One thing I emphasize in my LinkedIn workshops is the importance of being active on LinkedIn. My mantra is, “You can have the best profile in the world, but if you’re not active, it means nothing.” In part one of this two-part article, I listed five steps to make your LinkedIn strategy a success. The conclusion of the article addresses the remaining five steps.
6. Use the Companies feature to network. The Companies feature is one of LinkedIn’s best features, as it allows you to identify valuable people in various companies. Often LinkedIn is the only way job seekers can locate important people at their target companies.
Your goal is to connect with people at desired companies (do you have a company target list?) before a job is advertised, thereby penetrating the Hidden Job Market. Play your cards right and you can set the foundation, so when the job becomes public knowledge you’re already known by the company.
Another scenario is identifying people who work in your target companies who can provide you with additional information, or even deliver you resume to the hiring manager.
Similar to using the Companies feature to network with strategic people is Find Alumni, a feature that helps you connect with people you went to school with based on criteria, such as what they studied, where they live, where they work, etc. The benefit of connecting with your alumni is obvious; people want to help their own.
7. Use the Jobs feature. LinkedIn has made strides to make the Jobs feature a player in the job board arena. It’s not succeeding as well as LinkedIn has hoped—Indeed.com and others still draw many job seekers. But increasingly more companies are using LinkedIn to advertise their jobs.
What’s nice about Jobs is that you can apply directly to a company’s website, as well as use “Easy Apply,” which allows you to send your profile to companies trying to fill positions. As well, the poster of jobs might be listed, allowing you to send an Inmail to said person.
Before you select a job, you can see first degree connections or alumni who work for companies filling positions. This gives you the opportunity to contact said people for better networking opportunities.
Note: if you are a Career premium member, you have access to information basic members don’t. You can see who your competitors are, as well as the major skills you might lack for a particular position. LinkedIn provides you with the average salary of the job for which you’re applying.
8. Endorse your connections’ skills. I never thought I’d write this, but endorsements are here to stay. The argument against endorsement is that skills can be endorsed willy nilly, without people actually seeing a person perform said skills.
Certainly this happens, but my solution to making this more viable is outlined in an article in which I encourage LinkedIn users to rearrange their skills in order to give their connections an idea of which skills they should be endorsed.
One thing we can say about endorsements is that they encourage engagement between connections. If your goal is to accumulate endorsements, you’ll have to endorse people in your network. Do this only if you have a sense for the skills you’re endorsing. Otherwise you’re supporting the argument that endorsements are meaningless.
9. Ask for and write recommendations. Your strategy should include requesting recommendations from your former supervisors and, to some extent, your colleagues. If you find that your supervisors are slow in writing your recommendation, you may want to offer some guidance in terms of what you’d like included in your recommendation, or you may even want to write it yourself.
Write recommendations for your former employees; it’s a great way to brand yourself. This shows your authority, as well as what you value in a good employee. You don’t have to be asked to write the recommendation; simply write one and send it to your former employees. They’ll appreciate your generosity very much.
10. Follow up. Always follow up. Every networking pundit will tell you that following up with new connections can be the most important piece of networking, both after personal meetings and connecting with someone on LinkedIn. Obviously it’s difficult, if not impossible, to follow up with everyone in your LinkedIn network, particularly if you’re a LION.
Keep in constant contact with your connections by responding immediately to direct messages or even responding to their updates. There’s nothing worse than starting a relationship and then dropping it like a lead balloon.
Sometimes we loose sight of our strategy and our LinkedIn campaign becomes disorganized. At this time it’s important to reign it in and adhere to the components I’ve outlined in this two-part article.
Photo: Flickr, moradini2009 (mikeoradini.dotphoto.com)
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