Get Your Word Out—LinkedIn Can Help
By Curt MacRae, CEO, Human Transitions

Online networks have adjusted the rules for interaction among business people, social contacts, job applicants, recruiters, and everyone else associated with Web-based networking tools. In the job-applicant arena, it is necessary to embrace and understand social and business networking so that you can maximize the impact it can have with a positive impact on career searches.

LinkedIn is the Facebook of business networking. With more than 40,000,000 users, it is almost imperative to be linked into this network.

Cold calling is an uncomfortable, and usually non-productive, method of searching for one's next career. In a career search, much like any sales situation (which, make no mistake about it, that's what a job search is) the best lead will come from a referral from someone within a trusted circle of influencers. If one of those influencers (someone with the capability to sway a decision-makers choice) refers an applicant, they have "given permission" for that applicant to trade on the influencer's reputation, or brand. In essence, whatever brand the influencer has, is somewhat transferred to the applicant.

When looking for a new restaurant, we consult friends for referrals. Why wouldn't we use at least that much preparation to get our foot in the door of a good company that's hiring?

In sales, customers buy from vendors they trust, vendors they like, and vendors that have a reputation established. In hiring, most of the same thought process is there. A good applicant, versus a good applicant that is referred, is fighting an uphill battle to get hired.

If someone searching for work does not have a LinkedIn account, it is time to get one now (come back after you do that and read the rest of this article).

When a connection is made on LinkedIn, both connectors must agree to that connection. So, if someone has 200 connections on LinkedIn, he has at least that many people that are willing to establish a business connection with him. That alone, proves something. Also, keep in mind that any connection can dissolve another connection at any time, without notice or notification. To maintain connections, it is important to communicate with those connections and to share in “give and take” situations; a one-sided connection (one connection is constantly seeking something from the other, without reciprocation) will probably get dissolved eventually.

A LinkedIn profile becomes a form of branding for those members who work the system properly. LinkedIn profiles will often find their way to the top of Google searches, so a well-crafted profile is important, and should be monitored. For-out of-work job-searchers, it may be difficult to build your LinkedIn network if you are constantly looking for connections to do job searches. It's easiest to build a network before needing the network for a career search. That being said, it does not mean that an effective network of connections cannot still be built; it just may take a little more creative communication.

A LinkedIn page should have the following:

• A strong, customized profile page, with pertinent information; work experience may take some time to create, but this is a way of basically putting a resume where almost anyone can see it. Contact information should be included, making it easy to reach the connection, in a variety of manners (email, phone, address, etc.).

• If the member's company is not listed as a company on LinkedIn, it is a very easy process to create a company on LinkedIn, and after that task is complete, other employees can connect to that company, as well. It might be good to check with management to make sure the company is not listed differently, and that management approves of such a listing, prior to creating a LinkedIn company profile.

• How many connections should a member make? On LinkedIn, there are many members that have more than 500 connections. They are typically listed as LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) and the temptation is to believe that they are really connected. My opinion is that it is better to have stable connections that have influence, that I know fairly well, and that I can help and/or be helped by. These people can refer other connections, but how valid will that referral be if they have 7000 connections (how many do they really know??) A solid LinkedIn profile will probably have 50-400 connections, and even that may be somewhat high.

• How should connections be made? Make them as they appear prudent. It is recommended not to add 45 connections today, because someone got a seminar roster and email addresses. Those connections won't help with contacts, because they aren't known connections. People that have influence can be added as they're met. When an invitation is sent to make a connection, the email message should be unique. Don't use the LinkedIn default message, like 90 percent of other people do. Make it personal. And if it is not certain that the connection will accept an invite, a call might be in order first. Multiple connection invites that get responded to with "Don't Know" will result in losing some invite options at LinkedIn.

• Join some groups that have important information; a request can be made to join any group, and most will accept almost all requests. Now discussions can be started or news can be broadcast to the group. It's a good way to brand.

Play with LinkedIn. Look for people, look for jobs, look for companies, and start to figure out how it works.

---Source: Curt MacRae's Human Transitions offers GET TO WORKshops for unemployed, underemployed and at-risk employees, anywhere in the country, who are looking to start a new career. Read more of his articles at










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