LinkedIn: My Career Companion on an Adventurous Journey

March 21, 2013

Since 2004, LinkedIn has been my constant companion along an adventurous career journey. At that time, I was in London looking for a new job. Nobody would have guessed then that I would move to Dubai, start my own consulting company and publish a management book about the Middle East.

Taking on the World as a Born Networker

From the moment I joined LinkedIn, I saw opportunities way beyond my job search because I’ve always appreciated and depended on networking with people. Even though the community was still young, LinkedIn enabled me to build a stronger professional network of friends and colleagues.

My strong preference for interacting with others has been nurtured because I have dyslexia. A slower reader gets answers faster simply by asking. The handicap was not so bad that it prevented me from being hired by a prestigious management consulting firm and afterwards working for two other renowned companies. It required, however, quite a bit of determination and stamina. A consultant’s need to work closely with many people and sparsely worded PowerPoint slides also played to my strengths. Yet, even today I find it amusing how my career has worked out.

Doing Business in the Middle East

Business in Middle East

What became my last job hunt ended when I was offered a position in London as Director for Nokia Networks’ consulting activities in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. This literally opened up a new world to me. It was obvious that most of the growth in the telecommunications industry would be in the emerging markets. The cultures and business practices in these regions are very different from those in Europe and North America, where I had most of my work experience. I learned that to conduct business successfully, I had to invest time on the ground to understand and build relationships. So shortly after I started this job, my dear wife Ida and I packed and moved to Dubai.

LinkedIn was of great help to me when I started doing business in this new place. It helped me to identify colleagues from previous employers as well as other Scandinavians with whom it was easier to get a meeting and help with further introductions.

Starting my Own Company

I had always wanted to start my own business, but it was harder to wave goodbye to monthly paychecks and business class airline seats than I had imagined. My resolve to strike out on my own was strengthened by my conviction that most companies miss significant potential by treating business decisions and initiatives separately from leadership development. I noticed the divide between “hard” management consulting and the “soft” fields of coaching and training were seldom crossed. As an exception, I had developed and applied methods to accelerate the performance of organizations that combined these hard and soft skills. I leveraged this insight to strengthen my own organization at what is now Nokia Siemens Networks but saw much more potential.

Nicolai Book LaunchSo in 2011, I resigned when I realized that I would never forgive myself for not grasping this big opportunity. I founded Dual Impact, which is a consulting and coaching firm helping business leaders with strategic issues in which people are the critical factor. To share some of the insights that the firm is building upon, I recently published my first book Effective Business in the Gulf: Mastering Leadership Skills for Greater Success.

A challenge for me is that most companies in the region do not share much information about themselves. LinkedIn became my X-ray by showing me a good chunk of a company’s employees so I get a sense of the size of the company, what the organization looks like and what backgrounds their staff has. I would neither have been able to write the book nor help my clients with the same confidence without a better sense of which companies are the movers and shakers.

Over the past 9 years, LinkedIn has really become a trusted companion on my career adventure. Now, I start everyday with LinkedIn as it’s become a valuable part of my morning routine.

Editor’s Note: If LinkedIn has helped you transform your career or business, please share your story with us or write a post on LinkedIn with the hashtag #MyLinkedInStory. For more inspiration, check out more success stories.