Lori Ruff calls her work with LinkedIn a “life-changing” experience. While some may feel that’s a bit heavy on the accolades for the barely decade-old business-oriented social networking service, Ruff has personal and professional examples to back up her statement.
Ruff, who is Chief Brand Evangelist for the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) and a LinkedIn & Social Media Authority, will be the Keynote speaker for LinkedIn Live Raleigh on Tuesday, September 9, 2014. She credits her own search for work and a position as a resume writer during the start of the Great Recession as the reason for her introduction to LinkedIn.
“I thought it was the most dynamic thing I’d ever seen and I didn’t see it initially as the networking platform that it is,” said Ruff, but that changed quickly as she came to understand that not only is LinkedIn a place to job prospect, but the network allows seekers the advantage of opportunities to virtually meet executives that make decisions. “Unlike Career Builder and Monster, the core of LinkedIn is to network and it’s incredibly powerful to find professionals of like mind.” According to LinkedIn, as of August 2014, the service now boasts 313 million members worldwide.
During the recession, Ruff became an expert in social networking, working alongside LinkedIn to educate leaders in business and education. It’s that professional online networking that allowed her to meet her current like-minded CEO and boss, Charles P. Garcia, landing what she calls her dream job. Now, as the chief branding officer of ALPFA, she helps to empower and develop Latino men and women into leaders of character for the nation in every sector of the American economy. And LinkedIn is a part of that development.
Through both roles, Ruff explained that time and again, she’s seen people’s lives literally changed by their involvement in LinkedIn; even if their online profile wasn’t spectacular, the action alone opens up doors to opportunities that truly level the playing field.
And what about obstacles like the dreaded glass ceiling? “Today’s glass ceiling is self-installed because you can reach the people that can make a difference in your career and you can be that person for someone else,” Ruff said.
In her morning address at LinkedIn Live Raleigh, Ruff will give an overview about the LinkedIn network and real-time statistics, but not just national or global stats. She explained that she will bring statistics specific to the Raleigh-Durham area, that explore the local economy and the impact that can be made here via the social network. The relevancy, she added, should truly bring home the many positives of maximizing LinkedIn to expand professional networks and more in the Triangle region.
The rest of the day will be about personal branding, using LinkedIn for sales, marketing and recruiting, media outreach, and panels featuring Local LinkedIn Power Users and business leaders who have successfully used LinkedIn in their businesses.
LinkedIn Live Raleigh and Empowered Ideas have been selected by LinkedIn Headquarters to host the LinkedIn LIVE: Members Conference, one of the very first in the United States. Ruff explained that due to the educational, economic, and entrepreneurial vibrancy of the Triangle, Raleigh is a great place to launch an initiative that LinkedIn feels will grow and become a live episodic event in cities across the U.S. Physical networking and educational events will allow those already on LinkedIn to deepen their current professional network in person and those who are new to the online phenomenon to learn how they can take part.
“It’s gratifying to see the growth and the acceptance and now the strength of it,” Ruff said. “My whole life has been transformed by the one to the next to the next relationship that I’ve formed on LinkedIn.”
Ruff encourages those who are skeptical of the power of LinkedIn, whether due to a lack of understanding or fear of change, to attend the event. “It’s a great event to have your doubts and fears addressed.”