Article published in BossNews Atlanta Fall Edition, September 24, 2013
"Getting LinkedIn to Advance Your Career"
Many employees and recent graduates are questioning the usefulness of LinkedIn. Many wonder if LinkedIn is another social media trend or if it really is beneficial to an employment search and career advancement. There are more than 200 million users who utilize LinkedIn to connect with others to conduct business. With 2.7 million business pages on the site, LinkedIn is definitely more than a social media fad.
LinkedIn is quite different from widely known Facebook. Instead of receiving the latest updates on family and friends personal life, LinkedIn provides its users with the latest update on employment trends, job opportunities, and networking opportunities. LinkedIn is the answer to virtual networking. We all have very busy schedules, but know the importance of face-to-face networking. While we may not always have time for in-person networking we should always be sure to make time to stay abreast of relevant, cutting edge information about current employer, potential employers, and professional organizations. LinkedIn makes it very simple to do just that. Here are 3 quick ways to start utilizing LinkedIn:
Develop your LinkedIn profile. Your profile should include a professional headshot, a professional summary describing your unique skill set and qualifications, education, and your employment history. Your profile should also include your community involvement, professional affiliations, and any awards or recognition that you have received. Think of your LinkedIn summary as your 30-second elevator pitch that you would use during face-to-face networking. If you are stuck on completing the rest of your profile regarding employment history, you can use the content from your existing resume.
Start meeting people! Connect with individuals whom you know personally as well as those that you would like to know, and those that currently work in your desired industry. Take the time to write a more personalized invitation instead of the standard text provided by LinkedIn. Let your connection know why you would like to connect and how you could have a mutually beneficial networking relationship. If you have met your connection in person before remind them of where and how you met.
Expand your network by joining groups and following business pages. Target potential employers by following their page on LinkedIn. Companies will often post career opportunities on LinkedIn and not on other well-known employment search engines. Likewise, connecting with targeted groups on LinkedIn will allow you to follow, learn about, and participate in discussions regarding important industry topics or trends, professional development opportunities, as well as general “insider” information that you would want to know. Once you start to join groups, follow companies, and post questions or answers to questions, LinkedIn will start to notice your preferences and provide a digest of information you might be interested in; keeping you up to date on the latest jobs and news.
If you spend time utilizing LinkedIn everyday to read articles, connect with new people, and post at least once a day you will find that your network will become a fortune. LinkedIn is the formula for six degrees of separation. You are only six people away from anyone in the world!
Gala Jackson, M.Ed.