Alyssa J Freitas

July 26, 2017

Using LinkedIn For Branding & Connections

Welcome to the third and final post of the LinkedIn series (take a look at the intro to LinkedIn post and how to use LinkedIn to get a job)! After learning how to build a stellar profile and what steps you can use to get a job or internship, this is a continuation of crafting your personal brand and connecting with others. In the previous post I dedicated an entire section to connecting because it is the best way to get a job, so today we'll talk about maintaining those relationships.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here are the best ways for you to build your personal brand and make connection with LinkedIn

Branding

"Personal brand" are buzzwords that have undoubtedly been overused, but they are relevant for this discussion. When you think of using LinkedIn, you are creating your professional brand: how you want potential employers, others in your industry, and followers to view you. For example, will your tone be polished, witty, serious, etc? 

Here are some of the ways you can share your voice and thoughts on LinkedIn:
  • Write an article - this is my absolute FAVORITE way to share experiences and expertise on LinkedIn. Instead of someone looking at your profile and only seeing your accomplishments formally written out, they can also read an article where you demonstrate your unique insights and voice. I had an awesome time sharing my IBM internship experience on LinkedIn (and the blog) and got a great response that allowed me to connect with many people I otherwise would not have. It also helped me to stand out in the program and be memorable, so I've started up again now that I'm full time! Writing on LinkedIn is a great way to showcase your work.
  • Posting articles, photos, and updates - some people will post motivational quotes or ask questions to get discussions started. I like to share great articles that will interest my community. Creating valuable updates will make others happy to see your face pop up on their feed and help you to establish your credibility. 
  • Keeping imagery consistent - you have the option of adding a header image and can use this space to express your personality and brand. I have seen people give a nod to their company or city and I love the creativity that can be infused. Extra points if you coordinate colors with your profile picture ;) 
  • Summary - ah yes, back to the darn summary. I went over this in detail in the initial LinkedIn post, but it's worth mentioning that this is the first spot for you to set the tone and express your professional side. 

Connections

There are three facets to discuss here: who to connect with, how to connect with them, and how to keep in touch.
  • Who to connect with - I am more liberal with my connections than I use to be. If I get a request (with an unpersonalized message, more on that later) and there are some mutual connections or we worked at the same company at one point, I will likely connect. When it comes to finding others to connect with, you can look for people you already know, or search for others in much the same way as I described looking for jobs. When you go to the search bar you can click on the "search for people with filters" section and use keywords, location, company, industry, schools, etc to narrow it down. This is great if you are looking to connect and learn more about a particular field and want to reach out to people who have experience. You can also find people to connect with by joining relevant groups and engaging in discussions. When you click "search for people with filters" you can click "groups" at the top of the page and search for your interests. 
  • How to connect - it's essential that you personalize your connection requests (although, I am definitely guilty of sending some out without personalization and I should be ashamed). You can't personalize when you're on mobile, so it's best to use your computer when requesting. When you click "connect" on their page, you will have the option of writing a short message where you can mention when you met, or what you are interested in talking about. This will give them context and increase the likelihood of them saying yes.
  • How to keep in touch - a great feature of LinkedIn is that you get notifications when it's someone's birthday, or work anniversary, or they get a new job. You can write a short note or like the update as a way of keeping in touch. It's also great to reach out periodically to share an interesting article or to say hello. LinkedIn makes it easy to always be able to get in touch, so take advantage of the site!   
And now we have made it to the end of the LinkedIn trilogy! I hope you have found these posts to be valuable.

How do you establish your professional brand? What is your favorite way to connect on LinkedIn?

-AJF
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July 19, 2017

IBM Summit Program: Weeks 3&4

Check out weeks 1&2 here!

Happy one month anniversary to me! It’s absolutely wild that I have been in the summit program full time for an entire month. And I am enjoying each passing day more and more. Last week was short because of Independence Day (fun fact: it’s my favorite holiday), but never fear, that doesn’t mean that I have any less to write about.
Another two weeks have passed and now I have been at IBM for an entire month! Check out this post for more on Astor Place, tons of valuable training, and expensive Manhattan salads
The main project I was focusing on over the past two weeks was a course designed for sellers about the emerging trends and corresponding IBM solutions that have been identified across various industries. Think: blockchain, connected devices, and utilizing private cloud. Top leaders in the company were video interviewed as they went over how to discover clients who could benefit from these insights, how to address potential objections, and the high level details to know. Each section concluded with a quiz, and while I did well and got most questions correct, I felt just AWFUL when the little cartoon person that accompanied the assessment frowned at me (note: I am not being facetious here, I really did feel bad for the poor guy). This project took hours because of how much information there was to get through, but I did finally get it checked off of my list and learned a lot from it.

