In my last post I wrote about making connections using the online app Crystal. But, of course, the granddaddy of making connections is LinkedIn.
Here’s an excerpt from our Job Search Essentials 3.0 book focused on how to use LinkedIn for networking.
This is where your complete professional network lives, where your professional associations host conversations in their groups, and where the organizations with the jobs you want recruit new employees.
LinkedIn currently has more than 400 million members. Harnessing their connections can be just as much help to your job search as your polished professional profile. But, you need both.
Let’s look first at the networking aspects then we’ll explore professional groups, company pages, and job postings. Finally, we’ll go through the details about bringing your profile into the All-Star category.
From the granddaddy of them all, Facebook, to Google+, Twitter, Snapchat and many more, social networking is how we communicate and stay in touch with friends, family, and also professional colleagues. Those channels can all be viable means of connecting with people as part of your job search.
But the premier professional network is LinkedIn.
It’s where you can connect with those you’ve met at trade shows, colleagues in the office, as well as teachers and professors from your college days. The people search function is truly useful in this regard. You can narrow the geographic area, organization, etc. to find those you’ve worked with over the years and connect.
The job search recommendation is to build your network to at least 500. This is where the connection counter on your profile will top out. It will read 500+. This number will help you show up in recruiter searches. It will also help you find links to people you’d like to contact to learn more about any company that you’re trying to penetrate.
On LinkedIn click the “advanced” search function. The Advance People Search will allow you to use keywords, first and last name, title, company, school, industry, and location to zero in on connections.
This can help you find past and current colleagues and add them to your network. It can also help you find people who are in the company and even the department of a position of interest.
As just one example of using connections in your job search, in Jim’s search he was trying to learn more about a small nonprofit. He could find just two people on LinkedIn that had this organization on their profiles. For one of them, he found a direct connection who he had met in a job search focus group.
He reached out to him and he was helpful enough to forward Jim’s request to his connection. While Jim didn’t make that direct connection, he did get a response from the recruiter! He learned later that all employees were told to forward such requests to the recruiter for follow up. So, a web of connections helped Jim make the critical connection he was seeking.
If you have a college education, it could well be one of the first things that you’d indicate on your LinkedIn account. Once you indicate where you went to college, a link is created between your LinkedIn profile and the university’s profile. This creates one of the second biggest networking tools on LinkedIn.
To use this tool search your university in the tool bar. Once you go onto the university’s LinkedIn profile you will find that you can search through all of the university’s past and present college graduates by their location, place of work, occupation, major, and how you are connected to them.
You are able to click on any of the categories and LinkedIn will refine the search to narrow down the fellow alumni.
Finally once you have selected all you’re desired categories, LinkedIn will let you know who your fellow alumni are at your desired company, department, and career. Once you identify these connections you can reach out to them through InMail or through a fellow connection.
This tool can also help you see which companies are looking for someone with your degree / experience or specific university training.
The next level of connection is through LinkedIn Groups. There are all manner of groups that have been established on LinkedIn. They can be groups that exist outside of LinkedIn, such as professional organizations. They can be groups that exist only on LinkedIn, such as discussion groups around a particular topic.
The job search recommendation is that you join at least 50 groups. You should also select a few and become active in the discussions. All this gets your profile showing up in recruiter searches.
It is also helpful when you want to make a connection outside your range of first level contacts. If you share a group with the person you’re trying to contact, that is a perfect way to open the connection. Moreover, LinkedIn allows you to make that invitation to connect directly since you’re in the same group.
If you’re really ambitious, you can create your own group and invite people to it. It can be about a topic or area of your choice. It’s a simple matter to launch the group. It will be more challenging to grow it and maintain it.
There are also company pages on LinkedIn. In fact, any time someone enters a company on their profile it links to that company page. As an example, Jim has created one for PathForeWord.
For your job search the big benefit is that you can follow companies of interest. In addition, they will often post jobs on LinkedIn. Plus, they help you find connections within the company for your further research and contact.
Another huge benefit of LinkedIn is their job postings. You can search these openings based on your key words. You can save those searches and run them on a scheduled basis.
LinkedIn will also alert you to openings that match your search criteria. Furthermore, some job postings actually identify the recruiter that posted the job. So you can reach out to directly promote your candidacy for the position.
That’s an excerpt from our book Job Search Essentials 3.0. Stay tuned next time for insight into setting up your LinkedIn profile. Or, buy the book. It’s a great investment in your PathForeWord.