Media Skills: Four Content Strategies for Business Social Networking

This is the second post in a new series in which we explore a variety of essential skills for using digital, social, and visual media. We’ll present the information in ways that you can share directly with your students, and we hope this information will enhance your lectures and class discussions.

One of the most appealing aspects of social networking for both internal and external communication is the range of options you have for connecting with your communities and for creating and sharing content.

Developing and Sharing Original Content

For business social networking, much of the value you can provide will come from original insights and information you can offer. A good approach is to put yourself in the minds of your social connections and ask what information they could use to improve some aspect of their personal or professional lives. In many instances, the need or desire to share information will be triggered by some change or event, such as when you need to let your employees know about a new company policy. In others, your motivation will be a matter of enlightened self-interest, when you want to create some visibility for yourself or your company while helping others.

For example, you could share tips on using a product more effectively or ideas for saving money. If the information is useful to your readers, sharing it will solidify your reputation as a valuable social media partner.

Responding to Existing Content and Questions

Responding to questions can be a great way to encourage conversations, build your personal brand, demonstrate your company’s commitment to customer service, and clear up confusion or misinformation about your company and its products.

Keep in mind that when you respond to an individual query, whether on your own pages or on a forum or other community Q&A site, you are also “responding in advance” to every person who comes to the site with the same question in the future. In other words, you are writing a type of reference material in addition to corresponding with the original questioner, so keep the long time frame and wider audience in mind.

Curating and Sharing Existing Content

At its simplest, content curation can involve sharing links to useful articles or videos via your social media accounts. Companies can also set up dedicated websites that publish links to original content in a variety of topic categories.

As an alternative, several web services offer ready-made content curation solutions. Pinterest and Scoop.it, for example, make it easy to assemble attractive online portfolios or magazines on specific topics. Content curation is also a good solution for internal communication, if the employees in a firm need to stay up to date on developments in their professions or in the industries in which the company does business.

Curating content for a target audience can be a great way to add value and stand out as an expert in your field, but content curators need to be aware of two key ethical concerns:

  • Never copy anyone else’s posts to your site, even if you properly attribute the source. Instead, provide a link from your site back to the original so that you drive web traffic to the originator’s site. It is acceptable to copy a brief introductory segment, such as the first paragraph, to your site in order to give the link some context.
  • You are promoting yourself as an expert when you curate content, and people will expect you to do a competent job of finding and filtering materials. As with any communication task, make sure you understand the needs of your target audience so that you can provide the best material to meet their needs.

Facilitating User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is any social media content about a company or its products that is created independently by customers or other outside stakeholders. As with other social media, one of the keys to effective UGC is making it easy for people to contribute content that others will find valuable. First, encourage content that people will want to see and share with colleagues, such as tips from experienced customers on various ways to use a product.

Second, make material easy to find, consume, and share. For example, a branded channel on YouTube lets a company organize all its videos in one place, making it easy for visitors to browse the selection or subscribe to get automatic updates of future videos. YouTube lets fans share videos through email or their accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms.

 

Adapted from Courtland L. Bovée and John V. Thill, Business Communication Today, 15th Edition, 2021, pp. 228–230. Social media communication is also addressed in our titles Excellence in Business Communication, Chapter 8, and Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 6.

Back to Basics: What Makes Business Communication Effective?

This is the second post in a new series in which we revisit the fundamentals of business communication, from what it means and why it matters to tips and techniques for success. We’ll present the information in ways that you can share directly with your students, and we hope this information will enhance your lectures and class discussions.

Communication efforts are successful when they transfer information, meaning, and understanding. In some instances, this is a simple matter of sharing basic facts about a topic, but it others it can be complex process of building understanding and negotiating meaning until both parties are satisfied with the exchange.

