For your career, LinkedIn is probably the number one tool you can use. As the number one networking tool, it allows you to build your credibility, keep in touch with your current network and grow your contacts.
I always talk to people about the importance of having connections, ideally 500+ as it opens so many new doors for you (500+ is the magic number as stated by LinkedIn). But when you are starting from scratch or even 100, it can seem incredibly daunting to get to that number so here are 5 easy steps you can follow guaranteed to get you to 500!
First of all, why?
Well as your number of first degree connections grow, the number of second and third degree connections grow too. This is key for you to be found on LinkedIn as when a recruiter searches for talent for a new job, say “electrical engineer” in Toronto, Ontario they will really only see their 1st-3rd degree connections and group members. So if you don’t have a lot of connections you risk not even coming up in their search. If you have recruiters knocking on your door it is freeing up some of your job searching time for networking, research or staying inspired!
Maybe you are thinking, well I don’t care about recruiters. In fact I don’t want to be found and contacted. BUT, if you want complete control of your career then you need to know what is out there. You can always politely decline, but at least you are given the opportunity.
Plus, think beyond new job opportunities, a robust LinkedIn Profile which includes 500+ connections can increase your credibility to internal and external clients and stakeholders. Essentially those connections are like individual endorsements of your work and professional reputation.
If you are searching for a new job, then leveraging LinkedIn for networking is a must. Networking is made easier when you have 500+ connections as it allows you to see the people you want to – potential hiring managers, peers, people that may be able to offer some great advise.
And don’t forget those pesky resume reading bots, remember some of them check your connections to see how well connected you are within their industry!
Okay, enough with the why! You want to know the how:
1. Connect with Me and other “Elite Expert Tier” Individuals
One way to immediately increase your third-degree connections is to connect with myself. I have about 3k connections and a connection with me would instantly make you a third-degree connection with those individuals. On someone’s profile page you will see the number of connections that they have, so when you come across an individual in an industry or role that is relevant who have 500+ connections definitely send a connection request.
There are also individuals who classify themselves as LIONs, these are people going after the 30k connection limit. A lot of them have their number of connections in their headline, so it is easy to find someone with 10k+ connections, having one or two would be worthwhile!
2. Use your Existing Network
The easiest way to get a big jump on your connection numbers is to sync your contact list to LinkedIn, if you have multiple email accounts make sure you sync all lists! Make a list of people you have worked with, met at events, go through your stack of business cards and manually search for those individuals using the search bar.
You can go through their connection lists to find other people you may know. You can also see if they are connected with people you want in your network, then you can ask them to “introduce” you increasing the likelihood that the new individual will become a valuable member of your network.
This step is probably the most time intensive, however these will be the most beneficial connections for you and your career so it is well worth it.
3. Company Pages
You can visit your current or previous company pages, or the company pages that you want to work at. Those pages will give you instant access to all the employees that work there and you can also tailor the search to previous employees and specific locations, job titles, etc.
This is a great way to find people you worked with but maybe didn’t stay in touch with allowing you to reconnect.
Focusing on your ideal companies allows you to build a network within them and are great for referrals and for setting up Informational Interviews.
These are connections that matter – people you worked with that can vouch and advocate for you and people who want to work with that can open new doors for you or give you key information that you can use.
4. Groups and Alumni
There is an ongoing problem with LinkedIn groups with decreasing levels of engagement so while being active on groups probably won’t help you in your career, being members of groups will. Being a member of a relevant group allows you access to individuals you may not have otherwise. So looking for applicable groups (school alumni, industry, associations, etc) is your first step. Ask to join and then you can go through the group members and send out connection requests.
Using LinkedIn’s Alumni portal (www.linkedin.com/alumni) is amazing in terms of the people and insights it provides. Like groups, it makes people more accessible to you allowing you to build your connections in industries and companies you want even if they are out of your network (you aren’t a 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree connection).
5. Get your profile out there
Get people to reach out to you first! Optimize your own LinkedIn profile, making sure it is set up to get you noticed and full of key words to bring you up in searches.
Remember when I wrote about selling yourself? Take some of those ideas and apply them here. Post on Facebook including your LinkedIn Profile link asking your Facebook friends to connect with you (you can do the same on Twitter). Include your link in your email signature, your Twitter profile, your resume, etc. Anywhere it makes sense really.
5 easy steps. That is all it takes to start building your network within LinkedIn. I’ll look out for your connection request!
If your LinkedIn needs an overhaul, I can help with that. Or do you need help with networking in general? I offer networking training and coaching teaching you how to get noticed and create connections. I am passionate about using networking in your career and job search as it has worked countless times for myself and now my clients, next week I'll tell you a little more about that!
