I Have a LinkedIn Page…Now What?

26 Jun

This weeks post continues the topic of LinkedIn. The intended audience is job seekers although, a lot of this post will be based on general principles that anyone can use. If you read last weeks post, you should have a stellar profile but now what? Your profile is there in all of its glory but how do you USE LinkedIn? What’s the end game?

It’s not like facebook because that’s where you share your favorite Jenna Marbles videos with all of your friends or get back in touch with high school buddies. It’s not like Twitter either though because that’s where you chronicle every waking second of your existence. And it’s definitely not Pinterest where you can share pictures of that cute new Victoria’s Secret sundress. No my friends, LinkedIn should be thought of as a place to “show off”.  It can involve Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest but in the professional context. The more you “show off,” the more likely you are to be seen by recruiters and employers. When navigating LinkedIn, think of it as a place to act like Saturday Night Live’s Stuart. Your page should scream in an unnaturally high pitched voice, “look what I can do (see below)!”

So what can you do? The main objectives are to show that you are a knowledgeable and active participant in your industry. That’s all fine and good but what activities can we do to to accomplish this?

Get an Audience

Before we even talk about what kinds of things we should be doing with LinkedIn, we need to make sure we have an audience. Remember, LinkedIn is a networking tool so, the effectiveness of our efforts will be based vastly upon how many people can see the things we are posting. You can post the most insightful, intelligent content out there and it won’t do you any good if you don’t have an audience. So how do we get one? By getting connected to others, that is!

The first order of business should be to add all of the friends, relatives and coworkers that you would like to add to your professional network. This is going to sound kind of mean but remember, LinkedIn is a professional tool: Only add people  to your professional network if you think they can help you or you can help them. This is not a “keep in touch” tool like some other platforms so,  keep your dear old granny to the confines of her farmville on facebook unless she has mad job hookups.

After you get the easy connections out of the way, it’s time to dig a bit deeper. If you are first starting or haven’t been on LinkedIn in a while, the easiest thing to do is go through the “People You May Know” section. No matter how many connections you get, it’s good to go through this section every once in a while as new people join LinkedIn all the time.

Now, we can dig even deeper! We can do this by utilizing the People search function at the top right of the page. See image below.

Now on this screen, we can search for people and companies. An important part of your job search is finding and following companies you may want to work for. To do that, you just click the drop down menu in the search bar and select companies. From there, just type in the company you’d like to find. Following companies you’re interested in will help keep you updated on new jobs they post, basic company news and think of content ideas that can get their attention. If you are searching for professionals,  you will want to click on the “Advanced” button located within  the red box unless you know the first and last name of a specific person you are looking for. After we click the advanced button, we are directed here:

The goal of using this function is to get connected with local professionals in our areas of interest. The three most helpful criteria that we should use when searching for such professionals are outlined in red in the image above. They are Keywords, Postal Code and Company. Let’s say that we would like to get connected to other Retail HR professionals in the Chicago-land area. We might type Keywords, “Retail, Human Resources” (try different combinations of relevant search words). In the Postal Code box, we would type our zip code and then make the radius as wide as you would like it (the wider the radius, the more search results you will get).  If you are already interested in a particular company, you may opt to enter a company name as well or use the company in place of the keywords.  Tip: you can gain access to more connections if you join a group where the person you want to connect with is also a member. That way, you can send them an invitation to connect even if you don’t necessarily know that person.

Now that you hopefully have a bit of an audience, we can get back to showing the LinkedIn community what you’re capable of.

Aggregated Content

Content is considered aggregated when it is shared on your wall but is not authored by you and you were not the first person to post it. An example of aggregated content would be your favorite Jenna Marbles video that we mentioned earlier. It’s hilarious and it’s on your page but it’s not yours. So, it’s aggregated. Due to the nature of this kind of content, I would advise that you also mention the source that you got the content from whenever possible. It’s a precautionary measure against plagiarism and it’s also the courteous thing to do.

