How Linkedin Has Changed My Life
As somebody who is still fairly new to the blogging community, I must say that finding places where you can advertise your work, connect with those who read your posts, and build on your following is a precious commodity. I don’t take those connections lightly. Some platforms have been more successful than others. One thing I discovered that I hadn’t tried up until this summer was posting my blogs on Linkedin. I figured, I consider myself a professional and I am serious about what I’m doing. Although I only had about 300 connections, it made sense for me to see what would happen if I started posting my work on a more professional platform. Although I can’t say that I was able to land a job making six figures or got thousands of views on any of my blog posts, I can say that it did get more eyes on my work then what I had been experiencing in the past. Somehow, just by including Linkedin as one of the platforms I posted on, it started a very positive cycle that I hope is only in the early stages.
If you had asked me if Linkedin would change my perspective on my career back in August of this year, I probably would have said “Yeah right, that’s very unlikely”. Although a platform like Linkedin should probably be viewed very favorably by a person like me, the truth is, for the most part, it wasn’t. I can’t remember when I joined LInkedin, but I know I’ve been there a long time. I’ve spent many years slowly, but surely building my connections by trying to find anybody I might have met throughout my career that I could connect with. This could have been a current/former boss, a former colleague I connected with, or friends of mine. Then, as I started interviewing for jobs and meeting other professionals in my travels, they too got added. Then I would have long intervals where I wouldn’t gain any connections at all unless somebody happened to find me an wanted to connect. Basically, reaching the 500 plus plateau that I saw so many other people obtain on LinkedIn seemed pretty out of reach. That was until I found one person who changed everything.
Sometimes All It Takes Is One Person
I can’t remember the exact moment, but there was one day in late August/early September when I started to notice posts from an incredibly positive person on my Linkedin feed. Not only were their posts very inspiring, but they were also very open about how this platform should be used. The sentiments expressed by Brigette Haycinth were absolutely on par with how I believe networking and leadership should work. I’ve only known of Brigette for a short amount of time, but I’ve come to learn that she is much more than just an author and expert on the topics of leadership, human resources, networking, etc. She is a person who truly cares about each and every person she connects with. She cares about the struggles we all experience in the professional world.
Every once in awhile, Brigette will start a post that offers everybody she is connected with (a very large number of people!) to like and comment on the post so they can find each other and continue to connect. This is a simple, but incredibly gracious and smart way to get people to use the platform the right way. Just by simply doing this every week or two, it has opened me up to connecting with some really amazing people. The opportunities that this one gesture has opened up for me in such a short period of time is truly remarkable. They are all points I will get into in a little bit. I just want to say that this is the positive impact that one person can make. I’ve never even met Brigette in person, but I am truly grateful to her. The wisdom she brings to her posts and the graciousness she has shown has been breath of fresh air. It has unlocked a lot of magic hidden within a social media platform that is often very difficult to make any progress within.
Attending Linkedin Local Baltimore Event
After finding some incredible people to connect with thanks to Brigette, I noticed that some very cool and inspiring content was starting to pop up on my feed. Between all of the inspiring videos from people like Amy Perkins and a number of others, I noticed at one point that there was a post advertising a networking event for Linkedin members in Baltimore. Although this was quite a hike for me from my job in Northern Virginia, I really felt like this was an event I should attend. In the past, I haven’t found a lot of success by attending a networking event (particularly job fairs), but for some reason I felt like this was different. Once I chimed in on the post and expressed interest, I received messages from people like Judi Fox and Melody Baron. They were incredibly supportive and reassured me that this wasn’t going to be a lonely blackhole experience like so many other professional events tend to be. I could feel their positive energy. They said all of the things I wanted to hear. The panel discussion also revolved around content, something I’m obviously very interested in. After all of that, I took a leap of faith and decided to give it a shot. I’m glad I did!
When I attend events filled with unfamiliar faces, I tend to proceed with caution. For as much as I like to get in front of an audience and speak, I have to admit that I am not the kind of person who tends to randomly join groups or approach people and start talking to them. I’ve learned a lot about this mindset thanks to my wife, who is very highly skilled in this regard. However, I tend to “play defense” and let people approach me. Much to my surprise, a number of people actually did approach me over the course of the event. Although there wasn’t a ton of time to mingle before and after the panel discussion, I did manage to make the most of my time. Not only was every single person very engaging and interested in my blogging and social media work, I also found them to be just as interesting and fun to talk to. From the interactive and incredibly positive panel discussion to amazing conversations with other likeminded professionals, I truly felt at home. Frankly, it was one of the most welcoming and positive environments I’ve ever been apart of as a professional. The additional likeminded connections I made on this night truly changed my outlook on my career. For the first time in a very long time, I felt optimistic about the future of my professional career.
