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.

21 Ways To Build Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn


As a social media trainer, I get a few recurring LinkedIn questions in my workshops and seminars. I thought I would compile a little list with questions and answers here, hopefully they will be useful to you. Most questions are related to sales, marketing and recruitment which is basically the type of professionals I tend to train.

Here goes the 21 LinkedIn questions and answers:

1. How do you boost your LinkedIn profile SEO?

LinkedIn operates a bit like Google did 10 years ago, the more keywords the better ranking you will get for a while. The algorithm of the search rankings are that you will be bumped up and if people actually take action – click on your profile in the search results – that tells LinkedIn you are relevant for those search terms. IF users don’t click on you, you will be sent down to page 16 in no time and classed a spammer by the LinkedIn search engine.

To get better ranking make sure to insert relevant keywords in your headline, in your job title and in your summary. Use keywords such as industry, location, company names (if that’s allowed), and even names of people. Bring it down to a micro level with versions of software and even post codes.

See more at How to Make Google Love Your LinkedIn Profile.

2. How to use advanced X-Ray searches to find anyone on LinkedIn?

On LinkedIn, you can only see the people that are three degrees away from you or members of the same group.

One of the worst kept secrets on LinkedIn is that you are able to see every public profile via search engines such as Google. LinkedIn make sure these profiles are indexed in Google as they want to be the first search results for people’s names.

You can use this by entering a Boolean search string searching every LinkedIn user, this typically renders quite a lot of results so throw in more keywords in the search to narrow it down to a nice shortlist.

See Glen Cathey’s post to get the lowdown on the X-Ray strings.

3. How do you advertise for free on LinkedIn?

Anyone can advertise on LinkedIn but it comes at a price.

One way of doing it for free is of course your status update; another way is to post it into groups. These are in theory good ways but the trouble is that most people see those updates as adverts and tend to ignore them.

One more creative way is to use a SlideShare or Google presentation where you put your presentation on, integrate this on your LinkedIn profile and share it with your network. This will actually get clicks and if it’s done well it could go viral.

Check out Slideshare on LinkedIn for more details.

4. How do you use the events section on LinkedIn?

The events section is one of the most underutilized sections of LinkedIn. We all attend events, and so do your customers. Search for these events on LinkedIn and you’ll be able to see who is coming, so that you can plan your conversations way ahead of the event. The attendee list is sometimes a great place for identifying buyers, if ten people are attending a LinkedIn meetup – I would expect a few of them to be interested in some training.

Whether it’s your breakfast briefing on new regulations or networking drinks you are hosting – be sure to list these in the LinkedIn Events section.

When you list an event, your entire network gets notified. You can then share it again to anyone in your network by LinkedIn messages. Every time someone clicks ‘attending’ or ‘interested’ – their networks get notified as well.

Events is one of the best places to build up some buzz around your company.

Also check out How To Use LinkedIn Events To Promote Your Meetup, Workshop or Seminar.

5. How to categorize connections and send group emails?

Another very underutilized feature of LinkedIn is the ability to tag people. This means you can categorize your connections according to company, position, location, where you met or whatever you choose.

When doing some sales calls, you can tag everyone you speak to. When your next sales session comes up you’ll have an instant shortlist and you are able to send a group email to everyone in that category (let’s say HR managers in Liverpool) to get it out quickly.

More about tagging at Managing Your Connections By Using Tags.

6. How do you connect with people in Groups?

Another worst kept secret on LinkedIn is that Groups normally allow you contact and connect with anyone direct on LinkedIn. Sometimes you find a perfect prospect but have no way of contacting them, what you can do is see what groups they are a member of and join one of these. From there you can either invite the person to your network direct or you can look them up in the group and send a message.

Note that users are able to turn this off, it’s enabled by default but if someone gets spammed they are likely to opt out of these contact settings.

7. Who should you connect with on LinkedIn (and who shouldn’t you)?

LinkedIn is all about connections, the more you have the better visibility your profile will have and more people you will be able to search for. But it’s also about quality connections, it’s worth identifying the so called ‘super connectors’ in your field and start connecting with them – if they have 1000 relevant connections that will save you a lot of leg work.

