In my previous post on how building an online presence benefits job seekers I mentioned a couple of places where recruiters and hiring managers will go to search for someone with specific skills sets. By almost default LinkedIn is the go to resources as it contains the largest userbase of professionals and rich user profiles. If you’re ready to start building an online presence, start with LinkedIn.
What is LinkedIn?
It’s a social network, for professionals. It’s what your paper resume wishes it was. It’s your career history, your accomplishments, inventory of your skills and endorsements.
It allows you to stay connected to your colleagues, business partners, clients, vendors, recruiters and even get warm introductions to decision makers.
If you’re in a job market you can gain a competitive advantage over your peers who are also vying for same roles by having an updated and attractive All-Star LinkedIn profile.
1. Complete Your Profile
LinkedIn makes it easy to fill out and complete your profile. Follow the first few screens and instructions, but whatever you do, do not build a network. We’ll do that later in the process, for now skip those sections. Do not import or invite any of your contacts, yet.
Building your profile is very straight forward. Just update each empty section. Feel free to emulate your resume. Don’t forget about any special projects you worked on outside of work, awards you received or your contributions to publications. Remember, recruiters and your potential employer will be seeing all this. Be professional.
2. Claim Your Name
LinkedIn automatically generates a URL for your public profile. The default URL is unattractive and it doesn’t help you get found for your name. Customize it. If it looks like this http://www.linkedin.com/pub/your-name/77/163/9a5 change it to include your either full name or your last name with your first name’s initial, so it ends up looking something like this: http://www.linkedin.com/in/yourfullname
Here’s a quick tutorial on how to set this up: LinkedIn URL Customization
3. Upload a Profile Picture
Remember to keep it professional. No mug shots, no posing with other people including celebrities, no kids, no distracting backgrounds, and definitely don’t put up pictures of yourself at a keg party. I can’t stress it enough, your potential employer, business partners and even current and future clients will be looking you up. They expect to see a person at their best. Meet and beat their expectations.
4. Join Industry Groups
Join a few LinkedIn groups related to your industry and profession. Observe, participate and connect. Many groups also allow job postings to be posted on their boards. Being active on the boards will help you grow your network, beefs up your profile and encourages you to participate in discussions.
5. Answer Questions
In addition to joining groups and contributing your knowledge to group discussions, you can also demonstrate your expertise via LinkedIn’s Answers section. In this section, members post questions soliciting as many answers as possible from other members. If you provide the best answer, the person who posed the question has the ability to mark it as ‘Best Answer’. Your Q&A activity, including a number of ‘Best Answers’ you achieved will be listed on your profile. Having that vote will help you stand out in your field and attract the attention of recruiters and hiring managers.
Once you get through the first five steps, you can proceed to building your network. Start with people you already know and the ones who already emailed you to connect on LinkedIn. You can also import your address book to see who else you know is already on LinkedIn. As you grow your connections, LinkedIn will present you with recommendations of other people you should connect to based on your work history, school, mutual connections and other factors.
7. Get Recommendations
Another important component to building an effective and attractive LinkedIn profile are Recommendations. Once you’ve connected to your network, feel free to ask for Recommendations. Ask those who know you well enough who can provide you with a testimonial commenting on your work and personal traits that make you successful. Try to get a variety of recommendations. Get recommendations from your superiors, reports, colleagues, business partners and even clients. Aim to get at least one recommendation from every position you’ve held in the past. Be prepared to give back, but only if you can comment accurately and substantially enough on other person’s level of skill, expertise and other things that you may feel are relevant. Be truthful and authentic.
8. Get Introductions
LinkedIn has a great ability to accelerate your networking opportunities. What used to takes days to do, now happens in minutes and sometimes seconds. During your networking process, search LinkedIn database first. Depending on the size of your network, chances are someone you know might be already connected to your target. LinkedIn provides a mechanism for an introduction by allowing you to send a quick note to a mutual contact. The mutual contact between you and your target will review your note and will determine whether to pass on your note and facilitate an introduction. Remember to be genuine and truthful in your request. It’s not just your reputation at stake, but also your contact’s.
To improve your chances of getting an introduction a success, check out this article on Forbes: How to Ask for a LinkedIn Introduction.