Okay, so you get what aggregated data is but what kinds of data are professional enough to help us achieve our objective of showing the LinkedIn community that we are super competent? The  following is a (non exhaustive) list of acceptable content sources

  • News Paper Article
  • Scholarly Journal Article (make sure the author is okay with it)
  • Blog post
  • Vlog or video blog
  • Infographic
  • Press release
  • Comic Strip
  • Photograph
Like I said, this list is in no way intended to be complete, so think outside the box! Creativity is a virtue in this day and age so long as you keep it professional.  I realize I am emphasizing professionalism a lot in this post but I don’t want you to be discouraged by this. The word “professional” may be a bit daunting and seem limiting when it comes to deciding what content to post but not so much as it may seem.  As long as you relate the content back to something intelligent you have to say about what is going on in your industry, you are golden.
Let’s pretend that I am trying to get a job in retail management. Well, my content should then be written for the retail community. Below I have provided a couple examples of what content directed at that community would look like:
The Comic Strip

You can be professional and still have a sense of humor!

Remember, the goal is always to contribute something useful to your community. So we take that comic and turn it into this post:

As, you can see, the link to the comment is included along with a tidbit of information that was inspired by the comic but applies to job searching/ retail recruiting. In this petite little post, I have accomplished a number of things:

  • Provided entertainment for fellow retail managers/ recruiters who may be able to relate to that comic
  • Shown that I am knowledgeable about what to look for in a resume
  • Provided advice on resume writing for fellow job seekers
That’s all it takes to take something entertaining and make it useful!

Also, in case you don’t know how: here’s how to get the link attached to your tidbit of knowledge, follow the steps and diagram below:

  • copy the link you’d like to include OR if it’s an image like the this one, copy image URL
  • click the “attach a link” button on the area where you post.
  • Right click and Paste the URL into the box that comes up.
  • Don’t forget to make sure the Twitter box is checked!

You may have been thrown off by that last instruction. Twitter? I thought this post was about LinkedIn? Don’t fret, it is still about LinkedIn. However, by checking the Twitter box, your content will automatically post onto the Twitter news feed as well. This will increase your visibility to others who may be looking for someone with your kind of expertise. So, if you don’t have a Twitter account, make one. You’re going to need it to maximize your effectiveness on LinkedIn.  Let’s look at one more post example:

The Infographic

top 10 etail infographics

Again, we’re sticking with retail because that’s our job seeking scenario. Here is a graph demonstrating a timetable for mobile internet vs. desktop internet usage. So, the information here is good, but what does it mean? The thought process towards developing a post might go something like this:

My brain says, “Well, I know that most retailers have internet sites where people buy things. Also, although more retailers are making mobile web sites, not all of them have them or have good ones yet.  With this information, I can give companies good advice. From this graph I draw the conclusion that retailers need to be working to make a mobile website and perfect it because that’s where shoppers are going to be. Basically, increased site traffic means increased sales. Customers will be enticed to buy items on the mobile site or may visit a store because of them.”

Then, I take that insight and turn it into the post in the red box below.

So, that’s an example of the thought process behind what kinds of content to post and what to say about it. Before we move on,  I’d like you to pay special attention to the way I worded this post. It almost sounds like cave man speak–it’s blunt and to the point. The reason I worded my post like this instead of crafting a poetic, eloquent essay about how retailers should be working on their mobile sites to keep up with marketing trends is because of limitations having to do with LinkedIn and Twitter themselves. You will notice that LinkedIn will let you write quite a bit in the post area but Twitter is the medium that imposes that limitation. You are limited to 140 characters in a Twitter post. 120 of them are visible on the news feed ( they don’t count the characters in a link). This means that if you want people to click on your links and look at what you have to say, you have try and say most of your message in those 120 characters. If you see the diagram below, even with the short cave man speak not all of the message is visible in the Twitter feed. However, there is enough of the message visible to get the idea of the message across and make readers want to click on the link.

Original Content

Now that we’ve talked about content that is not ours, let’s talk about content that is. Original content is the name for things that you have written or created yourself. Let’s recall that list of options for aggregated content to post. Well, if you have the ability to create content like that yourself, feel free to show it to the world on LinkedIn!

