LinkedIn is a rapidly growing online system where you post a profile and establish an online network. Have your ever played the six degrees of separation game? The game often proves that two people are separated by a maximum of six connections. If it is true for Kevin Bacon, is it true for you? That's why online social networks are booming. People are proving it is true daily, and building a valuable network and personal brand along the way. A social network, such as LinkedIn, is not a silver bullet or a quick fix. Relationships require trust and time. So, have realistic expectations as you dive into LinkedIn.
As of 3/2008 and according to LinkedIn sources, "more than 20 million professionals are on LinkedIn, including executives from all five hundred of the Fortune 500 companies, as well as a wide range of household names in technology, financial services, media, consumer packaged goods, entertainment, and numerous other industries."
- Companies use LinkedIn to recruit passive candidates for employment.
- Recruiters use LinkedIn to uncover candidates with particular skills and work experience.
- Your peers and associates are on LinkedIn and sharing vital news that could impact your career.
If you are not on LinkedIn, you are missing opportunities! It is about increasing your visibility, expanding your network, and enhancing the quality of your network.
Visit LinkedIn.com. Explore the site to learn all it has to offer. There are so many resources and tools to enhance your experience. After you join, create a detailed profile, including many things you would find on a résumé: employment highlights, education, industry, associations, and websites. Spend time on your profile, as much as you would on your résumé. It is important to be comprehensive so you attract interest. You must also be truthful so you can build credibility.
Grow your Network
Cultivate a network of trusted associates. As you increase your connections, you will increase your chances of meeting a valuable contact. You have many options and based on your situation, you may determine how selective you want to be with your network. In networking, you must give to receive, so share your advice and resources. Submit recommendations and obtain recommendations. Don't forget to ask for endorsements from former managers.
Please don't wait to contact people when you require help. That can be a "turn off." Build a relationships before you ask for help. You will find people will be more likely to support someone with whom they have an established relationship.
Get creative with your network building. Identify target industries, associations, and companies. Determine if your contacts have a connection. If so, contact them asking for referrals. Soon you'll have a robust network.
Know the Etiquette
Be kind and use general netiquette regarding LinkedIn. The simple rules of givers gain, think long-term not quick score, be trustworthy, and respect the system. It is like traditional networking, only immensely more effective. As you promote, support, and connect with others, you too will gain.
For more information on maximizing LinkedIn, I recommend the book, I'm On LinkedIn, Now What? by Jason Alba.