early adoption, linkedin, schalk, social networks, using social media in job search

Early adopting Linkedin: Member no. 39,974 out of 100 million users

I received a lovely letter on March 25th from Reid Hoffman, Co-founder and Chairman of Linkedin.    He wrote to personally thank the first 100, 000 linkedin members as Linkedin secured its 100th million user last week.  I was member 39, 974 – in the top 0.03% (so better than top 1%) of early adopters for Linkedin.  Okay – so my ego is stroked.   Honestly though – its not just ego – but I feel strangely validated for having promoted Linkedin to scores and scores of colleagues over the years.

Here is a copy of that letter:

Dear Laurie,

I want to personally thank you because you were one of LinkedIn’s first 100,000 members (member number 39974 in fact!*). In any technology adoption lifecycle, there are the innovators, those who help lead the way. That was you.

We hit a big milestone at LinkedIn this week when our 100 millionth member joined the site.

When we founded LinkedIn, our vision was to help the world’s professionals be more successful and productive. Today, with your help, LinkedIn is changing the lives of millions of members by helping them connect with others, find jobs, get insights, start a business, and much more.

We are grateful for your support and look forward to helping you accomplish much more in the years to come. I hope that you are having a great year.


Reid Hoffman
Co-founder and Chairman

*Your member number is the number embedded in your LinkedIn profile URL (after “id=”).

I started using Linkedin over seven years ago mostly because as a mobile IBM worker, I had no desk and so keeping a rolodex wasn’t digital enough for me.    I was also using Friendster, encouraged by a friend in Hong Kong, well before Facebook took over my personal social life and I tried Plaxo for a bit before I gave up.

I really only grasped the huge value of Linkedin, however, when I took my first maternity leave in 2005 only to return 12 months later and instantly be able to find my marketing network because each person had updated their own profile.   Heaven.

In 2009, when the market took a dive and I was laid off in my twelfth month of my second maternity leave (after hiring a nanny), I turned to linkedin to better position me and my business.  I used Linkedin strategically – optimizing not only my profile but how I used the tool in order to make connections, update my network and secure information.

In the year of exponential social media growth (still in 2009), I had a lot of friends in career transition.   Many of whom were not on Linkedin or if they were, not using the tool well.  So I started to trade drinks for lessons with friends.   I got pretty good so I made my community give back to volunteer at employment centers around the city to teach disadvantaged people how to use social media to find a job.  I taught close to 700 people how to use Linkedin.   During that time – I started to win business through Linkedin – some quite sizable deals – not to mention provide social media education & consulting across the gamut of networks.  I often asserted that too many companies forgot Linkedin as a potential B2B strategy.

(Its at this point that I fear readers think a personal usage of Linkedin formed the only foundation for my social media expertise… no actually my eight years in emerging tech at IBM and years in marketing – contribute far more)

This is all a long way of saying how grateful I am for this relationship with Linkedin.   And it certainly was nice to see correspondence from Linkedin outside of their proprietary messaging system.

Facebook, How to, linkedin, recruiting 2.0, social networks, using social media in job search

Teaching social media

I just finished another course teaching social media to job searchers in downtown Toronto. The attendees were wonderfully diverse both in careers, interests, and backgrounds – so representative of diversity Toronto. I felt honoured to be in a room sharing with individuals so rich in experience. I really think I should add a coffee social afterward as I just wanted to share in their excitement… hmm. note to self!

As an indication of how heavily demanded this learning is, the course was signed up overcapacity (again!) at 35 individuals and ten more on the waiting list. (the room was small and so very hot). One of the nicest things said to me at the beginning of the course was from Eddie who grabbed my hand in hello and said “I’ve been looking forward to this ALL month”. And I believed him. What faith!

I mean to upload my current presentation and tools in my linkedin profile (coming!) and still – I wanted to share a very neat video link to anyone drifting through..

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Teaching social media“, posted with vodpod
housing / home building, recruiting 2.0, the 405 club, using social media in job search

New for me: Contributing writer for the 405 club

The 405 club, New York’s Official Unemployment Network, is a rapidly growing network and clever blog site started by Garrett Dale and Jose Gonzalez.

As you may not know – $405 is the maximium unemployment benefit you can receive in New York State.   So for those who were earning over six figures – its a pretty big fall during a great recession.    The Gotham Gazette, NYC paper, wrote an interesting article about the realities of being unemployed in New York.

