Personal Development

4 Ways You Are Limiting Yourself on LinkedIn

LinkedIn claims to be the “world’s largest professional network” and it is hard to deny that.  A LinkedIn profile has become the electronic version of one’s resume. In addition to that, it allows you to highlight your personality and, as an extension of you,  is a hub for your professional network.  It allows you to create and build professional relationships and facilitates the sharing of knowledge and insight via articles and group discussions.  TheAfter5Edge - 4 Ways You Are Limiting Yourself on LinkedIn

If you take advantage of it, it is a powerful tool that can enhance your professional situation. But are you taking full advantage of it?

Here are 4 ways you may be limiting yourself on LinkedIn:

1. You’re not taking advantage of opportunities to continue the conversation

How many times do you connect with someone on LinkedIn and the communication ends there?  You press “Send invitation” or “Accept” and then there’s silence.  Networks like LinkedIn make it easy to connect with others beyond your geographic location but maintaining that relationship comes with time and effort on your part.  This is the same was with offline relationships.  Make an effort to continue the conversation with your connections by touching base throughout the year, find out what they’re up to, find out what issues they could use help with and what their latest accomplishments are. Go a little deeper than waiting for periodic updates on your homepage.

2. You’re uncomfortable selling yourself

Many of us, especially women, have been taught to be humble and to not brag.  But is it bragging if you’re simply stating a fact?  I’d agree that how tact is applied affects how the information you’re sharing about yourself is perceive.  So provided it is done gracefully, I think it is important to share your achievements. At the very least, we’re each responsible for being our biggest proponent and supporter.  If you’re not able to exhibit confidence in yourself and your abilities, how do you expect sponsors to feel comfortable vouching for you at the decision-making table? It all starts with you. And if you don’t share your progress with those around you, the world may never know about the impact you’re making day-to-day.

3. You’re unsure about when it is appropriate to interact with “professional” contacts

If you feel this way, you’re not alone.  This is especially the case with contacts who appear to be on LinkedIn strictly for business.  They may be the same ones you’ll hear making comments about the frivolity of social media.  Yes, LinkedIn is a professional network and often, it is the next step after a networking event. But sharing knowledge, insight, engaging, building relationships and creating opportunities are all part of maintaining your professional network. You just have to be mindful that the information that’s appropriate for LinkedIn may be different from what you’d share on Facebook, Pinterest, etc.  For example, interacting with your contacts around articles on leadership, industry trends and technology will likely be appropriate if it is along their purpose for being on LinkedIn.

4. You’re not participating in relevant and timely discussions 

Many people like to wait until they feel like they’re an “expert” to contribute.  While you’re perfecting their expertise, time is passing and the topic you’re passionate about is taking a different turn.  Timeliness and relevance are important when it comes to providing valuable  feedback.  Therefore, if you have a point of view that you’re able to support, it is important to share.  Your contribution may be the fresh new approach that others who have been addressing the topic may need.  If you feel so inspired, comment on articles and statuses and join the discussion in groups on LinkedIn.  You never know who you will help with your commentary or who will see your comment and feel compelled to reach out to you to continue the conversation.

Are these limitations relevant to you?  What are opportunities that LinkedIn provides that you haven’t taken advantage of?  For the opportunities that you’ve taken advantage of, how have they helped you?   

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What To Do Within 48 Hours Of A Networking Event

You made the effort to attend a networking event, even if you didn’t know anyone who would be there and that thought made you uncomfortable.  You forced yourself out of your comfort zone and walked around the room to meet people.  With time, you got into a groove and solidified how to begin and end conversations and also how to transition conversations into introductions.  Now you’re home and you’re glad you went.  You met some interesting people, identified synergies and had some great conversations.

So what happens now?

You’ve heard the importance of networking and looking for ways to grow and foster your network.  You’ve also had a lot of guidance on how to prepare for and what to do during networking events.  But do you know what you should focus on within 48 hours of a networking event?

Here is a to-do list to ensure you ride out the momentum from a networking event and build your relationships on a strong foundation:

Take notes.  While the conversations you had are still fresh in your mind, go through the business cards you obtained and make some quick notes on the back with key information about the person and topics discussed.  Make note of what they do, things that are of interest to them and what they need help with.

