Author Byline: Peggy McKee
Author Website: http://www.career-confidential.com
If you haven’t joined LinkedIn by now, you should. There are over 65 million professionals involved in LinkedIn, making it the most significant online business network around. Don’t make the mistake of thinking of it in the same terms as Facebook or Twitter (although they have their place). And don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s only for job searchers (but it’s fantastic for that). LinkedIn is a rock-solid, uniquely valuable, free tool for your career.
How can LinkedIn benefit you?
- Networking – You know how important a good network is. A well-maintained business and social network will serve you well throughout your life, and I would never discount the power of old-school person-to-person connections. But LinkedIn exponentially increases your networking opportunities by providing an avenue for making connections in a much bigger arena than you’d ever be able to create on your own. Because those connections are built on introductions and recommendations, they are regarded as legitimate, credible business contacts. And, because people tend to keep their information up-to-date, you don’t lose track of them.
Another way to use LinkedIn to make connections is by joining groups. Find groups that are relevant to your career, and join the discussions. If you’re making quality contributions to group discussions, it will make others more interested in knowing you and creating a connection.
- Career Development – Even if you’re not job hunting now, LinkedIn is a convenient, efficient way to keep up with what’s going on in your industry. LinkedIn has a feature for following companies, who keep corporate profiles. You can also research executives within those companies and keep up with who’s moving up, who’s moving on, what the trends are, and what the competition is doing. The groups you’re involved in will have discussions on topics that are relevant and necessary for your success.
- Job Search – I can’t say enough about how LinkedIn can jump-start your job search. If you’ve taken the time to build a network while you’re still employed, you’re already ahead of the game. Over 80% of employers and recruiters search for candidates on LinkedIn. The more connections you have, the much more likely it will be that you’re contacted by one of them. (How nice would that be, to be contacted by someone interested in offering you a job?) By keeping an up-to-date profile, you’re putting your best foot forward, and setting yourself up for success.
For an active job search, you can use LinkedIn to contact hiring managers directly, bypassing HR departments and online applications. It’s a very effective method for setting yourself apart from other candidates, and creates a much better chance at landing the interview.
- Interview Preparation – If you’ve landed the interview, LinkedIn is an absolute gold mine of information to help you nail it. Your ability to research the company will be a valuable resource for creating your 30/60/90-day plan (a written outline for what steps you’ll take to get up to speed and become a contributing member of the team–VERY impressive). Checking out the LinkedIn profiles of people you’ll be interviewing with will give you a better idea of who they are and what their focus will likely be, and will maybe even show you something you have in common that will assist you in creating rapport.
Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by CollegeRecruiter.com, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.