story about how they got there. I would think this one applies to any major city which has an influx/outflux of people.

Talking points allow strangers to speak

Whenever something unexpected (especially something less-than-great) happens, people get talking. If you get stuck in the lift, if the service is really slow at the bar, someone stinks on the tube, if the weather suddenly shifts – it’s ok to speak to strangers all of a sudden. This is because you now have a talking point and you have an experience to discuss.

Got a joke? Deliver it!

Humor always works, crack a clever joke and it’s now acceptable to laugh and comment on your wit. You have to be a little bit careful with jokes when dealing with strangers, you don’t want to slate a restaurant and then find out that the owner is the stranger’s brother.

Learn from pick up artists

If you look at the world of chat-ups, it usually starts with a genuine question like ‘do you have a light’ or ‘do you know what DJ is on tonight?’ – and take it from there. You’ll know whether someone wants to have a conversation with you or if they quickly answer your question and turns away. Don’t forget to smile when using this approach by the way!

Fancy dressing up a bit?

Another observation I’ve made is that fancy dress tends to encourage people talking, if you’re wearing a chicken suit people think it’s normal to have a chat for some reason. If that’s too extreme for you, try wearing a peacock item like a hat, a scarf or a loud shirt – all of which are great conversation starters.

Bring an icebreaker

People in parks don’t tend to speak to strangers. People on buses don’t speak to strangers. There is an exception however, this is when someone has brought their baby or dog, suddenly it’s ok to smile and ask ‘how old is she’ or ‘what’s his name’? So if you want people to speak to you, bring an icebreaker of some kind.

Have a drink

Alcohol is another obvious icebreaker, people that work in the same office and never speak will suddenly be best pals at the Christmas do thanks to a few drinks. Trouble is they go back to not speaking in January again… Alcohol works but it’s not a great strategy in my book, I know I’m not the best networker when I’ve had a few drinks!

When you do speak, find out what they are passionate about

Find out what people are passionate about if you want to stand out. Everyone asks what’s your name, what do you do, what company etc – you have the same conversation with everyone. Instead ask what they did on the weekend, what holidays they have planned etc and get them talking – everyone wants to speak about their passions. The following day this person will definitely remember speaking to you and you can take it from there – now that you know each other a little bit it’s time to see how you could possibly help each other.

Bottom line

When attempting to talk to strangers you have to accept that the first few moments will be awkward sometimes, that some people will blank you – that’s just life. My experience tells me most people are very happy to have a chat and nobody will bite you! Your only challenge is breaking the ice and the conversation will flow from there.

Do you have any hot tips for talking to strangers? Or how to avoid strangers talking to you? Or how not to be strange? Please let us know in the comments!

More on this at How To Work The Room Like a Networking Expert.