How To Use LinkedIn To Stand Out Among the Crowd: Professional Social Network Hacks That Work

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According to a recent Mashable article, 37 percent of surveyed job recruiters identify social (professional) networks as one of the most important sources for hiring. Additionally, 90 of the Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn’s corporate talent solutions to find future hires. Whether you are about to graduate, just started classes, or are somewhere in between: you must seriously consider utilizing LinkedIn as a career tool!

I often have undergrads asking what the difference is between LinkedIn and Facebook, as they see it as ‘just another social network.’ That notion could not be further from the truth. Facebook is more about establishing personal relationships, while LinkedIn is more about conducting business.

Profile Basics

As you enter your profile details, do not think of your LinkedIn profile as an online resume, it goes beyond that. LinkedIn allows you to create a profile that can showcase projects you have worked on that relate to your career and goals. It also allows you to use keywords that align with what you currently do, what you have done in the past, and what you ultimately want to do in the future. Thus making you “findable.”

You can visually illustrate your skills with rich media, such as pictures, video, projects, or even a presentation you’re especially proud of. Include these if they are professional and relate to your overall goals and career aspirations. Help recruiters visualize what type of talent you bring to the table.

As you set up your profile, know you can come back and add to it and tweak it as well. Remember:

1. Post a photo! Use a professional headshot if possible.
2. Professional presentation is important on LinkedIn, but do not omit all of your personality. LinkedIn is a social network- creating personal connections is important. Also important is engagement and relevancy.
3. Consider your goals. Think long and hard on this as these goals will shape how you create and maintain your profile. LinkedIn offers some suggestions here. Are you looking for a job, are you creating a personal brand, are you making connections now for when you graduate and/or change careers?

By now I hope you see the importance of a LinkedIn profile. Take a moment to click on the hyperlinks within this post and bookmark them for later reading. A great article to start with from U.S. News that outlines some great tips can be found here.

Groups and Connecting with Thought Leaders

Not only does LinkedIn allow you to post your own profile, you can view others and connect. Unlike Facebook, connecting with folks you do not actually know is not seen as ‘creepy.’ It is a great personal branding tool for students to post relevant information, a photo, and interests, as well as connect with those in their industry. In addition, LinkedIn offers many groups that are industry specific that can be used as a sounding board, for advice and even support. For example, you may be interested in the SNHU Alumni Group or the Graphic Design Group. Search LinkedIn for your particular industry.

LinkedIn groups are a great way to engage directly with others in your industry and establish yourself as an active contributor rather than a passive spectator. Mashable suggests one of the best ways to get noticed is to participate in conversations and ask smart questions. Be professional and do a bit of research (or at the very least a Google search) before you ask a question.

Connect with your friends, current and past co-workers, professors and industry leaders; always remember you are judged by the company you keep!

Recommendations and Endorsements

A recommendation from someone in your desired field speaks volumes to your ability to stand out from the crowd. Seek recommendations from those who have a good sense of your work ethic and accomplishments. Those you ask for a recommendation will have to write a bit, so keep that in mind. Alternatively, an ‘endorsement’ is achievable with a simple click. Note it is common practice to reciprocate an ‘endorsement.’

Research

Always check out the pages of your targeted employers, or those you will interview with. By visiting company pages, you can conduct valuable research on the business, its policies and more. This kind of company research on LinkedIn can help keep you ahead of your competition. You may also discover an internship in your research. Several companies list these wonderful opportunities on LinkedIn.

Get Started: Focus on the value you bring to a potential employer.

The Huffington Post suggests that having a LinkedIn profile in an age of technology is absolutely crucial for college students. Utilize these (free) tools LinkedIn provides to brand yourself as the employee the company you want to work for will WANT. It does not happen overnight, but the connections you make will prove to be a great source of support, information and encouragement.