Do Research.  Take the initiative to deepen your understanding of the person, there involvement in various activities and find common grounds. These days, it is easy to find additional information on others on sites like LinkedIn and via personal or business websites. There is only so much you can fit into a short networking conversation so leverage these other means to your advantage.

Reach out.  Continue the conversation by reaching out via email or phone.  Let them know it was a pleasure meeting them, you enjoyed the conversation, and we’re happy to help in the event you can be helpful.

Reinforce your value.  Share an article or resource that is an extension of where your conversation left off.  Show that you can provide value to your new contact and that you can help them with their top-of-mind items.

Connect on social networks.  Let social networks help you continue the conversation.  Follow your new contact on LinkedIn or Twitter.  If they’re sharing interesting content, retweet it to share with your followers.  Acknowledge them in a tweet for what they do and what you’ve learned from them.

Extend an invitation to meet.  Take the initiative in deepening the relationship by meeting in person so you to know them better and can also discuss projects  you’re both working on and how you can help each other.  This could be over coffee or a cultural or sporting event.

Offer to introduce them to others.  Do the heavy lifting in helping them expand their network by introducing them to people who could be of help.  This will help establish you as someone who is well connected and as a go-to person if they’re looking to meet a certain type of person at a later date.

Your timeliness in acting after a networking event is crucial and lifts some of the weight in terms of how much time and energy it takes.  The faster you get to know the person at a deeper level and create a genuine relationship, the more flexibility you’ll have in continuing the conversation with them.  So take advantage of the momentum and create a bridge to what happens next.

Have you used a similar approach after your networking events?  How has it been helpful?  Are there additional things that you do to build your relationship with new contacts?  Share your comments below!

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6 Things You Can Be Thankful For Each Day, Regardless of Your Situation

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When we have big life events, it is easy to remember to give thanks.  But big successes are usually the sum of small steps in the right direction over time.  Without the benefit of hindsight, it is hard to see the significance of this headway in the moment.  So in remembering that action is better than inaction, we should be grateful for the journey and celebrate our present situation.

Here are 6 things you can be thankful for each day, regardless of your situation:

You woke up this morning.  Each night we go to sleep, we assume we’ll wake up the next day.  We take this for granted but we don’t truly know what will happen.  We’ve all heard stories where others weren’t as fortunate, so each morning when you wake up with the ability to plant your feet firmly on the ground and take on another day, be thankful.  I have my mom to thank for always reinforcing the need to do this each morning.

You’re healthy.  My grandma always says, “If you’re healthy, you’re wealthy.”  There is so much truth to that statement.  She’s 85 years old, still does moderate exercises and can touch her toes.  Without good health, you could be limited in what you do, where you go, and how you live your life.  Take your vitamins, do your exercises, and eat in moderation (including on Thanksgiving Day)!

You have access.  If you’re able to read this, you have access to a computer, tablet, cell phone, etc. In today’s digital age, access makes it easier to get what you want and to be in control of shaping your life and experiences.  You can use these tools to get information about what you need to know, learn about new topics and enhance your skills. Take advantage of that.

You’re not alone.  Last night I was bouncing some ideas off of a friend and mid-conversation he asked, “Do you think creative people need to be around other creative people?”  My response was a resounding, “Yes!” Family and friends make up our go-to support system but it doesn’t have to end there.  We thrive in environments where we can share insight with others who understand us and share our interests; this empowers us to fully be ourselves.  The first step is realizing what you need help with and the second step is reaching out to those who can be part of your support system.

You have knowledge and experience.  No matter how old you are, you’ve probably experienced situations that left you with learning lessons and knowledge that would allow you to do things differently next time.  Having knowledge and experience in your toolbox is invaluable. You can leverage your insight to approach your life situations strategically and with intention and you can empower and enlighten others.  Knowledge and experience allow you to see opportunities to create and provide value to the world around you.

You made it through another day.  Think of all the things that could happen in 24 hours.  When you’ve made it through your day, take a moment to be thankful and reflect on what you can do better tomorrow.  Give yourself credit for doing the best you could and leave all your worries in that day.  Tomorrow is a new opportunity to start fresh on a blank canvas that offers flexibility and opportunities.  My mom also reminds me of the need to do this each evening.

Do you make time to give thanks?  Do you do it at certain times of the day or whenever you remember?  What things are you thankful for?

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