LinkedIn Series Part TWO- How to use LinkedIn for Professional Development – Tips and Tricks

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

LinkedIn is a goldmine of opportunities for those who choose to utilize the features to their best advantage.

We have already looked at several ways to manage your LinkedIn profile to work toward advancing your career – fleshing out your profile, following Network Updates, keeping an eye on LinkedIn Jobs, upgrading to a premium account, connecting with people who have viewed your profile, growing your connections, and more.

There are so many other features and tips to cover!

Continue reading to learn more:

Customize Your Public Profile URL

Make your profile easier to find by creating a customized profile URL.

By default, your profile URL has various random alphanumerical characters in it. As you can imagine, this URL is difficult for anyone to manually enter into a web search bar.

When you clean it up your profile URL, it will look more like this:

This personalized URL is easy to add to a resume, business card, pamphlet, or other networking, promotional item.

Use Saved Searches for Efficiency

Do you regularly find yourself frequently searching for the same types of jobs and people on LinkedIn? Many other LinkedIn users do the same thing.

Did you know that you can use LinkedIn’s built-in “Save Search” option to run the same searches again in the future? This will help you save time and stay current with update search results.

Plus, you can also receive weekly or monthly email reminders with the search results.

LinkedIn allows you to save up to three people and 10 job searches.

Get Involved In LinkedIn Groups

Find relevant industry Groups and participate in the discussions, or start your own.

There are many benefits to actively participating in Groups.

For one, you can establish your authority in the industry by sharing news updates and replying to questions that come your way.

You can also connect with other people in the group who share like interests to your own, even if they are not a first-degree connection of yours.

Note that you can email members of your group once per week to keep them engaged and updated.

Whether you are looking to build traffic to your articles or blog, create relevant industry connections, or increase your authority in the industry, the benefits of joining and being a part of groups should not be ignored.

Connect Your LinkedIn Profile to Twitter

Twitter may not be the most popular social network out there right now. That does not mean it does not hold any value.

Your LinkedIn updates can be automatically shared to your Twitter profile, helping you extend the reach of your posts.

When posting something new, simply click “Post Settings”, and “Public + Twitter” in the dropdown. This should help increase the visibility of your LinkedIn posts and draw more attention to your LinkedIn profile.

Use @mentions In Your Updates

Do you want to ensure certain people see your updates on LinkedIn?

@mentions on LinkedIn work just like they do on Facebook and Twitter, allowing you to draw people in and start a conversation with them.

This can be a great way to connect with others, if done in a respectful way. Beware of overusing or abusing this feature.

Publish Content on LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform

Do you have a blog? Are you using content to connect with an audience? Are you building your credibility and expertise through regular publishing?

LinkedIn’s publishing platform is one of the most powerful of any on the web, and can be leveraged to help you build better connections and find career opportunities.

Create an editorial calendar for yourself and begin developing content that establishes you as someone to watch in your industry.

Final Thoughts

Set goals for yourself and your LinkedIn productivity.

If you do not have a clearly defined plan and objectives for what you hope to accomplish on LinkedIn, you will never know when you have reached your goals.

Tips and tricks can help, but only if you know what you are after. Ultimately, only you know what you are trying to achieve. These tips will help you get there!

Let’s get to work!

If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or



How to Network on LinkedIn – Use These Tips & Tricks to Boost Your Opportunities

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

LinkedIn is one of the most popular social networks for professionals.

Networking plays an important role in finding new career opportunities, connecting with industry influencers, uncovering future partners and vendors, and more.

How should one go about using this powerful platform to network? How can you make valuable connections inside and outside your industry?

Complete Your Profile

One of the first things you will want to do is fill out all the details of your profile.

A profile that is not fully filled-out is often overlooked or ignored, because it appears to be underutilized or neglected entirely.

This means adding a profile and background picture, summary, experience, and so forth. You can also add links to your website, social profiles, portfolio, and other relevant sites, so take advantage of this feature.

It can be worthwhile to optimize your profile for SEO as well, including relevant keywords and terms you want to be found for.

With this information in place, you will have an easier time getting a response from those you connect with.

Keep An Eye On Network Updates

Network Updates is essentially LinkedIn’s version of the Facebook News Feed.