To make your communication efforts as effective as possible, focus on these five goals:

  • Provide practical information. Give recipients useful information that helps them solve problems, pursue opportunities, or take other action. Understanding your audiences and their needs is a key step to providing the right information.
  • Give facts rather than vague impressions. Use concrete language, specific detail, and information that is clear, accurate, and ethical. “We need to get better at this” isn’t terribly helpful because it doesn’t explain or quantify what “better” means. Depending on the situation, it might also be helpful to explain why the improvement is important.
  • Communicate efficiently. Concise, well-organized messages and documents show respect for people’s time, and they increase the chances of a positive response. Efficiency also means reducing the number of messages or conversational exchanges required to achieve your communication goals. Spending a little more time in the planning and writing stages often saves time in the long run by eliminating multiple rounds of explanations.
  • Clarify expectations and responsibilities. Craft messages to generate a specific response from readers. When appropriate, clearly state what you expect from audience members or what you can do for them. Always look for ways to make your communication efforts more precise. For example, instead of writing “we need to have a plan as soon as possible,” describe what kind of plan is needed and when it is needed.
  • Offer compelling arguments and recommendations. When you are offering an analysis or a recommendation, present compelling evidence to support your message. When a situation calls for persuasive communication, show your readers how they will benefit if they respond the way you would like them to respond.

These five points make a great quality-control checklist as you develop messages, documents, and presentations throughout your career.

Adapted from Courtland L. Bovée and John V. Thill, Business Communication Today, 15th Edition, 2021, p. 6. This topic is also addressed in our titles Excellence in Business Communication, Chapter 1, and Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 1.

Photo: Unhindered by Talent on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA

Media Skills: Online Etiquette

This is the first post in a new series in which we will explore a variety of essential skills for using digital, social, and visual media. We’ll present the information in ways that you can share directly with your students, and we hope this information will enhance your lectures and class discussions.

Digital media seem to be a breeding ground for poor etiquette that can harm companies and careers. Whenever you represent your company online, in any medium, you must adhere to a high standard of etiquette and respect for others. Follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid personal attacks. The disconnected feel of online communication can cause even level-headed people to lose their tempers.
  • Stay focused on the original topic. If you want to change the subject of an online conversation, start a new message or thread.
  • Follow basic expectations of spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Sending careless, acronym-filled messages undermines your credibility.
  • Use virus protection and keep it up to date. Sending or posting a file that contains a computer virus puts others at risk.
  • Watch your language and keep your emotions under control. A single indiscretion could haunt you forever.
  • Avoid multitasking while using messaging or other tools. You might think you’re saving time by doing a dozen things at once, but you’re probably making the other person wait while you bounce back and forth between tasks.
  • Don’t waste others’ time with sloppy, confusing, or incomplete messages. Doing so is disrespectful.
  • Never assume you have privacy. To be safe, assume that anything you type will be stored forever and that it might be forwarded to other people, analyzed by automated content-analysis tools, and read by your boss or the company’s security staff.
  • Be careful of online commenting mechanisms that aren’t related to work. For example, many blogs and websites let you use your Facebook login to comment on articles. If your Facebook profile includes your job title and company name, those could show up along with your comment.
  • Respect boundaries of time and virtual space. For instance, don’t use colleagues’ or employees’ personal social media accounts as a venue for business discussions, and don’t assume people are available to discuss work matters around the clock, even if you do find them online in the middle of the night.
  • When working from home, approach videoconferencing with the same professionalism you would exhibit in meetings in the office. Reasonable people appreciate the challenges of conducting business from the same location where you live, but do your best to create a business-appropriate background for video calls and to minimize disruptions and distractions.

With so much of business moving online these days, the need for thoughtful, audience-sensitive behavior is greater than ever. Being mindful of positive etiquette will be a definite boost to your career.

 

Adapted from Courtland L. Bovée and John V. Thill, Business Communication Today, 15th Edition, 2021, p. 63. This topic is also addressed in our titles Excellence in Business Communication, Chapter 3, and Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 2.

Back to Basics: Why Business Communication Matters

This is the first post in a new series in which we will revisit the fundamentals of business communication, from what it means and why it matters to tips and techniques for success. We’ll present the information in ways that you can share directly with your students, and we hope this information will enhance your lectures and class discussions.

