Thursday, December 10, 2015

Is Your Career LinkedIn? LinkedIn for beginners

Job Search Strategy

Job Search Strategy

By Julie Cohen, Professional Certified Coach

Social networking is no longer optional for professionals. If you’re searching for a new job, wanting to change careers, trying to advance in your current field, developing your credibility as subject matter expert in your field, or building your own entrepreneurial venture, LinkedIn is a necessity.

How does LinkedIn work?

By creating a profile on LinkedIn (, you are preparing yourself to network with a vast community of almost 400 million professionals. Your profile is similar to an online resume, as it highlights your professional experience, education and areas of expertise and interest.

Once you have your profile set up, you then upload your email contacts into your profile, and LinkedIn allows you to see who else you know that is already on the site. You can then simply connect with them, which also gives you access to their connections and their connections’ connections. Basically, you’re developing a network three tiers deep that is easy to access through online requests through a chain of connections.

How can it help me?

Depending on your situation, you can use LinkedIn in a variety of ways:

New Job

  • You’ve begun a job search in your current field and you’re targeting 5 companies. You can search for people in your network currently working at these companies who can give you insight to the organization, the company culture and the specific position. You may even be able to connect with hiring decision makers.
  • Use the “Jobs” area of LinkedIn, to find open positions. You have access to jobs that people in your network have listed. If you’re interested, you have much easier access to the person listing the position than on job boards, as they’re already in your network.
  • Connect with headhunters in your field. LinkedIn is filled with headhunters/executive search professionals. See who in your network might offer this service in your field of interest.

Career Change

  • You want to make a big shift in your career. Search for people in the areas that interest you and request informational interviews to learn more about the new professional area.
  • Search for career-specific keywords that include both your former career area and the new career area that you want to move towards. You may find someone who has  made the switch previously and can speak to them about their process.

Professional Advancement

  • Search for leaders in your field of interest, within your organization or within a professional association. Request informational discussions to understand their path and seek advice on how to proceed in your desired direction.  ou may even gain a mentor in the process.
  • Be seen as a Subject Matter Expert in a specific area.  Write original content for the “Pulse” section.
  • Let your network know when you’ve written an article, have been quoted in the media or when you’re speaking at a conference. You can complete the “Share an update” field and your network will be notified of what you’re doing.

Business Development

  • Search for people working in the industry or at a specific company that you want to target for your product or service and request an opportunity to discuss what you offer.
  • Determine who the decision makers are within interesting organizations by seeking feedback from people in your network who work for your target companies.

Depending on your career need or your desired results, you can use LinkedIn in so many ways.

How do I do it?

Before you can reap the benefits of LinkedIn, you have to get into the network. Here are ten tips to get started effectively:

  1. Create your profile. This is where you document your professional history, including your current and past employers, education, professional affiliations and areas of expertise. People will be searching for you based on these items.  You want your profile to be as complete as possible.
  2. Upload your contacts. To begin building your network, you start with your own network of people you know. Depending on how you store your own email address book, there are different methods to do that.  LinkedIn will connect with your specific email system and import all of your contacts into your LinkedIn profile.  [Note: LinkedIn does not do anything with the email addresses/contacts that you’ve uploaded. You completely control any outreach to people in your address book. This is a common concern expressed when starting with LinkedIn.]
  3. Connect with people you know already using LinkedIn. Once your own contacts are loaded into LinkedIn, you’ll visit the “Imported Contacts” page and see who from your address book are already using LinkedIn by looking for an icon next to their name.You can then select which of those people that you’d like to connect with, and create a personal note or use a form letter to request a connection. Each person will receive an email saying that you’ve requested to connect with them. They can choose to accept the connection.(Note: if you’re planning a job search, you may not want to choose to connect with your current boss, even if he/she is in LinkedIn.) LinkedIn operates on the premise that you know the people you’re connected with. I encourage you to follow LinkedIn rules and protocol by connecting with only people that you know and feel comfortable connecting to other people.
  4. Connect with people from current and former employers. The LinkedIn algorithm will show you people you may know based on who you currently know. Review this list to see old colleagues with whom you may have lost touch. You can send a request to connect with these people without having their email address. Be sure the people you choose in this area will actually know who you are. You can add a personal note with this outreach. It’s also good to remember the rules and processes LinkedIn has set for your protection. For example, if you request a connection with a person who worked at the same place as you did that you didn’t know personally, when that person receives their invitation, instead of accepting the invitation they can select a button that says “I don’t know this person.”  If you do this too often (5 times), you will lose privileges to invite people to connect with you from employers where you don’t have their email address.
  5. Connect with people from your alma maters. You can do the same outreach to people you went to school with as described in #4.  You can review lists of people who attended your college during the same years you attended.  Besides adding connections to your network, you might reconnect with an old roommate or long-lost friend.
  6. Create a routine to repeat #2 through #5 above. With the LinkedIn App on your smartphone, get in the habit of a weekly check to see any new people to connect with.
  7. Review your newsfeed regularly. On your LinkedIn homepage, you’ll see lists of what is happening to people in your network. You can see who your first level connections are connecting with, any changes they’ve made to their profiles, and any other activity that they’ve had on LinkedIn. Use these as opportunities to engage your connections by congratulating them on a promotion, commenting on a project they’re working on, or providing feedback on a shared resource.
  8. Outreach to people in your network to assist with your needs.  There are two methods to connect with your connections’ connections.  This is the power of LinkedIn.  Through a “People search,” you can find individuals who work at a specific company, in a specific field or industry, in a specific geographic location, and even by a keyword.  Once you find people you want to connect with that you don’t know directly, but are “LinkedIn” to you by either 2 or 3 connections away, you can request an “Introduction” or use an “InMail” to facilitate a direct connection.
  9. Reciprocate! Once you have a network in LinkedIn, others that you’re connected to, and their networks will ask your assistance in facilitating connections. Depending on how you’ve set up your profile, you may or may not receive email notifications for requests to forward connections. Respond to these requests in a timely manner as you’d hope others would do for you. This means logging in to your profile regularly, not only when you need something from your network.

This is only the ”tip of the iceberg” on utilizing LinkedIn.  It is worth the investment to spend time creating your LinkedIn presence and delving deeper in to the many ways in which this tool can enhance your professional path.

Disclaimer: Julie has NO professional relationship with LinkedIn and does not receive any benefit from your decision to join or not join LinkedIn. LinkedIn offers f’ree and fee-based membership levels. Please decide what is best for your needs. She is sharing her perspective for informational purposes only.

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© 2010 Julie Cohen,

Julie Cohen, PCC, is a career coach. She helps her clients clarify and achieve their professional and personal goals including greater career satisfaction, work-life balance, leadership development and personal growth. Julie is also the author of Your Work, Your Life… Your Way: 7 Keys to Work-Life Balance. For questions, comments or to discuss this article, Julie can be reached by visiting

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