Do you feel like a chicken with its head cut off most days. Well I did too. Until I was introduced to time management and productivity books. Now I read them all the time to find new hacks to get more done in a day. Here are 4 books that really helped me out.
I don’t know about you, but there just never seems to be enough hours in a day. I just want to do ALL THE THINGS and quite frankly the idea of compromising or giving something up just doesn’t jive with my goal oriented and over achiever type of personality.
I want to cook everything from scratch, work out daily, mediate daily, spend meaningful time with my kids PLUS build a business that involves marketing on social media, writing weekly articles and newsletters, help out clients through career coaching and resume writing and more. Never mind the fact that I also have a part time job Career Transitioning, have to deal with all the admin associated with running a business and want some semblance of a social life!
I know that it is impossible to do all of that all the time, but I want to at least try my hardest to become my most efficient self so that I can tick off a ton of boxes every day. As an information gatherer and a reader, it comes as no surprise that I have probably read every Time Management and Productivity book on the market. So my time management is a hodge podge of all of these ideas that I’ve learnt but my system is one that also changes all the time depending on the week and my life at that moment.
Here are four books that really made an impact on my life, ones that I feel have allowed me to get more things done in a day.
1. The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
This is the very first book I read about productivity about 10 years ago when I was laid off from my agency recruiting job. Back then I wrote most of the ideas off as I didn’t think it really applied to me. But there were a few things I did implement and took to heart.
I loved his concept of the “New Rich” how your total take home salary isn’t how you should define your worth. In order to be a New Rich person, you need to create a life you WANT. This really resonated with me at the time as I was in the process of interviewing for a job I really wanted (Corporate Recruiter), only 5 minutes away from my house. But it was going to be a big pay cut. This book sparked a great conversation with husband in terms of what we value most. Money wasn’t at the top of the list, not even close. We also did the calculation and the hourly rate really wasn’t that different when you took into account the hours and money saved from not commuting and extra time at the office. So when the offer did come through it was an easy yes, and saying goodbye to the stress and the commute more than made up for the loss of some money.
Some specific time management tools of his I have implemented over the years are figuring how much time it really takes to complete a task and sticking to it, finding a way to eliminate meetings (or a way to join in remotely), and outsourcing/delegating the tasks you are able to.
When I am at my most productive, I’m following some of his ideas – don’t arrive at your desk without a plan or else you will just dawdle away the day in your inbox and being busy is a form of laziness (similar to a Gretchen Rubin thought that you can procrastinate with work).
In my opinion for 99% of the population the concept of a 4 hour workweek is laughable. But I would still recommend this book to all of you as it gives great insights on how to save you some time. Especially if you work somewhere traditional where they want you at your desk, this book talks about how to convince your boss to let you work from home on Fridays, now who wouldn’t want that!
2. The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen R Covey
This was the second book on time management that I read, since it is listed on pretty much all productivity and time management must read lists! This book showed me that my career, just like my life, was completely within my control. You can’t just sit back and wait for your dream career to land in your lap – you have to BE PROACTIVE (Habit #1), and you need to remember to place what you value most above all others so you need to PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST (Habit #3). There are 4 other habits, but for me and my career these are the two that have been most useful to getting me to where I am today.
His quadrant is also such a key for time management and learning how to prioritize your daily, weekly and monthly tasks. By examining the need for this task and the deadline allows us to plan out how our schedule should look.
If you are a reader, then definitely pick this one up. If not, then googling it and reading an article or two will suffice and everyone and their mother has written about it, for good reason!
3. Get you Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight
I love the no-nonsense style of this writer, and honestly as someone who doesn’t like being confined by the corporate world, I could relate to her story of giving it all up to pursue her dreams.
Plus, her approach is right up my alley with her three steps – Strategize (plan of action to achieve a goal), Focus (break it down and schedule it) and Commit (set yourself up for success). She leans into negative thinking as a way to propel you to take action which works especially well for those who don’t have a clear direction of where they want to go or what they want to do, they just know that they want to leave or put an end to what they are doing.
Sarah wants you to be very specific with your goals in terms of time management. For example, say you are struggling to keep atop of your current workload. Take a look at the core of what YOU CAN CONTROL. Are you spending too much time on social media? Then perhaps the solution is to limit your time online. And then focus on your impulse, do you feel the twitch and call of social media? Confront that impulse head on to put a stop to it!
One of my most used time management tips came from this book and that is the concept of a “MUST DO LIST”. Sarah recommends that you have a large running master to do list and that every day you prioritize that list based on urgency and importance (similar to above!) and then move that to your MUST DO List. That is your focus for the day, nothing else!
