Benefits of using LinkedIn for your job search and professional networking
If you are a business person and you are online, surely you have heard of LinkedIn. In fact, with 19 million users worldwide, there’s a good chance you’ve already created your own LinkedIn account.
What exactly is LinkedIn? It is an online network of people from all over the world. While technically one of many social networking sites on the web, LinkedIn is probably the best known and most used business networking site. Also, while it has similarities to well-known social networking sites like MySpace, there are also fundamental differences that make it much more useful for business purposes.
So the next question, of course, could reasonably be, “What exactly is a business networking site?” And more precisely, “Why should I care and how can it benefit me?” If you are asking yourself these questions, you are definitely not alone! While there are a large number of people who create LinkedIn accounts and build their networks, there are relatively few who get the optimal benefit from their efforts.
According to LinkedIn’s own explanation, LinkedIn’s mission is to “help you be more effective in your day-to-day work and open doors to opportunities using the professional relationships you already have.”
Even if you’re not conducting a current job search, for ongoing career management and personal branding efforts, any tool that can help you network more effectively and efficiently should be of great interest. Again, in LinkedIn’s own words:
“When you join, you create a profile that summarizes your professional accomplishments. Your profile helps you find and be found by former colleagues, clients, and partners. You can add more connections by inviting trusted contacts to join LinkedIn and connect with you.
Your network consists of your connections, your connections’ connections, and the people they know, linking you with thousands of qualified professionals.”
So through LinkedIn you can search for jobs, you can easily make “inside” personal connections around job opportunities, you can promote your personal brand and qualifications and get found and searched for job opportunities, and you can build relationships that are critical to the success and progression of your career.
But remember, effective networking requires reciprocity through the development and nurturing of win-win relationships. Through LinkedIn, you’ll also have the opportunity to help those in your own network, by answering questions, providing relevant leads, and helping them make connections to further whatever their goals are.
In The Ultimate Guide to Using LinkedIn for Business and Career Management, “I’m on LinkedIn: Now What?” Jason Alba explains that there are six main benefits to using LinkedIn:
1) The ability to make yourself known and enhance your personal brand
2) The ability to be found by recruiters or other hiring authorities.
3) The ability to meet others and make important connections
4) The opportunity to learn and share
5) The ability to connect with group members.
6) The opportunity to show that you are connected to current technology
If you already have a LinkedIn account and have an established network. Let me urge you to take a closer look at how you are using it. Have you fully explored the features and benefits? Have you improved your profile? Have you joined any groups? Participated by answering questions from those in your network? LinkedIn is a great and very effective networking tool, but only if you use it!
If you’ve established a LinkedIn account, but have let it sit unused, now is the time to log in and learn how to get the most out of it. Now, before you’re actively looking for work, is the best time to work on building and cultivating your network. And, if you’re new to LinkedIn and haven’t created an account yet, there’s no better time than the present! The more professionals that use LinkedIn, the more effective it will be.