Matthew Sekol

"The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words."

Month: October 2014

Looking at Liberal Arts from the Outside

tulipsThey call us dreamers and radicals. We took a chance at what we loved and came out the other side battle-worn. We are Liberal Arts graduates.

A friend recently posted an article on Facebook about a conference for the future of Liberal Arts that took place at St. Johns College. It doesn’t look good. Here’s a snippet –

English majors only account for 3% of all majors nationwide.

One interesting comment listed in the article, which admittedly is controversial, is made by Andrew DelBanco, head of American Studies at Columbia University – “You cannot explain the value of a liberal education to those who have not had one.”

While the article focuses on some recent trends in the humanities that arguably should be reversed, let’s focus on that one comment. I don’t think it is the value is difficult to explain, you just have to switch your perspective.

I absolutely loved studying literature, but having an English degree meant two paths:

1. English professor – I saw the decline coming (see the article linked above)
2. Lawyer – I took my LSATs, but it just wasn’t for me.

By the time I realized I may have made a mistake by declaring English as my major, I decided that I was too far down the path. I took advantage of the free websites at Penn State, learned some HTML code, and finished up my English degree. I spent my immediate post-graduate life focusing on computers and moved into an entry-level IT job.

16 years later, I am still in IT and the value of my degree is extremely easy to see. This made me realize that Delbanco, which highly educated and well-respected, is missing the perspective of someone working completely outside the Liberal Arts field.

I thought my English degree was a hindrance for a long time. In IT, obviously technical skills are highly valued. I had these skills, but I started noticing that others, while very technically saavy, lacked other skills that I seemed to have.

I could communicate effectively and had empathy. This helped me translate technical ideas and concepts to non-technical customers and business partners. Empathy is a skill that is valued by business leaders for this and other reasons. For example, my first Enterprise IT job was a laptop support technician. After seeing the same problems being logged by the Help Desk over and over, I designed a training class to address common issues and delivered it to IT contacts in the business and administrative assistants.

As time went on and my responsibilities grew, I found other skills came naturally – complex analysis, listening, and critical thinking. It turns out, these skills that are also highly valued. Several years ago, I worked with IT teams and HR to understand the requirements and pain points around account management. From there, I developed an account lifecycle management strategy using a software solution and pitched the idea to various business units and management. The project was approved and we implemented a solution that lowered Help Desk tickets, streamlined account creation and kept terminations within SLA.

Delbanco almost has it right. Trying to convince someone of the value of a Liberal Arts education from inside a career in that field is impossible. Preaching the value as a professor and pointing to Liberals Arts careers as valuable is certainly difficult. How do you quantify the value of an author’s work, for example? It is completely subjective.

Instead, put a spin on the discussion and point to successful people that leverage their Liberal Arts education to drive results and change in other fields. The value become both measureable and obvious.

Photo: Library_Tulips_2 by Alina Gluck

Gen-Xers Value Life Balance, Too!

house-w-white-picket-fence_000Another day, more articles about Millennials. Where are the articles for Gen-Xers? We’re out here and about to be the group that has to lead Millennials and the generation after them in the business world.

Consider that the last of the Baby Boomers will be retiring in the next 10 years. Stack that on top of Gen-Xers that have gained corporate and managerial experience over the last 10 years. Sure, there are Millennials out there that will make (or already are) great managers, too, but Gen-X has the experience to hit the ground running.

Let’s get one thing out of the way, a generation does not define an individual. There are large swaths of individuals in each generations that do meet these profiles though.

The Work/Life balance for Millennials is about satisfaction. They crave both professional and personal fulfillment. If they need fewer hours and less pay to get there, they will get it sorted out through creativity and remote access. To them, their life experience is worth as much as the money they earn.

Consider that Millennials are ditching high cost items, like cars and houses, things that Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers have always taken for granted as necessities.

Perhaps it is because Millennials have witnessed their parents work like crazy and get little in return, or worse buried in debt, in their non-work life.

Millennial Philosophy: Work to Live!

For Gen-Xers, Work/Life balance is about taking financial care of their families. Not only do they have kids, but they are taking care of their aging parents, who are going to live for quite a long time (this will eventually be a Millennial problem too, eventually). They do value their family, but feel that they are better served through hard work and financial responsibility.

Gen-Xers grew up with ‘greed is good’ and, having lost a TON of money over the years, they’re still trying to gain that financial security. Due to the Baby Boomers’ strong work ethic, they take the punches and just keep going.

Gen-Xer Philosophy: Live to Work!