Another on-going project is running my stream’s monthly team meetings. As dedicated readers will know from my last post (don’t feel bad if you have to go and reference the previous post, just make sure to tune in every two weeks from here on out, please and thank you), the summit program is ongoing, with new groups of people starting every few weeks. We are organized into streams and I was asked by my manager, along with two other summits, to lead our monthly team calls. We will have the first one in person next week in Schaumburg (more on that later), and I am excited to share an essay with my team from Thomas J. Watson.

There’s this great book my father found (if you want to learn more about him and his incredible book hunting skills, read this post) called Men, Minutes, Money that is a collection of speeches given over the course of Watson’s 42 years as Chairman and CEO. This first essay that I am sharing is a speech given to the sales class of 1930, and I’ll be sure to write about the key takeaways in the next post after I discuss it with my peers. I have no doubt they will draw additional insights from it that I will want to express to all of you!

As part of the summit program there are activities called “experience accelerators” that we have to complete in territory to learn more about our future roles as full-fledged sales people. I was able to meet up with my friend Jon, who went through the summit program a year and a half ago, to learn about the CRM system IBM sellers use and he gave me great suggestions for how to make the best use of the tool. Another experienced seller, Sean, invited me to shadow him during his cadence meeting with his manager. This is when he went over his pipeline and expectations for the next quarter and the next half. It was great to catch up with him again and gain an even better understanding of the relationship between sellers and their managers.

Seeing colleagues from last summer continued as I got to catch up with Kristin, who is a Watson Customer Engagement seller, Taylor, who is so generous with including me during his meetings, and Tim (special shout out to him for always reading the blog!). I also got to meet one of the summit interns who is a fellow theater enthusiast and awesome lunch companion, Tyler! Another intern, Allison, recognized me from my blog posts and I got to have another great lunch conversation. One of the highlights of the week was meeting up with my manager from last summer, Dennis. I could not stop smiling as we filled each other in on what has been happening over the last year and I didn’t realize how much I missed asking him questions every day!

On Monday of this week I had the chance to go down to Astor place (as you’ll remember, my interests lie with cognitive technology, so I try to get down to the heart of it as often as possible) for a health talk. Bethany Hale is the EA (executive assistant) of Lori Steele, the Global Managing Director of Healthcare and Life Sciences, and is a health coach with TONS of great advice on healthy eating. I was so inspired that I bought this salad for $15…welcome to New York. Check Bethany out on Instagram for all of the food inspiration.


This is actually coming to you from Astor place, as I am down here yet again. Laura, a millennial corps and Watson Health aficionado, was kind enough to host me for the day and answer all of my questions about what she does and how she handles life as a young professional (and we may or may not have also discussed our favorite types of punctuation marks…can you guess that mine are parentheses?).

Finally, about me alluding to Schaumburg earlier. Much of my time has been spent preparing for my fist Global Sales School challenge where we have to do a series of role plays, and organizing practices for my fellow Manhattan summits. We’re traveling to Schaumburg next week, which is near Chicago and I am beyond excited! A special thank you to Lindsey, Rachael, Tyler, and Jordan for helping me prepare. I can’t wait to get back to you in two weeks to let you know how it went.

-AJF

July 12, 2017

Use LinkedIn To Get An Internship/First Job

Welcome back to part two of the LinkedIn series! In part one we went over the basics of creating and optimizing your profile, which you can read here. Today we are going to dive into how you can use the site to get a job or internship. First we'll go over the already built "jobs" tool and then I will also share the arguably more effective method of connecting with companies directly and leveraging your network.
Click to read now or save for later! Looking for an internship or a first job? Here are two key approaches to use LinkedIn to get the opportunity you want

Approach 1: Jobs Search

Now that you have your handy dandy LinkedIn profile all set up, you have access to LinkedIn's job search tool. On the top of your homepage on the right hand side you will see a tab that says "Jobs." Go ahead and click on that.

This allows you to do an initial search by keyword or company or job title and then narrow down by location. To illustrate how to go through this process, let's pretend that you are looking for a marketing internship and you want to be in Manhattan (I may be biased, but that sounds like a great place to work haha).

First, put "marketing" in the search bar and "New York, New York" in the location and search. Then, on the right you will see filters to help you narrow down your search. For example, you should make sure the location is only "New York, New York," for experience level you can change it to "Internship," and you can even specify the industry, such as "Apparel and Fashion."

You can see in this screenshot that I have the filters previously mentioned that will get you closer to your desired opportunity.

