Stupid LinkedIn Mistakes: Being Middle of the Road With Your Strategy |

Almost everyone is on LinkedIn and most people make the mistake of taking a “middle-of-the-road” approach to it and then wonder why they don’t get results. My guest, Daniel Alfon of, and I speak about how to get better results on the platform.


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Jeff Altman [00:00:01] So my guest today is Daniel Alfon, he's the author of Build a LinkedIn Profile for Business Success. Daniel joined LinkedIn almost as early as I did in early 2004 and has helped thousands of job seekers leverage LinkedIn mostly through his work with LHH, Israel, the Hecht Harrison in Israel. Daniel publishes articles and exclusive content about advanced LinkedIn strategies to clients and subscribers from his website., which will have a link to in the show notes. Daniel, welcome. Great to have you on.

Daniel Alfon [00:00:39] Welcome, Jeff. Thank you very much for having me here.

Jeff Altman [00:00:43] My pleasure. And given the fact that you and I are old timers on Linkedin. So long ago that I was a, I became a member of LinkedIn when I still had hair, what still surprises you about LinkedIn when you think about it?

Daniel Alfon [00:01:03] That's a great question. I think what surprises me most is not Linkedin, but the way Linkedin members still treat it, when it was new. So you and I joined us when it was really starting out. There were no rules, but Linkedin has been out there for 18 years. We would expect people to know more about it and to use it better and they still don't. It's like it's counterintuitive for job seekers to think about the way they need to leverage LinkedIn. It's almost like they think that to accomplish X, they have to be to do A, B and C, and it never really works that way. So that still amazes me that the platform hasn't changed so much, but we have not learned to master it well, it's not intuitive. It's not friendly even today.

Jeff Altman [00:01:59] It's funny, you know Linkedin back in the Stone Ages, when you and I joined, the dinosaurs were still roaming the earth, certainly in your country. All it really was was you've got a profile and you connect with people by letting them have access to your email address so that way they can send out viral invites to people and grow the network that way. And we were all told at the beginning, only connect with people that, you know, that's the Stone Age. And obviously that's changed a lot since back then. But I think fundamentally, people still treated the same way. It's my profile.

Daniel Alfon [00:02:49] You know, it's funny, I went almost through a circle and halfway back I found that there were two good ways of treating Linkedin in terms of a connection strategy. One is to aim for quantity, have thirty thousand connections, have a lot of exposure, and the second is quality, connect with people you know well. But many, many people, many candidates, many very tough managers start by connecting to people they know well. Think they have to get more exposure. Send lots of invitations to people they don't know or accept invitations from people they don't know and they never reach the quantity, so they end up in the middle in what's possibly the worst connection strategy because they don't have enough exposure and yet they're polluted or diluted the quality of their network. So quantity is great, quality is excellent. Don't stay in between because it's not profitable in any way for job seekers.

Jeff Altman [00:03:54] So it sounds like what you're saying is people struggle to know what to do with LinkedIn, other than have their profile. How do you get reputation on the platform if so few people know about you. Did I Interpret that correctly?

Daniel Alfon [00:04:15] Yes, it's even better than the way I phrased it, but you have a reputation in real life, so if you connect to people you know well, you could leverage that actual reputation. You don't have necessarily to have a Linkedin reputation. You don't have to have an external reputation because you've worked hard to gain, to build your reputation in real life. Why should we have like a second layer of our reputation just for LinkedIn, LinkedIn is supposed to help us and not the other way around. Why should we do it?

Jeff Altman [00:04:50] But we get something out of it.

Daniel Alfon [00:04:54] Another way to look at it is remember the objective, the objective is interviews and job offers and the objective is not endorsements and connections and likes and views. And sometimes there's a gap. Candidates fall in love with the LinkedIn metrics, and at the end of the day, they look back and say, wow, I've got so, so many people looking at this, but it doesn't translate to actual interviews. And without actual interviews, I'm afraid it won't shorten their job search.

Jeff Altman [00:05:28] And that suggest right now we're having the conversation about while people are active in their search, I always think in terms of how do you build a reputation when you're not looking for work and doing the things that people that allow people to know, like and trust you and respect you and see you as the expert that you're going to want to reach out to. So that in this way, opportunities come to you at a later point.