Checking these updates allows you to see what your connections have shared and to engage with them.

You can also share your own updates to interact with your connections.

If you would like to keep a closer eye on everything that is happening in your Network Updates, you can also sign up to receive email notifications.

Take Advantage Of LinkedIn’s Job Postings

If you are looking for a job, take advantage of LinkedIn Jobs. You can use its advanced search feature to find jobs by title, keywords, industry, location, company, and more.

As you apply to more jobs and save your searches, LinkedIn will also begin sending you recommendations for jobs you might be interested in.

Get A Premium Account

By default, LinkedIn does not allow you to connect with anyone but first-degree connections. Does this mean you cannot send messages to people you are not connected with?

If you get a premium account, you can take advantage of Open Profile to message any LinkedIn member.

Granted, this feature will not do you much good if you are not effective in connecting with others. Learning to write professional messages should be one of your top priorities when networking on LinkedIn.

Keep An Eye On Those Who Have View Your Profile

Wouldn’t it be great if you could see exactly who has viewed your profile? After all, if there is anyone worth connecting with, it is probably those who came across your profile.

Fortunately, LinkedIn has built-in functionality that allows you to do this very thing. All you need to do is navigate to Who’s Viewed Your Profile under your Profile dropdown menu.

As with sending messages to people who are not first-degree connections, however, you will require a premium account to unlock this feature.

Grow Your Connections

When sharing updates on LinkedIn, the updates you are sharing will only go out to those who are connected to you. So, why not grow your list of connections?

LinkedIn now has several tools that allow you to grow your network. For instance, you can “Manage Your Synced and Imported Contacts” and sync up with your email contacts to see who else you know and you have not connected with on LinkedIn yet.

Final Thoughts

It is now easier than ever to connect with people on LinkedIn. You could be missing out on a lot of great opportunities if you are not taking advantage of it already.

Use the above tips as a starting point and spend a little bit of time growing your LinkedIn presence daily. You will begin to see results from a concentrated effort.

Let’s get to work!

If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or

How To Create Powerful Goals And Stick To Them

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

As an ambitious executive, it is important to set goals.

But do you find your goals motivate you to action?

Many people set new goals as another year rolls around and soon forget what they were planning to achieve.

Goals can be hard to stick with. But they are much easier to track with if they are powerful goals that mean something to you.

Not sure how to set goals that connect with you on a deeper level? Read on.

Set Big, Ambitious Goals

One of the reasons your goals may not be motivating you is because they are too small.

If the goals are too easy to reach, they will not require a lot of time and effort on your part. That makes it easy to procrastinate. Moreover, smaller goals do not require the help of others.

As a leader, one of your jobs is to inspire others. When you have big goals, it is much easier for your team to catch your vision and get on the same page to help you reach your objectives.

Accountability plays a significant part in sticking to your goals.

Break Your Goals Down Into Smaller Action Steps

A goal is just wishful thinking unless you have a plan detailing how you are going to achieve it.

Can you break your goals down into smaller action steps? If not, it means you do not know how to achieve those goals. Either you need to revise that goal or research the steps involved in making it a reality.

We are all crunched for time, but it is easy to spend 10, 20, or 30 minutes daily on meaningful action steps. If that is all the time you have, you need to know exactly how to spend it to reach your goals.

Think Long-Term, but Be Willing To Adjust

It is important for leaders to be thinking five to 10 years ahead.

The challenge today is that in this fast-paced world, it is harder than ever to keep up with changes in customer demands, the market, technology, and so on.

So, it is more important than ever for executives to recognize the importance of adjusting as they move closer to their goals.

Your goal may be relevant today but could mean very little to you a year or two down the line. Tweak your goals based on the changes and shifts you see taking place.

Ensure Your Goals Are In Alignment With You & Your Career

As a leader, you must be thinking big picture.

It is fine to have personal goals, but if they are not in alignment with your values, you are not going to be motivated to achieve them.

Likewise, you will need to set career goals, but if they are not aligned with business objectives that have already been identified, there could be some dissonance between what you want to accomplish and what needs to be accomplished.

You will have a much better chance at sticking to goals that matter to you and the people around you if they are well matched.

