By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting
Back in November, I wrote an Ask Amber blog about LinkedIn, but as the saying goes, “you learn something new every day.” After lengthy discussions with several other young professionals recently, I have learned a little more about LinkedIn and how useful it can be for making connections.
From these discussions, it became apparent to me that many people are having a hard time sorting through the clutter of social media these days. Finding the sites that will keep you up to date on the sector and the ones that can land you a job can be a confusing process. Amidst the effort to keep your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts updated, it’s easy to lose sight of the career-building potential of LinkedIn.
Unlike other online profiles you may use for fun, LinkedIn use should be strategic. Adding contacts to your LinkedIn profile, for example, should always benefit you professionally. If you are a young professional with a limited professional network, start by adding friends to your LinkedIn contacts, but make sure to use discretion. This is not the time to add everyone you met in high school and college. Think of friends who you know are well connected, currently employed in the field you want to be in or live near where you want to work. These are the friends you want to add because their LinkedIn contacts can be great resources for you when you are job hunting, considering a shift in career or just looking to ask questions from someone in a position you would like to be in.
Once you add these contacts, look through their contacts for people who could help you professionally. When you identify these contacts, ask your contact’s permission to contact the person and use your mutual contact as a reference. Even better, ask if your contact to write you a letter of recommendation to accompany your application or to provide an introduction. I have heard of people landing interviews or getting calls based on the references and introductions they receive via LinkedIn.
Don’t just be strategic about the contacts you make on LinkedIn, be strategic about the information you upload. Similar to a hard copy resume, you want to highlight the skills and experiences that are relevant to the type of job you are seeking. Focus on transferable skills, volunteer experience or internships if you are new to the sector.
LinkedIn is one of the most important online profiles you can have. By starting to build your profile and updating it often, you will be one step closer to a new job and more professional connections. Leave a comment below to add your tips and tricks for LinkedIn or to share how you found a job through LinkedIn.