Daniel Alfon [00:06:05] That's the best questions job seekers are not asking themselves the day to start a new job. They tend to think of a job search as an operation, like right now I've joined the company, I'm going to rest, and maybe in two months, in two years time, I'm going to look for another job. But the truth is, if you do it like you said, then with a minimal investment of time during the period you work, it's much easier for you to build that reputation and to also help tremendously the moment you transition to a job hunt. But people tend to only, you know, move from nothing to to a peak just because they believe something happened with their with their employer. In the outplacement business you mention I see lots of very talented engineers and managers who work for their company for five, 10, 15 years. And at one point, they realized that the next company they were going to join. They're not going to stay on their payroll for decades. In many cases, it will within a year or a year and a half, something will happen and will happen. The manager, the hiring manager will leave. They will want to you to go and do something else. So job hunting is sort of a muscle. And if you only build it when you need it, it's not efficient. You can do it, but it's a lot more work and get a lot. The ROI is not very good.

Jeff Altman [00:07:40] It's funny. So often people create their brand, their name, by their association with their employer. So I work for so-and-so and thus you get the halo of the employer around you. For me, when I was working in Search, I decided that I should own my halo. And I look to differentiate myself from my firm, I never deny that I work for the firm. I always submitted resumes on letterhead from that organization, but there was a lot of emphasis on me. And as I started to write, as I started to YouTube videos, as I started to podcast. It all became about me and the firm got the benefit of that, rather than the other way around, and I get the idea that what we're talking about here are things that people can do to create that reputation, that network, when they need it of course, and invest the time when they don't necessarily need it. So they're in the garden planting seeds that will eventually bear fruit.

Daniel Alfon [00:09:04] That's that's the best way to look at it, and actually what you said is also very, very important, the fact that the talents or the manager or the person who used to be a candidate builds their brand while working, does not contradict or does not hurt the firm. It actually benefits the firm. And they will get to benefit from that down the road if they need to. But it's not it's not either or when you build your brand on top of your employers, your employers also benefits from some of the stardust that you're making, and psychologically it's much easier to find speaking engagements when you manage when you were an employee will find a trade event, you'll find a meet up and find something, and you'll highlight your firm or the product you're working on and you will also benefit yourself. Otherwise, the day you'll leave. You are left with almost nothing, and you start from zero, and the more experience you get, you need to think that the way you you mentioned earlier, you should no longer look at that job openings because it's the. It's what's what's left at the end of the process, 70 percent of the opportunities that have been already filled without a job application so that more senior you become, the more experienced you become. We need to get a phone call from someone you know. Jeff in two months time we'd like to start this operation would you like to come and handle and manage this part with no job opportunity listed anywhere you could shape the actual essence of what you'll do. Your negotiation position is much, much better. And this is the way to to think of your future, not as someone who will look for jobs but someone who will hear all sorts of opportunities coming in. And in one case or another, you may say that's what could interest me. Now let's talk.

Jeff Altman [00:11:12] After all, the person who gets ahead isn't always the smartest, they don't always work the hardest. Well, those are great qualities to help people get ahead by being alert to opportunities. Sometimes those are internal to the organization, but more often than not, they're external and thus by keeping yourself top of people's mind. Opportunity starts arriving at your doorstep. Now, let me just say what every job hunter says, and that is this seems like a lot of work.

Daniel Alfon [00:11:50] It's ridiculous because if if you actually count the amount of time that same person will have to invest, if they don't invest the time now, they're going to end. They will pay the full price for the work a lot harder and they will get nothing close to the return they'll get now, because let's think about it in terms of networking. OK, let's you and I have one good friend in common, Jacob schare, OK, this one out of many. If I manage to keep in touch with Jacob when I don't need anything from him in the next two years and in two years time, there's an opportunity and I'd like him to introduce me to the hiring manager. If we manage to keep in touch with him saying Merry Christmas or saying Happy Birthday, there's nothing, nothing really aggressive, but without asking anything. Then our conversation in two years time is going to be a lot friendlier. We're not going to stop and say, hey, will Jacob actually remember me. And on the other way around, if we do nothing and we forget about Jacob, one, two, three, five years, then the only moment we remember him might be the moment that his firm advertised a job. And then Jeff and Daniel will be people number six and seven to actually say, hey, Jacob, how are you? How's the family? And it doesn't come close to being in touch with him when you don't need anything, it's over insurance policy, if you like. You don't pay for insurance after you've hit the car, you pay for insurance before. So, we hope you don't hit anything, but if you need it, then it's there.