As the fall term starts up in these unprecedented circumstances, we wish you and your students a healthy and successful learning experience—and we salute you for your heroic efforts to help students continue to develop in the face of these challenges.

Communication Is Important to Your Career

You can have the greatest ideas in the world, but they usually aren’t much good to your company or your career if you can’t express them clearly and persuasively. Some jobs, such as sales and customer support roles, are primarily about communicating. In fields such as engineering or finance, you often need to share complex ideas with executives, customers, and colleagues, and your ability to connect with people outside your field can be as important as your technical expertise.

If you have the entrepreneurial urge, you will need to communicate with a wide range of audiences—from investors, bankers, and government regulators to employees, customers, and business partners.

If you move into an executive role or launch your own company, you can expect communication to consume the majority of your time. Top executives spend most of their workdays communicating, and businesspeople who can’t communicate well don’t stand much chance of reaching the top.

The changing nature of employment is putting new pressure on communication skills, too. Companies such as Uber and Lyft are the most visible in the gig economy, where independent contractors work without many of the advantages or disadvantages of regular employment. Many other companies now supplement their permanent workforces with independent contractors who are brought on for a short period or even just a single project. Chances are you could spend part of your career as one of these independent freelancers, working without the support network that an established company environment provides. If you take this path, you will need to “sell yourself” into each new contract, communicate successfully in a wide range of work situations, and take full responsibility for your career growth and success.

Telecommuting and virtual teamwork are becoming the normal mode of work for many people in these challenging times, and working at a distance puts even more pressure on communication skills.

No matter which direction your career takes, keep in mind that the world is full of good marketing strategists, good accountants, good engineers, and good attorneys—but it is not full of good communicators. View this as an opportunity to stand out from your competition.

Communication Is Important to Your Company

Aside from the personal benefits, communication should be important to you because it is important to your company in three essential areas:

  • Operations. Every company needs fast, effective communication between managers and staff, within departments, between departments, and between the company and its external business partners. Communication carries everything from high-level strategic plans down to minute technical details, and any bottlenecks or breakdowns can reduce operational efficiency and create problems with quality or safety.
  • Intelligence. Companies need to keep a constant “ear to the ground” to be alerted to new opportunities, risks, and impending problems—both internally and externally.
  • Relationships. Just as in personal and social relationships, business relationships depend on communication. Effective communication strengthens the connections between a company and all its stakeholders, any persons or organizations significantly affected by the company’s business decisions and operations. Stakeholder groups include employees, customers, investors, creditors, suppliers, and local communities. Individuals within companies also rely on communication to foster the emotional connections that create a healthy work environment.

Put simply, no business can function without effective communication, and the better the communication, the better every part of the company is likely to run.

 

Adapted from Courtland L. Bovée and John V. Thill, Business Communication Today, 15th Edition, 2021, pp. 4–5. This topic is also addressed in our titles Excellence in Business Communication, Chapter 1, and Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 1.

Photo: Unhindered by Talent on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA

Resources for Discussing Racism in the Workplace

Current events have put renewed emphasis on the subject of racism in contemporary society, and the workplace is one of the most important aspects of this vital conversation. To provide ideas for class discussion, particularly as it relates to business communication, we have pulled together a variety of articles that you may find useful. 

Harvard Business Review assembled a reading list of the articles that it has recently published on the subject.

The World Economic Forum has compiled a comprehensive, interactive guide to dozens of articles on racism. You can explore major subject categories and drill down to specific topics, such as entrepreneurship, corporate governance, and employment. By clicking on the thumbnail image in this post, you can see what the interactive feature looks like. (The site requires registration to access this feature, but it's free.)

In addition, here are some individual articles that offer other perspectives:

How Should You Be Talking With Employees About Racism?

