Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Networking

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to networking.

How to Leave a Voicemail Message (Video)

Do you ever wonder why recruiters or clients aren’t returning your phone calls, or when they do, they seem confused? It could be because they were pressed for time or didn’t listen properly, but perhaps it’s because you left a terrible message.

These situations happen more than you think and, as a contractor, a solid voicemail may be the distinguishing factor that gets you a call-back for an interview. If you’d like some tips to improve your voicemail skills, check out this video from Howdini, where communication expert Alexa Fischer provides advice for leaving a confident message.

Build Your Reputation by Commenting Online

This post by Mark Swartz was originally featured on Monster’s Career Advice blog

Build Your Reputation by Commenting OnlineYou have knowledge to share and want to build your professional reputation. Except writing lengthy online posts isn’t your strong suit. So creating a blog probably isn’t right for you.

How then to share your insights and opinions in short bursts? Easy. By commenting on other people’s posts. It’s a dependable way to get your name out there.

Commenting could become an integral part of your career social media strategy. Find the right outlets and watch as your profile rises.

Reasons To Share Your Knowledge And Opinions Online

You may already have a social media routine for building your personal brand. Or you might just be getting started. Either way you should consider being a commenter.

By making brief, perceptive remarks, then attaching your name to all your posts, a variety of readers will come to associate you with interesting content. Your entries may be locatable by search engines. Plus along the way you’ll meet new online networking contacts.

Comments Should Be Concise

As a commenter, you’ll be responding to other people’s posts by adding your own take. Each entry you create could expand on the poster’s content or give your opinion on the subject.

Comments are usually short. Anywhere from a sentence to a paragraph is the norm. If you go longer than that on a regular basis, edit down (or maybe start a blog of your own).

Categories of Outlets For Commenting

There are two primary categories of outlets for posting comments. One is on blogs by other people, groups or organizations related to your field of specialty. The other is on similarly related discussion forums and message boards.

Blogs are periodical. Entries are published either every day, every couple of days, or less frequently. Normally they might attract several replies if any. The more popular blogs can get dozens of responses to new posts.

Discussion forums and message boards work another way. They allow people to create “discussion threads” based on particular topics. Sometimes no one contributes to a new thread. Or over 100 replies and a dozen sub-threads could get posted.

Where To Find Commenting Outlets

For blogs and forums/boards in your profession or industry, start with your industry or trade association. They usually provide space for commenting. However you often need to be a paid-up member of the organization to participate.

Don’t fret if you aren’t. Professional forums can be found on the big social media sites. Facebook and LinkedIn, for example, host “Groups” oriented to all kinds of professionals. Google and Yahoo host varied Groups as well. Joining is free. A group may be open to the public, or require joining first.

In addition there are search engines that track blogs and online discussions. Among the more popular ones are boardreader.com and omgili.com. Use them to locate outlets that have pertinent topics.

Some Do’s And Don’ts Of Commenting

Always keep in mind that what you write reflects on your personal brand. Also ask yourself this: do you hinder of help your company’s brand? Employers may see your comments and judge you accordingly.

Don’t rush in and post before you’ve surveyed the landscape. What style are other commenters adopting? How many words are they using when they reply?

Your Insights And Opinions Matter

You needn’t be a noted thought leader to comment. What readers look for is stimulating feedback. As long as you refrain from unnecessary controversy, and are adept at using Spellcheck, you can begin.

Commenting can help you get known as a Subject Matter Expert (SME). Why should this matter to you? Because when it comes to online job networking, employers consistently seek out SME’s!

LinkedIn – The Ultimate Cheat Sheet (Infographic)

Last week we shared the Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Coding. It was long, detailed, in-depth and generated some positive feedback, but not everybody needs to find the best code. Here’s another extensive cheat sheet infographic that is for everybody. It was created by leisureJobs and covers everything there is to know about LinkedIn.

Whether you want to build the perfect profile, create optimized images, gain more recommendations, learn the hidden features of LinkedIn, add SEO capabilities, enhance security, or just get started, this infographic will benefit you. A word of caution before you look at it: this may distract you for a while.


Why Network with People Who AREN’T In Your Field?

Networking is important for all independent contractors and, as such, we provide a plethora of networking tips on the Talent Development Centre.  Just this past Tuesday, we shared a guest post from Freshbooks containing detailed networking advice for introverts.

