3 tips to make the best use of LinkedIn as a connection builder

For many professionals, LinkedIn is a kind of CV they update and improve the moment they think about a next career step. However, LinkedIn can be much more than that, even in its free version.

  • A rich platform for information
  • A showcase of expertise
  • A job board
  • A service provider locator
  • A connection builder

In this post, I write about building connections, because it’s the aspect of LinkedIn that many people tend to most misused with the related risk to contribute to downgrade the efficiency of LinkedIn as a powerful social platform.

I have selected 3 tips:

1- Always add a personal note to invitations

In real life, what do you do when you receive an advertisement in your letterbox which does not seem to have any link with you nor with your needs? You just though it away, don’t you? That’s the same for LinkedIn invitations, if they fail to explicitly demonstrate why they are addressed to you and what’s their purpose in relation to who you are, they will remain non-answered or will be deleted.

 The more people send empty invitations, the less the invitations get a chance to motivate an answer.

Think about your LinkedIn invitations as any other mean to connect to someone in real life. During an event, you wouldn’t go and through your business cards under the eye of people you never talked to. Would you?

You would take the time to explain why you are interested to know that person, who you are and would create some space for the discovery of what you could do together.

This is the same for a LinkedIn invitation: Remember the -Why, Who, What– approach which could be illustrated by the following example:

“ I discovered your LinkedIn posts thought one of my connections, I really like what you write. Like you I am also very much interested in sustainable energy and would appreciate to be in touch and to follow your publications on LinkedIn. Looking forward to reading you, Kind regards.”

2- Treat the received invitations as you would do in real life

There’s a lot to read about LinkedIn etiquette online but to make it short and easy to understand, there’s nothing different in connecting to people on LinkedIn than in connecting to people in real life. It only takes to be personable, respectful and authentic.

If you want your LinkedIn connections to be a real network, do not accept all invitations which you receive.

There are opposite trends amongst LinkedIn experts, from aiming to the largest possible network (LION strategy: LinkedIn Open Networker) to the most restricted one including only colleagues and friends.

The approach I recommend is more moderated, yet easy to adapt to your personality and sensibility: Good key questions to decide to connect or not could be: “Would I feel comfortable to help that person if she/he would ask me for help? and “Would I feel okay reaching to this person for help or advise if needed?”

Obviously when you receive an invitation from someone you do not know and which common ground with you is not obvious, you are enable to answer these questions. Therefore you need to ask for more info before you can validate the invitation.

Imagine you receive a phone call of someone you don’t know asking you for an appointment without any additional explanation, what would you like to ask this person before deciding to accept the invitation or not: “do we know each other?”  or “Thanks for your kind invitation, can you tell me what would be your expectation so that I can prepare myself?” or “ Thanks for reaching to me, May I asked how you heard about me?” etc.

Without knowing a little bit about the intention and about who is the person, you are not likely to accept any invitation. Same goes for LinkedIn. Just ask them and then decide if yes or no you will accept to connect.

3- Nurture your connections

Of course you cannot daily interact with your LinkedIn 500+ connections but that’s important to dedicate a bit of time to the relationship with your network.

Again, that’s very similar to what you do with your real life acquaintances: Even to people you do not see much anymore, don’t you try to send them a Birthday message, a happy new year mail, etc. Maybe not to all, maybe not each year but still, that’s very likely an effort you make time to time.

Same on LinkedIn, when coming across an interesting article, a job ad, a new connection, you can think about one or the other of your connections and share with him/her.

People tend to think there’s LinkedIn’s and there are real connections. Most use LinkedIn as a way to stay in touch with “real” connections.  This is probably a very powerful feature of LinkedIn indeed but LinkedIn offers more.  It happens often to me that I first discover someone with whom I share some interests on LinkedIn and that I then meet and connect in real life. This would not have been possible if I and these people would not have treated LinkedIn connections with a personable, respectful and authentic manner.

You are familiar to the approach I have detailed in this blog? Maybe you can give me a tip in return then? When you have asked people for the reason for their invitation to connect and they simply answered that their only intention is to increase numerically their network, what do you do?

Read as well: Make LinkedIn a powerful resource for your job search

About the author:
sandrinepicture_contactSandrine van den Oudenhoven helps dual career couples to make their relocation in Switzerland a project for both. With the job4U2 programs, she is supporting the accompanying partners’ professional integration by sharing her knowledge of the Swiss economic network, of the recruiters’ expectations and custom, but also by deploying her ability to nurture individuals’ motivation and positive energy during this period of major changes. 