For Black CEOs in Silicon Valley, humiliation is a part of doing business

How to build an actively anti-racist company

Beware of burning out your black employees

Taking Steps to Eliminate Racism in the Workplace

7 ways your organisation can start to uproot systemic racism in the workplace

To Improve Workplace Diversity, Undo Workplace Racism

Discussing Racism In The Workplace: Using Positive And Persistent Pressure To Enable Honest Dialogue

Companies are speaking out against racism, but here’s what it really looks like to lead an anti-racist organization

How to Begin Talking About Race in the Workplace

 

 

 

Encouraging Students to Apply Their Skills Now: Resolving Conflict in Teams

Even in the best of circumstances, people will occasionally disagree or rub each other the wrong way. Conflict can be a particular issue in team situations, where people are expected to prioritize team goals over their own individual interests. Conflict can arise for a variety of reasons, from competition for resources to disagreements over goals or work methods to personality differences.

The conflict-resolution skills your students are learning in class can benefit them now in both their academic and personal lives, particularly if they’re adjusting to virtual teamwork and learning from home for the first time. If they encounter conflict in a team setting, encourage them to follow these five steps to resolve it in a positive and constructive way:

  1. Decide if the conflict is worth addressing. Resolving conflict takes time and energy and can temporarily disrupt activities and relationships. If the conflict is minor or will disappear on its own (such as when a temporary team disbands), it might make more sense to live with it.
  2. Examine your own beliefs and behaviors. If you are involved in a conflict that you want to resolve, examine your own stance before taking any action. You might be contributing to the conflict in ways you hadn’t considered.
  3. Identify where the conflict truly originates. As you have probably experienced in your personal life, conflicts aren’t always about what they appear to be about; the real difference may lie below the surface. For example, two team members might be arguing about work methods when their real conflict is deeper. They could have different cultural priorities, for instance, such as the importance of group harmony versus individual success.
  4. Establish common ground Figure out what everyone does agree on, and then use that foundation to build a solution. For example, if people disagree about the team’s work methods, dig deeper and find out if they agree about the team's overall goals and strategies. If they agree at that level, you can use that to launch a discussion about how to adapt work methods to everyone’s satisfaction.
  5. Choose a strategy for resolving the differences. You have four basic choices here. (1) You can avoid the circumstances that create conflict, such as not assigning people who don’t get along to the same tasks. Avoidance isn’t always possible and doesn’t solve the underlying conflict, of course, but it can be the most efficient solution in some cases. (2) One side can choose to accommodate or sacrifice for the good of the team or to maintain harmony in a relationship. If two people disagree about the best way to approach a project, one might decide to accept and support the other’s approach. (3) The two sides can choose to compromise, with both sides giving up something. Balanced compromise is one of the hallmarks of successful teams. (4) Both sides can choose to collaborate on a new solution that satisfies everyone’s needs and expectations—a win-win strategy. Collaboration in this sense can be a rewarding experience because it makes conditions better for everyone and gives a team or group the satisfaction of a shared accomplishment.

Whichever approach you take, practice and encourage respectful, calm communication. Everyone should choose their words and nonverbal gestures carefully to maintain focus on the problem at hand and to avoid further inflaming an already uncomfortable situation. Use active listening to better understand what other people have to say.

Note that this approach isn’t limited to formal teams. It can work with roommates, marriages, partnerships, and any other relationship in which people need to coordinate their efforts for a common good.

Previous Posts in the Apply Your Skills Now Series

Encouraging Students to Apply Their Skills Now: Five Tips for Better Listening

Encouraging Students to Apply Their Skills Now: Making Difficult Requests

Encouraging Students to Apply Their Skills Now: Writing Professional-Grade Email

Encouraging Students to Apply Their Skills Now: Make QA a Routine Part of the Writing Process

Encouraging Students to Apply Their Skills Now: Think Now, Write Later

Encouraging Students to Apply Their Skills Now: Preparing for Difficult Conversations

Encourage Your Students to Put Their New Skills to Work Right Away

 

Adapted from Courtland L. Bovée and John V. Thill, Business Communication Today, 15th Edition, 2021, pp. 39–40.

 

Photo on Visualhunt.com

Five Essential Steps Before Starting a Job Search

Students who haven’t yet engaged in a professional-grade job search might be surprised by how much work is involved and how long the process can take. Starting late or diving in without a plan can make this challenging project even more hectic. In contrast, approaching it thoughtfully can reduce stress and smooth out bumps along the way.