Many of our past tips suggest finding groups related to your expertise and forming a circle with like-minded people. This is terrific advice but you should keep in mind that you will also benefit by networking with those who are not in your field. Have a look at this video from CareerHMO for five reasons it’s a good idea and some tips for doing so.

The Introvert’s Guide to Local Business Networking

This post by Chelsei Henderson first appeared on the Freshbooks Blog, January 12th, 2016

The Introvert’s Guide to Local Business NetworkingThe core difference between introverts and extroverts is the source of their energy. Introverts gather energy from their internal self, while extroverts gain energy from the external world around them.

When it comes to networking, one saying defines it best: Extroverts get energized by networking, while introverts become drained from the event.

But that doesn’t mean introverts can’t be great networkers. They can learn how to maintain their internal energy while meeting interesting new people who will help grow their freelance careers.

The hard fact of business is that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

Networking is the act of getting to know more people with the goal of growing your career. It’s something that all freelancers need to learn, introverted and extroverted alike.

I’m about to break down exactly how introverts can become networking rock stars. By the end, you’ll be fully prepared to take on the world, or at least totally crush that next networking event.

Everyone Gets Nervous in the Beginning

Even the most extroverted people in the world are nervous when they first started out networking. Understanding that your nervousness is normal will actually help minimize it.

Consider that almost everyone else at the networking event will be nervous – even long time pros.

If you want to help calm your nerves, LinkedIn published an excellent guide for overcoming nervousness when attending networking events. I particularly enjoy their tip to arrive early before large groups form, as joining a group conversation can be nerve-wracking for new networkers.

Start With Small, Attainable Goals

Don’t go to your first networking event with the hopes of landing your dream client, or multiple dream clients. Or even a single client.

Instead, create smaller, more attainable goals. The main purpose of networking is to exchange contact information with people.

Decide the type of contact information you want, and try to get X amount of contacts. You may prefer email, Skype ID, phone numbers or social media links. Pick one, and try to find people you connect with.

Present Your Authentic Self

Presenting your authentic self is a phrase entirely too overused and too misunderstood. Discovering your authentic self, much less learning how to present it, is something that takes most people consistent effort.

In the professional world, most people present their “invented” self. This is a persona designed to be non-confrontational and friendly. Introverts are guilty of doing this regularly, as being agreeable is easier.

Yet, to truly enjoy networking events, you need to be yourself. Trying to maintain an invented self throughout the event will make it more draining than it needs to be.

Plus, if people get to know an invented self that doesn’t correspond with who you really are, that will become obvious if a professional relationship does form.

Find and Bond With the Other Introverts

There will absolutely be other introverts who forced themselves to attend the event. They’ll be experiencing much of the same nervousness and apprehension as you.

Introverts at networking events can unite and enjoy the same benefits as their extroverted counterparts.

Approach people standing by themselves, staring endlessly on their phone or otherwise looking nervous and introduce yourself. All you have to say is “hello,” followed by your name, and then ask their name. Couple that little introduction with a smile, and you’re golden. The right people will respond positively and a conversation will begin.

If you’re in the same industry and might be able to work together, great. If not, then you can buddy up and move around the event together.

Be Attentive to Your Body Language

Body language is always important.

While different sources argue about what percentage of communication is nonverbal, they all agree that it’s most of it. You might say all the right things, but if your body language is wrong, it’ll come off the wrong way. This may result in you missing out on a great connection.

Body language is an all-encompassing term that includes:

  • Facial expressions
  • Gestures
  • Posture
  • Tone and voice
  • Touch
  • Space

While you can learn all about the different types of body language, it’s almost impossible to fake. This further emphasizes the importance of being your authentic self – it’ll shine through anyway!

Being attentive to your body language, however, doesn’t mean faking it. It means checking in with your body and making sure it’s sending the right message. Even if all you do is stay aware of eye contact and open arms (not crossed), that will help ensure you’re sending the right messages.

Don’t Forget About Online Networking

Online networking may have been the best thing to ever happen to professional introverts. Now, you’re able to showcase your knowledge and meet new people all on your terms and from the comfort of your home.

Online networking still requires a certain skillset, however. You don’t want to make some of these vital mistakes of LinkedIn, the best network for professional connections, such as having a bad photo or not taking advantage of your 2,000 character summary.

The real power of online networking for introverts is showcasing your knowledge and the value you can bring to the table. LinkedIn and Google+ (which is actually great for networking) both allow for long-form posts. Do you have something to say that others in your industry will appreciate? Type it up!

