1. Create a Thoughtful Profile.
According to LinkedIn, you are 40X more likely to receive opportunities if your profile is complete. A complete profile includes your current job and 2 previous jobs, your educational background, a profile summary, profile picture, your specialties and at least 3 recommendations. Your profile summary should highlight your passions, interests and your personality. Your work experience should highlight the specific actions taken and the impact achieved.
Many people make the mistake of writing their experience as a recitation of tasks; e.g. built models, created presentations. If you’ve created presentations, projects or have other work that showcases your talents, use an app like Slideshare or Box.net to include your work in your profile. Thoughtful (vs boilerplate) recommendations from colleagues who can speak to specific skills or your impact can help. LinkedIn has a simple tool that lets you solicit them for people you know. Once and only when your profile is complete, include a link to it in your email signature, on your resume, and even on your business card.
2. Build your network.
Focus on friends and colleagues who know you well. There’s no prize for accumulating the most connections. Your connections should be people who’d be willing to credibly and enthusiastically introduce you to people in their network. To do that, they must know you well enough. Here’s another reason to be careful about who you invite into your network. Your connections may also ask you for introductions to other people in your network.
Do you want to jeopardize your reputation with your friends or former boss by encouraging them to talk to some random person in your network that you don’t know? If you’re a college student, consider adding some older people such as professors, close family friends, and supervisors and colleagues from summer internships. Continue to work on strengthening your ties — thought you might find this article interesting, ran into someone who knows you, etc. The optimal time to build your network is when you don`t desperately need help.
3. Join Targeted Industry & Professional Groups.
Why? There will be people there who are doing what you want to do. Join in on discussions. Create discussions on topics you’re interested in. Ask interesting questions. Doing these things will enable you to meet people who can increase your job or industry understanding, give you feedback on your job search, or even approach you about potential jobs. The key to GETTING a lot from these groups is GIVING to them. For someone to want to help you, they need to feel that it’s worth their while, either because they genuinely like you, and/or they believe that helping you benefits them in some way. If you are only there to take from the group, you won’t find many willing to help you.
4. Join Your School Group on LinkedIn.
The content in these groups is fairly limited now, but being a member is valuable because you can send connection invitations or messages to other members of the group that you otherwise couldn’t engage. I can search my Stanford group for my hypothetical target company, Google for example, and find 81 group members, only 2 of whom I’m directly connected to, with current or past work experience at Google.
5. Search LinkedIn Jobs.
When you search Jobs by company or job title, you can see which of your connections are at that company or know the person who posted the job. Leverage these connections to help you get a warm introduction.
6. Search for Connections at Targeted Companies.
You will dramatically increase your chances of an interview or favorable initial impression if you get an introduction to a recruiter or hiring manager from someone they trust. Do a search for people who can make that introduction by inputting the company name. Let’s say I’m interested in working for Apple. My search on Apple will generate people in my network who work or worked at Apple. You may in fact be able to ask a 1st degree contact (someone I am connected to on LinkedIn) for a personal introduction or recommendation to the hiring manager.
Alternatively this person may be a great source of information about the company or industry, which will help me distinguish myself in the interview. For a 2nd degree connection (a connection of one of my connections), check out their profile and if it looks relevant, ask your contact for an introduction. Read The Email Introductions Most Likely to Open Doors to see who the wide range of people who can effectively open doors for you with a simple email.
7. Make the Right Ask.
Once you’ve identified people through LinkedIn that can be helpful, it’s important that you make the right ask. In most cases, asking for a job or an interview is NOT the right ask. Most people can’t help you with what may be your primary goal, but they can still help with information, feedback, introductions and more.
8. Let People Know You’re Looking.
Everyone is a potential job lead, but they can’t help if they don’t know you’re looking. Use the update field to indicate that you are looking for a job.
9. Showcase your Expertise through LinkedIn Answers.
In LinkedIn Answers you can ask and answer questions on specific business topics. Others who view your answers and are impressed with your insight can reach out to you directly. You can also receive recognition for strong answers, which adds to your credibility and visibility.