Revisit Your Goals Regularly & Track Progress

It is all too easy to write goals down in a notebook you never look at again.

It is much more effective to keep your goals out in front of you, whether it is on a blackboard, whiteboard, a piece of paper pinned to a corkboard, or otherwise.

If you track your progress, you will get to review the steps you have taken so far and will be more likely to stay on course. You will be encouraged by the steps you have taken.

Final Thoughts

Goal setting does work. But oftentimes, you will require the help of others to make them a reality, even if it is just in the form of accountability. It helps to check in with your coach or mentor on a regular basis, as they can steer you in the right direction when you feel off track.

Let’s get to work!

If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or

Have You Plateaued In Your Career? Here is What You Can Do Next



By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

As you continue to grow professionally and personally, you will begin to want different things from your career.

Your ambition level will change. You will seek out bigger challenges. You will want to try something different. You might feel that you have hit a plateau and see no options for advancement.

Loyalty is a great quality to have, and one you will require as a leader. But it can also hold you back from making a change. Turning your back on commitments you have made can make you feel like an imposter.

You cannot leave yourself out of the equation when you have hit a plateau. You must consider why you have plateaued, what your needs are and determine what next steps to take.

Here are several ways to gets past your career plateau.

Take a New Approach To Your Work

Perhaps you feel burned out in your current role. You work crazy hours and barely have any time left for yourself. You come into work frazzled and leave even more stressed out.

Challenge can be a good thing, but if you have too many demands placed on you it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The easiest way to get past a career plateau is to try a new approach. If you are overworked, you may consider delegating or reallocating more responsibilities. Conversely, if you feel you are being underutilized, you might consider adding to your workload to keep things fresh. No matter the situation, if you can find a way to shake things up, your enthusiasm for your work will pick up again.

Grow Yourself

Does it seem like there is a glass ceiling on your potential?

If this is what you feel, it may be time to acquire new skills. Find training programs or educational opportunities that are either outside of your expertise or will enhance your existing skill set. Learning something new can be inspiring and allow you to move into positions you might not otherwise be able to.

Even if you do not end up moving into an entirely new role after you have gone through your training, you will still benefit from growing yourself.

Seek Out the Help of An Experienced Career Coach

An experienced executive career coach can help you identify growth opportunities and options you might be missing. If you are not sure what your next steps are, then you should consider working with a career coach. Make your coach aware of your career goals and aspirations, and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

Lead A Different Team

If you have hit a plateau, it probably means you are comfortable in your role. Chances are good you have not had anything new to do in a while, and if you have, it was not anything extraordinary.

It is important to engage in work that is challenging and holds your interest. If you have already demonstrated your strengths as a leader, you may be able to make a “sideways shift” in your company to lead a different team or take on different work. This may not always be an option, but one worth exploring with your superiors.

Change Companies

This is not always an option. But in some instances, changing companies may create new opportunities and challenges for you. It may also present you with the chance to utilize different skills and continue climbing your career ladder.

Final Thoughts

Career plateaus can occur for a variety of reasons. It is important to identify and understand your struggles before seeking next steps. Once you recognize why you are plateauing, you will be ready to look at your options. You may not need to resort to drastic measures to improve your situation. Communicating with your team or your superiors can lead to meaningful answers. But if you do need to move on, there is no shame in it. You may discover someone with your knowledge and experience can be better utilized elsewhere.

Let’s get to work!

If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or

How to Stay Present and Positive as a Leader to Effect Positive Change


By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

Leadership is both challenging and exciting.

Being assigned a C-level title does not make you a leader. What makes you a true leader is your ability to lead others by example.

If you want your team to have a positive attitude, then you need to show them what a positive attitude looks like. If you want them to focus on their work and improve their performance, you should show them how to hit their targets.

Thinking too much about the past or the future can steal you away from the present moment. When you are not entertaining fear-based thoughts, you are better able to concentrate on what matters right now.

Here are some tips on how to manage your attitude, stay present, and remain positive.

Choose To Look At Everything Differently

It is surprising the things that happen when you begin to focus on the positive rather than the negative aspects of your work or your team. Relationships and moods tend to improve, leading to more openness and willingness.

