In this series on social media, I’ve talked about using Facebook to create a professional profile and Twitter for networking. Today, I’ll explain how LinkedIn can help you with targeted professional networking.
What is LinkedIn and what can it do for me?
LinkedIn is commonly used to “get connected with someone” for the purposes of forming a partnership, or in many cases to find a job. LinkedIn is an online network of more than 90 million experienced professionals from around the world representing over 200 countries, including executives from all companies on the 2010 Fortune 500 list.
There are several things that LinkedIn can do for you. The top two benefits for job seekers are opportunities to:
- Get Noticed – Once others view your profile and you begin making connections, you’ll find there are people who would love to connect with you or have you join their group. You have something to offer and this connection will assist you in building your professional network and seeking job opportunities.
- Gain Information – You can search LinkedIn for information about companies and the people who work for them. Once you find a company, you can search for people who work there and begin to reach out and build relationships with those employees. Through these connections, you can gain more information about the company, its culture, career opportunities and even better position yourself to compete for job opportunities.
Okay, I’m in. How do I use LinkedIn?
1. Create a profile
- Just like on the other social media sites, your profile provides an instant preview of you and your skills/abilities. When built correctly, your profile can gain the attention of others almost instantly. A few tips (and more!):
- The more complete your profile, the more attractive it will be to potential employers.
- Use keywords throughout your profile, just like you do on your resume.
- Add a professional photo of yourself so that people can see you and know who they are communicating with.
- Use a tagline that describes your skills under your name; this is what members see first. Examples include, “organized and motivated manager,” “tech-savvy communicator,” “creative chef” or “customer-focused hospitality professional.”
2. Make connections
- Your list of connections will help define you. So, make sure you connect with people who represent your real-world connections. Here are tips for building your network:
- Import your e-mail address book to your LinkedIn account. LinkedIn will then search its database and offer suggestions of other users who have an account.
- Make connections with people you trust. You’ll be able to leverage these relationships later for recommendations or other connections.
- Don’t be afraid to contact recruiters directly. Many will welcome your request to get introduced (button in top right corner of their profile).
3. Leverage your connections
- Your connections offer more than a growing number of “friends” on your account profile. Your connections can:
- Recommend you. Recommendations posted to your profile by people you have worked with carry a lot of weight. They offer potential employers an outsider’s view of your work.
- Connect you with others. Your connections can introduce you to others in their network. Think of the six degrees of separation theory.
4. Ask Questions, Join Groups, Be Visible
- LinkedIn offers a number of ways for you to interact with many other people, without being directly connected to them.
- LinkedIn Answers – This is one of the features that I enjoy a lot. It allows you to ask questions of others on the site, or even provide answers to others’ questions. This is a great way to increase your visibility.
- LinkedIn Groups – You can join any number of groups within your specific career field or general job seeker groups. This is another avenue to increase your visibility and your contact with potential employers. Check out the Sodexo Careers – Past, Present & Future group.
4. Search Jobs
- There are numerous ways to search for jobs on LinkedIn through your contacts and groups. But, perhaps the best resource is the site’s own LinkedIn Jobs posting board.
5. Stay Connected.
- Use LinkedIn Mobile (m.linkedin.com) to view profiles, invite new connections and access LinkedIn from your phone.
No matter how you become active on LinkedIn, don’t forget to be human. Your profile is not just a resume. People are interested in the person behind your profile and how they can benefit from connecting with you. Don’t be afraid to show your personality, be creative or funny.
Social media offers numerous ways for you to build your online profile, search for jobs, connect with companies and introduce yourself to recruiters. All of these efforts can lead to your next job. At Sodexo, we have several success stories about how people have been hired because of their connections on LinkedIn and Twitter. Good luck!
Derren is the Manager, Diversity Recruiting for Sodexo which is a leader in integrated food service and facilities management. He is responsible for managing the Sodexo Future Leaders Internship Program as well as executing diversity sourcing initiatives for both campus and targeted experienced hires. With over 14+ years of experience with Sodexo, Derren has had great success as a General Manager in the company’s Health Care Services division as well as in several positions within their Talent Acquisition Group. He’s an active corporate partner with the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH). Derren is an AIRS Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR) and Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR). Follow him on Twitter, friend him on Facebook, or just Network with Us.