LinkedIn is a great platform to make new contacts, whether they be business associates, potential employers or mentors. Once reserved to being just an online resume, LinkedIn has expanded its services to make it one of the best networking sites out there. With LinkedIn, you can research backgrounds of employees and get contact information with the click of a mouse. Read on to see how you can leverage LinkedIn to make contacts and get ahead in your career.
The Education Tab
In my opinion, this new feature is one of the best career research tools there is on the internet. Under the “Interests” category at the top of your profile, scroll down to the bottom tab that says “Education”. You will see a search engine that lists information about universities and alumni.
By clicking the “Field of Study” button, you will be taken to a database where you can search LinkedIn members by their education, current employer or college major. This is an incredibly helpful tool when searching for jobs. Simply click through until you get to a company you’re interested in working for, or an alum of your school who has your dream job. You can then click on the alum’s profile and contact him or her—gaining an instant connection and expanding your network on the spot.
Let’s say you went to Georgetown University and are now looking for a position as a programmer at Google. You can narrow your search to find someone with your same background working at the job of your choosing. It is truly a great resource for anyone looking to expand their business connections with little effort. You can even make an online “Decision Board” through the platform to map out exactly what you want out of your career.
Forum and Group Discussions
Once when I was looking for a job in the broadcast industry, I posted a question on a LinkedIn forum saying I was trying to break into reporting and asking something general about the business. Within a few hours I had a response from an executive producer asking me to come in for an interview. A week after that I was employed as a weekend news writer for a station in San Francisco.
This just goes to show the power that posting on a LinkedIn forum can have. Find your industry of interest and join as many LinkedIn groups that you can. You’ll want to look for groups that have active discussions in them. Don’t ever explicitly ask for a job when posting in a group, simply introduce yourself and ask questions about the industry that make you seem knowledgeable and determined. You will gain the attention of tens or even hundreds of possible employers and even more business connections.
Top Skills and Endorsements
Do you have LinkedIn connections that you haven’t talked to in a while and need to get back on their radars? Or, do you want to get on the radar of one of your connections that you haven’t been introduced to? Endorse them for a skill on LinkedIn! It takes about 3 seconds but it can help exponentially in keeping up your contacts.
At the bottom of your profile, you will see “Top Skills” where people have endorsed you for whatever you have written down. You can then click on anyone’s profile who you wish to endorse and click on their skills using the plus sign. This will let the person see your endorsement for the particular skill. This is a nice icebreaker when you are trying to introduce or reintroduce yourself to the person. It puts no pressure on them to respond while putting you in their mind. Make sure to stick with endorsing only one or two top skills at first, then do more as you continue to build a professional relationship.
What other tips or advice can you share with others looking to boost their LinkedIn network connections?