Share these tips with your students to help make the process easier and more efficient:

  • Get organized. Your job search could last many months and involve multiple contacts with dozens of companies. You need to keep all the details straight to ensure that you don’t miss opportunities or make mistakes, such as losing someone’s email address, forgetting an appointment, or overlooking an application deadline. If you don’t have a favorite already, explore some of the many to-do list apps now available.
  • Block out a schedule that gives you plenty of time. Depending on the state of the job market when you start looking, you should expect to spend at least several months doing your research, preparing your materials, and going through the interviewing process with multiple companies. Even if you are a year or more away from graduation, now is not too early to get started with some of the essential research and planning tasks. If you wait until the last minute, you might miss opportunities and you won’t be as prepared as other candidates. Also, don’t count on employers to move at a rapid clip through the hiring process or stick to their own deadlines. You need to be the flexible party in this process, and the more time you give yourself, the less stressful it will be.
  • Think about stepping-stone opportunities. You might not be able to find the opportunity you’re looking for right away, and you might need to take a job that doesn’t meet all your expectations. Even though such positions aren’t necessarily the ideal that you have in mind, view them as opportunities to learn workplace skills, observe effective and ineffective business practices, and fine-tune your sense of how you’d like to spend your career.
  • Expect to interact with intelligent technology throughout the job-search process. To find the best employees and reduce the demands on their recruiting staffs, many companies now use a range of artificial intelligence (AI) tools to find potential hires, filter applications, interact with candidates, evaluate résumés, and even conduct screening interviews via chat or video. You may receive unsolicited messages from bots or “virtual agents” inviting you to apply for jobs, too. (Make sure these are from legitimate companies before responding.)
  • Clean up your digital footprint. If there is anything about you online that could harm your job prospects, chances are an employer will find it during the recruiting process. Review all your social media profiles and posts, and consider removing anything that might be worrisome to recruiters (human or AI). Recruiters even have tools that attempt to analyze your personality based on your social media activity, so make sure your public digital presence reflects who you intend to be as a professional.

With this foundation in place, you’ll be ready to get busy with your résumé, LinkedIn profile, and the other tasks that will lead you toward success.

All three titles in the Bovée-Thill Business Communication Series offer in-depth advice on the full range of job-search communication, from researching job opportunities to crafting effective LinkedIn profiles. This coverage includes unique perspectives on personal branding, writing "the story of you," and the Build Your Career activities that guide students through the entire process of developing employment-related messaging. (Build Your Career is available in Excellence in Business Communication 13th Edition and Business Communication Today 15th Edition.)

Adapted from Courtland L. Bovée and John V. Thill, Business Communication Today, 15th Edition, 2021, pp. 518–519.


Image: Photo on Visualhunt.com

Seven Tips for Succeeding in Video Interviews

Students should prepare to be interviewed by video as they move through the job search process, and these interviews require some special consideration. Video interviews can be conducted via Skype or similar services, video conferencing systems, or automated interviewing systems in which candidates respond to prerecorded questions.

Most of the advice outlined in Fourteen Tips for Succeeding in Phone Interviews applies to video interviews, and encourage your students to follow these additional tips:

  • Make sure your interviewing space is clean and uncluttered. Remove anything from the walls behind you and the area around you that doesn’t look professional.
  • Adjust your seating position and room lighting so that your face is clearly lit. As must as possible, adjust the lighting so that light is directed toward you, but not so much that it is glaring. Don’t sit in front of a window or other strong light source, which will put your face in shadow and probably cause the autoexposure function in your webcam or mobile device to reduce the light level in the video image.
  • If you are using a mobile device, don’t hold it in your hands. To eliminate shakiness, anchor the device in a desktop tripod or other mechanism to keep it still.
  • Make sure your video setup is ready to go. If the company asks you to use Skype or another public service, test your connection with a friend beforehand and get comfortable using it. If the company emails a link for a videoconferencing service, make sure you download and install any software that might be required well before the scheduled interview time.
  • Dress and groom as you would for an in-person interview. Unlike phone interviews, where you do this to boost your mood, with a video call it’s essential to look like the sort of person the company wants to hire. Choose solid colors and avoid hues that are too bright or too dark (both of which can throw off the camera’s autoexposure).
  • Maintain frequent “eye contact,” which means looking at the camera lens on your device, not at the person’s face on your screen. You’ll have the natural urge to look at the person’s face, but on the other end it will look like you’re staring off at an angle. If you’re on a computer, move the on-screen window that shows the other person’s image as close as you can to the camera lens. This way you can look into the camera while still feeling like you’re looking at the interviewer.
  • Don’t fidget or move around too much. This is distracting to the interviewer, and your microphone will pick up any extraneous noise you make.

All three titles in the Bovée-Thill Business Communication Series offer in-depth advice on the full range of job-search communication, from researching job opportunities to crafting effective LinkedIn profiles. This coverage includes unique perspectives on personal branding, writing "the story of you," and the Build Your Career activities that guide students through the entire process of developing employment-related messaging. (Build Your Career is available in Excellence in Business Communication 13th Edition and Business Communication Today 15th Edition.)

Adapted from Courtland L. Bovée and John V. Thill, Business Communication Today, 15th Edition, 2021, pp. 562–563.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay 

Fourteen Tips That Will Help Your Students Succeed in Phone Interviews

As your students begin the interview process, chances are good that their initial screening interviews and at least subsequent interview will be conducted over the phone. Employers treat telephone interviews as seriously as in-person interviews, so candidates need to be ready to perform effectively in these important exchanges.

Share these fourteen tips with your students to help them prepare and to ease the stress of getting ready for phone interviews:

  • Gather your support material. Have any materials on hand that will help you answer the questions you are likely to get. This includes your résumé, any correspondence you’ve had with the employer, your research notes about the company, the job description, and note cards with key message points you’d like to make and questions you’d like to ask. Don’t rely on notes on your phone; trying to pull them up during the call will be awkward.
  • Prepare your space. Arrange a clean and quiet space to be in during the interview. As much as possible, avoid distractions from pets, other people, television, music, and other audio and visual interruptions. Have a glass of water close at hand.
  • Practice your answers. Call a friend and rehearse your answers to potential questions to make sure you’re comfortable saying them over the phone.
  • Charge your phone. You don't want to run out of power during the call or stop to plug in your charger.
  • Talk on a landline if possible. If your mobile service isn’t clear and reliable, try to arrange to talk on a landline.
  • Schedule the interview, if possible. Whenever you can, schedule a time when you can be in your prepared space, safe from interruptions.
  • Dress for a business meeting. You don’t need to go full out, but don’t wear sweat pants and a T-shirt. Dressing up sends a signal to your mind and body to be attentive and professional.
  • Answer your phone professionally. If the interviewer will be calling you, answer with “Hi, this is —” to let the person know he or she has reached the right person. While your job search is active, answer every call from an unknown caller as if it’s a potential employer.
  • Maintain good posture. Whether you sit or stand during the interview, good posture will keep you alert and keep your voice strong.
  • Compensate for the lack of visual nonverbal signals. You can’t use facial expressions or hand gestures for emphasis, so make sure your voice is warm, friendly, and dynamic. Smile frequently—it changes the sound of your voice and lifts your mood.
  • Finish each answer in a definitive way. Don’t trail off and leave the interviewer wondering whether you’re finished.
  • Speak clearly. Remember that the interviewer can’t see you; your spoken words carry the entire message.
  • Write down essential information you get during the interview. Don’t rely on your memory for important details such as arrangements for a follow-up interview. It’s fine to pause and ask, “May I take a moment to write this down?”
  • End on a positive note. No matter how you think the call went, thank the interviewer for the opportunity and say you look forward to hearing from the company.