What is Gen-X Thinking?
As a member of Gen-X, I can see the appeal in the Millennial philosophy. For me, my career is a race to stay ahead to ensure my family has the financial security to send 3 kids to college (all will overlap for at least for 1 year) while making sure I can take care of my parents, who are close to retirement.

A lot of Gen-Xers are so far down this path that they can’t stop. They’ve purchased homes and bought into the same American dream that our parents help set up. So, now what are they to do?

Here’s what it comes down to. Gen-X is seeing how the Millenials operate and realizing that the work struggle isn’t the legacy we want to leave our families. We’re picking up the same tools as Millennials and leveraging them to give us a flexible work experience. All of this is while maintaining and improving our results at work.

The Downfall of the Flexible Work Movement
The one thing that will kill off this movement though is same thing that will kill it off for the Millennials. Employers need to recognize that, in some cases where the job (and person) can handle it, working remotely is just as effective as working in the office. Of course, some companies can’t seem to figure out even how to have remote offices!

I’ve seen flexible and remote work in my own industry. In IT, you don’t have to be in front of a server to manage it. The cloud and global accessibility has hastened this argument. Since IT folks are highly technical, we’ve embraced collaboration tools to work remotely from the rest of our team. As a manager of a global team, I’ve been able to be effective without ever meeting half of my team in person.

Millennials have led the charge for a better Work/Life balance, but Gen-X is adopting their methodologies. As Gen-X move into leadership roles, expect more flexible and results oriented initiatives. On the flip side, they will ask for accountability, otherwise the model falls apart.

How to Get People to
Read your Notification

mel_bochner_blah_blah_blah

Business support groups like HR, IT, facilities, etc. need to communicate changes and updates out to employees often. Probably too often. You can’t blame these groups though, they have a responsibility to communicate compliance rules, training, changes to processes, downtime and improvements.

Your email is probably already inundated with useless information and now these notifications compound it. As a result, almost everyone filters or ignores these types of emails. Here’s some tips to manage a notification to ensure it is read.

To be fair, there will always be people that don’t read your notifications no matter what you do. These steps though should get people reading your email and at least transfer the responsibility to them to read it.

Step 1: Consistency
Well, you can’t start being consistent on your next email campaign, but you can put a good foot forward. Work with your team or organization and design a central notification sending address to work with. If you have a Corporate Communications or Internal Marketing group, work with them for reviewing, branding, and potentially sending.

For all notifications your organization sends out, use the same sending address so your employees begin to recognize the sender (and hopefully not set up a rule).

Design a reusable format that will be the standard for your organization.

Step 2: Pick Your Audience
Make sure that your audience is appropriate. For example, if you rebooting an email server that serves only 100 people, only send the notice to the 100 people. If you communicate useless information out to the masses, it will train them to tune you out.

Step 3: Include Something Actionable if Required
It is absolutely the worst when you send a notification that requires an action from your employees, but it goes into a black hole and no one does what they need to.

In the Subject line, include an ACTION REQUIRED: so that employees know they need to do something. This should halt them from deleting it immediately. Include dates to complete by in the subject or body of the message.

As a helpful side note, if there is an action required, be sure you have a way to track it and don’t be afraid to send follow ups. This may be required for tracking compliance training for example.

Step 4: Avoid the Technical Jargon
Coming from IT, I can tell you – just avoid anything technical. Chances are it will be over the employees heads. Stick with the impact. If we continue the example about rebooting an email server, You will not be able to send or receive emails between from 1-3PM EDT on Saturday, Oct. 25th. Incoming messages from the internet will queue and be delivered after 3PM EDT.

Step 5: Leverage Your Leaders
For major changes, engage your managers and leaders with supplemental information so that they can reiterate the message if their teams ask. You can do this through leadership focused emails.

Step 6: Bonus!
This step is a bonus and includes one! If you are desperate to get people to read your notifications, include an incentive. Put a gift card reward for the 50th person to reply or some other incentive at the bottom of the email. Eventually, this will train your users to stop ignoring you.

All these steps should help you do everything you can to inform the employees through a notification. If they still refuse to read, you can always ask them for feedback on communicating better. For example, an IM broadcast might work better in an emergency.

Warning – ask people for their opinions at your own risk!

The One Thing That Stops
Top IT Talent

There’s something different about IT people. Sure, we like our salaries like everyone else, but a job is more than that. Seeing technology bring people together, make their lives easier and help the company grow is a great thing to be a part of.

