Advice for young adults (and older ones too)

Even though I’ve been consistent about blogging on the same days each week, sometimes life gets in the way, which explains why I didn’t post anything on Tuesday.

This morning, when I was catching up on e-mails, I found one from LinkedIn Influencers, asking what career advice I would give my younger self. I have a lot to say on that topic, because my younger self took a long time to figure out what I wanted to do, career-wise.

But for now, I’ll provide a few links to advice from other sources:

1. The LinkedIn blog: “If I Were 22: 80+ Influencers Share Lessons from Their Youth.”

2. Judith Timson’s column in today’s Toronto Star: Words of wisdom for commencement season.

3. A commencement speech by Sandra Bullock at a New Orleans high school.

Advice to new grads seems to be the theme of the week. But I don’t think it’s just for them. 😉




Am I doing okay acquiring LinkedIn connections?

Since I joined LinkedIn a little over a year ago, I’ve acquired 201 connections, most of whom I know personally and/or have had contact with professionally.

Occasionally I wonder if I should be more aggressive about seeking out connections. Or, perhaps, if I should be more strategic. My acquisition of LinkedIn contacts has relied largely but not exclusively on instinct and natural evolution (growing via people I’ve crossed paths with one way or another).

I do trust my instincts, but when I found an article the other day titled “What Do I Do with Random LinkedIn Connections?”, it naturally piqued my interest.

The article had to do with requests to connect that are sent by random people, whose names might be unfamiliar.

The first time it happened to me, I accidentally hit “Accept” on my iPhone. Because of its small size compared to my computer, it’s easier to press the wrong button. Groan!

“Oh no!” I thought.

As it turned out, the person who sent the request had enough mutual connections and mutual professional interests that my concerns were allayed. But LinkedIn’s help centre “strongly recommends” accepting invitations only from people you know.

The article about random connections advises members to request more information before accepting a random invitation. I’ll have to remember that next time.

Do you accept invitations from people you don’t know? What are your criteria?

It’s starting to feel like a book

Yesterday and the day before, I worked on my book, writing twice as much as I do most weeks.

For the first time since I joined a writing group on LinkedIn, for which I have to post a weekly word count, I felt like I was ahead of the game. So I started to edit, which I haven’t done for a while, and got a look at what I have.

Most of the editing I’m doing consists of fine-tuning – adding, deleting or changing words and phrases. I’ve also had to cut or move some larger chunks. Aside from that, I’m pleased with the way it’s turning out.

But it still feels pretentious to say I’m writing a book, even now that I’ve written a substantial part of it (maybe a third?), and even though I’ve announced it to the world on my blog.

The book started writing itself in my head in 2009. That’s how I’ve thought of it ever since, and it feels like a more accurate description than “I’m writing a book.” Before I was downsized last June, I’d only written the first couple of pages, and it didn’t feel like a book.

Recently, I’ve had encouragement about writing the book from more people who… aren’t my mother! I do think the subject – a memoir about losing my father – will resonate with a lot of people. There’s much that’s universal about mourning a parent, even though there are aspects that are unique to me as an individual, and as a Jewish mourner who said Kaddish for eleven months.

I’ve also given much thought to what makes a synagogue (or any institution) a welcoming or comfortable place, how good things can come out of bad, what I value in people, and the changes in women’s ritual participation at synagogue. I think these themes are implicit in my story. I hope they will prove as compelling in book form as they’ve been in my head.

Joining a writers’ group

I’ve been spinning my wheels lately when it comes to working on my book, but yesterday I took a leap that will make it harder to do that.

I joined a group on LinkedIn called “I Am A Writing Machine.” I don’t think of myself as a machine at all, but I like the idea of the group as “social support,” which is part of its description.

The accountability aspect also appeals to me. As a member, I’m committed to writing 500 words a week toward my project. It’s a modest goal, and hopefully a springboard to writing more than the minimum. I have to submit a word count every week, and if I don’t, I can’t stay in the group.

It’s been too easy for me to put off work on the book when other items on my list are more time-sensitive, like the blog entries I post four mornings a week, and calls or appointments during business hours.

It helps me focus when I know I have a deadline. Recent work on the book has consisted mostly of fine-tuning what I’ve already written, and also developing a timeline. That hasn’t added much to the word count.

Yesterday, I spent about 45 minutes editing and expanding on what I’ve written.  I thought I might end up with fewer words than I started with, but I ended up with 248 more. Only 252 more to go… until next week.


Maximizing LinkedIn’s potential

Recently, I signed up for a LinkedIn tutorial for journalists, which I heard about via a LinkedIn journalists’ group. The session, which took place on Tuesday, was one of the best things I’ve done all week.

Until now, I thought I was doing well on LinkedIn, and for the most part, I was. In July, I blogged about using the site to make contacts and learn about issues, available jobs, and journalism/writing-related workshops and events. That post is here.

But a couple of days ago I learned about features I was unfamiliar with and links I’d never clicked on, which I expect will be helpful to me. A LinkedIn tool to find alumni, for example, is only a few months old.

LinkedIn’s corporate communications manager Yumi Wilson, a former journalist, hosted the phone-in session, and walked us through a succession of features. Her presentation was clear and relevant, and it was great to have the opportunity to communicate offline.

The experience reminded me of an encounter I witnessed earlier this year when a colleague of my husband’s – engrossed in shop talk with a colleague she’d never met but knew from online discussions – suddenly exclaimed, “You’re a real person!”

Social media is a wonderful tool, especially when its reach extends offline. A bonus for tutorial participants – we were eligible for a free upgrade, allowing the use of even more LinkedIn tools for the coming year.