When I resigned from a large consulting company after 3 years of working as a consultant, I sent out my farewell email at the end of the week. The next day, the CEO sent it out to the entire US Consulting Practice. (A lot of people).

I wasn’t a Director, Partner, Senior Manager or even a Manager. I was a Senior Consultant. I didn’t save the company millions of dollars by inventing a new methodology or product. I wasn’t given any top performance awards or recognized as a global leader within a company.

I can only guess it was because he saw something noteworthy of sharing. In short: I loved working there and it showed in my e-mail.

If you’re quitting, here is exactly what you need to do to leave on a good note:

STEP 1: Do not, under any condition, mention to anyone that you are thinking of quitting or looking for a new job.

Want to mess things up? This is how you mess things up.

When you’re ready to quit, quit.

When you’re thinking about quitting, shut your mouth. Tell your family, closest of closest friends, people that it’s only necessary to tell– and that’s about it.

Rumors start and move quickly and you don’t want to be that employee who is still working at the company but thinking about leaving. It will start a lot of awkward conversations.

STEP 2: Shut your mouth–Tell only 1 person and let them handle the communication of your exit.

Tell your direct report or a senior colleague that you have decided to leave the company. Do not start telling everyone, until you get the all-clear to do so. This is the best way to tell your boss that you’re quitting.

What do you tell your coworkers about the fact that you’re quitting? You say that you found a better opportunity elsewhere that you couldn’t refuse. This is your answer no matter how much you hate the company or your boss. This is all you need to say, nothing more nothing less.

The key here is to let them communicate to the group that you’re quitting. Let your superior handle the communication. They will trust you more for it.

And oh yeah, do this in person. If quitting in person is not an option, do it over the phone. There is no reason to tell your company you are quitting over email.

I don’t care if your company invented email. Don’t quit over email.

I don’t care if you’ve never spoken to your boss on the phone. Don’t quit over email.

STEP 3: Yes, a 2 weeks notice is still standard.

3 weeks notice is extra nice. 4 weeks notice is not recommended unless stated by your contract or an agreement you made with the firm.

Tell your manager your exact date that you’re leaving by.

STEP 4: Be appreciative for once.

I know whenever I quit a job, I’m usually the happiest person in the building. The fact that you know that you won’t have to be part of this shit hole again, and others are stuck in it, probably gives you a warm feeling inside.

It’s wrong, but it’s true.

So, do your best to not gloat about you quitting or what’s next for you. Do your job, and get out of there. Show appreciation by being respectful and holding all that glorious gloating inside until you get out of there.

When you’re about 300 feet away from the building, you are allowed to scream at the top of your lungs. You deserve it.

STEP 5: Lie during your exit interviews.

Be careful during exit interviews. Do not turn an exit interview into a consulting session. You will not turn around the company by telling the truth to HR about all the issues within the company. Nothing is changing there, that’s why you’re leaving–remember?

Do not be superman. Stick to the answer on #2. This is the real key to quitting your job gracefully. If you wanted to tell the truth, you could have done it before you left. You are halfway out the door at this point so just stick to your normal, vague, corporate answers. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything all.

Read this: Don’t lie on your Resume, but lie like hell in your exit interview.

STEP 6: Send the best resignation letter of your life, or send a boring one.

Your resignation letter is either extremely thankful, or a quick thank you and goodbye email. Nothing in between. Do not offer constructive criticism in your email, or offer suggestions on how to improve the company after you leave. You had your chance to improve it, so now is not the time.

The reason the CEO sent my email to the entire company was because I called out co-workers that I enjoyed working with and how they helped me advance my career. I really enjoyed working at this company, and my resignation letter showed it. When I left other firms, the email was 2-3 sentences at the most.

Read this: The Only Resignation Letter Template You’ll Ever Need.

In summary, my motto is that you should leave quietly and never ever burn bridges. Do not use this opportunity to show everyone how smart you are because it will backfire.

Basically, don’t be this guy:

Although he did provide a lot of entertainment and laughs!

STEP 7: You aren’t done yet!

Ah, you thought you can just walk out the door and that’s it. Keep a strong relationship with your former co-workers. Invite them out to coffee a few months after you leave. Add them on LinkedIn. Keep your connections close.

This may be difficult while you’re looking for a job while working with them, and having to keep your search secret– but there’s no reason it should be after you’ve already left. Keep it professional and keep in touch about what you’re up to now and what your future statement is.

Whatever you do, do not use your flown-the-coop-newly-found-freedom to trash talk your old employer with your old coworker, no matter how strong the temptation. They chose to stay, you chose to leave and that’s all there is to it. You can still both want to see one another succeed, and be helpful connections for one another without muckraking the employer you had in common.

Also, there’s something graceful in letting things go and not re-hashing the wrongs you feel were committed against you at the company. Talk about your future, and about how you can help one another succeed in it.

LinkedIn is powerful.

There is a reason I don’t recommend that people apply to jobs on other career related sites. They are mostly a waste of time. LinkedIn, however, has done it right.

It’s the difference between “I can’t find a job” and “I have several opportunities waiting for me.”

It’s that powerful.

If you treat it like the powerful platform it is, you will see significant growth in your career.

Every single job I have ever received is directly or indirectly related to my use and personal branding on LinkedIn. Because of my taking the time to learn how to use LinkedIn, I went from 500 connections to 30,000 connections or followers in 3 months. I’ll share my strategy.

I built an email list of 10,000 people in just 3 months. I used LinkedIn while employed, working on side projects, and over and over to help clients and to get a new job when I needed it

LinkedIn also profiled in me in a great video

It’s safe to say, I’m a huge fan of LinkedIn. The reason for this guide is to give you more detail on how it actually works, and how exactly you can use these tips to make LinkedIn work for you.

Less fluff, and more how to.

SECTION 1: CREATE A LINKEDIN PROFILE THAT DOESN’T SUCK

Your LinkedIn profile sucks. Trust me. I’ve seen thousands of them. Additionally, there is a 99% chance after reading this guide, you won’t take any action, and continue to suck at LinkedIn.

Can’t you tell that I’m an optimist 🙂

For the 1% who are going to take action, keep reading!

Step 1: You need to pay for a professional LinkedIn profile picture. No, seriously.

I honestly don’t recommend paying for many things. A professional picture is on the top of my list of things to pay for.

Your selfie isn’t going to work. That great picture of you that your buddy snapped before you went out on a night of town, isn’t going to work. If you didn’t pay for it, there is a 99.99% chance the picture shouldn’t be your profile picture.

It’s the difference between “I want to learn more about this person” and “I have no interest in this person…Next!”

Keep in mind that once you’ve paid for a great headshot, you can reuse this for your own personal blog or publications, for any other online professional representation of you, and your personal brand.

LinkedIn Profile Picture

Look at how beautiful I am.

Your perfect profile picture should tick the following boxes:

  • Great lighting.
  • Awesome resolution.
  • A simple background.
  • Full, glorious color.
  • A neat, head and shoulders photograph of your face.

What should you do while you’re saving up the $150-$250 dollars to pay a photographer who’s done this kind of thing before? There are few photos that are worse than having no photo at all, but they do exist and you’ve probably seen at least one of these examples. In the interim, try to stick to these simple guidelines for any profile picture you use, and use the following factors to check your final image again for ‘psychological satisfaction’ before you hit ‘upload’.

Long story short, you need a great picture. It’s seriously a world of a difference. Don’t ignore this.

Step 2: Write a summary statement that is accurate AND interesting.

Ok, now that I’m done yelling at you for having a bad photo. Let’s talk about your summary statement in LinkedIn.

“Robbie is an innovative marketing professional with over 15 years’ experience in the industry…”

Are you bored yet?

I am, and that sentence is all about me.

LinkedIn gives you 2,000 characters to provide a comprehensive window into who you are and what makes you tick, not just as an employee, but as a person. I mean, a 2,000 character-long bio on the internet is just a step below a full memoir. Am I right?
Your summary needs to sell you, but it needs to do it authentically.