Then, let people know about it. All you need to do is message connections and say, “hey, I just posted something I think you’ll be interested in. Check it out!”

Introverts Can Become Master Networkers

Introverts are underestimated in the business world. Often viewed as excellent employees, but not entrepreneurs, there’s a certain stigma that goes along with being an introvert.

You can use this underestimation to your advantage.

Attend networking events, and showcase your quiet brilliance. A friend once told me, in reference to college guys, “the loudest is the weakest.” If you take that as truth, then the quietest is the strongest – as long as they speak up at the right moment.

Are you an introvert? If so, how did you become skilled at networking? Have you had any experiences with the above guide?

How to Quickly Lose LinkedIn Connections!

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

business time outLinkedIn has become a very important social media tool for business professionals.  With more than 400 million members in 200+ countries, it has become a ‘go to’ site for networking, potential job opportunities, and interesting posts.

Inevitably, with the positives come some negatives.  I recently read a post about some of the most annoying behaviours on LinkedIn – and I’ve unfortunately come across many of these behaviours myself.

Although I maintain a very lean network of professionals that I have worked with and met personally, I am sometimes surprised at the content that I come across on a daily basis.  One of my biggest pet peeves is how overcrowded my LinkedIn network feed has become.  I am finding that I have to sift through a lot of junk updates to actually find out what my contacts are up to or to find an interesting or relevant article.

When speaking with candidates about how to manage their LinkedIn profile, I often caution the LinkedIn user to post content carefully.  Like any social network, people are interested in you but don’t always want to be keep up to date on every thought, opinion or personal situation. You won’t necessarily know that you’ve been ‘unfollowed’, but rest assured, it’s an option that users take advantage of.

When posting updates, make the content meaningful and more importantly, make sure it is professional.  For some additional tips, here is a post on how to manage who sees your network feed and how to manage what others see of your postings.  Also, check out this more recent article discussing some default LinkedIn settings you should change in order to have a more successful LinkedIn experience.

Never Do This on LinkedIn

Never Do This on LinkedInAre you driving away recruiters and other valuable connections with a terrible LinkedIn profile? You probably wouldn’t know, unless you knew what makes a terrible LinkedIn profile. Once again, rather than scouring infographics and statistics, we went to the best resource we could find to learn first-hand what you should never do on LinkedIn. Here’s what Eagle’s Recruiters said when we asked them “What are your biggest turn-offs in a LinkedIn profile?”

Surprisingly (note the sarcasm), poor use of profile photos is a pet-peeve, as you may note from these turn-offs:

  • No picture or an unprofessional photo
  • Terrible profile picture
  • Ridiculous photo
  • Weird selfies
  • Bad LinkedIn photos: blurry, no smile, face covered, photo of children, multiple people in the photo, in costume, etc., unless any of it is relevant to that persons career.
    (editor’s note: we’re unsure what “in costume” references, but we’re just as curious as you are to see some examples of people who wear irrelevant costumes in their LinkedIn photo)

Disliked profiles also come with similar traits about quality of information:

  • Profiles with no details
  • Having no information
  • No descriptions
  • No dates
  • No details about the project (job title only)
  • Very little content
  • Profiles that have not been updated in years and ones that have barely any information or detail in them

Other  turn-offs include:

  • Bad grammar, spelling mistakes and inappropriate profile photo
  • Few connections
  • Using LinkedIn like Facebook
  • Inappropriate posts or pictures
  • Inappropriate comments on articles (yes, people can see those!)
  • Inflammatory comments or posts made by user

And of course, the same annoyances they see in resumes carry over to their dislikes in LinkedIn profiles:

  • Years instead of actual dates, and job titles without descriptions
  • Walls of text
  • Employers listed with no position details
  • Employment gaps

What profile features keep you from connecting with somebody on LinkedIn? Share your pet peeves below and together, maybe we can create a more enjoyable LinkedIn experience for everyone!

Recruiters Reveal What Makes a Great LinkedIn Profile

What Makes a Great Profile, Answered by RecruitersYou’ve read the advice over and over, especially on the Talent Development Centre — a great LinkedIn profile is important for networking, especially as an independent contractor. You’ve also seen all of the cliché tips scattered all over the internet telling you how to improve your profile.