The Blog Post

I’d like to pay special attention to blogging and “vlogging(video blogging)” because this is the one social media medium where you can say everything that you want to say about a topic. In fact, that’s the reason I started this blog. I want to showcase my social media learning. Of course, these first couple of posts have been just the basics but as I learn, I will post more sophisticated content. This benefits me because it allows me to show an in depth expertise in a subject area and also increase traffic to my sites. Blogging increases traffic to sites because a good blog is in some way beneficial to the community. It’s purpose may be to educate (like this one), entertain or provide utility (Liebe 2011). This blog aims to educate educate people about how social media can be used for marketing in a lighthearted, informal way. After all, the best blogs are educational and entertaining.

If you do choose to blog, make sure you post regularly.This is often the most challenging thing for bloggers but  there a few benefits to doing this. Your readers will know when to expect your content to come out. It shows potential employers who may be enticed by your content you are dependable and can meet deadlines. You will get more readers if you follow a schedule than if you do not follow a schedule. It serves as proof of creativity because you will consistently have to think of new content.

Group Communication

So we’ve covered content from us and content from others and how to post it in our news feeds but there is another way to post content. You can post your content in groups as well. For example, I am a member of the group Excellence in Retail. Remember that post I made about the graph concerning mobile internet usage? You bet I posted it to the group’s wall! What better place to post content about retail than to a group of retailers? Not many.

So here’s what I did. I decided to show you how our informative post becomes an interactive poll that will encourage engagement from fellow LinkedIn users in the Excellence in Retail Community. See below:

So, we could have just copied our post into a discussion and it would have also been completely fine. I am not spending so much time on that because the concept is simple: make a content post just like on your LinkedIn page and then phrase it as an open ended question that will start a conversation.  Posting as a discussion and a poll will both give you possible ideas for further posts based on the comments you receive. However, there is one advantage to polls over discussions: COLD, HARD NUMBERS. If you receive a substantial number of responses, you can make inferences about the data. However, an added bonus of polls is that users can make comments on polls. So, you can still get the rich data of comments with the clarity of numbers. The only downside to polls is that users are more likely to participate in a discussion on a group page than they are a poll. I suppose this varies from group to group though.

Groups are not just a good place to send messages-they are are excellent places to receive them as well. If you have a question relevant to that group’s topic, post it. You will be surprised at the level of helpfulness of your fellow group members.  For example, a while back someone in the group Excellence in Retail had posed the question of whether other store managers would hire someone if they had a prior conviction come up on a background check. The question had comments posted to it for at least a week and received many, many responses from other retail professionals that were part of the group. So, you can see how group communication can be a helpful tool in a professionals everyday life. In the same respect, don’t be afraid to post answers to the questions of other because that is just one more way to show the community your expertise. This is doubly beneficial because oftentimes, companies will post jobs in groups as a cost efficient way to recruit candidates with specific skills. Participating in these groups will help you gain visibility of those companies actively searching for candidates.

Job Searching

Now that we’ve talked about how to make you a contributing member of LinkedIn society, we can talk about searching positions posted on LinkedIn in the more literal sense.  By clicking on the “Jobs” button outlined in the red box shown in the image below, you will be able to see a list of jobs posted by the users you are connected with on LinkedIn.

So we click on the jobs button and we are directed to a page that looks like this:

As you can see, a list of jobs that are gathered based on the information in my profile are shown on this page. I want you to pay attention to the red box in this image because it outlines features that will help you keep your job search organized. You can not only save jobs to which you wish to apply but also save your searches if you did not get a chance to go through all of the postings. You can also make your search more efficient by clicking the “Advanced Search” button.  This will help you narrow your search to job postings that are relevant for you by selecting a geographical region, adding keywords, selecting specific industries and things of that nature.  This is the perfect place to use those Boolean Operators!

Not turning up many job postings? Well, let’s take a minute to consider some criteria that will affect your LinkedIn search. See image Below.

The three criteria outlined by the red box are crucial for finding postings on LinkedIn. The first is the quality of your profile. If you read last week’s post about LinkedIn 101, then that’s not your issue. The second factor is how many connections you have. The more connections you have, the more job postings you will have access to. The final factor is how many companies you’re following. How companies you’re following also determines how many job postings you can see. Basically, the more the merrier.

So, there you have it. Your crash course in using LinkedIn to get a job is complete. I hope you enjoyed my post and thank you for reading. Go get em,’ Tiger!

