Wednesday, December 22, 2021

LinkedIn is NOT About Sales!

I’ve heard this complaint from many career industry colleagues recently — and seen it myself in my LinkedIn inbox: You get a connection request from someone, and as soon as you accept, they send you a sales message! And worst of all, it’s not even usually a personal sales message. 

LinkedIn is NOT about sales. It’s about relationships. Would you walk up to a stranger on the street and make a sales pitch? Probably not. But if you strike up a conversation with a stranger in a line at the grocery store, it might naturally lead to a discussion of how you help jobseekers.

With 260 million monthly active users, LinkedIn may seem like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to sell their product or services to 260 million people?

Let’s remember, however, that LinkedIn in NOT about sales: It’s about building connections and developing relationships with people who may (or may not) be interested in what you have to offer.

Here are some tips for networking naturally on LinkedIn so you don’t develop that pushy “used car salesman” reputation that make people want to run away:

1. Do your research first. Do some Google searches and peruse company websites to search for ideal clients instead of bombarding employees at that company for introductions. You may have a great track record helping Fortune 500 executives but spamming them with connection requests out of the blue won’t win you any favors.

2. Personalize your messages. When you finally decide to send a connection request, don’t fall for the easy way out by using the LinkedIn sample text. That’s a perfect way to show your prospect that you have no idea who they are or what they do, so why would they want to connect with you? Instead, include a snippet of how you met. Did you see their post expressing frustration with their job search? Mention that. Were you introduced by a mutual friend? Say that. Prospective connections will pay more attention to your personal message than any automated, text template.

3. Ask for personal introductions. Stalking someone’s connection list on LinkedIn is a little creepy, especially if you cold call these people and say, “We’re mutual friends with Jamie Smith,” as the start of your conversation. Instead, ask Jamie Smith directly for an introduction. Remember, most people will only make introductions for those they actually know and who they trust, so make an effort to befriend Jamie Smith first before asking for those introductions.

4. Build the relationship first instead of going straight for the sale. Don’t be the person who accepts a new connection request and immediately sends a message with a sales pitch. Not only will that new connection cringe at the tackiness but they will likely tell others about your spammy tactic and you’ll have others hesitate or ignore your connection requests. Instead, send a “nice to meet you” message, thanking them for connecting. Publish consistently on your feed. Like valuable information they have posted on their own feed. Ask to meet in person if you’re local or if you’re attending the same conference. Show your new connection that you are interested in them and what they do.

5. Keep your profile up to date. New connections will most likely check your profile before joining your network or responding to your messages, so keep it up to date. Always post a current headshot; fill in your headline and description with power words so prospects know exactly what you do; and don't lie on your resume.

One note: There’s a huge difference between introducing yourself with your company name and what you have to offer versus introducing yourself with a hard core sales pitch. Craft your introduction carefully and you won’t be perceived as a tacky salesperson desperate to make a sale. Create opportunities to have a conversation … it is more likely to lead to a sale than an unpersonalized email.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

10 Questions with Nancy Segal


Get to know the other resume writers in our community with our “10 Questions” series!

Today’s profile is Nancy Segal, CPRW, CEIE, Certified Federal Resume Writer, of Solutions for the Workplace LLC!

Nancy has been a professional resume writer for 15 years and a former federal HR professional for 30 years. She is a developer and instructor for the Resume Writing Academy Federal Resume Writer Certification and is the author of three books on federal resume writing, interviewing, and career transitions. She writes a weekly federal career blog at

1. Why did you decide to become a professional resume writer?
Getting a federal job is quite different than getting one in the private sector. While there is a lot of information about resumes and job hunting available, very little is specific to the federal government. With 30 years as a federal HR professional, I saw an opportunity to share my knowledge about how to get a job with the country’s largest single employer.

2. How did you get into the career industry? What did you do before?
I have spent my career in the HR arena. This is a natural progression. And the information about the nuances of the federal job hunt, resume, and overall career process is needed by the public. I’m delighted to share what I know!

3. What do you typically wear when you’re working?
I am fully dressed every day. If I am not also facilitating a webinar that day, I am usually in jeans, t-shirt and/or/sweater. On Sundays, I don’t get dressed until late (don’t tell!), even though I typically start working fairly early.

4. What is your best habit, and what is your worst?
My best habit is my discipline. I start work at the same time every day and I am seriously focused. My worst habit is an inability to stop, say no, and generally focus on things outside of my business when there is work to be done (which is, of course, always).

5. What’s your favorite object in your office? Why?
I have a 3 lb. hand weight on my desk. I use it when I am on the phone with clients. Arm curls, lifts, etc.