Jeff Altman [00:13:38] It's a perfect way to put it, you know, you make an investment that you hope you never have to utilize in order to get a result. So what can people be doing that isn't particularly time consuming, that will help plant those seeds? And I know you spoke about staying in touch with people, being the friendly guy, being the friendly woman. Every once in a while, they just drop in and say, hi, how are you? How's the family, around Christmas time, which is to me always the easiest time of the year to network.

Daniel Alfon [00:14:21] So let's divide the answer into maybe two parts. One is the infrastructure we may need is job seekers and other is our network. Network is key. But let's start with the easiest thing in infrastructure, a resume or a LinkedIn profile. If we manage to take half an hour every quarter to look at what we are doing now and update it. Most people will manage to do this within 10 minutes. There's one project that I started the year. I want to remove this part. I want to change this sentence, that's it. And duplicating it to LinkedIn or doing the same thing in Linkedin is really minutes. What is going to be the price if we don't do this and we need to do it down, down, down, down the road in two years time. Our latest position is the one that needs to be the best written one, because that's only the only thing recruiters and hiring managers and anyone in the world doesn't know us will glance at. So job seekers who did not find the time to actually work on their infrastructure are going to send badly written resume to the people they care about most know, the best recruiters, the best managers, the best friends are going to to see something that's half baked only because they didn't take the time to stop and think. When you do it, you remember the figures, you remember the names, you see tweeking this is really minutes. But the more you wait, the more difficult it becomes and the higher price, I'm afraid the person is going to pay. So the infrastructure is the easiest part. Find a system that enables you to look at your CV/LinkedIn and update it with really minor tweaks. Shall we move to the networking part?

Jeff Altman [00:16:14] Please.

Daniel Alfon [00:16:16] So if we think of LinkedIn as one way to keep in touch with our network, there are many other ways. The notifications that Linkedin shows us is an area we can tweak so let me we focus on two easy things birthdays and new jobs. Whenever we see that one of our connection has updated their profile and started a new job. My guess is maybe 90 percent will just click on the automated message saying congrats. OK. Dozens of people will do it. It's meaningless. But if we think about our network in a more strategic way than you and I know that it's better to actually visit that person's profile because they ended up updating their profile this morning, but it doesn't mean that they actually joined the firm this morning. It could be that they joined the firm six months ago and now is the time they got to Linkedin to actually update it, so it's not really congratulating them. It's saying, I see that you started working for that company six months ago. How is it going? And in some cases, the person will tell you, listen, I'm looking for something else, and that's the reason I actually updated my LinkedIn profile. So can you imagine be the horror of receiving congratulations? And the bad part about it is that the person can reply and get back one on one to the person who congratulated and actually now I am start looking for something else, that's fine. But for every two eyes of someone who saw this and sent an automatic message, there may be hundreds of people who just saw that John Doe started something new and they didn't go and they didn't see what was that, the company he joined. And even if you and I asked that person for project manager and we would never say the name of the person we saw on our notifications because we think that the only started something now. So about our notifications, one easy way to keep in touch with our network is to watch the new jobs and invest really a minute going into that person's profile and seeing the date and seeing the name of the company and seeing through if it represents an internal promotion or they move from New York to Texas or they're relocated or something else and actually relate to that when we message them outside of LinkedIn.

Jeff Altman [00:19:00] It's funny. One thing I just want to remind folks about is if you don't get those notifications automatically in that tab on LinkedIn, you can go to your privacy settings to ensure you do get those notifications, because, as Daniel said, it's it's great stuff that allows you to connect or reconnect with people from your past, more like reconnect with people from your past. You've got some version of relationship, even if it's only LinkedIn friend, and begin the conversation or continue the conversation, all because LinkedIn said, hey, Daniel just moved from wherever to whomever and going to their profile and saying he has been there for five months now. Hmm. That's interesting. And he just updated the resume. And there's so much software that basically treats a LinkedIn profile update as an indicator that a person might actively be looking for a job treate it the same way folks treate it the same way. And how long do you think it takes to do a quick note like that? 80 seconds, maybe 60.