Once you find an open position that sounds interesting, you can save it to apply later or if the option is available, you can use the "Easy Apply" feature where your LinkedIn profile will be sent to the company. When you use "Easy Apply" you will have the option to also upload your resume.

There is tons of great information on this page, including who is posting the job, if anyone from your network works there, and a detailed company profile. It's ALWAYS a good idea to directly reach out to the person who posted the opportunity (if you don't have LinkedIn premium, you can always connect with them and send a personalized message) and to talk to anyone in your network that may have a connection to the company.

Another awesome feature is the "People Also Viewed" section on the right sidebar and the "Similar Jobs" section at the bottom of the page. This will allow you to easily expand your search.

All-Star Tip: I mentioned before that you can search for opportunities by keyword. When you look at roles that interest you, note the frequently used words (for our example it would probably be words such as "interpersonal skills," "attention to detail," and "creative") and make sure to include them in your profile. This will make you more relevant in searches and your applications.

Approach 2: Leverage Your Network

The adage of it's not what you know, but who you know, could not be more true for job searches! Companies are receiving thousands of applications for one job, so if someone can personally recommend or refer you, your chances sky rocket. That's why the approach of using your LinkedIn connections to find an opportunity is most effective.

First, make sure that people know you are looking for an internship or job (of course, if you have a job and are looking for a new one you might not want to broadcast it like I am going to suggest haha). You can post an update on LinkedIn that you are looking, making sure to describe your ideal location, role, and industry. Ask others to let you know if they find out about opportunities.

Example Post: Hello everyone! I wanted to let you know that I am looking for a marketing internship in Manhattan for the summer. The apparel and fashion industry is interesting to me, and with my marketing major I have developed skills that will help me excel in such a role. If you know of any opportunities or have advice I'd love to hear from you! 

Second, reach out to existing connections that do what you want to. Simply by talking to them and asking about their role you can be better prepared in your search, and it's a bonus if they also help you look.

Example Message: Hello Dana, I hope all is well with you! I am currently exploring summer internship opportunities in your industry and it would be great to hear some of your insights on working in apparel and retail. Would you be available for a quick phone call or to get coffee so I can learn about your experiences?

Third, connect with people you don't know, but who you'd like to learn from. When I was looking for a full time role I would apply online and then connect with people at the company to ask them about their experience (or sometimes I would go in the reverse order). Some would then offer to follow up on my application! A personal connection always helps. Even if people don't have an opportunity at their company, they could very well reach out to their connections in the industry to give you a helping hand.

Example Message: Hello Frank, my name is Jane and I am a junior at *insert university*. I am interested in the apparel and fashion industry, and when I came across your profile I loved the way you described your early internship roles. This summer I am looking for a marketing internship and am in the process of discovering all about what that would entail. Would you be willing to have a brief 15 minute phone call with me so I can learn more about your experiences?  

This approach is much more unstructured, but from my experience it is more likely to get you to your goal.

LinkedIn is a phenomenal tool that can connect you to people and opportunities SO easily. Take advantage of this free resource!

Have you been successful securing a job or internship through LinkedIn? What methods have you used?

Make sure to check out part one of the series!!!

-AJF

July 5, 2017

IBM Summit Program: Weeks 1&2

She’s baaaaack. If you were following along last summer, you would know that I interned with IBM in sales and had one of the best experiences I could have imagined (check out last summer’s posts here). From attending interesting events, to meeting exciting people, to solidifying my love of sales, being an intern in the IBM Summit Program shaped my college experience and prepared me to enter my first, real adult job.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Weeks 1 and 2 of my full time IBM Summit Program experience are at an end. I share all the details here!
And now here we are, a year later, and I am a full-time Sales Specialist trainee in the Summit Program. The Summit Program is a 6-9 month training program (6 months for non-technical sellers, 9 months for technical sellers) where hires learn about the IBM sales process and get exposure to the wide-ranging portfolio. This is done through a variety of methods including virtual learnings, classroom sessions, role-plays, actual plays (more on that below), and shadowing and assisting opportunities.

For the kickoff, my cohort (Summits start on some different dates throughout the year) headed to IBM’s headquarters in Armonk, NY. Although I never actually got INSIDE the headquarters since we were staying in the Learning Center (see the picture above where I'm just happy to stand outside), it was exciting to be so near to the center of the IBM machine. The first two days we were with all new IBM hires, including developers and designers and anyone new to IBM. The following two days were dedicated completely to the Summit Program.