If you have been spending a lot of time looking at the downsides of your employees or their capabilities, it is time instead to focus on the value they bring to the organization.

Everyone makes mistakes. Try not to focus on that. Let the past be the past and determine what you can do today to be more conscious of what is going right in your career.

Create A Culture Of “Shipping”

Shipping means to bring a project to completion. Marketing expert Seth Godin encourages entrepreneurs and businesses everywhere to “just ship”, because it is too easy to fall into the habit of perfecting an offer before presenting it to the marketplace.

When a project is completed, everyone feels a sense of accomplishment. Employees can eliminate mental clutter and start fresh on a new project.

When there are too many projects hanging in the air, anxiety can build up fast. Staying present becomes difficult.

If necessary, try breaking projects down into more manageable, bite-sized chunks. When you and your team see progress, you will feel encouraged to keep pressing on.

Keep Learning & Growing

Many business owners and executives tend to rush the process of systematization.

For your business to run like a machine, it will be necessary to put robust systems and skilled personnel in place. If you expect everything to work perfectly before even testing it, you are going to be disappointed and frustrated.

Developing a culture where mistakes and learning are encouraged is one where you will see innovation and growth. Your team members will come up with unexpected and eloquent solutions to problems. They will be invested in the organization’s success.

Set the example by continually learning and growing yourself.

Recognize & Engage Your Team

Confidence and high self-esteem positively impacts your entire team. It allows them to take chances without feeling like they are going to be chastised for making a mistake. You will also see productivity go up, and relationships improve.

If you want to encourage collaboration, then take the time necessary to build up your team. Recognize excellent work. Engage them to keep morale high.

Final Thoughts

Positivity is a matter of perspective.

It is easy to feel optimistic about your day when everything is going well. But, what if things do not go well?

The true mark of a leader is someone that can see the good in a situation that may appear to be negative. After all, there will always be some mistakes, challenges, obstacles, and setbacks in any career or workplace. If you are experiencing some difficulty, it just means you are human. So, it is not a matter of how you feel about these situations, but how you deal with them.

Do not allow your past to dictate your present or your future. Do not let your fear of the future distract you from what matters in the present.

Let’s get to work!

If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or

Four Top Qualities Companies Look for in Executive Candidates

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

As you work to achieve your career goals and seek better opportunities, you will find it valuable to consider how to promote yourself.

Promoting the right aspects of your skills, talent, experience, knowledge, and results could be the difference between getting to where you want to go and spinning your wheels.

So, what constitutes the right aspects of your value? What should you emphasize on your resume and in interviews? How can you continually move forward in your career?

Here are several ideas of how to promote yourself and progress towards your career goals.

Demonstrate Your Understanding of the Business

You must be an expert of your industry if you wish to be an executive, or prove yourself worthy of an executive position.

Whether they are reviewing your resume or asking interview questions, your employer wants to know they can trust you with their business. If you do not know how many employees they have, whether the company is publicly traded, who its main competitors are, and so on, then it may be time to do your homework.

An in-depth knowledge of the business is an absolute requirement for any leader. Promoting your extensive knowledge of the company or industry is a good way to move towards your career goals. This will mostly come down to how you answer questions pointed in your direction.

Prove Your Ability to Solve Problems

Are you confident in your ability to solve any problem? How do you cope with unexpected situations? Are you capable of taking charge and handling issues, even if they are outside your area of understanding or expertise?

Leaders always have greater responsibilities, but the rewards are also proportionate. You may find yourself in territory you have never navigated before, but the mark of a true leader is someone who can find solutions, even when they are met with seemingly insurmountable challenges.

As an aspiring or existing executive, you must prove your ability to solve problems. You should be armed with stats and stories that illustrate challenges you have overcome if you want to prove your worth as a problem-solver.

Build Your Credibility

Employers look for many things in an executive-level candidate. Your demeanor, confidence, body language, how likable you are, and any subtle cues that communicate your level of competency may be evaluated as you seek to reach your career goals.

Most of all, employers want to know that you can be trusted to deliver results. Are you accountable? Can you carry out the tasks you have been assigned? Will you go beyond the call of duty?

