LinkedIn Director Blair Decembrele: Make sure to develop real, meaningful relationships on LinkedIn

Develop real, meaningful relationships on LinkedIn: While almost 70% of working professionals say they would help someone else find a job, that percentage plummets to just 10% for people in their community whom they do not know personally. So making a personal connection is critical, and you can turn those professional connections into real relationships […]

Develop real, meaningful relationships on LinkedIn: While almost 70% of working professionals say they would help someone else find a job, that percentage plummets to just 10% for people in their community whom they do not know personally. So making a personal connection is critical, and you can turn those professional connections into real relationships with a few easy steps.

As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Blair Decembrele. Blaire is the Director of Global Integrated Marketing Communications at LinkedIn & Linkedin Career Expert. Since joining LinkedIn in 2013, Blair has been responsible for helping professionals build their brands and advance their careers on LinkedIn, sharing her unique insights, career tips and tricks, and new data around a wide range of professional topics. Blair also oversees editorial and consumer integrated marketing and communications, brand partnerships, and in conjunction with the LinkedIn editorial team, Blair leads the integrated marketing for the LinkedIn Influencer program, a group of 500 top business leaders who write and share on LinkedIn. Blair has nearly 15 years of experience in communications and marketing, specializing in media/editorial and technology integrated marketing. Prior to joining LinkedIn, Blair specialized in consumer publishing at Meredith Corporation and ran the communications efforts for lifestyle magazines including More and Family Circle. Prior to joining Meredith, Blair spent more than six years gaining consumer lifestyle agency experience at Kaplow, where she last served as a Senior Director specializing in communications efforts for eBay, Skype, Target and The Avon Foundation. Blair currently resides in New York City.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I always knew I wanted to explore a career in helping people and companies communicate clearly to the press and their clients/audience. I was shocked to learn that a job like mine was even possible. I feel incredibly grateful that I get to come to work each day and help professionals build their brand and explore what they love.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I feel so lucky to have had a front row seat to interviews we’ve conducted at LinkedIn with incredible business leaders — like Beth Comstock and Angela Ahrendts, two amazing women who have made a significant impact through their work. These glimpses into greatness are some of my favorite moments in my career for sure! The insights shared on leadership, and just generally on business and the world, in these interviews has really impacted me, and helped me challenge myself in new ways to continue growing.

Specifically, when Angela Ahrendts sat down with LinkedIn’s Editor in Chief Dan Roth last year and spoke at length about the importance of connecting and creating a real community feeling with all employees within the company. How? By knowing — and sticking to — true company values, and by doing what you say you’re going to do. This was Apple’s secret sauce in retail, creating these real connections in the workplace, helping to breed a culture where people with passion want to come to work, and stay.

And Beth Comstock, who described herself as “propelled by curiosity,” had another poignant takeaway from her interview with LinkedIn — to make room for discovery. It’s a concept that makes total sense once you get comfortable with the idea of carving time out of your busy workday for yourself, even just that 10% of your day, to think about your passions, what might be next, and the trends and world at large and how you fit in. It’s actually something that we’ve been talking about a lot here at LinkedIn as part of our #InItTogether campaign, in which we took a closer look at what success means to professionals and why they are “in it.” Since we spend spend an average of 90,000 hours working over the course of our lifetime — and we’re happiest when what we do lines up with who we are — it’s important for us to stop and ask, “why do I get up and go to work every day? By understanding what makes us happy in our careers, and beyond, we can work toward our individual definitions of success.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I mess up all the time honestly and I can think of countless career fumbles I’ve made over the years. Many of which I feel thankful for as they made me grow as a professional. Specifically, I’m one of the many who have committed the common, yet dreaded, faus pax — the reply all! It’s just too easy to hit that button by mistake! While there were no dramatic consequences, it was a good lesson in the need to slow down and be intentional in our communications. It also taught me the importance of having people — at work, and beyond — whom I could turn to for advice. I, like 46% of working professionals, leaned on a co-worker to help talk me through it all.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

I obviously have one :). I know from personal experience just how important a thoughtful professional network is to growing your business — whether it’s promoting your professional brand, finding new clients, or just accelerating your career growth. In fact, almost half (45%) of professionals build their professional community to discover new career opportunities. And it works — more than 70% of professionals get hired at a company where they have a professional connection.

I know building a professional network might seem daunting — in fact, we recently found that more than one quarter of working professionals simply don’t think the have time to build professional relationships. But, that is why LinkedIn is so helpful as it makes building and nurturing your professional networking that much easier.

Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

1.Develop real, meaningful relationships on LinkedIn: While almost 70% of working professionals say they would help someone else find a job, that percentage plummets to just 10% for people in their community whom they do not know personally. So making a personal connection is critical, and you can turn those professional connections into real relationships with a few easy to-dos:

– Identify shared interests. Look for opportunities to connect with your professional community over common interests. It makes networking feel less like “work.” LinkedIn Groups is a great way to find others who share your interests.

– Acknowledge milestones. When someone in your network is celebrating a new job or an anniversary, send a heartfelt, yet professional note. You can do this on LinkedIn — just check notifications.

– Ask for an introduction to someone you’d like to know better from a connection you have in common. This helps warm a relationship right from the start.

-Since you can’t predict where you might make the connection that helps you get your next job, nurture your professional relationships wherever they may arise. Perhaps you met someone at holiday social event who works for a company on your radar. It’s not too late to build that into a professional connection. Send a “nice to meet you” note, and ask for advice or begin a conversation about trending news or a common interest. You never know where it could lead.

2. Join the conversation: Engaging with content on LinkedIn is the best way to build and keep in touch with your professional community, and helps keep you and your profile top of mind for your network. Like and comment on timely articles that are relevant to your profession, share a short form post on the news of the day or record a video. Use a #hashtag to continue the conversation with your network. The more you can tap into existing conversations — whether around the office or in your industry — the more likely your article, post or video will be successful. And share your personal stories and experiences in a genuine way to also inspires others. Spending time becoming part of the conversation will help you develop meaningful relationships with your professional community, and can help you get a job down the road.

3. Always be learning: The world of work is constantly changing, so it’s helpful to be constantly learning — from each other and with up-leveling our own skills. Since it’s estimated that the average shelf-life of a skill is about five years, and LinkedIn research also found that almost 9 in 10 (89%) professionals feel that skills are even more important than job titles, continuous learning allows professionals to be more flexible and adaptable in their career paths — something we know companies value very highly. So if you’re finding yourself — or your business — at a standstill, try learning a new skill that piques your interest. LinkedIn Learning is a great resource that gives you access to more than 12,000 courses across a variety of topics from graphic design to project management fundamentals.

4. Find a side hustle: With the rise of the gig economy and freelance work, pursuing a side hustle is becoming the norm. In fact, 71% of employees now have a “side hustle,” and among them, 40% have used allotted time off to work on these extra endeavors. Whether you’re in it to moonlight in an art gallery or build websites on the weekends, more than one-third of professionals today (36%) find success in pursuing a passion project or side job. A side hustle could turn into a career pivot, and your professional community is one of your greatest resources. For example, if you’re a graphic designer looking to become a pastry chef, reach out to someone who works for a local bakery who can offer you advice and insight on their day-to-day — they might even open the door to your next career. Or, leverage LinkedIn ProFinder as a way to source new client leads outside of your professional network.

5. Showcase your success: In the body of your profile, don’t just include a list of the jobs you’ve had. Spend some time adding some information about what you’re doing or have done in previous positions, and be specific about your successes. For example, “Managed office scheduling” becomes much more powerful if you also include the fact that you established a new system that resulted in 40% fewer overbookings. You can also demonstrate your unique professional story and achievements by adding visuals like pictures, compelling videos and creative presentations to your experience section can really help you stand out. For example, if you are an interior designer, you might share imagery from a recent project you finished to showcase your design aesthetic and recent experience. Or if you’re a journalist, you might include your reel or a few recent clips.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would want to inspire people to get comfortable to ask for help.We’re all human, and we must accept that we don’t have all the answers — it’s normal to not always know how to handle a difficult situation with a coworker or even a new project — so asking for help is critical. In fact, according to our research, more than 80% of professionals feel that asking for help led them to solve a problem, and 70% believe their support system is one of the top factors that contributes to their success at work. So I’d like to empower people everywhere to be open to that support. If you find yourself in a jam, instead of trying to handle it by yourself, be comfortable knowing that it is an opportunity for you to get help and learn. Who should we ask for help? Well we found that 40% of professionals are most likely to reach out to family (40%), and younger employees (35% of Gen Z) especially rely on online communities, so simply go where you’re comfortable. Success doesn’t have to be a lonely road, and our colleagues, friends and family, and our community will often have the answer or advice we’re looking for.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

There are so many people that are inspiring! It’s hard to choose just one, but right now I am super inspired by Brené Brown. She writes and shares on LinkedIn regularly on important leadership topics, like embracing vulnerability, and I find her incredibly impressive and motivating. I’d love to sit down with her!

How can our readers connect with you?

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Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!

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