This time I spoke a week ahead of schedule. That was probably a bad idea because my delivery wasn't polished. I didn't mind because I wanted a measure of my current skills. I learned the importance of practice. I asked all attendees for written feedback and 10 obliged.
Your Everlasting Orchard (January 13, 2011)
How does anyone know you're good?
Maybe you’re an employee looking for a job. Or an entrepreneur looking for a client. How can anyone instantly tell you're good enough to investigate further?
There's a power tool for all of us. Yet it's misused and poorly understood. It's LinkedIn.
Maybe you're already a member? LinkedIn is a free business networking site that launched in 2003. A Facebook for business. I joined in 2008 when there were 20 million members. Today there are over 80 million but there's room for you. Does it work? During the last 90 days, I showed up in 1,026 search results and 175 people visited my profile. That’s all free.
When you need your network, it's too late to grow one. You can’t cram. As with an orchard, you must plant and nurture well before you harvest the fruit. Start now.
As Toastmasters, you’ve already shown your determination and commitment to improving. Here’s what you do.
STEP 1: PLANT
LinkedIn has already prepared the field you. The soil is fertile and there's plenty of cool spring water. Shhh! Listen to the water pass over the rocks.
What do you plant? Yourself. In the form of your Profile. Think of this as your resume. You've got one already, right? That’s also something you want ready before you need it.
As a start, copy/paste your resume. Next, make it interesting. Don't worry about length. More detail helps others find you with keyword searches. I showed up 15 times today.
The key is the neglected Summary section. Tell your story in a way that exudes your personality and sets you apart from your competitors. Not sure how? Ask me afterwards.
STEP 2: NURTURE
Once your Profile is ready, invite your contacts to connect to you. This is easy to do. Just import your contacts and send out invitations. I did this on my own. If you aren't comfortable with computers, fret not. Get help from a student in grade six or above. Maybe you’ve got one in your home? They look like humans and eat lots of food.
Now you have a visible network. Your crop is growing. Nurture it. Here’s an easy way: be a curator. Post links to useful articles at least twice a week. Just as smiling makes you happy, giving makes you more generous. You change and others notice.
Credible testimonials are the best proof you're good. Write recommendations for selected contacts. This shows your generosity. Request testimonials, ideally from different people. If I recommend you and you recommend me, we look self-serving. We both suffer.
STEP 3: HARVEST
Now you reap the benefits. With proper care, you'll get fruit forever. As you gain experience, why not help those you care about with their Profiles?
Three garden pests ruin many Profiles. Keep them out!
- Blandness: be interesting instead
- Sameness: if you look like your competitors, you look like a commodity
- Incompleteness: What grade did your teachers give you for a blank page? Your visitors are like that too
Complete your Profile to 100% for best results. This is like finishing a Toastmasters manual except you don’t get a pin. The process takes time but nourishes you forever. Participate in Groups by answering questions in your area of expertise. Invite the new people you meet to connect to you. Suggest new connections for your current connections. Prune the deadwood.
When you need help, you’ll find that the connections of your connections are more valuable than your family, friends and colleagues. That’s because distant connections live on other farms.
Networking success comes from helping others and who knows you.
Fellow Toastmasters, I'm happy to help you improve your LinkedIn Profiles.
According to a Chinese proverb, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today. Don’t wait for spring. Get growing.
I learned three important lessons
- practice more: I did more reading than I intended and didn't have planned pauses or gestures
- trim: I had too much content (even though I finished within the time limits)
- add personality: my talk was too clinical (a "how to"). My mentor already told me that. The changes I made were not enough. Speaking about why I use LinkedIn would have been more engaging and memorable.