Part 1: Secret Tips to Leverage your LinkedIn Network
With social media being all the rage, it’s hard to know where to start. With so many people unemployed, these skills are more important than ever. The biggest professional networking site is certainly LinkedIn.com. I have been using LinkedIn for several years now and would like to share some tips and success stories I have collected in the process.
1. Build your profile.
Do not just turn it into a copy of your resume. Your profile should compliment your resume and provide information about you that doesn’t fit in a resume. Resumes are tailored to be consumed by HR systems and recruiters that focus on filtering resumes by keywords rather than the human factors that make you stand out. Your LinkedIn profile gives you a chance to complete the picture of who you are. It should tell a story, show your personality, and be interesting to read and draw in your audience. This style is catching on and I can tell you it works. Be very attentive to spelling, grammar and integrity. Would your previous employers agree with your descriptions? Have friends review it. For an example, check out my LinkedIn profile. You’re welcome to post a comment with your feedback.
2. Build your network.
Start with people you know well and have known professionally for a long time. Search possible connections by their name. Also browse the list of employees of companies where you have worked. Don’t forget to connect to your friends from outside of work too. High school and college friends, and friends from your social clubs. Just be careful of who you add to your network. Adding people you don’t really know devalues your network. When someone accepts your invitation, reply with a thank you and more details about your current status. If appropriate, ask them if they would like you to write a recommendation and ask them to make a recommendation for you. Remind them you are willing to help them if they need it. (It’s about what you give, not what you take.)
3. Advertise your profile.
Include the complete url in your resume, in your email signature, and in the body of your cover letter or cover email. If you don’t market yourself, who will?
4. Get acquainted with your network.
Every time you add someone to your network, read their profile. You probably only knew that person at one or two of their jobs. Take a moment to learn more about them. Then review their list of contacts for people you already know and would like to add to your network. Also look for people you want to meet. They may work in your field or they may work at a company you are interested in. Follow up on these leads promptly.
5. Monitor your network.
Your network is constantly growing even if you don’t add any first degree connections, second degree connections are being added all the time. Monitor your network updates.
6. Leverage your network.
This is why you have a network. Use it to keep in touch with friends. Help them when you can and is appropriate. Activate it when you need help. See my success stories in Part 2 for examples of how to do this.
7. Nurture your network.
Like a spider cares for its web so it doesn’t miss a meal, so too should you nurture your network so you do not miss an opportunity. Networking does not mean just having a large network of contacts. That’s like a power grid with no electricity. Networking is the act of communicating with contacts on some regular basis. So browse your contacts and email them or call them on occasion just to see how they are doing. Do not only make contact when you need a favor.
8. Look beyond LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a great tool to expose details about your connections that you would otherwise miss. But the vast majority of your network is not contained in your LinkedIn network. Apply these rules to all of your connections, not just those within LinkedIn and watch your world grow.
Coming up next: Part 2: Real life success stories using LinkedIn.