The real reasons why most people don’t go for a better work-life balance.

A work-life balance can mean anything depending on who you are, what you value and what makes you feel alive.

You can reach a wonderful work life balance working 80 hours a week if you do what you love. The more you work, the more you build energy, the happier you are and the most you are able to give the best of yourself to your beloved and your relatives.

Alternatively, you can be finding your balance in structuring your time, working part-time per example. Being dedicated to your work and working efficiently while keeping time for yourself and/or your family.

You can also find a good work life balance by making career breaks when needed and keeping on with your career development when the pause time is over.

In all cases, your choice will possibly make you happier than what you currently are. So why not going for it?

Here are a few reasons why people are reluctant to engage themselves with more balance that I have witnessed during my coaching work.

  • There are so few people who successfully reached an enjoyable work-life balance, that most people do not know in their circles, anybody who has. Therefore, they tend to believe that it is an utopia. However, you only need to find one person who succeeded at living a balance: If one can do it, you can do it as well.
  • Most people are too scared to lose what they have: They think “If I ask for a part-time or a job-sharing, they will believe that I am not willing to grow in the company, they will refuse and my career here is dead”. This is might be true but it is also true that “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”. That’s all about the courage to go for what you want while measuring the risks and making a decision.
  • Some other people do effectively reduce their working time to be doing more of what is really important. However, they fail at learning to say no. Working at reduced occupation time is an art and requires a strong personality. It requires to be clear with oneself about what you can do and can’t. It forces to cope with the risk to disappoint someone’s expectations although we spent our entire working life to make it up to the company and to others’ expectations.
  • Sometime when considering making a career break people believe that they first need to give up all their professional ambitions. There are so many example of people, often women, who have made a definitive choice: I stop working now and I accept that latter, I won’t come back to the level I was. Yet employability is an asset that can be developed during a career break. Getting out of corporate life does not necessarily mean that you stop developing skills, increasing your knowledge, growing your network or building new experienced. It is unfortunate that a lot is said about “back to work” and less about how to keep employability high. But there’s a choice there. It’s possible.
  • It also happens that having set an organisation for more work-life balance, people fail to enjoy it. They do not dare to be happy with their balance and even less to say that they enjoy their lifestyle. They might even feel frustrated, sometime even guilty of not being 120% in each part of their life. Self-satisfaction and being able to enjoy what you have require to be aligned with yourself and to develop a mindful attitude towards life.

Reaching an enjoyable work-life balance is not something you get as granted, in one day but it is feasible: It works as other projects do; by allocating time, the right resources, persistency and sometime, the outside support of a coach.

About the author:
sandrinepicture_contactSandrine van den Oudenhoven helps dual career couples to make their relocation in Switzerland a project for both. With the job4U2 programs, she is supporting the accompanying partners’ professional integration by sharing her knowledge of the Swiss economic network, of the recruiters’ expectations and custom, but also by deploying her ability to nurture individuals’ motivation and positive energy during this period of major changes. 

Never offer a job to the candidate on Friday!

Recently, I read on LinkedIn about recruiters’ frustration with candidates disappearing after having verbally accepted a job offer.  Having myself conducted a reasonable amount of recruitments, I easily relate to this frustration which, in fact, is double.

The first frustration is about the time wasted in working with a candidate and not having, at the end, fulfilled the position. In a recruiter’s job, that is perceived as a professional failure.
The second frustration is more personal and is related to the non-answer, the unsaid. What could be the reason behind this reversal of situation?

In this LinkedIn post I recently read, the conclusion was “Never conclude a job agreement on Friday, strange things happen with the candidates during the weekend…”
That might be a bit of a simplistic solution to a larger issue. What recruiters often forget is that a new job does not involve only the candidate, it involves equally his/her spouse especially when a relocation is necessary.

During the weekend after having accepted the job offer, the candidate has the sensitive task to inform his/her spouse about the upcoming change. Yet the spouse career is often equality important and could be a major blocking point to the relocation.
One can imagine the tense debate at home, sometime leading to the renunciation to the new job. Going back to the recruiter on Monday to say “my spouse did not agree on me taking the job” is not an easy thing to do. Sometime the candidate runs out of the courage it takes to call the recruiter back.

Good recruiters are knowledgeable about the dual career challenge and make sure the spouse employment question is openly discussed in the early stage of the recruitment, they are able to discuss the issue internally or with the employer and to come up with a suitable solution.

Addressing properly dual career is a key parameter to the recruitment performance.

