So my fiancé and I sometimes play this game. Usually it’s on a Friday after a long week (and a lovely dinner), and of course, some wine. We name a movie and the other has to name someone that was in said movie. The catch is, the person who named the actor must also know of at least another movie that person has been in with other viable actors for the other person to guess to keep the game going. You can’t repeat movies or actors either, and both of us have to have seen the movie. I don’t think that explanation does the game justice. In a nutshell, it goes like this:
Him: Harry Potter
Me: Alan Rickman
Him: Die Hard
Me: Bruce Willis
Him: Fifth Element
Me: Gary Oldman
Keep in mind this usually happens after a much longer banter where we have already used other, more obvious choices of movies or actors. It actually happened enough for us to give this phenomenon a name: the Gary Oldman Conundrum. It’s funny because although Mr. Oldman has had quite a distinguished career and is in a lot of amazing movies, we can never seem to either a) remember them all, b)reserve a few of them in our brains for this specific problem, or c)we can recall a movie he’s in, but the other one hasn’t seen it. This made me think, as I’ve been navigating the world of networking, I’ve found it to be kind of tricky, hit or miss and with few defined techniques or answers. LinkedIn, for me, has been especially tough to crack. Sort of like a conundrum…a LinkedIn Conundrum. I’ve done a little investigating into this murky world, and would like to share my thoughts on this part of the vast puzzle that is acquiring contacts and clients.
I’ve had a LinkedIn account for ages, but never really used it. I have some contacts that are friends, some from work, and some people I honestly don’t know. I can see how this site could be helpful to gain access to new contacts, and way to meet people with similar career interests. (And I might add here, I am solely speaking of the LinkedIn desktop site. The LinkedIn app is awful, and utterly useless. It differs so much from the site and leaves you needing and wanting so much more.) It just always seemed to be an awkward set up an not particularly intuitive. I just couldn’t seem to get my head around how you actually meet helpful contacts on this site; it seemed that everyone sort of accepted invites and moved on. I never had any “chats” or “follow ups” with anyone, ever. I still think the interface is strange, and it’s difficult to search for what you want, let alone find people in an industry you’re targeting. So I figured, it’s a user error (me) and I just don’t know what I’m doing. I went so far to take a LinkedIn basics webinar I found on MeetUp, and learned how to search more strategically and how to craft a great profile. But in my head I can’t help but think, what’s the point of “having an amazing profile” to find clients or the perfect job, when you’re connected to the people and company you currently work for? Why is there so much emphasis on a profile? This isn’t AOL from 1994. (Side note: I may or may not have been obsessed with AOL chat rooms in the early/mid 90s and took great skill in developing a quirky, funny and smart profile. At least in my 7th grade eyes. I changed it daily. I read everyone’s profile in the room and judged them. Mine was always the best.) If this is a site to make connections, specifically job related, why are you making people create some generic image of themselves that can’t possible generate the image they want to convey to potential employers? It’s hard to deny a connection request from a current co-worker, who will in turn see your profile, so you end up having to create a one that’s non-specific and most certainly isn’t “the profile for the job I really want.” I’ve found that irritating and question why aren’t the connections or interactions more weighted. The being said, the connection thing, I have been working on, e.g. reaching out to people who are industries I’d like to be in, following up and so on. First I have to ask them to connect, with a reason why of course. Then if they accept, follow up and I try to continue the conversation. Ideally, I’d like to meet these people for coffee and conversation. That’s how you connect with people and that’s how you get jobs, gigs and clients. This hasn’t personally happened to me yet, but I am still trying. I realize it takes a lot of failed attempts to get to sit down with someone. Some people I’ve tried to connect with would be PERFECT to meet with and I KNOW I’d be a good fit to work with them or with a company like theirs. It gets frustrating because there’s not a lot you can do if they don’t want the conversation to continue. Nothing personal. That LinkedIn basics course did advise me to not feel silly or intimidated when connecting with a stranger on LinkedIn: just carry on a conversation with them like you would at an in person networking event. Don’t give them your sales pitch or hire me speech in the first email. You wouldn’t do that to their face. Build up with a few messages, then ask to meet. So that’s the advice I’ve been following, and I know it’ll pay off. How do I know? That’s just how people do it these days. And, in my next blog post, I’m going to review a book I read a couple of months ago on just that topic; more networking exercises and advice! Oh joy!