I highly recommend this book, it is a fun read with some great tips and a little bit of inspiration for anyone wanting a career change.
4. Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
This is one of the most recent productivity books I have read. I loved it – the idea of SAVERS (Silence, Affirmation, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing) is something I fully believe in. But it has been one of the most difficult to put into place. I have bits and pieces throughout my day. I meditate every night before I go to bed (96 days straight right now), I read every day and I exercise/move most days.
I want to do the rest, and I agree with the author that the mornings that I get up early and get all of that accomplished are the days that I am most productive as it sets a great tone for the day.
My problem (or excuse) is my kids. I have a 6.5 yo and a 5 yo who wake up at 6am and quite frankly I don’t want to get up any earlier. And even if, on the odd day, they are sleeping, when I try to sneak downstairs it ends up waking them up. Plus, first thing in the morning they just want to be near me, typically they want to snuggle in bed (there are only a few more years of that and I want to soak those cuddles up!) and then be in the same room as me so it is hard to focus.
But I believe so much in this. I believe that setting your intentions and your goals will not only increase your productivity but also increase the likelihood of you being a success. So I literally just researched a shorter version (since the book recommends about 90 minutes) and came across the 6 minute Miracle Morning by Hal. I’m going to tweak it to 8 minutes and only focus on the pieces I don’t do every day:
Silence: 2 minute gratitude meditation (in addition to my nightly meditation)
Affirmation: 2 minutes affirmations
Visulaization: 2 minutes visualization
Exercise: during the day
Reading: during the day
Scribing: 2 minute scribing – my gratitude, my daily goals and plan.
Anyone willing to join me? Tomorrow, I’ll let you know how it went!
The amazing thing about Happiness Books and these Productivity books is that they introduce to us concepts that we may never have thought about. But more importantly, they tell us the story of how to make the changes and how those changes can have a lasting impact on our lives. So if you are stuck in a job you hate and don’t know what to do, they can help you figure out what you want and how to make the time in a day to get there.
If even that is overwhelming, how about a 30 minute phone call – we can chat for free, let’s strategize where you are, where you want to go and how to get there.
You finally heard the great news – you got the job. But don’t accept just yet! Read below for some tips (and scripts) on deciding what you need to negotiate and how to get what you are worth.
A job search can feel like a ride on the twistiest and turniest of rollercoasters with all of its ups and downs so when that coveted job offer comes we just want to shout “YES” into the phone before they have even finished going over the details.
I see a lot of people whose self-esteem has taken a big hit while looking for a new job, especially if they have been laid off or stuck in a toxic or unfulfilling job. So having someone essentially say – “it’s you that I want” has us saying yes without thinking it through.
A job search is like dating. On a job search, you have a lot of crappy “first dates” followed by long periods sitting by the phone willing that “suitor” to just give you a call. But still, if just anyone asked you to marry them would you say yes without hesitation? Probably not!
Now, I know, it is different and not every job offer needs to be negotiated BUT every job offer needs to be thought through. And me being me, I have a plan for what you should do when that offer does come in.
Before the Offer
Do your research! Especially on the salary. There are so many sites now that offer salary insights like Payscale, Glassdoor, Indeed Pay. Try to narrow it down as best you can to the job, location and industry as those are all major factors.
Look back over any notes from previous conversations and interviews, did you discuss salary previously? What did you say you wanted, what did they say was the range? Did they talk about a total compensation plan (base + bonus), did you mention your salary history (base + bonus)? Also keep in mind extras, like did you have a car allowance? Do they?
Think beyond the pay cheque as well. Is there anything else that is important to you like vacation or working from home? Make a list of things you would ideally like to see in an offer, now you may not get all of them but it allows you to prioritize letting you know what you should fight for.
Do some research on you too. Go through the critical priorities they may have mentioned throughout the interview process (the main reason why they would be hiring you for) or the key skills that they are looking for. Think about how you would get them to where they want to be and how what you bring to the table in terms of skills, knowledge and experience they can’t get anywhere else.
Typically the offer process starts with a verbal offer. This comes over the phone and depending on the company or situation will come from the Recruiter (agency or corporate) or the Hiring Manager. Most of the time they go through the key details – job title, salary, vacation time, benefits. Rarely do they discuss the extras like benefit details (exact coverage), pension, education reimbursement, etc. Typically at the end of the call they want a verbal yes or no.
If they are putting their best foot forward in terms of salary offered, or the salary that was already agreed upon you should say this:
“I am excited about the prospect of joining the team. I would obviously love to see the contract, but I don’t anticipate any issues if what is written down matches what you are presenting although having some time to review will be appreciated.”
