LinkedIn is the largest professional online network, yet not as many college students are using it as they should. In a nutshell, LinkedIn is a business-oriented networking site. Users build their professional network by adding “connections”. The theory is that you make connections based on your existing contacts to build your network.
What do people do on LinkedIn? Well, they network within the industry, keep in touch with acquaintances and friends, and network with coworkers. It’s somewhat of an online address book to keep your contacts organized, but also much more than that. Users can start groups and conversations based around certain topics, ask for recommendations, build their resumé, etc. Practices such as these help one’s network grow immensely.
If you need more reasons to establish a profile and be active on LinkedIn, here they are:
1. Employer Research and Business Introductions
LinkedIn is the top site to get information on employers. You run a quick search and get a background on the employer and news on the employees, including who you might know there. You might see a familiar name you’re curious about. Even if you haven’t spoken to this person in years, add them as a connection and strike up a conversation.
You never know, they could get you one step closer to your dream job. And if that person isn’t the answer, they might lead you to someone who is. LinkedIn is all about business introductions: getting acquainted with businesses you want to know through the people you meet and get to know.
2. LinkedIn Gets You Focused
One of the great things about LinkedIn is that it forces you to organize your work history into a cohesive presentation. Essentially, your LinkedIn profile can turn into an online resumé. You’re going to want to put your best foot forward when developing your resumé on LinkedIn. Be serious about it if you are hoping to get a job through the network.
This is also a great place to include any unpaid work (i.e, internship) you’ve done, so don’t leave it out because it speaks to how you got where you are now. You can be sure that prospective employers will look at your LinkedIn profile as a prelude to the interview so always have it updated. In many cases, they’ll evaluate your LinkedIn profile to determine if you deserve an interview with them.
3. LinkedIn Groups are Strong
LinkedIn really shines when it comes to forming groups. The advantages of joining groups are:
a.) Learn more about the industry you are in as well as the movers and shakers within it
b.) Follow influential people by checking the Top Influencers board
c.) Join various forums where sharing your knowledge of the field is highly valued, making your expert status apparent
No need to join every group that’s relevant to your objective; find a couple of groups (max.) at a time that are the most applicable to you. Joining too many groups will become overwhelming and you’ll end up being a silent observer. That’s the last thing you want to do when you’re supposed to be an active member.
4. Ask for a Recommendation
If you have connections on LinkedIn who you have worked with or for in the past, ask them for a recommendation. A recommendation goes a long way on LinkedIn, especially if you’re getting one from a Top Influencer.
Treat it as a letter of recommendation. You can never have too many accolades, so ask whomever you have or have had a strong professional relationship with to formally put in a good word for you.
Remember, LinkedIn is your online resumé so everyone can see that as well as your praises. If you have a recommendation from someone a prospective employer knows, they’re much more likely to hire you than another candidate.
Do you have much experience with LinkedIn? Please share below!