6. What is your “go to” technique or secret when you get stuck when you’re writing a resume? How do you get unstuck?
I don’t actually get stuck that often (on this, anyway) but when I do, I do a little research on the job (Wikipedia is my friend), look the client up on LinkedIn, and think about what a former client might have had as a tangentially related job to get inspired. And when it’s really bad, I pick up the phone and call someone for distraction. :)

7. What’s the best career advice you ever got?
No one cares about your “stuff.” Clients are only interested in their own issues. They don’t care why I might be late, cranky, etc.

8. How do you unplug?
I try (not always successfully) to stop working at a preset time. My favorite unplug tools are food channels and house porn (HGTV).

9. What ONE thing would you change about your business or the career industry, if you could?
I think there are a lot of people in our industry that are less focused on our clients finding jobs and too focused on finding their passion (or whatever euphemism you want to use). Most people need jobs that pay well, have benefits, etc. I consider it a bonus if people are passionate about their work but I also consider it a privilege that not many people in this country have. 

I would like to see our industry be more open to everyone’s needs. I am certainly not opposed to doing work that you love (I love what I do), but certainly not everyone is in a position to do that. And sometimes what clients want is totally unrealistic; we need to be able to say that too (nicely, of course)

10. What are your favorite social media accounts to follow?

And, of course, our resume writing community!

Connect with Nancy on Linkedin here:

Find her company on Facebook:

Or follow her on Twitter at @FederalJobs101

Did you miss our last 10 Questions profile, featuring Angela Jones?

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The Power of Who

This post originally appeared on my personal blog. The principles in the book are timeless, so I’m republishing it here for my career industry colleagues.

I recently finished reading “The Power of Who: You Already Know Everyone You Need to Know” by headhunter Bob Beaudine, and before I take it back to the library, I thought I’d better write down some of the key concepts. Normally, I’d take notes as I go through it, but I read it while blow-drying my hair over the course of a few days, and it’s hard to write and wield a blow dryer at the same time. (I take notes on most business books I read — not only is it a helpful reference for later, but I remember things better when I write them down, as opposed to just reading them.)

Key thoughts:

  • Cultivate your “Who” friends. Beaudine defines these as someone who can “intercept you on the dark path you’ve taken and redirect your steps back on to the path of light.” These are the friends that aren’t afraid to challenge you, or call “B.S.” when you’re doubting yourself.
  • He urges you to ask yourself, “What am I doing right now to steer my life in the direction of the future I truly desire?” If you use this as a compass, you’ll always find yourself moving forward.
  • The key concept: “You already know everyone you need to know.” Although he explains this well, I still am having a hard time with it. My take on it is: Start with the people you know, before thinking that you need to get to know new people. Beaudine supports this: “Most people start looking outside their ‘Who’ network thinking their success will be found ‘out there’ somewhere." Instead, start with the people you already know.”
  • Three simple steps to getting moving on a new project:
  1. If you were to refocus your efforts to achieve your goal, what would you do first?
  2. Who would you call for assistance?
  3. How many people would you call?
  • Employ the “100/40 Strategy.” 1-100 = Who; 1-40 = What; Connecting the Dots = Success. The first set of numbers (1-100) is about relationships. The second set (1-40) is about what you’re after. 

Beaudine writes, “There is a reason you and I have been given the friends we have, and it’s this strategic group of friends that is the first part of (the) equation.” We don’t realize that our closest friends are the best resources we have! Instead, we think a stranger is going to be our biggest help in achieving our goal.

  • Your “Who” World consists of several different spheres — Fans, Acquaintances, Advocates, Allies, “Who” Friends, and then your Inner Circle (“You get 12 friends. 3 close and 1 best.”)
  1. Allies: People you associate with, connect with, or touch through your 12-3-1 and “Who” friends.
  2. Advocates: Someone who speaks or writes in support of you or your cause.
  3. Acquaintances: All friends start as acquaintances. It's a relationship "less intimate than" a friendship.
  4. Fans: An enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer. "Fans are the economic wheel that keeps things rolling. Fans fuel demand."
  • Most people never get what they want for three simple reasons: 
  1. They don’t ask. No one can help if they don’t know what you want. 
  2. When they do ask, they ask the wrong people. For some reason, people are uncomfortable asking their “Who” for help. As a result, they’ll ask most anyone except their friends, who are the only ones with a motive to help. 
  3. When they do ask for help, they ask you vaguely. Even if I’m motivated to help a friend, I can’t do it when I don't know what he or she wants.