Start at the beginning. Share your values. Have a sense of humor. Be a real, living, breathing person with goals, ambitions, fears, interests, skills and hobbies. After reading your summary, your viewers should feel like they’ve just met you for a friendly chat over a cup of coffee.

Your summary should cover the 5 bases:

1) Value statement. This should be your very first sentence, and you better make it good. You don’t have to focus on what you’re currently doing: the point is to tell the reader exactly what they’d get out of working with you.

2) Why I do what I do. Now that you’ve got their attention, use a couple of paragraphs to tell our story. Where have you been? What do you stand for? Where do you want to go? Use stories and anecdotes to keep things human and engaging.

3) Interesting facts. This is the main advantage of LinkedIn over a traditional resumé: you can tell the reader anything you think they need to know. Perhaps you have expertise that isn’t covered by your qualifications, or want to branch out in a direction where you have no formal experience. This is the place for things that don’t fit under a bullet-point list.

4) How I can help you. Time to lay it on the line. This section isn’t just about telling the reader what you can do, but emphasizes that you’re willing to do it for them. You need to let them have the Holy Grail: give out your email address.

I include the line: “Email me at robbie@firemeibegyou.com. I read every email.”

That last little statement says two things: that you get a lot of emails, and that you make time for the people who send them to
you.

5) Special skills. This section plays two parts: first, telling people what you do. Second, providing terms that will show up in keyword searches.

Here are 3 stellar examples of excellently written summaries to take some inspiration from. You’ll notice none of them mention how many years of experience each professional has, but still they manage to convey a wealth of expertise in their field.

Step 3: Use the Media section.

This is why a LinkedIn profile pays 10x more than a resume. Give some life to your profile and add anything interesting about you. Give them a reason to reach out to you.

Step 4: You need to fill in all of the fields, unfortunately.

This is a no-brainer, but it’s an important one. According to this article by Link Humans, “Your profile is 15 times more likely to be viewed by adding the industry you work in and ten times more likely to be viewed if you add your education.” But that doesn’t mean just filling up each field with a stream-of-consciousness, buzz-word added nonsense, will cut it.

Step 5: Fill out your job history. Include descriptions for each position, in the first person!

Do not, I repeat, do not import your resume straight into LinkedIn. Yes, the option exists. But the option to buy and then eat thumbtacks also exists, and you don’t need to be told not to do that. Do you?

Hiring managers want to see that you’re a great fit for the role, so use your past career steps as chapters in the story of you. Make it clear to them that hiring you is the only logical way for the story to continue. This is another additive of your one sentence story. Does your experience at Wing Pit in college fit into the narrative as a Director of Marketing? You decide. But chances are, things like this can only hurt you.

Does your experience at Wing Pit in college fit into the narrative as a Director of Marketing? You decide. But chances are, things like this can only hurt you.

Step 6: Ditch the buzzwords. You’re not a motivated, team player. Trust me, no one belives you.

Truly innovative people don’t say that they’re ‘innovative’ because they’re too busy innovating. Let your accomplishments do the talking for you, and try to avoid coming across like a repetitive corporate robot. Hint: If the word synergy appears in your summary in a non-ironic way, it probably needs a rewrite. Just saying.

Step 7: Stick to the first person

Instead of saying “Robbie is an experienced project management professional,” you can say something along the lines of “I have worked in many fortune 500 companies as a project manager. My specific focus is SAP software implementations.”

If you’re not used to blowing your own horn, it’s time to sign up for trumpet lessons.

Using the third person makes it sound like you’ve got some kind of dissociative disorder, or that you’re trying to make it sound like your profile summary came from someone else. The only items that should sound like they came from someone else are the glowing referrals on your profile. More about those later.

Step 8: Think twice about any qualifications in your title

I had my project management certification and the qualification was a “PMP”. So I put my name as Robbie Abed, PMP. Long story short, I got more inMails from my friends that I’m missing the I in PMP, then I actually got from qualified leads.

I also realized that many hiring managers viewed a Project Management Certification as a nice to have and not a must have.

Unless the job you want specifically requires that qualification (like a Medical Doctor), it’s probably not that relevant to any recruiters looking a hire, and might actually pigeonhole you and limit your potential reach. If you’ve got your diploma in journalism, but want to get into B2B communications, chances are that ‘Dip.’ abbreviation at the end of your name will make your profile views do just that.

Step 9: You might also want to reconsider naming the company you work for in your subtitle

Similarly, if you’re holding down a position at a well-known or particularly credible company, then you might do well to include the name in your title. But bear in mind that just saying ‘Director of Sales’ sounds more impressive than ‘Director of Sales at Mrs. Tinsley’s Instant Soup Factory’. Remember, dress for the job you want.

Step 10: You might even want to rethink your own name. Especially if your name is John Smith.

If your name is John Smith. You’re screwed. You would literally have to find the cure to cancer, win an NFL championship and the Tour De France to even be considered for the first result for your name search on Google or LinkedIn.

If when you Google yourself, you start realizing that your name might not be as unique as you thought it was, it’s time to start differentiating yourself. If you have a second name, or the option of a double-barrel surname, start adding that to your online profiles.

I’m not recommending you drop your last name, like Adele, Prince or Rihanna. Nor do I think this is the ideal opportunity to use that great nickname you got in 5th grade.

‘James Johnson’ might not be memorable on its own, but add that second name your parents thoughtfully added to your birth certificate and now, Mr. James Peter Johnson, you’ve got a much better chance of being found online.

The key is to then use that same name across every online channel. Your email signature, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.

Step 11: Your City – Use this field strategically when looking for a job in a different city

The ‘city’ field seems like an obvious one to get right. You just enter the city that you’re currently living and working in, right? Not so much. Let’s say you’re based in Fort Lauderdale, but have dreams of moving to New York.

You’d up and move if only the right career opportunity came along. But how is that opportunity going to come along when all of New York’s hiring managers are striking you off their list because it looks like you’re happy where you are. Correct their assumption.

List the city you want to work in to start getting noticed by recruiters in this area, so you can make sure you show in their searches.

I’m not saying lie about your current location. Don’t lie about where your current job is. Tell the truth, but you can put the city you want to work in and be Kosher in my book.

Step 12: Start showing up higher on LinkedIn Searches

You don’t need to stuff your profile full of keywords to rank highly on LinkedIn just for fellow members looking for jobs on LinkedIn.

That kind of thing might just drive a potential hiring manager or partner nuts before they’ve even gotten as far as checking for your email address.

Making sure that people looking for someone like you can easily find you, does mean paying attention to making sure that your profile has been optimized to appear in the right searches. Make sure that your job titles, descriptions, summary and even your recommendations are all telling the same story.

SECTION 2: AMPLIFY YOUR BRAND USING PUBLISHING

It takes a reader a fraction of a second to get that precious first impression, and at best a couple of minutes to read your profile. That’s as long as you’ve got to make an impact – or is it?

LinkedIn’s publishing platform may be its most undervalued tool. It gives you access to a broader audience, for longer periods of time. People will come to hear what you have to say and if it resonates, they’ll want to hear more. That’s how relationships start.

Writing and distributing articles using LinkedIn publishing is a great way to turn browsers into followers and followers into connections. My results haven’t been too shabby, if I do say so myself. After 120 days of article writing on LinkedIn I’ve achieved:

  • 1.6 Million Article Views
  • 50 new high-quality relationships added to “Robbie’s Connection
    Newsletter”
  • 7,500 email subscribers to Summer of Quitting
  • 10,447 new followers (Yes, LinkedIn has followers which are separate from
    connections)
  • 1,100 new connections

How to be Happy at Work When Everyone Else is Miserable is one of my most popular post.

I also learned a few things along the way – these days I refer to the following checklist before I post an article. I found a score of 7 or more is a pretty good sign it will be a success:

  • Makes reader feel inspired / motivated: +4
  • Agreeable tone / content: +4
  • Authentic first-person story: +3
  • Recent events in technology / business: +3
  • Topic: Career Advancement / Leadership: +2
  • Actionable tips / lessons learned: +1
  • Industry specific / technical*: -2
  • Click bait headline: -3

Be sure to finish off with these magic words: “Please follow me or add me on LinkedIn. I accept all connection requests.”

