At LinkedIn Accelerate U last weekend in Los Angeles, students with both business and technical backgrounds had the opportunity to "go behind-the-scenes with LinkedIn to learn how to build [their] personal brand, network confidently, maximize interview success, and accelerate towards the career of [their] dreams." Through the workshops, activities, and breakout sessions, it became clear to me just how much LinkedIn cares about:
democratizing economic opportunity for every professional in the global workforce.
The 101 on Personal Branding
Because 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet job candidates, it’s imperative your personal brand comes in hot on LinkedIn to differentiate yourself on this vast professional social network landscape with 500 million users.
Start building your brand on LinkedIn with some simple steps to creating a kickass profile:
- Getting yourself a high-quality headshot. It’ll be the first thing people see, so make sure your photo expresses your personality, your brand.
- Crafting a headline that screams YOU by showcasing your value proposition and speaking directly to the audience you want to target.
- Inputting all of your work and leadership experience and including media to show (rather than tell) your network about your experiences.
The last, and perhaps most overlooked step for young millennials, is becoming active on LinkedIn. Sharing your knowledge, connecting with professionals in your industry, getting more insight into news and updates that matter to your field, and more are crucial to building your brand and presence.
The Interview Workshop
Here are the six magical keys to a killer interview, according to LinkedIn recruiters:
- Talking Points – Develop a brief elevator pitch that explains your skills, experience, and education. Review the job description and identify the 3 key things the company is looking for in this position and why are they important. Write those down and keep them in mind to stay on message during the interview.
- Tone of Voice – Make sure your voice doesn't come off as either too aggressive or too passive by keeping your pitch, rhythm, speed, and volume in check.
- Eye Contact – Begin making eye contact initially with the first handshake, then maintain that eye contact throughout the interview as you listen to the questions. You should also be careful not to blink too frequently, and to make sure you emphasize your main talking points with your eyes.
- Facial Expressions – You should smile, but stay relaxed to keep it looking natural. Beware of the false smile, as you shouldn't have a smile on your face throughout the entire interview (it's kind of creepy).
- Body Language – Maintain an upright yet relaxed posture, use hand gestures while speaking, nod your head while listening, and perhaps subtly mirror the other person’s body language.
- Talking Time – The longer you speak without interruption, the less attention the listener will give you. Put the most important talking points in the first 10-20 seconds of your answers. You shouldn't talk for any longer than a maximum of 90 seconds uninterrupted.
The Non-Technical Hackathon
The Accelerate U attendees were broken up into teams of four and were told that while LinkedIn has hundreds of millions of users, only 13% of those users are millennials (ages 15-34). So here's the question they tasked us with:
What new features can LinkedIn develop and promote to increase student engagement and membership?
Easy enough, right? Except...we only had 30 minutes. With a team of people that we've never met or worked with before. In a completely unfamiliar environment.
In the end, my favorite ideas pitched by the other students include LinkedIn Stories, enhanced 3D Touch capabilities on iOS, QR code functionalities like Snapchat for faster connection-making, and more.
Takeaways & Parting Thoughts
Throughout the day, the importance of communication and collaboration really became crystal clear, even more so than ever before. My breakout session leader Zach told us,
"Great communicators aren't born, they're made."
There are three types of communication (verbal, non-verbal, and active listening) that can make or break someone's effectiveness as a team member. According to LinkedIn, greater collaboration can be achieved through authenticity, encouraging open discussion by inviting new perspectives, and uniting to work toward a common goal.
In the end, what I found most important was not only how one communicates in a team environment, but also how one communicates their brand online. And I think that's the magic of LinkedIn: allowing the world's professionals to communicate freely about anything and everything.
Here are some of the things that someone way smarter than me learned from the conference.