Of all social media sites today, the best for professional networking is LinkedIn; the site’s “About us” page counts over 135 million members in over 200 countries. People entering into the workforce are highly recommended to become familiar with LinkedIn, as it is an excellent tool for finding work in today’s economy.
These basic tips are from two professional sources: John Hill, a LinkedIn employee who recently gave a presentation at Syracuse University, and Kim Brown, the Alumni Programs Coordinator at the Syracuse University’s Career Services Center.
People and Profiles
A LinkedIn profile gives these basics: a person’s title, current and past jobs, education, their recommendations, interests, and associations with companies. New users should gather this info beforehand to create their profile together. For those with little job experience, Brown recommends adding info sections for courses, languages, internships, and any important college learning.
Instead of friends, LinkedIn has “connections” which have three different levels: Level 1 (Connections), Level 2 (Connections of Connections), and Level 3 (Connections of Connections of Connections), as demonstrated in the image below.
Having multiple levels allows your number of connections to easily increase. Potential colleagues may already be a level 2 or 3 connection, which creates a starting point to connect with them. When sending these connection requests, users should tell who they are and how they’re connected to them. Make your requests personal!
Also important is the personal information box, which Hill emphasizes is extremely important. While resumes give professional information, the information box lets users share passions and anything personally important not usually present in a resume.
Other useful tools include placing notes on connections’ profiles that only the user can read; this allows important info regarding any connection to be easily viewed. Also, users can see who else has viewed their profile; Hill recommends using this function to connect with those who have noticed you.
LinkedIn allows users to search for specific companies as well. Users can view people employed there (including any current connections) and a variety of company data. More importantly, users can view employees that recently left the company; Hill says this allows users a chance for recently opened positions before they’re open to the public.
There are four major ways a user can naturally become more affiliated with a company: friends or family already employed, connections with a user’s university (like alumni), shared work experience (such as past internships), or public service a user has participated in. Having one of these affiliations is a way to further connect to a company and help with gaining opportunities.
Hill also recommends simply calling someone in the company and asking for more information. This creates a “visceral connection” that’s very good for long-term networking (better than e-mail).
Brown also recommends a user find any college alumni involved in the company and contacting them. This helps with networking, builds relationships, and can lead to potential internships.
After making connections, a user can begin distributing their online resume to interested contacts. Hill says connections can do four things with a resume: ignore it, share it, personally share it, or give it to human resources. There is one neutral choice, three good options, and no bad outcomes.
Both Hill and Brown said one major LinkedIn advantage is the connection to SimplyHired, a online job search engine that can be connected with LinkedIn. Jobs can be searched based on title, skills, or company, and LinkedIn users can see new users connected with their search results. This allows for inside connections to potential employers early on.
People having difficulties with LinkedIn can easily find more connections by searching for groups. Groups can be searched based on careers, companies, universities or alumni (for example, Brown recommended CuseConnect for current SU students), and find new job opportunities and connections.
A strategy Hill gave was to join a group and ask for advice, not just a job. Members will step forward and help, which gives the user someone helping them become more involved. Users who are hesitant to start requesting connections can join groups as a simple, effective method to get started.