You can boost your views by linking to your article on other social media. LinkedIn’s editors recommend that you tweet “TIP @linkedineditors” with a link to your article, which will notify them that you’ve published something.

The editors decide which articles on the site to feature in LinkedIn Pulse, so catching their attention is a good thing. Usually the articles posted there are those that get the most views and are automatically flagged as “popular” by LinkedIn’s algorithms, but the editors still make that call for articles they find particularly valuable.

To boost your chances of getting noticed, publish the post between 9am and 1pm CST (Central Standard Time) and shoot for Mondays or Tuesdays as a rule of thumb . As LinkedIn’s editors are mostly located in NYC and California, most of them will be at work and looking for content at this time.

As you start out writing LinkedIn articles, the following links will come in handy:

 

SECTION 3: BUILD POWERFUL RELATIONSHIPS

I think the most underused feature of LinkedIn is figuring out how to maintain and build relationships. I’m going to outline how to use LinkedIn to build powerful relationships.

Step 1: Get consistent with adding others on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is the center of your career. If you want others to be aware of what you’re working on, then you must be diligent about adding new connections on LinkedIn.

Met someone at a networking event and spoke with them for more than 90 seconds?
Add them on LinkedIn.

Met a friend of a friend and you only spoke to them on the phone?
Add them on LinkedIn.

Interacted with someone on twitter that you want to build a better relationship with?
Add them on Twitter.
Add them on LinkedIn.

See where I’m going with this?

The beautiful part about LinkedIn is that it’s not creepy to ask someone to get connected. Add them on Facebook after only speaking to them for 90 seconds, is kind of creepy if you ask me. But on LinkedIn, it’s A OK. It’s even professional.

Step 2: Ask for recommendations. And don’t stop asking.

Past relationships are as important as new ones. Personal recommendations and referrals go the extra mile to show that you really have worked at the companies that you say you’ve worked at, and that the people who have worked there with you enjoyed the experience.

Here’s the thing about asking for referrals though – you’re probably going to have to do it more than once. Don’t get me wrong, some people might be sitting at their desks just waiting for you to ask them to write a referral. But I doubt it.

 

Get the ball rolling by using the phenomenon of obligatory reciprocation. I mean, write a referral for them first. Tell them how much you enjoyed working with them, and ask them if they would mind returning the favor. Then wait a week or two and ask again. And again. Be polite and be sincere, but also be tenacious. It might seem difficult at the time but I can promise you it’s a lot easier than scheduling 250 coffee meetings a year with the busiest people in business.

Step 3: Do not, for the love of everything that’s good and holy, link your Twitter account to your LinkedIn account.

Don’t get your private chocolate in your professional peanut butter. There are two cardinal sins on LinkedIn that most members commit at least once, and are occasionally even advocated by well-meaning social movers and shakers, who otherwise offer some pretty sage advice.

If you want to treat LinkedIn like a serious, professional platform, you need to take the time to tailor your content updates to this platform and make the most of every post. Potential business partners and employers don’t need to know that you are #totesjamming to T. Swifty’s latest release in traffic.

Obviously if you’ve linked your tweets to your LinkedIn page because your twitter account is ultra industry-relevant and business focused, that’s up to you, just as long as you don’t commit the second cardinal sin….

Step 4: Become your own PR person

I’ve got good reason to be a massive fan of LinkedIn’s publishing platform, Pulse. I went from no followers to 28,000 followers on LinkedIn in 3 months’ time and built an email list of 10,000 people using LinkedIn Pulse. Over 40 days, I published 6 articles that lead to 63, 000 pageviews, 7,000 social shares and 5 different work opportunities. I had business leaders reaching out to me. If this is the first time you’re hearing about Pulse, you might want to brush up with this handy beginner’s guide.

Even if you’re a seasoned writer or blogger and think you know all you need to know about self-publishing online, there are a few LinkedIn specifics you would do well to take on board. Firstly, as I can attest, posts with a positive spin tend to do much better than negative ones, Feel free to highlight issues in the world, in business or in your industry, but remember that people tend not to like, comment on, or share news that doesn’t inspire them.

And you really want those likes, comments and shares. The more popular your LinkedIn Publication is on your own network, the more likely it is to get picked up by LinkedIn’s human Pulse editors, who will share it on their global feed. If you’re really trying to hustle hard, try to publish between 2-3 times a week on LinkedIn, and follow the best post practices when creating your content.

Even if you’re not interested in writing your own articles, you can still use this publishing platform as a means of staying top of mind. Make it your mission to curate the best, most recent news and information. Add your own personal take on it, and share it with the people who would find it the most fascinating.

Step 5: Interested is interesting

Let’s say there’s a powerful influencer or executive you’re dying to get in touch with, someone who could really open some doors for you. If only they knew that you existed. You can sure as heck do all the usual steps of following their company, following them, and perhaps even joining some of the groups that they are also a part of, but unless you reach out, they still might never notice you.

When your targeted contact shares a link, share it too, along with your personal (and preferably complimentary) take. Leave an insightful comment, and perhaps expand with a question of your own. Everyone likes to be noticed. Even big, powerful influencers. Flattery won’t get you everywhere, but creative flattery will get you noticed.

Step 6: Don’t bother with groups

Of course, if you love chatting with strangers halfway across the globe and have an inexhaustible amount of time to dedicate to discussions that will likely never turn into work experience of job opportunities, then be my guest. But I personally find most groups to be an exercise in time-consuming futility when it comes to growing your network and making valuable connections. I suggest spending your time meeting with real people. Use this guide as a resource to networking.

Step 7: Get off Facebook and get serious about your LinkedIn

LinkedIn has the potential to generate hundreds of quality opportunities for you, but you’ve got to put in the time and effort to turn your profile into something worth looking at, and your activity into something worth following.

It might sound like a drag, but how about this: The next time you spend 30 minutes searching for the perfect cover photo, tagging your friends, or ‘liking’ baby pictures, just remember that there is a network out there where you could actually be getting paid (eventually) for updating your profile.

In conclusion, LinkedIn is a powerful tool if you use it properly. It’s the only tool on the internet that will immediately connect you to professionals around the world. Don’t underestimate how great this can be for you.

I honestly believe the biggest problem with mastering negotiation isn’t that you don’t know how to negotiate, it’s just that you don’t have the confidence to negotiate. You either aren’t confident or think negotiation is a slimy, greedy game that you would like to avoid.

I’ve been screwed out of thousands of dollars many times during my career when it comes to salary negotiation, but in the end it’s been the best thing to ever happen to me. That rage inside of me drove me to write this guide with full confidence that it will help others. I know the old way of doing things doesn’t work (here’s looking at you, resume). If you want something you’ve never had you have to try something you’ve never tried. No one enjoys negotiating their salary with their current employer, as I’ve said, it’s easier to just go out and get a new job. But it can be done, as long as you follow my strategy, and regain that confidence that’s been beaten out of you.

This guide is more focused on how to not screw yourself during negotiation and how to get paid what you deserve. A performance review is not going to reflect what you’re actually worth as an asset to the company. If it happens that you end up getting paid more than anyone in your department, then so be it! You deserve what you deserve, and I’m going to do my damn hardest to make sure you get exactly that and not a penny less.

Ready to make some more money? Great, here we go.

Step 1: Know exactly what you want and deserve
Step 2: The answer to all of your negotiation problems: Leverage
Step 3: How to master any negotiation, step by step. (Where the rubber hits the road)

Step 1: Know exactly what you want and deserve.

Confidence can be the difference between a $60,000/year to $75,000 a year salary.

The more confidence you have, the better off you are in a negotiation. If you know exactly what you want and what you deserve, the better off you are.

I don’t mean that you should walk into an office and demand a salary and say: “Take it or leave it.” That’s definitely not what I mean and in fact if you do that, you will crash and burn.

Confidence is the ability to define your real value is and back it up with evidence and facts.

