Apparently the average time spent per month on LinkedIn is just 17 minutes. I probably spend at least that amount of time on the platform before 9am!
At the centre of my world over the past few months, LinkedIn has become like a second wife to me. With algorithms feeding me a steady diet of posts from people and organizations I follow, the platform keeps me up-to-date on the world of work, various companies, and topics of interest. Jobs for which I’m qualified float onto my homepage and into my emails like the sweet smell of homemade muffins, tempting me to apply. Beyond the teasing availability of interesting jobs, there are even confidence-inducing tools to help prepare for interviews.
What’s not to love?!
I must be honest though. It’s been a long slog. Headwinds from the COVID-19 fallout have made the task of finding work challenging. In the current environment, there are simply more fish in a smaller pond. Recently, this has started changing, but slowly.
As much as LinkedIn is the go-to online professional network, one can sometimes feel like a needle in a hay stack amid more than 706 million individuals vying for the millions of job openings listed by a plethora of companies.
So how does one differentiate oneself from others?
LinkedIn claims that more than 75% of people who recently changed jobs used the platform to “inform their career decision”. In terms of the efficacy of the platform in landing a job, according to a 2017 study (is there not something more up-to-date?), 122 million LinkedIn users received interviews as a result of a LinkedIn job posting, and 35.5 million people were hired by a person they connected with on LinkedIn.
With 100 million job applications submitted through LinkedIn every month (a figure I suspect has doubled during the pandemic), I believe that who one connects with on the platform is as important as applying for jobs. Certainly having an up-to-date profile is critical to making oneself as appealing as possible to a potential employer, but from my experience, linking up with people and having them refer you seems to be the ‘secret sauce’ in the hiring process.
Referrals are the engine of the co-called ‘invisible job market’ where it is said 80% of available roles reside. Which is to say LinkedIn probably represents 20% of all available jobs. So if a position is advertised on the platform, getting on the radar of hiring managers and/or decision-makers in the hiring process should be one of the most important things to do.
In essence, LinkedIn makes windows of opportunity available, but in order to succeed on the platform, knocking on these windows is not enough. One has to learn to open them. More specifically, it means having others act as window openers.
The keys to unlock these metaphorical window are ‘insiders’; individuals who are directly part of the hiring process or who have influence over it.
Getting to know your SSI
Apart from securing referrals, it is important to put one’s best foot forward. To this, I recently checked out my Social Selling Index (SSI)*. If you’re not familiar with SSI, it’s a measure from LinkedIn that measures how proficient one is at establishing a professional brand, building relationships / finding people to connect with, and providing engaging insights. While it is mainly a B2B tool for sales people, it can be a useful guide in determining one’s effectiveness on the platform.
My current SSI is 74. What this means is:
- My professional brand is pretty well developed with a rating of 19.76 out of 25. This is the extent to which I’ve established myself as a thought leader by including interesting content on my profile, posting high-quality information relevant to my followers, and securing endorsements from connections on LinkedIn.
- My networking score is adequate at 15.61 out of 25, but it probably indicates that I can do a better job of using LinkedIn’s search tool and connecting with second-degree connections, as well as those who search my profile.
- The third component of the SSI metric is the extent to which one offers insights when engaging on the platform. In my case, I have a passing grade (13.17 out of 25). I suppose this means that I need to do a better job of sharing relevant content, contributing clever comments, and being an active member of LinkedIn Groups pertinent to my profession of corporate communications.
- The last SSI measure is building relationships, and here I am doing well. Fortunately, it’s something I do naturally, and hopefully, it means I’m doing a good job of establishing trust with decision-makers on LinkedIn.
Leveraging a network starts with building a network. Networking during pre-COVID days included informational interviews over coffee with individuals at companies one might be targeting, as well as attending events where one could meet in-person. These face-to-face opportunities are far less common nowadays so tapping into virtual networking tools is essential.
One networking platform that caught my attention recently is LunchClub. Offering online introductions to relevant people using AI, the service curates 1:1 video meetings that it facilitates on a weekly basis. Apart from inputting one’s interests, one can share ‘conversation starters’ such as “I’d like to learn about…”, “top-of-mind for me…”, and “My side hustle…”. One also indicates personal objectives in using the service, ranging from exploring new projects, to meeting interesting people, to getting to know other companies.
I’ve met some interesting people through LunchClub and now that Google Meet, Zoom and WebEx are a normal way to meet, face-to-face encounters seem to be less important than they once were. Give it a try.
The journey continues and my connections continue to grow. As I remain focused on securing the right role, I continue to follow the ABC Principle: “Always Be Connecting”.