Show your gratitude and appreciation to your professional and academic mentors. Reach out to them by email or phone. Networking with old contacts is important, too.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a big mush. I don’t shy away from telling close friends and family that I am grateful for them and care about them.
But being “mushy” (in a professional way) with people who have had a positive impact on your education and career is also important. This is as easy as either emailing or calling those mentors, supervisors, colleagues, professors, teachers, and coaches to express gratitude.
Why not take an hour in the next week to reach out to those influences and thank them? Take these steps:
- Make a list of three to six people who shaped your education and career. You can make a longer list if you want, but don’t stretch yourself too thin.
- Find their contact information (email is fine, but make note of phone numbers wherever possible).
- Write a personalized email to each of those six people. Be specific about how they helped you and thank them. If you haven’t been in touch in a long time, tell them what you’re doing these days. Then—and this is important—offer to help. Some ideas: Beta read something they wrote, be a guest speaker in class, mentor someone they know, connect them with someone in your network, look over a resume and/or a LinkedIn profile, write a testimonial, recommend their services to potential clients—whatever is appropriate for your relationship and expertise. Or, just ask to meet up for coffee. Your treat.
- After you send the emails, choose two people from the list and CALL. Yes, pick up the phone and speak to them, human voice to human ear. The call can be short. But show your gratitude and say “Happy 2018!”
I’ll make my list and go from there.
I know stupid things when I see them on social networks. I have compiled this list of six mistakes you should absolutely not make in your LinkedIn profile, activity, and communication. They are all based real observations.
- Lack of capitalization, especially in your name. Are you e.e. cummings? Stop it. Be professional. Initial capitalize the first word of every sentence, your names, and the companies you have worked for.
- Spelling and grammar mistakes. This applies to your profile and also in messages to others. This is a mortal sin if you are a writer, journalist, PR pro, copywriter, or some other wordsmith. I once got a message from a contact claiming to be a “communications pro” who had just gotten laid off. He wanted to know if I was hiring or knew of any job opportunities. OK, no problem, that is what LinkedIn is for. But his very short, impersonal message had four mistakes in it, including “your” instead of “you’re.” Are you for real, Mr. “Communications Pro”? I didn’t write back.
- No photo or bad photo. Look, I get it. We all wish we could be hired or headhunted because of our credentials. But LinkedIn is a social network. A profile with no photo simply isn’t taken seriously. And with a high-quality camera on every smartphone, you have no excuse for a tiny, low-resolution, or blurry photo. None. Yes, it is a bit like online dating. You wouldn’t respond to a message from a dating profile with no photo, would you? LinkedIn is the same way. We have to accept this reality.
- Painfully outdated profile information. You have no obligation to actually have a LinkedIn account. Plenty of folks don’t. But if you have a profile, keep it updated. I can’t believe how many of my contacts have not touched their profiles in years, even after one or more job changes. How do I know this? Because the profiles of several of my connections say they still work at my company when [awkward!] they don’t. Whoopsy. Either update or delete your profile.
- Casual and unprofessional content, posts, and interactions. So just because I said LinkedIn is a social network and you need a photo as you do in a dating profile doesn’t mean LinkedIn is a Facebook or a Tinder. Be careful with your language. Keep your posts related to your professional and academic interests. LinkedIn is not the place to rant about the latest episode of Game of Thrones or a frustrating visit to your urologist. Don’t make inappropriate comments on posts you read. Be respectful of others. And for the love of all things rational and good, do not hit on people. Seriously, guys? Just no.
So what else should go on here? Let me know in the comments.