I know it sounds a little too far-fetched. Shouldn’t the work you’ve done already speak for itself? Well, that’s not how this works.

So, how do you get confidence? This works even if you are a pushover, although admittedly, it’s a little bit more work for pushovers.

It’s a 2 step process.

1. Know exactly why someone would hire you.

I’m not asking you to figure out a couple good reasons why someone would hire you. I’m asking you to figure out exactly why someone would hire you.

This is a simple concept everyone seems to forget: employers will hire you based on your perceived strengths. I don’t think you should fake it to you make it. It’s too easy to see past the fake-ness. Evaluating your strengths, what you’re better at than anyone else, is a great exercise that will not only aid you in salary negotiations, it will help you keep your interview skills, and LinkedIn story fresh and up to date.

No one likes talking about themselves, we would rather discuss other people and their relative strengths and weaknesses. The ability to evaluate and observe yourself in terms of what makes you successful in your industry, is something you must do in order to continue to advance. Unless, of course, your goal is to plateau, but plateau’s are a very boring, and financially stagnant places to be.

This requires a lot of self awareness. Here is a fun activity that you can do to find out what your strengths are.

  • Get your phone.
  • Text 5 close friends.
  • Ask them this question: If you were forced to pay me a $1,000. What would you have me do for you?

When they reply back with something stupid like “strip at my birthday party,” reply back that you’re really serious.

You want to know what they would pay a $1,000 for.

The best generic catch all advice I can give you is that you’re most likely going to make money at something you’re good at.

It’s right in front of you, but not completely obvious.

 

2. Know exactly what you’re worth down to the exact penny.

The kiss of death is finding out that someone in a similar role at your company is making a lot more money than you. There is no worse feeling in the world, trust me.

You would feel betrayed, worthless and eventually angry as hell. Angry that this company screwed you and that you accepted an offer much lower (than others, respectively) mainly because the company told you during negotiation that “this was the maximum they can give you.” Once you find out a coworker is making a larger salary, you realize this is bullshit. But by the time you do, it’s already too late, you’re locked into this salary. Your negotiation is over, and you were mostly forced into a corner about it.

Do you know how that happened? It happened because you didn’t know what you were really worth, and even worse, you didn’t know how they really valued you. That gap of information usually ends badly for the job candidate. Remember to always mind the gap.

So, how about we avoid this situation? Sounds like a plan. In order to do this, you need to start by negotiating right the first time and making sure you’re on the high end of their pay scale.

What everyone else does: They go on salary websites like glassdoor.com and view what other people at the company and similar roles are making. Then they come up with a salary based on that information.

Robbie’s Opinion:

I give that approach a 4 out of 7 possible points. Sure, it’s decent info to have, but it shouldn’t be the only activity that you’re doing.

These websites tell you what other people are worth, and not what you’re worth. Believe it or not, you don’t have to get paid exactly what other people get paid. In fact, who cares about other people? You should get paid the maximum value of what you are worth to the employer. And so what if that happens to be more than the standard? Better that you shoot for the moon and land among the stars, than to shoot for the stars and crash into a satellite. No one likes to crash and burn on salary negotiations, regardless of the industry.

So, Robbie – How do I found exactly what I’m worth to employers?

There is only 1 way, and you might not like this offer mainly because it requires work.

The single, most effective way to understand your worth is to interview and get as many job offers as you can.

I call this “exploring your options.”

The more you interview, the better you become at speaking with future companies that might have the dream situation you’re looking for.

The more offers you receive, the more information you have about what your real worth is to employers. The more information you receive, the more effectively you can negotiate your salary and focus on your worth and how it will enhance the value of your new company. Your worth monetarily is connected to what you can accomplish for the company.

If after a slew of offers come in, and you still think you deserve more, then the next step is figuring out what the real issue is. Maybe it’s a different job in a different industry. Maybe you’re not stressing the value you would bring to an employer. If you’re not getting the responses you’re looking for, there is a missing element in the process that you’ve not yet evaluated.

When I was applying for consulting roles, every offer came in between $120,000 and $125,000 a year. And I mean every single damn offer. It didn’t matter how I negotiated it. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a great wage to have, but I wanted to break that ceiling. I knew I was worth more, but I wasn’t conveying my strengths to the employers properly. I was still viewed as a junior resource.

This realization allowed me to enter into a different phase of my life which prompted me to learn new things, explore different skill sets and finally smash that ceiling forever. It took swinging for the fences and not getting the desired result for me to see there was a hole in my approach. Keep track of your results, and be honest with yourself. We have to continue learning more and trying different things in order to be the best, and if your value isn’t being represented in the offers, some crucial part of your message might not be getting across to where it needs to go.

Step 2: Leverage, The Answer to all of your negotiation problems

Nothing else matters when you have leverage. If you don’t have leverage in a negotiation, you can throw every single negotiation tactic, tip or trick out the window.

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how you phrase something. No leverage means you have no negotiation power.

Leverage is the difference between making $75,000 a year or making $90,000 a year for the same job.

Here are some examples of leverage:

  • You have multiple job offers lined up.
  • You were referred to the company by a well respected Senior Vice President within the company. (This makes it harder for the hiring manager to reject you since you were endorsed by an executive).
  • They reached out to you, instead of you applying for the job.
  • They need to fill the position ASAP, and you don’t have any urgency to find a new job.
  • You have a rare skillset that they desperately need.

Basically, when you have leverage you are mentally prepared to ask for a higher salary, aka a salary that you deserve.

 

How do you get leverage?

Leverage =

A strongly defined skillset
+
A strong network
+
A well defined online brand
+
Social Proof.

Leverage #1 – A strongly defined skillset

As mentioned earlier in this guide, it is enormously important to understand your strengths and to communicate your strengths during interviews and via your online persona.

If you know what you’re good at, have some sort of proof that you’re good at what you do, and a prospective employer needs exactly what you’re offering– then you my friend have some leverage.

In addition to having a strong skillset, you need to become a double or triple threat, as I previously mentioned. This technique was coined by one of the greatest copywriters I know: Neville Medhora.

Here’s an example blatantly stolen from Neville’s article. It’s that good.

Single Threat = Knows a skill. Value = $
Double Threat = Knows a skill + another useful skill. Value = $$
Triple Threat = Knows a skill + another useful skill + yet another useful skill.Value = $$$$$$

For example, let’s say someone selling a high-priced product in the financial industry is trying to find a copywriter. Which one do you think would be the most in demand?

CHAPTER5

 

95% of workers are single threats. You have zero leverage as a single threat.

Double threats and triple threats are the job candidates that employers want to hire.

So, if you’re reading this and complaining about your job prospects, ask yourself this question:
What kind of threat are you? How can you increase your value by increasing your threat level? In today’s market we are no longer safe staying comfortable at single threat levels.

Leverage #2 – Connections

I hate it when people say “It’s all about who you know.”

Yes, it is true, but I’ve also seen people who are extremely well- connected and still struggle with their career. It’s mainly because those well connected folks, can’t clearly explain their value to their network.

So, instead of “It’s all about who you know,” it should be “It’s all about who knows how I good I am at what I do,”

That’s what you should strive for when it comes to connections.

If you’re looking for more information regarding building a professional network, refer to the ultimate guide to building a professional network.

Leverage #3 – A well defined online brand

I can’t count the number of times I looked someone up on LinkedIn and then met them in real life for the first time, and they were the exact opposite of their LinkedIn profile.

They looked different, what they actually did for a living was much different than they put in their profile.

Your profile needs to be aligned with who you are in real life. It should be the most up to date version of who you are and what you’re doing, that any given day when a person glances at it they find the same information as they would if they met you for an update over coffee that day.

If you’re looking for more information on how to create an amazing LinkedIn profile, take a look at this guide.

Leverage #4 – Social Proof

Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. [wikipedia]

Take a look at these statistics when it comes to how we purchase things:

  1. Over 70% of Americans say they look at product reviews before making a purchase. [source]
  2. Nearly 63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews. [source]

The same applies to hiring. Do you know how much easier it is to get a new job if you’ve ever worked at Google, Facebook or Apple? Every company will assume if that you are good enough for Google, you’re good enough for them. So, working for a brand name company early in your career IS social proof.

