This post was written following my participation in the 2Actify Online course offered by the iJOBS program from July 17 to September 15, 2017
We have all been there: you’re attending iJOBS and (Alliance for Career Advancement) ACA events to learn about potential career options, you’re updating your resume and curriculum vitae to be ready for that first application, but then you suddenly hit a brick wall when you realize your LinkedIn profile hasn’t been updated since college (ack!!).
I was in this exact situation just a couple of months ago and I had no idea what to do with my online professional profile. There were so many people I could see on LinkedIn with fantastic profiles, but I felt like my profile just couldn’t compete. Apart from feeling so negatively about my profile, I also did not have the tools to even begin to improve my LinkedIn page. When the iJOBS program offered Rutgers students the opportunity to take the 2Actify online course for online networking, I wasted no time in putting my name down.
The online course is offered in 4 sessions and also may include a one-on-one profile review with founder, Penny Pearl. Initially I was not sure what I would gain from this experience and more importantly, if I would be able to implement the necessary changes to improve my LinkedIn page. I am happy to say, however, that the 2Actify course was thorough and the necessary information was delivered in very manageable chunks.
The first session covered the importance of how to use LinkedIn as a networking tool and engage with the online community. Ms. Pearl mentions the best methods to make connections online and how to reach out to new people, which is critical for growing your network. In the second session, the course discusses how to create a magnetic profile. This session was the most beneficial to me considering the sorry state of my online profile and my negative feelings towards it. In this session, you learn pro-tips for how to attract people to your profile by perfecting every detail, from your headshot to your headline, and even how best to use media and recommendations as part of your profile.
In the third session of the program, Ms. Pearl takes you through integrating online networking into your regular routine and how to use companies and groups such as alumni networks to continue to build your connections. In the fourth and final session, you are taught the keys to being a standout candidate. More fine-tuned tips for developing relationships online, staying engaged with content that is posted in your feed, and how to use professional groups to expand your network, are provided in this session.
After going through the 2Actify program and using the steps outlined as part of the program, I could see my LinkedIn page transform from an ugly caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. I felt like a true grown-up with a reliable tool for networking and getting to the next step in my post-graduate school goals. What I enjoyed most about the 2Actify program is that the final product is easily tangible; you see the results instantly and are compelled to continue networking and improving your profile.
I was curious at the end of the program about how this all started, what compelled Ms. Pearl to put together such a first-class product, and how this great opportunity was brought to the iJOBS program. I contacted Ms. Pearl after completing the 2Actify program to get answers to some of these questions and also hear her thoughts on networking as a graduate student or post-doc.
- Tell us about your background.
With Rutgers as my alma mater, I was pleased that 2Actify was a successful pilot program for iJOBS as PhDs prepare for their entry into a professional environment.
After graduating from Rutgers University with a Bachelor in Science, my early career included business development and training for technology companies. I later founded a start-up company that sold healthy desserts online and through Whole Foods.
As my career advanced, so did my skills as an online networker, lead generator and certified business coach for corporations and entrepreneurs. I founded Bear2Bull Coaching and trained growth companies and corporate leaders on techniques for online lead generation. This proven system evolved into the 2Actify program.
- What prompted you to start 2Actify?
I was approached by the director of a university master’s program. She was interested in teaching her students how to find a good job in their field of study upon graduation.
Using the 2Actify program had tremendous impact. Students who completed the program had job offers prior to (or within 2 months of) graduation. The program was so successful in the first class that the program director has incorporated 2Actify into her curriculum.
I was able to introduce the 2Actify program to Janet Alder and the iJOBS program through a referral by a professional in my online network. This connection was a perfect example of how strategic online networking can open the right doors.
- How has networking changed over the years?
Networking has always been important, but in many fields today, online networking is as—if not more—important than in-person networking. Candidates need to market themselves online as an alternative to applying through job boards.
Career-seekers who build relationships through networking are preparing themselves for career advancement. Further, by networking online, a candidate can find opportunities anywhere in the world.
- Currently, graduate programs do not really incorporate networking skills into their curriculum. Why is networking an important skill to learn as students graduate and enter the “real world”?
Networking skills should be incorporated into the curriculum well before students are ready to seek employment.
Relationship building can impact career readiness as early as high school, and should be encouraged by parents, schools, and professors since:
- The skills learned through networking enhance the “soft skills” that employers seek today (such as communication, problem solving, and teamwork).
- Relationship-building skills open doors for internships, mentoring, career opportunities, and referrals. A track record that includes internships and work experience makes early-career professionals more marketable.
- Today’s job-seeking landscape is not tipped in favor of the candidate unless they become a skilled communicator and build relationships. Networking helps find a job today and lays a foundation for career advancement.
- Scientists often have a reputation for being awkward or shy when it comes to networking. What three tips can you recommend to those of us who find networking difficult?
While taking the first step may feel huge, once you “get into it” you’ll find that networking is extremely gratifying—even fun!
My 3 tips are:
- Focus on the outcomes of building relationships for your future career, not just a current job.
- Communicate WHAT you do, HOW you do it, and WHO you do it for so the professionals you’ve targeted see how they can benefit from meeting you. Include a professional profile photo. Remember, your online profile is your marketing “brochure”!
- Create a routine of reaching out to professionals who can help advance your career. Begin with a request for a connection. When they see that your profile aligns with their interests, many will connect with you. You can then ask for an introduction.
The 2Actify program teaches a step-by-step system on how to strategically network online to build relationships and propel your career. The program is delivered through a series of online training videos (available 24/7), live webinars, and supplemental coaching. Motivated career-seekers learn concepts and techniques that help them land a rewarding position faster, create future career opportunities, and master online communication skills.
The 2Actify program was piloted and proved its value with Rutgers iJOBS participants.
The program evaluation scored an average of 4.5 (with “5” as best):
For more information on how iJOBS participants can access 2Actify contact Janet Alder at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Penny Pearl, Founder and CEO