Read as well: The impact of Dual Career constellation and gender for recruiting professionals in the Swiss market

About the author:
sandrinepicture_contactSandrine van den Oudenhoven helps dual career couples to make their relocation in Switzerland a project for both. With the job4U2 programs, she is supporting the accompanying partners’ professional integration by sharing her knowledge of the Swiss economic network, of the recruiters’ expectations and custom, but also by deploying her ability to nurture individuals’ motivation and positive energy during this period of major changes. 

What you absolutely need to find out before you aim to any potential employer

Before you plan any contact with a potential employer, whatever you consider writing an application letter, calling someone working there or going for an interview, you need to take the time to answer the following question:

“What at are the 3 things that makes a professional in your area of expertise successful in this industry/company?”

Only when you have this level of knowledge about your potential employer, you are able to position yourself and to demonstrate you unique selling points which are going to lead to employment.

Let me give me as an example, the 3 qualities and skills that makes a job4U2 coach successful so that you can understand better what I mean.

To be successful working as a career coach at job4U2 one needs to

  • have a profound empathy for dual career partner having or willing to relocate to Switzerland to accommodate their spouse or partner’s job.
  • have in depth knowledge of the latest recruitment trends in Switzerland and about the local economy
  • be perfectly fluent in English and in at least one of the Swiss local language.

To practice, you can try to answer this question reflecting on your last job: what was key to success in that position?

And now, can you answer the question for your prospective employer?

Read as well: Reaching to the recruiters: Dos & Don’ts

About the author:
sandrinepicture_contactSandrine van den Oudenhoven helps dual career couples to make their relocation in Switzerland a project for both. With the job4U2 programs, she is supporting the accompanying partners’ professional integration by sharing her knowledge of the Swiss economic network, of the recruiters’ expectations and custom, but also by deploying her ability to nurture individuals’ motivation and positive energy during this period of major changes. 

News from the mentoring partnerships for job4U2 dual career clients

Mid of 2016, job4U2 has launched an initiative to set up some mentoring partnerships for our dual career clients or former clients, professionals who moved to Switzerland to facilitate the career mobility of their spouses or partners and who are now either working in Switzerland or in the process to land their next job.

The mentoring partnership is placed under the sign of volunteering and mentors and mentees have all freedom to get organised as it suits them in the frame of a 2 years’ commitment to meet or talk 4 times a year time.

We received many positive reactions to our call for mentors and are pleased to see some mentoring partnerships in place and to witness the relationships evolution over the time.

MentorIt is now the time to reflect on this initiative and to ask our mentors how the live this experience. We have interviewed on of the very first job4U2 mentor, Nicolas to ask him to share with us his first impressions:

Sandrine @job4u2: “Nicolas, can you please explain in a nutshell, what is your mentor mentee relationship like? “

Nicolas @Mentor: “The relation installed between the mentor and its mentee is a relation based on trust, respect, and authenticity with in backdrop an exchange of the past work experiences and the future visions.”

Sandrine @job4u2: “What, in the first place has motivated you to enter in this mentorship program?”

Nicolas @Mentor: “The first vision I had for this mentorship program was sharing professional experience and also equally important, the human aspect that these exchanges can have.”

Sandrine @job4u2: “How have you heard about this initiative?”

Nicolas @Mentor:  “The idea came from the Human Resources manager of the international company where I work and who happens to know Sandrine well. She thought that I could be part of this program and that I could have some interest in it. The concept pleased me, having had in the past the possibility of taking advantage of a mentorship program myself.”

Sandrine @job4u2: if you should select 3 words that express the best what is this mentoring activity for you, what would they be?

Nicolas @Mentor: “Sharing, Vision and Discovery”

Sandrine @job4u2:” Is there anything you would like to add?”

Nicolas @Mentor: “To all professionals who feel the desire to share and to discover its environment through a new and different point of view, I recommend to engage in such a relation of mentoring.”

Sandrine @job4u2: “Many thanks Nicolas, I wish you a fulfilling continued mentoring experience with your mentee”.

Job4U2 is continuously looking for more mentors, should you think that is something you would like to be involved in, please register here .

Sandrine van den Oudenhoven
job4U2

Read as well: Call my mentors!! 

About the author:
sandrinepicture_contactSandrine van den Oudenhoven helps dual career couples to make their relocation in Switzerland a project for both. With the job4U2 programs, she is supporting the accompanying partners’ professional integration by sharing her knowledge of the Swiss economic network, of the recruiters’ expectations and custom, but also by deploying her ability to nurture individuals’ motivation and positive energy during this period of major changes.