By Katie Kacich, Master’s Candidate, TRDV 499
It was early 2008. I had been assisting my Vice President of Sales and Marketing with a multitude of projects for the company. It was fantastic and everything I had hoped to do. I was training our hotel portfolio on a new sales software system and helping them learn some best practices for gaining additional business. A few months later I left the company for a better sales opportunity. I could not stop thinking about how I could get a position doing something with training, but not really classroom training. I was looking for anything I could get my hands on that would help. Did a job like this exist in the hospitality industry? I had never heard of that before.
The first break I got was with a client who was hosting a meeting at our hotel. She was in a trainer position. I told her that I was struggling to put a name to what I wanted to do. She quickly identified it as Human Performance Improvement (HPI). I was thrilled!!! Finally I had the name of the field and a direction to move towards.
Since I am a sales professional and digging for information is an everyday occurrence, I decided to call upon my resources. LinkedIn was really just becoming an everyday tool. People had their information posted and I was using it as a prospecting tool for our new hotel. I did a key word search for “Trainer” in my zip code. One of the first people to come up was the President (former) of the Chicago Chapter of American Society of Training and Development (CCASTD). I shared what I was hoping to do and she suggested that I speak with the Admissions person at Roosevelt University. Not long after that I was enrolled in the program. But wait! It gets better! I was in the program but still didn’t know about HPI. I contacted over two dozen local professionals in the field and had a combination of sit down interviews, phone interviews, and surveys with those professionals. It was a double edged win in that I was building contacts in the field while also obtaining the information that I desperately needed.
“During all of these conversations with industry members, ask people to recommend insider tips, must-read publications and advice on what jobs in their field are most realistic for people to transition into. Keep in mind that it’s not appropriate to ask any of these contacts for a job, just for advice and guidance. And don’t forget to send a gracious thank you email to thank people for their time”. (Pollak, 2011)
I tout the use of LinkedIn to anyone and everyone who will listen to me! Without this tool, I may never have gotten the initial direction and I certainly would have been limited in finding a platform to reach out to all of the individuals. What are some of the unique ways that you have used LinkedIn to further your professional or education growth?