Make LinkedIn Work for You
A lot of people still think of LinkedIn as Facebook’s awkward second-cousin that tries too hard to hang with the cool kids. It’s not seen as a “fun” social media platform, or relevant to anyone other than seasoned professionals and kids straight out of college desperate for work. Believe me when I say that LinkedIn is absolutely a tool you want in your arsenal, though. Staying active on LinkedIn can help you make connections that benefit you in the long run. If you’re happy at your current job you can still reap the benefits of connecting with others your industry, and if you decide to make a career move later on in life you’ve got an engaged presence established.
Need some help bolstering your LinkedIn account? Here are some tips.
Make sure the information on your profile page is up-to-date. If you recently updated your resumé, it’s even easier to update your LinkedIn job descriptions. Keeping your job descriptions accurate and up-to-date helps recruiters target the right potential employees for job openings. Don’t forget to include volunteer opportunities, projects, certifications, and other supplementary details. These showcase the breadth of your interests and talents.
Connect, Even If It’s Weird
I know: it feels awkward to reach out to someone you barely know, or maybe someone you haven’t spoken to in over a decade. If you were on good terms the last time you spoke, don’t hesitate to “endorse” or strike up a conversation with someone. Keep your interactions genuine and show appreciation for someone’s willingness to help you.
You’ll be amazed by how wide your net can be cast if you’re courteous and active in others’ lives. I once received a job because I was connected with the mom of a guy I dated in high school. My current job came from reaching out to one of my husband’s college baseball teammates that I hadn’t seen in nearly five years. Suffice to say, I have no hesitation about reaching out to people I don’t know that well.
Ask for Introductions
Most people recognize LinkedIn as a platform that allows someone to get their foot in the door. It’s universally accepted that people use LinkedIn to make connections with people they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. If you see that one of your connections can help you bridge a gap between you and someone you want to meet, ask them to make an introduction.
This single technique boosted my first-round interviews more than anything else. I leveraged my relationships in Traverse City to meet people working for companies I applied for in Chicago. A personal recommendation can go farther than a well-written cover letter and polished portfolio.
Get a Professional (but Personable) Profile Photo
It can be cutesy to have a fun or odd profile pic on Facebook, but LinkedIn definitely isn’t the place for that. Everyone can spot a bad photo, so put a little effort into showing the world you take your professional career seriously.
Luckily, societal standards of what’s accessible for a professional headshot has changed. Gone are the days of gradient yearbook photo backgrounds! That said, you should stay away from cropped-out-all-my-friends photos, “casual” photos, blurry photos, blatant selfies, and anything with a red Solo cup. Trust me, I understand if you don’t have any photos that don’t fit this criteria. I’m hardly photogenic myself. It’s an easy fix: ind a place with nice natural lighting and a neutral background, and ask a friend to take some photos of you in your favorite shirt.
Follow Companies and Influencers
It’s easy to find organizations, movers, and shakers in your industry. A lot of times, LinkedIn will pick up on what you should follow based on your profile information or people in your network. Adding companies and top-notch people who are active on LinkedIn can help you stay up to date with what’s happening in your industry. Updates from these sources will appear in your news feed, and will be custom-tailed to topics that you may want to learn more about.
I highly advise following companies you may want to work for someday, too. This shows you’re interested in the company, and you can showcase your knowledge about recent company changes in your interview or cover letter.
You may not believe it, but LinkedIn can be as interesting as Twitter and Facebook if you invest in it. Endorse people from your network, comment on articles or news stories, and follow some brilliant folks. Heck, you can even write a post or two if you dare! If you take the time to invest a little in your connections and support them on LinkedIn, you’ll be shocked at the response you receive.
Do you use LinkedIn? Why or why not? Share in the comments!