There are also a few things you can leverage as social proof. Here’s a small list of social proof that you can utilize:

  1. Being mentioned in an article by a business magazine such as Inc, Forbes, Fortune, Huffington Post, etc.
  2. More than 10 comments on a blog post you wrote.
  3. More than 10,000 views on a Youtube video you created.
  4. Being the speaker or panelist at a well-known conference
  5. More than 20 recommendations on your LinkedIn profile.

It is important that others see you being validated by others. You can do this without bragging, trust me. There are several areas on your LinkedIn profile that you can include these validations without looking like you are bragging.

Chapter 3: How to maximize any negotiation

Ok, so you have confidence and leverage and now you want to kick some ass during the negotiation? No problem, here’s how.

There are too many books written on negotiation strategies. Some are extremely helpful and I’ve linked a few of my favorites at the bottom of this section.

With that said, I’m going to dive into the most common tactics that can help you maximize your compensation.

Let’s do a quick recap.

  • Know why someone would hire you.
  • Know what you’re worth.
  • Have leverage.

Here’s what comes next.

Maximize Tip #1 – Start High and Know your ZOPA (Zone of Possible Agreement).

The more information you know about what their upper limit is, the better off you are.

Here’s a video I did about this exact topic that goes into deeper detail.

Maximize Tip #2 – Negotiate to a better job title, thus increasing your salary by default.

So, you think you’ve reached their maximum salary limit for your job description? One thing that I’ve done with great success is to start my interviews by asking about the job title above the one they are interviewing me for.

You have to be careful with this, but in some circumstances this makes perfect sense.

So, let’s say the proposed job title is Level 8 Consultant. I would push for a Level 9 Consultant. I did that once and I was able to raise my salary by 35% by just moving up the ladder.

Maximize Tip #3 – Avoid negotiation over email as much as possible.

Want to make a counter-offer? Get on the phone and say it over the phone. Avoid email like the plague.

Several reasons why I recommend this:

  1. You now have a written record of exactly what you said. It can come back to haunt you, especially if you didn’t say something properly. Your employer now has the proof, which they can bring up again and it can hurt you later. At least over the phone, the exact details or wording are not set in stone, because there is no record. This is almost always to your advantage.
  2. Tone of the email can be misconstrued and cause issues. You might seem like a greedy bastard over email, but over phone you can do it in a much softer way and have some great reasons why you’re asking for a new compensation structure.

Maximize Tip #4 – You can negotiate more than compensation.

Vacation, your work schedule, your work location are the most common items you can and should negotiate.

My only recommendation for this is to really understand what is and isn’t possible to negotiate. This can definitely work out with your favor when base compensation is not available.

Maximize Tip #5 – When someone tells you “We’ll talk about this after you join,” assume you’ll never get it.

You know when someone says, “Well, this is something we can consider in 6 months.”

Sure, that’s a great gesture, but my answer usually is “Why not now?”

I would also set the expectation to yourself that you’re never going to get it in 6 months. Too many things change in 6 months and it will almost never be in your favor. I know that’s cynical, but you should always protect yourself first, because the company certainly is only focused on their own gains. Why shouldn’t you be?

Maximize Tip #6 – Negotiate with the hiring manager, not the recruiter or Human Resources

I know this isn’t always possible, but when given the opportunity, you should push the negotiation conversation to the hiring manager. The recruiter’s main job is to get you to accept the offer letter at the lowest fair compensation possible. They aren’t trying to screw you, but they’re not trying to get you the highest compensation either. They weren’t in every single interview and have a limited view on what your true value is to the company.

The core to negotiation is to understand your value to the company. The hiring manager has a better idea of what your value to the company is than the recruiter, so because of this, you’re able to push the limit a little higher than you would with the recruiter.

The recruiter often has a “max limit” that they can hire you at. They are instructed to not pass that limit unless instructed to by leadership. By dealing with the hiring manager and leadership directly, you can have an honest and transparent conversation about your value to the company and why you’re worth much more than the original offer.

You’ve done your best to prove your value and at the last second they send you to HR or Recruiting to extend the offer.

Stand Strong. Be Thankful.

You can say “No,” and be respectful at the same time. Don’t get coerced into anything you don’t want to do. If you have a gut feeling something is wrong with the negotiations, walk away and don’t look back.

Get what you’re worth! I cannot emphasize this enough. Know what you deserve and go for it like your future depends on it– because it does. Don’t take anything less than what you’re worth.

Resources I recommend

When it comes to negotiation, I read or buy anything that Deepak Malhotra offers. He’s a Harvard professor focused on negotiation. Here are two books and a video I recommend you buy if you want to go deeper into negotiation, not just salary negotiation.

Negotiation Genius 
Negotiate the Impossible 
Deepak Harvard Negotiation Speech 

I’ll be the first one to admit that I hate articles that have the similar title’s as mine. I hate the promises that those articles make.

“How to become a millionaire in a year. Here are the secrets!”
“How to make $10,000 / month in less than 60 days.”

I’m the first one’s to click on those articles, and I almost always leave disappointed. They aren’t realistic goals, nor do I find that they have simple, effective steps on how to get there. They’re promising I can double my income, or that I can increase my salary offers by providing plans that don’t actually work. I hate that I wasted my time even reading them.

So, here is my disclaimer for this article. I know that what I’m about to tell you works really well. When I say this, I really mean it worked really well for me. I’ve seen others in similar situations who have done what I do and recommend, and they are on the same trajectory.

I’m also a firm believer that if it works for me, it can and will work for you. I’m not going to lie, this guide requires a lot of work. But then again, everything worth having requires work and doing something different than you’ve done before.

You should know that I’ve written several articles on being broke.

It sucks.

The worst part about being broke, isn’t the actual broke part. That was fine. The worst part about being broke is that I couldn’t take any risks with my career.

I needed every dollar I can get. So, I couldn’t even take the slightest risk with my career. I couldn’t ask to be transferred to a new department for the fear that something bad might happen and I’ll lose my current job.

I couldn’t negotiate more than I wanted to because I feared that the hiring manager would rescind the offer.

I was stuck.

Luckily, I was able to get out of it and share my tactics.

So, let’s talk about money.

If you make $50,000 a year, I’ll teach you how to get $100,000 in 3 years. If you make $100,000 a year, I’ll teach you how to make $200,000.

Reminder, this is over 3 full years. Not 3 months. I went the realistic approach, because that’s what works. I’m all about what works.

Here is how you do it.

STEP 1: Separate yourself from your current job.

This requires a mind shift. A big mind shift.

You won’t make this happen by relying on your current employer. They won’t teach you the skills, they won’t pay you double within 3 years, and they won’t tell you how to advance your career.

So, get that out of your head. You have to separate yourself from your current job. I’m not saying become a delinquent. I’m just saying that this is not possible if you’re too busy working your ass off at your current job.

But, if you work 60 hours a week consistently, you need to get that down to MAXIMUM 40 hours a week. Read this guide on time management which has been read over 1 million times and one of my most read articles.

How to make this step a reality: Act like an independent consultant

An independent consultant is a person who is self-employed and gets paid by working at other companies on a contract. An independent consultant is unique in the sense that they can work on one client or multiple clients simultaneously, but it’s their responsibility to find clients to work on. If they don’t have a client, they don’t get paid. It’s that simple.

Achieving this goal is a big task and requires a different frame of mind.

Here is what you need to tell yourself:

You are no longer Michael Smith the full-time employee of Acme Corporation. You are now Michael Smith, the independent consultant who was contracted to perform a specific set of activities. Acme Corporation is no longer your full-time employer; it is your client who pays you for every hour that you work.

You have a 6-month contract with Acme Corporation in which they pay you for 40 hours of your time each week. Any time worked outside of these 40 hours must be pre-approved by the client.

Here’s the difference between the full-time employee and the independent consultant.