As someone who is always looking to develop my social media skills, I now ask for any ideas for content that I may have missed? Does anyone have any additional job searching tips pertaining to LinkedIn?

Next week, I am hoping to have my post on Edge Rank completed : ]

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LinkedIn: Profile 101

11 Apr

I apologize that it has taken me so long to get this posted but here it is: the first blog post in a two-post series on LinkedIn profile essentials and what to do with LinkedIn once it’s up and running. For the first post, we’ll cover profile basics. These posts will take on job search undertones as the LinkedIn users that requested I write these posts are a job seeker and an HR professional. Some of the knowledge I have shared here is my own know-how but most of it I have absorbed from others.  I will be drawing on a couple of resources, such as E-cruiting by Sharon Delay, MBA,SPHR and Karin Combs; and LinkedIn-Become a Leader in Your Industry by OnlineMarketingNYC.

The best way I could think of to create this post was to use screen shots of my own profile as an example. This is only to provide visual supplement for the information in my post, not to say that my LinkedIn profile is the Heidi Klum of profiles. In fact, anyone who happens to view my profile that would like to make a suggestion for its improvement, please feel free to do so.

With that said, let’s lay out some basic concepts that will help you with your profiles construction. First, your profile is your “ROIDED OUT” resume. It’s your resume but then it’s also most of the things you wish your resume could say but won’t fit on one page. Your LinkedIn profile helps you paint a more holistic picture of yourself to potential employers than just a puny, inferior resume can. This means, our content needs to be professional and relevant but can expand beyond I worked for X company for Y years and performed duties A,B and C. Second, LinkedIn will help you make your profile. When you are setting up your profile, pay attention to the notifications that pop-up for profile improvements. They are your friend. See the photo below. In the first circle, is the “Improve Your Profile” button. Click that to get ideas on how to improve your profile. The second circle shows how complete your profile is. That is, how many components you have filled out. We are shooting for 100%.

Image

Now, you might be asking, “Katie, why did you need to make a blog post about how to click a few buttons?’ Well, while this guide helps you get all the components of your profile filled out, it doesn’t necessarily tell you what to put in them. That leads us to the third concept that will help us with the LinkedIn profile: brand. The content that we put in those components needs to convey your personal brand. You see, that holistic picture that we mentioned earlier is your personal brand. This is the mojo that will make your profile stand out against other John and Jane Doe profiles. That’s why the contents of your profile are so important. Your brand will help your credibility and that will determine who pays attention to you. Getting good attention is the key to utilizing LinkedIn. We will talk more about brand later but now that you understand why it’s so important to have a professional and appealing profile, let’s talk about how to make one.

Profile Picture

In most industries, it is not exactly common place to include a picture with your resume. However, a picture really is worth a 1,000 words. People feel a lot better having a physical image of what a person is like. Oftentimes, people will not get a job because they just didn’t look the part (not dressed professionally, etc.) even though they were more than competent. In fact, Athena Vongalis-Macrow and Andrea Gallant share with us in their article titled Stepford Women in the Workplace that 55 percent of credibility is based on physical appearance, 38 percent is based on how you sound and only 7 percent is based on your actual competence. As you can see, getting the picture right is a big deal. Is it fair? Absolutely not but you still have to smile for the camera if you want a credible profile.

Below is my own profile pic. I admit, it is not the most professional. This is partially on purpose. I opted out of wearing a suit in my profile picture because that is not the kind of environment I would like to work in. “Suit” is not part of my brand. However, professional still is. So, I opted to be dressed conservatively with my hair out of my face. My photo is well lit with good color and contrast against a plain background. It is also a head and shoulder shot. I will discuss the reason I chose this kind of shot later.

Image

The best thing about a good profile picture is that you do not need to be a professional photographer to take one. Mine is actually self taken. I took my picture on a very sunny day and opened up all the blinds to let as much natural light in as possible. Then, I made sure all possible light sources were on (lamps, lava lamps, disco balls, bat signal, etc.). Stand against a plain white wall. Take wall hangings down for a moment if you have to. Position your camera so it is not pointing directly at any light source or this will cause white spots in your photo. If you do not have a tripod, rest your camera on a stool or a dresser. This will allow you to avoid blurry images from moving the camera while pressing the button. You will then need to set the timer on the camera so you have time to stand against the wall and put on your winning smile. This may take several tries. Do not worry if your body is positioned awkwardly because we are cropping it out anyway. Remember, it’s all about the close up!