I was contacted by Garrett to see if I would be a contributing writer for the blog.   I wrote back asking if he says this to all the blogs but Garrett confessed to liking my writing style and being serious.  AH .. his timing was wonderful and the news brighten my day.

I am pleased as punch to contribute.  The move make more of my volunteer work.

My only professional hesitation is that I really want to be much more than just ‘using social media in job search’ – I want to be about using social media to rock your customer, change the game, create idea jams and engage with customers on levels not yet imagined by most.   [not just me – many of my colleagues in social media pine for this]

The changes that I see that – for the home building industry, for retail, for insurance, for government, for every industry!  And yet – my work in social recruiting 2.0 and job search seems to be hitting a wild nerve – not surprisingly given the market realities.   So as much as I want to talk about how the condo market should be using social media more, or how under utilized youtube is, I continue to talk about jobs.

Now.. if I could just figure out how to get Employment Ontario and the federal government to fund my work…

Blogging, Charity / volunteer, How to, recruiting 2.0, small business, social networks, the 405 club, using social media in job search

For 405 club: Dodging the stigma of actively searching for work

yippeee kiyaaa mfff!  Here’s my first post to the 405 club.

I’ve been volunteering/consulting in social recruiting lately – a high demand and growing area – playing both sides of the fence between consulting with HR/recruiters & execs and volunteering with the painfully transitioned in Toronto.   I wanted to offer suggestions to those who choose not to open up their chest cavity and explain why they are out of work…  AND give a new blog post to the 405 club:  NYC’s official unemployment network who’ve just asked me to be a contributing blogger to the site. <blush>


Perception is Reality

Picture it – you’re sitting in the first interview you’ve managed to get in weeks, its a job that matches your working desires and the promise of pay is in line with your old self – the one that used to work.

The fumble you are trying to avoid is not whether or not you qualify for  the job.  NOOOO its whether or not to pretend that you are not the active job searcher you are.   Damn the stigma of being an active job seeker.

I touched on this in an earlier blog post – social recruiting 2.0.   Quickly – recruiters and hr managers break job searchers into three main groups –

  1. non-seekers – those who have a job who aren’t looking,
  2. passive job searchers – have a job and are mildly searching, and
  3. active job searchers – say no more.

Active job searchers are, at times, avoided under the belief they constitute the undesirable; the belief that they will jump at any job opportunity – qualified or not,  suitable or not and desert jobs when they find what they really want.   I’m sure this stigma is grounded in some reality and yet, in a great recession, employers should not ignore quality candidates regardless of situation.  [Excellent article on out of work stigma fading.]


  • Build your own website – not a online resume, a small business site.  Consider using free blog publishing to get up and running fast.
  • Invest in your own domain name.   I wouldn’t necessarily go with your personal name as a domain but if you can’t dream up something cheap and available as a .com, then go for it.  Some instructions in a previous “how to” blog post of mine using godaddy.
  • Volunteer in a relevant capacity and make an “in-kind” deal allowing yourself to claim the organization as a client, and get website or other exposure for your business.
  • Make the bloody most of every volunteer/contract experience – blog about it, status update it, twitter it if you are on twitter, talk about it.  Use popular tag words in your blog title post so that your post gets auto pulled into silly blogs that add posts based on key word terms rather than content.
  • Update all social networking sites to your new business – linkedin, etc.  [I’m assuming here you are on linkedin.. and you should be]
  • Use a powerful signature linking back to profiles, @twitters or blog posts.  Start commenting as the president and chief pipeline filler in relevant forums, questions & answers paying attention to well attended blogs, websites, facebook fan pages or linkedin discussions as they will feed back traffic through the comments you make.
  • Cross pollinate your social networks.  Add linkedin applications that display your blog in your linkedin e.g. wordpress app, then add linkedin badges to your blog.

At the end of the day – an hr mgr and recruiter will still ask you why you are applying for full time moving away from your business.    My response has always been about the opportunity.  Personally, its hard to fill a pipeline as a small business and work on it.  But being committed to playing in a field you love means that you may have to take on different roles to do it.  Some of those roles are full time – others are contract and others are volunteer work.

Good luck.

enterprise 2.0, recruiting 2.0, social networks, using social media in job search

Social recruiting 2.0 – the pains of a new time

I had a fantastic coffee with Hugh Munro, of  H. Munro Associates.

Hugh brought a wonderful inside perspective on how recruiters segment and think about job candidates, how the industry works (past) and how social media will be impacting how companies hire executives in the future.

