One of our recent blog posts, 20 Compelling Reasons to Spend Less Time on Facebook and More Time on LinkedIn, inspired me to take a closer look at the LinkedIn system. You can put both Facebook and LinkedIn to work for you and your job search, but LinkedIn has some special features designed specifically for professional networking and career development.
To get the full benefit of this platform's potential, you'll need to do more than just set up your account. Once you have established your profile, there are additional activities you can pursue to further your exploration of career options, advance your professional networking, find employment opportunities, and stay current in your field. Here is a short list of ideas you can put to use right now:
- Share your expertise. And learn from the expertise of others. Through LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Answers there is the potential for an exchange. Education consultant Tony Bates posted his observations on LinkedIn Groups as communities of practice, which include concerns that discussions could easily turn into marketing platforms. His comments encourage us to find the learning potential: "just linking people together doesn't necessarily lead to a great deal of learning…" however Groups also provide "a chance for new people in the field to test the waters, look for support, and share ideas." LinkedIn Answers provides a forum for users to share knowledge, experience, and opinions in a Q&A format. It's easy to ask and answer in this system. Look for items related to your career field and know that the forums are monitored to remove marketing-focused information.
- Expand your network. While you may have started your account by connecting with people you already know through your email contact list, LinkedIn offers additional ways you can search for connections based on your past experience and education. One example is searching by school. Once you have entered your education history into your profile you can search for other users who have attended the same schools. The search capabilities allow you to further filter the results to see where your classmates and fellow alumni live, where they work, and what they do. You may also find that there are alumni LinkedIn Groups for your school. When logged in to your account, use http://www.linkedin/alumni to access the school search dashboard.
- Research companies and career fields. LinkedIn's structure and management of all the information users provide in their profiles allow you to do some pretty amazing things. Business Insider presents 13 Things You Never Knew You Could Do on LinkedIn, including searching for your next job based on the skills required. "If you have your eye on a better job or promotion, search for that job title on LinkedIn. You'll get to look at profiles of people who have that position and get a good idea what you need to do to reach that level." You'll also be able to see where they work, and how you may already be connected to them through your existing network.