Career, Self-Improvement

Make LinkedIn Work For You – Vanessa Tai

If you’re like most people, you probably think LinkedIn is a site for you to list your job experiences and get noticed by recruiters. Truth is, that’s just one aspect of what LinkedIn is about. There are actually plenty of nifty features on LinkedIn that can help you get ahead in your career. For starters, when you log in to your account, you’ll see an up-to-date news feed giving you pertinent industry news, job openings that are relevant for you as well as updates your professional contacts’ careers.

LinkedIn can help you achieve career success

LinkedIn can help you achieve career success.

One feature I really like is the LinkedIn Influencer Programme, where key industry influencers and thought leaders like Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and Guy Kawasaki pen articles on leadership and other industry-relevant pieces. These articles are often thought-provoking and offer very practical tips that help me see my work in a new perspective.

For more of such articles, check out LinkedIn Channels, which you can Follow to get interesting insights from industry influencers that may be beneficial for your career. For example, as a young female entrepreneur in the digital media industry, I’ll be inclined to Follow these channels: Professional Women, Entrepreneurship & Small Business and Social Media.

Another great feature is LinkedIn Groups, which act like discussion forums of sort. You can join existing groups, or start one on your own. With these groups, you can exchange information with other like-minded folk, get feedback on your work or even source for job contacts. For example, if you’re a freelance writer and you’re looking to work with a freelance designer, you could explore groups like this to help you.

So you see, there’s so much more to LinkedIn than just job hunting. Of course, it’s still an excellent platform to get your professional expertise recognised. According to a recent Bullhorn survey of over 160,000 recruiters, a whopping 97 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to find job candidates. And with over one million LinkedIn users in Singapore, it’s high time you spruced up your profile to ensure you get noticed. Here’s how:

Don’t cut and paste your resume

You wouldn’t hand out your resume before introducing yourself, so don’t do it here. Instead, describe your experience and abilities as you would to someone you just met. And write for the screen – in short blocks of text with visual or textual signposts. Add a photo so that people can recognise you (Psst … according to a LinkedIn survey, profiles with a profile photo is seven times more likely to get viewed!)

Be yourself

Unless formality suits your brand, forget professional-speak. Try to speak as if you’re at a conference or a client meeting – friendly but professional.

Write a personal tagline

That line of text under your name? It’s the first thing people see in your profile. It follows your name in search hit lists. It’s your brand. (Note: your e-mail address is not a brand!) Unless your company’s brand (and your job title) is so strong that you can do away with a tagline, you might want to distill your professional personality into a more eye-catching phrase.

Point out your skills

Think of the Skills & Expertise field as your personal search engine optimiser, a way to refine the ways people find and remember you. Adding specific skills and expertise allow you to highlight particular abilities which help you stand out from the crowd. You can also receive endorsements on these skills from your connections, giving you added credibility with that third-party stamp of approval.

Distinguish yourself from the crowd

Pat your own back and others’. Get recommendations from colleagues, clients, and employers who can speak credibly about your abilities or performance. When you approach your contacts for a recommendation, it might be helpful to get them to focus on a specific skill or personality trait that drives their opinion of you. It also helps to get a variety of recommendations – from your boss to peers or clients – it makes the testimonials feel more authentic. And when you do return the favour, be sure to make meaningful comments in your recommendations too. Don’t just copy and paste.

Be active

One of your LinkedIn profile’s key benefits is that it is a living reflection of your professional life which you can keep updated with ease, as opposed to a paper resume which only shows a static snapshot of a point in time. For instance, make sure a new title or job is listed; and list key projects you have completed or professional courses you might be taking.

Staying active on LinkedIn also demonstrates that you are in tune with the going-ons around you – be it around your career, your industry or your connections. Connect promptly with new professional acquaintances to sustain the professional relationship. Express your point of view on an industry trend with a status update, or comment on a connection’s news share to build your credibility.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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Love, Relationships

Is It Acceptable To Flirt On LinkedIn? – Deborah Tan


Love in the age of social media

Here’s the thing: I get that social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook provide a great stage for flirting. You can post cute comments, like a status update, retweet a tweet … all in the hope that the object of your desire will reciprocate with an equally encouraging reaction. But what about LinkedIn? It’s a social media platform too, isn’t it?

Except that LinkedIn is a social media platform for people to connect about WORK stuff. It’s a place where individuals talk about their career achievements, share their resumes, harvest endorsements for PROFESSIONAL reasons. To use LinkedIn as a way to flirt with someone isn’t just pathetic, it’s bordering on harassment.

