6 Ways LinkedIn Can Work For You

6 Ways LinkedIn Can Work For You

You could network at a crowded career fair or hobnob at a fancy alumni event. But in this age of online hyper-connectivity, you need not leave the comfort of your own home to build your network. With over 41 million members representing 170 industries, LinkedIn has grown into a professional networking powerhouse.

Once you create a profile—essentially an interactive, online resume—start expanding your online rolodex by inviting former colleagues and classmates, coworkers, and business contacts to join your network. As you become more familiar with LinkedIn, you’ll discover many different ways the site can be used to enhance your job search. Here are six tips to get you started:

Build
Traditionally, building your network meant asking colleagues and friends for contacts, and then requesting a personal introduction. LinkedIn makes it infinitely easier to find valuable contacts that you can connect with. Start with a people search using a company, industry, or job title. Your results will not only show people you know personally (first degree contacts), it will also show who they know (second degree) and who their contacts know (third degree).

LinkedIn “groups” are another way to find and collaborate with like-minded people. There are groups for just about everything, including alumni, professional associations, nonprofits, and fraternities. You can engage with the group by posting news or starting discussions. These are a great place to get inside info on company culture or fresh job leads.

Expand

Once you’ve located the members you want to contact, you can either send a message or request an introduction from someone already in your network. For second-degree contacts, it’s usually best to request an introduction through an immediate contact. When sending a message, establish how you’re connected and explain your intentions for contacting them. And try not to overreach. The goal is to leverage the relationships of your first-degree contacts wherever possible. A second-degree contact is almost always more likely to lend a hand than a third degree.

Research

If you’re preparing for an interview or interested in a particular company, conduct a company search. LinkedIn company profiles feature useful information like financials, common job titles, and related companies. You can also check out a list of employees to see if anyone’s in your network. If you’re looking to gauge the firm’s culture and employee morale, this could be the best way to get to the horses mouth.

Hunt
LinkedIn has a job board just like Monster or Career Builder. It’s not as extensive, but it has a big advantage: you’re able to see if anyone in your network is tied to a target company. (You can also utilize this feature elsewhere on the Web with LinkedIn’s JobsInsider Toolbar.) In some cases you can also see the recruiter who posted the job and if he or she is in your network.

Strategize

Maybe you’re unsure about what to study, where your career is going, or where to take your skills. Browsing profiles is a great way to get inspiration for those kinds of decisions. If you want to be an editor, search “editor” and see what current editors studied or what their entry level job was. If you’re great at public speaking, search it and see what people do with it. If you’re tired of your company, search colleagues and see where they went next.

Get Seen

Hiring managers across the globe visit LinkedIn to find candidates, so having a profile is a definite advantage. The site can also boost the Google results of your name. To maximize your potential, complete your profile as best you can. That means filling in all details and requesting recommendations. You should also make sure your profile contains keywords that recruiters may use to find you based on the skills and education critical to the kinds of positions you’re targeting. Finally you can add LinkedIn applications to your profile. For instance, direct people to your professional blog using Blog Link or post documents, videos, or other files that may enhance your resume using Box.net Files.

Cara Scharf

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