There are multiple tutorials on how to use LinkedIn efficiently for various purposes. Click and save to your bookmarks:

LinkedIn for Students

LinkedIn Guide and Checklist

Again, Be sure to click the hyperlinks within this post! The curated links will assist you in crafting the most effective profile for LinkedIn. Please do not hesitate to connect with me at any of my social touch points!photo credit: Graela via photopin cc

Translating Business Objectives into Social Media Objectives

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This month, my Social Media MBA students are working on a project that involves a website, blog, and multiple peripheral social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. The objective of this project is to give them a virtual sandbox of sorts to put into action what they have learned in my previous two social media courses. The project involves creating a social media strategy from the ground up. Quite a challenge with the limited amount of time in a semester. However, they are moving right along and will pass the torch so to speak when their course ends.

The first hurdle we faced this term was setting goals and objectives that accurately addressed our vision and mission. This is often the case for many businesses. Initial goals and objectives are either too broad, not specific enough, or not measurable. Once we clearly defined our business objectives, the social strategy fell into place.

Regardless of the type of new business venture, organizations should evaluate their business objectives, strategies, and tactics beforehand. The world of social media is no different. Each organization is unique, and their approaches to social media strategy will vary according to set business objectives.

Before undertaking any type of social media initiative, an organization must begin with identifying objectives and then coordinating social media activities that address those objectives specifically. Most readers would choose to utilize social media to ‘increase sales’ armed only with an arsenal of tactics such as start a contest on Facebook, develop a blog with postings weekly; set up related Twitter feed. These actions in and of themselves are fine and could very well increase sales. However, what about the long term?

A viable social media strategy should start with these basic questions:

* Who? Who is your target audience, where are they online, how can you reach them?
* What? What are your primary objectives? These could be building brand awareness, building online credibility, providing education about your brand; increase sales. Again, these tie back in to the overall organizational objectives.
* When? When will you evaluate the social strategy, and how will you evaluate it? Often organizations have no real set time-frame in which to assess objectives to ascertain if they are on target or if plans need to be re-evaluated or possibly revamped.
* Where? Where does the social strategy fit into the overall business? When utilizing such tools as Twitter and Facebook, brands are realizing that social media sites can provide support for not only the marketing and sales departments, but can also assist with educational endeavors, public relations, and even customer care. A social strategy often spans over different departments and objectives should be formulated accordingly.
* Which? Which employees/departments will oversee social media, be responsible for posting, and reporting?
* How? How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Identify your competitors strengths and weaknesses as well as your own, this will help in planning your social strategy.

A key concept for business to understand is that a large portion of Internet traffic still comes from searches, and mobile use for these searches will soon exceed those done via personal computer! Read the entire article on Maximize Social Business.

Guest Post: 5 Reasons to Hire a Social Media Marketing Professional

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Strong marketing is essential to business growth. With a good marketing plan your business can reach more customers, make more sales, increase its cash flow and generally achieve more success within your industry. One important aspect of your marketing plan is your social media presence, which is no longer optional in this increasingly digital world. With a well-crafted social media strategy you can nicely complement an existing plan and bring a larger customer base to your business. You can also use social media to interact with existing customers, increasing the likelihood of return customers. If you want to implement or improve your social media presence, it pays to hire a social media marketing professional for a number of reasons.

1. Increased Traffic

One huge benefit of increasing your social media presence is an increase in traffic to your website or other online assets. A tweet linking back to your website can draw customers who may engage with your brand and possibly purchase. Sharing an image of a product on Instagram with a link back to your site can bring customers to inquire and possibly purchase. No matter which sites your company uses, a social media expert can make the most of your online presence and increase website traffic.

2. Brand Continuity

When you don’t have a social media professional on your staff, you might have different folks managing each social media site you belong to. This means each profile probably looks different, the content shared is inconsistent and overall there’s not much brand continuity going on. Having a consistent, well thought out brand is important for a successful business and a social media marketing professional can help keep your brand personality consistent strong across all websites and accounts.