This makes perfect sense. For example, when my clients are networking, they often don’t talk to the people who are best suited to help them succeed. I had a client who worked in the transportation industry and was laid off. After weeks of telling him to make sure that he was talking to his network about his career goal and asking for specific help, he was getting stuck. So I reached out to mynetwork. Within a day, I had an opening at a local company for him to follow up on. When I gave him the information, he said, “Oh. A guy I used to work with works there now.” Well then, dude, why didn’t you already know about this opening? Because he wasn’t using his “100.”
  • Four instructions on making a good list to help you chart your future course:
  1. Dream It. Allow yourself to drift a little.
  2. Believe It. “Have the confidence that what may not be readily apparent in objective reality actually already exists.”
  3. Have Confidence In It. “If you don't decide who and what you want to be or are not willing to pay the price to get there, then somebody else will handle those things for you.”
  4. Do It. There is a time to stop preparing and just execute!
  • Important Traits of Successful People:
  1. They start.
  2. They are not discouraged by obstacles.
  3. They turn mistakes and so-called failures into stunning success. 
  4. They maintain self-discipline.
  5. They stick to it.

The most important lesson:
Take care of the people on your “100 list” and they will take care of you.

Friday, July 23, 2021

10 Questions With Alana Henry


Get to know the other resume writers in our community with our “10 Questions” series!

Today’s profile is Alana Henry of The Writique, LLC.

Alana has been a professional resume writer for more than five years. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Nationally Certified Online Profile Expert (NCOPE). She is a member of the National Resume Writers' Association (NRWA), Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC), Career Directors International (CDI), and Society of Elite Resume Writers (SERW).

1. Why did you decide to become a professional resume writer?
I became a professional writer for two different reasons: my desire to serve those with unequal access to career advancement resources, and the need for a work-from-home opportunity after the birth of my first child.

I am of the belief that we are all distinctly gifted, and that we should use our gifts to help others in their life journeys. For me, a life of service and a desire to further equity in my community propels me to utilize my talents in a variety of ways. For now, I am using my skills to help others reach success with the development of resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and career coaching that helps them obtain their dream jobs.

2. How did you get into the career industry? What did you do before?
I received my bachelor’s degree in journalism from one of the top schools in the nation, but decided against joining the industry post-graduation. Out of college, I spent several years teaching high school English in a school with more than 80% of students on free or reduced lunch. As someone who grew up in the urban core, I knew all too well the importance of mentors and access to career mapping tools for successful life planning. I spent my tenure as a teacher exposing students to various post-secondary options, teaching them about college entrance requirements, providing them with personality assessments and career mapping tools, and assisting them with the construction of their very first resume. I loved it. And I felt fulfilled. Little did I know, I was serving as a career coach to these young people.

Fast forward five years, and I was faced with the need for supplemental income. I decided to utilize my skills in writing and editing to open my own writing service, focusing primarily on resume writing.

I went on to receive my master’s degree in executive leadership, expanded my business, and am proud to now have a team of writers on staff who help change the life trajectories of our clients.

3. What do you typically wear when you’re working?
I work from home with my four little ones, so you can find me in a pair of comfortable leggings and a casual blouse!

4. What is your best habit, and what is your worst?
I am a doer by nature, so I am quick to jump in feet first. On the flip side, that can make me impulsive — and also make it hard for me to learn when to say “no” to a request or an opportunity.

5. What’s your favorite object in your office? Why?
Since I work from my home office, I would say that my favorite object is my door! It allows me to seal off the chaos of four little children and work in peace. :-)

6. What is your “go to” technique or secret when you get stuck when you’re writing a resume? How do you get unstuck?
Something that helps me when I’m feeling “stuck,” is browsing the website of the company for which the client is applying. Usually, there’s a useful nugget of information that gets my brain moving! If I am still having difficulty, I browse LinkedIn for profiles of individuals in similar roles. Sometimes, they have great information in their Headlines, About sections, or Experience sections that jumpstart my writing.

7. What’s the best career advice you ever got?
“Find people, not jobs.” — Melanie L. Denny

8. How do you unplug?
I love to read a good historical fiction novel or non-fiction books/articles on history, sociology, or psychology. I also enjoy time watching a series on Netflix/Hulu and relaxing with my husband.

9. What ONE thing would you change about your business or the career industry, if you could?
I wish that I had spent more time networking within the industry when I began. Many of my early business struggles were figured out over time, but it would have been much more advantageous to learn from a mentor or group of professionals from the start.

I think the career industry is changing for the better, but it initially appeared to be “exclusive,” and as if other resume writing professionals didn’t want to share best practices/industry knowledge with newbies. At the time, I couldn’t afford membership to some of the major organizations, so I was left to my own devices for knowledge and growth.

10. What are your favorite social media accounts to follow?

Follow #blackphotography and #blackphotographers on Instagram

Find The Writique LLC on Facebook:

Connect with Alana on Linkedin here:

Find her on Twitter:  @TheWritique

Did you miss our last 10 Questions profile, featuring Angela Jones?