There’s a certain level of investment IT folks make in their systems, a pride. When we look for jobs, we are looking to improve and grow, or maybe we’re forced to. Well, sure we also look for the same reasons as other folks, too.

Having said that, there is one thing though that will scare off talented IT job seekers. It is an outdated system. I’m not talking about the last major revision. I’m talking about software 5 years old+.

Reason 1: Its a Career Killer
You could be a fantastic company with a great reputation, but seeing that you are on an outdated piece of software will kill my career. Companies come and go and just because you are awesome today, doesn’t mean I won’t be looking for a job again soon and need those technical skills.

If that happens, I will be taking a step backwards technically. If you don’t use it, you lose it applies to me here.

Reason 2: It Reveals Your Investment Strategy in IT
Having an outdated system shows me your hand. You’ve revealed that you don’t (or can’t) keep your systems updated. IT is nothing to you except a commodity. Maybe you’re stuck with a legacy system for compliance reasons, but I’m still judging you.

Reason 3: You Are at Risk!
Something strange that you might not be considering – by putting outdated software versions on a job description, you just told the internet which exploits that they can use to hack your systems!

Not only that, but if I come on board, I am responsible for everything that happens to this system. An older system is more difficult to maintain and keep secure. Chances are I will be hosed in the near future.

How to Fix It
Focus on the technology family and not specific versions of the software. Consider the risks of your outdated software and, if you are truly looking for top talent, put a plan together to get the software updated once the new person starts. This is a great challenge to mention during the interview and could entice top talent to join, especially if it is something we’ve done before.

Consider this, your top talent candidate is confident, has been through this before and can modernize you AND get a quick win for themselves shortly after they join. It’s a win-win!

Where’s the Humor?

I’ve gotten into a full swing of writing LinkedIn articles now. I certainly don’t consider myself what you might call a ‘swinger,’ but I do alright. Some articles I write are serious, some are funny. On the flip side, I’ve read quite a few LinkedIn articles too. Most are serious and some talk about using humor or empathy in your job, but rarely do they use humor.

Come on, folks. We’re only on this crazy planet for a short time. We spend half of our lives working. Why not put a little humor into you day?

Corporate Life is Your Life
There’s a reason why people post Dilbert comics on their cubicle and dream of bashing their printer with a bat (a la Office Space). Working in the corporate world is horrible. It just is.

If you don’t believe me, consider the monotony, red tape,hours in pointless meetings, the soul sucking policies and procedures you must follow. Plus, what’s with that guy that always sleeps at his desk? How isn’t he fired yet?

If you’re happy in your job, come join the rest of us on the dark side. As the t-shirt states, we have cookies.

A Call to Action
I really believe LinkedIn Pulse should have a Humor channel. Work is ridiculous, yet we do it anyway. Why not let us share our combined depression and spin it into something humorous?

I certainly not proposing that we turn LinkedIn into Facebook, but come on! Being human means two things, you work and do stupid things. There are a million great stories out there (and voices) that have the power to give us a chuckle throughout our day.

I posted a request for this channel over in the LinkedIn Help Center. If you agree – go comment!

The Only Thing We Have to Fear
I can imagine why folks may not want to be funny on LinkedIn, I get it. You’re trying to get your name out there in your industry or maybe you are trying to get a job. But, you can spin out humor into a lesson. For example, I took a shot on two LinkedIn Posts when I got started. The first was about a bad ATS experience I had and the second was a humorous re-writing of my resume as a result. The end result? Maybe I imparted a little knowledge and backed up my belief that I use humor to get things done!

What are you afraid of? Get writing!

The Story of My Career: How to
Go from an English Major to IT

It was my 16th birthday and I was working at JCPenney’s in package pick-up. A co-worker heard it was my birthday and went over to the bookstore and purchased a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle” for me. I had just finished reading George Orwell’s “1984” and both books blew my mind.

This is what I wanted to do – read great novels and teach kids to love literature.

I went to Penn State with every intention of majoring in English and doing, well something. At one point, I took my LSATs. In the late 90s though, the Internet exploded! Penn State started offering web sites to students and professors. I was fascinated with HTML and volunteered to do everyone’s class page.

I still loved to read, but I found I had a knack for the technical as well. There seemed to be money in technology and, the best thing was I could see it coming.

A lot of colleges were behind the ball in offering classes in what would become IT in the professional world. Computer Science at Penn State in 1997 wasn’t an exception. Now, I had been tutoring Calculus for 2  years despite my Liberal Arts education. In my senior year, I went to the Dean of the Computer Science department and asked what it would take to switch majors or at least get a minor.