Michael Smith, full-time employee:

  • Hired to perform one activity, often gets involved in many other activities not specifically related to job function.
  • Jack of all trades, master of none.
  • Expected to work all day and night, including weekends even if the work doesn’t require it.
  • Pay is based on salary, not the value of his services.
  • Attends all required employee meetings, whether they directly pertain to his work or not.
  • Has a secure job for a successful company and doesn’t need to look for next gig.
  • Doesn’t take responsibility for something that went wrong if it wasn’t his fault.

Michael Smith, independent consultant.

  • Hired to perform one activity. Contractually not allowed to work on other work specifically not defined in the Statement of Work (SOW).
  • Master of a specific function; Knows a little bit of everything else, but is known for his specific function skill.
  • Expected to complete the deliverable based on agreed hours in the SOW — If he goes over those hours, it will require more difficult conversations and approvals in the budget to perform those activities.
  • Hourly rate is determined on how valuable his specific skill is and how important his skill is to the organization.
  • Attends few to no company meetings so he can focus on what he was contracted to do
  • Forced to continually look for new gigs and maintain his relationships with other companies to see what opportunities they have coming up.
  • Will stop getting paid once this contract ends, so is always thinking 2 steps ahead and planning for next gig.
  • Takes responsibility for something that went wrong, even if it was the client’s fault. Puts an action plan together to fix the issue and fixes the issue once the plan is approved.

See the difference between the two? They were both hired to do one thing, however one person ends up getting pulled in a million directions while the independent consultant has a clear vision what his job is.

The full-time employee Michael Smith has more stability than the independent consultant. But since he doesn’t have to look for new jobs, he isn’t expanding his network and forming new relationships.

STEP 2: Become a double threat (or more)

I stole this term from Neville Medhora who wrote a great article titled,

The Most Successful People Are a Double Threat (or More)
If you’ve ever complained about “not having a good enough job” or “not making enough money” then pay attention, because I’m about to blow your mind.

And he hit it right on the head.

Big salary increases don’t happen when you become really good at one skill. Big salary increases happen when you become really good at 2 to 3 skills and become a well-rounded employee that can do way more than someone with one skill set.

For example. I’m a writer + marketer + technologist. This means that I can write great content, know how to market it, and be able to use the right platforms online to make sure my content gets distributed far and wide.

For the most part, all of these skills are self-taught. But, can you see the advantage I have over someone who is only a writer? I can also use these skill sets to get executive positions as Director of Marketing because I can combine content, marketing and technology. I’ll beat out any traditional marketer any day of the week.

So, how do you become a double threat?

First off, make sure you read Step #1. You don’t become a double threat by learning on the job. You’re going to learn off the job.

You do this by creating a side project. Creating a side project forces you to learn a new skill. It’s going to force you to meet new people. It’s going to force you to learn email marketing. It’s going to force you to learn social media. It’s going to force you to reach deep into your network to build new relationships.

That’s the power of side projects. It forces you to learn.

I will say this though.

A real and true double threat has a technology or marketing component. I would highly recommend become really good at technology or marketing. These are skills that are used everywhere.

STEP 3: Become The Goto Person In Your Network. AKA: The Super Connector Technique

Let’s play a game.

Of the 4 people in this picture below, which one is the most well connected and most likely to help you?

chapter4-1

(Yes, that is me on the left)

Which one did you choose?

It was a trick question! The answer is none of us.

The real person you should be targeting is the moderator….

chapter 4-2

Do you know why?

He’s the person that set up this event and he reached out to all of us individually to attend the panel. He knows all of us. I only knew 1 of the 3!

He’s the person that knows everyone in the industry.

He’s the person that is looking to build his brand by doing these public events.

He’s the person that is very active in the community and always looking to build new relationships so his future events are that much more exciting.

He is the person that knows of all the open opportunities before anyone else! He is on the inside track.

I did the same technique to build my network in Chicago. Here are some examples of how I used the super connector technique:

  • I used the super connector technique to build relationships with the CEO’s of some of the most explosive companies in Chicago.
  • I used the super connector technique to get free office space and insurance paid for.
  • I used the super connector technique to be the first person to know when a hot company is hiring.
  • I used the super connector technique to build relationships with founders & CEO’s of the hottest startups in Chicago.
  • I used the super connector technique to be 1 phone call away from speaking with almost any venture capitalist in Chicago and San Francisco.

I also took 250 coffee meetings in 300 days. I wasn’t messing around.

If you want this to work for you, you don’t need to take 250 coffee meetings, but you really should be consistent with networking.

STEP 4: Interview Like a Mad Man (Or Woman)

Ok, now you’re ready to pull the trigger and get paid more.

I already created an ultimate guide to interviewing, but for this guide I want to expand more on why this step is the most important.

Want to get a gauge of what you’re worth? Not what you might be worth, but what you’re really worth. You do this by getting offers from multiple companies.

The reason I don’t rely on sites like Glassdoor, is because for people with multiple skillsets, it’s hard to reduce them into a single bucket. And the most important thing is what companies are willing to pay for you.

So, this is what I do.

I reach out to my new contacts with whom I built a rapport, and some old colleagues of mine. I ask them for a coffee meeting or a quick phone call. I tell them about my situation and get their thoughts on where I can interview at or what companies might be good fits for me.

I get as much inside intel as I can on who’s hiring and look for referrals into those companies. I’ll also look on websites like indeed.com and job postings on LinkedIn, but instead of applying to those web sites, I’ll look for the decision maker and look to get a referral or email that person directly. Often times, the email address you need to reach a decision maker is right online. Be thorough in your stalking, and you will reap the benefits.

Persistence and targeting is key. At this stage you should be confident in your skillset and what you can offer. You know your one sentence story for your present, and your future.

Get as many offers as you can. See what you’re worth. Keep repeating steps 1-4 until you get your desired pay and work at a company you enjoy working at. This process is lengthy and requires hard work, and persistence in filtering out what offer, and what situation is going to work best for you.

STEP 5: Get Your Financials Straight

One thing that isn’t talked about much in career advancement is how much money you have in your bank account. A big part of making more money in your career is about taking risks. The more risks you take, the more likely you are to find more opportunities to find higher paying jobs.

However, if you don’t have a lot of money saved up and because of this you can’t take any risks with your career, then you’re back to square one.

Money in the bank is important! Do you know why you get mad at others who got 100% financial support from their parents? You’re mad because that person can take any risks with their career and fail without any repercussion.

There are a few things you can do right now to get your money straight.

  1. Follow You Need a Budget (YNAB) Method. I pay for the software and it’s worth every penny. It changed how I view and budget my money. I would have NEVER been able to plan a 6 month trip to Asia without it. I now have a plan for every single dollar I make.
  2. Watch your fixed costs. Mortgages, rent, car payments, the internet, telephone, etc. The first thing I noticed after I really started budgeting was how much money I was spending on all of these things. Stop the bleeding as soon as possible. Do what you can do to keep these costs to a minimum.
  3. Subscribe to Reddit.com/r/personalfinance. I go to this subreddit at least once a week to see how other budget experts spend their money. Don’t be afraid to create an account and ask an honest question about your financial situation.

In summary, 3 years is a reasonable plan to double your salary.

  1. Separate yourself from your job. Learn how to become an independent consultant within your company
  2. Learn new skills that make you a double or triple threat.
  3. Become a super connector
  4. Interview like a mad man to get an accurate representation of what you’re worth to the market
  5. Get your financials straight. You need to get your money straight to take the appropriate risks for your career.

In 2012, I took 250 coffee meetings in 400 days to build my professional network in Chicago.

I went from quite literally knowing no one to building relationships with some of the biggest influencers in the entrepreneur community.

It’s safe to say that  I learned a few things in the process. I even had a coffee meeting with my idol, James Altucher.

Five rules of building a successful professional network:

Rule #1 – The easiest way to be remembered is show up every week for a year straight.

The below excerpt is meant for advertising professionals to show the value of repeat advertising. Apply it to the value of you interacting with the same professionals over the course of a year.