Despite the leaders continually reminding us that we were not on a college campus anymore, you could have fooled me. There were acres of woods with a main building and dining room, as well as smaller buildings with hotel rooms. When I first arrived and settled into my room, I felt first day jitters. What information would I be expected to know? Would all the Summits like each other? Were my outfits for the week good? It felt like the first day of school.

When I went to the main building for dinner on that first day of travel I found out that over 100 of the people who were supposed to be there were delayed because of weather! I ended up meeting some of the Summits from the Manhattan office, who luckily avoided flying, and had the opportunity to dine with my manager. He told us to get ready for some delicious food and that we should expect to gain the Summit 60 just like the Freshman 15. And he wasn’t kidding as there was dessert at every meal and a continuous stream of snacks!

The first full day kicked off with paperwork and an introduction to IBM culture. Two inspiring and talented guest speakers came who imparted words of wisdom about starting our IBM careers. The first speaker, Wagner Denuzzo, asked us to think of one word to define our year with IBM and what came to my mind was “bright.” To me, this means it will be an interesting, positive, growth driven year as I discover where I fit into the IBM machine (also, wondering if it’s awkward to say “IBM machine” since the M in IBM stands for Machines, but we’re just going to go with it, especially since I already said it a few paragraphs ago).

Our second speaker, Steven Adler told us the story of how he became a self-proclaimed “information strategist” with IBM and told us that our path with the company is never set. We always have the opportunity to act on our ideas and to advocate for their importance across the organization. We also heard from executives, such as Laura Smith and Lee Pressley. What impressed me was that people in upper level management were willing to come and speak with us, demonstrating the investment and trust that the company puts in us Summits as we join IBM.

Over the course of the first two days we got to play trivia games (cue my competitive nature singing), interact with people from all over the country, and eat that delicious food I mentioned before. My favorite takeaway was when one of our leaders asked us why we think IBM had such trouble in the 90s when the company nearly went under. We were all a bit unsure of how to respond, but she told us it was because the company had become complacent and arrogant. So often we try to hide from our mistakes or act as though problems are not our fault, however IBM recognizes that we must acknowledge where we came from and make changes for the future.

The following two days were Summit focused, where we were taught more about our program and the expectations; my absolute favorite part was unexpected. My manager, Angelo Reid, pulled me aside during one of our breaks and asked if I would like to participate in a play about a day in the life of an IBM salesperson.

“That’s right up my alley!” I exclaimed. “You don’t know this, but I was an actress as a child” (there’s nothing I love quite so much as discussing my early, and short lived theatrical career). “I could tell there was something there,” Angelo (a fellow actor!) responded.

The cast got together to read through the script and ended up deciding that it would be helpful to include slides behind us defining all the acronyms that we used. I created the PowerPoint as we read and when we performed the next day, we got rave reviews. A few of my fellow Summits told me that if this whole sales thing doesn’t work out, I definitely have a future on the stage. It’s nice to have a plan B.

This week I came to the Manhattan office and it was great to be back! My time has been filled with virtual learning, getting reacquainted with IBM tools, and working with my team to prepare for our first sales call for Global Sales School. During the next 6 months of training we will travel to different IBM locations where we will participate in sales role-plays and presentations. To say I am excited and can’t wait to get there is barely scratching the surface. I am ecstatic to be in a program that is dedicated to my development.

Since this post has already become longer than originally intended, I will leave it here. The first two weeks of the Summit program have been fantastic, and I intend to continue blogging. As of now, I plan on posting every other week, but depending on how packed a given week is that may change. Be on the lookout for the next installment!

-AJF
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June 28, 2017

LinkedIn For Students & Young Professionals

When I was a sophomore in college I led a program about how to make the most of your LinkedIn profile and realized that few college students understand the massive benefits of the site. LinkedIn is the "professional" social site that allows you to build a profile that highlights your experience and skills, connect with others, publish articles, share updates, and stay on top of what is going on in your industry.

I've decided to do a series about how to maximize your LinkedIn profile and use it to get a job or internship, build up your professional brand, and stay connected with others. Today we're going to go over the basics of creating an optimal profile and I'll share some lesser known secrets of a true LinkedIn All-Star (which is not my own made up title, but actually the "level" I have achieved on LinkedIn haha Clearly, I really like to use this site).
Check it out now or pin to save these tips for later! Having an optimized LinkedIn profile is essential for students and young professionals. Here's how to get started building up your profile and making yourself stand out

Why is LinkedIn important

I cannot stress the importance of having a professional online brand enough, no matter what your major or industry! Employers will Google you, and you want the first thing to come up to be your LinkedIn rather than your Facebook, right? Right. 