Turns out neither was an option, or at least that was my understanding. It was hard to glean the true meaning behind all the laughing. I actually walked out to the sound of laughter.

I refused to believe this was the end. I started checking into what kinds of IT jobs were out there.

I kept developing websites for folks over the next year and grew my computer skills in general. By my senior year, I found Microsoft Networking Essentials and the MCSE program. I came up with a plan.

I graduated with my degree in English in the spring of 1998, but my roommates and I had the apartment through the summer. I scrapped my TV and immersed myself in Networking Essentials over the summer.

In the fall, I went to work for my father’s company upgrading their servers and managing a customer database. He offered to pay me in MCSE courses. After a few months, I had my MCSE and was on my way.

Phew, 1998 was a long time ago. In that time, I’ve grown a strong career on collaboration tools and IT infrastructure. Now, I haven’t become CIO or anything, but I did get to be manager of an international team of IT engineers for a global semiconductor company.

Oh, and that English degree? It absolutely helped me get here. Nothing balances out a technical career like a Liberal Arts education.

I have no idea whatever became of the Dean, but I will never forget him laughing at me. Who knew an English major could get so far in IT? So, what about the dream of reading great novels and teaching kids to love literature? Well, I have 3 kids under 8 and if our growing library is any indication, I’m doing just fine.

Let’s Fix It: The Gap Between
IT Budgets and IT Security

mindthegap

Are there any excuses anymore for not dedicating a serious effort towards your company’s IT Security?

There are some common and not so common things you might be thinking about for IT Security. Budgets and framing the conversation might be your biggest hurdle.

Here are 3 examples how budget hacking can lead to…well, actual hacking and something you can do about it.

The Basics – Economic Downturn
In the past decade, the economy has tanked. Enterprises were looking for ways to cut costs. DR, security and other proactive services were cut. These were the easiest targets because of the perceived low benefit.

Security Risk: The dedicated IT Security job has been cut and responsibilities scattered to folks wearing other IT hats. To compound the problem, other IT staff has been cut as well.

How to Communicate the Risk: This one is difficult to address because of the scope and the longest to ramp up. You may not even understand all of IT’s exposure. Don’t get too bogged down on the big picture!

Start reading security blogs and watch for similar companies in your industry that have been hacked and common ways hackers enter your network. Build your conversation with similar high risk systems that you may have and any low hanging fruit that can be addressed. This will at least get you some attention and put the company on the right path.

If your conversation is well received, you may want to recommend an engagement to identify risks. When you get the results, go beyond the technical and translate the risks into something the business can understand.

No one in the business will understand that you aren’t running an Intrusion Detection or Network Behavior Analysis system, but they will understand if that credit card system running under Gary’s desk could easily be stolen from your office.

The Not so Obvious – The Custom Written Application
For large Enterprises a decade or more ago, custom written applications were the cloud of the day. By hiring a small team of these computer geniuses, you could get exactly what you needed. I remember those guys, where did they go?

Security Risk: A critical database with customer information is still on SQL 2000. Despite the critical data stored here, the developers left years ago, but the application works too well to give it up. No group has stepped up to take ownership because no one wants the head count or developer budget to hit their numbers.

Side note – when planning cloud applications, define an application lifecycle so this doesn’t happen!

How to Communicate the Risk: In terms of critical and outdated applications, there are 2 risks.

1. The data is stolen because it is outdated and easily hacked – frame this conversation in terms of the data type and exposure risk to the media. Talk to your marketing team. They could lead you to other conversations with business units that could lead you to a real financial impact to the risk.

2. The application is taken offline and can’t be rebuilt because it is outdated – This is a bonus one! Find the business partners using the application. These folks should be able to provide potential business losses, etc. Depending on the exposure of the offline application, marketing could help you here as well.

Since we’re talking about not hiring security professionals, but developers instead, you should steer the conversation to the business units. Discuss the secondary benefit of adding functionality to these applications. You may find a business unit is aware of this risk and might take the headcount on if needed, or at least fund a quick project to get it done.

The One Thing Missing – Identity Management
Matt Zanderigo laid out a great framework to get companies thinking about how they can look at IT Security. If there was one thing I could add, it is that an Identity Management solution with a tight termination policy and consolidation of directory access supplements everything he’s laid out.

Security Risk: Your company has 4 directories, all with critical access to critical applications. There are 4 teams of people that are responsible for terminating access. One team has staff out of the office and terminations are just sitting there.

