What’s a college student, design engineer, kindergarten teacher, and the President of the United States have in common? They can all find value through using LinkedIn. If you are still not familiar with what exactly LinkedIn is, I highly recommend spending just five minutes exploring it. Search for a few of your colleagues, and I will almost guarantee you will find a handful of them on LinkedIn.
It has blown up into the number one social media network in an area Facebook has been sluggishly accepted: the business community. It strengthens and extends your existing network of trusted contacts which is especially beneficial in volatile economies. Many people may believe LinkedIn is only good if you are between jobs and/or actively seeking, but even if you are presently employed, isn’t it only to your advantage to be out there and be seen, should that perfect opportunity arise? There is also a tremendous potential for finding value in it through B2B relationship building.
At Design Engine, we help engineers find jobs through teaching skills they can add to their resumes, critiquing those resumes, and most importantly, helping them get their resumes noticed by the right eyes. HR people at manufacturers as well as the Aeroteks and Volts out there plus other agencies utilize our student resumes and place them with major manufacturers. With those points in mind, we have noticed many of these engineers are not using social media tools to their full potential. If you are one of them and want to buck that trend, here is a list of ways to help maximize your presence and derived value from the LinkedIn community:
LinkedIn at the core. After all, pop culture didn’t dub this trend “social networking” for just any old reason. Find all of your colleagues, bosses, clients and competitors on here, because you never know when that contact network or the additional information provided may come in handy. The more contacts and groups you befriend, the more exposure you gain. One primary way we at Design Engine benefit from networking is finding leads. Likewise, we personally know several contract agencies that actively use LinkedIn to scout potential employees for companies in their own business networks.
What dirt have you found on yourself when you’ve Googled your name? Chances are future employers see that same dirt, so give your name a bath and wash the dirt away. If your an everyday Joe, there’s a better than not chance that your LinkedIn account will be numero uno in your Google search. What will a potential employer think of you after visiting your page? Are you promoting your college memories via a photo of you doing beer bongs? Or are you displaying your capabilities and professionalism through describing your recent tasks/successes along with a recommendation to support them? And no, there is nothing wrong with requesting a prior or present coworker or supervisor to add a recommendation to your site.
Do you have a blog? A side business? Want more visibility to them? Search engine optimization is the way to move your site from bottom to top of the search list, which will without a doubt draw more eyes to it. Backlinks (links promoting the blog/business at other sites) are a way to get them higher in searches. Under your own website/social media accounts (or various other websites you may be involved in conversing or following) enter your blogs and businesses in posts, information sessions, etc. You’ll be surprised how fast your site can go from being ground chuck to Filet Mignon in a Google Search.
4. RESEARCH THE INTERVIEWER
All your work has paid off. You’ve been noticed and have a final interview. Now what? Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. Only a fool walks into an interview without researching a company, so take it one step further. Research your interviewer! Check out where they worked and how long they’ve worked at the current company. Not only does it take the spotlight off you, but it will help you steer the conversation towards topics they are more passionate about. If he or she has a recent post on LinkedIn saying their trip to CES was amazing, are you going to try speaking Eastern European politics or ask them what they think of Apple’s latest flop (to each their own…), the iPad?
5. USE THE LINKEDIN HEADLINE
LinkedIn changes your headline to your most recent job title. Be innovative. Make your daily tasks stand out on paper. Examples: “Training Principal, exploring new concepts and methods to effectively develop team members”. “Web Designer, identifying my clients’ needs and applying innovative web solutions to build a site superior to their competition”. The possibilities are endless. Do more than provide a two word description. Paint a picture and illustrate your value. Show your colleagues and future employers that you are different from the rest!
6. PASSION – EXPRESS IT
In the job summary section of LinkedIn, don’t simply list facts required to complete the job. Speak about your tasks and outcomes with passion, even if it was a job you hated. No employer wants a minimalist that can’t get excited about their role. Tell the world how much you love what it is you’re doing as well as what it is you would like to be doing. To that same point, if you truly do not have that passion for what it is you’re doing at work, along with anything else in life whether it be a relationship, hobby, etc., you probably need to make a change. Skills are cheap. Passion is priceless.
Go to LinkedIn Answers and connect. Ask questions. Answer questions. You never know who might read and recognize value to their organization in your Q&A’s. Also, join groups that are tailored to your interests in life. They provide many opportunities to not only converse online but also will often lead to in-person networking events you can take part in.
8. CONTACT INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS
Don’t be scared. People join LinkedIn to connect with others. If you just graduated and you’re afraid of contacting a high up professional, don’t be! These people became experts in their field for one reason: They’re passionate about their work. With that in mind, they LOVE to talk about their work/ideas. Browse their profiles. If they appear active and have a tremendous number of connections, that’s a good sign that they are active socialites on LinkedIn and enjoy the interaction. Chat them up. The worst thing that can happen is they ignore you.
9. CONSIDER THE PEOPLE YOU CONNECT WITH
There’s no reason to invite all of your college classmates or every single person from high school. Maxing out your connections not only makes you look like a spammer (which we all hate), but it also will most likely paint the picture that you have not made any attempt at honing in on the area that interest you most, whether it be design engineering, trading, cooking, etc. If, on the other hand, the bulk of your colleagues share that same are of interest, you gain credibility when an employer tries identifying what your true interests are. Also, don’t forget that, as mentioned above, consider your public image. Do you REALLY want people to see you are friends with Charles Manson or Osama Bin Laden?
This is not an exhaustive list about how to tap LinkedIn for all it’s worth. But it all boils down to interaction and collaboration. You gotta be in it to win it. Get on LinkedIn, critique your accounts and connect!
Article Written by: Kristina Nette
Her other duties are in the realm for Social Marketing for Design Engine the school and the sister companies within the Design Engine umbrella.