When you intentionally craft a profile that highlights your unique skills, you make yourself that much more employable. Additionally, LinkedIn is an amazing way to stay connected to others and know about how they are progressing in their career. You can be reminded when someone has a work anniversary and say congratulations and can help them out when they are looking for new career opportunities. Plus, JOBS! LinkedIn is a major tool for recruiters to find candidates so you better bet your chances improve by being on the site.

Your goals

Anyone who has been on this blog before knows that I like to begin with the end in mind and have a clear goal we are working towards. With LinkedIn it is important to know what you are looking to achieve. Do you want to find a new job? Make new connections? Use your profile as an extension of your online brand? Keep this in mind as you fill out the specifics of your profile so that you can gear it towards what you are hoping to get out of it.

Your profile

If you're starting from scratch, you will need to go to LinkedIn and register for an account. Use an email that you are confident you will continue to have (i.e. your personal versus work email) so you don't have to deal with switching over if you change jobs.

Let's go over each section of your profile and what to include. I am going to have screenshots of my profile for each section to give you a better idea and you can also visit LinkedIn directly to see my profile here in more detail:

Profile and background photo
For your profile photo, you will want a professional image of you alone. Don't choose a photo that obviously cropped someone out or of you wearing anything you wouldn't go on an interview in. For your background photo, you can choose something that represents your industry or (like me) your location. You can stick with the stock image provided, but having it more personalized is a good way to show that you are an active LinkedIn user.

Headline, Current Position, Education, Location, Industry
The next section can be thought of as "you at a glance." For your headline you can put a tagline of sorts. Some people like to put what they do (ex: passionate about helping businesses solve complex problems through data analytics) or you can go more simple like me, putting the company I work for and my love of blogging. The other elements listed above a pretty self-explanatory.

Contact and Personal Info
This is open to those who are connected with you so they know how to get in touch. You can add whatever ways you feel comfortable sharing (for example, I don't include my phone number).

Summary
Oh, the summary. This is your space to give a quick explanation of what you do, what skills you have to bring the table, and how you are looking to progress. Your summary will change as you move through your education and career (and honestly, mine doesn't quite follow what I just said above because I am starting out a new role and haven't solidified exactly what I want to convey just yet haha). You can let your personality shine through here. My best advice is to keep it short (three paragraphs, max) and to make it clear what your call to action is for anyone viewing your profile. Do you want to connect with people in a particular industry? Find out about post-grad opportunities? Let it be known here.

Experience
This is like your extended resume. You can enter where you have worked, for how long, and what you did. You can even include media (like a website you created or a video you made) pertaining to your role. Just like your resume, use action words, bullet points, and numbers to make it clear what you accomplished.

Education
Within education you can include what you studied, your GPA, and any other notable elements that aren't included in another section.

Skills and Endorsements
You can highlight particular skills that you are proud of to add to your profile and then others in your network can endorse you for those skills. If someone has worked with you and seen that you demonstrate leadership, for example, they can endorse you for the skill and if you haven't yet added it to your profile you can then do so. This section allows you to continue to tell a consistent career story about what you are an expert in, with confirmation from others that you do in fact bring these skills to the table.

Recommendations
Aside from connections endorsing your skills, you can also ask for a personalized recommendation. This is great to do when you are finishing up an internship or have completed an impactful project. These recommendations add more credibility to your work and enable those viewing your profile to see that it's not just you saying that you do great work, but that other people have experienced it too!

Accomplishments
This area of your profile has quite a few facets, including Honors&Awards, Publications, Organizations, Projects, and more! You don't have to use every single subsection, but can fill out those that apply to what you have done. Generally, a long description is not necessary, just a sentence will do that people can see once they drill down in each section.

Interests
This is the last section of your profile where you can follow certain brands, industries, and groups. Your main feed will be a combination of updates from your connections and articles based on your interests.

All-Star Tips

As you fill out the basics of your profile, I wanted to share some lesser known tips:
  • Personalize your profile link. You may have noticed that my url is https://www.linkedin.com/in/alyssajfreitas/, with my full name. To personalize your link, go to Edit Your Public Profile on the top right, then go to Edit Public Profile URL.
  • Be a secret agent. Unless you change your settings, people can see when you look at their profile and will get notified every time you make updates to your own profile. Not so great, right? To change this, go to Settings and Privacy under your Me tab. Go to Privacy, then change Sharing Profile Edits to No and make Profile Viewing Options change to Private Mode. 
In the next installment of this series we'll go over how to add connections (who you should add, how to reach out to people you don't know, etc). Check back next week for more!

Do you love LinkedIn? What profile tips do you have?

-AJF 
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