Monday, November 4, 2013

Meeting Peter to Hire Paul - Leveraging LinkedIn

Over seven million Canadians are using LinkedIn. Are you one of them?

Recent statistics state that Canada is the fifth largest user of the site that boasts over 200 million members worldwide.

Why would you want to create a LinkedIn profile? Well… Canada, recruiters from many diverse sectors are logging into the site to find talent. According to sources, 50% of Fortune 100 companies hire through LinkedIn.

How does LinkedIn work? It has been described as the “professional person’s answer to Six Degrees of Separation” ( This is a perfect analogy, because it is about leveraging your own connections to make new ones.

Recently, while I was waiting to depart Calgary for Las Vegas, the aircraft I was booked on experienced mechanical difficulties, which grounded it for the night. As the airline located an alternate aircraft, we all waited in the holding room. Fortunately for me (I like to think in terms of Serendipity) I sat beside a woman heading to Las Vegas to attend a LinkedIn convention. Kelli Nsofor, a Recruiting Specialist for Compucom Canada Co., (a national IT services and solutions company), was attending the conference to learn more about how she can better apply and employ all of the amazing features of LinkedIn.

In our short time waiting for the aircraft replacement (yes….they had an alternate aircraft available in TEN minutes!) I asked if she might be able to provide some pointers that I could pass along to my readers and she graciously said yes. Thank you Kelli!

What role does a Recruiter play in our social media world?

The role of recruiter has certainly changed due to social media.  It used to be that you looked for candidates by posting jobs in the paper or on the job boards and the only way you networked with candidates was networking events in person.  It was much more “word of mouth”.  Now recruiters tweet about jobs, post on all social media, and network through virtual groups.  Companies have profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, employees tweet about the goings on etc.  Recruiters have become more company/brand ambassadors than ever before.  We are usually the first contact candidates have with the company usually through some form of social media.

What roles does LinkedIn play with recruiters?:

Over the last 2-3 years, the movement has been for recruiters to become more and more dependent on LinkedIn as a hiring tool.  Before LinkedIn, we would search the internet and job boards looking for candidates while we posted the roles on the various job boards and in the papers looking for candidates.  This was time consuming and could be quite costly.  We would push hard on referrals with everyone we met and hope that through one of these means, we found the right person. Now most of my time is spent sourcing in LinkedIn, especially for more technical roles, and working my network there.  The ability with LinkedIn Recruiter to work as an applicant tracking system is helpful.  It allows for storing candidates in categories making it easier to find them in the future decreasing the time it takes to find and reach out to these individuals.

How important is our LinkedIn profile?:

Your LinkedIn profile is very important.  Without it how do we find potential candidates?  If you don’t have yourself posted on any job boards or located on the internet somewhere, or attend any networking events, how do recruiters find you? 

LinkedIn is a great tool that connects you with previous and present co-workers as well as friends and family in a more professional way than Facebook.  It allows for recruiters to reach you and for you to connect with both interest and professional groups.  You can also follow companies and professional organizations that you are interested in.  You can learn more about the organizations and what they do, as well as career opportunities and future endeavours.   At any time you might be called upon as a subject matter expert, to connect with someone in your field or for a career opportunity.  You can customize what you want.

Kelli’s Top 5 Tips for professionals looking to update/improve their profile

  • Ensure your Profile is 100% Complete and up-to-date.
  • Have a “professional” photo on your profile, not a picture of the fish you caught last summer.  Save those pictures for Facebook
  • Practice adding value to your profile.  One of the best ways of adding value to your network is through LinkedIn Updates. If you share relevant and helpful insights, articles, blog posts, presentations, links to videos, or other content, not only are you helping your network by spreading excellent quality information that might help them, but you’re also going to drive traffic to your LinkedIn profile.
  • No typos, spelling or grammatical errors.  Please proof read your profile carefully.  It is difficult to be looked at as an “attention to detail kind of person” when you have spelling errors on your profile.  It’s the first impression someone is going to have of you – let’s make it a good one.
  • Get involved in Groups and Discussions - This is essential if you want to keep a high profile. This means you will need to ask questions, answer questions, link up news articles and other relevant information (see point 2 above) and you could even moderate a group. By providing value, you will be noticed by others in your industry.

