It’s time to say “see ya later” to paper resumes and “hello” to LinkedIn. Don’t know what we’re talking about? Basically, LinkedIn is like Facebook for the job world—and it has a huge following. 61% of people use LinkedIn as their primary professional network, and we can guarantee that there are more than a few people in that mix that could help with your next job, promotion, or even give you business as a client. So don’t just set up a profile; use these tips to make the most of it.
What it is: Your profile is your LinkedIn page that describes you: your career history, education, interests, and other related content you may want to publish. A LinkedIn profile helps you showcase your skills and experience all on one online platform. You can be discovered for new opportunities as well as stay in touch with colleagues and friends. Oh and by the way, it’s effective: more than 10 million Americans credit LinkedIn as the source that led to their current job.
Why should you use it: We’re all about networking, but we understand that you don’t have the time to be hitting events and cocktail parties every night of the week. LinkedIn is a great way to lay a foundation with potential future employers. Once you make a connection with someone, learning about and contacting him or her is at the click of a button. But be warned: you might think that the more connections you have the better, but what’s actually more important is the relative weight of the value for each connection. A profile connected to 30 Marketing Directors may be more valuable than being connected to 3,000 Marketing Assistants.
How you should use it: The main point of LinkedIn is the ability to interact socially with other professionals, and to search for them quickly based on their industry and experience. With 175 million active users, it makes it easy to find who and what you’re looking for. Use it as a starting point for meaningful connections; make a point to follow-up with your best connections in person. Their profile serves as a helpful cheat-sheet: remember a few key facts about them, including both professional and personal accomplishments, and then bring them up when you meet. “Oh, I saw that you played varsity basketball in college? I played hoops myself!” It’s a great way to flesh out the person you’re meeting beforehand so that the connection is more immediate. Just remember that they’re likely doing the same thing with your profile, so spend the time to make it awesome.
How to get involved: Signing up is free! LinkedIn will take you through an easy step-by-step process of getting your profile together. You will be asked for a picture, school and job experiences, and skills and objectives. From there you can search for job openings and make connections. What is the key to successful connections? You must be able to prove that you are valuable. Your basic profile should be 100 percent complete, compelling, and include a professional headshot. Tip: many local photo and passport centers will shoot a roll of headshots for cheap. Make every effort to display yourself as an expert in your chosen niche, with links to your previous work where possible.
How to get recommendations: Take the time to request recommendations from connections that you know, especially those whom you have worked with in the past. The best way to get a recommendation is to give them; most people will reciprocate if you take the time to recommend them! But use your judgement: don’t offer recommendations to anyone less than stellar, because should they turn out to be a dud it will reflect poorly on you. This is your time to shine: there are over 20 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn, making them the site’s fastest-growing demographic. Get a leg up on the next gal for your dream job…now get to it!