LinkedIn – Just Another Social Network? Not Really…
In today's post I would like to follow up on my previous post on social networking. From a professional point of view, there is one and only site, which leads numerous networking sites for job seekers or people who simply want to share their professional experience and develop further contacts in their professional area – LinkedIn.
Let me be clear here. Not being active on LinkedIn and not having profoundly developed profile these days, means you are actually ‘closing many doors’ for yourself. As LinkedIn states, their mission is to ‘connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful.’ The principle of this network is simple – it will connect you with insiders who would normally be unreachable for you. Your new connections will give you access to other (2nd and 3rd level) connections and this will really ‘open you doors’ to many organizations. LinkedIn has, however, much more to offer and its multiple features remain hidden for many of its users.
LinkedIn is not just a tool for job search. It is a website which should keep your professional network rich and helpful for your career development. In the end it can bring you multiple results (not just a new job). Once you have a job, it can help you to find a new members for your project team. Or you may look via numerous focus groups for advice regarding your recent task. Focus groups will also supplement your further learning in the field of your interest, because they give platform for discussions of the most experienced professionals in the area.
But for now, let me focus on features, which are useful mainly for job seekers.
Primarily, LinkedIn can offer a very rich job board. Many employers set up for their recruitment personnel special upgraded profiles, which not only allow them to advertise their vacancies via job board, but this set up also enables them to have easier access to all profiles of potential candidates. Once you are on LinkedIn, don’t be surprised that you will hear from recruiters directly once in a while. The rule is – the more visible you are, the more interested they become.
In order to become visible for recruiters you should definitely use groups. And use them actively by commenting in discussions. Use any groups focusing on the field you would like to work in (human resources, marketing, engineering, information technologies, lawyering, academia etc.). Choose between geographies – groups which are global, or groups which are in your local language and focus on your local market. You will see professionals actively contributing to these groups will be slightly different.
A special category are human resources groups. Why? They can give you an insight into how recruiters work and how they are choosing their candidates. Usually these groups are locked for HR professionals, but you can give it a try, sometimes they let you in ;-).
Another very good strategy for job seekers can be to follow specific companies and organizations. You can bet that this will give you the best opportunity to reach insiders from respective companies you would like to work for. This way you may quickly learn about vacancies (even these which are just internally posted) and moreover, you may learn from insiders about organizational values and culture, which will make your job hunting decisions easier.
The last feature which I would recommend is following of ‘influencers.’ This actually is my favorite LinkedIn tool, which I’m using myself on regular basis. Influencers are basically bloggers. People who achieved something in their professional careers and now they share their experience and ideas via regular postings. These people are in different stages of their careers. The range is from recent young self-starters to famous well established entrepreneurs, coaches or politicians. Via this feature you can get inspired for your job search and do some self-coaching as part of your personal development.
To conclude my favorite influencer so far is Richard Brandson, who developed himself the huge Virgin imperium. His simple advice on career development and set up of own business helped me to make some of my decisions in my career and his saying ‘Screw it, let’s do it’, was actually the main trigger for setting up of this web page ;-).
So – Screw it, let’s use LinkedIn NOW!
Discussion board: LinkedIn – Just Another Social Network? Not Really…
connect with alumni mentors on LinkedIn
There is another feature that I find fascinating, ideal for network development: connect with alumni. Linkedin.com/alumni or, alternatively, linkedin.com/classmates give you access to all people that are connected with an institution. More than that, it allows you to filter them by employer, by country, function, specialization, etc.
Definitely a good way to identify career mentors which graduated from the same university or school.