Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Job Seeking and Utilizing the Power of LinkedIn

If you are one of those Social Media laggards who have not yet jumped into the pool and you are unemployed, thinking about jumping to a new job at a new company or perhaps even starting your own company, it behoves you to start planting your seeds now so that you can reap the rewards in the future.  

Now that you have an amazing profile on the site and you have spent time, energy and perhaps even some money to ‘optimize’ your profile, there is still work to be done.  In order to prepare for your future you must also familiarize yourself with the lay of the land and LinkedIn is a critical tool for doing such work.  As of August 2011, LinkedIn boasted a membership list of 120 million registered users and 61% of those members claimed to have used the tool for professional networking.  To gain a better understanding what that means to you, and your future, simply type your job title into the search box and prepare yourself to be in awe of the number of results generated within nanoseconds of clicking the ‘enter’ key.  

Now that you have digested the results and pushed past the queasiness in your stomach due to the realization that you are just one more ‘fish’ in that ever so deep sea of candidates, it is time to do something about it.

LinkedIn is a dynamic website.  Recent statistics indicate that 90% of LinkedIn members use it either to connect with others in the industry or for recruiting purposes. In order to maximize the utility of LinkedIn, follow these tips:
  1. LinkedIn allows its members to join up to 50 groups.  Smart networkers will belong to 50 of them.  Please note that just belonging to a group will not increase your visibility and an increase in visibility is what you need if you want to become a ‘hot’ commodity rather than goes stale on the shelf or worse, one that rots in the field.
  2. Use LinkedIn to find your industry groups.  Add your name to the group roster and you will become part of the insider’s club and have access to information as it becomes available.
  3. Use LinkedIn to find companies in your industry.  Add your name to the group of followers and you will become part of the insider’s club of information.  Many companies will list opportunities on the company website long before they decide to advertise the opportunity to a wider audience.
  4. LinkedIn activity includes 35% of members who check in daily and 32% who check in few times per week. To increase your visibility, make your presence known by adding thoughtful comments to the discussion boards of your chosen groups.
  5. Listen for job changes. The average person visits LinkedIn for one of two reasons: either to add or accept a connection into their network, or, to update their profile with their new job information.  Just open your profile to your home page and review the stream under "All Updates." When someone changes jobs, it usually means there is money in motion and a lot of questions in the offing. If you are listening, you can be among the first to reach out with sincere congratulations.  N.B. If these people are leaving the company, they are now available to provide you with many of the more delicate details about the company you will need should you ever want to apply for a job with their former employer.
  6. Choose a path of pursuit, and as Guy Kawasaki likes to say, ‘niche thyself’.  Both people and businesses should have a target market wherein they feel that they can better serve their employers, or clients/customers, better than their competition.  Utilize the advance search feature on LinkedIn to find the people you can serve best.  The advance serve feature can be used to find the people who can serve you best, as well.
  7. Build a large network.  If you subscribe to the theory of six degrees of separation, in the world of LinkedIn, your degree of separation can be reduced to as little as one. Think of it like this, if 10% of your connections on LinkedIn were to change jobs each year (likely a conservative number) and connected to 20 people, you would have 2 job leads.  If you were to connect with 200 people, which is well within reach for anyone, would yield 20 leads a year.
  8. Start your own group.  This is the fastest way to increase your credibility as a professional.  Please note that starting your won group is not an exercise in ‘set and forget’.  You will need to add links interesting articles, ask interesting questions and contribute to discussions in order to maximize your visibility and remain top of mind for those who are looking for someone just like you to fill a yet to be advertised position with their company. 
How are you using LinkedIn?  Did this article move you to change something about how you are currently looking for new career opportunities?  Share your story and help others learn.

Copyright © 2011, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2011, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog hosted by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career Planning.com that is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. This blog is also dedicated to those who stand a little taller each time they picked themselves up after failing and those who gained the wisdom and humility from those experiences to help others do the same. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at Mary.Salvino@shaw.ca