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3Mar/090

Looking for a Job? Try Networking with LinkedIn

Looking for work? Then you know all about the necessity of networking. If you have exhausted all of the traditional forms of networking, how about using an Internet networking tool like LinkedIn?

One of the fasted growing Internet networking tools is LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com). A recent search on their website revealed that LinkedIn has more than 34 million members across 200 countries, and is adding new members at a rate of 1.2 million a month.

Can this be a useful networking site? Consider these statistics:

  • All 500 of the Fortune 500 are represented on LinkedIn.
  • 499 of the Fortune 500 are represented by director-level and above employees.
  • More than 1.4 million members identify themselves as senior executives.
  • Most members are between 30 and 55 years old.
  • The average user is a 41-year-old, white collar professional, earning $109K a year.
How should you use LinkedIn? There is no wrong or right way; you need to keep an open mind, be willing to try something new, and be consistent. Here are some recommendations:
  • Check LinkedIn daily. Just like email, it’s a good idea to see what is new in your network.
  • Upgrade to paid service. You should consider upgrading from free to the first-level of paid service so you can connect with people in the network directly, rather than wait weeks or month for an introduction and referral.
  • Create a meaningful profile. You need to create a profile that is akin to your resume so that you can connect with people who share your background or who are looking for someone with your skills and experience.
  • Collect recommendations. Recommendations are like good references after an interview; they increase your credibility, and will make it more likely for a viewer to contact you.
  • Do not limit your search. It’s easy to want to focus your search on decision makers, but chances are that you’ll lose the opportunity to effectively network if you limit yourself to them. Reach out to people that share common interests, background, or schools. They are more likely to feel connected to you and to want to help you or respond to your inquiries.
  • Do not limit your invitations. You need to gather contacts of the people you already know, and those you do not. Invite every person you meet you join your LinkedIn network, and accept the invitation of others freely.
  • Join groups to enhance your profile. You can join a variety of groups on LinkedIn, from alumni groups to faith groups. The key to groups is to gain new connections, and to enhance your profile so that others can identify you.
There is a great deal of literature and tips available on how to best use LinkedIn. Sometimes the best way to use something is to try it and experiment with it. So make LinkedIn part of your networking strategy. One of the things to keep in mind when using LinkedIn is that it is not a substitution for human interaction. Use this as a tool to create contacts, but reach out beyond the Internet and meet people in person whenever possible.

Also, make sure you give back. Rather than ask for help, volunteer your own and let people know what you have to offer. Help others through referrals and recommendations, you will create goodwill and encourage people to help you in return.

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