“LinkedIn is the number one dating site!” exclaimed a young woman during my social media workshop. FYI , the topic was using social media in the job search, not the dating world.
Well then…I refocused the participants who were starting to compare the merits of Plenty of Fish vs Match.com.
Dating aside, LinkedIn can be a very effective resource for young (and older) people looking for employment.
First things first, yes, you DO need to be on LinkedIn – and not just because it may or may not be the #1 dating site.
Here are 10 ways you can benefit from using LinkedIn:
- You will be considered a professional. At this stage of the networking game, it is pretty much unprofessional NOT to be on the site. Take a look around it. You will see everyone – it is not just the corporate executive suit wearing people who are there. Your neighborhood dog walker, local artist and retired physician all have LinkedIn profiles. Even kids as young as 13 have been invited to join.
- Get your message out there. You can post pictures, videos, your work, blog posts…you can show the world (or at least other LinkedIn contacts) that you know what you are doing – and that what you are doing is fantastic.
- You can see what other people are doing in their jobs. If you are stumped on what to write on your resume or cover letter or talk about in a job interview, take a look at other people who have a similar background. See what they wrote and how they described their jobs. Very helpful!
- Unlike Facebook, when you connect with people (sometimes from all over the world) it is considered professional. No word of a lie – here’s what I did to help a client of mine. He was interested in shoe design. As an avid watcher of House Hunters International I paid attention to the episode where a couple moved to Amsterdam for his job as a shoe designer. I googled HHI – Amsterdam – shoe design – and found the guy’s LinkedIn profile. I checked it out and saw some interesting similarities between myself and Shoe Guy. I sent him a LinkedIn invitation to connect explaining who I was and asked him if he would be available to have a conversation with my client. Shoe Guy was nothing but generous and hospitable and gave me his personal email address for the client to use. LinkedIn (and the ability to be resourceful and creative) facilitated this. All of these are essential when you are looking for employment or career guidance.
- You can join different groups and get best practices. Again, you can demonstrate your knowledge and your interest in a particular subject. You can position yourself as an expert within a certain industry.
- Check out where others worked. You can use this information to help formulate a game plan or create a strategy about who to connect with.
- Believe it or not, but in their descriptions, some people explicitly mention that they would be happy to help other people out. They want others to know they are available for guidance or resources.
- Get introduced to other people. I have lost count of the times I have connected with a networking contact of mine and asked them to introduce me to one of their contacts. This is like a gift for me!
- You can get ideas for other positions and companies. At the bottom right when you look up a company (let’s say Reebok) it will suggest other companies that you may be interested in researching; for instance New Balance . So you take this information and you roll with it. Again, a gift.
- Not only can you actually apply to jobs through LinkedIn, you can conduct a lot of research about companies. So the next time you get an interview (yay you!) get onto LinkedIn and do some thorough research about the company’s size, mission, values, location etc.
So there you go. Think of it this way – now you know what kind of a benefit LinkedIn can be in your job search.
If you choose NOT to use it, you need to know that your competition could very well be using it to their benefit.
It’s your choice.