Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lessons on using LinkedIn

If you missed Kay Luo's tutorial on how to best use LinkedIn to find your next job, no worries. I was there and took notes for you.

Kay, who's director of communications at the company, previously offered those affected by the newsroom cutbacks a free account upgrade.

Based on what I saw in today's one-hour demo, I think it's definitely worth opening an account if you haven't already done so and spending some time on the site playing with the different features and search functions.

Below, in no particular order, are some of the main tips worth your consideration. If you attended the session and want to add something I missed, feel free to add it in the comments.

My Profile: In addition to filling out your work experience as much as possible, be sure to include keywords your want to be found under (multimedia, technology, editor) under "specialties" which is located under "summary" (in the "My Profile" tab)

Your connections: Kay said that a user needs at least 20 connections to have good visibility on the network. However, as her personal rule of thumb, she generally only accepts connections from people she would, say, trust with her cell phone number. She also noted that it's not entirely about quantity of connections but the quality -- LinkedIn's effectiveness is largely based on leveraging people's trust in you. If you have a hundred connections with people you hardly know, how effective will they be in putting in a good word for you and giving you an edge in the job hunt?

Tell your network you're looking for a job: Once you have your profile set up and a decent number of connections, inform the network that you're in the job hunt. Under the "Profile" tab, go to "edit my profile" and right above your name should be "forward." Click on that, select your recipients, and then compose your message. TIP: In your subject line, briefly state what you're after ("I'm looking for a new career ..."). You can always elaborate in the body of the message. Kay said this was one of the most powerful tools of LinkedIn -- and that it could be an especially effective way to find jobs that aren't listed yet.

Advanced search, the real "gem": Kay spent a fair amount of time during the tutorial focused on "advanced search" under the "People" tab. She described this tool as a real "gem" because of all the different ways to use it. For example, if you're not sure what your career track should be (hmmm, what comes after being a multimedia editor?), you could do a keyword search on your existing/previous job title to see the profiles of other LinkedIn folks who had a similar position. Then you could see what there next jobs were, the companies they worked for, the skills they have, etc. All of this could guide you in your next move and how you might position yourself. It could be a good way to dig up career ideas, based on other people's profiles. Another way to use advanced search: If you landed an interview, see if the interviewer has a LinkedIn profile. Research their background to find out their job experience, as well as things you might have in common (same school, interests, positions). One more example: If there's a specific company you want to work for, enter it into the company search field and see whose profiles come up, and the degree of separation. Then leverage your close connections to get you that interview, even if it's just informational.

E-mail signatures: A simple but helpful thing -- include in your e-mail signature the URL (Web address) to your LinkedIn account. This way, if you e-mail someone about a job opening, the recipient can get easy access to your profile and get a quick sense of who you are. If you haven't already done so, you should customize your URL to something that resembles your name. For example, instead of something like "www.linkedin.com/9o8asjdfasdfj," you might have "http://www.linkedin.com/in/marcuslowchan," which is simpler and more intuitive. You can customize it in "My Profile" and then look for "public profile."

Get recommended: Raise your profile by getting recommended. It will also elevate your standing in the "Services" tab. It's another way to stand out among the crowd.

I hope this helps.


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