Hugh has an extensive background from Southam, IQ parters and DHR International – and so it was an absolute pleasure to listen to someone who knows what they are talking about.  ( you know – someone with deep industry experience who get the ‘ah-ha’ of how that industry will be changing and how to help organizations take advantage of it)

The timing of our coffee was perfect as I have been conducting a lot of research into social recruiting 2.0, the modern job search as well as teaching unemployed individuals how to use social media in their job search.

The one area that I’ve been struggling to understand is how corporate hiring managers turning to social networks and still using job boards avoid being overly reactive to filling job postings.  By seeking applicants in a great recession – hiring managers need only post a job for 72 hrs.  Its just like buying a house in Toronto! And yet – passive job seekers and non-job seekers do not necessarily get in the mix.

HR hiring managers will need a social media/networking strategy to ensure they are adequately balancing between active, passive and non-job seekers to get the best candidate for the role.

In this way – I have great respect for the work that recruiters do.  They are often very talented individuals coming from the sectors they are hiring for – and hopefully can see past the stigma of an active searcher vs. passive and find non-searching candidate.

aside: the stigma of being an active job seeker – the belief that an active job seeker will take anything presented to them, that because of a lack of corporate links that they will not help recruiters get more business at a firm and so are less desirable to spend time with, on the market for a short time, etc.   Read more on the stigman associated with active job seeking.

Hugh described his work hiring an executive at a bank and how he needed to find the right cultural, ambitious, motivated individual to match the corporate need – ah.. if I just had some popcorn, I could have listened to so many more stories.  It was his description of his hiring strategy that made me appreciate this fine difference between recruiters and hiring managers.

How will companies who want to take over a lot of the hiring from recruiting agencies make sure they are still applying the right strategy to hiring?  How will they make sure they are using the right individuals to conduct the search (or offer the right training/adequate training budget to exisiting individuals)?

Another intesting idea from Hugh:   some executives who want to become passive job seekers have no idea how to use social networking to do so.   I’m not exactly sure who they would turn to for education but I hazard to guess that that some of them would expect help from traditional executive placement firms – who may not know much about personal social networking.

My final thoughts about recruiting in this day and age is how organizations are dropping the age old diplomacy around how to reject job applicants. I made a joke presenting to unemployed individuals about how much job searching has changed.  “remember when you used to get a rejection letter?”  A lot of people nodded and knew what I was talking about.

Today – job applicants get absolutely no communication back from many, many companies they apply to.  Its a huge black hole.  Its as if the companies know how to gather resumes from modern social sites but still have yet to master how to converse.

I think it is very important to acknowledge those who apply for jobs that their application was received and appreciated.  Afterall, these are individuals who are signing up to spend a great part of their life dedicated to advancing an organizations’ goals, regardless of role, individual suitability or pay scale.   Social media and technology can make notices, updates and communication a great deal more humane.   Certainly, if a company is brand centric (heavy believers in the brand), than wouldn’t this just be part of the branded ‘customer experience strategy?

Hmm.. time for lunch.

recruiting 2.0, social networks, using social media in job search

Lessons from job searchers – teaching at tcet

Is social networking for everyone?  Will it help all job seekers?  I am checking my assumptions after teaching a wide breadth of job seekers.

Before teaching some 60 – 70 people how to use social media in their job search, I had a chance to introduce myself to a few early attendees and ask them about ‘their story’ if they were willing to share.

I met a very interesting person named Jim who immigrated from Turkey.  He was a very smart individual, self described as a sales person clearly with a lot of skill and experience.   Without knowing much about him – I’d probably peg him at a mid-senior level based on his discussion of the profession and skills required.  He was no slouch.

He voiced so much frustration with being a newcomer to Canada and not being able to get Canadian work experience as Canadian businesses sought Canadian work experience before giving it.

For him – I truly believe social networking will help.  Being on linkedin and facebook will allow Jim to collect his network, demonstrate his skill in sales without being asked what kind of Canadian experience he has.  I think by virtue of its global participation, people who participate in social networking are more appreciative of global experience – at least I hope so.

And yet another attendee, John, described with excitement, how he had reached second round interviews for a $15/hr job in a property management / maintenance role.  With this conversation – I wondered how much a tool like linkedin would help him.   Although future employer hr and managers may be online – would they use linkedin to find large scale customer facing staff?  Would a bank use linkedin for branch staff?  (to some extent – I would hope so)

I haven’t seen this discussed anywhere yet.  I am investigating as I have several other presentations to give to individuals in transition.