The professional networking site Linked In is making headlines during the recession as a company that is exploding like gangbusters as job seekers sign up in droves. It’s much more than just a well-connected job board, though. You can find new business partners, vendors, seek advice from experts in areas you are not that familiar with, and most importantly, create an online network of people you know and have worked with throughout your career. You can also join online groups where topics in your field are discussed.
Linked In is like a personal branding tool—for free. It can increase your visibility and can help establish you as an expert in your field. The site allows clients or colleagues to publicly recommend you for your work. Here are some basics of Linked In that will help you get the most out of this useful site:
Make your profile count: if it is not interesting or compelling, why bother? Many people simply post their resume. With Linked In, you can go further than that, expanding on different parts of your resume, showing results, adding presentations through some nifty add-ons, and linking to your other websites. It’s a turbo charged CV online. Look at what some of your more successful contacts have written for inspiration on how to make your own profile sing.
Be an active participant in your network: answer questions or post them, link to relevant articles and websites. Give a little, get a lot . . . of respect. Behave professionally and it may lead to new, important connections or opportunities.
Seek approval: Ask your contacts to recommend you. Build up an arsenal of online testimonials and then copy them to your website’s testimonial page as well.
Something to Link About: Link to your websites, blogs, any place where your work can be found or other social media sites where you have a profile.
Keep Your Contacts Updated: Tell your contacts what interesting book you are reading (especially if it is industry or field related), or let them know what kind of project you are working on. Just remember, keep it professional. Linked In is not the site where you give updates such as, “Bored. Wanna go home.” In fact, in this hyper-connected world, no site is good for that.
Search for That Special Someone. Linked In is a great vehicle for finding contacts in companies where you want to get your foot in the door. You can search companies for names of individuals you may know, or someone in your network may know. Never be afraid to ask your connections for a referral. It’s the Internet. They can’t kill you, they can only say no.
Learn About the Competition: connect with them and see what kind of updates they give on projects they are working on, or join network groups that they belong to and see what kind of questions they ask or response that they give.
Linked In is one site where it really does pay to be well-connected. It puts the six degrees of separation theory to the test, and often, when done diligently, can pay off.