Thank you Kelli for providing such valuable information. Remember….you never know who you might be sitting beside waiting for a plane. If you will excuse me……I need to go and dust off my LinkedIn profile……….


Monday, October 7, 2013

Be a Customer Service Superhero

When I was in Atlanta this past August, I was lucky enough to meet Leotis Watson, the superstar Concierge at the Emory Conference Centre Hotel.

Leotis had a desk in the lobby, but it was a rare moment when you would find him sitting at the desk… instead he was constantly moving throughout the area, engaging with hotel patrons, dazzling them with his friendly smile…..making their day a little brighter.

What struck me about Mr. Watson is that he remembered my name from the first time we met (and we all know that I am not that memorable) and used my name during each of my many comings and going through the lobby.

The day I checked out of the hotel, I had an opportunity to chat with Leotis and told him how impressed I was with his superior customer service skills. His response was (I am paraphrasing….his response was much more eloquent), “Everyone is good at something. Everyone has something with which they excel. I am good at customer service, it is what I was meant to do”.

“The key to great customer service is to always be humble” said Leotis. And with that, he spied another patron entering the hotel with an armful of bags and dashed off to help.

Reminded me of a superhero….dressed impeccably in khaki’s, a starched button down shirt and a knitted vest – I am sure the cape was there……it was invisible.

Returning home I went online to Trip Advisor to see if anyone else was talking about this amazing superhero concierge. Of course they were! Comments like, “Mr. Watson at the Concierge greets you with the warmth and fervor and amazing zest for life which is so infectious” and “The Concierge was among the very best I’ve experienced in my travels ……made sure if I was standing in the lobby (and everyone else too) that I/we were being taken care of and didn’t need anything (he always called me by name)”.

Leotis Watson provided me with an experience during my stay at the Emory Conference Centre Hotel. He made me feel like he appreciated my business…..a feeling that I get very rarely these days.

Can anyone be a customer service superhero? Probably not……but many can improve their customer service by modeling Leotis’ behavior.

Here are some of them:
  • Be a MacGyver!: Remember how each week Richard Dean Anderson would get out of tense situations using only a piece of duct tape, a toothpick and a swiss army knife? You can also become a Customer Service MacGyver. A friend experienced such a situation recently, “I was silly enough to let my car run out of gas, and the nearest station didn’t have fuel cans. The lady there was so nice she called her daughter to bring one from their home for me”.  No duct tape required…..simply the ability to think outside the box.
  • Remember my name: The first thing we all receive when we are born is our name. When someone remembers our name and uses it properly, it speaks volumes. 
  • Eat a small piece of humble pie: Leotis said it! The key to providing great customer service is being humble. The customer is not there to serve you….you are there to serve the customer and the act of doing so should be  a courteous, respectful, unpretentious exchange. 
(blog post was also published in October 7 edition of the Daily News - "Be a Superhero")


Monday, August 26, 2013

The Anatomy of a Flake

Do you suffer from wishy-washy behavior? Are you commitment phobic? Are you an “it’s all about the journey, not the destination (I will explain this one further) ” kind of person? If you answered yes……..ummmmm……sorry, but you might be a Flake.

Bigstock photo by Madlen

A Flake is an unreliable person…….someone who agrees to do something, but never follows through. Flakey Folk or FF’s are the bane of anyone trying to plan an event. They are like kryptonite.

Alyssa Currie, a twenty-something university student and sorority recruiter (who also suggested I write about this topic) said it best: 

“If we didn’t have a ‘maybe’ culture….we would not require a ‘no refund’ clause”.

She is correct. We have become a maybe culture. Why the cultural shift?

It is our fault really; we have knowingly reduced attendee accountability.