Daniel Alfon [00:20:21] The insurance part comes in micro payments, if you fail to do it, then you're basically bankrupt.

Jeff Altman [00:20:30] So true, so true. And when I did recruiting so often, what I did was tracked my contact and what happened and tracked when I was supposed to follow up with them this way, there was a logical progression in the relationship and it didn't always mean that they took my call, but they got a voicemail from me. Hey, when we spoke last, you mentioned to me that and there's a follow up to which is another small micro investment that people make or should be making at the predictable times for follow up so that you don't miss out on potential opportunities and you remain top of mind. What are the sorts of things can people be doing that involve small investments of time that have the potential to yield large results?

Daniel Alfon [00:21:28] OK, so just to end up with the notification tab, and you're absolutely right, we can tweak it and say we don't we no longer want that kind of notification and we only want this one. Birthdays is also such an easy one. What happens once a year? And that enables you to reconnect and reconnecting, I want you to to emphasize the fact that you you mentioned reconnecting. Many job seekers fight hard to try and connect with people they don't know. While they actually ignore or don't nurture enough the people they do know or the people they have met, the people they have worked with. If we manage to keep in touch with some of the people we actually know and some of the people who actually like. We may no longer need to go cold reaching out to somebody because we could use an introduction and an introduction could mean a meaningful discussion with a hiring manager even when there's no job posting when there is. So we need you to remember that the. You know, looking at the company, the person has worked with people we've worked with for company for four, five, 15 years. Most of them just delete the hardest of those people or even associate the last day of their working history with with those people they don't, they don't want any contact with them. But the truth is in three years time. Some of those people will be in the best firms you and I would like to work for. And we only have to keep in touch with them. Now, I'm not saying keeping in touch is not time consuming, but it's a lot easier than to knock on someone's door and say, hey, you don't know me, but please allow me to do this and that. So reconnecting is essential, should be an essential part of your networking strategy in this day and age, because otherwise you're going to work three times harder and get much less results and much less.

Jeff Altman [00:23:45] Actions you like, and there are holidays around the year that are easy for reconnecting, I mentioned Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali for people from India, it's just there's certain holidays that all you have to do is a quick hi, how are you? It feels like a long time because it probably has been. And I just thought I would reconnect and see how you were and be the friendly person, not the, you know about any jobs kind of person that no one is like anywhere in the world wants to be that person.

Daniel Alfon [00:24:28] You're right. And, you know, the the the funny thing is there are so few of us who actually do this but we stand down. It's nothing extraordinary, really, but but everything everyone is go so transactional. I need this, Jeff. Please do. Please go after that. But if we manage to keep in touch for the rapport and for the trustworthiness of our relationship, then the next time I wouldn't have to push it, it would be a lot more natural. And I've forgotten to mention when you ask me about easy or small things. Identifying a course and going on Skillshare or something else to learn a skill that will help you for your next job is also one thing that is a lot harder to do when you leave the company or your start job hunting, you should notice that the whole market is going to the cloud to the whole market is going ABC and your company's not going that route. So it's your responsibility to learn it. You don't have to take a three year program for this, but grab something, start learning the basics, and that will make you more competitive. When you need to look for a job.

Jeff Altman [00:25:52] Again, the investment in oneself, and I know a lot of firms have stopped really paying for training and thus who's adversely affected, you as a job hunter. They don't care because on their side, we've got this. You need to know that you know this. Why should we train you on this new thing that we're not going to learn to have you leave us to go do that thing.

Daniel Alfon [00:26:21] Yeah, there's the discussion. You know, the imaginary discussion between the CFO and the CEO and the CFO says, you know, if we invest in those people and they go away, so what is it worth? It? And the CEO says if we don't invest and they stay, what price are we going to pay? But less CEOs are, may be as aware of that as they need to be.

