I am fortunate to lead career-search workshops and counsel job seekers individually. While some of my clients fully embrace the power of LinkedIn to land a job, others don’t make great use of it. Some outright reject it.
As an example of the latter, one of my clients came to me, with tears in her eyes, after a LinkedIn workshop telling me that she appreciated what I taught her, but that she wouldn’t use it. I told her that it is alright, LinkedIn isn’t for everyone.
I’m feeling optimistic today and am addressing LinkedIn members who embrace the power of this professional networking platform. There are three times when LinkedIn is essential for your professional development.
When you’re looking for a job
If you are a job seeker, your journey with LinkedIn will be challenging. You will have to develop a profile that, like your résumé, will express your value and brand you. Unlike your résumé, it should depict you on a more personal level.
Yes, you’ll include your accomplishments and maybe some of your outstanding duties; but you’ll also elaborate on your volunteerism, create an extensive list of your skills, ask and write recommendations, and more. This is your online brand, so put a great deal of effort into it.
You’ll also have to get to work on building your network. To many people this is a hard thing to fathom. Reach out to people I barely know, you may wonder? Absolutely…but only the people who will be of mutual benefit. This isn’t Facebook, so you need to develop a professional network.
But reaching out on LinkedIn to unknown people isn’t enough, you’ll need to “touch” them in a personal way. Call them on the phone. Meet them for coffee. At the very least, communicate via email.
The third piece of your LinkedIn campaign is engaging with your new connections. Now that you have a stellar profile and have developed a network consisting of quality connections, it’s time to engage with your first degree connections. The old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind” holds true.
Direct messages are the best way to engage with one or a few of your first degree connections, but if you want to reach more of your first degree connections (and their connections); you can share articles, ask questions, answer updates others have started, and Like and comment on shared updates.
When you’re working
Many people make the mistake of discontinuing their engagement on LinkedIn. Saying that you don’t have the time or energy is an excuse. Sparing even 10 minutes a day is better than nothing. I still encourage people who are working to use LinkedIn every day.
First, announce your new job, if you haven’t already. Let people in your network know; they will see your Happy Landing in their homepage timeline. You will be congratulated on your new employment.
As well, be willing to alert your networking buddies to available jobs at your new company. Many of my clients have alerted their buddies to positions that are opened, and not necessarily advertised. This is the true definition of “paying it forward.”
Update your profile. Whenever you achieve an accomplishment, add it to your new position. If you don’t do this shortly after you’ve achieved an accomplishment, you may forget about it. Another reason to keep your profile updated is that you’ll be more desirable to potential suitors.
My valuable LinkedIn connection, Laura Smith-Proulx warns that you may not want to be too present on LinkedIn. You’ll want to update your profile slowly, as to not draw attention from your new employer to your profile.
This doesn’t mean you can’t stop learning while you’re working. You can read posts written by your connections or your favorite online publishers. Do this during lunch, or when you get in early in the morning, or at home. This could be your 10-minutes a day of using LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is not only a great tool for finding a job, it’s highly effective for generating business. If your role is in sales, business development, or any other position which requires networking; use LinkedIn to reach out to potential business contacts. This, after all, is why LinkedIn was created in 2003.
The best of LinkedIn’s premium accounts for sales is Sales Navigator, which provides salespeople with the ability to identify potential buyers and tag them to keep their CRM manageable. As well, you get unlimited searches. This is a premium account that your company will most likely pay for if they value generating sales leads.
When you’re in school/post grad
Although as a college student your profile may not be as developed and your work history not as extensive as people in the workforce for many years, you can still use LinkedIn to find employment or internships.
This is a great time for you to get on LinkedIn, while you have the opportunity to build your LinkedIn campaign. I call this getting on the elevator on the bottom floor. You have the opportunity to build up your network with quality connections.
Valuable connections can be alumni of the school you’re attending or have graduated from. These are people who have an affinity for their alma mater and, as an extension, an affinity for you. Think networking meetings when reaching out to them.
However, as someone who could provide you with great advice or even solid leads, they will only do so if you come across as a mature, dependable person. They will want to help but don’t want to waste their time.
How do you find your alumni? The answer is simple; use LinkedIn’s Find Alumni feature, which is done by typing your university in the Search feature, choosing School or Company, and then clicking See Alumni. You can search “alumni by title, keyword or company.”
One disadvantage you’ll have to deal with is the inability to rearrange your profile sections. As of now, your sections are arranged as such: Summary, Experience, Education, and others. Many students and post grads can benefit from showing their Education section below their Summary, as it is their most recent accomplishment.
The solution to showing your value is to pack your Experience section with industry-related employment or internships. The smartest students secure as many internships as possible during the school year or summers.
When describing your internship or industry-related employment, be as descriptive as possible. At your age, you may not have the outstanding accomplishments that older workers can tout. But most employers will understand your lack of work experience as long as you’re a quick learner and work hard to get up to speed.
Whether you’re a job seeker, employed, or a college student; LinkedIn can be extremely helpful for your career development. The way you use it will vary, but many of the principles are the same.