In our quest to make it easier for our attendees/guests to say ‘YES’ to the event (online registration, Facebook event requests), we have made it much easier for attendees to cancel at the last minute. Money does not seem to be a deterrent…..there seem to be no effective consequences.

“Something came up”

“I completely forgot”.

Believe it or not, Flakey Folk have an archetype.

  •    Born with the Flakey Gene (F2nOgO): There are those born Flakey (many of whom required a C-section because they couldn’t even commit to a “birth” date)– they will always say yes and rarely attend any event.
  •   Along for the Ride:  These are the individuals who will check off “maybe attending” simply so that they can be a part of the pre-event excitement. They are all about the journey and not so much about the destination. 
  •  Late blooming Flakes: This group will become Flakes much later in life. Scientists are unsure if the cultural shift within this aging demographic is as a result of global warming or the higher mercury levels in fish. Perhaps they are simply sick and tired of always being the responsible ones.
  •  The Busy Beaver: This highly organized but over stimulated individual will be the first to respond to your invitation and pay the registration fee. They really want to attend, but once the initial registration process is over, they forget and move on to something else. Squirrel!

Thankfully…..Flakey Folk make up a very small percentage of attendees. The majority is an amazing group who are excited about the event and a stampede of wild buffalo will not keep them from attending (they will probably assume it is the event pre-show and take copious instagram pictures).

Here are a few tips that might assist in reducing your Flake Factor at your next event, but warning……. they are definitely no ‘panacea’ (my word of the day):

  •   Continue the registration conversation: The registration process doesn’t end when the credit card payment is received. You need to create a relationship/connection with your guests. One way to do this is to text, tweet or call your registered attendees to thank them for registering and give them your contact information for any follow-up questions they may have. This can be time consuming, but works well for small events. Text, tweet or call AGAIN about one week prior to the event to remind them of start time, location, etc. For both large and small events, include the calendar feature in your online registration system, which will automatically add the event to the attendee’s calendar.
  • Call your “Maybe’s”: Unfortunately you have no choice but to call to follow-up with those who have responded as “maybe attending”. If you are frustrated with the large number of Flakey Folk responses on Facebook who frequently use the “maybe attending” feature……perhaps you should refrain from using Facebook as an event RSVP system?
  •  RVSP Old School: There is something special about receiving an actual letter/invitation in the mail requesting your attendance at an event. Some say that if a guest has taken the time to respond in writing, they are more likely to attend. Furthermore, it is more difficult for the guest to back out at the last minute because you have removed the instant/online/click to say no feature.
  •  Charge them accordingly: Restaurants are becoming so frustrated with patrons who make reservations and then no show, that they have begun requesting credit card information when the reservations are made. If the patron does not show at the agreed upon time……..their card is charged.
  • Three strikes and you are out: Associations and Clubs who host monthly meetings tend to have higher than average no show rates. Would a “three strikes you are out” policy be helpful?

Let’s face it……we all have a little “Flake” inside who has reared its noncommittal head from time to time. We rarely stop and think about how it may affect others: namely the host or the planner. The cost is both financial and personal.

Thank you to Alyssa for the great topic suggestion!


Friday, August 2, 2013

Love Lists? You have got to check out Listly!

You know when you stumble across something on twitter that makes you pause and think, “that’s really cool”?  Well……that happened to me recently:

Listly is best described as it appears in Google Search: 

I instantly wanted to know more about Listly and how it might be a useful tool for blogging or for events. I tweeted this:

Thank you to Nick Kellet for the Interview!


Judy: Couple of things right off the top.....I love your twitter avatar! Everything about you seems to emit a great deal of positive energy. So my first questions are so that I can get to know more about you. Are you that guy all of the time? The extrovert with tremendous energy and passion? If yes, have you always been that way?
Great question. I took my Myers Briggs test recently for the first time. I'm ENFP but I was only a borderline extrovert.