Working on your body language and appearance can help. But confidence is typically developed at a deeper level, and often comes from a record of accomplishments in your career. Begin building on your successes today, no matter how small, and keep stacking the wins. There is no short cut to get to where you want to go.

Show How You Can Contribute to the Bottom Line Of The Company

How will the company benefit from your work?

When it comes to hiring executives, most employers want to know how you can improve their bottom line. Your confidence and leadership ability will also be valued, but not as much as the revenue you generate for the company.

Again, the best way to demonstrate to the company you are looking to work for how you can benefit the company is by illustrating your work through stats and story

Final Thoughts

Reaching your career goals may take significant time and effort. Know this work is worth the time because it is helping you towards your dreams.

Rome was not built in a day, and your dream job will not land in your lap either. But as you gain more experience and show yourself capable, your achievements will grow, and employers will look upon you more favorably.

Let’s get to work!

If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or

Top 5 Things To Have On Your Resume

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

Everyone needs to submit a resume when applying for a job.

A resume may be one factor among many other factors considered when screening applicants for possible employment. If your resume does not contain the right keywords or accurately demonstrate your value and experience as an executive there is a good chance you are going to miss opportunities.

What should you include in your resume? Here are several suggestions.

  1. Keywords

Today, resumes are often machine-read before a human ever looks at them. If your resume does not contain keywords pertaining to the job, you may not get past the initial screening process to obtain an interview.

Be strategic with your resume. Emphasize why you would be right for the job. Research the job posting and include any keywords that appear frequently in the description in your resume.

  1. Contact Info with some twists.

Your name – Right up top – not in a header (ATS Systems do not necessarily like headers!)

City / State – I don’t think street addresses are necessary here.

Cell number – Only!  Giving both numbers on your resume and thereby a choice to the reader may mean you could miss an important call.  All calls should go directly to you on your cell.  A home number might be answered by one of the children, stay in voice mail, or someone forgets to write down the message.

Email – but Hyperlinked – so the recruiter can “touch and write”

LinkedIn – Vanity URL – not the default URL given when you first join.  Also as a hyperlink – so the recruiter can “touch and go” to your profile.  If you write an email to me – I will be happy to send you an instruction sheet on how to create your Vanity URL.  If you leave the URL as the default address with the letters and numerals after your name – you will show you are not tech savvy in this very competitive environment.

  1. Title and Personal Brand Statement/Executive Summary

Recruiters do not have much time to look through resumes. If they are not impressed or at least intrigued in the first 10 seconds or so, it is unlikely they are going to spend more time looking through yours.

Be sure to include a specific title at the very top of your resume. This title will concisely convey to a recruiter what it is you do and the job you intend to acquire.

Your personal brand statement or executive summary should be just below your title. It will serve to grab the attention of the recruiter. Relevant keywords, quotes from performance reviews, and value-based metrics are all worth including at this stage.

Your executive summary should establish your credentials as a leader. What difference have you made as a boss? How did you manage team members? What steps did you take to oversee the expedient completion of projects and attainment of business objectives?

Use this section to prove your value as a leader. Avoid generic statements filled with adjectives that are meant to cast you in a positive light. These types of statements could be true of anyone. Instead, craft a value proposition that showcases what makes you unique, and what your specialties are.

  1. Education

It is important to include your education in your resume. This section, however, should appear towards the end and not at the beginning. Your work history, experience as a leader, and value-based metrics will be valued more highly than which schools you went to and the degrees you completed. It is unlikely that you will grab the attention of a potential employer based on the school you went to.

  1. Relevant Highlights

Beware of filling your resume to the brim with data and information. You may have many accomplishments you’d like to share with recruiters and decision-makers, but they may not all help you land the job. Your resume should help to promote you to your target audience. Think carefully about the audience and what they may want to know to come to a decision. Edit until you feel the most important points have been covered thoroughly.

Final Thoughts

The most important variable to landing a job is you. It all comes down to what you know, what you’ve achieved so far, and what you can do for a company.

While your resume is unlikely to be the single deciding factor as to whether you land a job, it should at least get you passed the gatekeepers. In that sense, it is still an important document. If it is not well-crafted, you may have trouble getting an interview.

Let’s get to work!

If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or