 

All three titles in the Bovée-Thill Business Communication Series offer in-depth advice on the full range of job-search communication, from researching job opportunities to crafting effective LinkedIn profiles. This coverage includes unique perspectives on personal branding, writing "the story of you," and the Build Your Career activities that guide students through the entire process of developing employment-related messaging. (Build Your Career is available in Excellence in Business Communication 13th Edition and Business Communication Today 15th Edition.)

Adapted from Courtland L. Bovée and John V. Thill, Business Communication Today, 15th Edition, 2021, pp. 562–563.

Image: Derek Robinson from Pixabay

Nine Tips to Help Your Students Build Effective LinkedIn Profiles

LinkedIn is the most important website for students to incorporate in their job search efforts. Employment recruiters search LinkedIn for candidates far more than any other social network, many employers now want to see LinkedIn profiles rather than conventional résumés, and companies doing background checks are almost certain to look for candidates’ LinkedIn profiles.

Encourage students to think of LinkedIn as a “socially networked multimedia résumé.” An effective LinkedIn profile includes all the information from a conventional résumé plus some additional features that help candidates present themselves in compelling ways to potential employers.

Here are nine tips to share with your students for building an effective profile:

  1. Photo. Add a photo that says “professional” without being overly formal. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer, but the photo needs to be clear and lit well enough so that your face isn’t in shadow. Stand against a visually “quiet” background that won’t distract viewers, dress appropriately for the jobs you are pursuing, and remember to smile.
  2. Headline. Write a headline that expresses who you are or aspire to be as a professional, such as “Data science major ready to make data come alive through leading-edge techniques in data mining, visualization, and AI.” Include keywords that target employers are likely to be searching for. As with other text fields on LinkedIn, you have a limited number of characters to work with here, so focus on your most valuable attributes.
  3. Summary. Write a summary that captures where you are and where you are going. Imagine that you are talking to a hiring manager in a personal and conversational tone, telling the story of where you’ve been and where you would like to go—but expressed in terms of meeting an employer’s business needs. Highlight your job experience, education, skills, accomplishments, target industry, and career direction. Unlike the introductory statement on your conventional résumé, which you can fine-tune for every job opportunity, your LinkedIn summary offers a more general picture of who you are as a professional. Be sure to work in as many of the keywords from your research as you can, while keeping the style natural. Employers can use a variety of search tools to find candidates, and they’ll look for these keywords.
  4. Experience. Fill out the experience section using the material from your conventional résumé. Make sure the details of your employment match your résumé, as employers are likely to cross-check. However, you can expand beyond those basics, such as by including links to photos and videos of work-related accomplishments.
  5. Recommendations. Ask for recommendations from people you know on LinkedIn. You may have a limited number of connections as you start out, but as your network expands, you’ll have more people to ask. A great way to get recommendations is to give them to the people in your network.
  6. Featured skills. List your top skills and areas of expertise. As you expand your network, endorse the skills of people you know; many users will endorse your skills in return.
  7. Education. Make sure your educational listing is complete and matches the information on your conventional résumé.
  8. Accomplishments. LinkedIn offers a variety of categories that let you highlight academic achievements, special projects, publications, professional certifications, important coursework, honors, patents, and more. If you don’t have an extensive work history, use this section to feature academic projects and other accomplishments that demonstrate your skills.
  9. Volunteer experience and causes. Add volunteering activities and charitable organizations that you support.

For the most current instructions on performing these tasks, students can visit the LinkedIn Help center at www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin. Remind them that the more robust they make their profiles, the better their chances are of catching the eye of company recruiters.

All three titles in the Bovée-Thill Business Communication Series offer in-depth advice on the full range of job-search communication, from researching job opportunities to crafting effective LinkedIn profiles. This coverage includes unique perspectives on personal branding, writing "the story of you," and the Build Your Career activities that guide students through the entire process of developing employment-related messaging. (Build Your Career is available in Excellence in Business Communication 13th Edition and Business Communication Today 15th Edition.)

 

Adapted from Courtland L. Bovée and John V. Thill, Business Communication Today, 15th Edition, 2021, pp. 540–541.

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