I participated in a webinar last week; Linked In Insider Secrets and it was an interesting perspective on the job search process. The presenter, Greig Wells, provided some great tips on enhancing your marketability to potential employers by utilizing social media. You don’t need to be a job hunter to appreciate the following tips for leveraging Linked In as I think they work equally well for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and the self employed.
Create a strong LI profile. Think about why you are on Linked In. Are you looking for a career change, trying to attract customers or clients, or are you just creating a network of colleagues and potential collaborators? If you are in the job market, you want to be sure your profile includes key words commonly found in your ideal position description. Demonstrate your abilities and highlight your accomplishments as your profile is like a mini-resume. Do put that you are open to career opportunities under the contact settings unless you are concerned that your current employer may see it as a red flag in which case, indicate you are open to “expertise requests”. Be sure to get your profile to 100% completeness by adding a picture, your education, specialties and recommendations.
Build your network. When you send emails to people you’d like to add to your network be sure to personalize your request and remind the person how you know one another. LI offers to search you email address book and send a generic request to all. It sounds like the easiest way to gather a network but there is the quality vs quantity issue. There is some debate over whether to ask to link to everyone or just people you have some personal connection to. Linked In Open Networkers (LIONs) for instance, link to anyone who asks which is how they have those prodigious numbers! I think it is more productive to approach individuals who are well known in your field and have a large network. You are more attractive to recruiters if it appears that you are connected to leaders in your industry. Additionally, you are much more likely to show up on recruiters’ searches if you have 500+ connections.
Join and participate in Groups. If you have been out of the workforce for a while, creating a group can be a good way to fill your gap in employment. Greig shared an example of a marketing professional who started his own association on Linked in and subsequently listed his role there as Vice President under his work experience. Another advantage to being in groups include meeting new people with similar interests, learning from what others share in the discussions, and enlarging your sphere of influence though your contributions.
In summary, if you want to be found on Linked In, you need to be perceived as having expertise, providing value to others, and being well connected. If you’d like more information on using Linked in and other social media resources for finding a job, I recommend this book: How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other Social Networks by Brad and Debra Schepp.