Posting Content On Linkedin
If there is one thing I’ve learned over the past several weeks, it’s that posting content on Linkedin is very important. Especially if you want to take your career aspirations to the next level. At this point, I am leaving the possibilities of what my future could look like wide open. I love blogging, but I am not necessarily restricting myself to just this platform alone. I know I can do a lot more than simply produce a few entertaining pieces for people to read. I’ve tried putting myself in front of the camera on a few occasions this year, but it’s never felt quite right. I consider myself a fun person, but I don’t think that always comes across when I get in front of the camera. However, I feel like what many influencers are doing on Linkedin is a little bit different.
I feel like many influencers on Linkedin login and speak in much the same way I might have spoken to my staff at meetings a few years ago. By paying attention to some of these Linkedin influencers, I’ve found that this is the forum for me. I started out by simply talking about my experience at the Linkedin Local Baltimore event. Then, I started to wrack my brain and come up with some other topics I could discuss. Some topics were a little more serious and personal while others have been related to my social media and blogging endeavors. None of this requires me to be something I am not. It’s exactly who I am and I feel right at home producing this content.
I’ve heard it through the grapevine that producing the kind of content I am now doing can lead to speaking gigs. This is something I’ve always wanted to do (as well as many other things I have worked on this year). This was one of my big motivations to get in front of the camera and start producing my own content. I wanted to show people that I had something to say and something to offer. As it turns out, it has already helped me to land an on camera interview and speaking gig with somebody who is quickly becoming a mentor to me. Scott Stolze, a career coach I met through Linkedin has taken a lot of interest in my journey and has already done a lot to help me see the greatness within myself. I plan to discuss much more about my experiences with Scott in a future piece.
The Future Looks Bright
Although my experiences with Linkedin haven’t yet put me in a position where I have landed a new job or has given me actual career progression, it has set me up to do so thanks to all of the great networking opportunities I’ve had already. Not only have I met great, positive, likeminded professionals I can relate to, I have also opened myself up for incredible growth as a person and professional. Sure, I’m happy to promote myself as a writer/blogger who is looking to advance their career, but I’m even happier to have made such amazing connections.
I have to admit, the past few years of my career have been tough. I’ve tried virtually everything in order to advance my career. At my last full time job, I hit a wall with my career. There came a point where I knew I wasn’t going to progress any further. This not only had a lot to do with the restructuring going on at the company, it also had a lot to do with what I saw going on around me. By the time I was offered a buyout package, I knew it was time to take a leap of faith and truly find out who Marc Schmidt really was. I just had 10 years of incredible experiences at one of the biggest tv networks in the world. While not every experience was good, there were many that really enriched my life. I grew tremendously over that period of time. There are some folks who will always be in my debt for allowing me to grow the way I did. However, the time had come for me to figure out how to grow more. Although that road has been tough due to landing only contract/freelance work over the past few years, I now feel like I’ve finally found what I need in order to get myself moving in the right direction.
I’ll be honest, after a failed attempt at hiring a company to help me with my resume and networking, I started to wonder if there was a way for me to find my niche. I came up short on landing several amazing jobs and my attempts to network on Linkedin and elsewhere just weren’t working out. At all. Despite all of the disappointments, I stayed true to my beliefs and values. I didn’t give up, but I think it would have been understandable if I did. The journey to truly find myself actually started with this blog. To this point, it has opened up a lot of doors and has brought me a lot of success stories that I hope are only just beginning.
Sure, I could have carried on with what I was doing. I’ve met some amazing people on Twitter who have inspired and motivated me. Other social media platforms have also lead to me networking with some great people. However, although Linkedin isn’t the most casual platform, it is one that can’t be ignored if you’re serious about growing your brand and career. If nothing else, I hope my story inspires some people to take another look at their Linkedin activity and give it another try. Who knows? Maybe you will also meet that one person who opens up all of those fulfilling networking experiences you were looking for!