If You Don’t LinkedIn Now, You’ll Regret it Later

Linkedin_march2012_web“Let’s connect on LinkedIn” is a phrase often heard from speakers, leaders, and peers during networking events or work-related meetings. If you’ve never heard of LinkedIn or don’t see the point in having another online profile to update along with your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blog profiles, you could be missing out on an opportunity to connect and market yourself in a network of more than 150 million professionals and recruiters.

LinkedIn is a business-related networking site for professionals in more than 200 countries to connect with others, build relationships, and learn from each other. To get started, LinkedIn has a great tutorial for college grads and beginners. If you’re already on LinkedIn, here’s how you can make the most out of your profile so you don’t get left behind.

Give and Receive Recommendations

A profile that has multiple recommendations from co-workers can carry a lot of weight. If you still have strong connections from your previous employment, ask some of your former co-workers or managers with LinkedIn accounts to write you a quick recommendation. Recruiters searching for candidates online take special note when someone is highly recommended by their peers.  Don’t forget to write some recommendations to others you have worked with who you think have done an exceptional job.

It’s All About Who You Know

The biggest feature LinkedIn has to offer is giving you the ability to foster your professional networks and keep in touch with those who might help you find a job. It’s not a race to see how many connections you can get or to instantly connect with a decision maker you’ve never met before in hopes of getting a foot in the door. Connect with those you have already met in real life and nurture those relationships. Send a congratulatory note if they win an award, ask a question, or just comment on their update or share an interesting article. You never know when those contacts will think of you when opportunity comes.

If you really would like to connect with someone who is connected to someone in your network, LinkedIn offers a “Get Connected Through a Connection” link that will send a note to your contact asking to introduce you to the person of interest. If approved, you can send that person a note.

They’ve Got Questions, You’ve Got Answers

LinkedIn Answers is an interesting feature on the site for users to ask and answer questions on specific subject matters from personal finance to technology. Browse through the different sections and find a thread that matches your job skills and start answering questions. If your answers are chosen, it’ll be showcased on your profile and you’ll be listed as an expert. The more you answer, the higher you’ll be on the expert list. By demonstrating your expertise on LinkedIn you earn recognition that helps you build your credibility.

LinkedIn’s Special Uses

There are several features on LinkedIn that can help you in your job search. LinkedIn Jobs has thousands of job postings for several industries. Most of the time, you don’t have to upload a résumé or cover letter. You generally answer a few questions along with your profile. That’s why it’s important to have recommendations, a detailed work history, expertise, and a strong network to help you stand out.

You can also follow companies and receive updates on job openings, staff changes, and general news updates. If you’re interested in working for a specific organization, you can stay up to date with the latest details. There are also more than 500,000 groups for you to join. Look for professional societies and groups that are relevant in your industry and get involved. The more active you are, the better off you’ll be.

Relevant companies like Ebay, Microsoft, Netflix, and Target have used LinkedIn to recruit employees. More and more employers are sending recruiters to look for passive candidates. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to keep in touch with fellow workers and market yourself to find a job. Have you landed a job with LinkedIn? Share in the comments below.

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