The first time people look at any given ad, they don’t even see it.
The second time, they don’t notice it.
The third time, they are aware that it is there.
The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before.
The fifth time, they actually read the ad.

[Read More. It goes up to 20]

The best connections I made were from a group that met every Friday at 6 pm for a happy hour. I went every week for a year straight.

Gary Vaynerchuck is the master at repetition. He recorded over 1,000 videos for WineTv. 1,000!

You shouldn’t expect any ROI from networking within the first six months. Real connections take time. It also helps you take your time building genuine relationships, and not closing deals right away.

Rule #2 – The best networkers aren’t business card collectors. They are hustlers building real value.

The most interesting people at any event you attend are the people who are starting something. They are the ones with the stories, the struggles, and the successes.

They aren’t there to build a Rolodex. They are there to learn from others and find others that can help them succeed.

For you, this means that it is never too late to start a side hustle.

Nothing ends a conversation quicker than “I’m an accountant at a mid-size company.”

Be interesting. Start a side hustle.

Rule #3 – Dear Introverts – Don’t overthink small talk.

When an introvert asks me about networking, they always ask “What should I say at a networking event? I’m not good with small talk. I don’t like to talk about myself.”

There are two questions you should ask everyone you meet at any networking event:

  1. What are you working on?
  2. How can I help you achieve your goals?

That’s it. Stop worrying about what you’re going to say and instead become interested in them. Ask deeper questions about the company they are building or the company that they work for.

Every interaction becomes that much easier.

Also, remember why the other person is at a public function. They WANT to meet new people. You’re not breaking into their house at midnight demanding to know what they do for a living.

Rule #4 – Networking doesn’t have to happen at a networking event. Get that out of your head immediately.

Introverts run away from networking because they believe this involves meeting strangers at an after work event and mindless small talk resulting in exchanging business cards and never talking to them again.

Extroverts love it because they get to add people to their network, and in most cases, end up doing nothing with these new contacts. They just like the act of meeting new people.

Networking doesn’t have to happen at a networking event. Get that out of your head immediately.

Networking is first and foremost about building better relationships with your existing network and then it’s about meeting new people.

The real way to network is to start with your core group first and expand outward from that trusted group.

The hands down biggest mistake most “networkers” make is that they’re so busy focused on meeting new people, they’ve completely forgotten about the great network that already exists around them.

Rule #5 –  If you’re not having fun building your network, you are doing something wrong.

There are three reasons to “network.”

  1. To learn something.
  2. To meet interesting people
  3. To have fun.

Ideally, you hit all three of these points. If you don’t hit any, you need to question what you’re doing.

What are the benefits of networking?

I tried to rephrase this question without sounding like your college counselor, but I couldn’t do it no matter how hard I tried.

Getting involved and putting yourself out there is truly the only way to create opportunities for yourself.

You should network to build a better career, make more money and to create long-lasting friendships. Networking is a long-term affair. If you’re in it for the quick sale, you’re going to be sadly disappointed. It just doesn’t work that way.

If you want to make more money, get promoted and build long lasting friendships all while removing all the roadblocks from making this happen, this guide is for you.

The truth is that in today’s complicated business landscape, no one can do everything. There is someone out there who needs your skills as much as you need their resources, mentorship, or the experience you can gain from working on their projects (or with their team). The trick is for you to be able to find one another. These days, your career is a team sport, and you get first pick.

I put together four steps to building a professional network.

Ready, Let’s go.

Step 1: Find your second home, fast. AKA: Build your community.
Step 2: Utilize your existing network to strategically expand.
Step 3: The tools and processes to maintain and grow your network.
Step 4: General networking tips

STEP 1: Find Your Second Home, Fast. AKA: Build Your Community

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a parlour game based on the “six degrees of separation” concept, which posits that any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart. Movie buffs challenge each other to find the shortest path between an arbitrary actor and prolific character actor Kevin Bacon. –

The first major mistake most people make with networking is assuming that you have to know everyone. Is it good to know everyone? Sure. Is it possible? Absolutely not.

Your new #1 goal is to be at most 2 degrees of separation from the influencers in your industry.

This means you should either know the influencer first hand or know someone who can connect you to that person. I’ll show you how to do this. These networking tips are tested, and work for any industry.

Step 1.1: Identify who are the influencers in your industry. Find the people you admire in your industry. Find the people that you don’t have a relationship with, but want to have a relationship with. Find the people that could potentially hire you. This is where you start.

Step 1.2: Put a plan together to build your community.

To get 2 degrees away from an influencer or head honcho, you just need to find those people who are most likely connected to those people. These are the people at other levels under the influencer you’d like to become closer to.

How? You do this by becoming an extremely active member of a professional organization that aligns with your objectives and your influencers objectives.

I’m going to teach you how to target, stalk and engage someone (legally of course).

This activity requires a LinkedIn account. By now, you should know how important LinkedIn is for all things career related. At this point, if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you should stop reading and go back to posting quotes on your Instagram.

If you pay for a premium account, fantastic. If not, you can still accomplish all this without one.

Step 1.3: Write down the people you consider the top performers or the most professionally connected in your desired industry and city.

I use LinkedIn heavily to do my research.

Step 1.4: Email them

The next best step is to email them with one simple question. So, you’re probably thinking, “Well, that escalated quickly Robbie. I haven’t even met the person, and you want me to cold email them?”

The answer is, yes.

Let’s say you want to email Janet Davis who is a VP of a successful digital agency.

Your email should contain 2 sentences.

Subject: Hi Janet – A good digital marketing event or organization that you could recommend?

Body of Email:
I’m looking for a high-quality networking group to be part of in the digital marketing space. Are there any you would recommend in the Chicago downtown or suburban area?

Based on my research, you would be the best person to answer this question. Thank You!

– Robbie

This email is ideal for several reasons:

  1. It’s under five sentences (so it’s short and sweet).
  2. You have successfully introduced yourself as someone who is genuinely curious to join a high-quality group.
  3. If she runs a networking group or event, she will recommend that you attend hers. Voila! This is your “in” to meeting Janet in a comfortable environment.
  4. You’ve shown that you have done research about her, which will make her more likely to respond.
  5. Once you start your search, you should send at least 5 of these emails.

Step 1.5: Plan B: Scope the scene yourself

If you don’t get a response and don’t know where else to get good recommendations about local events, this is your next option.

Find 3 types of events:

  1. General Meet & Greet Networking (Network after work, Speed Networking).
  2. General Networking with an emphasis (The Chicago Black Professionals, Cheers for Moms, Chicago Technology LGBT, etc.).
  3. Event / Speaker Focused (Tech Event with a speaker).

What event should you go to first?

I know this answer sounds simple, but exudes many people.

  1. Go to the event that has the people that you want to meet.
  2. Go to the event that you have something in common with.

For example, if you are a graduate of Notre Dame University, and you had the option of going to the Digital Marketers in Chicago Meetup or the Notre Dame Digital Marketers in Chicago Meetup which one are you going to go to?

The Notre Dame event. Your college alumni are the most likely to help you and connect you.

The normal digital marketing group will be less likely to help you initially because they don’t have any common bond with you.

Whatever you do, don’t go to the event where you feel the most comfortable. Go to the event that will give you the most value.

Here’s an easy way to get started:

  1. Go to http://meetup.com
  2. Select your city
  3. Select Career & Business

 

If you’re looking to start a company and don’t have a clue where to start, I see 3 events out of the 8 pictured above that can benefit you immediately in terms of building connections with Chicago entrepreneurs.

I was going to make a joke about there being only one group for you if you are Asian, professional AND love horses, but then I realized it’s the year of the horse for the Chinese Lunar New Year in 2014, so I’m an asshole and I retract that statement.

Step 1.6: Attend

Networking events get a bad rap. I hear the same things over and over from people who don’t like them: “Oh, they are such a waste of time.”

My advice on this topic is to use networking events consistently as an entry point into a new industry, then ramp down the number of events you go to and focus on a few that keep you connected.

