Straight Talk on Project Management

7 tips for success on Linkedin

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The IT Project Manager’s 7 things to do on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is probably the most important business social media touch point. when we recruit, we pool our interviewed candidates and maintain ongoing contact – to increase response time – and I would like to think that the talent in that pool is the best that there is – but do they all get LinkedIn right? 50/50. Based on some best practice from that talent pool and some bad examples I’ve seen elsewhere here are …

The IT Project Manager’s 7 Things TO DO on LinkedIn

1 – Make Your Summary A Shop Window of What You Have To Offer

When LinkedIn first launched it was not the networking machine that it is today, in fact, most early adopters saw it as an online CV or resume. Instead, your LinkedIn profile should now be a shop window for your talent and an advertisement for what you can offer prospective employers or clients rather than just a list of stuff you’ve done in the past.

Most LinkedIn IT Project Manager profiles I see read like the latter. To take the shop window analogy on a step, it’s like opening a store and instead of having shelves of product for consideration you just give customers a list of things that people have bought from you in the past.

You have to make it real and meaningful for your target audience. If you’re targeting a bigger PM role – show how your experiences have prepared you for the greater scope, budgets and responsibility that will come with the role.

Finally, make sure you write your own summary and in the first person too – I know of a CIO who rejects applications from PMs if their summary looks like it’s been written by a publicist. Imagine starting a real conversation by describing yourself in the third person – you’d be thought of as a little weird.

2 – Be Personal With Your Invites

There’s no excuse for generic invitations. ‘Hi I’d like to join your LinkedIn network’ is modern day version of the sharp-suited travelling salesman knocking at your door with a suitcase full of wares.

Why would you like to join my network? What’s in it for me? Have we met in the real world? Do we work in similar fields? Do you have connections that might be of use to me? Do I have connections that might be of use to you? These are all valid reasons to connect – the fact that you’d like to is not.

Beyond the courtesy of the thing, what an insipid choice of word ‘like’ is! Not that you’d ‘love to’, not that joining my network would ‘complete you’, not that my network is the ‘holy grail it was your life’s mission to find’ … oh no … you’d ‘like’ to! I’m not suggesting that you gush but a little originality and warmth in your invitation goes a long way – I do know LinkedIn users who never accept generic invites.

3 – Be Positive

I saw a CV from a PM recently with a link to a LinkedIn profile on which the candidate was scathing about previous employers and organisations who had turned him down for previous roles. Facebook is full of digital fingerprints like this but I was amazed that someone would use a professional networking site in this manner.

What message does it send? That you’re a bad loser, that you’re a stirrer, that you’re not to be trusted beyond the length of your contract … what a catch you are.

4 – Use Keywords

You have to think of LinkedIn as a search engine and “with more than 400 million members in over 200 countries and territories” you are up against some stiff competition. Take some time to make sure that the keywords and skills that recruiters are using to find candidates are in your profile.

Keywords raise you above the noise allowing hiring managers to find you.

5 – Ask For Recommendations

Recommendations and endorsements are what give your LinkedIn profile peer credibility. If you deliver a project on time and within budget, exceeding stakeholder expectations along the way – ask for a recommendation.

Don’t be shy! What’s the worst that can happen? They say no? You’ve just made their life better and a recommendation on LinkedIn will cost them nothing – are they likely to refuse?

One good trick is the offer to reciprocate with a glowing recommendation of your own – but if you do promise this – make sure you deliver.

6 – Use a Profile

A good one too. Head and shoulders ideally and not the one that you use on Facebook of you with Mickey Mouse.

Search for your name. How many results? If you and I met at an IT conference and you impressed me but I didn’t get a card or a chance to exchange contacts what are my chances of finding you on LinkedIn if there’s no photo of you?

Almost as bad as no picture at all is having an ill-considered photo.

Here’s a great question – Would you be happy if your photo was seen by millions on the TV? Imagine you win an award and you make it onto the news – but the TV company doesn’t have a stock photo of you so they raid your LinkedIn profile. Would you be happy?

The ‘would I be happy if this were on TV’ filter works because you can picture millions of people in their homes watching television – you see the audience figures in the paper. It’s hard to imagine LinkedIn’s 400 million users because we don’t all get together around the water cooler to discuss it like we do with TV shows like Game of Thrones or the big game.

By the way, it did happen to a friend of mine, only local TV so just hundreds of thousands, but he wanted the ground to open up! Yet he was happy to share the same photo with a potential audience of 400 million.

As a Project Manager, you want to create just the right image with your LinkedIn profile picture – don’t be cheesy and have a picture of you racking your brains at a computer – if you can’t find a picture that does YOU justice get a professional headshot done.

7 – Be Consistently Professional

It’s an extreme example, but an IT Project Manager I know has just spent the past six months posting updates on his diet to his LinkedIn profile, together with all the great stuff he was doing as a PM.

Now why he did this is reasonable. His weight loss campaign was well supported by colleagues and contacts within the industry and he figured that LinkedIn was a great way to keep them updated.

So are Facebook and Instagram but you may not need either of these to one day land you the project of your dreams.

On LinkedIn, it’s just noise and interference that gets in the way of your message – why YOU are perfect to lead that project of your dreams.

Save the memes and videos of skateboarding, piano playing cats for Facebook. LinkedIn is all about YOU as a Project Manager.

I’m just reading my seven tips back and thinking I may revisit my LinkedIn profile. If they seem obvious it’s because they are and yet each of them is based on actual things that I’ve seen on LinkedIn profiles from Project Managers.

LinkedIn is probably the most important business social media touch point, using it right is Crucial.


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