The special thing about the head and shoulder shot is that it works for everyone. Remember, 55 percent of  your credibility is based on your physical appearance, so we only want to give enough to show our beautiful faces and that we are dressed professionally. This prevents us from being victims of weight discrimination, disability discrimination or from being objectified (I can speak only for myself but I’d rather people remember my smile, not my rear or my cup size).

After you get the shot you want, you can tweak it using even the most basic photo editing software. Pretty much every PC comes with Windows Photo Gallery where you can play with lighting, saturation and contrast. If not, download Picasa. It’s a great software for organizing all of your photos and it will allow you to do the basic edits you need.

Finally, do not get edit crazy. A little bit goes a long way. While Andy Warhol pop art-like photos look cool and are definitely possible to create using the software listed in this post, they do no belong in your LinkedIn profile. Keep it natural and professional! Moral of the story, do not do this:

Tagline

Your Tagline is basically your catch phrase. It will show up right below your name. It is in the red box shown in the photo below.

Image

Here you have two options as outlined by Delay & Combs. You can either list your job title or describe yourself in super specific words. I happened to choose the latter. If I had chosen to post my job title, I would write, “Sales Associate-CW Specialist.”

If you choose to do a description, think adjectives and adverbs. I did some research by reading jobs ads for positions I would apply for. For social media jobs, the quality employers requested most often that I happened to possess was creativity, so I made sure to put that in the description. A quality that I carry over from my past employers is energy. This is a word that may set me apart from others should the right job come around. So, of course I included it. Last but not least, I included that I am looking to switch industries. If I did not mention that I was aspiring to a social media career, recruiters might assume that I would only be looking for retail jobs since my industry and job title are retail related. To wrap all that up with a bow, the tagline is the place to put keywords in that you may not get to say other places in your profile. These will help you pop up in a recruiter’s search results.

Industry and Geographic Location

Including your industry and geographic location are equally important as the tagline. Including the industry will help recruiters that have jobs in your industry find you. The same goes for the geographic location. Unless you are willing to take a job in Bangladesh, letting recruiters know the metropolitan area you are closest to is probably a good idea. This information is located below the tagline as shown in the photo below.

Image

Summary

The summary is a place to either put your personal statement or state your career goals. If you are a business owner, you can also use this space to go into detail about the offerings of your business. One of the friends that asked me to write this post is a recent graduate  holding a degree in finance. Below is an example of a personal statement summary for a entry level finance professional.

Experience

This is the most boring section of the LinkedIn profile. This is where you chronicle your work history. The same rules apply here that apply to resume writing. So keep it clean, professional, succinct and relevant to the job you are after. That’s all I’m going to say about that because this is not a post about resume writing. If you need help with your resume writing, Rockport Institute has a very helpful page for that. Below is a picture of the experience section, which is outlined in red. The only other guideline I would give to LinkedIn users is only put as many jobs in your profile as will fit on a one page resume. The only time I would put more is if your firmly believe they have relevant and transferable skills to the job you are seeking.

Projects

If your LinkedIn profile were an action movie, this would be the much awaited car chase with guns and explosions that follows the 20 minutes of cheesy punchlines and bad acting (The Experience Section). This is where you get to include all of the exciting stuff you’ve done! Some merit a professional to have a portfolio created. Maybe you have materials from work with a client that you are particularly proud of. Maybe you have a blog or have crafted a website. This would be the place to showcase work of that nature. Projects is located right under Experience as shown highlighted in red in the picture below

I have three projects listed. One of which is my senior project. This is where it gets kind of interesting. My senior project is an educational website about Communication Apprehension. Again, you may have raised some questions on my methods. Such as, “If you are looking for work in social media, what the hell does Communication Apprehension have to do with getting a job?” Absolutely nothing. Although the topic of the website is not relevant to work in social media (the work I want to do), the work that was put into it is. A good recruiter will look at that project description and see that I read over 50 scholarly articles and digested them into quality, interactive content that can be read at probably the 5th grade level. That’s one helluva writing sample if you ask me but perhaps I’m just a little too proud of that project.

