Many people believe LinkedIn was created for job-seeking purposes. This is understandable, as the platform provides a great tool for connecting with others and organizing your job search, or a Jobs feature that is second on the list of job boards according CareerXRoads, or a Companies feature that gives users the power of finding people at their desired companies.
Actually, LinkedIn was developed in 2003 for business purposes, which not surprising is similar to the job search. Finding potential business partners, reaching out to them, connecting, developing relationships, closing deals. Sound familiar?
So my questions are why do people join LinkedIn only when they need a job, and why after landing a job do they dump LinkedIn like a bad habit? I struggle with these questions when job seekers tell me they’re on LinkedIn but haven’t touched it in three, five, seven years. I ask them if they have a profile they’re proud of. They give me blank looks.
Here’s the thing: you should come to someone like me and proudly say that you’re very happy with your profile. Then when I look at it I make a mental checklist. Photo, check. Branding Headline, check. A Summary that shows immediate impact. An Employment section that is well developed and supports accomplishment statements with quantified results. Endorsed skills. Check, check, check. You get the idea.
LinkedIn is a great tool for your job search. There is no better way to reach out and connect with bona fide networking contacts. You conduct a search, with the Companies feature, of people you’d like to connect with from your target companies list, and then you begin building relationships until you land a series of face-to-face conversations.
You use the jobs feature and happen upon one or two jobs that are a good fit for you and the employers. When you submit your LinkedIn profile, it is received well…very well. You secure a series of interviews. The rest is history.
So why would you stop building more relationships and reduce your engagement on LinkedIn significantly? Hasn’t history shown you that nothing is for certain. You may want to move on to a better opportunity, or you may have to leave the company for no fault of your own.
Your LinkedIn campaign should be ongoing. You won’t need to reach out for the same reasons you did when you were unemployed, but you still need to use LinkedIn for its original purpose. You’ll need to show the love for the following reasons.
Develop Your Network Before You Need It
This is the first reason why you need to stay on LinkedIn, to accumulate more quality connections. Not only can your connections help you in the form of future possibilities, you can help them if they’re in the hunt.
And some of my customers have been selfless in alerting others to positions in their new companies. That’s good networking.
The first time I meet my customers is usually when they’re scrambling to build up their network. They’re frantic because they have less than 100 connections, wondering why they’re not getting any play. Keep this in mind, I advise them. Be smarter the next time.
Develop Your Reputation, Be Relevant
To build up your reputation, you want to come across as the authority in your industry. What better time to write posts on LinkedIn than when you’re getting back into the mix?
A person who lands a project management job in medical devices can write about the development of these devices, where they’re of most value, how they benefit patients, etc. Not only is this person demonstrating her knowledge, she’s helping to sell her company’s product.
One of my connections works for a company that develops office management software. He starts a teaser on LinkedIn Publisher with a link to the company’s write-up of the product, which he wrote, by the way. This is a perfect way for him to gain exposure on LinkedIn, as well as sell his product line.
Continue To Learn
I bet one of the reasons why you landed your job is because of what you may have read or discussed on LinkedIn. For example, you may have read an article you found through one of your connections. Or you may have read an article on Pulse.
Maybe a discussion you participated in one of your groups prompted you to connect with the originator of the discussion, which led to a lead after your relationship was forged.
As I mentioned above, you should be increasing your thought leadership. So take advantage of what people in your industry write. LinkedIn is a great source of information. Take advantage of it.
One of my connections, Janet Wall, wrote: “Yes, LI is not only for job hunting, in fact I don’t see it as the prime reason for LI. It is for learning, and I learn so much from my connections!”
Engage, Engage, Engage
Despite what you’ve been told, visiting LinkedIn four times a week ain’t gonna do it. A minimum of once a day—or seven times a week—should be your level of engagement. You want to be seen, not forgotten. And don’t only appear when/if you need to make a move. (Read my post on why you should engage on LinkedIn.)
Many people, including myself have written posts on how you can engage—and be remembered—with your connections. One post that I particularly like is 10 Status Updates for Job Seekers by Hannah Morgan. In it she gives LinkedIn members 12 ideas on how to share updates. Check it out!
But engagement doesn’t stop there. You can send direct messages to your connections informing them of how you’re doing—hopefully you’re doing well. You can also use a feature called Keep in Touch, which lets you congratulate your connections on their work anniversaries, birthdays, new jobs, etc.
Enhance Your Company’s Image
You are representing the company for which you now work; therefore, you must have a stellar profile. When people visit your company’s LinkedIn page, they want to see profiles that impress them. See the profiles as if they’re fine paintings in a museum.
This doesn’t only apply to sales people. It applies to every function in the organization. People will have more faith in the company for which you work if the employees come across as competent accountants, publish relation managers, technical trainers, and CEOs.
When your manager asks you, “Bob, why do you have such a well-developed LinkedIn profile?” as my manager once asked me, explain that your LinkedIn profile and engagement will only benefit the company. If your manager tells you to shut it down, you will realize you joined the wrong organization.
Pay it forward
As I mentioned earlier, some of my customers get back to me with jobs that their companies are trying to fill. Some of these jobs are not yet posted; they’re some of the 80% of hidden jobs. These are the best jobs!
Remember how you were helped during your job search. Maybe you were just alerted to a job that panned out, or someone delivered your résumé to the hiring manager of your department. Don’t you think it’s time to return the favor to someone else?
Your work on LinkedIn is not over when you’ve landed your next job. See it as just beginning. See it as an investment. For all of my former customers who are secure in their employment, I am happy. I just ask that you prepare for your future.
Photo from Coletivo Mambembe, Flickr.com