Ho boy, in this scenario, you are relying on so many disparate teams to terminate account access that you better hope VPN is first on your list and that you aren’t using cloud services!

How to Communicate the Risk: Review your termination SLAs and compare them against active accounts from HR, provide a report of stale accounts to your management chain. Write up ways this risk is mitigated now (physical access controls, tighter VPN controls, etc), but point to where the holes still exist.

You may not need a full blown Identity Management solution, but a project to build out a better account lifecycle management process could do wonders.

Mind the Gap!
Budgets have different ways to hurt your IT Security efforts. As the economy turns around, it is time to start looking at ramping up your IT Security again. Quantifying the risk and translating it into a risk the business can understand is IT’s responsibility. In all these scenarios, a little investment and re-thinking your discussions can go a long way!

Fill Your Bucket and Maintain
Your Life’s Balance

paint

Just face it. If you are a professional with a full-time job, most of your Monday to Friday is spent working, not away from work. If you consider how you spend your time, your work is half of your life.

Let’s do some quick math.

Working 5 days a week x 52 weeks x 8 hour days = 2080 work hours per year
Let’s assume you have some sort of commute and you have a solid 4 hours of time with your family per weekday.
5 days a week x 52 weeks x 4 hours = 1040 hours per year
Add in the weekends, assuming 12 hours of quality family time per day.
2 weekend days x 52 weeks x 12 hours = 1248 hours per year
The total time = 2288 home hours per year
I’m going to go ahead and assume that you take vacation, but also spend hours working extra. It looks pretty even.

This is how work/life balance just becomes life balance. Somehow though the word ‘life’ has come to mean ‘whatever happens while you aren’t at work.’

I encourage you to toss out the notion of work/life balance. The whole thing is your life.

Now that we’ve dropped that on you. This is your one shot on this planet.

The questions you should ask yourself are:

Where is my focus in this moment, right now?
No matter where you are or what you are doing, are you all in or distracted? If you’re distracted, take 5 minutes, get it sorted and re-focus yourself. Whoever you are with or whatever you are doing deserves your complete attention.

What is the return on investment of my time (personally or professionally)?
My kids have a book called Bucket Filling from A to Z by Carol McCloud. The book is about being nice to people and filling their metaphorical bucket. Treating them badly empties their bucket. The goal is to fill buckets (including your own).

Take this message of the book and spin it. When you consider how you spend your time, consider whose bucket you are filling – your own, your company’s or your family’s.

Note: If you are doing your job and it isn’t filling yours or your company’s bucket, it might be time to leave!

Here’s an example from my life on how my perception changed my bucket filling efforts.

My company was going through a merger right when my wife was pregnant with my first child. The day after my daughter was born, the CIO had the first combined team video conference. I left my wife and daughter in the hospital, rushed home, showered and went to the meeting. Afterwards, I went back to the hospital. The time away from my new family was 4-6 hours.

8 years later, my wife still remembers me leaving and rushing around, but my CIO and my peers couldn’t care at all and most likely didn’t notice. Sure, I’ve been promoted since then, but it wasn’t because I showed up to some meeting.

I thought I was filling my bucket, when really I was just emptying it onto the ground. That was invaluable time with my family that I took for granted and gave me no long term gain.

You are faced with decisions on how to spend your time every day. Be sure you are keep an eye on your bucket to make sure your life is in balance.

Tips for Ramping Up
Your LinkedIn

Folks seem to have a love\meh relationship with LinkedIn. It is certainly a powerful networking tool, but a lot of folks only use it heavily when they are looking for a job. While I could probably write a whole article on why I’ve come to realize that’s a mistake, let’s stick to the topic and get you started. This is dedicated a great group of folks, you know who you are. Here’s the scenario:

You travel down a dark, tree-lined path. A toolbox is up ahead. You bust open the lock and LinkedIn is inside. You pick it up and turn it over. There’s a note attached that says, “I can help you get a job.” You stare at it blankly and wonder what to do next.

Step 1: Your Profile
Your profile should get sorted out first. There are a million great sites with tips on getting your profile rocking, but it comes down to content. LinkedIn makes it easy to update your profile through wizards that take you through each section. Make sure you fill out relevant sections with data and upload a good picture (don’t crop others out of your picture, people can tell and avoid tuxedo pictures).

I used each section to tell the story of my career, rather than just copying and pasting my resume. It makes for a more engaging read.