I've always got lots of energy and passion, that's always been there, but I can sometimes get overloaded. I'm quite happy with my own company and that's when I work on an idea, but I love to socialize and share ideas too. That's how you make a good idea into a great one.
Judy: Have you always lived in Kelowna (I am from British Columbia as well) or did you move there to taste the delicious wine and enjoy the tremendous weather?
I moved in 2004 from the UK and yes it was very much a lifestyle decision. Lakes, wine and powder snow are not a bad mix. Compared to the UK, Canada is very much an outdoor lifestyle.
Judy: Is the Listly team made up of yourself and Shyam Subramanyan? I notice that he is from the Silicon Valley – how did you connect and come up with the concept?
Currently it is Shyam and I, but we are hiring for UX (User Experience) design and development. Shyam began the company. He was looking at ways to extract more value from the mass of unstructured data on the web. Very quickly "Numbered Lists" e.g. "10 ways to …" , "7 things you need to …" etc became an obvious candidate.

It turns out, numbered lists are one of the most effective forms of marketing content. 30% of content are published in the form of numbered lists simply because they work. More people read and share numbered lists.

The problem is these lists are static HTML. That's the Listly point of difference. We make numbered list posts interactive, collaborative and embedable. Lists posts are good, we just make them great.

I was exploring a similar idea and that's when I learned of Listly and discovered Shyam. We got talking and a month later we met in person and shook on a deal to work together - I joined as co-founder.
Judy: How long has Listly been in existence? What was your goal in creating Listly?
Listly launched in June 2011.

Our goal is to be the go-to source for Lists on the web. We see lists as a type of media, just like videos and slides. Listly is to lists as YouTube is to videos or Slideshare to slides.

We're used to uploading videos and slides and then embedding them on our blog, so we all get the model. Reusability is the cornerstone of content marketing. These are what I call
content networks.

We see the same opportunity for lists as for slides, videos etc, but there's a twist. Unlike videos and slides, lists change after the moment of publishing. They evolve.

The slow changing, collaborative nature of Listly lists works great to get your content found. It also keeps your audience coming back for more. Your audience
invests emotionally in your content. We know that is significant. We're simply a collaborative form of user generated content that brands, bloggers and publishers can own and moderate.

We think of each list as a community. Only people who care about a list's topic/content will participate and contribute.

It becomes a collaborative effort to keep your lists accurate and current, which in turn attracts more people. We think of lists as a kind of
"living media".

We've now
benchmarked lists against other forms of media. We are offering this as a free service for now. All people have to do is like the deck on slideshare and comment with their blog URL and we'll audit their last 25 blogs posts - it's quite revealing and highly actionable.
Judy: I referred to Listly as “Pinterest for Lists” - is that an appropriate description?
Kind of -  I mentioned that Listly is slideshare for lists.

Pinterest and Listly are about collections. We happen to use the metaphor of a list, pinterest uses a board, but as I described above we see the big difference as one of collaboration.

Listly is built on the premise of crowdranked and crowdsourced content. It's not about me and my boards, it's about us and our lists.

Some call it crowdsourcing, but I think it's much more about community forming. We build participation which is ultimately what brands want, they just don't necessarily know how to go about building it.

You think you are building participation on Facebook, but that's not the case - you don't own the relationship and you don't own the content.
Judy: I am an Meeting Planner, can you recommend ways in which an event professional can use Listly for an event?
We have lots of people using listly to help get more value from events . I've written a blog post around that topic.  Essentially you need to think about elongating the event window in order to maximize it's value to you the organizer and most importantly the participant.   Think of what value your can bring before, during and after an event.  Think about attendees, speakers, and content.  Let people crowdsource the attendee list. Let people figure out who they want to network with before they arrive at the event. Events are frenzied and once you arrive, you loose the ability to plan. Blink and the event is over. So when you think about educating the attendees / participants to extract value before, during and after the event, they are left with a much more positive impression and a much stronger ROI.
Thank you Nick - some great information about the value of using Listly.

In case you missed the links in the blog post:

You can check out Listly HERE
Follow the energetic Nick Kellet HERE

My blog post wouldn't be complete if I didn't begin and share a list: