Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dress Up Your Profile for a LinkedIn Groups Interview

When one reads articles about professional networking on LinkedIn, LI Groups are almost always a key component.

LinkedIn Groups are loose confederations of people with a topic, industry, company or qualifications in common. Conversation is mostly driven by group members, and from time to time by a highly engaged group leaders. Some LI Groups have very specific criteria - members of trade associations, employment in a certain field, particular academic achievements, work experience at a specific company, but many others have more open criteria and will allow people who are even peripherally associated with the topic to join. Each group is a little different, and each will have a different take on what makes a good member.

I run an industry-related group myself and, as a result, I see all the various ways a person can misunderstand, misrepresent or simply miss a chance to be seen as a valuable group member.

Here are a couple of tips on dressing up your profile so that the group leader adds you without hesitation:

First: Read the Group Description  Do you fit the group? Are you close, but not quite, what the group is looking for? If you really don't fit the group criteria re-think what you hoped to gain from the group. Check to see if the group posts are Public or not. You may be able to read posts, even if you are not a member of the group.  If you come close, then it's time for a relevance upgrade to your profile...

Second: Add Relevant Experience and Projects to your Profile You may be a volunteer at a local event and that is why you are so interested in this topic. Add that experience to your profile! Companies looking at candidates often look for outside relevant experience to round out on the job experience. Make every effort to let a group owner know that you belong in this group because you already have done relevant work.

Third: Write a Short Note to the Group Leader LinkedIn doesn't give Group Leaders a chance to require notes from applicants, but providing context goes a long way to filling in holes. Explaining how your experience or projects are relevant to the group. Don't give the group leader a resume, just highlight the relevance of your experience.

Fourth: Do Not Reply With Anger to a Rejection Because my group is an industry group, I end up rejecting a great number of people who do not really pay attention to the group criteria. Because some number of those people are younger, with little professional experience, I occasionally receive very angry emails explaining why my rejection was unfair. Not surprisingly, this does not work to change my mind...if anything it reinforces my belief that my choice was the correct one. No one needs or wants a professional group member who throws hissy fits. As the Group Owner one of my jobs is to keep the group from too much drama, in fact.

In my group, I am as flexible as possible when I allow folks in. If there is no note added, I will visit a profile and look for relevant experience. So frequently I encounter profiles that are incomplete or utterly bare, with no way to know why this person thinks they are a good match for the group. I also see a great deal of wishful thinking, as young people apply to the group in order, they hope, to get a job. Unfortunately, my group description specifically states that the group is not to be used for job-hunting. If they took a moment to read the description, they'd know that.

Seeing how you fit into the group will go a long way to saving time and energy (and avoiding potential rejection.) Dress up your profile and be professional to pass your LinkedIn Group interview.

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