In general, connect with business contacts of all levels. Juniors become seniors within companies, they move companies and remember you…

Don’t connect with your competitors unless you know they have more useful connections than you do. Yes you can hide them from browsing your connections but your connections will still come up in search results so be wary of connecting with competitors.

See more about Super Connectors on LinkedIn.

8. How do you integrate Twitter and LinkedIn?

If you tweet, or if your company tweets, you might want to integrate Twitter and LinkedIn. This is done through an application called Tweets. It’s fairly straightforward to install (see how here) but the important thing here are the settings.

We have all seen users with more than ten updates on LinkedIn per day, these updates typically come from Twitter and probably do more harm to your brand than anything else. The setting you want to use is to only share tweets on LinkedIn when you use the hashtag #in inside Twitter. This allows you to selectively share on LinkedIn as opposed to blanket bombing your network with conversational updates.

For more on this pet peeve of mine, see Dear Tweeters, Stop Cluttering My LinkedIn Homefeed!

9. Recommendations – do’s and don’ts

The recommendation engine on LinkedIn is one of the keys to LinkedIn’s success. Whereas you used to get recommendations on a CV or a website, these recommendations are fully transparent and people can click their way through to actually scrutinize who wrote the recommendation (and event check that person’s recommendations).

Given that people check out the recommender, don’t get recommendations from your mates, don’t do back-to-back recommendations and don’t get recommendations from people who are obviously indebted to you (that graduate candidate you placed on an internship). Instead focus on quality recommendations from C-level executives and former bosses. Just get one from each company and don’t get more that 5-10 recommendations in total – any more defeats the purpose. If you are in the US, the norm is to have double that.

Check out How To Get More LinkedIn Recommendations as well.

10. How do you detect that a friend is on the job hunt?

Recruiters are very keen on finding out when anyone goes from being a ‘passive’ to an ‘active’ candidate on LinkedIn. If you are a bit nosy and or want to help your network you can do what they do and look out for the signs. We all know the very obvious people who actually post “I’m looking for a job” in their status updates. But how can you figure out the stealth job seekers who might just need your help?

Look for any of these signs: a number of new recommendations on the profile, tinkering with the headline, the summary or even a new picture. Contact details in the open and crucially, the LinkedIn email address changed to their webmail from work email.

Go ahead an contact these people but do it in a subtle way, as they are obviously a bit jumpy and wouldn’t want anyone to know they are on the hunt. See how you can help them and they will remember your kind assistance when your turn comes to explore opportunities.

11. How do I remove annoying users from my homefeed?

Whether someone is plugging their own services every day or tweet on LinkedIn a bit too much, you can easily hide these people from your home feed. Just to the right of their update there is a little grey text reading “Hide” – click that and you won’t see this person on your feed again. You can un-hide them later if you so please.

If someone is even more annoying, you can remove them as a connection altogether on the My Contacts page and click ‘remove connections’. They will not be notified that you have deleted them from your network.

See this post for more about removing connections on LinkedIn.

12. Why is LinkedIn the best job search tool on social media?

LinkedIn is the place where you can find professionals on social media. Yes, Facebook can be great for graduates and Twitter for media recruitment but LinkedIn reaches people who haven’t got time for every social network under the sun. A lawyer, banker or accountant will check their LinkedIn profile periodically but very seldom would they even have a Twitter account. So from a mere reach perspective LinkedIn is your best bet.

This means most recruiters and HR departments are using LinkedIn to find candidates already. So you can actually be found via one of their searches, or you can actively network your way to opportunities within companies. And you can of course have a look at the Jobs section to make it really easy on yourself.

13. How can you scan what anyone on LinkedIn is saying about a company or topic?

Another virtually unknown feature of LinkedIn is what’s called LinkedIn Signal. It’s basically a search tool for status updates on LinkedIn. You can search for your company name, your field or location or even a combination of them all. LinkedIn will tell you who is talking about the keyword, including people up to 3 degrees away from you. If someone is talking about Java programming on LinkedIn but the profile says ‘consultant’ – chances are they are actually a Java developer with a misleading profile.