Jeff Altman [00:26:47] It's so funny that and we were on the same page about this, you know, knowing that your people are going to leave, they're going to stay, and whatever it is, there's a price. And which is the price that gives you the greatest hope out of all of this? That's really what we're talking about overall here. What gives you the biggest chances of being successful? And I'll just simply say we're starting to get close to the end of our time together. I want to make sure we cover other points that you may have in mind. What haven't we spoken about yet that we really should before the end of our interview,

Daniel Alfon [00:27:34] We could discuss briefly sharing Linkedin. Sure. Let's do. I don't I don't think many, many people need to excessively or daily posting on Linkedin because most of our network does not want to see that many updates, but say once a quarter. Find one piece f one article, one video, one informational content that you found very interesting and share, it's not necessarily are not not tooting our own horn, but but highlighting someone else. It could be someone else we look up to in our firm. It could be use the Linkedin Kudos if we like but the important thing is to occasionally put high quality content out there, and not only when we actually need a new a new job, that will make it easier for us, because if we only get to use Linkedin when we're looking for work, then we will not even understand the mechanics. We don't remember what happens under the hood. And if we use LinkedIn, you know, for 10 minutes a week. We will not we will never miss the birthday of the people we're connected with. We will hardly miss the fact that that person has moved from New York to Austin, Texas. And we will find some interesting content and we will able to share it without spending too much time on it. So 10, 10 minutes a week, it may be a lot easier than a whole day, you know, after two two months or four months or six months, because the touching points are are easier and stronger. And also, we have to remember that contrary to you and me, many LinkedIn users are not living in LinkedIn. So they visit occasionally, but there was a triggering reallife like you send an invitation to that person, so he goes and checks you out. But there's a meeting, an important meeting, and they want to see who the hiring manager would be. But if you manage to use LinkedIn a bit all the time, you'll miss less of the signals, like someone moving from company A to Company B or an interesting content of their.

Jeff Altman [00:29:54] It's funny, there is a woman I knew for many years was a commodities broker and we tell a story from a pre-Internet folks, and what she would do is read lots of business press and then clip out articles because pre Internet. Right. They had to cut out the article, make a copy, mailed it to someone with a note that said, I thought this was might be interesting for you, given what I understand about what you do. And this helped her open some huge accounts for her firm, all because she taken a little bit of time to occasionally drop a note in the mail. Now it's easy. And, you know, Daniel, speaking about once every quarter, I would do it once every quarter if I were sending it through the messaging service to all my connections. Or I could post it with a link on the blogging platform and then share it with all my connections, which is easier than just putting it through the messaging service. And if you read something that's interesting and it's more than ever quarter, you to share it with the news feed, that's easy. And no one thinks ill of you if you do it or, I don't know, daily or weekly something along those lines. But sharing to your connections, you don't want to overshare.

Daniel Alfon [00:31:27] And going back to the system that you described with the commodity broker, it's excellent because actually maybe some of our listeners here, some of our viewers, they don't need to hunt new contents because they're reading that content anyway, either on Linkedin or somewhere else. But the only thing they need to add is who do I know who should really appreciate that piece of content? And every now and then they would think either of a way to share with across their network or to just send it to one or two or three people. And when that happens, some of those people will reply and say thank you very much, by the way, and they will offer them something that we don't do it. We pay it forward, not because we are expecting something, but like you said, we we become more top of mind. And that's where the opportunity is happen. Just because we ask ourselves who could be interesting to that piece or who could I introduce you to to help you make your job better or to make your job search better .

Jeff Altman [00:32:32] Excellent, Daniel. This has been a lot of fun, how can people find out more about you and the work that you do?

Daniel Alfon [00:32:39] Thank you very much. The pleasure is mine, is probably the best way to go and there's a giveaway there and lots of articles. Knock yourself out

Jeff Altman [00:32:53] and I'll have that link in this show, those folks, and we'll be back soon with more on Jeff Altman the big game Hunter. I hope you enjoyed todays show. If you're watching on YouTube and you did, click the like button shirt with someone, after all we're talking about sharing things, aren't we? This is something good to share with people, right. And connect with me on LinkedIn if we're not connected at, mentioned that you saw the video, mentioned that you listen to a podcast. I like knowing I'm helping some folks. And once we're connected, you'll be connected with a lot more people. Just my network tends to be bigger than most people. I Also say I've got my podcast, no B.S. Job Search Advice Radio five days a week with great advice for job hunters. That's good anywhere in the world. And I've got books and guides to job hunting on Amazon. Last point I'll make if you're involved with the job search. I'd love to coach you, reach out to me through my website. . You can schedule time for free discovery call, schedule time for coaching. Like I said, I'd love to help. Hope you have a terrific day and most importantly, be great. Take care.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1500 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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