My Secret Career Weapon: LinkedIn
March 4, 2014
I was born to be a digital marketer. Since I was a kid, I used the latest breaking news to tell stories to convince people to support my cause. When the Internet arrived, I became obsessed with using technologies to scale my ability to make an impact. These days, I love being in the sweet spot where marketing meets technology.
So it may be no surprise that I found eight of my last career building opportunities on LinkedIn. But if you’d told me when I graduated from college that LinkedIn would be my secret career weapon, I wouldn’t have believed it. In the decade since graduation, thanks to LinkedIn I’ve landed several dream jobs at amazing companies like Disney, J. Crew, and Conde Nast. I’ve also received professional opportunities to serve on a corporate board, act as an expert advisor to institutional investors, and speak at conferences—all because of my activity on LinkedIn.
Given all the success I’ve experienced with LinkedIn, I wanted to share some advice on how anyone can use LinkedIn to build their career:
Keep your LinkedIn Profile up to date
I spend a considerable amount of time optimizing my LinkedIn Profile. I brand myself in the Summary section as a cutting-edge digital marketer. I list out Honors and Awards to highlight my accomplishments. I seek recommendations from people I work with. And most importantly, I build and manage my professional network through connections on LinkedIn.
These efforts have paid off time and again. Most recently, in 2012, when I was on sabbatical and not even looking for a job, I received a LinkedIn InMail that led me to my current role at Conde Nast Entertainment. The Conde Nast VP of Recruiting contacted me because their Chief Digital Officer found me on LinkedIn and really wanted to meet me. I was told, “he was very impressed by my LinkedIn profile."
Pursue multiple opportunities
Earlier in my career, I was looking to switch from a full-time job to more flexible consulting work. As luck would have it, two recruiters on LinkedIn contacted me for consulting assignments. One was for the Los Angeles Times and the other was for Disney Interactive. I got hired for both assignments and it changed my career trajectory. The Los Angeles Times assignment ended up being a year-long consulting engagement where I was leading the digital team on using digital analytics to make editorial decisions. At the same time, I was consulting at Disney Interactive doing search engine optimization, which later became my full time job. I never thought that I could pursue two very different opportunities at the same time. LinkedIn made that possible.
Research potential coworkers before making big career decisions
In 2010, I had to choose between two offers (one from eBay and another from Omnicom, a digital agency). I spent a lot of time on LinkedIn learning about my potential coworkers. I studied their career progress and transitions, read their professional recommendations, and saw what professional groups we shared. These insights helped me determine which company was a better fit for me. I ended up choosing Omnicom to work on the agency side and had the time of my life.
Respond to InMail messages even when you’re not looking for a new job
I often receive InMails from recruiters and staffing agencies who are looking to fill digital marketing positions. Even when I am not looking for a new job, I make it a point to respond and be helpful. Using my network on LinkedIn, I have connected several strong candidates to amazing career opportunities. This is my way of giving back to the LinkedIn community that has given me so much.
While I was at Omnicom, I received an InMail from a recruiter. I responded to let them know that I was not in the market for a new job but thanked them for reaching out. A week later, this same recruiter tracked down my office number and pitched me again. Long story short, two months later I found myself in a new job as J.Crew's new Sr. Director of Digital Marketing.
Connect with people you admire
If you admire someone professionally, reach out to them on LinkedIn. You never know what opportunities might be waiting. In 2011, one of my LinkedIn connections, someone I’d never met but greatly admired, sent me a message on LinkedIn to connect over coffee. Our conversation on the education space led me to meet the founders of Coursehorse.com, a NYC startup known as the "OpenTable for education," and led me to joining their Board of Advisors. LinkedIn was magical in brokering these connections and encounters that led me to a board seat.
With LinkedIn, I didn’t have to seek out opportunities because I was fortunate enough that opportunities found me. LinkedIn has significantly propelled my career forward by matching my passions and talents with amazing and unexpected opportunities. LinkedIn has been a key tool for my career discovery, and I wholeheartedly believe that it will continue to be my secret weapon for the rest of my career.