A couple of times now, I’ve received requests to connect from people who really have no business with me or my field of work. Sometimes, I would accept their requests because a part of me still holds on to the “wisdom” that anything can be an opportunity. I mean, who’s to say that someone in chemical engineering wouldn’t be requiring editing services … ?

And every so often, after the acceptance of these requests, I would get a message that asked if I would like to meet up for coffee because this person would like to make new friends and he is new in town and would like to be shown around … I usually just don’t reply.

These days, I’ve become a lot more selective in accepting requests to connect on LinkedIn. Whenever I received such a request, I would click on the person’s profile and look for THREE things:

1. Is he or she in an industry that is a close cousin of mine? I’m in media so I would usually accept requests from fellow media practitioners, PRs, freelancers, publishers, etc. If the person is in an industry that doesn’t remotely require my expertise, then I go to the second step.

2. Which connections do we have in common? If the connections we share have a fairly even split between men and women, I know he is probably interested in expanding his networking circle. I have a number of friends in the business of helping startups start up, so if I see them on our list of mutual connections, I will probably accept the request. If not, the third step pretty much reveals his intentions.

3. Our mutual connections are women with great profile pictures. This is where I make the call to either take a chance OR ignore the request.

I know I should not pass judgement so quickly but after having been propositioned for the wrong reason on LinkedIn a couple of times, I think it’s reasonable for me to put in place a set of protocols that I can rely on to help me sift out the amorous requests from the ones with a professional intent behind them.

LinkedIn, unlike the other social media platform, is where we tend to accept requests to connect from people we have never met before. We connect with like-minded professionals because this is as close to networking in person in the digital sphere. To abuse LinkedIn and to use it as a way to find women and men whom you are attracted to for romantic reasons is like an insurance agent going to a funeral and trying to sell policies to the mourners – INAPPROPRIATE.

Have you been propositioned on LinkedIn before? Do you agree that LinkedIn should not be used for romantic reasons? Or, you think it’s okay? Do you have a set of “rules” you follow when deciding who to add or not add on LinkedIn? I would love to hear from you.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and is trying to get more endorsements on LinkedIn. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Career, Opinions, Self-Improvement, Vanessa Tai

Coping Strategies for the 20-something Working Adult – Vanessa Tai

As working professionals, we are forced to grapple with stressful situations daily, but many a time, we feel like we haven’t quite shed our adolescent selves … the one that’s tempted to sweep everything off our desks and declare, “Screw this. I quit!” Sometimes, we may even look up in the middle of some menial task, and wonder to ourselves, “Is this all there is? Whatever happened to my life-changing, golly-gee-whiz-awesome career?” If you’ve ever felt forlorn about your job or career journey, you’ll know what I mean.

Back when my friends and I were still bright-eyed undergrads, we used to spend hours dreaming of our fabulous careers. One wanted to be a successful PR director, another wanted to be a war correspondent … and me? I fantasised of being an award-winning creative director (feel free to laugh.) However, as we all know, real life is rarely how we envision it to be. Over the five years that I have been working, I’ve gone through extreme career highs and lows, taking me to places and situations that I couldn’t even have dreamed up. And you know what? I wouldn’t have had it any other way. All these experiences have taught me many important lessons such as humility and perseverance, traits that are relevant to both work and life.

The following situations are experiences most 20-somethings would be familiar with. At times where nothing seems to be going your way, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Others have gone before you and succeeded, and you’ll definitely ride through whatever crisis you’re experiencing right now.

1. Having your work thrown back at you

"Make changes AGAIN?!?!"

“Make changes AGAIN?!?!”

How to deal: Don’t take it personally. Yes, of course it sucks to have to re-do your work after slaving over it for hours, but this is to be expected, especially if you’re just starting out in the industry. But instead of grousing, make notes on the type of mistakes your boss calls you out on, and take care not to repeat them.

2. Dealing with difficult people

How to deal: Focus on the job at hand. Even if it seems like these people are out to get you, just remind yourself of the things that actually matter; for example, the fact that you truly enjoy your job scope. When you channel your energies into doing a good job, you won’t have time to worry about petty colleagues or cranky clients. However, if the situation starts getting out of hand, confide in your supervisor or a trusted colleague who will be able to help address the issue.

3. Coping with your friends’ success 

How to deal: Remind yourself, “I am not defined by my job.” With Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, there are now multiple channels to feed our insecurities about our friends’ career success. I get it –  it’s hard to feel happy about your friend’s promotion when you’re still moping around the lower rungs of the career ladder. But there’s one thing you need to remember: there is more than one way to scale the proverbial ladder. It’s not always an upward climb. There are times where you may have to do a side-step or go a couple of steps backwards only to take a great leap forward. Just concentrate on doing a good job at whatever rank you’re in, and eventually your hard work will pay off.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

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