If You Are Going to Be on Social Media, You Better Be on LinkedIn

I would love to get an opportunity in the Middle East, specifically Dubai. Can you guide me through the process of getting this done? I just completed a course in International HR course.”

That is just one of a few request that I get almost daily. What made this request stand out is that when I replied to his email address, he told me something that kind of caused me to pause. In our communication, I asked him about his LinkedIn profile.

“I do not have one” was the reply. “I have been successful to this point and figured I did not need one.”

I’m thinking, here it is 2015 and here you are a professional and you do not have exposure on LinkedIn, the business social site?  As I questioned this strategy, he became a little defensive. Every job he had gotten to this point was done through a connection that got him in.

So my question was, how did you find me? There was a pause.

Gone fishing?

Regardless of your status in your business life, you must have a presence. Forget about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever. In business today, it is LinkedIn that will draw the attention.  Try and think of it as “bait,” enticing enough so that when recruiters go fishing, they will bite.  Hopefully the one that is fishing is a search professional that is looking for your skill set.

I find the thought of having this presence on a web page as such a unique marketing opportunity for each of us to brand yourself.  Think of it this way, what does your advertisement say and what message are you sending.

However, I am always pleasantly surprised when I meet someone at a conference and we both could be out of business cards.  My response is to ask them to just send me a LinkedIn invite, but sometimes, the response is a blank stare. Then they sheepishly respond by saying, “I am not on LinkedIn,” or “My profile needs some work.”

Connect the dots

One of the most important advantages of using LinkedIn is the strategic intelligence that you get from your connections.

Let’s say that you hear or find out about that perfect job opportunity. Do you hastily submit your resume into what I call “the black hole?”  If you do, your chances are greatly diminished. As I said, it is the same hole that hundreds of others have already put their CV’s into.

A more strategic approach is to go to LinkedIn to find out who you know that works where you would like to be hired. If you can locate that person — someone who knows your capabilities that can carry your resume forward — you have just skipped the line and gotten in front of all the others.

This does not guarantee that you will get the position, but it will cause your CV to get a much better look .

Building a stellar network

But then, that goes back to having a strong network, which makes it kind of a Catch 22. My suggestion is build your network at every business encounter. Get those business cards and connect to people with a short note and not the pre written note that comes up.

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That person you just met — who are they and what’s their story? As soon as I can after an encounter, I check the person’s profile to see their story. Not only that, but if they are a good networker, they will also look you up, too.

It is important as you are making the connection to try and remember a unique detail that will differentiate them from the others you might meet that evening.

I have often wished that LinkedIn would give you the opportunity to post a short note of relevance so that it jogs your memory.

Google YOU?

Have you ever tried Googling yourself? You should. Social presence has us all out there and we should all want to know what is showing up. It is that important.

I try and make it a habit to Google my name about every six weeks or so. I do this because I give lots of speeches, about one or two per month. Even if you are not that active, you still need to know what shows up with your name.

Think of your profile as a competitive advantage that you can control. If a recruiter were looking for 3-4 profiles online, how would you stack up against the competition? This is a real life situation because it happens all the time. Would your profile serve as “bait” and compel them to reach out to you?

The other balancing act is that I find many people on my Facebook feed that are spending so much time posting, commenting, etc.  However, when the opportunity presents itself and they ask me for career advice, I let them have it. I tell them to take 25 percent of the time they spend on Facebook or other social media and use that time to get your professional act together.

In the end, if you’re not on LinkedIn, you basically don’t exist to folks that are looking for top talent.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

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