LinkedIn is far and away the single most valuable career-related tool in existence today. A surprising number of my clients know about LinkedIn but really don’t know how to use it. Searching online, I discovered that there is no up-to-date, simple, brief (i.e. less than 1000 words) “primer” on the value and proper use of LinkedIn. So, here are 999 words on it.
THE MANY BENEFITS OF LINKEDIN:
1. It allows you to exhibit to the world (but most importantly to recruiters and potential employers) your professional credentials in a professional setting that is a job site.
2. It is a primary source of job leads – based on the data that you choose to include in your LinkedIn profile, plus your viewing and search patterns. LinkedIn algorithms select available jobs that seem to suit your background, skills, and interests and alerts you to them. It also identifies the people within your network that can increase your chances of landing an interview at the particular organization with that job opening (more on that in a moment). And It allows recruiters to alert you to openings.
3. LinkedIn has a feature known as Influencers, which gives you access to the thinking of leading business titans and public figures (ranging from Richard Branson to President Obama to Tony Robbins to Ariana Huffington) through their postings unique to LinkedIn.
4. Through its many virtual “associations” (e.g. the Intelligence-based Cybersecurity group, the Creative Writers and Designers group) you can gain valuable information from peers, join threaded conversations with them, and perhaps even strike up new connections.
5. Most importantly, it provides you a means of easily contacting thousands of people in a myriad of industries, organizations, and professional associations who can be sources of “inside information” on their fields, their companies, how they came to land their jobs, what a potential boss is like, skills necessary to succeed, etc. Depending on the strength of your connection, these contacts may be able to open doors for you that the average outsider could never access.
HERE’S HOW TO GET STARTED, AND HOW IT WORKS:
That’s why, in thinking about the people you can add to invite, limit it to PEOPLE WHO HAVE A POSITIVE IMPRESSION OF YOU AND WOULD BE WILLING TO SUGGEST TO A COLLEAGUE THAT HE/SHE SPEAK TO YOU. But think broadly – many people mistakenly limit their LinkedIn network to professional contacts, thereby overlooking other groups: friends, neighbors, classmates.
“Dormant ties are the people we used to know. Think about the people with whom you’ve lost touch for a few years: a childhood neighbor, a college roommate, or a colleague from your first job. In groundbreaking research, Daniel Levin, Jorge Walter, and Keith Murnighan asked hundreds of executives to seek advice on a major work project from two dormant ties. When they compared the value of these conversations to the advice from current contacts, the dormant ties were actually more useful. The executives received more valuable solutions, referrals, and problem-solving assistance from people they used to know than their current friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Why?
Just like weak ties, dormant ties offer novel information: in the years since you last communicated, they’ve connected with new people and gathered new knowledge. But unlike weak ties, dormant ties also bring the benefits of longstanding familiarity. The history and shared experience makes it more comfortable to reconnect, and you can count on them to care more about you than mere acquaintances do.
Also, the vast majority of jobs come from interactions with SECOND degree contacts, not firsts. This is partly because there are so many more second degree contacts than first, but it’s also because chances are that you may have already “mined” first degree contacts for connections and information.