See where this is heading? The Experience section is where you talk about all of the skills you have and the project section is where you get to put your money where your mouth is. I realize this section of my post is not all inclusive for for projects to include in your Linked Profile. Please share other ideas for projects that are good to share in your LinkedIn profile.

Courses/Skills & Expertise/ Education

I have combined the next three sections into one for brevity sake. I figured this was warranted since my advice is the same for all three sections and they fit all in the same picture. See:

So the advice that applies to all three is yes, you have to complete these sections to get closer to that 100% completeness. For courses, don;t list every blow-off course you’ve ever taken. Just stick with the important ones that you feel add to big picture of your skill set. Do this, and you will add tag words to help you show up in the search results of others. The sam e goes for Skills & Expertise section. Add those Tag words and get found! Education is self explanatory. Degrees: show ’em if you got ’em. The more, the merrier.

Recommendations

Of course having your work recommended is always a good thing. Just make sure the praise is coming from someone credible like a former boss, teacher, coworker, etc. Sorry, but your dear, old granny doesn’t count. Unless you worked for her; then, she does. Also, it is best practice to review the recommendation before you post it to your profile. Asking for tweaks is not impolite. They would ask you to do the same before posting a recommendation to their profile.

I can not say this enough about recommendations. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS thank the person who gave the recommendation but also offer to write them one back. Not only is it the best way to pay them back but it increases your visibility as well. Someone who sees your recommendation on another profile might be inclined to visit your profile after reading your intelligent musings of another’s work.

So, there you have it. You should now have a 100% complete profile. If you found this post helpful, please feel free to like it, tweet it and follow me. If you did not find this post helpful, please field me your questions and I will do my best to answer or refer you to a more helpful resource.  Next Wednesday, I will resume LinkedIn 101 with a post on how to use your account once you have a complete profile. Thanks for reading!

Look Twice, Save a Life: Tips on How to Keep the Road Safe for Everyone.

16 Mar

ImagePhoto courtesy of Donna DuPree

I realize that it is quite random that the first post of my blog is not about social media at all. Regardless, I wanted to write about motorcycle safety today because it is a topic that I am very passionate about. I am well aware that motorcyclists do not have the most favorable reputations with all crowds but they still deserve to travel the roads safely. After all, every motorcyclist is someones loved one. With that said, I will point out that the weather is getting warmer and Bike Week is upon us. This means motorcyclists everywhere will be sharing the roads and interstates with cars. This also means that there is more potential for motorcycle accidents.

I want to begin by reminding everyone that although car accidents can be quite serious, motorcycle accidents are often fatal for the motorcyclist. For this reason, extra precautions should be taken if you are operating a vehicle near a motorcycle on the road. In this post, I will share some of the ways that drivers of cars and motorcycles can help keep everyone one the road safe.

For Cars:

1.) BE ALERT! Put down that mobile device, stop digging through your purse, stop reading the paper/your magazine and trying to keep the kids happy and DRIVE! The single most important thing you can do to avoid colliding with a motorcycle is to know where they are. This leads me to my next point.

2.) The best way to keep motorcycles in you field of vision is to KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. They may be smaller than cars but that does not mean they need less following space. If anything, they need more. Let’s consider that the stop time for a motorcycle is a fraction of the stop time for a car.  We all consider ourselves to have good reflexes when it comes to the brake pedal but it is not worth risking someones life. If you don’t stop on time, the motorcyclist does not have a car or airbags surrounding them for protection.

3.) Exercise extreme caution any time you want to make a lane change. CHECK MIRRORS AND BLIND SPOTS TWICE and make sure you SIGNAL YOUR LANE CHANGE/TURN for at least “two-one-thousand” before you actually change lanes. Remember, if you look twice, it could save a life.

4.) A separate but equally important addition to the lane changing guidelines is that you should NEVER SHARE A LANE WITH A MOTORCYCLE. Again, just because motorcycles are a smaller vehicle, does not mean they need less of their lane. If there is debris on the road, a motorcycle needs to use other parts of their lane to avoid it. Running over debris or driving on the shoulder where there is often loose gravel can cause a motorcyclist to drop their bike or “wipe out.” This can often be fatal for a motorcyclist, especially on the free way or on roads lined by trees. A wipe out makes motorcycle riders susceptible to getting run over by cars or running their body into objects, like trees, that line the road.