Like Donna Serdula mentions on her excellent site, LinkedIn Makeover, try to get the All Star status on your profile. I encourage you to follow her blog and learn other tips. Her site also offers paid services to get your profile updated. If you are not a wordsmith, this could be a great investment.

Please note: I have not used Donna’s paid services, but her site is a wealth of information and definitely worth checking out!

If you are looking for a new job, update your Headline to reflect it. The Headline appears under your name on your profile. It doesn’t/shouldn’t reflect your current title. For example, mine says:

★Creative IT Leader ➡ Up for the next challenge

I considered “Seeking the next challenge,” but I thought it was too obvious. If you want it to be obvious, ‘seeking’ or ‘looking’ are good terms to use.

Next, customize your public profile link. It appears below your picture, just click Edit. Make it something memorable, like your name. Mine is http://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewsekol for example (shameless plug).

Step 2: Connect with the People You Know
This is probably the no-brainer of this write-up, but is worth mentioning. Start by connecting with fellow employees, vendors, and partners. Keep LinkedIn on your mind as you network with people. If you need help learning how to network in real life (*gasp), go read Pam Ross’ article – How I Stopped Sucking at Networking. She has a lot of great tips, particularly the Rule of Three.

Step 3: Get in a Group and Start Commenting
You obviously have some wisdom to impart, whether from education or career experience. Why not help someone out? The Groups on LinkedIn can be a great way to get your name out there and get people looking at your profile all while being (somewhat) altruistic.

On LinkedIn, go to Interests and then Groups.  Click the Find a Group button and start looking. Try searching for terms from your industry or job titles to start. For example, I am in IT and focused on Microsoft. There are groups for Microsoft Exchange and Office 365. Since I am a manager, you can also find me in the Information Technology Managers (IT) group. There are also geographically based Groups you can join. Watch your Updates (the LinkedIn default page) for Groups that your peers join and join those too if they are relevant.

There are two great ways to get going in Groups. First, start commenting and liking interesting threads. Second, post a link to an interesting (and relevant) internet article and make a meaningful comment in the text.

One tip on Groups – if you join a Group and see a lot of spam, you could try reaching out to the Group moderator to see if you can help control it, but it might just be better to leave the Group.

Step 4: Customize your Pulse Feed to Comment and Share
LinkedIn has a robust publishing platform that allows any member to write articles. These articles appear on your LinkedIn Pulse. You can customize it to get specific articles that are relevant to your interests. Each article is curated to a specific Channel.

You can change or update your Channels by clicking on the In: within the article square.
Pulse1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, click the See More link under Other Channels and start clicking areas of interest.
Pulse2

 

 

 

 

 

Once you’ve done that, go back to Pulse and you will see a new set of interesting articles. Like, Share, and Comment away to get noticed! Shares are particularly useful in generating interest within your circle.

One tip on commenting – think before you comment and leave politics or other controversial topics alone. Don’t get into a flame war on LinkedIn (or any social network site).

Step 5: All this Action is Getting Attention, Get Some More!
You should see your profile views start going up now that you’ve stirred the LinkedIn pot. If you’re interested, click back to the folks who have looked at you. 

If you are looking to get hired at a particular company, go search for folks that might be the hiring manager. You could either send them a pain letter (I’ll get to Liz Ryan in a minute) or just click on their profile. They will get the same profile view notice that you got. It might lead them to click on you!

One tip on contacting individuals – if you don’t have LinkedIn Premium, you can only receive InMails, but you can’t send them. This could hinder you sending any communication to an unknown person. If you are job hunting, you might want to consider a subscription to LinkedIn Premium. If not, send them a note the old fashioned way or try to see if you have a connection that can facilitate an introduction.

Another way to see a company’s activity is to search for the company on LinkedIn and click Follow. Some companies will post jobs or relevant articles that will now appear in your Updates.

You can also get more attention by searching through the LinkedIn Jobs. Recruiters will see your clicks as you look and can then reach out to you.

Step 6: Find Good People to Follow
With so many people writing articles on Pulse, you have your choice on who to follow. If you are job hunting, I recommend following Liz Ryan. You can follow someone by clicking the Follow button in the upper right of their profile or below their name on the Pulse article you are reading.

Getting Out of the Woods
You’ve taken your first steps out of the woods with your LinkedIn nestled in your pack. You look behind you and see a small group of people peeking at you from behind the trees. Ahead of you lies a sunrise just over a massive briar patch.

Hopefully, this advice will get you started on using LinkedIn to get your next job. This advice is just the beginning. Start checking around in LinkedIn and see what else you can find!

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