Whether you’re an intern or a CEO, LinkedIn is the best tool for professional networking in the digital age. You network with people by adding them as “connections,” just as you’d make a friend request on Facebook. You can contact them in a private message or by the contact information they’ve provided. On your profile, all your experience, education, and achievements are presented for others to view.
Polish Your Profile
The number one way to market yourself on LinkedIn is by creating a strong profile. Recruiters and hiring managers often search LinkedIn for keywords or job titles that match the open positions they have. By displaying your job history and education – treating your LinkedIn profile like a resume – you are positioning yourself to be found.
You can build a more comprehensive profile using sections like “Accomplishments,” where you can list publications, awards, and more. One of the social aspects of LinkedIn is the ability to provide endorsements for your connections. You can, in turn, request endorsements for any of the skills you’ve listed in your profile.
To make sure you’ve crossed all T’s and dotted all I’s, The Muse has a comprehensive guide to maximize the effectiveness of your LinkedIn profile.
Keep Your Profile Fresh
While few people check LinkedIn every day in the same way they check Facebook or Twitter, it is helpful to update your profile with fresh content occasionally. Add new contacts, interact with your homepage feed, and post your own articles or blogs at least weekly. You can also join and contribute to groups with similar interests to yours.
As you make changes and interact more, your updates from LinkedIn should show a correlation between your interactions and the number of people viewing your profile. Keep an eye on your dashboard (just below the summary section on your profile page) and see what correlations you can identify. Then keep up the good work!
Make New Connections
With few exceptions, you should only send people requests to connect if you’ve already met them in some other way. This could mean you worked together previously, met at an event, or had an email exchange.
The exceptions are few and far between. The best way to contact someone you don’t know is to use your network of connections and find someone who can introduce you. Just don’t want ask for intros too often – this will quickly annoy your contacts.
Any time you add a connection, a generic “I’d like to add you on LinkedIn” message is sent. This isn’t ideal, so you should personalize that invitation to say why you’re reaching out. (Go to the person’s profile and click “send InMail” to can choose to personalize the invitation.)
But Keep the Old Ones
Make an effort to stay in touch with your connections. LinkedIn provides notifications when your connections get a new job or have a work anniversary approaching. You’ll also see when they post a new article or share something. By simply commenting on these milestones and activities, you’re keeping your connection fresh. Even better? Reach out for a business-minded lunch or coffee after work.
Start Your Active Job Search
All the previous information is to help recruiters or hiring managers find you. You can also search job listings on LinkedIn – they make it easy by including a “Jobs” icon at the top of each page. In this area, not only can you search by keyword and location, but LinkedIn also provides suggested jobs based on your profile and your career interests. This automatic filtering of suggested jobs may yield more results than you would have found on your own.