Use them as a survival technique initially with the plan of becoming an official organizer or leader of a Meetup group. My suggestion is not to start one, but to join one.

Networking events are useless for me now because I already know enough people to get connected to the people I want to. I’m already 1 or 2 connections away from Kevin Bacon.

Tips:

  1. Do not go there with an agenda.
  2. Do not go there looking for a job.

The only real benefit of a networking event is when you start to see the same people over and over.

Here is how a conversation usually evolves if you attend the same event multiple times:

1st time: “Hi John, so what do you do?”
2nd time: “Hey John, good to see you again. How did your project end up?”
3rd time: “Hey John, it’s a pleasure to see you as always. My project to get more connected in the digital marketing space has been going well. I’m looking to connect with the founders of digital marketing agencies in Chicago. What do you think the best avenue is for me to do this? Is there anyone that you can connect me with?

Note: If you don’t have a job right now and you’re not creating anything, there should be no reason why you aren’t at these events at least 3 times a week. Going to a networking event is 100 times better than what you are doing now: “looking for jobs online.”

Step 1.7: Get officially involved

If you found a group you like, it’s time to get involved in a low commitment way so that it doesn’t interfere with your job, but still gives back to the community and helps you maintain your edge. You never know how organizing an event, or hosting a get together of colleagues and acquaintances might benefit you.

Step 2: Take it the next level: Expand Your Core Group and become the hub. [Advanced]

Step 1 is a lot of work, I’ll admit it. It works like hell, but yes, it’s a lot of work.

You can do this exercise without doing Step 1, but it only really works well if you already have a great core network. Professional networking is, in my opinion, the act of you becoming a professional at networking.

Step 1 is the grassroots way to build a network and the foundation for my system. Whether you’re a college student, or a job seeker looking to advance, these networking tips will take you to where you want to go, but you have to do the work first.

Let’s say you have an excellent network of contacts and you want to build a closer relationship with your group and start involving influencers more often.

Ideas for different types of groups you can create:

Start your own small networking group. Create a monthly or bi-monthly networking group.

  • Private, invite-only type groups around a niche topic or industry

This is my recommended approach when it comes to building a hub. I would almost always start here.

Start with about 6-10 people in your industry that you have a good relationship with and ask them if they are open to meeting once a month or once a quarter. You can meet at a bar/restaurant to start it off. If you can meet at one of your offices, even better.

The key to making this work is making sure that everyone in the group is quality. If you get one bad apple, then others will look down on it and down your group goes.

At the actual event, you can set a topic and discuss it. It doesn’t need to be formal. You are opening your network to others, and you will now be helping your network be more connected.

The idea is that you keep expanding the group for each new event. You ask each member to refer one new person that you think would benefit from this group and help others.

  • Private, invite-only dinners (or even breakfasts)

Same concept as the private invite only groups, except this time, you invite new people every single time. This is much harder to pull off in my opinion but can reap a lot of great rewards.

I know in one instance the host of the group charges $100 for each event and dinner and drinks are included. It’s a premium price to pay, but it can bring in some great relationships.

That’s an extreme example but I wanted to show you that you can be creative with how you do this.

  • Public recurring events

These are usually industry events with a keynote speaker and attendees. These are events you would find on meetup.com.

This is a very time-consuming effort, and so you should only do this if you have the time and you’re in it for the long run.

With that said, the results from organizing this event will help your career ten fold.

Step 3: The tools and processes to maintain and grow your network.

Over a short period, I built one hell of a network. The problem soon became managing my network correctly.

I use two tools to manage it. As you will quickly notice, it’s nothing spectacular or out of the ordinary.

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Email or an email marketing tool such as MailChimp

Here’s the one big tip I use to manage a large group of people.

Here’s my process:

  1. I make a new contact
  2. I add them on LinkedIn
  3. Send a quick email to them saying it was nice to meet them at the event.
    1. In that email, I also ask “I have an email newsletter that goes out about once a month. I help connect my network with each other and give you a small update about what I’m working on. Would you like to be added to it?”
  4. Add them to my newsletter once they agree. This is where I use MailChimp.
  5. Send out the newsletter once a month.

I do this consistently. No excuses.

Here’s what I include in the newsletter:

Subject: Robbie’s connection newsletter #37

Email Body:
Hi, all – Lot’s of great new things happening on my network this month. Here are some of the best ones.

  • Mark just launched a new company. You can check it out here. If you like food, this is something to check out.
  • My good friend Jeff is looking for a new gig. He’s the best project manager I know. You can find his resume here <link>
  • Lisa is looking to hire a new marketing analyst. If that’s you or someone you know, feel free to reach out to me and I’ll connect you.

Lastly, this past month has been real busy for me. It doesn’t feel like I got much done, but in reality I’ve done quite a bit! I’ll be announcing it in a few months, once the project is ready to be launched.

That’s all for this month!

As always, if you have anything to share with the group, please email me and I’ll include it in the next newsletter.

This is all that I send, and it works wonders.

I’m now helping others get connected with one another and I become the super connector. I also reap all the rewards from helping other people.

Also, if you didn’t notice, I’ve essentially given myself job security. I now have a huge audience of people who can help me if I need to look for a job.

Luckily, I haven’t used it for that format, but it was a great security knowing I had that leverage.

I also use LinkedIn to post status updates and write new articles using LinkedIn Publisher. It keeps everyone in the loop about what I’m working on.

Step 4: General Networking Tips

Your network should consist of contacts, colleagues, references, mentors and protégés – and they should all be rooting for you. People aren’t computers: you can tick all the boxes on paper, but if they don’t like you, they won’t want to work with you, and they certainly won’t go out of their way to help you.

1. Make it about them: Follow the 80/20 rule: Only 20% of a conversation should be about you. Listen to the person you’re talking to, instead of thinking about what they can do for you. Draw them out. Show a genuine interest. And if you can help them in any way, volunteer immediately.

While you are interested in selling your services, no one wants to feel like that’s the only reason you’re talking to them. Furthermore, if you have taken an interest in their needs and goals, you’ll be better situated to offer them services and suggestions you know they can use. If you can align your needs it’s all for the greater good: there’s nothing more attractive than a perfect fit.

2. Have integrity: It’s about being trusted as much as it is being liked. Losing your reputation for honesty, fairness and straight-dealing can be a death blow: who’s going to entrust you with anything important then?

Be vulnerable: It’s ok to ask for help or advice, and to be upfront about what you need. Trying to pussyfoot around the subject just makes you look shady. Telling people what you’ve tried, even if it hasn’t worked, shows them that you’re serious and already working on your own behalf. They may have tips and feedback to help you on.

3. But not too modest: Standing next to the big fish in your pond, you may feel rather small. But don’t be intimidated – there’s a fine line between paying your respects and pulling yourself down and you need to draw it. This isn’t the time to be modest: if you don’t acknowledge your strengths, how is this highly connected stranger going to recognize them?

In the professional world, we like to think that status is a measure of merit. Rightly or wrongly we value confidence and competence, and being deferential implies that you’re less capable than other people. No one’s going to entrust you with a task you don’t look like you can handle.

Even if you have fewer awards, a more limited reputation, a weaker backhand in tennis, carry yourself as this person’s equal. After all, you’re not dying to work with the person who’s a smaller fish than you, are you? Neither are they.

4. Discuss your side projects: You want to show that you’re active in your own right, helping yourself instead of expecting others to step in for you. No one intentionally infects themselves with a parasite, but it feels good to help someone who shows promise.

Side projects are great for this purpose for two reasons: first, they’re completely your baby, so they prove you’re self-motivated and skilled enough to carry them off. Second, you can discuss them freely without giving the impression that you talk about your company’s work out of school. Remember what I said about being trustworthy?

5. Respond: to that email or phone call. Keeping in touch with old friends is important.

6. Reconnect: Be the one to send the email or make the call, and catch up with old colleagues and companies.

7. Reach out: to new people. This is the tricky part, but don’t let it intimidate you. There are ways and means of doing it effectively.

In conclusion, networking skills take work, but the payoffs are huge!