Check out this post from LinkedIn about how Signal works.

14. How can you stand out against the other millions of [insert job title here] on LinkedIn?

By being useful to your network, by sharing interesting and valuable information and by not selling your products and services at any given moment. Your network probably knows what you do and they are likely to let you know when they have a referral for you, so it’s better to get mindshare – creating daily awareness and staying visible.

15. What’s a good daily LinkedIn routine?

Most active LinkedIn users I know have a LinkedIn browser window open all day but they mainly use LinkedIn as a database. I would make a habit of sharing an interesting piece of content every day, checking out the events section for relevant networking dos, engaging with other users in Groups and generally keeping an eye on the homefeed to keep my finger on the pulse. This only takes 15 minutes per day but it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose the bigger picture.

16. How do you run a successful group on LinkedIn?

There are over a million groups on LinkedIn, many of these were set up by recruiters. If you look at what makes a group successful it’s all about creating a strong community. When it’s set up it’s ideal to make it ‘exclusive’ in some way – i.e. only open to Java developer in Manchester, this just makes more of them want to join. Assign a team to run the group and to seed conversation, moderate discussions and sharing interesting content.

The number one gripe people have with groups is that they get too much spam emails so make sure you vet all members, only ever send relevant email updates and do not tolerate any blatant promotions from members.

More on Groups at How To Run a Successful LinkedIn Group.

17. How to use your company page to attract customers?

The LinkedIn company page is your company’s number one branding tool on LinkedIn. There are lots of things you can do here such as write up a proper description of the company, add contact details, insert your Twitter feed, link your blog posts to the page, add your products and services, ask for company recommendations and check out the visitor statistics.

Prospective clients are likely to check out your company page so make sure it represents your brand fully.

For employer branding, check out How To Build a LinkedIn Company and Careers Page.

18. What are the essentials on your LinkedIn profile?

There are four essentials on an individual’s LinkedIn profile; they are the picture, the headline, the summary and the keywords.

Your picture should look professional and reflect your brand, people like dealing with faces as opposed to just text – studies show you get 30% more clicks in search results when you have a picture (see more at How To Choose a Picture for Your Personal Brand).

The headline (along with your name and picture) is what comes up in search results and based on this the user will decide whether to click on you or the competitor. Make sure the headline talks about what you do and not who you are, i.e. you recruit Java developers to top tier consultancies in Manchester and not Consultant and Recruiter X – which means very little (more on headlines at How To Write Your Killer LinkedIn Headline).

Your summary is where people go to see what you are all about and what your track record in the industry is. If you get someone to take their time to check this out you will want to add you contact details at the end and not leave them hanging.

Finally, you have to get the right keywords on your profile or you will not come up in any searches. Yes you might come up in searches for your name but let’s face it if someone already knows your name you already have a foot in the door. It’s better to come up in the search for “Java recruiter Manchester”.

19. How do you connect with people outside of your network?

There are lots of ways of connecting with people outside of your network. You can join the same group as this person which allows you to connect direct (most of the time). You can do an introduction through a common connection, this can take a bit of time but usually works. If you have a premium account you can send an inMail or you can actually buy inMail credits on a free account.

But let’s forget the online world for a while, I think the best way to connect is actually outside of LinkedIn. Pick up the phone and ring the person up, or if you don’t have the number you can probably guess the email address and try that. It’s all about being creative and just because you found someone on LinkedIn doesn’t mean you have to approach them through LinkedIn.

20. Do you need to upgrade your LinkedIn account?

It really depends on how you are using LinkedIn, most people don’t use inMails, Profile organizer and require additional search results. If you do pay for an account make sure you make the most of it, paying a monthly fee is not a silver bullet to success – you actually have to understand what you’re doing first.

See more at LinkedIn Job Search Premium, Worth the Dollar or Not?

21. What applications should you use to attract business?

You can use SlideShare to share presentations of your company or about specials or promotions you have on at the moment, you can use the Amazon Reading list to show off your extra-curricular interests, use TripIt if you travel a lot and actually want people to contact you to have a coffee in various locations. You can use