3. Plan Creation and Integration

If you’ve already established a strong social media presence, an experienced social media professional should be ready to build upon that plan, instead of replacing it entirely with their own ideas. When you do choose to hire a social media marketer, they can come up with a social media plan of attack based upon what your existing marketing team has put in place. A good social media marketer will integrate with existing structures in the interest of brand continuity (as previously mentioned). As a result, the themes and ideas already in use will be enhanced by a professional whose perspective can balance everything you love about your brand with industry trends and effective implementation.

4. Wide Range of Subject Knowledge

While you might be able to tweet a few times a week or put up a Facebook post every other day, a social media marketing professional has a much wider range of knowledge about various social media sites. This means that they know about the existence of many more useful sites, best practices, and trends.. As a result, they can create the most useful content possible, share it efficiently and design your page and profile to match your existing brand design.

5. Sufficient Customer Communication

Chances are that if you’re in charge of your own social media, or if you have one person who runs the social media accounts in addition to all of their other responsibilities, your customers could get neglected. When you have a dedicated social media employee, they have a sufficient amount of time to dedicate to customer communication via your social accounts. Whether you’re dealing with consumer complaints or compliments, it’s important to make sure that your customers are getting the attention that they need.

Having a strong social media presence is a must for a successful business. If you’ve got a marketing team in place already, a social media professional can complement the existing structure quite nicely. The benefits above are just some of the many ways a social media marketer can improve your company; consider hiring one today.

Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet. She works to help readers learn about a range of subjects, from the best travel discounts to planning for college tuition. Stop by and say hello to Sara on G+.

Looking to the future of social media by looking to the past

Ed Yourdon / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

As we round the bend to the end of another term of learning and applying the principles of social media marketing, I wonder what the future will bring to the social media world. I have spoken to my classes about the history of Marketing, the emergence of social media, and how we utilize social platforms and tools for B2C and B2B. But, now we need to consider what new tools, processes, trends, and gaps could appear as social media becomes more pervasive, effective, and required in business.

In the future, I think we will see a further evolution of how we produce and consume marketing messages as well an increase in the value of information produced via social (for business and consumers). Some points to consider:

Tribes

I believe the future of social media can be seen by looking to the past. Humans by nature are social creatures, however we have spent years relying on mass media. As time has passed, we are now relying less on mass media and more on our peers: we are once again turning to one another. Consider your friends on Facebook or those you follow on Twitter. Via social, I have surrounded myself with like minded people that I can have a symbiotic relationship with. Many of the folks I follow on Twitter I follow because I can learn from them and I value the content they produce.

Relevancy

Relevant connections, content, and communications will remain increasingly important in order to cancel out the “noise”. As consumers continue to be bombarded with tweets, status updates, mobile marketing messages and the like, it will be paramount for these communications to be relevant, timely, and personalized. This is true for the business as well. I see the future of social including smaller more niche social groups organized by brands to further identify consumer needs, research, and for crowdsourcing purposes.

Social CRM

If your business is on a social platform and engaging, good for you. If you are not utilizing it to facilitate customer service, shame on you. Obviously, this will take some planning on your part to prepare staff and get processes in place for customer service inquiries. Nevertheless, the benefits far outweigh the costs in this situation. Consider the company who is “on Twitter” and ignores customer inquiries made via tweets. This is the equivalent of having a customer at your business, asking you a question (with a store full of other customers and potential customers) while you stand there not listening with your hands covering your ears.

We have seen an evolution in Social Media. For those, like me, who have been on the social platforms for over 7 years… look at how LinkedIn and Twitter have changed. LinkedIn is becoming more Spammy and irrelevant (aka more like Facebook) with more users that are not as professionally invested and Twitter is now my go to source for the most up to date news. Leveraging socials “best self” is a worthwhile endeavor for business. However, there are still many challenges ahead as we embark in a new era of business and marketing where social no longer stands on its own but is part of the emerging digital marketing landscape.