If the salary isn’t what you would expect you should say this:
“I am excited to hear such great news and while seeing an offer in writing is necessary, I do feel that we need to discuss the compensation further.”
Some organizations want the salary completely ironed out before submitting a formal written offer, some will send the written offer over just after delivering the verbal. Either way, if the salary isn’t want you want you would state something similar to the above as a way to open up the door to negotiation.
Once you have the written offer in hand take a look at the whole thing in terms of value to you, your bank account and your work/life balance. Pick 1-2 things to negotiate, the ones that are most important to you.
One thing to note, you can’t just expect them to say. Oh yes, you are right here is another $10k added to your salary. You need to show them your value and your worth.
The Salary Negotiation – Your Value
Always start this part off by thanking them again for the offer and by reiterating your excitement to join the team and organization. Then jump into your value. Talk about 1-2 of those critical priorities (for examples revamping a process, building a team, increasing sales) or skills (technical, job specific, interpersonal) and talk about how you can’t wait to jump in and have an impact/make a difference. Revisit a story you may have told them in your interview, or tell them the outline of the plan you have already created to make that difference. Mention how they as an organization can support you by setting you up for success through recognizing your value at this stage (in terms of salary).
How to move on from this depends on you and the company. You may want to give a number or they may want to step away and think about it. In my opinion, you want to give a number as it gives you more control. That number, though, is rooted in the research above, it is not plucked from the air! They will come back with a counter offer and you would either accept or give your own counter offer.
Beyond the Salary:
In the article 17 benefits that I contributed to I spoke about how to negotiate for Flexible Work Schedules but there are many other things that you should think about!
I’ve worked in corporate HR and supported corporate HR for the better part of 15 years and honestly vacation is one of the toughest things to negotiate. The reason why is the policy, the current vacation landscape of the team and the precedent it could set. The best way to negotiate is to match your current vacation.
“Currently I have 4 weeks of vacation and with a young family/love of travel, I value that time to get out to fully recharge. Honestly, some of my best ideas/work comes after a vacation! So keeping that 4 weeks is crucial for me and my success.”
2. Education Reimbursement:
Education Reimbursement saves you thousands of dollars a year while giving you valuable knowledge and beefs up your skills, resume and marketability. You may be able to negotiate an MBA which could save you $25k/year.
“Down the line, some further courses within this field could go a long way to build upon the knowledge I have acquired and so I was wondering if you have an education and training plan in place for this role?”
If they do not
“To me, a company can show that they invest in and value their employees if they were to provide tuition and book reimbursement. I want to be set up to exceed expectations not just today but in the future as well and furthering my education will be a factor in that.”
3. Membership Dues and Fees:
This is something that always goes ignored, especially for people joining organizations in an entry level job. Having them cover your membership dues and fees will save you around $1k/year and it gives you more credibility and keeps you active in your industry making a job search down the line much easier, all on the company's dime!
“I know how valuable being an active member within a professional association (Engineering, Procurement, HR, etc) is as it goes a long way to build up my network and credibility within an industry on top of being kept up to date on the latest trends, laws and technology. To be successful in this role, a person should be an active member, it may even be critical to the success of the role. Based on that, I feel that having my dues and fees covered 100% makes sense as part of the offer.”
4. Work from Home
Working from home is practically priceless, never mind the commuting dollars and time it saves you, especially here in the GTA. Finding a work/life balance these days is tough and in my opinion, the best way to find it is through making your work schedule work for your life. There is nothing worse than feeling chained to your desk and being able to negotiate to have a few of those work days at home will be game changing.
“The first 3-6 months in a new role it is critical to be in the office during normal business hours so that I can build relationships within the team and learn the business inside and out. But once I’m fully acclimated I would appreciate the ability to work from home. The loss of my commute would only mean more energy and time that I could dedicate. Plus, it would allow me the ability to focus 100% on a task without any interruptions. To save the company money on space and supplies, I would even be open to a desk share with a colleague.”
If you have experience working from home in a previous role, talk about how productive you were and the value it allowed you to have.
The Art of Negotiation is really hard for most people, but I hope that this article will give you the confidence to know your worth, ask for your worth and ultimately get your worth.
Having trouble getting that offer? Well maybe I can help with that!
Are you sending out lots of resumes with no interview requests – I can help you GET NOTICED.
Finding it tough to find that Hidden Job Market through networking or selling yourself in an interview – I can help you CREATE CONNECTIONS
Need help with it all, from start to finish – I can help you FIND YOUR WAY.
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.