So you’re sitting at work, goofing off on… Linked In? Social Network for professionals, it’s the career version of 9 degrees of Kevin Bacon. And it’s where you, dear reader, ought to be, if you aren’t already. Open up a second browser window and go to www.linkedin.com right now. Sign up. Good, now we move on.
Linked in is the Facebook for serious professionals interested in linking up. It’s a useful tool not just for information gathering and sharing but for job searches and professional development. If you are interested in learning about seminars in your field of interest, Linked In might help you get there. I got a Linked In account a few years ago after creating a marketing plan that used it. I thought it was boring and promptly forgot my password. Now, I’ve rediscovered it and am a big fan. Changing your mind can be a good thing.
Now, other than it’s pure niftyness, why would you join Linked in? What can you do with it? According to LinkedIntelligence.com, there are three general categories of things to accomplish on Linked In.
- Look for people. If you need to find an accountant, a wedding planner, a reporter, a computer programmer… Linked in is a great resource. Not only do they come with recommendations on the website, but if you want to interview them and maybe make one a mentor, you have the introduction, “Hi, Mrs. Blob, I am a colleague of Mr. Green, a client of yours. I was wondering if I might talk to you a little bit about wedding planning. It’s the industry I hope to work in once I graduate.”
- Keep your network up to date. When you meet people, add them on Linked In, and when they change jobs or move, you’ll know about it, since they’ll up date their profiles, keeping you up to speed. So no matter where they are, you can always bug that first boss for a letter of recommendation. And keep in touch with him, too. Maybe you’ll be able to turn him a favor, after all.
- Your network as a web, not just a list. You know someone who knows someone who can help you land that job. And now you know that last person, too. There’s a handy feature that allows you to ask someone else to introduce you to their connections, so you can see who can help you and ask just that person, as opposed to all the other people who can’t help you but you though might’ve been able to. Plus, you know your needs better than anyone else. They might not realize that they could help you.
If you are doubtful that your network is that useful, then you are shooting yourself in the foot. Guy Kawasaki (blogger) came up with a few other good reasons to use Linked In:
- You can ask for advice: If you go to my Linked In, you will see I have a question out there about how to be more professional. That’s just my first question. I’m getting more as I go. And I will hopefully be getting answers soon, too.
- Check out the companies you’re thinking of applying to: Sure, there are rankings like BusinessWeek and Fortune, but what about what the employees say or the customers? Linked in lets you do your research. And if you whip out a quote during an interview, they’ll be impressed.
- See where other people in your industry work: So you’re a graduating Finance Major from NYU. Where are alumni working? In what industry? Use your NYU network to find out, or research folk with Finance Degrees.
- Research your interviewer: If you have the name of the people you’ll be interviewing with, look them up. Find out what they are interested in and research that. Maybe you have a common interest which will make for a great ice breaker.