2 Windows and 2 Apps in 20 minutes to share relevant and timely content

The following is a brief and basic tutorial for my social media students on using 2 windows and 2 apps in 15-20 minutes to share Social Media content.

The biggest hurdle most of my first year Social Media MBA students struggle with is finding time to be involved in social media. Most of my students have families, work full time, and spend all of their free time working on their graduate degree. However, no time is not an excuse! Especially when we are studying Social Media Marketing. You MUST jump on social, observe, research, engage, and share.

Time management in social media is key!

What other topics or functions do you struggle with? Comment below!

15 Social Media Concepts to Make You a More Marketable Social Media Professional in 2013

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Social media marketing know how is quickly becoming a must-have skill for marketing professionals. Approximately 73% of Fortune 500 companies have a Twitter account; 66% have Facebook Pages. However, many of these organizations lack experienced personnel to truly unleash the power of social. According to a survey by Harvard Business Review of 2,100 companies, only 12% of those utilizing media feel they use it effectively. Further, online job postings requiring social media skills have gone up 87% from 2011-2012; there is now demand for proven social media professionals. This is great news for all of my Social Media grad students! This leads me to believe that not only employers accepting social, it is now a requirement for business (a notion many of have been shouting from the rooftops). Along with this comes the need for employees who can accomplish social strategies for businesses.

Many believe that social media is simply having an active Facebook profile or Twitter feed. I assure you it is not, there is a method behind the madness! My social media MBA courses offer students the opportunity to learn and apply skills relevant to their career or career goals. These courses are part of a traditional MBA program, requiring courses in accounting, finance, management and more. Students utilize all of these classes together; not in a vacuum. They learn to be strategic and analytic. Upon their completion of the MBA with the social media marketing focus, a student should be able to demonstrate the below competencies. These are not necessarily individual skill sets, but cover a broad spectrum of skills that if used together, make the individual more proficient and marketable. These topics below are addressed more fully within the courses I teach, but are a great resource to look over and evaluate yourself. View this check-list and assess which you have conquered and which you can improve upon in 2013:
* At a minimum, you should have an active Twitter account and LinkedIn account designed around your personal brand. Similarly, you should know what a hashtag is, why we use it, and how not to use or overuse it!
* Do you know the logic behind utilizing social? Here’s a hint: Engagement. This is a broad answer, but if you have been following this blog, you should know that the common theme is “engagement” with external and internal stakeholders.
*Accept and embrace the importance of listening before you speak (via social) and having a social plan/strategy before jumping on the social media roller coaster.

Read the entire article at:
WindmillNetworking.com
Social Media Today
LinkedIn

photo credit: draggin via photopin cc
I had one of these Little Professors as a kid! Was a favorite gadget of mine!

The underutilization of LinkedIn and Twitter among Undergraduate students


I imagine a college senior would have given a bit of thought as to what they want to do for a career, where they aspire to work, and how they might accomplish this. I have noticed an alarming trend of undergrads not utilizing LinkedIn and Twitter for networking and personal branding purposes.

Both of these social media platforms offer so much to students (and non-students)! Through Twitter a user is able to search the social networking site using industry specific words to read posts, links, and even discover who the thought leaders are for the industry. The user can follow these folks and also communicate directly with them! For example, a simple search using #smm would reveal all posts related to SMM (AKA social media marketing) using that hashtag (#) or the top posts (you choose). After viewing the posts, one can browse, follow, and network. This is a very useful took for those looking to network with others in the same field or identify those you may wish to work for/with.

The same is true for LinkedIn. This professional networking site allows you to post and view profiles. It is a great personal branding tool for students who can post relevant information, a photo, Twitter ID, and blog site etc. A wonderful feature Twitter has is that the user can make connections and be introduced thru their existing network. In addition, LinkedIn offers many groups that are industry specific that can be used as a sounding board, advice, and even support. The Texas Young Professionals group would be a great place to start for my Texas students!