5.) The third addition to the rules on changing lanes is to NEVER SPLIT UP MOTORCYCLES THAT ARE RIDING TOGETHER. Oftentimes, motorcycles will ride in “gangs” or in close proximity to one another in the same lane to help ensure that cars keep their distance. Even if you have the space to slide in between two motorcycles, do not do it. Everyone on the road is in a hurry. That does not mean that a person’s life can be put in jeopardy because you need to make your turn or exit. Running the risk of injuring or killing another person is not worth your being on time. If the gang is long and you cannot make your turn or exit, change lanes in front of the first motorcycle or behind the last motorcycle. Then, make the next possible turn or exit and either take an alternate route to your destination or turn around and go back to the turn/exit you missed. Sounds like a lot of hoops to jump through, but you would want them to treat you with the same respect if the tables were turned.

6.) NEVER BRAKE CHECK A MOTORCYCLE. It may be tempting if they are following too closely but it is important to remember that physics works on motorcycles a little differently than it does on cars. Motorcyclists do not have seat belts. If you brake check a motorcycle and they hit you, they will either wipe out and sustain serious injury or become a passenger in your car. They will also break your rear window on the way into your car.

7.) If a collision is unavoidable and you have to either hit the motorcycle or another car. LET THE CAR TAKE THE HIT. I cannot repeat enough, motorcyclists do not have the walls of a car surrounding them for protection. If you hit a motorcyclist, it will probably kill them. Let your car or another car take the hit.

For Motorcycles:

1.) BE ALERT! In a perfect world, everyone would know exactly the kind of caution that is required to keep motorcyclists on the road safe but the world is not perfect. It is not anything personal, but some people just do not know the differences between operating a car and operating a motorcycle. As a rider, it is your job to alert at all times to keep you and your passengers safe. Make sure you are thinking ahead and always have an escape route for any potential obstacles.

2.) MAKE SURE ALL PASSENGERS WEAR A HELMET AND EYE PROTECTION! They don’t call it a “brain bucket” for nothing. If you crash going even 20 mph without a helmet, it could be the last ride you ever take. With that, said consider that in regards to your passengers. Remember riders, those are people you hold dear to your heart on the back of your bike. Make sure they are protected.

3.) WEAR PROTECTIVE CLOTHING. Everyone knows the best time to ride is on a hot summer day when the wind whipping past you cools the heat from the sun. Unfortunately, that does not mean shorts, a t-shirt and sandals are appropriate gear for riding. Think about it: (Pavement x Speed) + Your Skin = BIG PAIN. To protect yourself make sure you and your passengers have on durable closed toe shoes, long pants and long sleeves.

4.) BE VISIBLE. Those neon vests are not such a bad idea. Bright colors are more easily seen than other colors. You should also let others see you. Excruciatingly bright headlamps may seem like they will help drivers notice you but they impair drivers’ vision. This can actually be dangerous because they may misjudge how to navigate around you or become distracted. A bright headlamp is good, just avoid the ones that rival the brightness of a supernova.

5.) MAINTAIN SPEED. Motorcycles need to maintain the speed limit. Best practice is to travel just a wee bit faster than cars because they are more likely to notice you if you are moving in their field of vision. This does not mean it is safe to weave in and out of traffic and between cars going 100mph.

6.) NEVER FOLLOW TOO CLOSELY BEHIND ANY VEHICLE. It is true motorcycles have a shorter stopping speed, but it is necessary that you leave yourself some room for error. If you hit a car, you will wipe out or go through the rear window.

7.) KNOW YOUR BIKES PICKUP. Depending on the bike, it can take a little bit to get up to speed because bikes must be shifted automatically. Do not pull out or change lanes in front of a vehicle unless you are positive you can do so safely. Do you want to run the risk of the other driver not seeing ou or not being able to slow down fast enough?

I hope that this blog post has been informative and enjoyable. To learn more about motorcycle safety, please visit the website for The Motorcycle Safety Foundation.  If you like this post and would like to hear what I have to say about social media, please subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn. Everyone please ride and drive safe!