Rather than just throw more of those same old facts at you, we decided to go one step further and sought advice directly from Eagle Recruiters. Here are some exact quotes from when we asked “What makes a great LinkedIn profile?”

Many recruiters think your LinkedIn profile should have similar qualities to your resume:

  • A complete profile that resembles their resume.
  • Lots of information. It should be just as informative as a resume.
  • Company, job title, summary of experience (including relevant technologies used), and results (where appropriate).
  • A complete, concise profile with dates, job titles, and companies clearly listed.
  • A brief description under each position is also helpful.
  • Succinct info that gives a clear indication of the individual’s skills and experience.

Others want to know you’re taking advantage of LinkedIn’s unique networking opportunities

  • Nice to see lots of connections and recommendations.
  • Recommendations are great if from other respected individuals.
  • It helps if they’re active on the network too.
  • Think key words recruiters are using for searches and add them to your profile.

Of course, the simple and professional details still matter:

  • Correct grammar, no spelling mistakes.
  • Professional profile picture.
  • Personality, especially in the summary. Keeping it professional, but add some personal flare.
  • One that is up to date and accurate.

What about you? What do you do with your LinkedIn profile to grab a recruiter’s attention?  Share them in the comments below.

2015 in Review: LinkedIn

2015 in Review: LinkedInSaying LinkedIn replaces the need for networking events is the equivalent of saying Facebook replaces the need for a New Year’s Eve Party. However, just as Facebook makes planning events and connecting with friends much easier, LinkedIn makes networking and job searching extremely easy.

In the past year, we shared many articles, infographics and videos about LinkedIn and how you can improve your presence. Below are some of our favourites

Stay tuned to the Talent Development Centre in the new year where we’ll share our recruiters’ opinions on what makes or breaks a LinkedIn profile.

The Top 5 Must-Haves in Your LinkedIn Profile

5 Must-Haves for SuccessIt’s no secret that recruiters use LinkedIn to source contractors for different opportunities. As a proactive professional, you probably have a LinkedIn profile set-up, but that may not be enough. LinkedIn offers a number of different sections that you can include in your profile to enhance it and, while you don’t need to complete all of them, you need to know which ones are most important. To help answer that question, we asked Eagle’s recruiters which sections they look at and need to be completed before contacting a candidate, and put together this list of Top 5 Must-Haves (actually, there are 6 items, but #5 was a tie and Top 5 just reads better).

#1 – Experience

Hopefully this isn’t coming as a shock to you. 100% of Eagle’s recruiters stated that experience is absolutely necessary to have in your profile.  The Experience section lets you list all of your employers chronologically and give a brief description what you did with each one. As an independent contractor, you are your own employer which is fine. You can use the Experience section to highlight that you’re self-employed, and describe what it is you do as an independent contractor.

#2 – Skills

Skills are the second most important element and the Skills and Endorsements section is a great place to put them. LinkedIn will automatically generate some suggestions for you and you can add others as you please. What’s better, is your connections can then endorse you for those skills with the click of a button. When you have more endorsements, it shows recruiters that you really are qualified. Finally, adding more skills to your profile makes you more searchable on LinkedIn, and more likely to be found.

#3 – Projects

The Projects section is perfect for independent contractors. Where the experience section described in #1 is for employment details, the Projects section is where you can list specific work completed for clients. This section may not be part of your default Profile options. To add it, while editing your profile, click the “View More” link located right above your Summary. This will open a variety of sections you can add, including the Projects section.  Here you can add many details, including any URLs to more information about the project and link to other Team Members on LinkedIn.

#4 – Education

The Education section isn’t just for the degree you received 20 years ago, but for all other courses you may have taken since then. Recruiters review this section to see how up-to-date your skills are and to find out if you’re serious about staying relevant in the industry.

#5 – Summary AND Profile Photo

Although these two tied at the bottom of the list, they are must-haves none-the-less and 25% of Eagle’s recruiters won’t even look at your profile unless you have these.  A good summary contains keywords that help you get found in a search and is what will grab a recruiter’s attention. We’ve posted a lot about profile photos in the past, including this infographic about what not to use. Of this entire list, both the Summary and Profile photo may be the fastest and easiest to complete, so if you haven’t already, we recommend starting here!

There are many other sections for a LinkedIn profile and you can explore them all. Every contractor’s experience and story is unique, so create a LinkedIn profile that reflects yours. If you have any more tips you’d like to share about getting noticed on LinkedIn, please include them in the comments below!