I am bothered by how many of my undergraduate students do not have a LinkedIn account. It is even more alarming that some still have not started accounts after my suggestions to do so. I do not think it is wise for a college student to rely on a “job fair” or browsing the internet for open positions. Students need to be a lot more proactive than that. Open a LinkedIn account and Twitter account and USE THEM! Utilize these tools to brand yourself as the employee the company you want to work for will WANT. Please post a photo and really think about your brand and overall goals. It does not happen over night, but the connections you make will prove to be a great source of support, information, and encouragement. Who knows you may discover an awesome internship! I see posts everyday listing amazing opportunities.

A great book on Twitter is “The Tao of Twitter” by Mark Schaefer. This book is a quick read (about 90 pages) and highlights why and how you should use Twitter for both your business and personal branding. It is a Great read! For more on LinkedIN, I suggest “Windmill Networking: Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedIn: An Unofficial, Step-by-Step Guide to Creating & Implementing Your LinkedIn Brand – Social Networking in a Web 2.0 World” by Neal Schaffer.

Visit the following sites regarding LinkedIn and Twitter and your job search (which should begin way before your last semester). Both sites offer a wealth of information:
1. Ten ways to use LinkedIn to find a job
2. Career Enlightenment

Other sites to help “brand” yourself for success:
* How to Empower Yourself on the New LinkedIn
* How to Find a Job using Social Media
* Blogging for Dummies: An Opportunity for Personal Branding
* Writing Your Personal Brand Bio When You Change Careers
* Personal Branding 101: How to Discover and Create Your Personal Brand
* LinkedIn Strategies for Personal Branding
* How to Market Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn (INFOGRAPHIC)

photo credit: Kevin H. via photopin cc

Getting ready for the upcoming chaos


Well, I am on day 2 of 7 days free from doctoral work and teaching! So I find myself actually able to make a blog entry from my kitchen counter! Well, we will see if I finish as I have a pomeranian itching to go outside and a toddler just about ready to wake!

I am eagerly awaiting the start of a new course I am to teach at SNHU, MKT 655 (social media marketing strategy). I will have a lot of students from my last term taking this course as well, which I am looking forward to! I am curious to see their progress from one course to the other.  In addition, I will still be teaching MKT 555 Social Media Marketing (at SNHU) and Intro to Marketing ( at TAMU). Between both schools I have a great looking roster of students! I have already had many emails and Tweets concerning the courses. I love the enthusiasm I get from the students in my first Social Media course ( MKT555), they are always ready to dig in, get started, and try to apply what they learn to their specific industry.  I love my job!

Along with teaching Graduate school (term begins Monday) I will be part of a pilot program that involves mentors overseeing the development of adjuncts for Southern New Hampshire University. I am excited about the opportunity and think it is a very good strategic move for the school considering the growth of the program and how important it is to improve and sustain a great pool of adjunct faculty. I look forward to meeting each of the adjuncts I will be helping!

I also begin another doctoral course Monday (7 days off of doctoral work was NOT enough). I am looking forward to the course, CRM (customer relationship management) is a hot topic for me! I will enjoy writing about CRM, Social CRM, etc. much more than previous topics. It is time to put my scholarly writing hat back on!

While on my hiatus, I have been enjoying reading a few books that have been sitting on my bedside table for MONTHS! Engaged by Brian Solis is completed and I am hoping to finish Perspective on Social Media Marketing By Bough and Agresta as well. Next will be The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott. I have a short list of other books sitting in my Amazon cart waiting for another week off… with the click of a button they will be delivered to my Kindle for my enjoyment!

With this being the first week of the year, I am already seeing so many articles online about how Social media has taken off in 2011… I am curious as to what 2012 will bring.

..and cue dog barking and toddler waking up from a nap saying “MOMMY, open my door, mommy me want cracker”…..

photo credit: Robert S. Donovan via photopin cc